28 October 2011

Gilette's stories of greatness!

Everyone knows Gillette is an extraordinary brand that yields extraordinary results for those wise enough to use it. As a result Gillette have opted to compose a selection of videos looking at some people who have achieved extraordinary things, and overcome adversity to achieve their dreams and leave their mark on the world.
All the promotional videos are included on this post, and we want to know who you think is the most extraordinary? Just sit back and enjoy hearing from these remarkable individuals, and then when you’ve decided which you like best, vote at si.com/greatness.
So what are you waiting for? Check out the clips, be blown away by some amazing tales and then tell us your favourite! Watch  at the videos below.

21 October 2011

Movie Review: Take Me Home Tonight



Take Me Home Tonight
2011, 97mins, 15
Director: Michael Dowse
Writer (s): Jackie Filgo, Jeff Filgo
Cast includes: Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Teresa Palmer, Dan Fogler
UK Release Date: 13th May 2011

“Take Me Home Tonight” was shot in 2007, but ominously only found distribution earlier this year. The film is a celebration of the eighties, aiming to slot efficiently into the coming of age and “one crazy night” genres that have become essentials of teen cinema. Whilst rarely crass or offensively broad, “Take Me Home Tonight” is regrettably low on solid laughs, an issue that can obviously be traced back to its lukewarm screenplay. The performances are fine and the direction by Michael Dowse is energetic, but the writing never clicks, the characterization and gags presented falling short of the mark on most occasions.

A struggling MIT graduate stuck in a rut, Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) is left stunned when his High School crush Tori (Teresa Palmer, attractive but dull) meanders into the video store he works at. Ashamed of his post-college career trajectory, Matt tells Tori he works at Goldman Sachs, using the lie to construct a second meeting at a party occurring later the same night. Teaming up with his depressed and recently fired buddy Barry (Dan Fogler, in better form than usual), Matt heads to the fiesta with the aim of winning his dream girl, but what he gets is an evening of substance abuse, wacky antics and illuminating self-discovery.

“Take Me Home Tonight” is set in 1988, the filmmakers capturing the era impressively. Everything from the VHS stacked shop fronts to the questionable fashion trends afford the movie a sense of authenticity, lending the picture at the very least some genuine nostalgic value. Unfortunately the lack of notable laughs and the pedestrian plotline scupper the joy almost fully, undercutting the talented cast and the best efforts of Dowse. The script doesn’t have any zing or momentum; it’s a drab piece of writing, too preoccupied with tepid banter and stock characters to engage.

Topher Grace is likable but his role is bland, none of the conflicts he has to endure are particularly worthwhile. It all just feels like a case of nerd chasing hot chick, hardly the most innovative staple on which to hang a movie of this nature. Dan Fogler is entertaining as Barry, using his physicality to try and stimulate the material, His success rate is patchy, but given lacklustre calibre of the humour, the fact he makes it work at all is commendable. The adorable and extremely capable Anna Faris also feels wasted, relegated to the fringes as Matt’s conflicted sibling. Her arc is much more three dimensional than Topher Grace’s (Faris struggles with choice between education and marriage), but the story overlooks her in favour of the more generic central romance. It’s pretty indicative of the poor writing on display here.

“Take Me Home Tonight” isn’t misogynistic or soulless, which in the current mainstream comedy climate counts for something. It boasts a cool retro aesthetic and is despite the vast amount of cocaine usage, quite an innocent and well intentioned endeavour at heart. The problem is that it’s uninventive and almost never funny, which given its apparent placement as a comedy is a tough fault to forgive.

A Review by Daniel Kelly, 2011

17 October 2011

Capsule Review: The Debt



The Debt
2011, 113mins, 15
Director: John Madden
Writer (S): Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman, Peter Straughan
Cast includes: Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Jesper Christiansen
UK Release Date: 30th Sepotember 2011

“The Debt” is two thirds of a brilliant film, John Madden’s intriguing espionage yarn only falling apart during its bloated and limping conclusion. A brilliantly acted piece of work, the movie manages some hugely suspenseful sequences, the filmmakers orchestrating a skilfully plotted and tautly handled maze of potboiler theatrics. However despite some decent characterization, “The Debt” doesn’t remain engaging for its full duration, Madden fumbling the finale through a preposterously generic and bloated wrap-up. It’s a genuine pity.

The intricate plot cuts efficiently between two different timeframes, the first seeing a young group of Mossad agents attempting to bring justice upon a Nazi war criminal, the second set in 1997 a study of the repercussions the mission has had on them in later life. “The Debt” assumes a twisty narrative style, which along with a few punchy action sequences and a consistent aura of tension keep the opening two acts extremely watchable. Unfortunately the baggy finale lets too much gas out of the bag, the picture flaccidly stumbling toward a climax, rather than making good on the promise indicated by earlier segments. A solid thriller then, but perhaps not the genre gem it could have been.

A Review by Daniel Kelly, 2011

16 October 2011

Movie Review: The Three Musketeers



The Three Musketeers
2011, 110mins, 12
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writer (s): Andrew Davies, Alex Litvak
Cast includes: Logan Lerman, Matthew Macfadyen, Christoph Waltz, Milla Jovovich, Orlando Bloom, Ray Stevenson, Freddie Fox
UK Release Date: 12th October 2011

Adapted from a certified literary classic by Alexandre Dumas, it’s peculiar to find Paul W.S. Anderson at the helm of “The Three Musketeers”. A filmmaker not renowned for his subtly (or even much in the way of fundamental skill), Anderson and the material feel like a crude fit, the director only ever really gelling with the story’s swashbuckling elements, leaving such afterthoughts as satisfactory plotting and credible emotional arcs by the wayside. “The Three Musketeers” has a respectable amount of blockbusting scope and a few fun instances of swordplay, but ultimately works out to be a remarkably insubstantial product. Maybe in the hands of a more interesting director or with a finer tuned script this could have been a good exercise in old school adventuring. As it stands it’s just disposable bunkum.

Young D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) has dreams of being a musketeer, leaving his homestead to try and find glory in Paris. On arrival he quickly makes friends (after a brief misunderstanding) with the King’s Musketeers, Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans), a group of once great warriors now rendered obsolete thanks to the sly input of Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz), a man who craftily bends the will of France’s immature and na├»ve King Louis (Freddie Fox). Together D’Artagnan and the Musketeers discover a plot to throw France into a vicious war, a development that would allow the devious Richelieu to take control of the state. Banding together, the Musketeers must combat not only Richelieu’s soldiers but also a tricky double agent (Milla Jovovich) who has a mysterious connection with their past.

The screenplay is an overlong and stodgily penned mess, boasting some of the worst dialogue you’ll hear in a multiplex this year. It’s a wonder that the seasoned likes of Macfadyen, Waltz and Mads Mikkelsen (underused as Richelieu’s right-hand man) signed onto the project at all; even they struggle to make the lines provided by screenwriters Andrew Davies and Alex Litvak sound remotely acceptable. The storytelling isn’t much crisper and at nearly two hours the film outstays its welcome notably. The tone is so dumb and silly that it’s shocking to imagine anybody thought the picture should go on for longer than 80 minutes, yet Anderson stretches “The Three Musketeers” to breaking point, injecting far too many subplots and dull supporting characters into the mire, killing his film’s sense of pace in the process. Ultimately the screenplay is bad, but Anderson must be held accountable for the lack of intelligent editing evident, the filmmaker undercutting some of the movie’s more entertaining set-pieces with his commitment to tedium.

The mix of cast members here is bizarre, ranging from Oscar winners (Waltz) all the way to slovenly TV stars (James Cordon appears in the capacity of irritating comic relief). The Musketeers themselves aren’t outstanding, but they get the job done, Macfadyen and Luke Evans leaving the most amiable impression. The chemistry feels a little wanting in some segments, but each of the leading men showcase a commendable degree of physicality, a welcome touch during Anderson’s admittedly slick action beats. Lerman tries too hard to nail D’Artagnan’s roughish charisma, his turn coming over as smug and aggressively forced. Then there’s Orlando Bloom. Depicting the wormy Duke of Buckingham, Bloom hams it up ridiculously, delivering a performance comprised largely of misguided flamboyance. It’s not a decent piece of acting in the traditional sense, but it is oddly watchable, certainly he leaves more of an impression than the uncharacteristically ordinary Christoph Waltz on display here.

Anderson keeps the set-pieces chaotic and grand, although several of the combat sequences deserve props for ace choreography. “The Three Musketeers” certainly has the aesthetic of a major league blockbuster, Anderson utilizing majestic sets and vast amounts of CGI to accurately realise his own vision of the legendary world previously presented by Dumas. There’s a definite sense that the filmmakers want the picture to follow in the footsteps of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” saga, everything from the derivative musical score to the overall tone begging comparison with that aforementioned 21st Century cinematic juggernaut. Unfortunately thanks to several clumsy artistic touches “The Three Musketeers” has nothing on 2003’s epic “The Curse of the Black Pearl”, but it is a less offensive feature than this year’s nauseatingly awful fourth entry in the Pirates series “On Stranger Tides”. I guess for Anderson and company that’s a genuine plus to take away from the experience.

The script leaves things open for a franchise (although the conclusion feels too blunt), meaning that if the box-office goes smoothly this won’t be the last we see of the Musketeers. There’s potential here, but it’s probably going to take a sharper director than Paul W.S. Anderson to fully do the work off Dumas justice. Under his creative leadership it just reeks of mediocrity.

A Review by Daniel Kelly, 2011

9 October 2011

A quick note

This is just a note intended to apologise for the lack of substantive content on the blog over the last fortnight. Life has been extremely busy, my time and opportunities with which to indulge in film journalism having been notably limited over the past 14 days. I’m hoping that some sort of normal service might resume by November, but for the upcoming weeks updates and reviews will probably be sketchy and irregular. Your readership is always appreciated, and whilst the blog may be somewhat barren over the coming timeframe, I urge you to continue checking it out. I’m going nowhere on the long run.

P.S – A review of “The Debt” (released in UK cinemas last weekend) should be up shortly