Lincoln – Film Review


I was lucky enough to see Lincoln two weeks before its release. The advantage of this being that I can review it before most people get a chance to see the film and therefore bring vital eyes to the site. As such I have waited until after the film has hit cinemas to put fingers to keys try to review this dramatic behemoth. So why have I done this? Am I secretly trying to sabotage my own website? Surprisingly, no. The truth is that I’m scared.

Lincoln has been nominated for a whopping 12 Oscars this year and has critical acclaim seeping out of its every pore and yet… I found it dull. I’m not trying to be controversial and say that the most praised film of the year is bad as Lincoln is clearly not a bad film. It is possible though for a fine leading performance, stunning photography, and a subject of historic importance to culminate in a two and a half hour masterpiece that literally sent me to sleep in the early afternoon.

Lincoln 1

With such an extensive running time you might expect Lincoln to cover the length and breadth of Abe’s life but instead the film focuses on a four-month period in which the titular character campaigns to have the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution passed by the United States House of Representatives. The amendment in question would abolish slavery and hopefully end the civil war in the process. With what is essentially a period political drama on his hands Stephen Spielberg is robbed of any action set-pieces and so takes on an unusually subtle directorial style as he is faced with endless scenes of bearded men talking in rooms.

The men in question are lit beautifully, are garnished with the finest beards Hollywood can produce, and are played by a diverse cast of character actors but their exploits border on the mundane. Daniel Day-Lewis gives a typically authentic performance as the late US president but his Lincoln is a calm and considered man whose gentle voice and subtle mannerisms did not help me to maintain consciousness.

Lincoln 2

Looking back at the film I find it hard to comprehend how Spielberg managed to stretch this story into such a long film. In the short period I dozed for I missed none of the plot as progress was slow and a little grating. Lincoln may well be beautifully shot and contain acting of the highest calibre but it long overstays its welcome and does not appear to have even heard of pacing. Bizarrely for a film this epic in length and with a focus on slavery we never see the misery of slavery itself or are shown the improvements that the amendment brings to the country.

All this negativity aside credit goes to Lee Pace, James Spader, and Tommy Lee Jones for stealing the show from Daniel Day-Lewis and commiserations to Joseph Gordon-Levitt for not having a lot to do.

There is every chance that Lincoln will win a good proportion of its Oscar nominations but frankly I don’t think it deserves to. There’s a good film hiding in Lincoln but a serious amount of editing is needed to get to the heart of the story. For a film with a foregone conclusion for an ending, it takes far too long to get to it.

Yes, three stars. I’m not brave enough to give it less.

Spider-Man, With This Casting You’re Really Spoiling Us

Felicity JonesPaul Giamatti

Mild Concern was founded because on the 11th January 2010 I felt the need to say 73 words about the fact that Spider-Man was being rebooted. Since then the film gained the director of (500) Days of Summer (one of the films I most often force other people to watch) Marc Webb and the sexy young acting talents of Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield. The resulting film was… well… better than its predecessor and certainly seemed to be setting up for something we haven’t seen before. Admittedly I watched half of the film on a pirated DVD bought from a Turkish market which stopped playing halfway through so perhaps I am not the best judge.

All this aside there are new rumours that joining Amazing Spider-Man 2 are character actor extraordinaire Paul Giamatti and the one and only Felicity Jones – a woman for whom this blog acts as a temple as we wait patiently for her to make a five-star film. Giamatti is said to be playing The Rhino, not just any old rhino, while Jones has no confirmed role beyond attractive young lady who will win an Oscar one day even if I have to make her one myself.

This is exciting news if true and will mean that I will actually go and see Amazing Spider-Man 2 in the cinema and not be a Korsan Kaan which is what I have translated as the Turkish version of a Knock-off Nigel. You’re welcome Turkish Anti-Piracy Committee.

Goodbye HMV… So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Haiku.


Since hearing that HMV had entered financial intensive care of a form I don’t quite fully understand I have been to HMV on four separate occasion to pick at the bones of this former high street giant. It has been a painful week or so as I have considered a life without HMV/Fopp and all the joy and comfort they have brought me over the years.

While might offer a more expansive range of music, films, and books while offering them at prices that HMV simply can’t compete with there is one thing has never been but that HMV does so well; a physical shop. Since working at a Specsavers on a Saturday at the age of 15 HMV has served as a place of distraction, temptation, and time-wasting. At HMV I could while away my lunch break exploring the aisles of DVDs – discovering films I have never seen and judging the selections of my fellow browsers.

As the years have passed HMV and friends have helped me waste both time and money and at the end of a rough week my mood could always be improved by filling my bag with a clutch of discs I would most likely just stack up in my room and never get round to watching. HMV has long enabled my own personal form of bingeing without causing me to suffer from alcoholism or obesity.

I don’t understand the technicalities of how HMV’s financial woes are faring but I hope it isn’t the end for this temple of entertainment. Where else can I go to rearrange the stock so my favourite films get prime position?

I asked the rest of the team to contribute their thoughts on HMV and its potential death and received two haikus in response. You get what you pay for.

Stephen’s Haiku (and a bit extra):

I will miss you so
So so so so so so so so
So so so so much.

You over-priced sod.

Kat’s Haiku:

Last-minute saviour
Of just remembered birthdays.
Good bye HMV

Don’t go HMV. While you remain on the high street I will continue to spend as much at your tills as I do on rent.

Out Now – 25th January 2013

The Last Lincoln

Sorry we’ve been quiet this week I’ve been too busy raiding HMV to put words into sentences and try to use those to build up paragraphs.

The Last Stand
It’s an action film starring well-known politician Arnold Schwarzenegger and the man best known for self-abuse, Johnny Knoxville, so what do we care what the plot is?

Movie 43
Claiming to have the largest cast ever assembled Movie 43 is an anthology film consisting of 12 separate comedy stories. Anthology films can be great, Paris Je T’aime, or desperately awful, Valentines Day. Who knows which this will be.

Zero Dark Thirty
Kathryn Bigelow is back to try to recreate her Oscar glory with this hastily rewritten story of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Fingers crossed you haven’t been watching the news for the past few years or you might know how it ends.

Nominated for a whopping 12 Oscars Lincoln covers the period of Lincoln’s life in which he fights to amend the American constitution to abolish slavery. A powerful lead performance and important subject matter have distracted people from what is a mediocre film.

The King of Pigs (limited release)
“Jong-suk and Kyung-min meet up to talk about their high school past, it’s been 15 years since they last talked. It brings up all kinds of memories.” Talking about the past is tricky without memories, give it a try. “Hey, remember when… Oh. Never mind.”

Hollow (limited release)
Horror set in the English countryside. IMDb user BENTbe claims that “at times the character development is a bit too in-depth for a horror movie”. Ugh, characters should just die, not develop. Overall he rated the film 8/10. Not bad.

Race 2 (limited release)
In this sequel to Race (I’m guessing) “Ranvir treads through the world of the Indian mafia in Turkey as he looks to avenge the death of his lover and partner in crime.”

Won’t Back Down (limited release)
Two mothers, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davies, fight to improve their children’s school. It’s an OFSTED inspector’s wet dream. Ew.

Karaoglan (limited release)
“Karaoglan is a Turkish historical comic book and drawn by Suat Yalaz.” Thanks IMDb, that doesn’t help at all when describing a live action film. We’ve got two Oscar nominees out today there’s no time for messing about.

Django Unchained – Film Review

Django Unchained

Finally crafting the Western we know has been coming since 1992 Quentin Tarantino is as unchained as his titular character, unleashing a 3-hour behemoth with more racism, more violence, and more Spaghetti music than we could ever have imagined.

Django first appeared on our screens in 1966 as a white drifter with piercing blue eyes and a machine gun. Since then the character has become an eponymous figure in the Western film, unofficially featuring in thirty-one ‘sequels’. Now Jamie Foxx takes the form of a different Django but with eyes just as piercing, pistol-slinging skills just as unrivalled and a heart just as vengeful.

Unchained sees slave Django become a free man by the hand of slavery-hating German immigrant dentist-turned-bounty hunter, Dr King Schultz, played with insane suavity by the charismatic Christoph Waltz. After Schultz Pretty Woman‘s Django into an excellent bounty hunter the pair’s unlikely and extremely frowned upon partnership develops from associate to kinship so much so that when Django sets out to retrieve his wife from the cordial but brutal plantation owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) Schultz agrees to help him on his potentially suicidal mission.

After closing Inglourious Basterds with the tongue in cheek “This might just be my masterpiece,” Tarantino was clearly very happy with where the film had taken him as an artist. He had once again adopted and owned a new aesthetic style, seizing every bit of WWII iconography and paraphernalia possible and piecing together a genre film of unparalleled quality.

Django Unchained 3

Somehow outdoing himself once more Django Unchained is a Western film Best Of, borrowing iconic visuals, musical tones and characters left and right, once more blurring the line between homage and rip-off, but with Tarantino’s staple wit providing the gold that separates his film from all others when sifting the proverbial gold pan of the genre.

Of course, aesthetic glories and a genius script are nothing without an equally impressive cast. Luckily, another staple of a Tarantino film is impeccable casting. In a film with such bold themes only bold actors could thrive. Foxx and Waltz’s chemistry is compelling, funny and genuine as the pair riff through racism and work with graceful charisma. Perhaps most impressive is DiCaprio’s turn as the villainous Candie, whose immersion into the despicable character is a feat that cannot have been easy. Kerry Washington is sadly underused as Django’s wife, Broomhilda but in her short screen time she captivates the audience as much as Samuel L Jackson makes us simultaneously squirm and laugh.

Django Unchained is as funny as it is blunt; as violent as it is beautiful; as statement-making as it is simply a love letter from Tarantino to the genre. Some have challenged Django Unchained as much as some have praised it, and I can’t tell you what to make of it on some fronts but I can tell you that I sincerely hope it picks up that golden statuette next month.

Anti-white bigotry. Exploitative black racism. Masterpiece. There is something for everyone in Django Unchained.

Out Now – 18th January 2013

The Sessions Unchained

Django Unchained
Tarantino tackles slavery with extreme violence, just don’t ask him to defend it. Guaranteed to be twelve notches more fun that Spielberg’s slavery battled Lincoln but perhaps a little less historically accurate.

Monsters Inc 3D
Sharing the familiar plot and characters of one of Pixar’s best films Monsters Inc, Monsters Inc 3D is set in the world of monsters who must scare children to capture screams for use as energy. Poor Mike won’t be able to get the full benefit of this new release being a cyclops and all.

V/H/S (limited release)
Five found-footage horror shorts tied together by a sixth. With a different director for each short this should be a diverse treat for the horror fan living in your attic.

The Sessions (limited release)
Just because someone is disabled does not mean they don’t have a sex drive. Just because a film is centred around sex does not mean that it can’t be touching. Step right up for one touching film about sex and disabilities I went and gave five stars. This has nothing to do with my childhood crush on Helen Hunt and her distinct lack of clothing.

Everyday (limited release)
You saw it on Channel 4 in November, now see it on the big screen! Michael Winterbottom charts the relationship between a man in prison and his wife by filming this five-year drama over the space of five years.

The Wee Man (limited release)
“The true-life story of Paul Ferris.” How vague and enigmatic.

Ballroom Dancer (limited release)
This is a documentary about a…


The Sessions – LFF Review

The Sessions

The Sessions is the intimate true story of a disabled man’s quest to lose his virginity. John Hawkes plays Mark a man paralysed from the neck down and confined to an iron lung for the majority of his day. While researching an article on the sex life of the disabled Mark is forced to consider his own status as a virgin. After consulting with his liberal priest (William H. Macy) Mark decides to hire a sex surrogate to… well… have sex with him. The sex surrogate in question is Cheryl (Helen Hunt) who has just one rule; they can only have six sessions.

For a film so centred around sex The Sessions is the furthest thing from smutty. We may well get a “brave” performance from Helen Hunt (TRANSLATION: You get to see upstairs AND downstairs) but the nudity in the film is so matter of fact and natural that it couldn’t possibly be seen as gratuitous. The sex scenes are tender, awkward, touching, and funny ranging from functional descriptions and embarrassing moments to what borders on the romantic. While this is not a love story the relationship that develops between Mark and Cheryl is infinitely more believable than anything you will find in the endlessly questionable Pretty Woman.

The Sessions is not a film about sex, it is a film about one man’s self discovery against the odds. At the same time The Sessions is a film about sex. And for once it is not one in which we are invited to laugh at bodily fluids and ogle augmented breasts. This is an adult film about sex. Not an adult film about sex. This is a grown-up film about sex. How refreshing. What is even more refreshing is that at no point is the morality of Cheryl’s profession brought into question. She may well have sex for money but that isn’t the point of the film so there is no sub-plot in which anyone has to come to terms with what she chooses to do for money.

The ending may be a little abrupt but in every other way The Sessions is flawless. You’ll never root so hard for someone else to have sex.

Top 10 Films of 2012


It’s finally here! Welcome to my obligatory annual blogger’s list in which I try to rank incomparable films that share one thing in common – a 2012 UK release date. I tried to limit myself to just 10 films this year after finding 20 a bit too many in 2011. I managed to whittle my list down to 10, then added two I felt I just couldn’t leave out. It’s my top 10, I can have 12 if I want to.

12 - Holy Motors

Holy Motors starts the list in a cautious manner. I slept through a lot of the film and confessed as much in my review. Watching a famously mind-boggling film in French while half asleep was a terrifying experience. I could barely read the subtitles and would often wake up to find the lead actor was playing a different character to when I was last conscious.

The film follows a mysterious man as he travels between appointments in a stretch limo. What appointments are these? I couldn’t even begin to explain. Suffice to say that each time the limo stops a different character step out to play a minor or major role in someone elses lives. The end is so bizarre I thought I had actually dreamt it. One of the Jo(h)ns I saw the film with has tirelessly defended it over the past three months and I couldn’t not include it in my extended top 10. In Jon’s own words:

“It came out of nowhere, it was beautiful, strange, intriguing and was utterly compelling even though I don’t think I really understood it. Just like a girl I used to fancy.”

No other film on this list includes two erect penises.

11 - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

How could I not? This film about a retirement home in India catering only to British actors of the finest pedigree. It was a film featuring both Dame Judi and Maggie, comprised of a myriad of storylines and was consistently funny and touching for the entirety of its two-hour running film.

Many have said that the success of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is down to its ability to pick up the grey pound. While I admit that this is one of very few films last year that could be said to specifically cater to the older generation I think the appeal expands far beyond the wrinkled amongst us. As I exited the screening at 20th Century Fox in Soho Square (ahem) I instantly texted both my mum and my sister (such is the life of the single blogger) to let them know that their new favourite film was hitting cinemas in a couple of months.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a warm hug that everyone can enjoy and famously (well, not really) made me want to whisk Judi Dench off to India and retire in a dilapidated hotel.

And now for the proper Top 10: Continue reading

Out Now – 11th January 2013


Gangster Squad
The LAPD fight to keep gangsters out of LA in a film that Stephen described as “one of those fine films that fills you with absurd excitement; the kind of film that has you imitating the characters for the rest of your evening.” I think Emma Stone might be in it, I can’t be sure.

Les Misérables
Who really knows the plot of Les Mis? Oh, OK then. I certainly don’t. What I do know is that the musical used as the standard metric for a good show (the phrase “it was good but no Les Mis” has been said many a time) has been directed by Tom Hooper with all singing having been recorded in set rather than in a studio. Is it any good? Critics seem unsure.

What Richard Did (limited release)
“A stark portrait of the fall of Richard, the golden-boy of a privileged set of Dublin teens, whose world unravels one summer night.” If that doesn’t appeal the BBFC say the film “contains strong language, once very strong, and strong sex.” You know what that means? They say the C word. Edgy.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (limited release)
Documentary about 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono. One film that removed any debate about what food to get before you go to the cinema. But what song should you listen to as you eat the sushi. Let me think…

May I Kill U? (limited release)
A policeman on a bicycle decides to start brutally murdering criminals in this dark British comedy starring the young boy from Muppet Treasure Island. Fun as it may sound the reviews are terrible.

Underground (limited re-release)
Re-release of 1929 British film about two men who fall for the same woman on the same day at the same station on the London Underground. I fall in love on the Underground at least two times a day. Where’s my film!?

American Mary (limited release)
A young medical student gets embroiled in the world of underground surgery as she struggles to pay for tuition fees. Rape and gore galore!

Midnight Son (limited release)
A young man with extremely sensitive skin develops a need to drink human blood. I smell a vampire! Seriously. Send help.

The Lookout (limited release)
Not the 2007 Joseph Gordon-Levitt film but a European (I can’t be more specific) drama about “a detective hunts for the marksman who foiled the plan to catch a notorious team of bank robbers.” It has such a limited release only the Cine Lumiere in London is showing it. South Kensington is the nearest tube station. You’re welcome.