The Descendants Review

Supposedly, George Clooney has wanted to work with Alexander Payne since 2004. Back when Payne was crafting his first Oscar winner Sideways, it’s reported that Gorgeous George declared his interest in the role of Jack. Payne did the unthinkable, rebuffing Clooney in favour of a lesser known actor and the role eventually fell to Thomas Hayden Church. Church knocked it out of the park and went on to collect a well deserved Oscar nomination in the process. Whether or not Clooney could have pipped Morgan Freeman to the 2005 award we’ll never know but, one thing’s for sure, he’s the man to beat in 2011.
happy family

Blu-ray Preview: 30/1/2012

Unlike last week’s parade of mostly bland box office dead weight, this week sees a number of highly anticipated new Blu-ray releases. With numerous quality titles for your delectation, the end of January could bring with it some financial difficulties for those of us with a pathological need to ‘collect’.

First up this week is Nicholas Winding Refn’s 70’s throwback Drive.
Ryan Gosling - Poster boy

Academy Award Nominations Preview + Predictions

Usually, in this first paragraph I tend to waffle on about prediction techniques and voting bodies. In fact, I wrote a few paragraphs about just that last night, but tablets being tablets, somehow my draft wasn’t saved. Be thankful, faithful reader, as it really was just a load of fanboy/voting body waffle. I’m waffling, aren’t I?

I only ask that you remember what makes the Academy Awards so prestigious and so exciting. They are voted for by the most qualified of filmmaking specialists, all of which have either won or have been nominated for an Academy Award themselves. On top of that, they are peers to every nominee that will be announced tomorrow afternoon in Los Angeles. And as many acceptance speeches in February will acknowledge, there’s no greater honour in film than being recognised by your peers.

Before I unveil my (I’d like to think educated) predictions to you here, exclusively on, I’d just like to raise the point that I personally feel it has been an especially exceptional year for filmmaking. In Hollywood, and as far as Iran, stories have been told in the most beautiful fashions throughout the last 12 months. So much so that my Top Ten list had to be expanded to a Top 25 just to be able to recognise the films that I felt were the best. Twenty-damn-five, which is part of the reason that I haven’t published it yet. It will surface soon, in depth, I promise you.

On to the serious business though. Deserved films and performances will be acknowledged tomorrow, and some will be left out. The ugly truth is that there just isn’t room for everyone, which sad as that may be, does make for an extremely tense and incredibly exciting ten minutes as the Academy prepares to unveil their annual nominations. Without further ado…


Blu-ray Preview: 23/1/12

Only those closest to me know that my full name is actually Bernard Lewis Raymond Swift. So, when Sony offered to name their latest technological leap after me, I was incredibly flattered. After a brief market scrap with the boringly titled HD DVD, B-Lew-Ray became the dominant HD home entertainment format of choice ,and as prices drop, the format is threatening to overtake DVD as the new standard.

Of course, fifty percent of that last paragraph was bull shit but I promise that what follows will be a combination of facts and personal opinions that will hopefully allow you to optomise your spending in this period of economic crisis. As you might expect, the weeks directly following the festive period tend to be a little thin on the ground regarding big releases but there is at least, this coming week, a vast cocktail of titles coming your way.

Golden Globes Preview

Finally, the first big night of awards season is upon us. The critics associations have more or less had their say, and it’s been wide open. Even with ‘The Artist’ claiming the majority of the buzz at the moment, it’s still anybody’s award to win, in almost every category. Prestige that seemed secured only a month ago has been scattered to the wind as latecomers like ‘War Horse’ and ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ have fought tooth and nail to find themselves smack dab in the middle of the tightest overall race in a fair few years. The latter providing an unexpected Directors’ Guild nomination for David Fincher and as a result thrusting ‘Tattoo’ into the Best Picture…erm…picture.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association have included more than a fair share of heavyweight productions in their nominations for their two Best Picture categories, and also given true, quality comedies a chance to shine this year in the form of ’50/50′ and ‘Bridesmaids’. With all to play for, and excellence oozing in every category, let’s have a look at how things could prospectively pan out from 0100 GMT, a time of night familiar to all you awards buzz-heads.


Five to watch out for in 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

The summer big noises speak for themselves;
Early glimpses of The Dark Knight Rises and Ridley Scott’s return to the Alien universe with Prometheus in IMAX & 3D respectively, look certain to be the years most complete cinematic experiences.
Elsewhere, you have a bumper fix of Marvel comic book action as the superhero equivalent of The Breakfast Club finally arrives in the form of The Avengers ,as well as a reboot of the oh so profitable Spider-Man franchise. Autumn/Winter will bring us Sam Mendes’ contribution to the Bond series in Skyfall, Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth in The Hobbit, ‘Tarantino does a western’ in Django Unchained and Baz Luhrmann’s intriguing 3D take on The Great Gatsby. There is plenty more to be excited about in 2012, but here are my ones to watch in the coming year:

Final Nominees for BAFTA Orange Rising Star Award Announced

The final five nominees for the BAFTA Orange Rising Star Award were announced today; an award that is chosen by Orange customers and which has been part of the ceremony since 2006. Previous winners include James McAvoy, Tom Hardy, Kristen Stewart and Noel Clarke.

So who are the five nominees for 2012?


“We just come from a bad place.” – a look at Steve McQueen’s ‘Shame’

Over the last few years or so, it seems that the meaning of taboo has gotten lost. For the most part, we have become desensitised to extreme violence and sexual content. Hell, violence is becoming forever sexualised, with sex being occasionally and manipulatively violencised (I’m not the first person on the internet to ever use that word before). And religion? You can pretty much say or depict it in any way you please without hardly offending anyone, it seems. That infamous scene in 1971′s ‘Straw Dogs’ has become entirely socially irrelevant. In fact, not only has it been all but forgotten about, it’s been remade this past year to the sound of little controversy. Where a certain film’s graphic scenes of torture once ignited conversation about how they made us squirm, we all now laugh at the many sequels that followed, praising the most creative ways in which a filmmaker can take a life. So what is left to shock us? What is left to challenge our principles and arouse what is left of our senses?



Jean Dujardin: Is History On His Side?

There’s been substantial debate amongst my peers and I, as to whether or not Jean Dujardin could actually win the Best Actor Oscar. As we await this years nominations it’s safe to say he’s going to be up against it. If the Golden globes are anything to go by he’s likely to be up against five of the biggest names in the business. Whilst Dujardin should walk the Globes only ‘Comedy Musical category’ when the Academy inevitably make their selection from the Globes’ ten, the Frenchman is going to have to userp one of either Clooney, Pitt, DiCaprio, Gosling or Fassbender in order to make the final five. It’s a tough ask but it made me curious about just how often international performances are recognised by the academy. What follows is the fruits of my diligent labour which I have collated for your statistical pleasure.
Dujardin at Cannes


The Artist – Review

It would seem that contemporary Hollywood’s current love affair with the silent era isn’t going away anytime soon. Following on from last years Hugo, a love letter from Scorsese to pioneer Georges Méliès, this weekend sees the release of Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist.
Valentin and Miller


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