Whale of a Tale Productions

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The Eagle Huntress by Otto Bell (2016)

I can’t even believe that this documentary is not up for best picture at the oscars! This is such an amazing film. A great story, amazing vistas, such great characters! It is feel agood, and life affirming. And it is shot so well! This is an absolute must see! I loved it!

 

This is the story of Aishlopan a 13 year old Kazakh girl from Mongolia. Her father Nurgaiv is an Eagle Hunter. A position passed down only from father to son in the area for as far back as people can remember. Asholpan is brave and fearless, and her father decides to train her to be an Eagle Huntress. Other Eagle hunters disgree, but Nurgaiv’s father agrees!

 

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS… (more…)

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Co-written and directed by Guy Ritchie

After how much I loved the Kingsman, I was hoping that this swinging sixties spy adventure would be right up my alley, but instead it is a total dud, with only one good laugh. Of course I really haven’t liked a Guy Ritchie film since Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barells and Snatch, so I don’t know why I expected more. Nothing works here, the action is lame, setup set pieces like a race track are never used, the characters don’t have enough charm to be likeable, and twists can be seen from a mile away. And they seem to be trying so hard to make a series that they don’t bother making this film any good.

Instead of straight remake, Ritchie decided on an origin story for the TV series. In it we have womanizing theif turned CIA operative Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) rescuing the beautiful mechanic Gabriella Teller (Alicia Vikander) from East Berlin, to get her to help find her missing Nuclear Scientist father. They are chased by the ridiculously superhuman Russian counterpart Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer). Solo escapes with Gabi, but is quickly teamed up sith Kuryakin to stop the nuclear threat from Nazi’s that could destroy the world.

Review Contains Some Spoilers…

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Pride by Mathew Warchus (2014)

A lovely Historical dramedy about the British Miners strike in 1984 where a London based Lesbian and Gay group rallies in support of one town of miners when the police use illegal tactics to crack down on them. The miners don’t want the help of gays to start, but eventually cherish their help, and even bring all the miners to the next years Gay Pride parade. This is a lovely film with some great performances, that makes you love these characters from townies played by Paddy Considine, Imelda Staunton and Bill Nighy, and London gays and Lesbians including Dominic West, Andrew Scott and Menna Trussler.

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The Imitation Game by Morten Tyldum (2014)

I had wanted to see this film, as I have always been interested in the story of Alan Turing the original creator of a modern computer, and am a fan of both Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, but had heard bad things about this film. Luckily that bad word was all wrong and this is quite a well done and enjoyable film about this strange but brilliant man and what he did to end World War II. This film is quite enjoyable and well worth seeing!

The film starts in 1951, with a robbery at mathematician Alan Turing’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) house, for which he claims nothing was stolen. Detective Robert Nock (Rory Kinnear) is suspicious though and begins to look into Turing’s seemingly classified past from World War 2, suspecting Turing may be a spy. We then go back the beginning of the war, with Turing applying for a job at Bletchly Park, the secret codebreaking facility run by commander Alastair Denniston (Charles Dance) who takes an instant disliking to Turing. Major General Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong) sees something different though, even when Turing wants to fire the rest of the department Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode) and John Cairncross (Allen Leech).

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The Theory of Everything by James Marsh (2014)

I was excited for this film as soon as I heard about it, and the trailer even brought a tear to my eye. Stephen Hawkings story is just so sad and amazing, that I could not have been more excited to see this film, and it did not disappoint. While not the best film of the year, it is certainly one of the best, and Eddie Redmayne’s transformation into Stephan Hawkings is absolutely amazing. In fact it would a real crime if he doesn’t win best actor, because he does such a good job with physicality. This film is really worth seeing.

Based on the book Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawkings, this book stars Eddie Redmayne as a young Stephen Hawkings. Hawkings is a graduate student at Cambridge trying to figure out his subject for his doctorate when he meets the beautiful Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) a student studying romance languages, and they fall in love, but Stephen has a problem. His clumsiness and falling turns out to be Amotryophic Lateral Sclerosis also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and it fatal, and he is not given a year to live.

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Hector and the Search for Happiness, by Peter Chelsom (2014)

I had wanted to see this film after seeing the trailer as I am a fan of both Simon Pegg and Rosamund Pike, and it looked a bit like Walter Mitty from last year which I loved. Had missed the initial run of the film, but AMC gave out 2 free tickets for AMC Stubs member for last weekend, so my mom and I went. I was surpised at how much I enjoyed the film considering how awful the rating on rotten tomatoes is. It has a score of 33%, and yet I would have given it at least a 70%, or higher. Simon Pegg is great, and you just like him. Sure he is being a selfish idiot for much of the film, but overall I really did enjoy the film, mainly because of him. And Pegg does excell at playing an eternal child who has never really grown up.

Simon Pegg stars as the titular Hector. Hector is a psychiatrist who always has business as he charges very little. He has a lovely girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike), but his life is the same every day, with Clara taking car of him, and day in and out at his office, and he has started to wonder about life and happiness, as he is no longer happy. He even dreams of his childhood dog who died (probably because of him) and admits to having no friends, not even the people he flies his model airplanes with. Hector decides to go on a journey to search for happiness, but also to reconnect with his college friends and love. He doesn’t know how long he will be gone and Clara is crushed, but packs for him and hides a notebook to log his journey. Clara knows something is up as she saw a photograph of him with his college friend and girlfriend in his sock drawer, and it is gone when she packs, so he has taken it with him.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! (more…)

12 Years A Slave by Steve McQueen (2013)

Easily one of the best films of the year with some terrific performances, that should easily get oscar nominations, though it is hard to watch. McQueen holds his shots for a long time, and that can make some of the brutal violence utterly cringeworthy. And the truth of the story makes it even more powerful.

Chiwetel Ejofor plays Free Black man Solomon Northop in 1841 New England. He has a family and is a very talented violin player and carpenter. When his wife and children go to visit her family, Solomon takes a job offered by two men in a circus (Scoot McNairy and Taran Killiam) making good money playing violin. After a night of drunken celebration, he awakens chained up and being sent to New Orleans as a slave. He is called Plat, an escaped slave, and is told to hide his identity so as not to be killed. A friend he makes on the boat is killed when he tries to stop a female slave from being raped. Plat is sold by Theophilus Freeman (Paul Giamatti) to the kind plantation oener William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch). Ford recognizes Platt’s skills, giving him a violin, and using him to help make his waterways good for shipping, but his oversear John Tibeats (Paul Dano) doesn’t like being showed up by Platt, and mistreats him. Platt fights back. Tibeats and his friends try to lynch Platt, but Ford eventually stops it, but he can’t protect Platt and sells him to the cruelest slave owner Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender).

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Philomena by Steven Frears (2013)

Easily one of the bet films of the year. Moving, enjoyable and sometimes funny, this film is really worth seeing. A true story based on the book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith. Judy Dench is fantastic, even if she is playing younger than she is.

Steven Coogan plays former journalist and recently disgraced Government Labour Advisor Martin Sixsmith. He is supposed to write a book about Russian history, but isn’t doing much. He meets human interest story journalist Sally Mitchell (Michelle Fairley). Retired Irish nurse Philomena Lee (Judy Dench) confides to her daughter, that 50 years ago she had an illegitimate child, and her father gave her to a nunnery, and she was forced to give up her son and work as a slave for 4 years to pay off her debt. We see her as a young girl (Sophie Kennedy Clark) working as a slave and forced to give up her son Anthony (Tadhg Bowen). The daughter gets Sixsmith to try and tell her mother’s story, and he gets a job working for Sally Mitchell. They head to the nunnery, but are put off by current in charge, and not allowed to talk to the old nurses who were there while Philomena was. They are told the records of Philomena’s son were lost a fire, and they give her a contract she signed saying she would never look for the child.

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The Day of the Doctor by Nick Hurran (2013)

I was excited for, but worried for Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary Special. I wish I had seen it in 3D too. Anyway, Stephen Mophat’s last season with Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor and Jenna Louise Voleman as Clara Oswald had really left me flat. The worst season since the return in 2005, and such a let down after how good the story had been with Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) as companion, but I need not have worried. The Day of the Doctor is awesome. Having David Tennant the 10th Doctor and Billie Piper (who played Rose Tyler) return was a stroke of genius, and having a couple of amazing Cameos was even better. This is really Doctor Who at it’s best! An absolute must see!

We start with the original Doctor Who titles and a nod to the first opening, then see Clara as a teacher, getting a message from the Doctor and going to find him. As soon as she enters the TARDIS, it is picked up by a helicopter, and being taken by UNIT. It arrives in London and the Doctor and Clara are met by Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) the daughter of the Brigadier and her assistant Osgood (Ingrid Oliver). They are taken to a Gallifreyan 3D painting from Queen Elizabeth the first. The Painting is of the last day of the Time War, and we zoom in to the War Doctor fighting the Daleks.

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Anna Karenina by Joe Wright (2012)

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The reviews have not been great of this film, but I think they could be more wrong. Not only is the story good, and well acted, especially Kiera Knightley, but the visual method of telling the story, putting it in and out of a play, so scene changes are theatrical with sets moving and going around a stage is unbelievably stunning. The wonderfully moving camera highlights this, and makes this one of the most visually stunning films I have ever seen. Keira Knightley plays Anna Karenina, a mother with kind husband (Jude Law). Anna goes to Moscow to help save her philandering brother’s Marriage (Matthew Macfadyen from Spooks) to Dolly (Kelly Macdonald). Dolly’s sister Kitty (Alicia Vikander) is in love with a cavalry officer Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) son of a countess (Olivia Williams). When Anna meets Vronsky there is instant attraction, and an affair starts which leads to her downfall. Really one of the most visually stunning films i have seen in a long time. I already have enjoyed most of Wrights films other than Atonement, and this visually stunning film is one of the best. A must see if only for the visuals, and it is better than just that.

Les Miserables by Tom Hooper (2012)

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The big screen adaption of the amazing and moving musical is a complete and total failure other than the amazing supporting actress performance of Anne Hathaway, who will likely get the Academy award for her impressive performance. The main problem of he movie is how bad so much of the cast is at singing, especially the 2 leads who should be the best. Both Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe are awful (though Jackman may be be a hair better), and their performances drag the film down. As do those of Helena Bonham Carter, Sasha Baron Cohen though Amanda Seyfried is pretty good as the mousy Cossette. Other than side performers, and Hathaway and Seyfried, the performances are so bad that the moving play and songs are rendered flat, and I was completely pulled out of the story. And while the costumes and locations and sets are great, the lighting is so flat it is not interesting at all. It looks like they are using those lighting blimps to make it all flat and even, which is easy, but completely unimpressive. I can’t recommend you waste your time on this one.

Big Finish Productions Audio Adventures

I was reading the British Doctor Who Magazine when I learned about the amazing Doctor Who Big Finish series and could not be happier that I did. They make the perfect way to drive in LA traffic, by distracting me in an amazing audio story.

Big Finish has gone and made Audio Adventures of past Doctor Who’s, starring Peter Davison, the fifth Doctor, Collin Baker, the sixth doctor, Sylvester McCoy, the 7th Doctor, and Paul McGann, the 8th Doctor, as well as old and new companions in brand new audio adventures. And these are not like a read story, but a complete audio adventure with sound effects and many actors, and most of them are pretty amazing.

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The King’s Speech by Tom Hooper (2010)

Another of the best films of the year, with both Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth proving just how good of actors they actually are! This historical drama is fantastic, a great duel of minds, and another must see film of the year. Do not miss this one.

Prince Albert, Duke of York and son of King George V (Colin Firth) makes a speech at the 1925 Empire Exhibition, stammering his way through it. He and his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter here in non-insane mode) have him go through stammer cures including smoking and trying to talk with his mouth full of marbles, but none work, and he vows to stop trying to cure his stammer. Elizabeth, the duchess of York goes on her own to meet with an Australian speech therapist named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) and persuades her husband to try his radical treatments. Logue and Albert but heads right away, as Albert has quite a temper, and does not like being treated as an equal, which Lionel insists on. He calls Albert “Bertie” which only his family calls him, and makes him stop smoking. He also bets him a shilling he can make him read without a stammer. Lionel has Bertie listen to music on headphones while he reads Shakespear’s Hamlet soliloquy and records it. Bertie is convinced he stammered throughout, and Logue gives him the recording with him reading it perfectly as a memento.

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Robin Hood Series 1-3 created by Dominic Minghella and Foz Allan (2006-2009)

An alright update of the Robin Hood legend for modern times, that suffered a bit from being drawn out too long, and some story points that just didn’t make sense. Sure some of the characters were fun and enjoyable to watch, and the show looks great and has good music, but the Robin Hood legend works better as a finite story, since otherwise you question why they didn’t just kill off the villains (they gave a better explanation in the second series for the sheriff, but for others it got a bit ridiculous). It also suffered in having Robin and Marrion’s love story get so drawn out, and having Guy of Gisborne constantly come between them, it just made her seem cruel, and flighty. I guess the show was decent enough, but overall not too impressive.

Having been wounded as a protector of the King in the holy land in the Crusades, Robin of Lockley (Jonas Armstrong) returns with his servant and best friend Much (Sam Troughton) to Nottingham and his lands, to find everything is changed. The old sheriff has lost power to a new evil man (Keith Allen). The old sheriff’s daughter Lady Marian (Lucy Griffiths) is pissed at him because he chose to leave her for the Holy Land and war, and his hated foe Sire Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) fights for her affections. Robin quickly has his lands taken from him, and becomes an outlaw, joining with other outlaws Little John (Gordon Kennedy), Will Scarlett (Harry Lloyd ) and Allan A Dale (Joe Armstrong) to fight for what is right, and to fight for their King. The Sheriff works with he kings evil brother Prince John, and wants to kill the King and take the land of England into Darkness.

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Spooks (MI-5) Series 1 through 4 created by David Wolstencroft (2002-2005)

A smart and stylish BBC One television series dealing with a group of British Intelligence officers from MI-5 Dealing with with in country terrorist threats. The show really rests on the shoulders of the excellent Matthew Macfadyen (who was recently in The PILLARS OF THE EARTH) and the show is really about him and his team including Keeley Hawes who would go on to be so excellent in Ashes to Ashes. I kind of lost it with 24 because it was so ridiculous, but I quite enjoy this show, though Series 3 did fall a bit for me, as it felt like an entire series just designed to get rid of the 3 members of the original team, and slowing starting a new team led by Rupert Penry-Jones as Adam Carter. And while this did allow some more focus on Kelley Hawes and David Oyelowo, it didn’t really let the new team start to take off until the 4th series. The show is thrilling, and worth checking out, especially since the first 4 series (out of 7) is available as MI-5 on Netflix Streaming. There are some fun cameos by High Laurie as an MI-6 officer and Andy Serkis as a rocker which are fun to watch for as well.

The series starts out following Tom Quinn (Matthew Macfayden) and his team, Zoe Reynolds (Kelley Hawes) and Danny Hunter (David Oyelowo) working at the Grid in Thames House for MI-5. There boss is Sir Harry Pearce (Peter Firth)who always had their back if needed. They are later joined by intelligence analyst Ruth Evershed (Nicola Walker) who is brought in to spy on them, but they catch her and make her a permanent team member. The first season deals with not only the missions to stop terrorism, but also Tom dealing with being in love with a woman and her daughter, and having the relationship torn apart by his job, and his constantly having to lie to her.

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Primeval Series 1-3 created by Adrian Hodges & Time Haines (2007)

I had stayed away from this series because the premise of dinosaurs in modern times has already been done and sounded just so incredibly lame, but having watched it I was blown away. This is a fantastic show with great characters and really top notch special effects! This show is 100% worth checking out. Well done and well acted. The 3rd Series did jump the shark a bit though, as the main storyline got sidelined, and killed off, and the whole thing kind of switched gears, but with Abby and Connor staying in the show, I will keep watching for sure. I am looking forward to the 4th and 5th series. I love having Netflix streaming! Great to be able to see the first 3 series streamed.

Professor Nick Cutter (Douglas Henshall) works at a university and ends up investigating some strange occurrences in the woods where his wife disappeared in the woods 8 years before. His assistant is Stephen Hart (James Murray) who was also in love with Nick’s wife. Also along for the ride is a eager grad student named Connor Temple (Andrew-Lee Potts). Also in the woods is zoologist Abby Maitland (Hannah Spearritt) who finds a prehistoric flying lizard, and ends up joining the team. They learn of holes in space time continuum where creatures are coming through. The government comes in and hides this, and makes them the lead team along with Claudia Brown (Lucy Brown) from the home office and James Lester (Ben Miller) a senior Home Office Official.

REVIEW CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS…

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Skins Series 3 and 4 Created by Jamie Brittain and Brayn Elsley (2008-2009)

Skins was a show that my wife and I started watching streaming off Netlfix (the much inferior US release which had the music changed) and really got into the show, even if it is a much more intense version of a teenage soap opera. It was with trepidation that I learned that the 3rd series would feature a new cast going to take their A levels before going on to college. Quickly I found the characters were interesting enough to keep going with. We already knew Effy Stonem (Kaya Scodelario) and her best friend Pandora Moon (Lisa Backwell) and the rest of the cast made for an interesting show. I especially like the sweet Emily Fitch (Kathryn Prescott) and the troubled but sweet JJ Jones (Ollie Barbieri), but it soon became obvious instead of being about relationships this show was more about ruining relationships, with everyone seemingly doing everything to destroy their relationships, and that was when this was good. The Second series completely jumps the shark, adding in a serial killer, and a bunch of other nonsense that was badly written and unnecessary. When the final episode of Series 4 ended, both my wife and I were in shock that they could have so completely destroyed the show! I mean seeing James Cook doing synchronized dancing and having a major killer randomly killed by a serial killer! WTF!!!! And they weren’t even close to bringing many of the story threads to a close. It was like the show runner had a stroke and thought he still should have total control yet his brain wasn’t working correctly. That is how much of an incredible mess the 4th series of this show was.

The show starts with 3 best friends on their way to school for the first day, this is the unruly and womanizing James Cook (Jack O’Connel) the skateboarder Freddie Mclair (Luke Pasqualino) and JJ Jones (Ollie Barbieri) who has some mental problems, but is as sweet as could be. On their way to school they Elizabth “Effy” Stonem (Kaya Scodelario) on her way to school and all three fall in love with her. Effy’s best friend finds that she can’t handle just taking beauty classes, so she joins her friend Effie. Other students are the twins Katie (Megan Prescott) and Emily Fitch (Kathryn Prescott) who could not be more different. Katie always has a man and is very outgoing, while Emily is quite and is fact gay and is love with another student Naomi Campbell (Lily Loveless). Naomi though is straight, and hates that Katie is always giving her shit about trying to seduce her sister, when it fact it was the other way around. On the first day the school lays out new rules, and Effie makes a game of breaking them all basically telling Freddie and Cook that they can have her if they break all the rules. Cook quickly does, and has Effie in the school nurses office, leaving Freddie to pine for the woman he loves (and who Effie actually cares for, but is not willing to ever let her emotions get the best of her). They soon meet Thomas Tomone (Merveille Lukeba) a recent emigrant from the Congo. He is a good kid, and sweet and starts seeing Pandora, but they get in a lot of trouble first, both with a gangster and then with his mom who catches the kids all doing drugs and having sex, and sends Thomas back home for a while.

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Skins Seasons 1 and 2 created by Jamie Brittain and Bryan Elsley (2007-2008)

I had heard about this show and had been wanting to watch it for some time, and finally ended up watching it on Netflix on Demand, which may have been a mistake. It would seem the US releases have had their music removed and replaced with inferior music, also the stream seems to be the wrong aspect ratio, so this may make the show not as enjoyable to watch as it could be (I wish I had just ordered the PAL dvd’s from England). Still even with all the problems I greatly enjoyed this show and it’s characters, and especially the first season finale. Sure this is a teen drama, but there is so much more here than they would ever allow in the states, I mean nudity, sex, and lots of drug use throughout. And really it all comes down to the characters, and I liked the characters, or at least liked watching them, as you of course do not like them all. The standout is Mike Bailey as Sid Jenkins, whose character really is the heart of the show, but he sure did deserve a less crazy girl! And it interesting that the writing team has an average of 21, because this does seem pretty realistic, if a bit too much for one group (much like Platoon was dramatized as not all of that would have happened to one group of people). I found it quite interesting to see just how different that the British school system is, as we have nothing like these 2 preparatory college years that are the last years of mandatory education. An interesting and enjoyable show, and I look forward to seeing Seasons 3 and 4 with an almost entirely new cast (Effy Stonem played by Kaya Scodelario is the younger sister of one of the main characters of the first 2 seasons and appears multiple times in these seasons before going on to Season 2 and 3). I would say worth checking out, but the music issue does make it not as enjoyable as it would have been, so only if you a fan of British television.

This is the story of a group of friends in college preparatory classes for their last 2 years of mandatory schooling and their good and bad and love and hate, and all the partying in between. We have Tony Stonem (Nicholas Hoult, the boy from About a Boy who has sure sprouted) who is tall and handsome and quite manipulative of all of his friends. His girlfriend is Michelle Richardson (April Pearson) who he calls Nips and always disparages, though she is a sweet girl who loves him. Tony’s best friend is Sid Jenkins (Mike Bailey) who not only is not good in school, but looks down on himself and still a virgin, especially because he is in love with Michelle, and everyone knows it. They try and hook Sid up with the crazy Cassie Ainsworth (Hannie Murray) who is often put away because of an eating disorder. Then we have the party animal Chris Miles (Joe Dempsie) who will take any drug at any time, and is hiding from the death of his brother at a young age. Chris pursues and eventually gets the groups psychology teacher Angie (Siwan Morris). The Muslim of the group is Anwar Kharral (Dev Patel) who follows his religion in some ways, but still does drugs, and is always trying to have sex. His best friend is the openly gay Maxxie Oliver (Mitch Hewer) who wants to not do construction like his dad, and instead wants to be a dancer. Finally we have Jal Fazer (Larissa Wilson) a talented clarinet player whose dad is in music, and whose mother left for reasons unknown.

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Sugar Rush series 1 and 2(2007-2008)

The British Television series created by Channel 4 based on the Julie Burchill novel about the a 15 year old lesbian and her love for best friend in a ocean front resort town is a really fun show with great characters. It is a really fun show and it is a shame that the show didn’t get the 3rd series it so deserved. The characters are so much fun to watch that you really want more. Well worth checking out. This half hour series is quite a lot of fun.

Kim Daniels (Olivia Hallinan) is a 15 year old girl whose parents have just moved to a small resort town on the coast of England. Kim is an in the closet lesbian who is in love with her lascivious best friend Maria “Sugar” Sweet (Lenora Crichlow). Sugar loves men, and always is stringing along one boyfriend or another, and driving Kim absolutely crazy. Kim’s parents are having issues too. Stella (Sara Stewart) is not too happy, and has an affair with the handiman, while Nathan (Richard Lumsden) doesn’t even notice. And their son Matt (Kurtis O’Brien) is the strangest of the bunch, killing his animals, going goth, dressing as a girl and sleeping in a coffin. Kim has a good life, but is completely sexually frustrated, and would do anything to be with Sugar.

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Pirate Radio written and directed Richard Curtis (2009)

I had been wanting to see this tale of a fictitious pirate radio station playing rock and roll to England in 1966 since I saw the trailer and the amazing cast. And it was an enjoyable movie, though not amazing. Everyone was cast perfectly and they were great in it, but it felt a little lacking, but was still done incredibly well. Well directed and edited, just needed a little more meat on it’s bones, though still worth seeing for sure. Still depressing that England got to see a longer version of the film entitled the Boat that Rocked which did not do too well, so was cut down and changed for the US release. I would actually like to see the full version of the film, though the US release, just has the extra scenes as deleted scenes (which I did not know, and returned the Netflix blu-ray disc).

In England in 1966 the BBC only plays an hour of Rock and Roll a day, so Pirate Radio stations have popped up on ships in international waters, but still survived on local advertising. To this particular ship young Carl (Tom Sturridge) is sent to make something of himself, and stay with the ship’s Captain, and his godfather Quentin (the great Bill Nighy). On the ship is a ship is a whole crew of malcontents, led by the king of their little radio empire, the Count (Philip Syemour Hoffman) from America. Then their is Dr. Dave (Nick Frost) who takes a liking to Carl, and then there is Simon Swafford (Chris O’Dowd) and Angus (Rhys Darby from flight of the Concords). Rounding out the crew is Car’s idiotic roommate “Thick” Kevin, the only woman allowed to stay on board, the lesbian cook Felicity (Katherine Parkinson) and the radio assistant Harold (Ike Hamilton). Much chaos and adventures ensue.

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Little Ashes by Paul Morrison (2009)

Of course I had to rent this from Netflix because it has Robert Pattinson in it, and my wife is a fan, not only from Harry Potter, but also from Twilight. Of course also love the artwork of Dáli, and the films of his that I have seen, so seeing a story based on his younger years does have some appeal, and this film does it well. It is about the homosexual love between Dáli and the writer Federico García Loca, and also their friendship with the filmmaker Luis Bunuel. This sad film is very well directed and acted, though the use of documentary footage at times served to pull me out, instead of into the film (even if it was supposed to be indicative of Bunuel’s work, it really did not work for me). Still the actors all do excellent jobs, and the film is gorgeously shot, and well worth checking out. Pattinson really proves there is more to him, then just playing Edward Cullen, though I am sure many Twihards will not want to see him playing a strange bisexual character.

In 1922 the 18 year old Salvador Dáli (Robert Pattinson) came to university in Madrid. The strange introverted painter, was taken into a group of friend’s by the gregarious filmmaker Luis Bunuel (Matthew McNulty) where he meets the writer Federico García Loca (Javier Beltran). They become fast friends in a group of collegiate modernists. Luis dreams of going to Paris and being something in the world, while Federico hopes to change Spain and make it a better place. Federico is pursued by the writer Magdalena (Marina Gatell), but he never succumbs, and he and Salvador become fast friends. Salvador and Federico spend the summer together at Salvador’s families home.

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In Bruges by Martin McDonagh (2008)

I had actually wanted to see this when it came out, because of the cast and trailer, but never got around to it. At least when I finally saw it, I TIVO’ed it in HD, and it looked great. A really enjoyable film about 2 hit men being sent out to lay low after a hit gone badly. This is very dark film with fantastic characters, and a story that really sucks you in, and has you hoping that the ending that you know will happen, does not. Really worth seeing, and I am sure McDonagh will going on to great things, especially if he keeps making films this good.

Hitmen Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) arrive in the “fairy tale” town of Bruges in Belgium, waiting for word from their employer Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes). Something went badly with a hit of Ray’s, and they have to lay low, so Harry has sent them to Bruges. Ken is happy about it, as he wants to see the medieval town, but this is not the town for Ray at all. Ray hates Bruges with a passion. It is not at all where he wants to be, and he can’t stop complaining about it. We eventually learn that Ray was sent to kill a Priest ( Ciarán Hinds), which he did, but accidentally killed a child (Theo Stevenson) who was in the church praying, and Ray is wracked with guilt about it. All he wants to do is go out and get hammered and drunk, and try and forget, but their orders are to be in at night, to wait for Harry’s call. Ken feels for Ray, and they do end up going and seeing a film being shot in town. The film has an American midget named Jimmy (Jordan Prentice) who Ray is fascinsated with. And he he sneaks onto the set to talk to the beautiful Chloë (Clémence Poésy) who turns out to be a local drug dealer, who agrees to go on a date with him the next night. Of course because they were out they missed Harry’s call and he is none too happy about it.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS… (more…)

An Education by Lone Scherfig (2009)

This excellent, Academy Award nominated British Film was one of the screeners my wife received this year, and I am so glad she did. With getting married and buying a house, funds can be a bit tight, so we did not see as many movies as we used to see, and might have missed that one, and that would have been a real shame, because this is really one of the best films of the year. The film stars Carey Mulligan who I remember from the excellent recent Doctor Who Episode BLINK and the always great Peter Sarsgaard, and a stellar supporting cast, and they all bring something special to this film. This is a powerful coming of age story in 1961, where a young girl learns many harsh truths of the world that she lives in, and though it is hard, manages to come out stronger. It is beautifuly done, and we really get to see this girl get hers eyes opened. Really once of the best films of the year, and an absolute must see.

Jenny Mellor (Carey Mulligan) is a bright and intelligent high school girl, with big plans for her life, which all may soon change. On the way home in the rain from a chior practice, where she plays cello, she gets a ride from a charming older man named David Goldman (Peter Sarsgaard). The two strike up a friendship, and quickly a relationship. David manages to charm her parents Jack (the always amazing Alfred Molina) and Marjorie (Cara Seymour), and Jenny starts to date David. Jenny quickly meets David’s friends, Danny (Dominic Cooper) and his cute but dumb as a post girlfriend Helen (Rosamund Pike), and they all start having a wonderful time, but David’s world is not all good, because he is an amazing liar, and not everything he does seems to be on the up and up.

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Sherlock Holmes by Guy Ritchie (2009)

This Sherlock Holmes reboot was a strange choice for a Christmas Day release, because it is nothing more than a summer blockbuster. A pretty fun one, but not amazing, and certainly not worthy of it’s Oscar release date. Still having Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes as perfect, and Jude Law as Watson is also spectacular, though some of the other casting, like Rachel MacAdams could certainly have been better. I was impressed by Guy Ritchie though, as it seems he has grown up. Now I love his stylish previous films, but did not think it would fit here, and it seems neither did he, because this is a well done film without his signature style, and it does work, but it is the writing and a big coincidence in the end that just should not have happened in a film about a character so obsessed with logic that serves to bring this down to a lot less than this could have been. It is fun, but nothing you will ever think about going to see a second time.

London, 1891, Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) on his last mission with his friend and associate Watson (Jude Law) run into a ritual for a human sacrifice, where Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) is about to kill a young girl. The pair manage to stop the ceremony, and arrest Blackwood, though someone does escape. Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan) comes in and takes possession of Blackwood, and he is set to be hung in 3 months time. In that time Holmes becomes a hermit in his room, never leaving or doing much useful, while Watson prepares to move out to his new place, where he plans on living with Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly) whom he intends to wed. Blackwood requests that Holmes comes before his execution. Holmes finds everyone scared of Blackwood, who has supposedly made a guard sick, and has covered his cell with occult symbols. Blackwood promises there will be 3 more deaths after his execution, and that it will change the world, and outfox Holmes. Watson is there at the hanging and declares Blackwood dead. Holmes has a visitor in the form of Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) the one person who has managed to outwit him, and the love of his life, though she is a thief. She wants him to find a red haired midget for her. Holmes follows her, disguising himself as a beggar, and seeing a man hidden in her coach with a gun in his sleeve. A few days after Blackwood’s execution, Holmes gets a call from Lestrade that Blackwood has rissen from the grave, and broken out from the inside. Holmes takes Watson, as it his reputation as a doctor on the line, and they go to investigate. The game is afoot.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Doctor Who 040: The Enemy of the World written by David Whitaker, Directed by Barry Letts (1967)

Another of the missing series, and only the 3rd episode has been recovered, and is only available on CD, and it is a real shame since Troughton got to play 2 roles here, the Doctor, and the evil Salamander and it would be a joy to get see these dual roles in action and not just hear them. An enjoyable series with a good storyline. A real shame it doesn’t exist to watch in full, though it is great to be able to see one episode.

The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) along with his companions Jamie [James Robert McCrimmon (Frazer Hines)] and Victoria [Waterfield (Victoria Waterfield)] arrive and start running around a beach when there is an assassination attempt on the Doctor. They are rescued via helicopter by Astrid Ferrier (Mary Peach) who takes them to their boss Giles Kent (Bill Kerr). Giles is against a man named Salamander who is a physical double of the Doctor. Salamander rules the United Zones Organization which controls the Earth. Salamander used technology to use the sun to increase crop production and has been ruthless in his use of power, killing off anyone who gets in his way. Kent used to be a deputy leader in North Africa and Europe, but when he crossed Salamander he was destroyed. Kent convinces the Doctor to impersonate Salamander to get information so they can try and take down this evil man.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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