Category: Why I Love…


Clive Owen kills people with carrots! What’s not to love about that?!

Shoot ‘Em Up is one of my favourite films of all time and definitely my favourite action film. Clive Owen plays carrot toting Smith, a man with a mysterious past who just so happens to be around when a pregnant woman is followed into a warehouse by thugs with guns. Luckily, Smith arrives just in time to save the day and deliver the baby in a very unconventional method (shooting the umbilical chord) and teams up with his favourite prostitute in order to save the baby from falling into the hands of Paul Giamatti’s character ‘Hertz’ (I have seen the film countless times and I’m only just finding out the villain’s name now). It’s fast paced, adrenaline fuelled, completely ridiculous but so glorious at the same time.

On the face of it, Shoot ‘Em Up looks like a mindless action film that just involves Clive Owen shooting a lot of people all of the time. And while this is partially true, Shoot ‘Em Up is surprisingly more than that. What you get with Michael Davis’ writing and direction is somewhat of a pastiche to action films of days gone by and that’s what makes this movie so fun; it takes everything you like about action films, holds up a mirror to them and reflects them ten times better. This is included in the action where there are some completely outrageous stunts and scenes that defy all laws of logic and common sense but do we care? No. Because we’re enjoying being taken on this wonderful journey and forgetting the troubles of real life for an hour and a half. One of the most enjoyable things about Shoot ‘Em Up is Clive Owen’s deadpan delivery of witty lines; almost every second line of dialogue for Owen’s character is a joke and it is beautifully delivered with a straight face but I tell you now the lines are hilarious. It’s a perfect action comedy.

“What’s up, Doc?”

Shoot ‘Em Up tries to deliver a complex storyline which makes a change from the usual terrorist or revenge plot: the baby that Smith ends up saving has actually been born with the purpose of providing a bone marrow transplant to a corrupt senator who will die without the transplant. The confrontation with the senator leads to a complete disregard to the laws of physics and a mid-air shootout takes place after jumping from a plane! And we are also given back stories of the main characters that, while good, aren’t really needed and don’t really add anything to the enjoyment of the film.

This action spectacular provides action scenes a plenty, it’s practically non stop! We get them in mid-air (as mentioned), in warehouses, in a children’s park and even a brothel. It seems like Shoot ‘Em Up was made to purely entertain and that’s exactly what it does. With acting talent in the form of Oscar nominees Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti as well as the talented Monica Belluci you know you’re getting more than just a standard direct-to-DVD release.

Shoot ‘Em Up didn’t perform well in the cinema but has garnered quite a passionate following in the years since its release and I for one suggest that if you like action, or if you like comedy, then just turn off your common sense switch and enjoy the fun that Shoot ‘Em Up brings!

Advertisements

Leonardo DiCaprio is undoubtedly one of the best and most versatile actors working today, if not one of the best of all time. He is one of my favourite actors which is obvious to anyone who knows me seeing as how I own almost all of his films on DVD and have watched them all numerous times. But ever since I first watched Blood Diamond it has been, not only my favourite performance by DiCaprio but also, one of my favourite films and I genuinely believe it is one of the greatest films ever made, despite not being received incredibly well by critics (perhaps due to the source material).

Blood Diamond is a story of three very different characters and how their lives and journeys merge together because of the illegal diamond smuggling industry coming out of countries like Sierra Leone (where the film is set) and being financed by a (fictional) company named Van de Kamp back in London, England. The movie is described as a political war thriller and features several political strands, the title itself is an obvious reference to the name given to the diamonds that are sourced from war torn African countries which are sold to finance the conflict. There is also the prominence of children being forced to become soldiers in these war torn countries too. Blood Diamond was set during the Sierra Leone Civil War between 1996-2001 and released in 2006, yet these problems still exist in some African countries which makes the film just as relevant today and the issues it brings to the forefront of your mind even more relevant because nothing has really changed. But despite being a politically fuelled film I don’t believe that Blood Diamond rams issues down your throat and force feeds you opinions because at the heart of it is a very convincing and very entertaining, in the most dramatic sense, trio of heroes.

Leonardo DiCaprio is absolutely phenomenal as Danny Archer, a former mercenary turned diamond smuggler, and upon release of Blood Diamond he received a huge amount of praise for his authentic South African accent. Archer is the anti-hero, yes he helps Solomon find his family but only because of his own motives to retrieve the huge pink diamond Solomon found, steal it, sell it and get away from the conflict to live a very rich and extensive lifestyle elsewhere. DiCaprio was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for the film. His co-star, Djimon Hounsou who plays Solomon Vandy, a fisherman captured by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and forced to work to find diamonds while his family go on the run, his son later being captured and forced to become a deadly warrior. Hounsou got the nod at the Oscars for Best Supporting Actor but I would argue that here Vandy is the main character and it is not DiCaprio’s Archer because it is Vandy we get to know first and it is his story that we care about. Hounsou’s emotionally fuelled performance is one of the best I’ve seen and he really was terrific! Finally Jennifer Connelly completes the trio and she plays Maddy Bowen, a journalist who is trying to expose the illegal conflict diamond trade and change things. Her crush on Danny Archer is mutual and they help each other out a lot throughout the film. Bowen actually helps the character development of Danny Archer; their romantic subplot does not seem forced and thankfully there isn’t a ridiculously placed kiss before Archer leaves just to keep Hollywood happy. The development that Archer goes through over the course of Blood Diamond is a really brilliant arc: in the beginning he is a man out for himself just wanting to make money, but as the film goes on he eventually turns into the guy willing to sacrifice himself so that his new friend (Vandy) can escape with his son and change his life as well as many others too. The relationship between Archer and Vandy is really interesting to watch and grabs your attention right form their first meeting.

The action is fantastic and David Harewood is brilliant as the warlord Captain Poison. For a man who spent most of his career working on British television series’ including Casualty, The Bill, Doctor Who and Hustle it really is quite an exceptional role that he got and a performance that matches those of DiCaprio and Hounsou. But the highlight of the film for me is when Solomon Vandy is reunited with his son Dia. What should be an incredibly happy and joyous moment is taken in a completely different direction by Blood Diamond and it was fantastic to watch. You’re wondering what is going to happen since Dia has been brainwashed into a cold hearted killer but the moment they reunite is beautifully written and is a masterpiece of acting.

Blood Diamond may not have been the most well received film but it is definitely one of my favourites and no doubt always will be. The storyline, the characters, the acting is perfect. I cannot recommend Blood Diamond highly enough!

Obviously, I mean the film… I am not about to randomly profess my love on the internet for some girl who lives on my street, that would be stupid. But The Girl Next Door is one of my favourite films and has been ever since the first time I saw it back in 2004. The Girl Next Door is a romantic comedy aimed at a male teenage audience and that genre of film doesn’t usually go down well with the target audience so it has to be something that will make them watch it so what’s the plot? Pretty much every stereotypical teenage boy’s fantasy: a high school boy starts dating a girl only to find out that she is, in fact, a porn star. Brilliant!

All the characters are really well thought out (if not a little stereotypical) but all of them seem to have layers and layers of character if you look for it in the right place. The casting really does go a long way in this film as well because you can’t imagine anyone else in any of the roles. Let’s start with the three high school friends: Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch), Eli (Chris Marquette) and Klitz ‘with a k’ (Paul Dano). These three characters encapsulate different three different parts of a teenage boy’s personality. Matthew is the one who is awkwardly and hopelessly romantic who falls in love, but he is also lost in his life and feels that he needs to really find out who he is; Eli is the one who just seems incredibly horny every second of every day and is obsessed with women and pornography; Klitz is the shy, reserved, quiet one who just sort of goes along with the ride rather begrudgingly and together their friendship is absolutely fantastic!

Elisha Cuthbert is Danielle the pornstar and as well as being really attractive Cuthbert really plays on the innocence of her character and her longing to be something more, whilst Timothy Olyphant as Kelly is probably one of my favourite movie villains of all time, he is hilarious! I like the fact his character’s name is Kelly; Kelly’s a girl’s name!

The Girl Next Door is one of the funniest films I have ever seen and I have watched it plenty of times (maybe more than any other film now that I think about it) but it still manages to make me laugh with every joke. There is great verbal humour and physical and Timothy Olyphant’s aggressiveness to the jocks is really funny. There are some absolutely fantastic lines, mainly from Eli, including “take her to a motel and bang her like a beast!”, “I just wanna bang hot chicks!” and the outrageous “I just gotta f**k something!”.  Eli’s phone conversation with Matthew whilst Matthew (rather really pervertedly) watches Danielle get undressed is top comedy too, as well as Matthew’s reaction.

The romantic element to the story holds it’s own against the comedy and it is really wonderful to watch the relationship grown between Matthew and Danielle. They are so perfect for each other; Danielle will push Matthew to be the person he wants to be and Matthew is her escape to the real world and a better life, keeping her on the right track. You can really feel for their relationship as they go through the ups and the downs together.

The end is particularly satisfying. I am a big fan of character development and I think that the majority of characters have completed a full arc in the entirety of the film: Matthew goes off to DC, taking Danielle with him, Eli has become a famous director thanks to the sex education video the group made, Klitz is pretty much the biggest thing in town (that’s a little pun you’ll get if you remember the end of the film) and I really like Kelly’s ending. Kelly on set making the porn movies he loves to receive a box of cigars from Matthew with the famous quote from the film “the juice was worth the squeeze”.

I love The Girl Next Door and everybody else should too!

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a crime action comedy that was released back in 2005 to critical acclaim with some critics calling it one of the best movies of that year. The film tells the story of a murder mystery that brings together a private eye, a struggling actress, and a thief masquerading as an actor. It takes place at Christmas time and is packed full of great action, fantastic characters and brilliant dialogue and it has quickly become one of my favourite films of all time, here is why:

Shane Black. Black is the writer of films such as Lethal Weapon and The Last Action Hero which are both very popular films but there is a difference between those and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang which comes a whole seven years after Black’s last film credit. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is both written and directed by Shane Black and I am a huge fan of this style of film making. When a writer is able to direct his project as well it means that there is arguably more passion involved in the directing and the writer can make the movie exactly as they envision it. Black’s love of his characters and script come through really well in the directing and help to make the film seem more personal.

As well as being Shane Black’s comeback Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was also the film that gave Robert Downey Jnr his (second) big break. Downey plays Harry Lockhart who is the character at the centre of the movie’s plot. Harry Lockhart is the thief who fell into the world of acting and the character is a perfect fit for Robert Downey Jnr. He smacks of wit and charm and is very similar to the version of Tony Stark that audiences would soon come to recognise the actor for. A lot of the films humour comes from Downey Jnr as we are treated to his narration and some fantastically witty lines; when asked by an actress what Lockhart does for a living his quick reply is “I’m retired, I invented dice when I was a kid” and when Perry reveals a gun from down his trousers after shooting their captor from his crotch Lockhart remarks “Wow! I was glad you had a gun in there. For a second, I actually thought you could do that, like it was some big gay thing” – just two lines that make Kiss Kiss Bang Bang a really great film. Shane Black and Robert Downey Jnr make for a dream combination which is to be let loose again on Iron Man 3.

The first gay action hero. Val Kilmer’s private investigator character of ‘Gay’ Perry is usually seen as the first gay lead in an action film and this is obviously a great thing. His sexuality doesn’t change any angle of the story but it is something that is interesting to add and sets up a few jokes rather nicely. Another huge reason for me loving this film though is Michelle Monaghan as Harmony Faith Lane, an aspiring actress and childhood friend of Harry Lockhart. Monaghan is one of my favourite actresses because as well as being painfully beautiful she also has the acting ability to go with it and she is allowed to run wild in this film as a kind of innocent looking but feisty girl who manages to cut of the end of Harry’s finger just by slamming it in a door – over the top ridiculous but Kiss Kiss Bang Bang gets away with it completely.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has it all; it has the great characters, fantastic dialogue, a brilliant cast that fit their parts perfectly and the action and comedy blend into one another seamlessly.  Some films become more boring and less exciting the more times you watch them but that can’t be said for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang; every time I have watched it I have noticed things that I hadn’t before, I noticed more witty remarks, something different in the directing. This movie definitely has the rewatchability factor.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is soooooo good! Watch it… watch it now!

Recently Trainspotting was voted top in a poll of best British films to be released under Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

I think that this is a little bit of an injustice. Trainspotting is possibly the greatest British film released under any reign. Scratch that. Trainspotting is one of the greatest films EVER made in any language, any country, any genre. Trainspotting is as close to perfect as I have ever seen a film reach.

Released in 1996 to rave reviews from all angles Trainspotting tells the story of Renton, a guy deeply immersed in the Edinburgh drug scene who tries to clean up and get out, despite the allure of the drugs and influence of friends. After working together on Shallow Grave Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor teamed up to make an absolute classic based on Irvine Welsh’s novel.

Superstar director – Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle is one of Britain’s greatest directors and is one of my favourite directors working today. Christopher Nolan, the Coen brothers, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino get the majority of attention and are perhaps the most famous of directors but Danny Boyle always has been and remains one of the best. Since Trainspotting he has churned out hit after hit including 28 Days Later, The Beach, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours and while all are very impressively filmed and are gorgeous to look at nothing quite touches all the senses in the same way that Trainspotting does.

Trainspotting introduced Ewan McGregor to the masses and he has gone on to have a very long and prestigious career in film. I am a fan of the Scot and his performance here as Renton is flawless. He gives possibly the best narration to a film ever (along with Ed Norton’s narration in Fight Club) but his presence on screen is fantastic; he really submerges himself deeply in the character’s life and his performance is both harrowing and hilarious at the same time. If McGregor is to be remembered for any film role, it should be this one.

One of the greatest friendships ever caught on film.

McGregor laid down the gauntlet for his fellow cast members to compete with and they picked it up and ran with it. Ewen Bremmer as the dimwitted and closest friend of Renton, Spud, gives a humorous turn while keeping in tune with the dark subject matter. Johnny Lee Miller has gone on to star in American television series’ such as Dexter but he will always be known as Sick Boy and Kevin McKidd manages to put in a great performance as Tommy to the extent that you feel sorry for him but you don’t really care about him. It’s strange. But Robert Carlyle as Begbie, a short tempered frustrated possible homosexual, is amazing; Carlyle always gives a safe performance but he offers up a lot of laughs in an otherwise serious film.

The friendship between Renton, Sick Boy, Tommy, Spud and Begbie is completely believable and authentic. All the relationships are recognisable and take away the drug use (or include it) and you probably know people just like this group of friends in Trainspotting. To me, one of the most important parts of a film is character interaction, development and relationships and each and every one is spot on. The friendship between Renton and Spud is probably my favourite because even though Renton lets Spud go to jail whilst he remains free and later on Renton does them over, you can tell that the only one of that group that Renton really cares about is Spud and I think that is touching really.

The realism captured on film of the drug addiction, Scottish life, friendship, death and sexuality is incredible. Trainspotting could well be real, it is filmed that well, it could well be a documentary with Ewan McGregor’s voice over warning everyone about drugs and the addictiveness of them so it is hard to believe that this is a work of fiction. Some of the scenes become incredibly hard to watch because of the haunting events unravelling but you can’t peel your eyes away from the screen; the dark images will stay with you for as long as you live.

Luckily though, Trainspotting, while dealing with a lot of serious and dark themes does manage to pack in the laughs as well. There is a lot of humour for viewers to find there and the ‘worst toilet in Scotland’ scene manages to be both horrible and hilarious at the same time, absolutely cringeworthy as well as Spud’s ‘dinner table accident’ scene later on.

I can’t express in words how good Trainspotting is. It’s probably not a film for the faint hearted but it’s nothing like any other film ever made.

Combine the greatness of Danny Boyle and the quality of actors like McGregor and Carlyle to name just a couple and you are in for something fantastic right from the word go.

Trainspotting IS one of the best films ever made. No question.

10 Things I Hate About You was the first film that I really fell in love with, after being forced to watch it while I was in school. Directed by Gil Junger, 10 Things I Hate About You is a modern interpretation of William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew set in an American high school. I am quite a fan of Shakespeare’s works so this is one of the little reasons I like the film.

Released in 1999 it comes as no surprise that 10 Things I Hate About You is incredibly 90s. It’s not just set in the 90s it is incredibly over the top 90s that you can’t watch it without feeling nostalgic. But because of this, the film is visually great; its vibrant, its colourful, bright and, at times, majorly over the top but it’s just so fun that it gets away with it. That’s reason one, the visuals.

The next reason is the brilliant soundtrack. All around, 10 Things I Hate About You is a really fun film and with the addition of “chicks who can’t play their instruments”, in the words of Patrick Verona, the film really comes alive. There is plenty of 90s chick rock playing over the top of the film and whilst this plays a small part in the story of the film it really adds to the audience’s enjoyment.

The cast is made up of young actors, obviously as its set in a high school; a few of them would go on to great things. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has become one of the best actors of his generation, Julia Stiles has starred in a lot of big films (including the Bourne franchise) and the late Heath Ledger who needs no description, his talent was undeniable and David Krumholtz became the lead in hit television series Numb3rs. They are all really good actors in their own rights and even back in 1999 their talent was plain to see. Heath Ledger in particular is impressive in 10 Things I Hate About You as the bad guy turned good. The supporting cast (Larry Miller, Daryl Mitchell, Allison Janney) all have turns in the film that provide fantastic comedic moments and with this brilliant cast the film remains light hearted and thoroughly enjoyable throughout.

With the cast being so good, it is obvious that another huge reason to love this film is because of the characters. From the English teacher who just wants kids to “read a book written by a black man” right up to the ‘shrew’ Kat Stratford the characters are connectable and the way they are played and written allows the audience to easily connect. You connect with Cameron and understand his motivations even though Bianca is clearly not good enough for him (at the beginning of the film) and you connect with Kat and understand why she is like she is and you instantly dislike the cocky Joey Donner and await his comeuppance with a little bit of enjoyment. Kat, Bianca and Patrick’s journey and development as the film goes on is clear and fantastic, it is part of what makes the film really good, these characters change because of each other and all end up arguably better people than they were when the film began.

This leads me to my next reason. The themes of friendship and love that overwhelm 10 Things I Hate About You are played out very well. Cameron and Michael become good friends and I like to think that Cameron and Patrick have some sort of friendship especially after Patrick’s words of encouragement at the party. The family relationships in the Stratford household really come along well, from the arguing sisters, Kat and Bianca, to their relationship with their over protective father. And then of course, the relationships between Bianca and Cameron and then Patrick and Kat; Bianca’s relationship with Cameron is the main object of the film, really, and whilst at times it seems this won’t work out it I Patrick’s relationship with Kat that really intrigues audiences. At the beginning Patrick is in it for the money, but as he gets to know Kat he falls in love with her but things get in the way and it is really really satisfying to see that they end up together, happy.

The final, huge reason why I love 10 Things I Hate About You is this:

Heath Ledger’s smile:

“This is not a love story, this is a story about love” – even the tagline for this film is brilliant!

(500) Days of Summer is a romantic comedy which chronicles the story of Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and the 500 days that it takes him to meet Summer (Zooey Deschanel), have a relationship with her and then deal with the heartbreak that she causes him.

There are plenty of reasons why I love this film and it is definitely one of my favourites of all time. Firstly, the basic premise of the film is great. It takes the usual rom-com formula of boy meets girl, girl falls in love, boy doesn’t want her and then the girl wins the boy over and flips it completely on its head: boy meets girl, boy falls in love, and girl breaks his heart. It’s not a happy story for the majority but it works.

The artistic direction of the film is second to none and credit has to go to Marc Webb for that.. Watching (500) Days of Summer, the colour of blue comes through a lot and this is done in order to make Zooey Deschanel’s eyes stand out which they do and make her come across as even more beautiful than she is, which is important for the story. The film, visually is very pleasing and easy on the eyes.

The soundtrack for (500) Days of Summer is undeniably great. It features songs from classic English band The Smiths, established rock band Black Lips, Regina Spektor and relatively new indie bands Mumm-Ra and Temper Trap.  It’s a soundtrack that combines a lot of genres of music and they really help to tell the story.

(500) Days of Summer is a piece of incredible writing. It follows a non-linear structure and this adds to the humour as well as the story. The dialogue is real and the comedy is really well written, with physical and verbal comedy being used and the non-linear story structure sometimes makes things seem funnier than they would otherwise.

The cast and characters. These two factors come as one because with a different cast the real character of Tom and Summer may not have come through as well as it does here. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of my favourite actors and everything he does is gold in my eyes. Here though, he puts in a top notch performance and breathes life into Tom Hansen. I’m not sure whether this is a compliment to him or not but Joseph Gordon-Levitt is someone you can buy as falling in love easily and having his heart broken (although this might come from first seeing him in 10 Things I Hate About You). Tom is incredibly well written and I think that a lot of people can empathise with his position; you fall in love with someone, think everything is going well and then have your heart broken by that person who you would have given everything for. I think this again comes from the writing as Scott Neustadter, co-writer of the film, based the story on one of his own love experiences.

Summer, I guess, is the villain of the piece. She is this fun loving girl who our hero, Tom, falls in love with and then stamps on his heart. She makes me angry all the time and I hate her more and more with each watch. Zooey Deschanel brings a certain innocence to the role and plays her superbly in a way that almost make her motives and feelings seem true. I guess, if you try really hard (which I don’t want to do) you can see Summer’s side of the story; she told Tom up front she didn’t want to get serious and he agreed with that, technically she did nothing wrong. But I still hate her.

The ending. Both characters have a happy ending, just not together, which is really nice. The film obviously places bigger importance on Tom’s happy ending but it is good to see that Summer was happy too. Maybe later on she got divorced and realised she never should have dumped Tom but who knows. Luckily, Tom meets another woman and we can assume that he makes it work with her. I know the ending splits a lot of people but I thought that naming the new girl Autumn was a stroke of genius.

(500) Days of Summer is one of my favourite films of all time. It tells a real story of love, that nothing ever runs smoothly and that just because you lose one person that you loved you can still find happiness. I can watch it over and over again and not get bored. I recommend it as highly as recommendations can get. Seriously, watch it! And if you have already seen it, re-watch it!