Review: Scary Movie V (2013)

Scary Movie V

When it started out with its first instalment, a riff on Wes Craven’s Scream, the Scary Movie franchise was harmless enough, with its creators Keenan Wayans, Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans – who have all since departed – merely using the formula to poke fun at Hollywood horror films through pop culture references and low brow humour. With every instalment since, however, the franchise has deteriorated rapidly, becoming stale and trashy. This is no better highlighted than in Scary Movie V. Continue reading “Review: Scary Movie V (2013)”

EIFF 2012 Review: First Position (2012)

The Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) is an annual international ballet competition, in which over 5000 dance students aged between 9 and 19 years old compete for elite scholarships with some of the world’s most prestigious companies and schools. First Position tracks six ambitious young dancers – Aran, Gaya, Michaela, Mike, Rebecca and Joan – as they train, travel the world and overcome self-doubt and overwhelming pressure in a bid to secure their place at Continue reading “EIFF 2012 Review: First Position (2012)”

Feature: Top Ten Films Of 2011: January – June

So far, 2011 has been a fantastic year for film. Below, I’ve compiled a list of my ten favourites from the last six months, with a few honourable mentions that just missed out on a place. Finally, I’ve listed some somewhat less honourable mentions that you should probably avoid at all costs.

10. Never Let Me Go (February 2011)

Mark Romanek’s shamefully overlooked adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s momentous novel Never Let Me Go wasn’t exactly the hit Fox Searchlight were banking on, but that didn’t stop it being a beautifully explorative, acted and directed piece of cinema.

9. Animal Kingdom (February 2011)

This Australian crime-thriller rose from the underbelly, picking up momentum thick and fact for its astoundingly honest portrayal of a fully functional crime family. Striking direction, raw performances and compelling source material have made well worth seeking out.

8. Archipelago (March 2011)

Joanna Hogg’s stark look at family turmoil is beautifully captured and carefully paced to provide a deeply resonant and affecting glimpse into the highs and lows of family life and what makes people tick.

7. Heartbeats (May 2011)

Multi-faceted Xavier Dolan follows in the footsteps of acclaimed filmmakers Gus Van Sant, Pedro Almodóvar and Wong Kar Wai to write and direct Heartbeats, a film of true beauty, wisdom and depth beyond its years.

6. Arrietty (June 2011 – EIFF)

Studio Ghibli’s sprightly interpretation of Mary Norton’s acclaimed children’s book The Borrowers is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, under the watchful eye of filmmaker extraordinaire Hayao Miyazaki. Arrietty boasts some truly illustrious animation and a score by French musician Cecile Corbel that made me go weak at the knees.

5. Bridesmaids (June 2011)

Kristen Wiig, well known for her long-standing stint on Saturday Night Live, was launched to stardom with hit comedy Bridesmaids. Directed by Paul Feig, the film features an array of flawless comedic performances, unforgettable gags and the goddess-like figure Rose Bryne.

4. Albatross (June 2011 – EIFF)

Niall McCormick’s British coming-of-age film premiered at the 65th Edinburgh International Film Festival to rave reviews. Written by burgeoning writer Tamzin Refn, Albatross is a fully realised and thought-provoking piece of cinema, chock full of heart, depth and humour to boot. If Jessica Findlay-Brown doesn’t become a star, then there’s something seriously wrong with the world.

3. Black Swan (January 2011)

Granted, this film opened last year in America, but due to different release schedules it was early January before I had a chance to see Natalie Portman give an Academy Award winning performance in Darren Aronofsky’s daringly dark psychological ballet thriller. Hauntingly brilliant.

2. Submarine (March 2011)

Former IT Crowd actor Richard Ayoade made his directorial debut with the mesmerising, outlandish and warm-hearted indie comedy Submarine. The entire cast, not least relative newcomer Craig Roberts, delivered remarkable performances.

1. Blue Valentine (January 2011)

This emotionally crippling insight into one couple’s turbulent relationship shot Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams back into the limelight, and earned them a few dozen award nominations in the process. After years of suffering various unfortunate setbacks, Derek Cianfrance’s passion project came to fruition with such intensity that it was hard to ignore. From the offset I was hooked, so it’d be impossible for Blue Valentine not to be my top film of the year so far.

Films of notable interest: Hobo With A Shotgun, Trust, Project Nim, Attack The Block, Rango, The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adèle Blanc-Sec, Rubber, Pina 3D, Scream 4, Winnie The Pooh, Meek’s Cutoff, X-Men: First Class, The Silent House, 13 Assassins, Perfect Sense, Thor and Cave Of Forgotten Dreams.

Films to think no more of: Mars Needs Moms, Larry Crowne, Ghosted, I Am Number Four, The Rite, Faster, Chalet Girl, Red Riding Hood and Battle: Los Angeles.

DVD Releases: May 16, 2011

Black Swan

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel

The Next Three Days

Director: Paul Haggis

Starring: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks and Liam Neeson

Gulliver’s Travels

Director: Rob Letterman

Starring: Jack Black, Jason Segel and Emily Blunt


Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Starring: Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez and Hanaa Bouchaib

Benda Bilili

Director: Renaud Barret and Florent de La Tullaye

Starring: Maria Barli Djongo, Renaud Barret and Cubain Kabeya

83rd Academy Awards: Winners

Best Picture

  • The Social Network
  • Winter’s Bone
  • The King’s Speech – WINNER
  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • True Grit
  • Toy Story 3
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • 127 Hours
  • Inception

Best Director

  • Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
  • Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) – WINNER
  • David Fincher (The Social Network)
  • Joel & Ethan Coen (True Grit)
  • David O. Russell (The Fighter)

Best Actor

  • James Franco (127 Hours)
  • Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) – WINNER
  • Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
  • Javier Bardem (Biutiful)
  • Jeff Bridges (True Grit)

Best Actress

  • Natalie Portman (Black Swan) – WINNER
  • Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
  • Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone)
  • Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
  • Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)

Best Supporting Actor

  • John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
  • Christian Bale (The Fighter) – WINNER
  • Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right)
  • Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)
  • Jeremy Renner (The Town)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)
  • Melissa Leo (The Fighter) – WINNER
  • Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)
  • Amy Adams (The Fighter)
  • Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech)

Best Original Screenplay

  • Mike Leigh (Another Year)
  • Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg (The Kids Are All Right)
  • David Seidler (The King’s Speech) – WINNER
  • Christopher Nolan (Inception)
  • Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson & Keith Dorrington (The Fighter)

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) – WINNER
  • Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours)
  • Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3)
  • Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (True Grit)
  • Debra Granik & Anne Rosellin (Winter’s Bone)

Best Animated Film

  • The Illusionist
  • Toy Story 3 – WINNER
  • How To Train Your Dragon

Best Foreign Language Film

  • Dogtooth
  • In A Better World – WINNER
  • Biutiful
  • Incendies
  • Outside The Law

Best Documentary

  • Inside Job – WINNER
  • Exit Through The Gift Shop
  • GasLand
  • Restrepo
  • Waste Land

Best Art Direction

  • Inception
  • Alice In Wonderland – WINNER
  • The King’s Speech
  • Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1
  • True Grit

Best Cinematography

  • Black Swan
  • The Social Network
  • Inception – WINNER
  • True Grit
  • The King’s Speech

Best Visual Effects

  • Hereafter
  • Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1
  • Iron Man 2
  • Inception – WINNER
  • Alice In Wonderland

Best Costume Design

  • I Am Love
  • Alice In Wonderland – WINNER
  • The King’s Speech
  • True Grit
  • The Tempest

Best Editing

  • The Fighter
  • Black Swan
  • The Social Network – WINNER
  • 127 Hours
  • The King’s Speech

Best Makeup

  • The Wolfman – WINNER
  • Barney’s Version
  • The Way Back

Best Short Film (Live Action)

  • Na Wewe
  • The Confession
  • Wish 143
  • The Crush
  • God Of Love – WINNER

Best Short Film (Animated)

  • Let’s Pollute
  • The Gruffalo
  • Day & Night
  • The Lost Thing – WINNER
  • Madagascar, A Journey Diary

Best Short Film (Documentary)

  • Killing In The Name
  • Poster Girl
  • Strangers No More – WINNER
  • Sun Come Up
  • The Warriors Of Quigang

Best Original Score

  • How To Train Your Dragon (John Powell)
  • Inception (Hans Zimmer)
  • The King’s Speech (Alexandre Desplat)
  • 127 Hours (A.R. Rahman)
  • The Social Network (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross) – WINNER

Best Original Song

  • Coming Home (Country Strong)
  • I See The Light (Tangled)
  • If I Rise (127 Hours)
  • We Belong Together (Toy Story 3) – WINNER

Best Sound Mixing

  • Inception – WINNER
  • Salt
  • The Social Network
  • True Grit
  • The King’s Speech

Best Sound Editing

  • Toy Story 3
  • Inception – WINNER
  • True Grit
  • Unstoppable
  • Tron: Legacy

2011 Film Independent Spirit Awards: Winners

Best Feature

  • Black Swan

Best Male

  • James Franco (127 Hours)

Best Female

  • Natalie Portman (Black Swan)

Best Supporting Male

  • John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)

Best Supporting Female

  • Dale Dickey (Winter’s Bone)

Best Director

  • Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)

Best Cinematography

  • Black Swan

Best First Feature

  • Get Low

Best Documentary

  • Exit Through The Gift Shop

Best Foreign Film

  • The King’s Speech

Robert Altman Award

  • Please Give

John Cassavetes Award

  • Daddy Longlegs

Best First Screenplay

  • Tiny Furniture

Best Screenplay

  • The Kids Are All Right

UK Box Office: February 18 – 20, 2011

1. Paul – £5,517,121

2. Gnomeo & Juliet – £2,223,978

3. The King’s Speech – £1,685,180

4. True Grit – £1,466,979

5. Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son – £1,433,778

6. Yogi Bear – £1,370,585

7. Tangled – £1,295,709

8. Just Go With It – £984,355

9. Justin Bieber: Never Say Never – £820,592

10. Black Swan – £696,332

Review: No Strings Attached (2011)

Veteren comedy director Ivan Reitman returns with No Strings Attached, a rom-com that asks the question of whether or not friends with benefits can still be best friends without letting their emotions overrule their unattached “relationship”.

Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher), after years of failed relationships, make a pact to use each other for sex. But when Adam starts seeing their relationship as something more, Emma instinctively wants to run the other way.

No Strings Attached – while it may be too long for its own good, is overly predictable and relies too heavily on crass humour – delivers feasibly well on all levels under the trained direction of Reitman and a competent script by Elizabeth Meriwether.

Ashton Kutcher, reprising the role he’s played in every other rom-com, is likeable and entertaining enough. Natalie Portman, in a role that is vastly different to her award-nominated performance in Black Swan, often feels uncomfortable in a genre that’s clearly not suited to her talents, but undeniably manages to deliver a relatively natural, appealing and sexy performance.

The supporting cast, including standout performances from Lake Bell and Greta Gerwig, notably aid the two leads, often stealing the film and creating an enjoyable diversion to the weak and predictable central storyline.

No Strings Attached is ultimately a fairly enjoyable rom-com that’s made watchable by an above-average script, credible direction and the best intentions of the entire cast.

UK Box Office: February 11 – 13, 2011

1. Gnomeo & Juliet – £2,945,627

2. The King’s Speech – £1,986,871

3. Tangled – £1,969,148

4. True Grit – £1,823,254

5. Yogi Bear – £1,820,405

6. Just Go With It – £1,628,265

7. Black Swan – £1,069,931

8. The Fighter – £1,002,454

9. Never Let Me Go – £625,496

10. Sanctum – £361,832

64th BAFTA Film Awards: Winners

Best Film

  • The King’s Speech

Outstanding British Film

  • The King’s Speech

Outstanding Debut By A British Writer, Director Or Producer

  • Chris Morris (Four Lions)

Outstanding British Contribution To Cinema

  • Harry Potter


  • David Fincher (The Social Network)


  • Christopher Lee

Original Screenplay

  • David Seidler (The King’s Speech)

Adapted Screenplay

  • Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network)

Foreign Film

  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Animated Film

  • Toy Story 3

Leading Actor

  • Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)

Leading Actress

  • Natalie Portman (Black Swan)

Supporting Actor

  • Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)

Supporting Actress

  • Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech)

Original Music

  • The King’s Speech (Alexandre Desplat)


  • True Grit


  • The Social Network

Production Design

  • Inception

Costume Design

  • Alice In Wonderland

Special Visual Effects

  • Inception


  • Inception

Make Up & Hair

  • Alice In Wonderland

Short Film

  • Until The River Runs Red

Short Animation

  • The Eagleman Stag

Orange Wednesday Rising Star

  • Tom Hardy