The Voices (2014)

  
Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) lives alone with his dog called Bosco and his cat, Mr. Whiskers. He works in a factory that makes bathroom products and makes regular visits to a psychiatrist whom he tells his problems to, and Jerry has problems. Jerry hears voices, his cat and dog speak to him on a daily basis, but Jerry tries to get on with his life without that affecting him. 

  
When Jerry meets Fiona (Gemma Arterton) at the office party, he thinks he may finally have a chance at normality. However when Fiona stands Jerry up after they make a date, things take a turn for the sinister and slightly bizarre. 

  
My problem with The Voices is it tries to balance horror and comedy, but fails miserably. Its wild shift in tones make it hard to enjoy, and the film doesn’t really flow. Where films like Shaun of the Dead managed to seamlessly mix horror and comedy, The Voices jumps between the two rather than have them work harmoniously. Ryan Reynolds is good in the role of Jerry, and also in doing the voices of Bosco and Mr. Whiskers, but the film just can’t recover. 

  
The film tries to show mental illness in a realistic light on occasion, but the comedic tone undoes any hard hitting effect of the seriousness that we are presented with. We see what Jerry’s apartment looks like when he’s off the pills (clean), and what it looks like when he’s on them (blood soaked and excrement filled), but it’s so cackhanded that it hurts the movie. The Voices is available to purchase now from http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk. 

  
2/5

JM

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Housebound (2014)

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Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O’Reilly) is sent to stay with her mum for six months under house arrest by the courts when she is caught attempting to steal from an ATM. Her mum Miriam (Rima Te Wiata) is well meaning and wants to try and make Kylie’s stay a good one. Kylie’s attitude is far from sociable however, which only makes the atmosphere in the house worse. Things begin to take a sinister turn when Kylie begins to hear strange noises in the house. Not only that, but things are going missing and Kylie’s mum thinks the house may be haunted.

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With the help her probation officer and amateur paranormal investigator, Amos (Glen-Paul Waru), they discover that the house used to be a hostel for mentally disturbed people, and that someone was murdered there years ago. Believing the source of the noises to be a malevolent spirit Kylie and Amos seek to remove it, however the truth it would seem is far stranger.

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Really to say any more would spoil the gem of a double twist this movie has going on. I had heard a lot about this and I must say I was blown away by how good it was. It was without a doubt my film of 2014. The cast are all excellent in their respective roles, and the script is top notch. The characters themselves are all very well rounded and impeccably written. There is humour and warmth amongst the action and scares and it all makes for a stellar movie.

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I want to be careful I don’t oversell this, but I just can’t help myself. It’s very rare now in the days of shitty reboots and remakes that we get something that on the face of it seems like well trodden ground, but instead delivers one of the freshest pieces of cinema in a long time. I think it’s safe to say you’ll like this.

5/5

JM

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Robin Williams – (1951 – 2014)

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I toyed with writing this piece today. Hesitated because I didn’t want a surge of traffic in the sense that folks would feel I was exploiting a sad situation. However, this man played such a pivotal role in my growing up, in my love for movies and in my ability to make people laugh that I felt I had to say something.

I think the first movie I ever remember seeing that starred Robin Williams was Hook. It amazed me and Robin was perfectly cast as an adult Peter Pan. If you’re going to travel to a magical land then you need someone magical to take you there, and Robin Williams was a kind of magic. He had the ability to always make people smile, to light up a room and instantly turn the mundane into the spectacular. All this I got from just seeing him on screen. I never knew him personally, but his passing has left such a weight in my heart that I find it hard to breathe. It’s like losing a relative, and that is no exaggeration. I too suffer with depression so I have some inkling as to what this wonderful man went through. I just hope that he now has the peace in death that he never had in life. God bless you mate, you will be greatly missed.

JM

The Birdcage (1996)

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Armand Goldman (Robin Williams) is the owner of The Birdcage, one of the hottest clubs on Miami Beach. His partner Albert Goldman (Nathan Lane) is the star attraction of the club. Their lives are thrown into disarray when Armand’s son, Val (Dan Futterman), tells his father that he’s getting married…to a woman! Val is getting married to Barbara Keeley (Calista Flockhart), daughter of Senator Kevin Keeley (Gene Hackman). There is however one problem. Barbara’s parents don’t know Val’s dad is gay, and are already embroiled in a scandal.

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Val decides it would be best to keep Albert offside, whilst Barbara and her parents visit. However when Armand realises that doing that would hurt Albert’s feelings, he decides on a plan b. One that causes all sorts of hilarious mishaps. Together with their overly camp housekeeper Agador (Hank Azaria), they all put a plan together to make sure the meeting goes smoothly.

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I just love this movie. It is a remake of the French movie ‘La Cage Aux Folles’ (1978), which has a very similar set-up. I have never seen the original, but this version is hilarious. Nathan Lane steals the show as Albert. Bringing heart, warmth and humour to what could have been a very one dimensional role in the hands of another actor. Gene Hackman is fantastic as the ‘ultra-conservative’ Senator Keeley. He plays the serious, straight lace stiff to perfection, and you can tell he’s having a blast. Robin Williams is also fabulous as Armand. You can tell he really loves Albert and will do anything to see that he feels accepted by the Keeley family. He really is a joy to behold.

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Hank Azaria is fantastically funny as Agador, trying to play it straight when the Keeley’s arrive. Being that the story is centred around Val and Barbara, both Calista Flockhart and Dan Futterman feel wasted. I don’t know whether that’s down to their characters being badly written, or the fact that they just aren’t very good actors. Both fail to breathe any sort of life into their roles. Like I said, I really enjoy this film, and it never fails to brighten my day. Well worth a watch.

5/5

JM

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Bio-Dome (1996)

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Okay, before I start this review let me just get a few things out of the way. Things that concern this movie and others like it. I like low brow comedies like this, I make no apologies for that. Unlike popular magazines like Empire and Total Film, I do not seek to appeal to the masses in giving massive thumbs up to Lord of the Rings (which I personally hate) or berating movies like this. I love this movie, it makes me laugh and that’s all I ask for, a film that entertains. Yes it’s puerile and immature, but it never sets out to be anything other than that, so why it gets such shit is beyond me. These movies are made for a select audience. For example movie snobs that would sit and watch Michael Haneke movies all day would have no interest in this movie, and that’s ok. I have no interest in Michael Haneke movies, except Funny Games which is pretty fucked up. So ease off Bio-Dome, enjoy it for the puerile comedy it is, because that’s all it’s trying to be. Okay, rant over. Bio-Dome sees two stoner buddies Bud (Pauly Shore) and Doyle (Stephen Baldwin) trying to get out of helping their girlfriends pick up litter. After they are found out they try and make it up to them with disastrous results. Whilst driving home Doyle decides he needs the toilet. The two guys drive past what they think is a shopping mall. In fact it’s a bio-dome which is to be sealed for a year to see the effect on plant and animal life. A group of scientists, led by Dr. Noah Faulkner (William Atherton) will be locked inside. Whilst the scientists are waving to the press, Bud and Doyle appear behind them also waving. As the doors have been sealed Bud and Doyle realise they are also stuck inside for the year.

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Bud and Doyle waste no time in causing absolute havoc inside the dome. They don’t respect the scientists work and eat the vegtables, take baths in filtration tanks and even accidentally release a collection of rare butterflies. Their girlfriends think Bud and Doyle are great and that they meant to be part of the team, not realising the mistake. Dr. Faulkner is driven close to insanity at the antics of Bud and Doyle and retreats off into the dome. Bud and Doyle realise they can’t constantly fool around and look for ways to help the scientists out.

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This film has a lots going for it. For starters, as seen in the picture above, it has an appearance by Tenacious D (awesome!), it also has two hot ass scientists, one played by Kylie Minogue who is almost always in the tiniest pair of shorts (also awesome!). The supporting cast all join in the fun and seem to be having a laugh.

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I remember reading that Alec Baldwin had advised Stephen Baldwin from appearing in this movie, saying it’d be a massive mistake. I call bullshit on that. Firstly because let’s face it Stephen Baldwin has made a career in direct to video guff and has never really aspired to reach anything further, so this wouldn’t hurt his career. Secondly Alec Baldwin is obviously not a fan of this sort of humour judging from that statement so he probably would say that. This is the perfect movie to watch with a few mates and a few beers. Don’t let the metacritic or imdb score sway you. Watch it for yourself and make your own mind up. I did and I loved it. Get on it!

4/5

JM

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Scrooged (1988)

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Since it’s Christmas I think it’s only right that I review a few crimbo movies. So to kick us off this month we have, my favourite Christmas movie, ‘Scrooged’. It’s basically a retelling of the classic Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol. Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is the a head of a TV network which is soon to show a live version of A Christmas Carol. However Frank is not a fan of Christmas as it really doesn’t hold good memories for him. One night he is visited by his old, long dead boss who tells Frank that he’ll be visited by three ghosts in order for him to change the error of his ways.

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Frank used to be happy. However somewhere along the way he became consumed by work and completely miserable. He had a great girlfriend called Claire (Karen Allen), and things seemed fine. However that was a long time ago and now he’s a sour, hateful man. The first ghost to help Frank see where he went wrong is the Ghost of Christmas Past (David Johansen), an alcoholic, chain smoking cab driver. The ghost takes Frank back to when he was a small child, however all it does is remind Frank of how much he hates Christmas. The ghost then takes Frank to the time he met Claire, which slightly improves things, but not enough to change Frank.

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The next opportunity falls to the Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane). She shows Frank all the people he is making miserable now, trying to somehow shake Frank into changing. This ghost is batshit crazy. She pokes, prods and punches the shit out of Frank all whilst giggling manically. I could go on and tell you the rest of what happens, but pretty much everyone knows the Scrooge story.

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Everyone is on top form. Bill Murray is fantastic as the sour faced, cynical Frank Cross. Carol Kane and David Johansen are brilliant as the ghosts. You have excellent supporting roles from great actors like John Glover, Robert Mitchum, John Forsythe, Alfre Woodard and even Bobcat Goldthwait as the screechy voiced Elliot Loudermilk. I do love this film, with it definitely being my favourite Christmas movie. I always try to squeeze it in at least once a year. I’m sure many have seen it, however if you haven’t then give it a go.

4/5

JM

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Slap Shot (1977)

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This is the reason I love doing this blog. I love it because I can bring films like this to your attention that I know many haven’t seen. Directed by George Roy Hill who also directed Paul Newman in ‘Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid’, this riotous comedy is one you will definitely watch again.

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Paul Newman stars as Reggie Dunlop an ageing hockey player who plays for the minor-league side the Charleston Chiefs. His team are bottom of their league and are utterly hopeless, except for one player called Ned Braden (played by Michael Ontkean). Reggie is trying to turn the fortunes of the team arround but with no new players to bolster the team he is failing at every turn. He approaches the teams manager Joe McGrath (played by Strother Martin) who is more concerned with having the players do fashion shows to earn money than how well the team is playing. Joe eventually relents and buys three brothers called The Hanson Brothers (played by Steve & Jeff Carlson and Dave Hanson).

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The three brothers are not what Reggie would consider decent players and is outraged at how much of a skinflint his boss has become. He doesn’t play the brothers at first, but when things start getting desperate he has no choice. To his surprise the brothers are animals on the ice, more concerned with fighting and brutalising the opponents than actually playing hockey. The Chiefs start winning, but the constant violence brings it’s own set of problems.

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Everyone is on top form here, particularly Newman. You can tell he is having a whale of a time as Reggie. The script by Nancy Dowd is brilliant, and it still holds up today. I have watched this movie many times now and still find myself laughing out loud. Some of the quotes will have you laughing away, especially Reggie Dunlop’s first reaction on The Hanson Brothers. It’s definitely worth watching if you can find it.

5/5

JM

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Two of the best friends I ever had.

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Hi again folks. Now I know this is a movie and movie related stuff blog, but Calvin and Hobbes played such an integral part of my growing up, and also in shaping my love for media and the wonderment it brings, that I felt it would be a great disservice to them if I didn’t acknowledge them here.

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Bill Watterson who created these two lovely icons was and still is a genius. The essence of what made growing up and youth in general such a journey full of highs and lows, is captured wonderfully by Watterson. Be it the made up sport of Calvinball where the rules constantly change, or the adventures of Spaceman Spiff, Watterson showed what it was like to be a child with an incredible imagination. Never mind the fact that Calvin acts like someone in his mid forties, and less of the six year old he actually is. It’s all captured brilliantly.

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I remember the first time I picked up a Calvin and Hobbes book, I was immediately captivated. The love between this boy and his little stuffed tiger (who appears only real to Calvin) was heartwarming. It showed me the importance of friendship, and how having that one friend in your life can make all the difference. I’m glad Watterson never showed Calvin growing up, I don’t think I, let alone Calvin, could have taken the pain of having to say goodbye to that world.

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It’s been years now since Bill Watterson finished Calvin and Hobbes, but the legacy lives on. If you’ve never read any of the books, give them a whirl. It will change your life.

JM

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