Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Film | The Worst Film of 2014

Yesterday I wrote about my Top 10 Films of 2014, and today it's the turn of the worst!

Having seen over 100 films this year there were bound to be some pretty poor ones, but I actually found it really hard to choose a film that was so bad I couldn't even lump it in the 'so-bad-it's-good' category. Until I saw the film I'm going to tell you about... so read on to find out what I believe to be the Worst Film of 2014...
Released in 1994, Dumb & Dumber is a film that, even if you've never seen it, you're aware of. Any hapless duo since has had the moniker bestowed upon them (hell, I ask my dogs which of them is 'dumb' and which is 'dumber' on an almost daily basis!) The film, starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, helped launch the careers of the Farrelly brothers who went on to produce and direct some of the most memorable 'comedy' films of the last 20 years (Shallow Hal, Me, Myself and Irene and There's Something About Mary to name a few!) The brothers were also responsible for one of the worst films of 2013, Movie 43. So, love them or hate them, the Farrelly's have a unique style that appeals to a specific audience.

Fast forward 20 years and for some reason best known to them, the Farrelly's made a sequel. Dumb & Dumber To. Yes, 'to'. Kerching! That's the sound of the film taking over $38 million on its opening weekend and $129 million worldwide as of December 2014.

The film itself sees the original stars reprieve their roles as Harry (Daniels) and Lloyd (Carrey), a pair of dim-witted fools who set out on an adventure to find Harry's daughter so that she can give him a kidney. You can watch the 'hilarious trailer below...

Why didn't I like the film? Ah. The million dollar question. I loathed the casual racism (it turns out Harry was adopted by a Chinese couple, which of course led to ten minutes of "me so sowee" style jokes... it's 2014, this isn't cool!) The portrayal of women in the film was typical of the Farrelly brothers ("the dumb pretty one", "the one who was pretty in high school but is now fat and ugly and the pair wouldn't touch her with a barge pole", "the uptight British woman who just needs a good seeing to"... and so on). The best 'jokes' were in the trailer, which says a lot since they weren't at all funny.

Dumb & Dumber To, at just over 2 hours long, was more like Dull & Duller. The film was understandably crude; after all we've come to expect nothing less from the Farrelly's, but watching two grown men in their 50s engaging in a battle of the 'fart game' whilst driving a hearse across country is really not my thing. Add in some rehashed jokes and some actors who really ought to know better (I'm looking at you, Kathleen Turner!) and this film was just a bore fest from start to finish!

Honourable mentions for Worst Film of 2014:

Here are some other films that I really didn't rate over the past 12 months.

Mr Turner was released to critical acclaim but for some reason I hated every minute of it! By the end I never wanted to see another Turner painting again and if I never see Timothy Spall in another film again it'll be too soon. I don't care if it makes me a philistine, I hated it!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ruined all childhood memories of sitting watching the cartoon before school with my brother in the 80s. I can't even pinpoint why I hated it so much, I just did!

Life After Beth, a comedy horror about a girl who comes back from the dead as a zombie could have been absolutely brilliant, but it just fell flat. I don't know if it was because I felt Beth was miscast or because the genre of the film missed the mark, but I found it disappointingly boring.

The Giver was a snore fest from start to finish. Too much like every other teen post-apocalyptic film in every sense, it just didn't capture my heart or imagination. Sorry.

Noah. I can't stand Russell Crowe. End of.

I, Frankenstein. Made no sense. YAWN!

What films have disappointed you this year? What were your favourites? You can read about my favourites here!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Film | Top 10 Films of 2014

One of my favourite past times is going to the cinema. I've had a Cineworld Unlimited card for three years now. In short I pay £16.40 a month and I can go to the cinema to see as many films as I like as often as I like. I also get 25% off snacks and drinks too, which hasn't helped my waistline! This year I've seen 107 films at the cinema. I have a very varied taste and like foreign films and art-house releases as well as Hollywood blockbusters. I think that's more than enough preamble, so let's get on with my 'Top 10 films of 2014' (in order of date released)!

American Hustle stars Christian Bale and Amy Adams as two con artists forced to help an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) take down corrupt politicians. The film is set in the 1970s and also stars Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence. Whilst the film received a number of awards including three Golden Globes, a BAFTA and a Screen Actor's Guild Award, it didn't take home any of the ten Academy Awards it was nominated for! Ouch! This film had an amazing cast all of whom were outstanding in their roles. The script was top notch with memorable dialogue ("we fight and then we f*ck, that's our thing") and a captivating plot. I didn't see the plot "twist" which is always a good indicator of a great film for me. The outfits worn in the film and the funky soundtrack mean this film was always destined to make my top 10 of the year come December.

The Wolf of Wall Street probably needs no introduction. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio in one of his most memorable roles to date, this is a Scorsese film with a difference - it's bloody funny! Lasting a whopping 180 minutes, this film tells the story of Jordan Belfort and his rise to fame as a wealthy stock broker in the 80s, as well as his fall from grace thanks to corruption and drugs...lots of drugs. The supporting cast includes Jonah Hill and Aussie Margot Robbie (last seen in About Time). Whilst some people denounce this film as a glorification of drugs, debauchery and criminal activity I see it as more of a warning to those who revel in excess. It's based on a real story and although DiCaprio won Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) at the Golden Globes he failed to win the Academy Award. What does this man have to do to win? It's like they've never forgiven him for Titanic. He has proved over and over that he is one of our generation's best actors but I'm beginning to think the best he can hope for is a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2052...

The Lego Movie made me smile, laugh and even want to singalong! Yes, the theme tune to this film, "Everything is Awesome", was so catchy that I was singing it for weeks. My husband used to put it on YouTube so we could have our daily dose of AWESOME! The film is rather silly but pays homage to everything Lego related right through the decades. I know a lot of people hated this film, but upon interrogation I determined it was because they had a terrible childhood devoid of Lego. Poor things! If you haven't seen this film but was a devoted fan of the little coloured bricks as a child then I've no doubt you'll find this film downright awesome (I saw it twice, a rarity for me!)

Labor Day is a romantic drama set in the late 80s and stars Kate Winslet and Josh Brogan. It's about a runaway convict who forces a single mother to offer him shelter from the law whilst he heals from an injury sustained during escape. A romantic bond grows between the two protagonists and the rest, as they say, is history. Now I'm not one for romantic movies, in fact romcoms are my least favourite genre of film behind horror (cue gasps from the majority of readers!) but this film was something more - it was heartfelt and tender and it portrayed the kind of forbidden, passionate love that seems almost realistic. One of my favourite lines from the movie sums it up quite nicely for me: "They were two people who couldn't go out into the world so they made a world with each other." It was directed by Jason Reitman of Juno and Up In The Air fame and he's fast becoming one of my favourite directors.

The Raid 2 is, you'll be shocked to hear, the sequel to The Raid. It's an Indonesian film about an undercover cop sent to infiltrate and take down a crime syndicate. Unlike The Raid it's successor has quite a complex plot which I personally found refreshing. Like The Raid it's pretty much one non-stop action packed testosterone fuelled martial arts battle. Watching this film was exhausting but the cinematography is just breathtaking and exceptionally creative. It isn't for the faint hearted; there is a lot of blood and violence but it isn't tense violence like you would get in a horror film. If you can handle The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones style violence then I'm sure you wouldn't find this any less distasteful!

The Edge of Tomorrow is a science fiction film starring Tom Cruise as Major William Cage, an inexperienced military PR officer who finds himself on the front line in a war against an invading alien force. Despite dying in battle Cage finds himself resurrected and living the same day over and over. With the help of a Special Forces soldier, Rita Vrataski (played by Emily Blunt), Cage must train hard to help Earth win the war against extinction. The film does have a bit of 'Groundhog Day' about it but the way it's filmed and the way in which the main character lives the same day over and over is cleverly done so that the boredom never sets in. I love an action adventure and this one certainly didn't disappoint, with the special effects bang on and an amazing performance from Emily Blunt, this was a standout for me in 2014.

The Guest is a difficult film to describe without giving away the best parts of the plot! The film features Dan Stevens (apparently of Downton Abbey fame, but I've never seen it!) as David, a former soldier who drops in on a grieving family, claiming to be a long time friend of their dead son, a soldier in Afghanistan. David stays with the family, befriending them and helping them out around the house. He even befriends the father and son for whom life starts to improve. I don't want to say too much more but suffice to say David isn't what he seems and things take a dramatic turn. The soundtrack to this film is amazing and everything about it pays homage to some of the greatest films of the 80s. A must see!

Pride tells the story of a group of lesbian and gay activists who set about to raise money for a small mining community in Wales during the Miners' Strike in 1984. Seeing both miners and gays as victims of Thatcher's bullying of minority groups, the main protagonist, Mark Ashton (brilliantly played by Ben Schnetzer) bridges the gap between two very different groups of oppressed people. Based on true events, the story is emotional but uplifting and it was one of the few films of the year that left me with the 'feel good factor' for quite some time!

Gone Girl, based on the book of the same name (which I've never read, oops!) is a psychological thriller about Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) whose wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) goes missing in mysterious circumstances. Nick is soon viewed with suspicion and becomes the number one suspect in her murder, despite the lack of a body. The story of their marriage is told in flashbacks which works very well to build suspicion in the audience's mind. Affleck and Pike give amazing performances and I hope that come awards season this film isn't left out of the running!

Nighcrawler starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a sociopathic petty thief turned wannabe reporter is a tense thriller showcasing the darker side of contemporary American journalism. The film chronicles Lou Bloom's rise to infamy as he responds to and videos crimes using nothing more than a camcorder and a handheld radio scanner. This film was entertaining, gripping and thought-provoking, whilst Gyllenhaal's performance was nothing short of Oscar worthy!

I know that was a long one - sorry about that! What were your favourite films of 2014? What are you looking forward to seeing in the new year?

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Days Out | Discovery Museum Newcastle

I'd been meaning to visit the Discovery Museum in Newcastle for quite a while and earlier this month, on a cold and rainy day, I finally managed to spend a leisurely Sunday afternoon wandering around an impressive array of collections and exhibits in this iconic Newcastle building.  

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

40 by 40 | Update - Visit to Edinburgh Zoo

In October I published my 40 by 40 list, which is a list of weird and wonderful things I'd like to do/see/visit by the time the big 4-0 rolls around. You can read the full list here (then come back and tell me that baking a souffle is neither weird nor wonderful!) At the end of November I managed to check off #27 - Visit Edinburgh Zoo.