It's a busy week of mainstream releases this week and so I will dive straight in! Oooh errrr.
The Lego Movie (U)
Lego is such an integral part of my life! Many of my 30 something friends are talking about this film more than the heavyweight Oscar contenders. I share in this excitement.
The trailer alluded quite clearly to its knowing sense of fun, a fondness for the building block and an innate love of childhood and geekery. Added to that what was a near constant laugh quotient throughout the trailer, is the film playing more to adults than children? Quite possibly.
The other thing is that it feels like it is something that is just meant to be. A lego film just is something to be excited about!
The story follows Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) an ordinary LEGO figure who is mistakenly identified as the lego figure to save the world. He is soon drafted into a fellowship to stop an evil tyrant, a journey with hilarious consequences.
A 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes reflects a film which is looking like being both a critical and popular commerce. I cannot wait to see it.
Like lego itself, it is likely to be a film with many rewarding layers!
Here's another film this week which I greet with massive anticipation.
Any Spike Jonze film is something to look forward to. This beautiful looking film has been lapping up 'best' and 'top' film of 2013 lists Stateside and just from the premise, it is easy to see why.
Her does what all great sci-fis do - reflect the present! What is being presented here is something that we're pretty much close to now and poses many questions about the nature of relationships and how wedded humans are to technology.
A computer and human falling in love doesn't seem far removed at all, does it?
The casting also seems to only aid this. Joaquin Phoenix's quirky mannerisms are just about perfect for a role of this nature. By cleverly casting the familiar voice of Scarlett Johansson as Sam - it allows the viewer to then fulfil the 'imagination' required to see behind the voice and the computer screen.
Furthermore, by casting Rooney Mara in the ex-role, you have someone who is a sceptic of how attached humans are to technology. It provides an intriguing juxtaposition.
The film poses a question about the immediate reality of computers becoming aware - but in a bittersweet romantic way about computers embracing humanity, as opposed to a Cyberdyne systems scenario of computers (robots) going wrong/fighting back.
Being Spike Jonze, it will also be funny! Cannot wait.
Cuban Fury (15)
A British comedy about a guy learning to tango to woo a girl isn't my first port of call but with the acting talent on display, it might just be able to work, especially with the calibre of cast on show here, led by Nick Frost. Frost is nearly always engaging and an actor an audience can relate to. This is important in a film whose premise won't relate to everyone.
This feels like an altogether more conventional affair for Frost than any of the Cornetto trilogy. Indeed, Danny Leigh on Film 2014 did an amusing comparison to Rocky - Nick Frost as Rocky, Rashida Jones as Adrian and Ian MacShane as Micky.
That alone feels broadly comic.
A pun that will no doubt be resonated from many a critic is how much Latin passion exists in this film. Will it be an amiable affair or a clunky cinematic extension of Strictly? Let's find out.
The Monuments Men (15)
The Monuments Men is Clooney's new action drama focusing on an unlikely World War II team, tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners.
So much about this film should work on paper - a great World War plot context, an amazing cast etc. Indeed, given who is attached to it, the expectations are going to be nothing but high, and delivering something less than good is always going to be massively disappointing.
I was really anticipating something great, yet the initial reviews have called the film laboured, forced, slack, stifled and some other less than complementary metaphors.
So despite its best intentions, the film is not delivering critical success although this won't probably stop it achieving box office success.
One wonders how the film might have worked if someone like Soderbergh directed instead. This is definitely not an indictment of Clooney's very able skills - as he writes, produces, directs and stars and he is usually a guarantee of something good/great. It sounds like tonally it could have used someone of Soderburgh's approach or just a 'sleight of hand' to bring it to a consistent level.
Endless Love (12A)
Out on Valentines Day (surely not a coincidence), the story is of a privileged girl and a boy whose instant desire sparks a love affair made only more reckless by parents trying to keep them apart. Got that? Yep.
Two likeable leads, Pettyfer and Wilde, will no doubt help to sell this film to a younger audience, trying to indeed appeal to the Nicholas Sparks crowd. The question of the film's qualities will lie in how it tells the story and doesn't 'tell' the audience how it should be feeling, which is a problem of so many of these sorts of films. Initial reviews haven't been great.
Elsewhere... If Valentines, or rather anti-Valentines is your bag this weekend, then head to the Electric for what they promise will be the 'darker side of Valentines', a sneak preview of the new Jim Jarmusch vampire romance Only Lovers Left Alive and a special Shock & Gore showing of 80s thriller Fatal Attraction.
Slightly more romantic offers are on show at the Mac with a special Valentines meal/treats and movie deal for the film Casablanca. The mac are also re-running Philomena, perfectly timed for the BAFTA award weekend, and also doing a limited run of Buster Keaton's iconic silent comedy The General.
Finally, check out my At The Flix bonus edition offering up some alternative (anti-) valentines films here.
Ok, that's it from me. Be sure to add your comments on appropriate or inappropriate Valentines Day films too and drop me a line (@timmy666 on twitter).