Throwing a solid Hollywood cast into a surreal arthouse satire, acclaimed Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) makes his English-language debut with a bang. This is a blackly comical parable about how it feels to be single in a society that only values couples. With its two-part structure it almost seems like two movies mashed together, exploring the topic in ways that are smart and revelatory, and utterly deranged. And the strikingly gifted actors bring it to life beautifully.
It's set in a remote hotel on the Irish coastline, where the recently divorced David (Colin Farrell) has gone to find a mate. Single people here have 45 days to find their perfect partner, or else they're transformed surgically into an animal of their choosing. David has opted to become a lobster, but is determined to find a wife. He watches as one guy (Ben Whishaw) fakes nosebleeds to appear more like a young woman (Jessica Barden). So David pretends to be something he isn't, but is caught by the hotel's imperious manager (Olivia Colman). He escapes into the woods, where he joins a desperate band of loners led by a fierce warrior (Lea Seydoux). There he falls for a woman (Rachel Weisz) who is short-sighted like he is, but romance is forbidden among the loners.
The filmmakers are inventively exploring some very real issues in society, which makes the story ring eerily true, no matter how relentlessly odd it gets. The script's action sequences sometimes feel a bit contrived, but they add to the characters' nagging sense of desperation as they're stuck in a world that simply won't accept them as they are. And it helps that the actors dive in without hesitation. Farrell has gained weight to play the middle-aged David, who had a happy life before being plunged into this nightmare. He's very easy to identify with, both in his awkward interaction and as he boils over in rage. Weisz adds a lusty, razor-sharp intelligence to her role. And Colman quietly steals the movie with her deadpan performance as the godlike hotel manager.
Sometimes this extreme satire feels rather on-the-nose, but it's also a powerfully provocative exploration of the way society forces people to comply, marginalising anyone who refuses to join the status quo. And Lanthimos is gifted at using comedy and emotion to deepen the characters and themes, digging beneath the surface while telling a story that's simply impossible to predict. So in the end, we're almost taken aback at the way all of this has wormed its way under our skin, revealing things about ourselves we thought we had suppressed. Especially the way we value or dismiss people around us based on factors that are utterly irrelevant.
Continue reading: The Lobster Review
David is a single man having just left a 12 year relationship. As per the rules of living in The City, set in a dystopian future, he is forced to check into The Hotel. The sprawling facility is a place where all singletons must find love within 45 days, or else be turned into a creature of their choice and banished into The Woods, as being alone is highly frowned upon. David's only companion is his loyal dog, who happens to be his unlucky-in-love brother who ran out of time when he was a resident at The Hotel. David's chosen animal is a lobster, but he has no intention of living life as a crustacean and makes his escape into The Woods to join up with The Loners. Soon he meets a short-sighted woman who happens to be extremely adept at catching rabbits. As chance would have it, David finds himself falling for her, but this kind of romance is against the law in The City.
Continue: The Lobster Trailer
A look at Britain's best comedy exports.
It looks like British favourite James Corden has successfully sealed his fate as another Brit over on American shores with his appointment as the new host of CBS’ Late Late Show all but confirmed by the broadcaster itself. Of course, just because he’s travelling over to the US to have a go in the host seat of a different studio does not automatically mean he’s going to be a hit and, so far, his selection has not been met with too raucous an applause, mainly because most Americans don’t know who he is.
James Corden is said to be the next host of American chat show, The Late Late Show
However, that’s not to say he won’t win his new state-side audience over because, if Corden has proved anything with his British career to date, it’s that he’s not too bad at his job.
Vertigo Film's 'All-Stars' looks to be a good old fashioned feel-good family flick.
Ashley Jensen stars as a youth worker trying to save her local centre in feel-good 3-D British comedy 'All-Stars,' set for release in May 2013. Just as 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' flew under the radar to become a UK hit last year, we predict 'All-Stars' could enjoy similar success with its solid British cast, which includes Jensen, Mock The Week star Hugh Dennis and Girls Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh.
Written by TV scribe Paul Gerstenberger (Primeval, Paradise Café), 'All-Stars' sees a group of streetwise kids take matters into their own hands when their club is threatened with closure. It all looks good fun, with the kids holding auditions for a talent contest which throws up some great, and not-so-great acts. In the end, street dancer Jayden (Akai Osei-Mansfield) is forced to team up with the loud-mouthed Ethan (Theo Stevenson) to stop the closure of the afterschool club.
Ethan and Jaden are two street kids with a close knit group of friends, Amy, Tim, Rebecca and Brian, who they enjoy spending time with at the Old Garage youth centre in their town run by Gina. However, the small venue has become more of a problem than a necessary building in the eyes of the council who wish to demolish it unless they can cough up enough cash to own it. In an attempt to raise a few pounds, Ethan and Jaden put forward an idea to Gina; to put on acts in a show and sell tickets. Initially sceptical at first, the worried Gina soon allows them free reign as they audition a variety of talent from martial artists to BMXers and skateboarders as well as a several street dancers. Will the kids manage to save their beloved centre, or will their only inspiration for their passions be bulldozed to the ground despite all their efforts?
Continue: All Stars Trailer
RONNIE CORBETT has long spoken highly of his grandson, Tom, in the past and yesterday, for the first time, he was accompanied by the youngster – who shares an uncanny resemblance to his grandfather – as the two were out in London.
Attending the opening night of the new play A Chorus of Disapproval, the 81-year-old British comedy legend Ronnie stood in the shadows of his towering, 23-year-old grandson as they rubbed shoulders with some of London’s most glamorous celebs and socialites.
In the past, the pair have accompanied each other to Edinburgh fringe festival together to watch up and coming comedians, with Tom inheriting his grandfather’s love for comedy. As well as this, the public first became aware of Tom and his grandfather’s loving attitude towards him when in 2000 Ronnie phoned a BBC Radio 4 phone-in discussion being held with former education secretary David Blunkett in order for him to discuss his grandson's battle with dyslexia.
Continue reading: Ronnie Corbett And His Grandson Hit The Red Carpet Together!
There's probably a fascinating, complex story behind the invention of the vibrator in 19th century London, but this silly farce isn't it. Instead, this is a comical romp that just happens to be set against the birth of the most popular sex toy in history. It's nicely assembled, with a strong cast, but the tone is so goofy that it never breaks the surface.
It's the late 1880s when young doctor Mortimer (Dancy) takes a job in London with Dalrymple (Pryce), who specialises in treating hysteria, considered a serious medical condition at the time, even though it seems to only afflict women whose husbands are neglecting them socially and sexually. As Mortimer courts Dalrymple's placid younger daughter (Jones), lining himself to take over the practice one day, it's the feisty older daughter (Gyllenhaal) who continually challenges his worldview. And as he treats his patients, Mortimer works with his friend Edmund (Everett) to create a mechanical vibrating device that has an immediate effect on his patients.
Everything in this story is played broadly, as if it's frightfully hilarious to talk about sex in such a straightforward way. But this prudish approach only trivialises everything about the story, from the premise to the characters themselves. And it doesn't help that the script never gives any of these people more than one or two key personality traits. The actors do what they can with them, adding moments of effective drama and comedy while hinting at the serious themes underneath the story. But it's so silly that we never really care about anything that happens.
Continue reading: Hysteria Review
The film is almost too crowded with witty visual and verbal gags to catch on a single viewing. Although it's also too corny to be a real classic.
The Pirate Captain (voiced by Grant) never gets any respect, especially with the Pirate of the Year competition gearing up. But his first mate (Freeman) and rag-tag crew (Tovey, Gleeson and Jenson) are fearlessly loyal. While accumulating plunder to win the award, they accidentally hijack a scientific ship and then travel with Charles Darwin (Tennant) to win a science prize in London. But this means that the crew needs to get dangerously close to venomous pirate-hater Queen Victoria (Staunton).
Continue reading: The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists! Review
This lively holiday romp has a steady stream of sharp verbal and visual gags that hold our interest. Even when the plot stalls in the middle, it's difficult to stop chuckling at the filmmakers' deranged sense of humour.
At the North Pole, Santa (Broadbent) is a bit complacent after 70 years on the job, letting his heir-apparent son Steve (Laurie) convert Christmas Eve into a high-tech black-ops style mission executed with military precision. To Steve, missing one child is an insignificant statistic. But Steve's younger brother Arthur (McAvoy) disagrees, and teams up with his feisty Grandsanta (Nighy) to make sure the last gift is delivered the old fashioned way.
Yes, the film is a riot of clashes between tradition and progress, the wisdom of the years and youthful vigour. Fortunately, the serious themes are subverted, hilariously playing with our expectations and never turning into a nostalgic paean to the olden days. That said, this British production does feel eerily co-opted by Hollywood, from the use of the American "Santa Claus" (no one ever calls him "Father Christmas", which might have made sense of the film's odd title) to the somewhat feeble attempts to ramp up the action and suspense. Not to mention a massive wave of sentimentality at the end.
But even this is undermined by Baynham (Borat) and director Smith's script, which maintains a dry British sense of humour and gives the strong vocal cast plenty of snappy material to play with. While most of the characters are a bit unmemorable, Nighy gets the best lines: Grandsanta as an old coot full of surprises, including some terrific rude jokes and an amusingly animated hound-style old reindeer sidekick. Staunton also has some terrific dialog as the underestimated Mrs Santa.
Visually the film is brightly colourful, amusingly designed with small sight gags and continual Christmas imagery. While the characters look a little plasticky, the settings are gorgeously rendered, and the flying sleigh sequences almost make it worth seeing in 3D. The problem is that the film feels stretched out by random antics and underdeveloped plot-threads along the way that add nothing to the overall story. So we get tired of the bumbling chaos, mainly because we know exactly where it's got to end up.
Arthur Christmas is the clumsy youngest son of the famous Santa Claus. Together with his family, including his father, his cool older brother Steve, Santa's father Grandsanta and Santa's wife, Mrs. Santa, they run a top secret, highly state of the art operation beneath the North Pole, which helps Santa deliver every single Christmas present in one night around the globe and which cannot be seen by anyone else. It is a lengthy process, which sees Santa's team of elves - including a 'Gift Wrapping Battalion' who carry scissors and tape guns - training in the isolated Arctic during the summer by performing drills and practising their wrapping skills on unsuspecting polar bears. There is also a 'mission control' in which Santa and his team can see exactly how many days there are until Christmas and how many presents have been wrapped.
Continue: Arthur Christmas Trailer
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