There is a scene in Oslo, August 31st where two girls ride bicycles, each with a fellow hitching a lift on the back (a ‘backie’ in my world). The ride takes place just before dawn after a night of partying. One of the fellows, the one on the bike in front, has a fire extinguisher which he releases sporadically behind him. The effect is to leave a static miniature cloud in his wake for his following friends to cycle through or around. It’s a deeply beautiful and captivating sequence.

And the film as whole has these qualities too, easily engaging the audience as it simultaneously suffocates with an unbearable weight of existential melancholy. The film stylistically and tonally is french new wave, but never feels less than supremely relevant.

Oslo August 31st

There is no doubt Dallas Buyers Club is worthy of the accolades it has received. Unfortunately having heard and seen so much about, it felt a little bland. It felt like I’d already seen it.

That said this film is important and it manages to educate without being didactic. Matt revels (and conquers) in a role that is never played for empathy, yet instils in its audience a painful understanding of the fear, frustration and injustice of all Ron Woodruff faced and overcame.

Dallas Buyers Club

Goodbye First Love doesn’t quite have the weight it needs to carry off the story it tells. The story is off teen lovers separated and then reunited years later. It is actually set over eight years and significant changes in Lola’s character Camille’s life. However neither she or her beau seem to age. Her beau doesn’t even change outfits, and she seems to be dressing up in adult clothes. It jars.

There is something in it, a sort of folksy deep and tragic love, but it’s mismanaged and as a whole falls short of the dramatic possibilities it might have achieved.

Goodbye First Love

Andrea Arnold is hell of a director. Fish Tank takes the raw talent of new comer Katie Jarvis and assured confidence of Fassbender and creates social drama akin to the work of Loach and Leigh.

There are no surprises in the plot. You know where it’s going and this knowledge makes the viewing all the more excruciating. It’s a pain worth enduring though, because this is seriously good cinema.

Fish Tank

There’s a belief that Mel Gibson is bat shit crazy. That maybe, but he can make a movie. Watch Apocalypto. It’s brutish and gruesome fare, but it’s also supreme film-making. The sense of authenticity is phenomenal. It begins as a historical epic and finishes as a nail biting chase flick. It even has a Predator moment, a film with which it shares more than one might expect.

On top of all this it also manages to pose a challenging perspective on the notion of culture. How it comes into being, how it is maintained and how it eventually dies.

Apocalypto Rudy Youngblood

Immortals is little more than an unrelenting spectacle which fatigues the viewer in a similar manner to every other special effect laden ‘event’ picture you don’t care about. It’s also proliferated with abs.

Immortals Henry Cavill

The girlfriend described The Lego Movie as overwhelming. It’s an incredibly accurate description. There’s too much to take in, and it all happens so fast. And it’s all so brilliant!

Unfortunately though, I’d totally be Will Ferrell. I like my Lego to resemble exactly what was on the box it came in.

The Lego Movie

What could have been an thrilling retelling of a classic tale isn’t. Snow White And The Huntsman doesn’t commit. It has all these dark ideas and feminist ideals, but they never materialise, mere shadows of what one imagines was set out from the start. It’s a short fall that makes the film even more unsatisfying than it actually is.

Pacing is essential too in a film like this. Never does it change speed though in its stride to its conclusion. The viewer is never given a gear change, up or down. It’s a procession of scenes that offer zero surprise, anticipation or excitement.

Snow White And The Huntsman Kristen Stewart Chris Hemsworth

Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights is maybe as you’d expect from the director. Pretty fucking bleak. The original story isn’t played for many laughs admittedly, but this is a sombre affair and then some. Paced at a level akin to crawling through a bog with only the sound of wind and rain for company, the audience watches the perpetually mud covered Cathy and Heathcliff trudge across the moors seemingly without end.

It doesn’t sound an overly compelling piece of cinema, and in some ways it does drag, but the intensity of the story and the grim unlikable characters keep you intrigued and repulsed. It makes them tough to turn away from.

The film is certainly an interpretation as much as it’s an adaptation, but it’s Andrea Arnold’s interpretation and her eye gives a view that you only ever want more of.

Wuthering Heights Andrea Arnold

Get Low is a quirk of a film. It reminded me a lot of Burton’s Big Fish. It isn’t as fantastical, but it has the same charm. And that’s where it wins its fans, with charm and warmth where you might not necessarily expect such qualities.

Get Low Robert Duvall Bill Murray Lucas Black

How good an actor is Michael Shannon? Take Shelter is further evidence he is among the very best. Plagued by apocalyptic visions and intense paranoia, his character Curtis soldiers on, pushing himself and all around him to the very brink. It’s a tense and torrid ride told with remarkable reserve. The film never gets over excited by itself, a feature akin to Nichols other work. And then it gives you ‘that’ ending.

Nichols is already great, but he could make a place for himself among the greatest. The premise and cast for his next project Midnight Special, currently in post-production offer excitement and optimism in tsunami like quantities.

Take Shelter Michael Shannon Jessica Chastain

It’s The Evil Dead, the film that brought the world Bruce Campbell, and a whole load of horror film tropes. These are reasons to be highly appreciative of this flick. The special effects in particular are not only brilliant, but ingenious. If you don’t love this film, you don’t know horror movies.

The Evil Dead

Yes I’m a lit grad and no, I haven’t read Jane Eyre. Now that’s out of the way, the film. Directed by Fukunaga (True Detective helmer) and starring the Fassbender beside Mia Wasikowska there really isn’t a lot to dislike. Quality.

Jane Eyre Mia Wasikowska Michael Fassbender

It is safe to say that Out Of The Furnace is a powerhouse of bleak. It is also safe to say, it’s outstanding.

Casey, Christian and Woody are exceptional. Bale is arguably the pick as we watch his character change before our eyes. He slips and slides towards an inevitable climax as every morsel of hope is stripped from him. It’s impactful stuff figuratively and literally. Grim, bone crunching sequences rain down freely from start to finish.

This is a deeply felt film about being a man in the primeval sense and about being your brothers guardian. Its primitive rendering of machismo will turn plenty of people off, but that doesn’t stop this flick being a cinematic high about fierce stoicism in the face of biblical hardship.

Glee on steroids I guess is the best way of describing Pitch Perfect. If you like musicals, you’re not going to be disappointed. Admittedly the character arcs are erratic to say the least, but that’s not why we watch. We watch to revel in the glory of The Breakfast Club, it’s Simple Minds title music and of course No Diggity sang a cappella in a drained swimming pool. A-ca-awesome! Or to be truthful, A-ca-better than average.

Pitch-Perfect-Anna-Kendrick

The Howling is quality 80s horror. It’s not in the same league as American Werewolf In London, but as far as films about hairy man dogs go it’s a good one. Plus the special effects are splendidly gruesome and robust.

The Howling

More Than A Game doesn’t have an IMDB entry, but you can watch the whole thing on Vimeo, just hit the link.

The world of competitive video gaming is certainly worthy of being delved into, just watch The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters for confirmation of this. Unfortunately this look at the worlds best Super Street Fighter 4 players lacks the characters, insight, raw enthusiasm and narrative that made TKOKAFOQ the achievement it is. Regardless though it’s still a decent watch.

More Than A Game

Mads is one of my favourite actors. Typecasting him, the role he plays in The Hunt is outside his usual domain. He’s not exactly known for his sympathetic roles.

It’s grim but compelling viewing as a small community rallies against Mads’ character behind an ubsubstantiated accusation of kiddie-fiddling. The narrative is unbearably tense throughout and peppered with explosions of unsurpassed dramatic intensity. There are two scenes especially that will stick with you, one of which involves the most satisfying cinematic head-butt ever committed to screen.

The Hunt

TRON: Legacy isn’t what I expected. I actually liked it. Well, I liked the motorcycle and plane scenes. They’re seriously well crafted. Unfortunately there is a staggering amount of chat about computer science stuff that feels entirely unnecessary. While these are happening though it’s easy to let yourself be distracted by all the pretty lights. Just be like a movie loving moth. Also two words on the young Jeff Bridges/Clu, fucking creepy.

It’s not terrible, but The Sitter isn’t quality either. It’s in that comedy category where there are enough, admittedly well spaced, chortles to make it to the end without ever feeling totally obliged to get up from your couch and do something more worthwhile. That said come the end you do wonder why you bothered. No surprises, a few chuckles and Jonah Hill. If that’s your thing… Even Sam Rockwell can’t elevate it above distinctly average.

The Sitter Jonah Hill