The Great Muppet Caper – BlogalongaMuppets 2

With October almost over there is just time for the second film in BlogalongaMuppets, The Great Muppet Caper. This is more of the type of Muppet film I am accustomed to, one in which the Muppets play roles in a story not simply focussing on The Muppets being The Muppets. Instead Kermit and Fozzie play newspaper reporters who travel to Britain (yay London) to investigate a jewel theft. Along the way they meet a lot of remarkably American muppets at the Happiness Hotel and Miss Piggy who is working as assistant to the fashion designer whose jewels were stolen.

This was a vast improvement on the first film; there’s much more energy and we get a proper plot to try to follow. Shame the songs still aren’t up to much, whenever I try to remember a single song from this film I get Movin’ Right Along stuck in my head instead.

While both John Cleese and Peter Falk provide memorable appearances, on the whole there are much fewer gimmicky cameos from celebrities I can’t remember. Falk in particular was a lot of fun as a tramp rambling on about an alternative back story for Kermit. In the end Kermit has to interrupt him as they are “trying to do a movie here.” Yes, it’s just as meta as before and the jokes about the film being a film are quite sophisticated. Kudos to the four writers.

Jim Henson was clearly trying to push the boundaries of puppetry again as not only is there more cycling but Miss Piggy gets an underwater dance sequence. I’d like to see Sooty do that. There’s not much more to say beyond the fact that I am at my happiest with The Muppets when the group of rats are on-screen.

The Great Muppet Caper was a lot of fun and the best of the films so far, but I know there’s better to come.

I hate to be rude, but we’re trying to do a movie here.

Muppet Movie Ranking:
1. The Great Muppet Caper
2. The Muppet Movie

Misfits 3×01 – TV Review

It’s been ten months since the group tackled a not-so-nice Jesus impersonator before deciding to Swap Shop their powers during the Christmas special last year, but Misfits is finally back! The third series has kicked off in true Misfits fashion with a cleverly OTT opener that attempts to boggle our brains and keep us edge-of-our-seats entertained as well.

There is always an overpowering worry with a new season of a television show that it somehow just won’t live up to the standards that it has set before itself. That worry is increased exponentially when the actor playing the proverbial glue that holds the show’s characters together decides to leave the show. We can’t blame Robert Sheehan, who played Nathan, for wanting to move on to better things and a lot of the blame for the show going downhill could have been pinned on that decision if the show had suffered at all. Read on after the break and expect episode spoilers.

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Mild Concern BFI London Film Festival Awards 2011

Hello and welcome to the second annual Mild Concern BFI London Film Festival awards to celebrate and berate various films screened at the 55th BFI London Film Festival. Today I will be sitting in my tuxedo handing out the feted awards, the Raised EyebrowsTM, to any film which grabbed our attention in a positive or, equally likely, negative way.

Best Use of SymbolismWe Need to Talk About Kevin
A favourite to win a few bigger awards this year, even Best of the FestTM, but ultimately a few surprises took the crown. Instead Kevin is recognised for the amount of time poor Tilda Swinton is cleaning red off of her hands, her house and her car. Red is everywhere in Kevin. It’s not subtle but it’s certainly effective.

Best Use of Jon SnowCoriolanus
Jon Snow’s cinematic appearances are few and far between, it has been too long since Zombie Farm, but they are always a treat. Here he plays a newsreader with some classic Shakespearean dialogue. Best bit of the film.

Best Use of Felicity JonesLike Crazy
As the official Mild Concern crush we had to give Felicity Jones a mention. She is at the top of her game in Like Crazy and the film gives her a chance to show her acting chops, and captures her in a gorgeous light throughout. The more I think about the film, the better it seems.

Totally a Play AwardCarnage
Carnage was a hell of a lot of fun but, with four speaking parts and a set consisting of two rooms, hasn’t gained much in transitioning from stage play to motion picture. You’d struggle to find a theatre gathering this stellar cast though so all is forgiven.

Most Improved Performer – George Clooney for The Descendants
At last year’s festival The American was a major low point in my week, it was a dull and pointless film. Thankfully George Clooney took my criticism and returned this year with two films getting rave reviews. The Descendants takes the award for one good reason: it’s the one I saw.

Most Prolific Performer – John C. Reilly for Carnage, We Need to Talk About Kevin and Terri
John C. Reilly has the unique distinction of having a major role in three quality films at this year’s festival. In every film he is a less than perfect father figure to a troubled young boy. Don’t be fooled into thinking he is just playing the same role again and again, each time he plays a distinct character proving that Reilly is not a one trick pony.

Struggling to Stay Awake Award (Documentary)Crazy Horse
Visually beautiful and with a few nice insights into a famous Parisian club, Crazy Horse is a documentary with nothing to say but plenty of time to spend not saying it. I checked the time three times during the screening, willing the film to end and trying to keep my eyes open.

Struggling to Stay Awake Award (Feature)Last Screening
With Last Screening my battle to keep my eyes open was lost and became a battle to maintain consciousness. A film about a serial killer shouldn’t be boring, this is completely unacceptable.

Biggest Affront to Germaine GreerTales of the Night
In a series of fairy tales women fail to be anything more than pathetic damsels in distress. With the actors within the film amending some of the stories they fail to acknowledge women as competent human beings and give the female characters any initiative. It’s as if Buffy never happened.

Best Mix of Tears and Titters/Best Comedy50/50
I laughed, I cried (almost) and I found Seth Rogan funny throughout a film for the first time. 50/50 manages to fill a film about cancer with humour without ever belittling the disease. Good work people.

Scared to Walk Home Award/Best DramaMartha Marcy May Marlene
Stealing Kevin‘s award is a harrowing tale of a young girl who has escaped from a modern-day cult. A brilliant debut feature for director Sean Durkin and a stellar introduction to Elizabeth Olsen. You won’t ever want to be left alone again.

Best DocumentaryInto the Abyss
Werner Herzog certainly knows how to put together a documentary. Here he presents the story of a triple homicide without comment, simply allowing the people involved to tell the story from their point of view. Includes a moving scene where a man starts to cry as he tells a story about a squirrel.

Best AnimationAlois Nebel
So far from cartoon animation this gorgeous Czech film is a truly adult feature. The rotoscoped performances and mixture of CGI effects with hand drawn images make for a real work of art. Still not sure what was going on though.

Best Short FilmThe Monster of Nix
In a similar vein the best short film mixes live-action, computer animation and hand-painted background to make a gorgeous short film which could easily be extended to a full feature. If you’re listening Rosto, we want an extra hour please.

Best of the FestThe Artist
With so many heavy films the best thing we saw all festival was a French silent film set in Hollywood as the talkies began. Invigorating my love for cinema and hopes for its future The Artist is so much fun you can’t help but fall in love with it. It also has a release date now, get ready to smile on 30th December 2011.

A Note For Film-makers:
To collect your award simply send us an email with the address you’d like it sending to and we’ll post it on as soon as we cobble something together. And in case you’re wondering how to incorporate the award into your marketing campaign, here’s an example using Coriolanus:

If you missed any of our reviews, all films covered can be found by clicking on the appropriate thumbnail below:

Young Apprentice 2×01 Frozen Treats – TV Review

Young Apprentice Haya Al Dlame

So everyone’s favourite reality show is back. Only, Lord Sugar claims it’s not a reality show. But we’ll let you in on a little secret: it is. During the airing of an episode social media gets so clogged-up with the bish-bashing of the contestants that the internet almost gives up. It’s far more fun to argue over which child is better on this show than it is the tweens over on X Factor – at least the popstrels realise they’re kids, whilst these idiots reckon they’re about 40.

So let’s meet the line-up and expect spoilers below the cut:

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Out Now – 28th October 2011

Ronald Emmerich is usually to be found directing an epic disaster movie where the majority of the world’s landmarks get destroyed. For a change of pace he is now tackling a period drama surrounding the theory that Shakespeare didn’t write all of his plays. At some point a spaceship will obliterate The Globe during a performance of Hamlet.

Demons Never Die
Eight London students form a suicide pact but their plan is ruined when a masked killer starts to murder them one by one before they get a chance to do it themselves. This presumably triggers a will to live in the gang when they should be grateful for someone doing their dirty work for them.

With rumours of a third film still swirling around going nowhere, the original classic is back in cinemas. You could do a lot worse this weekend than seeing this beauty on the big screen.

The Ides of March
One of the few films I wanted to see at the London Film Festival but couldn’t. Clooney continues his extremely varied career as director with a political drama starring man of the moment Ryan Gosling.

The Silence
German crime drama surrounding one week of an investigation as a young girl is found dead in circumstances mirroring a crime 23 years in the past.

An “urban retribution thriller film set in East London”. After her sister is killed Kayla joins a girl gang to seek revenge. The Urban dictionary has some colourful definitions of “sket”:

An American in Paris (limited release)
Gene Kelly in an all-singing, all-dancing love story. As the tagline for this 1951 film says, “What a joy! It’s M-G-M’s Technicolor musical!” Ooh, technicolor.

Miss Bala (limited release)
A young woman just wants to be a beauty queen but instead gets involved in organised crime in Mexico. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there.

London Shorts – LFF Review

how much for my brother

Rounding off our London Film Festival coverage are two (and a bit) shorts, all made with the support of Film London.

How Much For My Brother?

Enjoyably obnoxious 10-year-old Oscar (Joseph H. King) is sick of his younger brother Jacob (James Foster) ruining his life. Looking like a future candidate for the Young Conservatives, Oscar’s precocious as anything, and it’s evident that his parents don’t understand the burden he has to put up with as they dismiss his concerns while barely looking away from the TV. So Oscar takes matters into his own hands to rid himself of the six-year-old menace (who is adorable in his sun hat and Che Guevara t-shirt).

So far, so charming and while it does toy with slipping into saccharine the film plays with a darker side too. Writer and director Joe Tucker has created a fun and humorous story about brotherly love that had me double-take twice. Not bad for quarter of an hour’s watching.

Jimmy Will Play

jimmy will play

Masooma (Iqra Naz Rizwan) is a cash-strapped single mother whose son Jimmy (Rayaan Ali) desperately wants a new pair of boots ahead of football team trials. It’s a pantomime of a tale, the tropes familiar to anyone watching but the novelty comes from the way Masooma sets out to make money to afford the boots: a scheme that’s played out in an amusing, and wince-inducing montage.

Mawaan Rizwan has made a pleasant film with a strong sense of place, and Masooma evokes real sympathy but really, if Jimmy is so passionate about football, you feel he could make do with less expensive footwear when their meals consist of margarine and sugar.

Rule Number Three

rule number three

Due to some technical issues, I only managed to see about three minutes of Rule Number Three, which was disappointing because what I did see, I was intrigued by. Nicholas Hoult and Imogen Poots are a couple communicating through their game of Scrabble. The first few minutes were funny and I got cut off at a cliffhanger, so if someone can let me know how the full 11 minutes plays out, that’d be great.

Take Shelter – LFF Review

Curtis (Michael Shannon) is having trouble sleeping. Each night he has terrible nightmares along a similar theme, a storm is coming and bringing with it thick rain which drives people insane. As Curtis sees people he trusts turn again him in his dreams he cuts them from his life in fear of his visions coming true, all the while building an expansive storm shelter in his back garden. His wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) does her best to support her husband, but is torn between caring for a troubled man and looking after their deaf daughter. The big question is whether Curtis is developing schizophrenia or is foretelling a coming apocalypse…

In many ways this is the dramatic equivalent of Evan Almighty as one man ignores the criticisms of his loved ones in the pursuit of protecting them from a storm he has foretold. The main difference being that Take Shelter is infinitely better in every way.

Shannon is brilliant as Curtis, a man plagued by his dreams, trying to save his family while not letting them know how terrified he is. We can see Curtis’ inner feeling and the mask he hides them behind. Jessica Chastain and Shea Whigham are perfect as his wife and best friend, both willing to help Curtis but ultimately are hurt by his mistrust. Though ably supported by this great cast it is Shannon who has to carry the film, there is not a scene without him in, and he does so fantastically.

Jeff Nichols direction is simple for the most part, his gentle scenes of domestic tension lulled me into a relaxed state, making the violent dreams all the more distressing when they bellowed onto screen. The lulling does get a little out of hand at times as the film takes too long to get to the conclusion the rest of the two hours has been building to. This is a clever, well told story but does not need to be this long to be told in full.

A quality film with a bit too much flab, Take Shelter is an enthralling watch and a great showcase for Michael Shannon.

Take Shelter is released in UK cinemas on 25th November 2011.

Last Screening – LFF Review

In Last Screening Sylvain (Pascal Cervo) manages a traditional cinema that is soon to close it doors. In a state of extreme denial he continues his job as normal ignoring the fact that the cinema has been sold and he no longer has a job there. In a bizarre turn Sylvain is also a mass murderer, killing female victims and taking a grim souvenir. Before long Sylvain has allowed his murderous streak, and his attempts to keep the cinema open, to overlap, all the while trying to maintain a blossoming romance.

Writer/director Laurent Achard draws direct comparisons with Norman Bates in Hitchcock’s Psycho by including flashbacks back to Sylvain’s abusive childhood at the hands of his mother. A childhood which instilled not just a love for cinema but a lust for blood. Ultimately Achard is commenting on the death of film projectors in cinemas and the digital progression of films, sadly this message gets lost in a grim and surprisingly dull horror.

Last Screening is astonishingly boring for a film lasting just 80 minutes, a real disappointment considering the intriguing synopsis. With an uncharismatic killer taking the lead and a selection of victims we don’t know enough about to care for, it is hard to get involved in proceedings; the whole palaver instead left me cold and on the verge of sleep. This cinematic narcolepsy was not helped by a bounty of shots which may well be aesthetically pleasing, but offered nothing in the way of action or plot progression.

The premise and execution have enough substance to make a decent short film, but are stretched to breaking point as a feature-length production. Tedium in a horror is a crime against the genre.

Last Screening is released in France on 7th December 2011 and isn’t worth a trip on the Eurostar.

Out Now – 26th October 2011

The Help
Combine Emma Stone and Allison Janney and I couldn’t be more excited. Stone is a an aspiring author who decides to tell the story of “the help” from the point of view of African American maids. Lots of social commentary and hopefully some humour too.

The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn
With a script written by Stephen ‘Doctor Who‘ Moffat, Edgar ‘Scott Pilgrim‘ Wright and Joe ‘Attack the Block‘ Cornish, Steven Spielberg in the directors seat and Peter Jackson just hanging around the set, it’s hard not to get a little bit excited about this motion-capture adventure. And yet…

Alps – LFF Review

Giorgos Lanthimos created a lot of buzz with his previous film Dogtooth, in which someone tries to break free from a fictitious environment and break into the real world. In Alps similar fictitious worlds are created and the lead, played by Aggeliki Papoulia, tries to escape into them rather than away from them. The Alps are a bizarre group of individuals offering a very unique service, members of the team can be hired out to fill the place of a deceased loved one for a few hours a week, re-enacting classic scenes from their life.

With such a bizarre concept it is all too easy for a film to feel inauthentic and too odd to settle into. Lanthimos combats this by not burdening the audiences with too much exposition. The theory of the Alps is never really explained, it is up to the audience to figure out what is happening at their own pace. Naturally this meant I spent a lot of time confused and bewildered but I got there in the end.

The Hollywood version of Alps is not hard to imagine, with a new rookie recruit being taken through the process so that we’re all clear on the themes of the film. It is a relief that Lanthimos shies away from this. By not explaining the concept it somehow comes across as more natural and not out of place in the world we live in. As soon as you understand what is happening, you accept it and move on.

On the whole Alps has a wonderfully natural feel that draws you in and the tight running time means the film never lets you go. An unusual beast, Alps is intriguing, comic, moving and brutal. If Charlie Kaufman were to make a Greek film, it would look a lot like this but would be half an hour too long.

Alps has no UK release yet but surely will do soon.