Sunday, July 27, 2014


BELIEVE is a shamelessly earnest and indulgent underdog sports story starring Brian Cox as the legendary real life manager of Manchester United. The script from Massimiliano Durante and Carmelo Pennisi imagines what would have happened if Busby had decided to coach a young bunch of working class kids in a local tournament, just out of love of the game and the memory of his young players so tragically killed in the Munich air crash.  

Although much of the film is derivative (working class lads up against posh boys - a mum who doesn't want her kid to play - the conflict between school and sport) I really admire the director David Scheinmann (THE WEST WITTERING AFFAIR) for going into some of the darker material. Although done in almost mocking, caricatured manner, this is a film that shows the class divisions in England, with Georgie (Jack Smith) trying to pass an exam to get into a grammar school rightly seen as potentially life-changing.  I also liked the sentimental but elegantly handled way in which the Munich air crash is handled in a film that is, after all, a PG rated drama. 

Brian Cox is predictably great as Busby but I was surprised at Toby Jones' comic facility and Natasha McElhone's northern accent. But the real star is Jack Smith as the star player Georgie who handles the tough emotional stuff as well as being a good lippy kid.  Could've done without the added contrived drama of a last minute flat tire though.

BELIEVE was released last year in Austria and is currently on release in the UK.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Random DVD Round-Up - NEED FOR SPEED

NEED FOR SPEED is so much macho bullshit it makes the FAST & FURIOUS franchise look like the Ingmar Bergman of car-racing flicks.  We're in the sort of clumsy, asinine movie-making that epitomises THE EXPENDABLES except without the self-knowing irony. Some lazy reviewers have argued that you shouldn't expect better from a movie based on a video-game, but that's to do video games a disservice. The simple fact is that ex-stunt driver and director Scott Waugh only knows how to direct by pasting together action set-pieces  and scriptwriters John and George Gatins (REAL STEEL) have either no interest in or no talent for depicting real human emotion.  

Random DVD Round-Up - THE LEGO MOVIE

If Marxist theories Slavoj Zizek made an animated kids movie, THE LEGO MOVIE would be it!  It'a audacious in its deep satirical criticism of modern consumer culture - creating an alarming but entertaining picture of a dystopia where people are subjected to an almost Orwellian fascist mind-control - fooled into buying over price coffee, too busy watching mindless TV shows to notice that big corporations rig the elections.  The ultimate irony is that this movie was produced by yet another corporate behemoth, and its gratingly catchy theme song "Everything's awesome" itself became a non-ironic hit, raking in ever more phat cash for President Business at Warner Brothers.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


You can listen to a podcast review of this film here, or subscribe to Bina007 Movie Reviews in iTunes.

GUARDIAN OF THE GALAXY is hands-down the most fun I've had in a cinema over the past year. It's goofy, funny, smart, touching and at times plain balls-out crazy.  But when the lights came up I could have happily sat down to watch the movie all over again, and I can't wait for the sequel.  It reminded me of all the reasons we loved cinema as kids - of all those Saturday morning serial inspired movies like STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES with their epic quests and buddy comedy relationships. But even better, it reminded me of the richly imagined almost gothic worlds of Guillermo del Toro movies - worlds where people (and raccoons!) look battered and beaten rather than shiny and new.  There was something nostalgic about the very concept of the movie - a throwback to the great eighties action comedies - that went beyond its hokey mix-tape seventies sound-track.  I mean, I CARED about the talking tree and the psycho-raccoon, god help me. And I want to know what happens next!

Sunday, July 20, 2014


DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is a handsome, earnest if somewhat hamfisted sci-fi action movie that dazzles visually but grates emotionally.  

Five years after the events of the reboot, Caesar (Andy Serkis), the genetically modified intelligent ape has founded a colony and a family in the forests outside of San Francisco.  His original owner (James Franco) is presumed dead from the deadly Simian Virus that has reduced mankind to small isolated survivor groups of the genetically immune.  The structure of the story is symmetrical - the apes and humans have to fashion a new society and decide how to engage with their enemy. In both camps we have the peaceful diplomats - wise Caesar and scientist Malcolm (Jason Clarke).  And in both camps we have the battle-scarred and distrustful war-mongerers - Koba (Toby Kebbell) and Dreyfus (Gary Oldman).  


From the director of WHEN HARRY MET SALLY - a rom-com of true originality - comes a rom-com of deathly predictability and banality in every aspect except the age of its protagonists. Michael Douglas plays his familiar screen persona - a selfish, wise-ass lothario called Oren Little.  He's the grumpy grieving landlord of a small residential community in which one of his tenants is the sweet and lovely Leah, played by the typically sweet and lovely Diane Keaton.  To say that all three major players in this film - stars and director - are slumming it here, is an understatement.  As the film unfolds, we see Oren's ex addict son turn up with a ten year old daughter who he dumps on his dad before he goes to prison. Naturally, Leah is going to turn out to be a lovely surrogate grandmother and this is going to soften Oren's heart and lead to a bumpy but ultimately happy romance. 

The film is not entirely unwatchable thanks to the genuine charisma of both leads but it really does just grind through its gears and lead us to a very obvious denouement.  There is really nothing new to see and frankly this is a DVD release at best, if not plain avoided.

AND SO IT GOES has a running time of 94 minutes and is rated PG-13. The movie is on release it Italy, Israel, Greece, the UK and Ireland. It is released later this month in Israel, Ukraine, Canada, the USA, Mexico and Singapore. It goes on release in August in Estonia, Lithuania, Argentina, Chile, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Croatia, Macedonia and the UAE. It goes on release in September in Denmark, Hungary, Kuwait, Norway, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Paraguay, South Africa, Paraguay, South Africa, the Philippines and Slovakia. It goes on release in October in Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Brazil, Spain, Colombia, Lebanon, Peru and Finland. It opens in November in Germany and Austria, and in January 2015 in Hong Kong and Japan.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


GOLTZIUS AND THE PELICAN COMPANY is a work of genius - a movie that is beautiful, inventive, provocative and mischievous - a work that could only have come from Peter Greenaway. It's a movie that begs to be seen on a big screen and yet has received a micro release in London: a movie made by a man who declares that cinema is dead, whose declining audiences seem to echo that fact - and yet who persists in creating these amazing virtuoso pieces of art.  It's just one of the many paradoxes encapsulated in the film.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


THE ANOMALY sees actor-director Noel Clarke (STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS) return to our screens with an ambitious sci-fi thriller that pulls off a stylish look on a low budget but is ultimately the victim of weak script and two-dimensional characters, not to mention gratuitous female nudity.

Clarke stars as a soldier suffering from PTSD who keeps waking up in a future world for just 10 minutes before zapped back.  He realises that he's being used to battle with an evil baddie called Agent Harkin played by Ian Somerhalder and his only ally is a hooker with a heart of gold. The whole thing drips with references to other, better, bigger-budgeted films such as THE MATRIX and SOURCE CODE.  And I'd feel better classing this as an honourable failure it it weren't for its retrograde sexual politics. I'd like to say that after ADULTHOOD and Noel Clarke was developing his own directorial style but he really isn't. This is a film made by a guy obsessed with mimicking the films he love, but without changing them, improving them or melding them in the way. 

THE ANOMALY has a running time of 94 minutes and is rated 15 for strong language, violence, sex and nudity. The movie is on release in the UK and Ireland and opens later this month in Vietnam. It opens in January 2015 in Japan and in March 2015 in Brazil.


Anup Singh's fantastic historical fable (qissa means fable in English) is a tale of loss and madness that echoes in it's personal tragedies the wider political madness of Partition.  The separation of India and Pakistan in 1947 led to a traumatic upheaval as Sikhs and Hindus left the newly Pakistani northern Punjab and journeyed to the still India southern Punjab, while Muslims made the journey in reverse.  Torn from their homes, the refugees were victims of violence on both sides. Thus, early in the story we meet the Sikh patriarch Umber Singh (Irrfan Khan - LIFE OF PI) - so embittered that he literally poisons the well of his former home - an act which in the quiet unspoken fantastical film signals ill-omens. Four years later, when his wife gives birth to yet another daughter, he commits a momentary act of madness, welcoming the birth of his son and heir. Thus his daughter is brought up a a boy - a deceit that is tacitly condoned by father, mother and even family friend - and it's part of the subtle ambiguity of the film that even on her wedding day, we're not entirely sure how far the daughter realises she is in fact a girl.  

Friday, July 11, 2014

ALICE (1965) and DREAMCHILD (1985)

The BFI is putting on a fantastic Dennis Potter retrospective this month, showing all of his TV plays and more besides.  One of the more intriguing offerings was the double screening of ALICE and DREAMCHILD - two versions of the same play, one produced for television in 1965 and the second a feature length film in 1985.  In both, the subject matter is the relationship between Lewis Carroll aka Mr Dodgson, and Alice Liddell, the little girl who inspired Alice in Wonderland.  Whole scenes are carried over from one version to another, although differing performances, editing and context lend them a different angle on the controversial, ambiguous nature of Dodgson's fascination with the little girl.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


In which Melissa McCarthy (BRIDESMAIDS) plays a woman who has lost her job and her husband, and goes on an impromptu road trip with her similarly unboundaried alcoholic grandmother (Susan Sarandon.) We are meant to be amused by their scampy hi-jinks as they wend their way to Niagara Falls, picking up guys en route (Mark Duplass) robbing a fast food joint and generally being mildly transgressive. The problem is that all of this is way too underwritten - way too unfunny - and it seems that as fine an actress as Susan Sarandon is, she’s not even attempting to truly play an old woman. Contrast this performance with Julie Walters, also aged up to play a granny going on an impromptu road-trip in THE HARRY HILL MOVIE. The only scene worth anything is when Tammy and her grandmother end up at a magnificent house owned by two gay lovers played by Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh. Tammy is feeling sorry for herself but Bates’ character schools her on how hard she had to work for everything she has, as well as acceptance. It’s the only moving and authentic moment in the whole film. Otherwise, TAMMY follows the typical comedy arc with the protagonist falling out with people and then making up, finding self-knowledge en route. I just wish that Melissa McCarthy and the Hollywood producers who throw scripts her way would realise that she is a better actress than this, and just because she played a gross character on BRIDESMAIDS doesn’t mean that she has to play versions of that for the rest of her career. She’s a beautiful woman. How about being daring and giving her a conventional rom-com?  The fact that she CHOSE to co-write this movie makes me all the more sad.

TAMMY has a running time of 97 minutes and is rated R.  The movie is on release in the USA, Canada, Germany, Singapore, the UK and Ireland. It goes on release in Kuwait on July 28th, Denmark on July 31st, South Africa on August 29th and Australia on October 16th.

Friday, July 04, 2014


I loved the Channing Tatum-Jonah Hill brom-edy 21 JUMP STREET.  The reboot was fun, clever, and I was genuinely rooting for the two buddies as they took down a nasty drug dealer by posing as kids in a local school.  Sure, the whole concept was hokey but the actors and directors seemed perfectly at ease with that hokiness.  I was trying to figure out what had gone wrong with the only patchily funny sequel, 22 JUMP STREET and I think it comes down two things. First off, there isn't enough warm-hearted bromance before we get to the debbie-downer homo-social break-up.  As a result the bickering to fun-stuff ratio is just off.  Second, we get it: you're smart and post-modern and meta-clever!  All those jokes about how sequels suck, and movie audiences just want the same dang thing over and over, and how the budget all goes on cheesy action shots just made me feel like the movie was poking fun at me for liking what I got in the original and wanting it again.  All that winking at the camera just undermined by ability to sympathise with the characters and that's fatal - because whatever else this movie has, it should have heart.