At The Flix with @Timmy666

Welcome to this week's #AtTheFlix, a weekly trawl through the films out in Birmingham.

Anomalisa (15)

Charlie Kaufman is arguably cinema's most daring and interesting screenwriter. Anomalisa is another example of why!

Only Kaufman, with the exception perhaps of Woody Allen in his pomp, can blend the metaphysical questions with a blend of surrealism and humour, all wrapped up in a extremely realistic stop motion animation.

This is film about loneliness, the mundane and the search for love. In the lead character Michael Stone's search for love, you are reminded of the fragility of human existence that Kaufman has covered many times before, and yet such profound dark subject matter is dealt with incredible deftness and it always funny.

As Stone says, "our time is limited, we forget that!". Be sure to catch this film while you can.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant (12A)

Finding a niche somewhere between the Twiglet and Hunger Games franchises, The Divergent Series is proving itself a potent success in box office terms.

The film follows up from where Insurgent left off, getting outside the wall of Chicago, where Tris and Four get embroiled in a battle threatening all of humanity. Cue a bunch of universal themes including courage, love and, yes, allegiance.

Despite box office success, you do feel that the series is a bit of a second rate Hunger Games and sadly the critical response has borne this out.

Fifty Shades of Black (15)

A year after the 'Gray' adaptation got its big screen outing, Marlon Wayans turns his spoof antics to a film and book already much satirised and mocked.

Does it actually require parody? Well, Wayans thinks so. In a way, Wayans has effectively taken the Chevvy Chase mantle for the millennial generation, going for lampooning movie franchises steeped in cultural referencing.

The question arises, are the unintentional laughs greater in the film it is trying to send up? I think someone in Hollywood must start to realise the "cinema parody" genre isn't really working.

Kung Fu Panda 3 (PG)

Po is back as everyone's favourite furry action hero. Jack Black inhabits the role with the kind of joy and verve which brings a smile to kids of all ages.

Dreamworks Animation have seemingly struck a little gold here, focusing on the action adventure first rather than  fixation on it being a funny animal film.

If the film posits the mantra "Be the best you can be", then it seems that this could be the film where this is the case for Po, bristling with exciting action set pieces, beautiful design and with the knowledge that pandas are, by their nature, free from criticism.

Add to this cast of big names bigger than Mongolia, and this little furry slab of awesome is realised.

The Witch (15)

This is a film to really pay attention to. Robert Eggers’ passionate study of 17th Century New England life, provides a focus on witches with the sort of sensibility and intensity that other directors in the horror genres would envy.

It's about family, honour and the traditions of life turned upside down through witchery. It is a meticulously researched and honestly acted portrayal of superstition, religion and virtue.

As a historian, and one who studied witchcraft at University, I am excited for a director willing to allow the audience to embrace the life of a 17th Century family, and for us to feel the horrific world it inhabits.

This sense of the 'other' only serves to make the horror more terrifying. And as is made clear, the devil is within 'us'.

Elsewhere this week, the mac have showings of Hou Hsaio-hsien's comeback, The Assassin (12A), a 9th century martial arts inspired film highly regarded for its sheer visual beauty and poise.

At the mac, watch out for a showing of Meru (15) on Monday, a 2015 documentary film chronicling the first ascent of the "Shark's Fin" route on the Meru Peak, a film that won the U.S. Audience Documentary Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

That's it from me. As always, any queries or quibbles, please don't hesitate to tweet me @timmy666.

Until next time, have a great week at the cinema.

#AtTheFlix

At the Flix with @Timmy666

Greetings one and all.

After a brief sojourn, #AtTheFlix is back with a peek at what’s out at the cinemas in Birmingham this weekend. As always, let’s take a ganders….

London Has Fallen (15)

Butler, Eckhart, Freeman et al are back for another slab of action silliness moving the action from DC to dearest London, as the President and his trusty bodyguard attend the funeral of the recently deceased PM leading to a terrorist attempt to take down many of the world’s leaders in the same place, whilst as a convenient excuse to flatten much of the capital.

It’s worth noting that when Jack Bauer came to London in 24, he kept damage on a largely human scale, except for a momentary schtick involving Wembley Stadium going up in smoke!  Well, this franchise has grandiose (if that’s the right word) intentions to cause a lot of damage on many a London landmark in the sort of way that Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel would be rightly proud.

We know it’s daft and packed with wanton xenophobic and jingoistic sentiment. It’s clearly clap trap but loads of things get blown up and Butler kicks ass, so all’s forgiven, right? Mmm.

Hail Caesar! (12A)

The Coen brothers turn their attention to screwball comedy and satire in their portrayal of Hollywood’s Golden Age right at the point where things started to creak! The film follows a day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix.

This is a film with a gargantuan list of A-listers including Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum.

As is typical of the Coen brothers, the passion for period detail is to be applauded along with the gorgeous deft camera work of Roger Deakins. As is untypical of some recent Coen brothers fare, and something to met with great anticipation, the film not only has lighter tone but appears to be a feel good experience.

One to really look forward to!

Other Side Of The Door, The (15)

This week’s scary offering follows a family living in India whose lives are turned upside down the death of their young son. His mother travels to an ancient temple to carry out a ritual to bring her son back. She finds a door which acts as a portal between two worlds but disobeys the warning to never open the door, to horrific consequences.

Here follows what looks like a procedural exercise in the possession movie genre with the door a physical device and metaphor between life and death. It looks like a take on The Conjuring with a blend of Western ignorance mixed with Aghori rituals and Hinduism.

If handled correctly, this could be an intriguing proposition for a horror film; played badly, the blend of cultures could be misinterpreted. Sadly, even with its Indian setting, it feels a bit predictable!

Truth (15)

Following under the weighty reputation of Spotlight, Truth is another look at the world of journalism, in this case Robert Redford as Dan Rather and his producer Mary Mapes played by a campy Cate Blanchett. Makes employs a team of top journalists (Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Elisabeth Moss) to uncover some leaked memos.

It’s pre-election 2004. Bush seeks re-election and is neck-and-neck with John Kerry in the polls.  After initial acclaim in the story, holes soon appear and careers begin to be put on the line.

First time director, James Vanderbilt (who previously scripted Zodiac) has received mixed reviews for his portrayal of CBS but the performances, in particular Blanchett are what might make this film most worth watching.

Other highlights this week...

Elsewhere this week, the mac are putting on a bunch of excellent stuff. The standouts for me include SNTRK a fusion of live music and films, starting with Darren Aronofsky’s 90s classic Pi (15), making the event SNTRK: PI (15) programmed by Jack Parker and featuring DJ sets from Hamish Campbell-Legg & friends. Watch out also for showings of the Icelandish film Rams (15), a touching deadpan comedy following two sheep farmers called Gummi and Kiddi who take on the authorities to save their special breed after a disease threatens the entire sheep population.

The Electric Cinema appears to be having a heap of action packed fun with its Labyrinth Party Nights (yes, I kid you not!) this Friday and Saturday night along with showings of a whole load of Oscar winning films. Be sure to also catch an exclusive showing of Ben Wheatley’s intriguing new film High Rise (15) starring Tom Hiddleston which is followed by a live Q&A with Ben himself.

That’s it from me this week. As always, if you have any queries or comments, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line on twitter @timmy666.

In the meantime, have a fantastic weekend at the cinema and be sure to catch me on Monday lunchtimes on Brum Radio as part of Paul Hadsley’s Happy Hour.

 

At The Flix with @Timmy666

Welcome to this week’s At The Flix. In a busy week, we look at Marvel’s latest comic adventure Deadpool, observe Will Smith fighting the cause for medical advancement, bask in the fashionista glory that is the return of Derek Zealander, observe a mashup of Jane Austen and zombies and realise that Ralph Fiennes can really dance!

Deadpool (15)

Marvel seem to back in their A league territory with this latest and altogether more adult adventure. Ryan Reynolds plays Wade, a former Special Forces operative who on facing a critical life decision is offered the alternative ‘get out’, to become part of a rogue experiment leaving him with accelerated healing powers, becoming Deadpool.

Reynolds clearly laps up the opportunity to be the ‘reluctant’ super hero as the film’s meta tone, knowing, self-aware humour, and fourth wall breakages sees Marvel side with a style of dark comic cartoon that we have seen previously in the first Kick Ass.

If comparisons are to be made then Reynolds takes the mouthy, swagger of the Downey Jr hero model and turns it up a notch through providing a foul-mouthed, blood spilled realism that adult audiences will largely lap up.

Crude, sly and very much cartoonish - perhaps this is the Marvel movie that Marvel actually needs!!!

Zoolander 2 (15)

It was only a matter of time, albeit 14 years, yet I think the cinema is ready again for a blast of Derek Zoolander’s warped fashionistic wisdom!

In No.2, the setup is a simple one, as Messrs Stiller and Wilson return as Derek and Hansel begin modelling again, when an opposing company led by Will Ferrell’s Mugatu attempts to take them out from the business.

The first film has turned out to be very prophetic in its portrayal fame and vanity, for example, the prediction around selfie culture. At the time this was relatively cutting edge, partly because it had something to say and that it wasn’t dumb.

Given the way the world is, I think there’s never a shortage ammunition through which Stiller, Theroux and the other scriptwriters can take aim at! The satire, at least for me, is far more interesting than any plot angles - and here’s to also hoping the film keeps its sense of ‘fun’ as well as being mostly funny.

A Bigger Splash (15)

This week’s most interesting looking film is set in Italy - a story of pent up desire, jealousy and rock and roll.

Tilda Swinton plays a rock legend called Marianne Lane who is recuperating from a voice related illness with her partner Paul played by Matthias Schoenaerts when an iconoclast record producer and old flame Harry played by Ralph Feinnes unexpectedly arrives with his daughter Penelope and interrupts their holiday. Harry brings nostalgia and recollection - and the dynamics of relationship boils up and over under the Mediterranean sun.

There’s an brooding excitement and anticipation at the heart of pairing Swinton and Fiennes together as two ex-lovers - with sexual tension simmering around the swimming pool, comparison must be made to Francois Ozon’s excellent 2003 film Swimming Pool.

If that’s a comparator, then I’m sold.

Concussion (12A)

In this awards season, Concussion ticks many of the boxes which get rewarded with gongs, at least on paper. Will Smith plays a forensic pathologist who on conducting an autopsy on a former NFL football player discovers neurological deterioration similar to Alzheimer’s disease.

The film covers the doctor’s crusade to raise awareness of a disorder called chronic traumatic encephalopathy -  otherwise known as football-related head trauma.

This is a message movie with an earnest story, a bit of a corporate wrongdoing thriller thing and in Smith, you’d usually expect him as epitome of a likeable lead for the mission!

Yet despite all of this, the critics haven’t gone for it.

Pride And Prejudice And Zombies (15)

Keeping the ‘knowing’, ‘meta-ish' theme going, another big film for this week is a kooky genre mashup blending one part costume drama, one part zombie fest.

Based on Seth Grahame-Smith book, this is a film aspiring for B-Movie status - blending dark horror comedy and a cast of young British talent, led by Lily James .

The setup is made for the teen audience and those kids studying Jane Austen will go along to see what aspects of the book make it in whilst really going for fight sequences and a hint of gore.

Add the mix Charles Dance as Mr Bennet and Matt Smith as a standout Mr Collins, and there’s an element of fun to perhaps be had. That said, Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter got adapted a few years to less than satisfactory results.

With its aspirations for a younger crowd, this doesn’t feel like a film for the hardcore horror fans, and it might be that any gore violence is kept off screen.

The jury is out but one expects it to be a rip-roaring success box office wise.

Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip (U)

As half term is approaching - we’re starting to get the family films creeping in - starting with another big screen adventure for Alvin and the Chipmunks and they’re are off on a road ‘chip’.

This is the fourth big screen adventure for The Chipmunks, and the film can be summed up by one reviewer stateside, “puns that can be constructed from “chip” or “munk” represent roughly 80 percent of the creative inspiration."

If you know the Alvin and the Chipmunks then you know exactly what you’re getting.

It’s Valentines Day this Sunday, so expect a few one-off films. For example, the mac, yes the mac, are showing Dirty Dancing (15), not once but twice. They know their audience.

The Electric have been doing a great season of classics as part of their Cinematic Time Machine season. On Saturday, they move to Birmingham Cathedral for a silent movie night to showcase the comic genius of silent star Harold Lloyd in Safety Last!. Laugh-out-loud funny and jaw-dropping in equal measure, this very special screening will feature live organ accompaniment from David Ivory, and will also be preceded by the 1920 Buster Keaton short One Week. Worth booking early for. Watch out also for a showing of Gone With The Wind too at The Electric on Sunday.

So that’s it from me. It’s a very busy week at the cinema, so whatever you go and see, be sure to tweet me your thoughts at @timmy666.

Watch out also for my weekly appearance on Paul Hadsley’s Happy Talk on Mondays on Brum Radio between 12pm and 2pm where I shall discuss film, tech and anything else geeky.

Have a great week at the cinema!

At The Flix with @Timmy666

 

Greetings one and all! Welcome to this week's trawl through all things cinematic and hitting the screens in Brum this week.

Spotlight (15)

Todd McCarthy’s passionate portrayal and appreciation of the work of Spotlight, an investigative journalism team of the Boston Globe, is brought to the fore in an old-school procedural style.

The Spotlight team brought the Catholic Church to account over their cover up of child abuse endemic within the church. This is a no-nonsense love letter to journalism, brought to life by an excellent case led by Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo who plays the journalists who uncovered the stories.

The film will no doubt be compared to All the President’s Men, but irrespective of such a comparison, this is a story that needs to be told, and like the journalists, the cinema viewing crowd should lap up the old style journalistic thriller style.

Youth (15)

Paolo Sorrentino is a director of such visual flair and style - The Consequences Of Love, Il Divo, The Great Beauty - these films serve as proof of the man’s greatness.

So when he writes a film specifically for Michael Caine to star in, curiosity has been peaked. Set during a spa break in Switzerland, Caine teams up with Keitel as old friends reflecting on life. Caine himself is a composer dreaming of fronting an orchestra again.

The film is clearly both style and some crazy substance, coming in from left field as fast as a pop star cameo or an outlandish hallucination scene. Like his previous film, The Great Beauty, Youth as a title in itself is a touch of irony, a statement on the brevity of life and the fear of death.

Critics haven’t cast this film anywhere near the level of his previous work, and even it is something of a mess, what a  mess it looks like it is, and with a scene chewing Jane Fonda cameo to book.

Dirty Grandpa (15)

Our man Bob de Niro continues to wipe away our glorious memories of his great cinematic legacy with a frankly baffling decision to appear alongside Zac Ephron (the grandson). He plays the dirty grandpa on a trip to Florida. He is the one making the gross out decisions whilst poor Ephron follows along, and the poor audience gets to endure as well.

Or perhaps it isn’t baffling any more. We have become accustomed to seeing Bob make crazy decisions ever since Rocky and Bullwinkle. The big question is, is this some kind of spoof and knowing in-joke from de Niro? If not, one really has to question who is advising him. Anyhow….

The 33 (12A)

As filmic a piece of recent history as you can get, the 33 refers to the Chilean minors who were trapped underground. It’s a feel good film with Antonio Banderas as the unofficial leader of the miners providing heart and drive to the film.

The film goes for the big cast treatment across the board albeit with some bonkers casting including Juliette Binoche as the miner’s sister.

I’m yet to see the 2010 Chilean film, Los 33 de San José, but in reflecting on the big English speaking version, one wonders how much more authentic a native language version of this would be.

Nonetheless, this film’s intent is on delivering a feel-good disaster flick and in those terms, the film’s intentions are seemingly met.

Don’t forget that the Electric continues its excellent Cinematic Time Machine season with FW Murnau's legendary silent film Sunrise (U), the film which won star Janet Gaynor the first ever Best Actress Oscar. Be sure to also catch the Dziga Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera (U) on Tuesday, a film which took the mechanics of cinema to a whole new level.

At the mac over the next week, watch out for two showings of Jean Luc Goddard’s Le Mépris (15) with Brigitte Bardot and Jack Palance, as well as a showing of the documentary Chemsex (18), looking at the lives of men whose lives have been changed by the Chemsex phenomenon, which refers to the use of drugs in a sexual context.

That's it from me. As is usual, any queries or comments, please let me know at @timmy666 on twitter. Have a great week and be sure to support your local cinemas when you can.

At The Flix with @Timmy666

Welcome to this week's trawl through all things cinematic and hitting the screens in Brum this weekend. After last week’s tranche of awards season contenders, what will this week bring?

The Big Short (15)

This week’s biggest release, this adaptation of Michael Lewis’s non-fiction best seller, provides a dark satirical take on the financial crash. It tells the story of a bunch smart misfit analysts who made their fortune when they predicted the bubble was going to burst back in 2005.

Anchorman director Adam McKay’s black comedy benefits from a zippy, informative and quirky approach alongside the multiple talents of great cast (Bale, Gosling, Carrell, Pitt), some of whom do that thing of ‘wigging up’ and altering their appearance a bit, because that’s what you do! Amongst the film’s many artistic oddities, expect lots of asides, cameos and assaults on the fourth wall.

This is a film that dares to entertain, inform and appal in equal measure. I’m converted.

The 5th Wave (15)

If alien invasions and a slice of apocalypse are your thing then The 5th Wave aims to peek your interest! This well-trodden cinematic setup is an adaptation of Rick Yancey’s book. At the heart of the film is a simple tale with Chloe Moritz attempting to provide some ‘small scale human’ dynamics to a high body count film in an attempt save her brother.

The film eschews a dystopian backdrop for something a little more familiar which allows for the alien devastation to be that much more cutting! That alone might sustain the film’s interest. Judging by the critics, the narrative might not be one of the film’s strengths.

Our Brand is Crisis (15)

The other satire to hit the cinemas this week is the big film adaptation of the 2005 documentary of the same name, which follows  a management company who are recruiting by the failing Bolivian president to turn around his predicament. Sandra Bullock plays a talented strategist with a damaged past who comes face-to-face with her nemesis played by Billy Bob Thornton. Cue the film’s satirical setup.

David Gordon Green’s film has a grand setup and provides plenty of opportunity for weighty satire and a cynical take on politics. That said, the film hasn’t quite ignited the excitement of critics Stateside. That said, Bullock’s performance has been widely praised and is probably the main reason to watch!

Ride Along 2 (15)

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart return as bickering buddies, and now both cops assigned from Atlanta to Miami to work with their PD to take down a drug lord played by Benjamin Bratt. The film effectively plays out as one long comedic schtick for Hart to do his notoriously energetic histrionics. I guess much of your enjoyment of this film will be determined by whether you find it funny!

Truthfully, when I saw the trailer for this, I had to remind myself of Ride Along or perhaps I didn’t need or want to remind myself?

Star Men (PG) 

Showing at the mac (Mon 25-Thurs 28), Alison Rose’s touching documentary follows four astronauts on a road trip as they celebrate 50 years of work together, a portrait of lifelong friendships, old age, facing death and reminiscence at their life in astronomy and space.

Finally The Electric continue their excellent Cinematic Time Machine season with Sunday showings of Buster Keaton’s 1928 silent classic, Steamboat Bill, Jr. (U) and the eponymous Singing in the Rain (U).

That's it from me. As is usual, any queries or comments, please let me know at @timmy666 on twitter. Have a great week and be sure to support your local cinemas.

At the Flix with @Timmy666

Hello one and all. Welcome to this week's #AtTheFlix, your weekly fix on what is coming out this week.

This is a very strong week, with a number of this week's releases having a definitive air of awards season. Yet there's more than that as well.

Let's take a peek shall we...

The Revenant (15) Part western, part survival flick, part revenge thriller, The Revenant is the latest full-bodied Innaritu feature from feature set in 1820s America with DiCaprio as a frontiersman, who when abandoned following a bear attack is forced to muster his survival skills to find a way back home to his family. He tracks down John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), the confidant who betrayed and abandoned him.

The proof is in the film's commitment to its survival element, with DiCaprio committed to demonstrating acting performance with added Bear Grylls grit and zeal.

A big winner at The Golden Globes, this could be the feature that lands Oscar gongs for both Innaritu and the film's leading man. A love/hate director, this is the sort of setup that was made for his particular, intense and close-up style of filmmaking.

Beautiful, bleak and tough, this is a film not to miss.

Creed (12A) Probably the film I'm most anticipating this month signals a shift in the trajectory of the Rocky franchise.

The consistent part of what has made Rocky work, or at least when it works, is not just its constituent elements that have served to make it iconic, it is an exercise in pure cinematic conviction and personality.

Rocky Balboa is Stallone's most enduring character!

The film's key spin is  that it is a spin-off switching over to the Creed bloodline, with Apollo Creed's son taking centre stage, as a boxer with by a tough upcoming, and turning to an initially reluctant Rocky Balboa to coach him.

On the surface, the film has parallels to the first Rocky with a rates of passage element very fitting of this enduring franchise.

Yet the real magic trick though is that this is a Ryan Coogler film and Stallone's focus is on acting his heart out alongside Michael B Jordan. Coogler brings his own energy and smart style to this franchise and this is another must seem

Room (15) Not to be confused with the impossibly bad 2009 film The Room, this is in fact the third Oscar of the week. Lenny Abrahamson's The Room. Emma Donoghue brings her 2010 novel to the big screen.

Brie Larson plays a young women kidnapped and imprisoned for years by an abuser; she lives with her young son Jack in a tiny room in basic rudimentary conditions.

Jack calls the space "Room", a cruelly ironic term as well as space in which they operate. The film asks many questions of what's at play and the psychological impact on Larson's character as well as her attempts to protect her son from the truth, as much as possible.

The film's uniqueness is in its focus, intensity. It a reflection on time itself and on family and seems to have human traits that we can all recognise, irrespective of the extreme situation.

Sunset Song (15) Showing at the mac, from the 15th to 21st January, a chance to catch Terence Davies's adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s classic novel.

Set on the coast of Aberdeenshire on the eve of World War, Agyness Deyn plays Chris Guthrie, a daughter in a farming family of  a father (Peter Mullan); yet when tragedy strikes, she finds liberty in the dissolution of their tight-knit family.

Davies captures nature and nostalgia like no other director, contrasting beauty with the bleakness of life and the uncertainty provided by war. Powerful, poetic and yet another must see.

Güeros (15) Showing from Mon 18th to Thu 21st, Gueros is a comedy road movie road in which the travellers barely manage to leave town, a tale of self-discovery set across Mexico City’s many frontiers.

This film has garnered many awards including Best First Feature, Berlin International Film Festival in 2014 and deserves a good reception.

Finally, at the Electric this weekend, watch out for showings of Bugsy Malone and Singing In The Rain as part of their Cinematic Time Machine season.

Ok, so that's it from me this week. What a great week for films, so whatever you go and see, I wish you a great one.

Until next week...

At The Flix with @Timmy666

Happy New Year! Welcome to the first #AtTheFlix of the New Year! As the countdown to awards season approaches, so expect a number of films that are just Oscar worthy versus those that are a little bit more Oscar bait!

It's a quiet week in terms of mainstream releases this week following a busy Christmas period with films such as The Danish Girl and In the Heart of the Sea. Let's take a genders.,

Hateful Eight, The (18) Out on wide release this week is Quentin Tarantino’s latest magnum opus, The Hateful Eight. As Tarantino approaches his self-announcement retirement, love him or hate him, each release comes with a mass of anticipation. Even at his most self-indulgent, Tarantino is an auteur of the ticks and eccentricities of cinema with a keen eye for genre-bending entertainment with knowing post-modern pokes at anything in his way, and always with ultra-violence, punchy dialogue and rip-roaring music!

So in the Hateful Eight, most of those constituents are in place, a three-hour Tarantino Western, a cast filled with Tarantino regulars and shot in glorious 70mm (oh for a local screen that can max this format!) with the added joy of a Ennio Morricone score mixed in with some typical Tarantino DJ-ing.

There are few directors who effectively have a niche all of their own - how many times have I said Tarantino above?

Being Tarantino he doesn’t lack self-importance in his own content - three hours long and one might argue where’s the word “cut". Critical response has ranged from the five-star eulogies to those who find his ticks overbearing at times. Tarantino continues to divide opinion. I tend to err to the former - I think his films are never less than a compelling proposition and worth the price of a cinematic ticket!

Doctor Zhivago (PG) David Lean's legendary tale of romance, hardship and wartime gets a warm Mac welcome from Friday 8th to Tuesday 12th January.

It's a film of beauty and heartbreak. It gave us Julie Christie and in Freddie Young, some of cinema's greatest photography.

Radiator (15) Running Monday through Thursday at the mac, here's the opportunity to see Tom Browne’s joyous and pithy portrayal of a marriage unravelling, in typical British fashion, held together by fear and familiarity.

The Lesson (15) Showing at the mac next Wednesday and Thursday, this tough 2014 Bulgarian drama follows a woman's desperation to keep her house at all costs. Filled with honesty and reality, the film has resonated in the art house circles, garnering awards at film festivals globally and it is good to see it getting a showing next week.

That's it from me this week. As always, if you have any quibbles or comments, I'm available on Twitter at @timmy666. Have a great week at the movies.

Take a look at the Films of 2015

 

At the Flix with @Timmy666 - the best of 2015

Hello one and all. Welcome to this week's #AtTheFlix. This week is all about my favourite films of the year, along with some honourable mentions and a few I missed along the way. What were yours? Top 10
  1. Inside Out
  2. Carol
  3. 45 Years
  4. Brooklyn
  5. The Martian
  6. Mad Max: Fury Road
  7. Songs of the Sea
  8. Ex Machina
  9. Sicario
  10. Spectre

Missed list

  • Tangerine
  • Crimson Peak
  • The Assassin
  • The Lobster
  • The Duke of Burgundy
  • What We Do In The Shadows

Honourable mentions

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • It Follows
  • Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

As always, any comments or queries, please drop me a line on Twitter @timmy666. Normal service resumes next week. Until then, have a great week at the cinema.

At The Flix with @Timmy666

Welcome to this week's #AtTheFlix, the weekly trawl through all the cinematic releases in Birmingham.

It's a quiet week in most respects, as there aren't that many new releases. There is one though.

I think you know the one.

Star Trek: The Force Awakens (12A)

Okay, so, what needs to be said! I imagine most of you reading this have already seen this or have been wrapped up in the incessant hype.

The anticipation for anyone who grew up loving the original three films has been marked.

Thankfully JJ Abrams has proven that he is the master of crafting a successful ode to the things we loved whilst growing up. He does this whilst seamlessly managing to bring everything up to the technical standards and audience demands of the cinema going crowds today.

In Abrams, there is frankly no one better to deliver the goods and, boy does he deliver. I'll say no more other than this is the Star Trek film you might have hoped and expected.

Snoopy And Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie (3D) (U)

With Snoopy and Charlie Brown returning to the big screen for the first time since 1980, I think this film supersedes The Force Awakens in terms of a pure nostalgia trip.

One would argue that the film's prime audience with be that of the 50/60+ generation who grew up with the comic strip. It is an iconic part of American culture.

The Peanuts Movie chooses computer generated images rather than hand-drawn representations, an obvious concession, but one where Schultz's drawings are faithfully referenced.

Elsewhere, check about various Christmas fare, including various showings of Elf, Home Alone and It's a Wonderful Life at the Electric.

That's it from me. Next week, I will reveal my favourite films of the year. Be sure to tune in. In the meantime, have a great week at the movies.

At the Flix with @timmy666

Welcome to this week’s #AtTheFlix.

Like John McClane declaring his need for a regular, normal Christmas, one has to measure up the festive film season with a mix of joy and befuddlement. It’s joyful because of the crescendo building up to awards season which means that we get to enjoy fantastic films like Carol; yet it’s also befuddling as we get a lot of executive produced, committee-led Christmas trash which puts your seasonal faith in other things than cinema.

To be blunt though, this feels like the ‘quiet’ week before The Force Awakens, when everything else will appear secondary.

Anyway, let’s have a peer at what jollities are in store for us at cinemas across Brum over the next week or so.

By The Sea (15)

Angelina Jolie stars and directs alongside hubby Brad Pitt in this tale of a rich artistic couple trying to rescue their marriage and deal with their unhappiness.

The film is set in the idyllic surroundings of the French Riviera - the opulent surroundings for less than opulent relationship. Fame and fortune does not buy happiness. The French Riviera is no coincidence. The film looks like having a certain Gallic arthouse regard and miserabilism - cameos from the likes of Richard Bohringer only add to Jolie’s knowing sense of French cinema and where she is nodding towards - cigarette smoking, sexual frustration, post-coital philosophy - this is the sort of French-style fare that critics and film lovers lap up.

Critics Stateside have been scathing about this film. Contrary to certain reviews, I’m not too bothered about whether or not it is a vanity project or not - isn’t most cinema, a vanity project? I’d rather watch the ambitions, however flawed, of this film, that than Christmas with the Coopers.

Grandma (15)

Lily Tomlin plays a punkish lesbian Grandma who fresh from breaking up with her partner, gets a knock on the door from her granddaughter Elle who needs to raise $600 for an abortion. Paul Weitz’s low budget comedy is not just a vehicle for Tomlin’s extensive talents but an ensemble cast of great actors including Julia Garner as Elle and Marcia Gay Harden as her mum.

What’s promising is that this isn’t typical of many low budget quirky comedies with big casts, where the performances are mere cameos and an excuse for actors to do their ‘thing’. There appears to be well drawn characters and purpose to them. All in all very promising.

Christmas stuff...

In the week’s Christmas fare, the Electric have a number of festive events such as Film Food Club presents It's A Wonderful Life with Hotel Du Vin (U) on Sunday and Conjurer's Kitchen presents The Nightmare Before Christmas in 4D (PG) (yes, 4D) next Tuesday and Wednesday. Also be sure to check out the excellent Trash Film Night showing of the delightfully dreadful Silent Night Deadly Night 2 (18).

True to form, the mac know their audience and have gone with classics such as Gone With The Wind (U) (Sunday) and True Romance (18) (Sunday) as part of the BFI Love season.

In other one off events, Urban Coffee Company are doing their annual Christmas Film & Supper Club (Thursday) a double bill with the classic short How the Grinch Stole Christmas followed by the 1951 version of ScroogeTickets are £20. jq@urbancoffee.co.uk, 0121 2331599.

That’s it from me this week. As always any queries, please drop me a line on twitter @timmy666.  Until then, have a great week at the cinema and I’ll be back to pour over Episode VII next week.

At The Flix with @Timmy666

Welcome to this week’s #AtTheFlix. The festive season has arrived! Cue to the usual mix of Christmas films, hefty blockbusters and a cinematic blend to either make you reach for a celebratory mug of glogg or make you scream, “bah humbug”. Let’s take our weekly look at what’s hitting the big screen in Birmingham over the next week.

Victor Frankenstein (12A)

The first sizeable adaptation of Mary Shelley’s eponymous novel since Kenneth Branagh’s underrated version of Frankenstein, pitches James McAvoy as Victor Frankenstein alongside his assistant played by Daniel Radcliffe.

A big link to this film is Sherlock - not only is the film is directed by talented Sherlock regular Paul McGuigan but also features Mark Gatiss and Andrew Scott amongst others.

Sadly all this talent a good movie does not make!  Judging by the less than favourable reviews, the impressive cast is not matched by the material - a film guilty of taking, or more arguably grabbing, influences from films that are nearly all superior than this. Just be grateful then for the many superior Frankenstein films that have been made over time!

Krampus (15)

In the spirit of Christmas horror films, the title Krampus immediate evokes a hint of dark, knowing humour. Hoping that its execution matches the title, Krampus tells the story of a boy who has a bad Christmas ends up accidentally summoning a Christmas demon to his family home.

In horror fan circles, the anticipation for this film is palpable - it looks like it might actually being able to deliver a blend of flat out nastiness along with humour - in the year that saw the passing of Wes Craven, Krampus seems like the sort of fare that he would have appreciated along with a fun factor - it could be seen as something of companion piece to something like A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Night Before, The (15)

I like much of what Seth Rogan does. He has ability to make ‘all’ audiences laugh and in this Christmas comedy, brings a festive mix to the usual stuff you’d come expect from Seth Rogan films - the bromance of three long-time friends, the flat out ‘crude’ situations mixed and with tenderness and affability and a hefty dollop of pathos to boot.

His scripts never pretend to be anything that they’re not and even if some of his efforts don’t land consistently, a curate’s egg of a Rogan film still packs something to make you chuckle. Furthermore, with The Night Before, Rogan might also have an ability to bring folks to the cinema who ordinarily wouldn’t watch Christmas films - a film that celebrates Christmas through a Rogan blender, quite literally.

Christmas With The Coopers (12A)

From a distance, I approach such a flick with a sense of trepidation - a large ensemble cast, a Christmas family theme and a comedic undercurrent, this feels like one of those ‘by committee’ studio affairs in the vein of Valentines Day or New Years Eve that I would ordinarily run a mile from watching.

The plot involves four generations of the same family convening for their annual Christmas Eve get together. Then some stuff happens and things go wrong, but it brings everyone back stronger than ever in that ‘oh so typical’ Yuletide kind of way.

The big issue is that the whole thing seems so full of clichés that even when I read the predictable plot, it incurs a sense of impending tedium. Joy is not a word I’d apply here ….

… Then again I might be wrong!

BFI Love: A Brief Encounter at Moor Street Station (PG)

With tickets available from Friday to Sunday, and selling fast, the mac invite you to Moor Street Station for the classic love tale between a housewife and a factor! This seems like a joyous experience combining the splendour of Moor Street Station, an iconic film and some festive cheer.

Does anyone know if Terence Davies’s Sunset Song (15), out this week, is being shown in Birmingham?

That’s it from me this week. As always any queries, please drop me a line on twitter @timmy666.  Until next time, have a great week at the cinema.

At The Flix with @Timmy666

Welcome to this week’s #AtTheFlix, the weekly look at what’s hitting the big screen in Birmingham over the next seven days.

Bridge Of Spies (12A)

This week’s biggest release sees Hanks and Spielberg team up once again to tell the story of James Donovan (played by Hanks), who plays Brooklyn lawyer who becomes embroiled in the heart of Cold War when the CIA sends him to Berlin to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot.

I love Spielberg and I love Cold War thrillers - consequently, this is a combination I am delighted to see together. Let’s be blunt though - Bridge of Spies isn’t as much about his latest collaboration with Tom Hanks but about the scene chewing performance of Mark Rylance. Added to this a script which has been polished by the Coen brothers, and also contains quite a bit of comedy to add levity to the high stakes situations, then you have a number of enticing reasons to see this film.

Spielberg continues to prove why he is modern cinema’s most important blockbuster director.

Black Mass (15)

Which Johnny Depp do you prefer? There are so many to pick from. It has been a while since we’ve seen a film to fully match his significant talents. Black Mass shows signs of being that film. Depp plays a Boston-based Irish mobster called James “Whitey” Bulger who collaborates with the FBI to hunt down the Italian Mob. We follow an unlikely alliance which soon tips over to enable Whitey to become one of the most notorious gangsters.

Depp’s performance has been widely praised - although I suspect this is a part relief of critics and fans who have been awaiting a role of actual substance for a while. Ably supported by the likes of Joel Edgerton and Benedict Cumberbatch, this is heavyweight stuff following in the steps of other Boston based mob thrillers like The Departed and The Town. In a sense, this might make the film more difficult to stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, this means ‘terra firma’ - a familiar stomping ground through which mob types can act out their highly brash and horrific deeds in highly gripping ways.

Carol (15)

Carol has been sweeping up acclaim wherever it has been showing, a detailed, austere and affecting tale of two women from the 1950s, both from very different backgrounds, who end up falling in love with the many complexities that this throws up.

Todd Haynes has always had a natural affinity for looking at outsiders and outcasts. Not only is he the ideal director through which to capture the details of two such powerful roles, he is able to bring significant weight to bear on Patricia Highsmith’s novel and count upon the towering performances of Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

Carol is already a front runner in the Oscar race and the bets are on for whether Blanchett and Mara will both be nominated. Judging by the praise for both, it would be fitting to see both recognised.

The Good Dinosaur  (PG)

Two Pixar movies in one year, you ask! Yep, it’s true! This is the bonus disc to Inside Out! The film’s simple premise is to imagine a world where the asteroid hadn’t wiped out the dinosaurs! We are introduced to the Apatosaurus, Arlo and a friendship story with a human boy!

Pixar’s affinity for putting lovable characters on the big screen continues abated and as is typical of them, the film has a way of humanising its lead, not just the boy. Furthermore, Pixar continues to push the envelope in its animation committing some of the more glorious landscapes to the big screen.

Some critics have criticised the film for not matching its ambitions in its execution and having a maudlin tone - it is Pixar though and I’m really grateful just for that.

Elsewhere, watch out for Taxi Tehran (Sun 29 Nov – Thu 3 Dec) at the mac, this year’s Golden Bear Winner from Berlin Film Festival, a film where the driver interviews diverse passengers enter the taxi. The driver is actually the director Jafar Panahi himself.

So, all in all one of the strongest big screen weekends for a while. If I missed anything good, then please let me know. As always any queries, please drop me a line on twitter @timmy666.  Until then, have a great week at the cinema.

At the Flix with @Timmy666

 

Greetings one and all. Welcome to this week’s #AtTheFlix, a weekly trawl through things coming out at the cinema in Birmingham.

The Hunger Games - Mockingjay Part 2 (12A)

However many hours later, this powerhouse dystopian franchise reaches its final chapter (in a film sense!) as Katniss leads the army against Frost. The first part was effectively the set up to the big scrap - the revolution and invasion combined into one final push.

Where this franchise has absolutely worked is in its casting. Jennifer Lawrence has pretty much kept the whole thing going - even through the film is doing 'that Hollywood thing' of splitting the final novel, there’s seemingly enough at play to make it more than watchable! Unlike the Twiglet saga, the film has also kept an appeal which goes beyond purely the teen crowd - even though it’s possibly the best franchise in viewing the world from a teen’s perspective!  That said, there’s a universality to what’s at stake.

What I also like is how The Hunger Games is tonally dark, tough and grim - it doesn’t pull too hard at sentiment (it does just enough), and, in its delivery of action, it goes for absolute top end 12A, especially in terms of horror movie tropes and its delivery of tension.

The Dressmaker (12A)

Kate Winslet plays a glamorous woman who returns to  small town in rural Australia. With her sewing machine and haute couture style, she transforms the women and exacts sweet revenge on those who did her wrong.

Much has been noted for the film being a hotchpotch of tone and unexpected feel - which is far more of a darkly, oddly and unintentionally comic (if you find it funny!) revenge tale than a sickly sweet take on haute couture. The mixed reviews do give an overarching impression that the film’s entertainment is in large part due to its excellent cast, with Winslett ably supported by the likes of Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth and Hugo Weaving and that the material itself is somewhat beneath their abilities.

Crow's Egg, The (PG)

A number of cinemas are showing this very well received Tamil language feature which garnered much momentum during the festival season - especially in Toronto and Rome. Set in a slum in Chennai, in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, two young boys are growing up unaware of all the things they don't have – such as pizza. The boys turn their passion from stealing crow’s eggs to pizza, as they witness a TV add selling pizza, culminating in the opening of a pizzeria nearby. The film’s warm heartedness and humour combined with a foodie storyline has been a slice of joy globally already.

True Romance (18)

This is still one of Tony Scott’s best films, in no small part bolstered by the Quentin Tarantino film - which meant Scott’s vibrant, stylised flair has some significant counterweight, punchy dialogue, never less than raucous, graphically violent and ever so slightly unhinged. An exercise of where excess and indulgence could deliver something entertaining - it’s been a blueprint for dividing audiences ever since its release in 1993.

Momentum (15)

Opening on limited release and to less than favourable reviews, this action thriller stars Olga Kurylenko as Alex, an infiltration expert with a secret past, mixed up in a government conspiracy and entangled in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a master assassin (James Purefoy) and on an mission to exact revenge on the murder of her friends and colleagues! I think Olga Kurylenko is a great actress she runs the risk of being the go-to for B-movie action thrillers, a bit like Milla Jovovich was for a number for years.

Elsewhere, be sure to check out a few Flatpack showings at the mac as part of their Celluloid City project including Outer Sight and Kings of the Road.  The mac have a special showing of Barney Douglas’s documentary Warriors (12A) which follows a group of young Maasai who, in a remote region of Kenya, who remarkably formed a cricket team. The film is followed by a Q&A with the director.

That's it from me this week. As always any queries, please drop me a line on twitter @timmy666. Until then, have a great week at the cinema.

At The Flix with @Timmy666

Greetings one and all. Welcome to this week’s #AtTheFlix, a weekly trawl through things coming out at the cinema in Birmingham.

Steve Jobs (15)

Having Steve Jobs to the big screen is always going to bring forward some semblance of anticipation. Add to the mix a Sorkin script, Danny Boyle’s direction and a cast including Michael Fassbender, Seth Rogan, Kate Winslet and Jeff Daniels and the interest might just peak a little more.

The story looks at three specific events in the Jobs era at Apple - each looking at the personal and business dynamics of his relationships with those around him. Expect lots of walking, long intense scenes of dialogue and a sense that everyone is smarter than the smartest human has any right to be!

The big question is which cinema flavour will win out here - is it the Sorkin universe, Danny Boyle’s visual flair or Michael Fassbender’s clear talents in the role of Steve Jobs? From what I’ve said above, I’m going to hazard a guess at Sorkin, and even in his most indulgent, it’s nearly always an intense ride.

A great film? Well, let’s wait and see.

The Lady in the Van (12A)

Earning a universal splattering of strong reviews at the London Film Festival, this film stars Maggie Smith as Miss Shepherd, who 'temporarily' parked her van in Alan Bennett's London driveway and proceeded to live there for 15 years.

The film sounds like a cosy Sunday in a cinematic can - imagine a filmic version of earl grey served with crumpets and it might be somewhere close to what this is!

Maggie Smith can pretty much read the phone book and you’ll know it will be entertaining. The bit that people often miss though is that in playing these charismatic, eccentric older ladies, she isn’t playing herself or a caricature. They are all ‘definitely’ Maggie Smith - but they are all quintessentially different and that’s what makes the prospect of this film so enticing.

Love 3D (18)

With one showing at the Electric next Wednesday, Love 3D is French director Gaspar Noé’s semi-autobiographical, sexually-charged melodrama shot in stereoscopic 3D - and is Noé’s most ambitious work to date.

Murphy is a young filmmaker who wakes up on New Year's Day to a frantic phone call. His ex-girlfriend, Electra, has been missing for months and her mother fears the worst.  Over one day, Murphy reminisces about her former love, two years spent with Electra - to eye-opening, no-holds barred impact.

The film was deemed a must-see and controversial talking point from this year’s Cannes Festival and here’s your opportunity to find out why.

This screening will be preceded by a recorded introduction from director Gaspar Noé, followed by a recorded interview after the film.

Shout Film Festival

Watch out for a plethora of films as part of this year’s Shout Festival which runs from the 12th to 22nd November. Run since 2009, the festival is a fixture in Birmingham’s arts and cultural calendar promoting and showcasing the best in LGBT Arts and Queer Culture throughout Birmingham the West Midlands.

Films showing at the mac over the next week include Futuro Beach (15), My Beautiful Laundrette (15), 52 Tuesdays (15), A Girl At My Door (18), Dressed As A Girl (18) and a number of Shout Shorts.

For more info, click here.

Free Angela and All Political Prisoners plus Q&A (18)

Showing on Sunday at the mac, is Shola Lynch’s impactful documentary about the life of young college professor Angela Davis, and how her social activism implicates her in a botched kidnapping attempt that ends with a shootout, four dead, and her name on the FBI's 10 most wanted list.

That's it from me this week. As always any queries, please drop me a line on twitter @timmy666. Until then, have a great week at the cinema.

 

 

At the Flix with @Timmy666

Hello one and all. Welcome to this week’s #AtTheFlix with @Timmy666, the weekly trawl through things coming out at the cinema in Birmingham.

Let's have a ganders.

Brooklyn (12A)

Colm Tóibín’s novel, Brooklyn, is given the big screen treatment in an adaption by Nick Hornby. This is this tale of a female Irish expat experience in 1950s Brooklyn starring the always excellent Saoirse Ronan as an immigrant finding her feet, and indeed love on the streets of New York.

Very Irish, epic in scope and a film rich in romance and Gallic sentiment, the film has been praised for its unique portrayal of a young Irish woman emigrating, its witty script and its strong performances. It has also been praised for its cinematic vista, an exemplar for what filmmaking can do in covering the life of an otherwise ordinary lives as well as being a love letter for America (in the 50s at least) as the land of opportunity.

Burnt (12A)

Judging by quite sizeable chunk of the mixed reaction to this new film from director John Wells, this is maybe not only a case of a ‘burnt’ lead character but a ‘burnt out’ film too. Bradley Cooper plays Chef Adam Jones, a Marco Pierre-White meets Gordon Ramsay type Michelin-starred rockstar with something of the reputation from the Parisian restaurant scene who matches his quality cooking with numerous bad habits.

This is the sort of shtick that could, if executed well, be mildly entertaining and clearly Bradley Cooper fans will flock to see this in droves. The trailer suggests there’s plenty of commitment from its leads, including Sienna Miller as his wife and lots of good looking food! The disappointment is that you’d also expect a script from the usually excellent Steven Knight would fizzle more than just the cooking itself and provide something of a substance. Sadly I don’t think all critics think so.

Kill Your Friends (18)

Director Owen Harris’s full-blown portrayal of the Britpop laden music industry during the 90s has garnered mixed critical reaction - a full blown cocktail of excess, drugs focussing on the character Stellox, an A&R man who aspires for the dream but takes his desire for acclaim to desperate and indeed extreme levels!

It’s clearly designed as a larger than life portrayal and in Stellox a character for Nicholas Hoult to get his teeth and everything else stuck into! The film’s coarseness is both its potential appeal and repellence depending on where your particular line is drawn, and many lines are drawn and snorted in this film!

He Named Me Malala (PG)

Documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, him of An Inconvenient Truth fame, steps behind the scenes of the life of Malala Yosafzai, giving us the opportunity to get to the heart of what drives her inspiring humanitarian work and also get to see her as a teenager and a daughter behind the scenes.

Guggenheim attempted to make what was ostensibly a glorious PowerPoint presentation into a film of documentary cinema! Love it or loathe it, he knows how to wrap a bit of mainstream into documentary filmmaking, and by focusing on Malala, there is the opportunity to see her every day and her school work and then combine it with see her standing with, and standing up to, Barrack Obama. If the film has any shortcomings, I’m grateful Malala is extraordinary enough to make it worth watching.

Fidelio: Alice's Journey (15)

Lucie Borleteau’s acclaimed 2014 debut feature gets an airing at the mac (Tues 10 - Wed 11), the story of Alice , a 30 year-old sailor, caught in a menage-a-trois between Félix who waits for her ashore, and her first lover, Gaël, the captain of the Fidelio that she unexpectedly founds herself on. In her cabin Alice she comes across the diary of a former deceased mechanic, whose life and experiences echo her own journey.

That's it from me this week. As always any queries, please drop me a line on Twitter @timmy666. Until then, have a great week at the cinema.

At The Flix with @Timmy666

So, with Bond likely to be supplanted at number one for the next weeks, here are the few alternative offerings, a few of which have a Halloween flavour.

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (15)

Comedy horror from Paranormal Activity director Christopher London. As the title might suggest, the film has a knowing teen-edged audience at its heart, following the exploits of three Boy Scouts hoarding of the walking dead with an attuned survival instinct.

The images and screenshots hint at something that is knowingly cheesy and as a result it could fall one of two ways. It could be clever or it could be trite and stupid. Sometimes, there's a third way and that's a combination of both those things.

To date, there's been little press reviews.

Shock and Gore presents A Nightmare on Elm Street (18)

With the great horror director Wes Craven having passed away very recently, it seems very appropriate that Shock and Gore's contribution to Halloween this year is a showing of A Nightmare on Elm Street at the Electric. No matter how many years pass by, this still remains one of the archetypal horror films of all time. Unlike most films under the slasher monicker, this is one that is intelligent and as seeing it (under age) for the first time left a real mark on my cinema viewing habits and attitudes towards horror.

Phantom of the Opera (PG)

Winning the cool awards for Halloween this year could be the mac, who not only are putting on a rare screening of the 1925 silent horror  'Phantom of the Opera' but are doing it to a live music score composed by Mark Willetts and performed by the Black Country Guitar Quartet.

Halloween Film & Supper Club - Urban Coffee Company.

Urban Coffee Company are screening the Hammer horror classic ‘Dracula – Prince of Darkness’ starring the late Christopher Lee. The showing is on Thursday 29th October at their JQ emporium, supper will be served from 7pm and the film starts around 8pm. Tickets are £17 and include supper, a drink (wine, beer, or coffee) and popcorn! Bookings - jq@urbancoffee.co.uk ; 0121 2331599.

That's it from me this week. As always any queries, please drop me a line on twitter @timmy666. Until then, have a great week at the cinema.

 

At The Flix with @Timmy666

The name’s 666, @Timmy666 …. welcome to this week's #AtTheFlix, a weekly cinematic haberdashery of all things hitting screens in Birmingham this weekend.

In a week, where we celebrated the Future, aka 21st October 2015 and the new Star Wars trailer broke YouTube, there’s the biggest franchise of them all returning to the big screen from Monday.

Spectre (12A)

Pretty much blitzing anything else mainstream hitting the screens this week, Bond 24 hits the screens on Monday, Daniel Craig’s fourth outing with Sam Mendes returning to the helm following the astronomical success of Skyfall. Expectations are high to follow-up on one of the very best Bond films. I have no doubts that Mendes wouldn’t have returned if the story, the characters and the scripts weren’t up to the kinds of standards set by Skyfall! With that expect an even more blatant blend of Bond from the classic to the contemporary. Judging by clips and the vibe emanating from Bond HQ, this feels like a greatest hits of Bond brought to life. Roll on the 26th.

Meanwhile, until Monday you can get your cinematic fix with the following offerings ….

Last Witch Hunter, The (12A)

Vin Diesel is your man … yes he is, especially when he’s a witch hunter and (judging by the 25% tomato meter rating) at the time of writing, it’s going down a storm with the critics. There are forces in our world intent on unleashing the Black Death on the world. Vin Diesel plays Kaulder, a warrior who have for centuries gone after ‘rogue witches’, including the Queen Witch (who Kaulder had slain) but who comes back to life to seek revenge leading to a big  battle that will determine the survival of the human race. Clearly channelling a sort of Game of Thrones vibe, albeit with a slightly more family friendly nature, the only reason I’d possible watch this is for Vin Diesel, who amidst the absurdity and bad CGI, is often a likeable presence although you do have to question his judgement between good and bad films. I suspect you’ll need to have a certain tolerance for the things that are ‘cheesy’ in this film to get something meaningful out of it.

Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension 3D (15)

I’m not sure how many Paranormal Activity films there have been so far! I’ve lost count … rumour has it, it’s the fifth. It feels like the 20th. Anyhow, the producers of this film clearly think there’s mileage left in the live/found footage jump-athon style. Cast your mind back to the original Paranormal Activity - this was at a time when found footage type films were still a little bit novel, basking in the glory of The Blair Witch Project. Indeed, I vaguely remember Paranormal Activity being rather effective too and with a few really good jumpy bits. Now, I begin to believe you get more jumps from guys doing “found footage” inspired clips on YouTube and therein lies, for me, a slight issue with the genre. It’s nothing that anyone really goes wow about in an age where we are daily exposed to the live capture of video clips of all sorts of craziness, scary or otherwise, everyday by the usual social media changes.

Sadly, I fear that this entry might only be derivative as a result and the trailer hasn’t given me any other impression.

Mississippi Grind (15)

Outside of Spectre, this week’s other most interesting looking film could be this intriguing slice of Southernness (US style that is) - part road movie, part film about addiction. Beneath the obvious trappings that both genres can fall into, this appears to have captured the imaginations of critics Stateside, garnering glowing reviews and praise for the lead performances of Reynolds and Mendelssohn! In the past few years, there have been quite a few gambling movies which have hit the mainstream but have failed to really tell me anything gripping or provide characters to care about. I’d hope in this case that the film has a level of watchable addiction, at least on a par to the addictions that the film covers. Even if the film is no more than a trip in nostalgia to great gambling flicks like The Gambler, the critics have indicated it’s far better than many of the recent attempts to capture that spirit.

Paper Planes (U)

This lovely sounding Australian film is a children's film about a young Australian boy's passion for flight and his challenge to compete in the World Paper Plane Championships in Japan. Clearly arriving in time for half term, I’m intrigued to see a kids film that has a ‘real world’ situation, once that for once isn’t an animation or a fantasy or a film rife in commercial tie-ins. Wishing the film every success over half term and for a few weeks beyond!

Mia Madre (15)

Showing from Friday 23rd to Monday 26th October at the mac, this is a chance to see Nanni Moretti’s well-received exercise in ‘meta’ film making, exploring all sorts of issues such as familial loss, ageing, gender roles and the process of filmmaking itself. Fundamentally, it’s a very filmic exploration of what it is to be human.

Pasolini (18)

Also showing at the mac next week, don’t miss out on Willem Dafoe’s performance as 70s filmmaker Pasolini. Directed by the great Abel Ferrara, expect a film awash with style and a clear intrigue in the complexities of Pasolini as a person.

That’s it from me this week. I’m off to make a coffee, neither shaken nor stirred. As always, any queries or quibbles can be directed to me on twitter @timmy666.

Have a great week at the cinema!

#AtTheFlix @BrumFaves

Welcome to Birmingham - Resort World

It was a chef that first changed my mind. Possibly like you, I supposed here's another Americanism popping into our culture right here on our city's doorstep. But as I've heard more about Resort World, I've grown markedly more excited. Of course it's bringing jobs and many £££s into the region but more than that, when people think they've been in Birmingham because they've departed from the airport or been to the national exhibition centre which as we well know is in lovely Solihull, they now actually will get to experience some of that famous, warm Brummie hospitality. And spend loadsa money in the region.

What solidified my interest is hearing that one of my favourite local chefs, Andy Waters (Waters on the Square, ex- Edmunds) is opening a new place. That's worth a visit on its own.

Also, there's a purpose-built 11-screen Cineworld. Perhaps, as they're in an international setting, they may show the art house and world cinema films that our local indie cinema's lack.

Resort World have gone to some length to attract 51 outlet shops including H&M, Next and Gap and many more lesser-non brands offering up to 60% off regular prices as well as a luxury spa.

Alongside the Andy Waters restaurant, you have the choice of 18 bars and restaurants including the Sky Bar, Highline New York Bar and The World Bar.

For further entertainment, we have a Genting International Casino (the whole resort is bought to us by Malaysian-based Genting Group, their first in Europe) and you have the opportunity stay in the Genting Hotel, another 4 star hotel, when visiting the already re-branded Genting Arena.

And if cinema, casino, shops, restaurants, spa and bars just doesn't fill your day, there are events including the Style Insider Weekend (5/6 Dec) and before that the festive season launch (18 Nov).

The Resort by Day  part will open on Wednesday 21st October, followed by Cineworld (23rd) and the Casino (26th) to coincide with the James Bond film release.

And it's all just 10 minutes by train from the shiny new New Street Station.

You can find out more here.

By Rickie J, founded and editor of Brum Faves  who, when not following around favourite chefs can be found on @RickieWrites.

@BrumFaves

 

 

At The Flix with @Timmy666

Greetings one and all and welcome to this week’s At The Flix, our weekly glance at the cinematic releases hitting screens across Brum. Here’s what’s happening….

Pan (3D) (PG)

To pan or be panned? The arrival of the latest adaptation of Peter Pan has seemingly been ages in coming from the early teaser trailers. Talented British director Joe Wright takes on the big budget mantle to portray a ‘coming of age’ meets origins story adventure as Peter, a mischievous boy gets propelled from an orphanage to the magical of Neverland, teaming up with Tiger Lily and James Hook to defeat Hugh Jackman’s ham-heavy Blackbeard to save Neverland and become Peter Pan.

So far, so obvious you might say?

Well, a few critics have really enjoyed the film from its pace to its childlike sensibility. Much has been mentioned of Jackman’s theatrical performance as Blackbeard, glorious and otherwise! Sadly though, critics have not been particularly nice to Pan. Peter Panned indeed.

Crimson Peak (15)

I await with some anticipation to see the latest film from del Toro. After the robots of Pacific Rim, here he is very much back on Terra Firma! The film follows a young woman whose heart is taken by a seductive stranger. When taken to a house on top a mountain of blood-red clay, here in follows a haunted house fable, unlocking multiple secrets and horrors.

I found the trailer to be a little underwhelming and conventional, belying the unique talents that Guillermo del Toro has - when on top form, his ability to combine beauty, wonder and sheer horror has stood him alone in the horror genre for the last two decades, Pan’s Labyrinth being one of the greatest films, not just horror films, ever made.

So here’s to hoping that the trailer is merely an oversight and that we get a treat for the senses that’s both visually alluring and extremely frightening to boot!

Hotel Transylvania 2 (3D) (U)

As far as I remember, the original Hotel Transylvania was hardly a classic, but evidently it made enough dollars to warrant its producers to green light a second adventure! Much like the original, this is another chance for Adam Sandler et al to go to town with its simple blend of corny gags and light-hearted fun.

Everything about this film says that it actually knows what it’s doing and whether critics go with it or not is something of an irrelevance. This isn’t Inside Out, nor does it try to be! It’s facile, it's silly - and it’s clear that they see these traits as a strength.

Program, The (12A)

My second most anticipated film this week is Stephen Frears’ take on the Lance Armstrong story! As modern ‘rise and fall’ stories go, this one has to rate as one of the most cinematic!

The focus of the story, and the thing that I’m most looking forward to watching, is the stand-off between Armstrong (Ben Foster) and the Sunday Times journalist David Walsh (Chris O’Dowd) and how Walsh fought to unravel the truth behind Armstrong!

The only question mark I have on the film is that given the story is so well-known and still relatively recent, how will the film give freshness to the story and what artistic licenses will be granted on the characters that the film is portraying.

Palio (PG)

Showing at the mac (Friday 16-Sunday 18 October), Palio is director Cosima Spender’s capture of Siena’s legendary horse race, capturing not only a behind the scenes document of the event, but also focussing on the story of a young Sardinian eager to win the race and become “King of the Square”.

That’s it from me. As always, any queries or quibbles, you can drop me a tweet at @timmy666

Until next week, have a great time at the cinema.

At the Flix with @Timmy666

Welcome to this week’s At The Flix, Brum Faves weekly slot taking a peek at what’s hitting the big screen over the week ahead across Brum.

The Walk (3D) (PG)

If ever a film warranted the term ‘event cinema’ - the story of Philippe Petit’s legendary walk between The Two Towers is an event of its own, and about as cinematic as it gets.

Forget Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s questionable French accent, or indeed much of the preamble as the film is all about the walk itself. Clearly with a veteran with as many visual skills as Zemeckis, the audience is likely to be in for an absolute jaw dropping treat. You know what it’s about! The question is how far to the edge you get … and in stellar IMAX and 3D, you should hopefully get to do this and then some!

Worth combining this film with the amazing 2008 documentary of Philippe Petit, Man on Wire, one of the greatest documentaries ever made!

Sicario (15)

So, Sicario means hitman and in this thriller, an FBI agent (Emily Blunt) is enlisted by an elite government task force official (Josh Brolin) to aid in the escalating war against drugs. Working alongside an enigmatic consultant with a questionable past (Benicio Del Toro), the team sets out on a clandestine journey forcing Kate to question everything that she believes in order to survive. The film looks tight, gripping and filled with lots of meaningful situations, action sequences and stellar performances.

There have been many films tackling the word of drug enforcement. This looks contemporary, relevant and gripping and a big mainstream breakthrough for talented Canadian director, Denis Villeneuve.

Suffragette (12A)

Opening from Monday, Abi Morgan’s scripted portrayal of the Suffragette movement looks like a veritable tour-de-force, an urgent and poignant portrayal with a cracking cast led by Carey Mulligan with the likes of Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep in the support.

The film is opening amidst a lot of talk about women in the film industry and that there is a still a lot to be done to give females a more equitable slide of both the roles and the pay! In a microcosmic sense, this film represents that in many respects the movement’s values resonate and are indeed ongoing.

Regression (15)

Set in early 90s Minnesota, Ethan Hawke is a detective investigating the case of young Angela (Emma Watson), who accuses her father of an unspeakable crime. When John unexpectedly and without recollection admits guilt, renowned psychologist Dr. Raines (David Thewlis) is brought in to help him relive his memories and what they discover unmasks a horrifying nationwide mystery.

So on paper, an interesting psychological thriller setup with a desire to cause some disquiet and fright to the average cinema going audience, and with a particularly strong cast as well. Alejandro Amenabar is a director with some considerable experience in this genre (The Others comes to mind), so hopes should be reasonable for this.

99 Homes (15)

Showing at the mac (Fri 9 - Wed 14), this is a chance to watch Ramin Bahrani’s portrayal of a businessman making a fortune by repossessing homes whilst gaming the real estate market, Wall Street banks and the US government.

When he evicts Dennis Nash (Golden Globe nominee Andrew Garfield), a single father trying to care for his mother (Academy Award nominee Laura Dern) and young son (newcomer Noah Lomax), Nash becomes so desperate to provide for his family that he goes to work for Carver – the very man who evicted him in the first place.

The film follows how Nash is seduced into the lifestyle - and Nash signs a deal with the devil evicting families from their homes and having life completely turned around.

Tangerines (15)

Showing at the mac (Tues 13 - Thurs 15), this moving film makes a statement about peace. Set in 1992, during the growing conflict between Georgia and Abkhazian separatists in the wake of the Soviet Union’s dissolution. This tale focuses on two Estonian immigrant farmers who decide to remain in Georgia long enough to harvest their tangerine crop. One of them, Ivo (Lembit Ulfsak) takes in two wounded soldiers from opposite sides as war start .The fighters vow to kill each other when they recover, but their recovery transcends their vow and their divides.

The film shows us the hard struggle of war and how precious life is!

That’s enough from me this week! If you have any quibbles regarding any of the above, please drop me a tweet @timmy666. I wish you a fantastic week at the cinema!