Review – The Disaster Artist

A film telling the story of how possibly the worst movie ever made came to be sounds like it could be very entertaining. However, did any of us ever imagine it would be as good as this? I did nahhhhhhhhht.

Yes, The Disaster Artist sheds some light on how Hollywood hopefuls Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau (played by Dave and James Franco) found each other, and how their god-awful 2003 film, The Room, came to be. It had always showed promise, but what this film delivered was phenomenal.

The Franco brothers both put in what are very likely to be career-best performances so far. Dave was really cute as Greg – you completely bought into the idea that he was just a kid trying his luck. There was a strong happy-go-lucky vibe abut his character that meant you kind of expected him to get a break at some point.

Now, without casting too much of a shadow over Dave’s performance, let’s talk about James for a second. He was absolutely terrific as Tommy. Without a doubt he is the single element that takes this film to whole other level. Seriously… where the hell did this come from? I thought the likeness between him and the real Tommy was uncanny. As far as looks go, there was a bit of a difference, but in terms of tone of voice and mannerisms, if you didn’t know better I think you’d struggle to tell them apart at first. He really did stand head and shoulders above the rest of the cast here with his work – absolutely terrific!

I liked how selective the film was with the scenes of The Room it showed. I think it covered just about all of the most infamous scenes of the film, which I think has been key to the success of The Disaster Artist. I haven’t seen The Room myself, but knew about all of the scenes included here. Being based on the book that documented Sestero and Wiseau’s friendship and their making of The Room, I don’t know if this was a decision that was already made for the creators of this film, but if not I think some wise decisions were made.

Similarly, I think there is one very significant creative choice that should be noted as being genius here – the end credits. Who ever’s idea it was to show Wiseau and Franco’s scenes side-by-sideat the end should be championed. Again, we come back to Franco’s stonking acting, but also the attention to detail that film makers of The Disaster Artist had. The make up of each scene was virtually identical, making it feel like everyone involved truly felt something towards this project.

The Disaster Artist may well be a top contender for my Film Of The Year 2017. I’m really struggling to find any kind of a fault with this one. There were some quality performances put in by the actors and an astonishing amount of dedication to the project by everyone involved. There’s a lot that can be taken from this film, but if anything you should note that whatever you want is possible provided you are willing to do whatever it takes to get it. If all you get from watching The Disaster Artist is that message then it was worth seeing it, trust me.

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Review – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

SO… I finally got to see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Almost four months after first being reeled in by that glorious trailer, I made it my mission to catch the on it’s opening weekend here (apologies for the review taking this long), and oh my goodness, wasn’t it terrific!

For those of you who are yet to see the film, you should know that it is a dark comedy revolving around Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), the mother of a murdered teenage girl. What basically happens is she rents three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (spoiler alert) in the hope that might give the town’s chief-of-police (Woody Harrelson) a kick up the arse.

What I will say is that this film will not hit the spot with everyone. It is a great piece of film making, and I’m sure most people will appreciate that, but whether it will go down a storm with all of those same people I am not sure. Why is this? Well, it is writer and director Martin McDonagh at his best, meaning it features a lot of very dark comedy. Understandably, this is one of the things that I think has helped to separate the super fans of this film from everyone else. However, I loved it. The tone, for me, was bang on, and really helped to cut the tension and completely change the atmosphere whenever it was used. I also think that this was a device that helped to really show how reflective of real life the film was. After all, there are so many of the worst moments in life that have some very funny undertones, wouldn’t you agree?

I really can only sing the praises of the actors who took on the three main performances. Frances McDormand is fiercely brilliant as Mildred. I feel like she perfectly balanced all of the emotions that come together to form the basis of her character. She didn’t take any crap from anyone, but she was still hurting and was very vulnerable underneath, and McDormand’s performance made this immaculately clear.

Sam Rockwell put in a fantastic supporting turn, and just like many others, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him win an Oscar for his work here. In fact, I think I’d actually be surprised if he didn’t to be quite honest. He was so key in communicating what this film ended up being about for me, meaning he was a proper supporting actor, and not someone just given the title for the sake of it.

Even Woody Harrelson was on top form here besides only being around for the first half of the film. I don’t know what it is but there is always something in the characters Harrelson plays that I always love, and that remained very much the case here.

Now, I’ve listed a few things about Three Billboards that made the film work so well, but I’ve not really said anything about the thing that screamed out to me the most. To me, this is a very realistic, very human film. It tells ‘real people’ stories that all happen at the same time as they do in real life. It doesn’t create any clear heroes or villains either. To me, it was like being a visitor in the town as all these things were going on, and that was enough. I think to be able to reflect the real lives that could be happening all around you is something that many film makers try to do, but none have created anything that has resonated with me so much as McDonagh has managed here.

You’ve probably guessed it by now, but I would happily recommend Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri to just about anyone. It’s a massively human film that portrays all of it’s characters in a very realistic light, and also manages to make you feel just about all of the emotions they do, but also doesn’t fail to make you laugh either. I took one minor issue with it, but that really is just me being nit-picky – beyond that I’d struggle to find fault. Get out there and see it in cinema while you still can, people!

Review – The Full Monty


A group of unemployed steel workers in Sheffield plan to take a turn as strippers for one night only.

Following a huge decline in the steel industry, a lot of people in Sheffield found that they’re suddenly un-busy. Gaz (Robert Carlyle) and Dave (Mark Addy) are amongst these people. Like so many others like them, they’re struggling to get by on the dole. Gaz is on the verge of losing his son as he cannot afford joint custody, and Dave is convinced his marriage is over. In a bid to help himself and others, Gaz comes up with the idea of forming a group of strippers for one night only, and sets about holding auditions for his gang. But what’s the difference between a handful of ex-steelworkers taking their kit off, and professionals such as to Chippendale-esque troupe that were in town weeks before? Simple – the steelworkers are going the full monty…

The Full Monty is a proper British film. It’s one of those that takes a look at hard times, and puts a lighter twist on events without you forgetting what initial predicament was that the characters found themselves in. That being said, I can’t help but think this is what Magic Mike would have looked like had it not have had the budget it did.

This was a really good ensemble cast of well known British TV and big screen stars. Robert Carlyle headed up the cast as Gaz, and was the brains of the operation. It was so easy to get behind him because he had so much energy in the role which made you think that he could actually make his plan work. Mark Addy was his partner in crime, Dave, and he portrayed the complete opposite end of the spectrum with his character. You could feel how down Dave was about the whole situation, and how hopeless he felt. This was something that worked well for all the main characters, however. Each one dealt with unemployment differently, and this made them feel believable. This worked wonders for the film in the end, and had it not have been for this I’m not sure it would have been such a success. 

The story is one of those that could’ve been based on a true story in the way that you’d struggle to make such a thing up. It’s also one of those that make for fantastic Friday night viewing. There were moments when watching this film that I laughed out loud, and then there were others where I really just stopped to think about what the film was actually about and how this has helped it to stay popular over the years. The point is, no matter how you look at this film, it depicts real life and real people, and the wonderfully odd capers we undertake to get by. The events in this film may or may not have actually happened, but there’s nothing to say that it wouldn’t have been possible. It also takes darker times and shows that even in those times, good things happen, and it is these qualities that can allow a film to be well loved regardless of whether it is one of the greatest films ever made or not.

So, The Full Monty is a good British film – in fact, it could be considered a British classic. I’m surprised it’s taken me until now to see it, but it was worth the wait. Yeah, you’ll see better films, but this is one of those that gives you a nice fuzzy feeling as you watch it, and by the end of it you’ll have a smile on your face. The characters completely fit into the demographic represented by the film, and it’s this, plus the authenticity of the storytelling here, that enables you to buy into it so easily. I’d definitely recommend this one.

Review – Kingsman: The Golden Circle

When an attack wipes out nearly all of Kingsman, those left behind must join forces with another similar organisation in order to catch the culprits.
After Kingsman HQ is destroyed, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) have to call upon some extra help to find those behind the attack. Introducing Statesman, a sister organisation to Kingsman based in the U.S. They head over there, and it’s not long before they a few surprising discoveries. First of all, they find Harry Hart (Colin Firth) alive and fairly well. They also learn that there’s a new criminal mastermind holding the world hostage, and, of course, it is their job to put a stop to that. The two sides come together in an effort to save the world, and remain wonderfully stylish throughout.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle, a film we’ve all been looking forward to for quite some time, has finally arrived. Was it worth the wait? I’d say so. I thoroughly enjoyed my time watching it. It had all the fun and flair the first film had, and then some, plus a few extra bonuses as well.
I love Taron Egerton. I just think he’s lovely. He always looks so good as Eggsy, and he’s really great in the role. I think he nails the working class elements of his character, especially when it comes to many of the funnier moments in the film. It probably sounds really stupid but I love how he makes you believe his character has never forgotten where he’s come from. There’s a level of integrity that always shines through and it’s just a really nice thing to see.
All the other characters and performances were just as much fun the second time round. This goes for those we’d met before, plus those we were only just introduced to. Julianne Moore was a great villain as Poppy, and in all fairness, she had a point with what she was saying about the drugs industry. I thought the person she gave her character was brilliant because she seemed so sweet and innocent but really she was just… deranged. Her character was well in keeping with the Kingsman style and she was a great addition to the cast.
Some people have complained about how over-the-top this film turned out to be. The whole point of Kingsman is to basically just rip all those spy films that have taken themselves too seriously over the years to shreds. It is a spoof franchise, and if you can’t go overboard in this case then when can you? The reason I love these films, and why so many others do is because they’re super loud, ferociously entertaining, and everyone involved – whether that’s the actors, the film crew or the audience – has tremendous fun with them. Look at Elton John, for God’s sake. How brilliant was he? I’d said prior to the film that I hoped we’d see the Tiaras And Tantrums version of him in the film and I was not wrong. He was easily one the best things in this because he clearly embraced it and just totally got into it. I walked out of the cinema just thinking what a lad he was for throwing himself into the film with such gusto. I was well impressed!
The action was 10x bigger in this second outing, and as you might have gathered by now, I was all for it. The fight sequences looked amazing every time, and I fully appreciate the amount of choreography that must have gone into each one. They were just something I’d sit in awe of whenever they happened, and they definitely are one of the things that make the Kingsman films so special for me.
All in all, I have to recommend The Golden Circle. It was a fantastic watch, especially on the big screen I saw it on. The characters were brilliant, and the action was as gloriously OTT as I had hoped it would be. The cheeky comedy laced throughout was also wonderful, and Elton John was exactly who I wanted him to be in the film. I’d definitely say you need to see this film is you’re a fan of the first film. Ignore what some people are saying because this is terrific fun that is not to be missed.

Review – Seven Psychopaths


An L.A. screenwriter finds himself caught up in some dodgy dealings when a mob boss’s dog goes missing, however the events that take place may just help to cure his writer’s block.Marty (Colin Farrell) is a struggling screenwriter who may or may not have a mild drinking problem. He is inadvertently dragged into an L.A. underworld crime saga when his slightly mad friends kidnap the beloved shih tzu of mob boss Charlie (Woody Harrelson). What follows is a series of events that provide Marty with plenty of inspiration for a story for the big screen, if he manages to get out alive, that is.

Seven Psychopaths is a film from director Martin MacDonagh, a man whose work I am quite familiar with after seeing films such as The Guard and In Bruges. I had high hopes for this as I really enjoyed the two aforementioned films, however I was actually quite disappointed by it. Part of me thinks this was due to a certain name being absent from the cast, however I also think another reason was because the story was just a bit too big compared to what I had previously seen from him.

A couple of the performances here were alright though. Sam Rockwell as Billy was fun to watch. He was a total loose cannon, and you never really knew what you were going to get from him. Rockwell made Billy a very unhinged character, and because of this the story moved along a fair bit whenever he was present, which I have to be honest was needed at a few points throughout.

Christopher Walken, no matter what he is in, is always a treat for me to watch. There is something about him that just makes me laugh a lot. I think it’s the deadpan expression he so often has on his face. As Hans, he was easily one of the better characters in this film, largely due to this talent he has. He was probably the reason I watched the film to the end, just so that I could maximise the amount of time I had looking at that face.

The story, besides the lack of comedic moments I found in the film, was the biggest downfall here. It just felt like it tried too hard to be way bigger than it needed to be. I did struggle with following the narrative at times, but really the main issue was I didn’t really care that much to even try and stay focused on it. What was even harder for me to stomach was the fact that I was watching a Martin MacDonagh film without Brendan Gleeson, the usual staple ingredient of films by this director, writer and producer. Perhaps sentimentality got in the way of me completely enjoying it, but this really was something that held much of the film back for me.

All in all, I can’t say I’ll be in a hurry to see Seven Psychopaths again. There’s nothing that particularly sticks in my mind after seeing it, which is not something that happened with either of the two films I had previously seen by this director. Maybe if it wasn’t for the expectations I already had, this wouldn’t have been as bad as I’m making it out to be now, but alas, it had standards to meet, and it failed rather miserably in meeting those.

Review – Danny Collins


An ageing musician receives a letter that was written to him by John Lennon 40 years ago and embarks on a mission to find himself.
Danny Collins (Al Pacino), a rocker in his twilight years, is living it up and struggling to veer away from his life of chaos and luxury, although it is clear to see that he is fundamentally unhappy. When his manager, Frank Grubman (Christopher Plummer) hands him a letter that was written 40 years prior by the one and only John Lennon, Danny takes a long hard look at the position he’s in and decides to change his ways… or at least try to. He tracks down his long-lost son Tommy (Bobby Cannavale) and discovers he has a whole family he didn’t know about. Danny is determined to be a part of their lives, but can he keep his feet on the ground long enough to do this?

The Easter holidays seem to have consisted of revision and catching up with a number of films that I have been meaning to watch for a long time. Another film that I managed to get crossed off the list was Danny Collins, one of Al Pacino’s most recent works (is there any need for me to explain why I wanted to watch this?). I found it to be a really warm, and at times, very funny story based on events that actually kind of happened!

In recent years, we’ve had to get used to some rather mediocre performances in some pretty mid-range films from Pacino. It pains me to say that because he is a favourite of mine after all. I had, however, heard positive things about about is performance at the time of this film’s release, so I had hope for this. I totally enjoyed seeing Pacino in this role. As Danny, he gave such a heart-warming performance for us, and was such a treat to watch. There was so much charisma on display here and it was wonderful to see.

Annette Bening was every part Pacino’s equal in the film as well. She was brilliant as Hilton hotel manager Mary Sinclair who taught Danny about the simpler things in life. The scenes she shared with Pacino were phenomenal, and the film was helped along by a huge lift whenever these unfolded. Bening also gave a charming performance, and was quite literally a joy to watch.

I have to be honest and say that the story is nothing ground-breaking, in fact, you might go as far as to say that it was actually quite generic. For me though, that made no difference. It was just one of those films that I could sit back and enjoy without burning out the ol’ brain cells. There were some very comical moments, but also some very touching ones too. I’d say the best way to describe it is that it’s bit of a crowd pleaser as there is something here that will suit the majority of audiences.

Overall, I can’t not recommend Danny Collins to you. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, and admit without a shred of guilt whatsoever that it was well worth the amount of time I waited to see it. It’s a film that was so easy-going, but at the same time managed to say something rather profound without forcing the message down your throat. It would never have won any Oscars, but more often than not, the prestigious awards are not the only signs of a worthwhile film, as seems to be the case here.

Review – Cockneys VS Zombies


When zombies take over the East End of London, it’s up to a rag-tag bunch of twenty-somethings and a group of pensioners to save the city.
When a group of inept criminals, led by Andy (Harry Treadaway) and Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) decide to rob a bank in order to save their grandfather Ray’s (Alan Ford) retirement home, they don’t count on the dead coming back from the grave to try and stop them. As it turns out, the robbers and their grandfather plus friends may very well be the only hope London has of being saved from an infestation of zombies that takes over in the city in the space of a few hours. The zombies chose the wrong group of cockneys to pick a fight with, however.

You know the phrase, ‘it’s so bad, it’s good’? Well, that perfectly describes this film. The second film I watched as part of the bank holiday afternoon reunion with my best friend was Cockneys VS Zombies, and wasn’t it just wonderful! I’d expected most of the fun to come from the two of us just slagging the film off, but we actually both really enjoyed it. It was a pleasant surprise to say the least.

I can’t say a whole lot about the performances if I’m completely honest. The actors, after all, were all playing characters in a spoof horror. They were all just great fun to watch. Two that stick in my mind are Ashley Thomas as Mental Mickey and Alan Ford (formerly of Snatch and Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels) as Ray. Thomas gifted us with a couple of the moments in the film that had me and my friend absolutely creasing, and I think the purpose of his character was just to push boundaries. He made me laugh a lot, and sometimes that’s all a woman really wants from a man. I suppose I already had a soft spot for Ford before really getting to know his character, but once familiar with Ray I was sure my faith hadn’t been misplaced. He’s just great. His characters never take any messing from anyone, and I think they always show some of the real hard nuts that the East End of London especially is renowned for.

This is a very British film, and while I pride myself on my Irish heritage, there is no getting round the fact that I was born and grew up here, so I’m in touch with the sense of humour displayed here. There is so much in this film that British people will laugh at, mainly because they all know that if a zombie apocalypse was to thrust itself upon the country, this is how it would react. What I also found really cool, and I may have foreshadowed this with my comments on one of the actors, was how it took a few people who had been staples of British TV, particularly in shows that had centred around London’s East End, and then just thrown them into this outlandish situation. It was bloody hilarious!

Now, I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but if you’re getting a group of friend together for a film night and a few drinks, I can’t recommend strongly enough that Cockneys VS Zombies is one of the films that should be part of it. This is the perfect film for you all to just get together, kick back and chill out with plenty of snacks (chocolate fudge brownie ice cream was our choice) and a few drinks. It requires zero brainpower – in fact, the less you think about it, the better it is- which is the best thing about this film. I’d never have dreamt of watching it before, but now I am so glad that I did.