GregHorrorShow: The Films Of 2016

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For me 2016 was the year that film found it’s groove again. After several years of bemoaning the state of the industry and lauding TV, it’s time to celebrate some great films! For full disclosure I did work on some of these films in the capacity of my day job but that hasn’t affected whether or not I’d recommend them to you fine folks   😉

I’ll start with a short, Pear Cider and Cigarettes, which I was lucky enough to do some work on. This animated film was a real treat, I loved the style and look forward to seeing more from Robert Valley. Keeping things animated was Ethel and Ernest, the true story of Raymond Briggs’ parents, animated by the great man himself. It was a touching, wonderful film. Another touching film was Sing Street, one that I wasn’t sure if I was going to like. It was a brilliant romp through 80’s clichés and the first video their band makes had me in stitches!

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On a darker tip I enjoyed Urban Hymn, the story of a social worker that tries her best to help an under privileged child break out of the negative lifestyle she’s chosen. If I thought that was sad I was under-prepared for I, Daniel Blake – which is all the more tragic for the light it shines on some people’s real life experience with the NHS/Government. A Monster Calls was truly heart-wrenching, the story of a boy dealing with his mother’s terminal illness, but a fantastic watch.

The Hateful Eight was an early year highlight, especially getting to see the 70mm version when they brought it to London! I also really liked The Infiltrator and was surprised it didn’t get more buzz upon release. Bryan Cranston was great and it was a cool, tense flick. American Honey was another revelation, Andrea Arnold delivering an amazing slice of Americana and uncovering a side of US life I had no idea existed.

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Having kids means that a lot of cinema time is spent watching films aimed at a younger audience and there were some greats in 2016; Secret Life Of Pets was probably my favourite, closely followed by Finding Dory, which did a great job of following up on the original. Trolls was good fun but super fluffy and felt quite light compared to some of the other kids films I’ve seen over the last few years.

Midnight Special was truly awesome, a sci-fi film that left you with more questions than answers – which is always nice. Another, slightly lower budget, sci-fi flick was Netflix’s Arq – the story of a handful of characters reliving the same few hours over and over again. Clever stuff and I thought it was good fun. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was quite enjoyable but by the end was pushing the boundaries of how much ‘Tim Burton’ I can take in one film!

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FILM OF THE YEAR

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It’s been a tough year to pick just one film but I have to go with The Hateful Eight. Fantastic performances all round, though Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue and Tim Roth as Oswaldo Mobray pretty much stole the show for me. Shot beautifully and with a masterful soundtrack from Enrico Morricone, if you can stand the violence and bad language you won’t find a better film in 2016.

 


 

 

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GregHorrorShow: The Films Of 2015

FILMS 2015 INSIDE OUT

It’s been a busy year on both the big and small screen. There were some fantastic films released in 2015 and while I found myself drifting more and more towards TV content I did still see some quality titles.

In terms of big budget blockbusters I thought Mad Max was a real stand out. This is an example of what I want from a cinema experience – bombastic, over the top and wildly colourful. It was also a wonderful performance from Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy filled the role of Max admirably. I did enjoy Avengers: Age Of Ultron but in the end it was scuppered by my expectations.

 

FILMS 2015 BOND

Spectre delivered for me, I felt it was the best Bond since Casino Royale and brought a lighter touch than Skyfall, which was too serious for my liking. I absolutely loved The Martian, as I mentioned in my book round up I preferred the film in this instance – the casting makes it, with a stellar ensemble that brings the story to life.

I did some work on both Listen To Me Marlon and Amy, two of the best documentary films I’ve seen in years. Listen To Me Marlon is the story of legendary actor Marlon Brando, told in his own words via voice recordings he made throughout the years. It’s an interesting look at one of the most well known actors Hollywood ever produced.

FILMS 2015 AMY

Likewise, Amy Winehouse remains a household name long after her death in 2011. Amy is her story, told after sifting through hundreds of interviews with the people that were there with her. It is one of the most heart breaking films I’ve seen, watching someone slip into addiction and lose themselves. It’s also a fantastic look at the dark side of fame and I’d recommend anyone who wants to be famous to check this out to see a glimpse of what it’s really like.

In the interests of full disclosure I also worked on Man Up and Legend, both of which I really enjoyed. Lake Bell has been in some great films and while Man Up was marketed as a Simon Pegg film, it’s really her vehicle as the main character. A series of crazy events unfold after her character decides to pretend to be Pegg’s blind date. It’s fun film with a good heart. Meanwhile Legend tells the story of Ronnie and Reggie Kray, the infamous East End gangsters that fought for control of London in the middle of last century. Both twins are played, impressively, by Tom Hardy, who really brings everything to the roles. It’s a brutal film and there were aspects to the Kray brothers that I had no idea about, which kept me interested.

FILMS 2015 BROOKLYN

All of my family adored Inside Out, the latest tearjerker dressed as a kids film from Pixar. A memorable cast of characters delivers an interesting look at the thoughts and feelings of children on the cusp of growing up. As a father it certainly hit home and gave me something to think about for in a few years time!

My most pleasant surprise of the year was Brooklyn, the story of a young girl from Ireland getting passage to the New York in the 1950’s. Saoirse Ronan is superb in the main role and there is a nice cast around her, including the ever awesome Julie Waters. I really enjoyed this film and it was a well told story, perhaps I felt it tugging at my Irish roots!

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FILM OF THE YEAR

FILMS 2015 MARTIAN

As much as I enjoyed Brooklyn, Inside Out and Amy, the best film I saw this year was The Martian. A great cast, a great story and truly stunning visuals meant that it had everything I want in a film.

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So what did you guys watch this year? I know I wanted to see other films like Carol, Ant-Man, Chappie and The Lobster but just didn’t have a chance to. My most anticipated film of 2016 hits early, January in fact, with Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’ which I can’t wait to see. Let me know below if there are any films you’re especially looking forward to.

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GregHorrorShow: The Films Of 2014

Film 2014 Main

I’ve seen some great films this year and finally got around to catching up on some of the films I’ve missed over the last few years.

It’ll probably be no surprise to anyone to hear that Guardians Of The Galaxy was my favourite film this year – with such a great mix of characters and some strong performances to boot, it didn’t matter that I had no knowledge of the comics. James Gunn did a very good job of making sure you cared about the characters but that the tone stayed light for the most part.

Of the films I’d missed previously I really enjoyed Argo, a film that cements Ben Affleck as a really great director. It was tense, well shot and an interesting story. Alongside that, on a more sci-fi tip, I liked Prometheus, Pacific Rim and Avatar. Pacific Rim in particular was an enjoyable mech-filled romp and I thought Prometheus was much better than the critics gave it credit for at the time.

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Obviously having kids means I get to see some films that are aimed at a younger audience. The best two I saw this year were Frozen and Paddington. Paddington is one of the most British films I’ve seen in ages and is really a great watch, regardless of age. Likewise with Frozen, aside from the complete indoctrination imposed on me by my children, it genuinely is a lovely film and it’s nice to see a sibling bond as a central relationship as opposed to a romantic bond. Also the songs *are* great 😉

From the other kids stuff I watched, Mr. Peabody And Sherman was the new generation’s ‘Bill and Ted’, Boxtrolls was good but quite dark and Get Santa was a nice little Christmas film that I’d recommend checking out if you get the chance.

Another of my favourite films this year was the documentary I Am Ali, which was a fascinating look at the world famous sportsman using home recordings and interviews with his family and friends. It was a real insight, not only into the man himself but also into the fever that built up around him. I also saw The Place Beyond The Pines and 47 Ronin, both of which I enjoyed but didn’t really blow me away.

Film 2014 Ali

Two films that did have an impact, albeit for different reasons, were Zero Dark Thirty and Pride. Zero Dark Thirty I found completely compelling and coming to it as someone who watches Homeland, it fitted nicely into that US Black Ops/C.I.A mould. Pride is a great film, showcasing just how rough it was growing up gay in the UK during the 1980’s. It’s a bit of a hard watch at times but retains a light heartedness that is totally charming. Very enjoyable.

On a smaller scale I thought One Crazy Thing was a fun, cheeky look at the cost of internet stardom and how things stay online forever. While Set Fire To The Stars, telling the story of Dylan Thomas’ US tour in the 50’s, was interesting, if a touch depressing at times.

There are also some great films coming down the line including rom com Man Up, with Lake Bell and Simon Pegg; Legend with Tom Hardy and the Wachowski’s Jupiter Ascending, which looks stunning. Add to that Joss Whedon’s second Avengers film Age Of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road & Neill Blomkamp’s Chappie and 2015 could be another great year for film.

Film 2014 Mad Max

And a final shout out for one of my Twitter friends Jaz Moore who is hoping to get her horror comedy funded on Kickstarter. It’s called Ranger Danger and tells the story of a young forest ranger that suddenly realises he is working in a universe swarming with horror cliches! It looks like great fun so check out the trailer below and back it here if you like the look of it:

 

 

So that’s my look back at the films I saw this year and a few projects I’m looking forward to seeing in 2015. How about you guys? What were your favourites from this year and what are you looking forward to in 2015?

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GregHorrorShow: The Films Of 2013

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I have been fortunate enough to see some fantastic films this year, so I have plenty of movies to shout about 🙂

I thoroughly enjoyed Haywire, which I thought was a great action flick with some awesome fight scenes. Hanna and Skyfall also impressed me, although I’m not sure Daniel Craig will ever top Casino Royale as Bond.

I saw some wonderful documentary films, namely Senna, King Of Kong, Indie Game: The Movie and Grounded: The Making Of ‘The Last Of Us’. Senna was a great piece of film-making, I can’t recommend it strongly enough. Of course I love games so the others were always going to be on interest to me but King Of Kong was brilliant. And to see what the actors went through to nail some parts of ‘The Last Of Us‘? Wow!

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Jeff Bridges never lets me down and True Grit was no exception. Along with Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld and Josh Brolin he gave a great performance to make this a must watch. I absolutely loved Wreck It Ralph and this is one of my children’s favourite films of the last few years.

Django Unchained was a fun ride and I enjoyed Jack Reacher, despite Tom Cruise being *nothing* like the character from the books. Reacher stands on it’s own two feet though and Child’s writing proves that it can still work without the character’s imposing stature.

My favourite film of the year was a total surprise to me, as I hadn’t really enjoyed any other Richard Curtis films. About Time really struck a chord with me though and I love anything time travel related so that probably helped as well. It’s a great rom-com with a few neat twists on the time travel mechanic.

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I finally got around to seeing Super 8 which I thought was great and reminded me of The Goonies, which is never a bad thing. Another contender for film of the year was Rush, which had stellar performances from its cast and an unbelievable (but true) story of two warring F1 drivers back in the 1970’s. Top stuff.

So here is the full list of films that I’d recommend from those I saw in 2013:

  • Haywire
  • True Grit
  • Senna
  • Hanna
  • Wreck It Ralph
  • King Of Kong
  • Indie Game: The Movie
  • The Raid
  • About Time
  • The World’s End
  • 300
  • Dead Space: Downfall
  • Grounded: The Making Of ‘The Last Of Us’
  • The Other Guys
  • Dark Knight Rises
  • Super 8
  • Skyfall
  • Rush
  • Jack Reacher
  • Django Unchained

What have you guys seen that stood out? Anything you’d recommend checking out?

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The Raid – Review (Film)

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I had heard only good things about The Raid from friends and various film blogs. I’d seen the director interviewed about his love of games and it seemed like the kind of film where you can enjoy, switch off and get blown away.

Thankfully The Raid didn’t disappoint, delivering a high octane mix of heavy gunfire and martial arts.

Taking place in Jakarta (the capital and largest city of Indonesia) it is the story of Rama, a cop in the city and father-to-be. His squad is called to an apartment block being run by a local crime lord and they are tasking with going in and flushing out any criminals that may be inside.

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It’s a great premise and with the squad going up the building floor by floor it allows director Gareth Evans to put a lot of spectacular set pieces into action. A lot of those are gun based battles in corridors and stairwells but there is plenty of fist fighting action to be had as well.

Characters in The Raid use the traditional Indonesian martial art ‘Pencak Silat’ and there are some great fights in the film. If you’re not someone that likes gore it might be best to avoid this one though, as there are gunshot wounds and snapped bones all over the place.

The story itself wasn’t really anything special, unfortunately. And the film appears to have fallen into the same trap many games do in that the action is glorious but there isn’t much behind it to back it up.

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The Raid certainly delivers a popcorn action punch and if you’re looking for some fun fighting/gun action then you could do a lot worse than this. I look forward to seeing what Gareth Evans comes up with next.

Rating: 8/10

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Haywire – Review (Film)

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Haywire opens with an explosive, brutal fight scene and barely pauses for breath until the credits roll.

It tells the story of Mallory Kane (played by MMA fighter Gina Carano), a mercenary of sorts who works for a shady company that has ties to the US government.

They handle all sorts of ‘operations’, ranging from hostage rescues to espionage. Soon enough Mallory realises something isn’t quite right and a conspiracy plot against her comes to light.

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As the film begins this is all already in the past. As Mallory makes an escape she ends up accompanied by a civilian, who she tells her story to and we get to see the events through flashbacks.

I really enjoyed Haywire, it had a good (if slightly predictable) storyline and Gina Carano was impressive as Mallory. Obviously her fighting background helped in terms of the physical scenes but she also acted well.

She had great support from a cast featuring Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Michael Fassbender. Channing Tatum also surprised me as I had heard from a few people that his general acting was poor. I don’t agree and while his character wasn’t massively demanding he did enough here to convince you. And finally a nice (if small) appearance from Bill Paxton never hurts 🙂

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Overall I thought Haywire was great. Nicely paced and with some spectacular fight scenes, it isn’t one for the fainthearted but if you like action movies then you should definitely check this one out.

Rating: 9/10

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True Grit (2010) – Review (Film)

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I haven’t seen the original 1969 film True Grit so news of the remake didn’t initially grab me. However, once I saw that the 2010 version had Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin attached I was interested.

The fact it was done by The Coen Brothers also helped, they usually deliver great films with some good dialogue.

True Grit tells the story of Mattie Ross (played excellently by Hailee Steinfeld), a 14 year old whose father is killed by an outlaw called Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). As Chaney has fled the county her only option for revenge is to hire a US Marshall to track him down.

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Unfortunately for her the only real candidate is Rooster Cogburn, a formerly brilliant but now very drunk Marshall, played by Jeff Bridges who is as superb as ever.

Eventually they team up with Texas Ranger LeBoeuf (Matt Damon) who is also on Chaney’s trail and head out to track the outlaw down.

True Grit is a very enjoyable film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Some of the interplay between characters is brilliant and Steinfeld gives Ross enough sass while maintaining an air of innocence that makes you really root for her.

The film doesn’t shy away from the violence of the old West and at times shows just how fragile the difference between life and death could be.

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It showcases some fantastic scenery and the film looks gorgeous for the most part. Shot in New Mexico this is a film that, in my opinion, you can justify getting on Blu-Ray.

I’m not a big fan of Westerns, nor am I well versed in the genre but True Grit is a fantastic film – regardless of your stance on Westerns.

Rating: 9/10

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