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The Big Release
Attack the Block
What's the story? Mugged by 'yoots', Sam's night gets a whole lot worse when 'bear/wolf/gorilla motherfuckers' start to attack the London council estate she lives on. Her only hope of survival? The gang of teenagers who just nicked her phone.
Cast: John Boyega (Newcomer), Jodie Whittaker (Perrier's Bounty, Venus), Nick Frost (Paul, Shaun of the Dead). Dir: Joe Cornish (The Adam and Joe Show).
Plus points: The artist formerly known as, simply, Joe can now proudly claim his full name and add 'acclaimed writer/director' to his identifier. A film about gangs that doesn't vilify them as monsters, praise them as role models or excuse their transgressions but rather lets them know that their actions have consequences. Hand-picking a cast of newcomers was a masterstroke as to a man/boy the kids are more than alright. First performances by John Boyega and Alex Esmail are the two standouts.
Let downs: Those expecting Shaun of the Dead levels of humour may feel let down as the strengths of Attack the Block lie elsewhere. That's not to say it doesn't have moments of humour, but where the com of the former zom-rom-com was at the forefront, this film's more pre-occupied with making you sweat and, if you're so inclined, think a bit too.
Critics said: "Smart, commercial, original and unashamedly cinematic" (Empire), "it’s hard to imagine British audiences having more fun in a cinema this year." (TimeOut). 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: If parody truly is the sincerest form of flattery then Joe Cornish loves movies to bits. Years of playing at making faux movies with best pal Adam Buxton and their combined toy sets has paid of in full with Attack the Block emerging as a truly refreshing take on British films, 'the youth of today' and horror as social commentary.
What's the story? When his son Daniel dies walking the spiritual trek of 'The Way of St.James', Tom travels to collect the body. Once there he becomes, in a rare moment of impulsiveness, compelled to finish his son's journey.
Cast: Martin Sheen (Badlands, Apocalypse Now), Emilio Estevez (Young Guns, The Breakfast Club). Dir: Emilio Estevez (Bobby).
Plus points: Picturesque locations lovingly filmed, a deeply personal tale of a man and his son and, mercifully, not a Charlie in sight. While Martin's last epic journey may have been a dead-cert classic (that time Asia, this time Europe), this particular pilgrimage manages to stay the gentle course with sure footing.
Let downs: Any fans of Clerks II's summation of the LOTR's films, “All it was, was a bunch of people walking, three movies of people walking to a fucking volcano”, may baulk at the mention of any film that bases itself around the action of putting one foot in front of the other.
Critics said: "The Way's trump card is Martin Sheen" (Film4) who "even at 70, remains a commanding presence” (TotalFilm). 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: After the slightly sugar coated Bobby (one of the only assassination films that could be labelled twee), Emilio keeps the cheese fairly thick with an uplifting tale of a man 'discovering life'. Luckily that man is the legendary Martin Sheen and any time in his company, moving or standing still, is time well spent.
Take Me Home Tonight
What's the story? Recent MIT graduate Matt Franklin baffles his friends and family by turning his back on Wall Street and instead pursuing happiness in a local video store. There we find him charging into the weekend of his life, a weekend that includes a stolen car, parties and his long-time object of affection, Tor Frederking.
Cast: Topher Grace (Spider-man 3, In Good Company), Anna Faris (The House Bunny, Lost in Translation). Dir: Michael Dowse (It's All Gone Pete Tong).
Plus points: The one from That 70's Show that you wouldn't want to beat to death with a tyre iron, Topher Grace, carries an extremely likeable quality. Anna Faris, as his sister, is equally loveable and both deserve better vehicles than this.
Let downs: 2010's influx of all things 80's – Hot Tub Time Machine, Karate Kid, The A-Team – mercifully didn't lead to anything more than a nostalgic fumble on the chest of the worst decade known to man.
Critics said: "There’s nothing really wrong with it, but nothing quite right either" (Sky Movies). It's just a "low-powered, amiable and stunningly unimportant" (New Yorker) film. 31% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: Take Me Home Tonight is little more than the death rattle for those that yearn for the 80's to return. Not particularly awful, but almost instantly forgettable.
Taxi Driver - Re-Issue
What's the story? Insomnia, loneliness, a new job, an angel in white, whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, the worst use for a .44 magnum, “faster than you”, Iris and Sport, a senator, the secret service and the bloodiest showdown since Peckinpah. An absolute certifiable classic.
Cast: Robert De Niro (Raging Bull, Mean Streets), Jodie Foster (Inside Man, Silence Of The Lambs). Dir: Martin Scorsese (The Departed, Goodfellas).
Plus points: One of the greatest performances ever from De Niro (which makes it a close call for greatest performance of all-time), a perfect script born out of near insanity by Paul Schrader and a fearless director pissing on the idea of what film is meant to be. Seminal is the perfect word.
Let downs: Like Travis and Betsy at the porno theatre, if this is your 'first date movie', chances are you won't get a second. Then you'll find yourself standing in front of a mirror for all the wrong kind of reasons.
Critics said: "A film that will stay with you forever" (Empire). 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: 35 years since its initial release Taxi Driver has not only stood the test of time, it's done it with 15 rocks in its rucksack. Powerful, horrific, none-more-black, blackly funny. If you haven't seen it yet whatever you're doing this weekend is no longer important: you've got a date with Travis.
The Best Film Still Showing
That tiny irking feeling that Joe Wright puts together great scenes but only very good films isn't enough to dissuade all and sundry from checking out his latest. Saoirse Ronan gives great assassin as the teenage girl bred to kill. Bourne in a fairytale with a smattering of My Summer of Love.
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