Truly enjoyable British romantic-comedies come along so rarely (Four Weddings and a Funeral was more than 20 years ago) that there's cause to celebrate this smart, likeable romp. Director Ben Palmer and writer Tess Morris never try to obscure the predictable plot, but they pack every scene with sharp characters, snappy dialogue and riotous set-pieces. As a result, we're laughing so much that we barely notice that we're also being reeled in emotionally.
The story centres on Nancy (Lake Bell), who is feeling particularly alone while travelling to London and a 40th anniversary party for her parents (Ken Stott and Harriet Walter). Whinging to her sister (Sharon Horgan) on the phone, she is challenged to be more spontaneous. So when she arrives at Waterloo Station and meets Jack (Simon Pegg), who mistakes her for his blind date, she decides to go along with it, assuming the identity of 24-year-old triathlete Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond). As the afternoon and evening roll out, Nancy and Jack get along surprisingly well until they run into both his bitter ex (Olivia Williams) and one of her old school friends (Kinnear), who sees this as his chance to win her over.
While there are plenty of farcical moments on this drunken night out, the filmmakers never play up the slapstick, acknowledging every over-the-top moment with an eye-roll and a pithy comment. Pegg and Bell are simply perfect for these roles: smart, witty, likeable people with questionable social skills. Both characters are a bit beaten down, but they're also open to what life throws at them, so the rather messy journey they take is thoroughly engaging. They also leave much of the crazier comedy to expert supporting players like Williams and especially Kinnear, whose character very nearly steals the movie with his goofy stalker-like antics.
Continue reading: Man Up Review
A simple train journey can have incredibly far-reaching consequences. When Nancy (Lake Bell) meets Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond) on a train, she notices the book she is reading is designed to help with relationship success. Jessica tells her that the book itself is not to be leant, as she is using it to meet up with her blind date. Nancy steals the book, believing that it will work as a serious self-help guide, however she ends up running into Jack (Simon Pegg), who was Jessica's blind date. When Nancy chooses to pose as Jessica, she has the perfect date - only he doesn't know she's lying.
Continue: Man Up Trailer
Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and the mini-army of dwarves led by Thorin are facing an evermore deadly path in their pursuit of the Lonely Mountain and its mound of treasure which was stolen from the dwarves some time ago by the fiercesome dragon Smaug. Their attempt to slay him has failed, instead unleashing further horrors upon themselves. Angering the dragon has only made things worse with him now determined to murder every creature that lies in its path, demolishing a neighbouring village with little more than a breath. Gandalf remains captured and tensions are ever rising between not only friends, but elves, dwarves, orcs and goblins and it's clear that the deadliest, brutalist war for thousands of years is well on its way.
With wittier action and a few more sharply defined characters, this second episode in Peter Jackson's trilogy is more engaging than the somewhat over-packed An Unexpected Journey. Once again, the key to enjoying the film is to distance it from the beloved novel: this is a big adventure movie as opposed to Tolkien's light-hearted romp. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.
There isn't much actual plot, as we are between the set-up and conclusion, so the film consists of a series of set-pieces as Bilbo (Freeman) and his band of dwarves continue their journey to reclaim the dwarf throne in the Lonely Mountain. Gandalf (McKellen) heads off to confront the shifty, shadowy Necromancer (Cumberbatch), while Bilbo and crew head into the creepy Mirkwood, where they confront gigantic spiders before being captured by wood-elves. This is where they meet Legolas (Bloom), whose feisty sidekick Tauriel (Lilly) falls for sexy dwarf Kili (Turner) as they continue their journey to Lake-town. There they get help from Bard (Evans) as they launch their final assault on the mountain, where the dragon Smaug (also Cumberbatch) is napping on the dwarves' vast treasure.
Jackson directs with a spark of energy and humour that holds our attention even when things begin to look a little too digitally animated (basic laws of physics apparently don't apply in Middle Earth). And each sequence also provides some depth of character, especially in the overall journey of Bilbo, nicely played by Freeman as a guy who is only just discovering his own ingenuity and bravery. By contrast, McKellen's plot is much darker as he faces off against unnerving evil. As in the first film, the other strong character is Thorin (Armitage), the heir to the dwarf throne grappling with the idea of a return to power.
Continue reading: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Review
Bilbo Baggins has narrowly escaped several deadly confrontations with the likes of trolls, stone giants and countless orcs alongside his faithful wizard partner Gandalf and the hardy Dwarves of Erebor as they passed through the treacherous Misty Mountains. Their quest to retrieve the dwarves' vast pile of treasure and the land that they once called their home is at a peak as they reach the Lonely Mountain. Guarded by a colossal dragon named Smaug, the Lonely Mountain proves to be even more perilous than where they had just been and armed only with elven swords and Bilbo's Ring, they must make the ultimate defeat while fighting giant spiders and more goblins along the way. More threats face them in the form of untrustworthy elves with intelligence that far surpasses any of the travellers' put together, and their chances of survival are becoming very slim indeed.
'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' is the second instalment of 'The Hobbit' movie trilogy directed by Peter Jackson ('King Kong', 'The Lovely Bones', 'The Lord of the Rings') and based on the novel by JRR Tolkien. Screenwriters Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro make their return as do much of the previous cast alongside some new faces. It is due to be released in the UK on December 13th 2013.
Peter Capaldi scored an Oscar for his short movie starring Richard E. Grant.
Peter Capaldi is a modest man. You'd never hear him boasting about winning an Oscar. Yep, the Glasgow-born actor, named as the new Time Lord last week, has more in his locker than the foul-mouthed and brilliant spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It.
In 1995, Forrest Gump fended off competition from Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption and Four Weddings and a Funeral to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Tom Hanks beat Morgan Freeman, Paul Newman and John Travolta to Best Actor, Jessica Lange for Best Actress for Blue Sky and Robert Zemeckis won Best Director.
However, look further down the list of winners and you'll find him. Peter Capaldi, winner of the Academy Award for Live Action Short Film for Franz Kafka's It's A Wonderful Life. Ok, so he tied the award with Peggy Rajski and Randy Stone's Trevor, but he still won.
Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and their company thirteen dwarves have managed to leave the Misty Mountains almost unscathed after a series of death-defying encounters with trolls, stone giants, goblins and orcs. Armed with the One Ring and an array of elven forged swords, Bilbo must now set out to help retrieve the mountain of treasure that once belonged to the dwarves under the Lonely Mountain that was usurped by the dragon Smaug. Unfortunately, it proves less then straight-forward as more threats lie in their way from giant spiders and yet more goblins to unforgiving elves and waterfalls. However, as they approach the dragon, they begin to feel that all their other deadly ventures were just the tip of the iceberg.
'The Hobbit' returns with the second part of the movie trilogy 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' which sees the return of director Peter Jackson ('King Kong', 'The Lovely Bones', 'The Lord of the Rings') following part one, 'An Unexpected Journey'. Writers Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro are also back, along with last year's star cast and many new faces. Based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien, this new fantasy adventure film is set to hit cinemas this winter on December 13th 2013.
This first chapter of Peter Jackson's new Tolkien trilogy takes us back to the familiar settings and characters, inflating a simple journey into an epic adventure in the process. This film also looks strikingly different, shot both in 3D and 48 frames technology, double the definition of film. But it's the story we're really interested in.
The events take place 60 years before The Lord of the Rings, when Bilbo (Freeman) is a younger Hobbit enjoying a quiet life. Then he meets the wizard Ganfolf (McKellen) and everything changes. Suddenly he's invaded by 13 riotous dwarves led by Thorin (Armitage), who has decided to lead an expedition to reclaim their homeland from the sleeping dragon Smaug. Bilbo reluctantly agrees to help them, and their journey kicks off with a series of adventures as they are chased by wolf-riding orcs, captured by greedy goblins and terrorised by gigantic mountain-monsters. They also call in for help from the elf leaders Elrond and Galadriel (Weaving and Blanchett), and try to convince the sceptical wizard Saruman (Lee) to back their quest.
The film opens with familiar characters as the older Bilbo (Holm) chats with Frodo (Wood) before we flash back to the start. And Jackson continues to link the two trilogies like this, with connective characters and events as well as developing the simple novel into a much bigger epic, complete with tenacious villains. All of this is hugely involving, with tense moments that are nerve-shredding as well as scenes of dark emotion and broad humour. The best sequence is Bilbo's encounter with Gollum, which vividly reveals the progress in performance-capture technology over the last decade. We can even more clearly see Serkis in Gollum this time, and it gives the film a real kick.
Continue reading: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review
Ken Stott, Laura Carmichael, Vaudeville Theatre and Uncle Vanya Thursday 8th November 2012 Ken Stott and Laura Carmichael leaving the Vaudeville Theatre after their performance in the play 'Uncle Vanya'
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit, who lives a quiet life in The Shire. His peace is interrupted one day when Gandalf arrives on his doorstep, persuading Bilbo to hold a party in his home. Bilbo refuses but has no choice but to agree when Gandalf pesters him.