Wednesday, 18 September 2019

The Isle ★★★☆☆


For as long as there is storytelling, there will be tales of the supernatural. As we get no closer to proving or disproving the existence of the paranormal, people will continue to be frightened of spooky happenings and bumps in the night. Combine that with isolation and a period setting and it seems like nowadays, you’re onto a winner. Director Matthew Butler-Hart has cashed in on this recent trend, co-writing this intriguing tale with his partner Tori Butler-Hart (who stars). This is The Isle.

When three shipwrecked sailors land on an abandoned Scottish island that has four sole residents, one of the men starts to question what happened. The residents of the isle are strangely reluctant to help the shipwrecked sailors get off this mysterious island, and soon the group find himself in a fight to save their own lives while trying to uncover the truth and escape. This is classic folk horror through and through, like the sort of tale you were told by the fire as a kid. After an explosive period of folk horror in the 60s and 70s courtesy of Hammer and filmmakers like Robin Hardy (The Wicker Man), we still get some frightening takes on the genre to this day – the most recent probably being The Witch.


While the film lacks the religious overtones and ritualistic sacrifice of The Wicker Man, there are certainly similarities. An isolated Scottish island with the most unhelpful and creepy residents this side of Summerisle, promising boats that never come and generally trapping our heroes on an island that would certainly get a low TripAdvisor review…from anyone lucky enough to escape. As the sailors gradually succumb to the evil of the island, we learn about the history of the place through flashbacks that explain a curse that owns the island. But this is not a big, showy horror – don’t expect money shots of monsters, gore and jump scares. This is a very understated gothic tale that with a very slow-burning and yet palpable sense of dread throughout.

The cinematography from Pete Wallington makes the island itself the film’s main character, as the isolation creates some of the most frightening shots of the film. That atmosphere is ominous and mysterious, complemented perfectly by Tom Kane’s haunting score and the film’s bleakly beautiful visuals. Performance-wise, the film leaves a little to be desired. Despite Varys himself Conleth Hill starring in the film, he can’t save it from an otherwise subpar cast. The cast certainly reflect the film’s budget and it does create for some cringey scenes which do feel a little made-for-TV, but that’s to be expected with these little films. The film is at its most frightening when there is no acting in it at all – it is the ominous landscape that offers the most frights.

The Isle is unfortunately nowhere near a modern classic like other similar recent films like The Witch, but there is still plenty here to enjoy – if nothing else, it serves as simultaneously a great and an awful advert for Scotland. Yeah, it looks beautiful, but it also looks bloody terrifying…On the whole, weak performances, a low budget and an iffy screenplay thwart the film from achieving its potential but there is enough here to send a shiver or two down your spine… 

★★★☆☆
Sam Love



Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

The Mule ★★★★☆


Back in 2008, my father and I went to see Gran Torino at the cinema together. I remember it so clearly – we thought we were sharing a slice of cinema history together. Clint Eastwood’s final film, as it was marketed, on the big screen. Something that our years of watching Clint’s films at home together had been building up to. What a moment. 11 years later, I’m older, more cynical and bitter. And I’m reviewing Clint’s latest. If you’d told me 11 years ago he’d still be bashing out films in 2019, I would’ve told you to fuck off.


Based on the you-couldn’t-make-it-up true story of Leo Sharp, the film follows the so-called “Sinaloa Cartel’s 90 Year Old Drug Mule” as he is hunted down by the DEA. Broke, alone and facing foreclosure on his business, our ageing hero (Clint Eastwood, obviously) takes a job as a drug courier for a Mexican cartel. His immediate success leads to easy money and a larger shipment that soon draws the attention of hard-charging DEA agent Colin Bates (Bradley Cooper). When Earl's past mistakes start to weigh heavily on his conscience, he must decide whether to right those wrongs before law enforcement and cartel thugs catch up to him.

First up, let’s talk about Clint. The man is showing his age, bless him. He looks so old now, it’s hard to believe he was once having stand-offs with Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach in The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. But behind those eyes, you can see it. You can see his entire life, career and pain. This is a very strong asset in Clint’s later performances and here, he is the best he’s been in some time. While on the surface, it isn’t a particularly new role for him – a scowling, gruff old racist – there is certainly something there. This is a role that would be perfect for Clint to bow out on; hell, his character even says “this is the last one” repeatedly in the film’s trailer, perhaps as something of a warning that it is his swansong? I doubt it, we all thought that 11 years ago. But regardless, it would certainly be an interesting way to end your career – as a 90-year-old drug mule. 

The supporting cast here is pretty stellar too – Bradley Cooper delivers a performance that is every bit as good as his Oscar-nominated work in A Star is Born, albeit far more understated. As the obsessed DEA agent on Clint’s tail, he is a man possessed by justice. He portrays just as much pain and desperation as Clint does in the lead, and the two make a brilliant cat & mouse pair. One scene in particular in a diner is just as tense and exciting as the iconic coffee shop scene in Michael Mann’s 90s thriller Heat. The film’s almost colourless visuals reflect the film’s themes of darkness, desperation and a greying moral centre – and the cinematography by Yves Bélanger is hauntingly beautiful.


On the whole, The Mule is a damn fine little surprise that is far stronger than I think anyone was expecting. The world panicked when Clint announced he was acting again in a drugs thriller, but the result is a surprisingly poignant study on old age and the lengths we go to in desperate times. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and hope this is indeed Clint’s farewell – what a way to go out.

★★★★☆
Sam Love



Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Monday, 16 September 2019

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 / 10+ ★★★★★


Can phone screens get any bigger? Ask Samsung & they’ll bowl you over with ergonomic phablets that won't give your wrist tendonitis! The Note 10 & Note 10 Plus launched last week. Tall, beautiful, multi-lens phones with curves in all the right places.

The Note 10 comes with a beautiful  6.3” Infinity O screen, that makes the display look almost bezel-less. The size of the phone will change your mind if you’re thinking it is one of those gigantic phablets, like the Note 9 from last year, but guess what honey, Samsung has shrunk the Notes! They are now smaller than last year but with more screen space & super comfortable for one-hand use. Somewhere between the Pixel 3 & Pixel 3XL in terms of phone size. The default configuration is the latest Snapdragon or Exynos processor with 256GB memory & 8GB RAM, expandable to 512 GB/12GB.


Samsung does put in 2D face unlock feature, which isn’t as secure as Apple’s 3D one & there's the in-display fingerprint sensor but a bit slower than what you’d notice on a physical capacitive one, usually present on the back of the phones. You’ll have a hard choice choosing from the 4 colours Aura Glow (favourite & also a fingerprint magnet), Aura white, Aura black, and Aura Blue.

The main reason why I love the Note? The magic wand - S-Pen! It’s like a remote for your toy that keeps getting smarter every year. New features include Air Actions to change camera modes with a wave of your hand & drawing circles to zoom in or out. You can also convert handwriting to text, not seamless but it works. Air doodles while shooting video/clicking pictures & also a Bluetooth selfie remote control. It’s now open for Developers to play with so expect more useful stuff soon. 

The phone is the Best selfie camera (10MP) out there, even better than the Pixel 3. There are tons of effects to add before taking the shots and no other phone offers them at the moment, except the S10 series of course. The hole cutout for the camera at the top & in the centre is small and you hardly even notice it after a few mins of usage. It’s much better than the punch hole front cams on the S10.

With 3 lenses at the back, a wide (12MP), ultra-wide (16MP) and telephoto (12MP), there is nothing that can’t fit in your screen without moving all over the place. It can capture amazing portraits and like always over saturates most photos but they are better-looking photos for social media than let’s say the natural, unedited photos on the Pixel 3. Turn on the Night mode though, and the Note 10 is miles away from the AI magic of the Pixel. Video stabilization is great, 4k is now unlimited recording. Live focus video is only available on the Note 10+ but should be on the Note 10 in a few months with a software update. 

In terms of performance, feel free to have 30 different apps open + games at the same time in the background  & you won’t notice any lags. Android 9 with One UI is well optimised and my personal favourite after the Stock Android due to the customisation options. Bixby user assistant still doesn’t excite me & DEX still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of seamless transitioning from phone to PC.  

You miss the headphone jack, but there is a bundled type C to 3.5mm jack. There isn’t any expandable storage as well but I guess 256GB should work for most, otherwise, you’ll have the “clouds” to look up to. Go for the Note 10 if you’re looking to upgrade & if your phone is more than 2 years old. This phone is a beast!

★★★★★
Pritesh Khilnani

Galaxy Note 10 at CeX


Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Thunder Road ★★★★★


Last October, I spent a couple of weeks in the capital for the BFI London Film Festival. As I whiled away the hours seeing such future Oscar-hits as The Favourite, Green Book and others, one film eluded me – but I was hearing its name everywhere I went. It wasn’t any of the festival programme’s ‘big’ titles. It didn’t feature any big movie stars or a famous director. It wasn’t anything I’d ever even heard of before. It was a little film called Thunder Road. I kept hearing it. What was this mysterious film that everybody seemed so enraptured by?

Beginning as a short film in 2016 which was adapted into this feature-length version of the same name on a microbudget of $200,000 raised on Kickstarter, the comedy-drama stars writer/director/composer/co-editor Jim Cummings as a police officer from Texas who deals with the death of his mother while giving a heartfelt eulogy at her funeral. Finding himself on the edge, and trying to forge a stronger connection with his daughter, he keeps getting in his own way as he attempts to find light in the darkness of his life. There is no other plot to speak of – this is a character study through and through, focusing on the minutiae of life.


The film is almost a one-man-show, with Cummings present throughout the entire film as his mental state declines. It is difficult viewing – while it does often go for a zany, eccentric and humorous approach, there’s no denying that this is a powerful and poignant portrayal of a breakdown. Cummings’ performance is an absolute marvel – a tour-de-force that, in any other universe, would’ve been front and centre during all of the 2019 awards seasons. This is truly Oscar calibre work from a relative unknown who commands your attention with every frame, wildly portraying every emotion under the sun. The opening 15 or so minutes, which is effectively a remake of the short film on which Thunder Road is based, follows our hero has attempts to deliver a eulogy at his mother’s funeral. While amusing in places, it is upsetting. Should we laugh at him, with him, or not at all? It’s a difficult watch – but sometimes life is like that. We feel for this character we have only just met because he feels so alive. The film feels so real.

That’s not to say it isn’t cinematic – but there’s something about this film that is so powerfully engrossing and immersive that you will feel like you are watching real-life unfold. Playing out almost like theatre with no big set-pieces, Thunder Road is a truly mesmerising piece of work. I don’t remember the last time I was so engrossed and on the edge of my seat at such a quiet, understated film.

 Jim Cummings proves himself as an absolute master of everything he does on the production – writing, directing and acting being his key responsibilities. Everything about Thunder Road defies expectations and absorbs you with a powerful grip, not letting go until the final frame. I now understand why everybody at London Film Festival was so enraptured by this quirky and powerful mini-masterpiece. It truly is an exceptional piece of work and one that earns my highest recommendation. 5/5

★★★★★
Sam Love



Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Dragged Across Concrete ★★★★★


Over the last few years, filmmaker S. Craig Zahler has proven himself to be one of the shining lights of modern cinema. With just Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99, he has defied expectations with richly plotted and viscerally violent drama and given actors like Kurt Russell, Richard Jenkins, Vince Vaughn and Don Johnson their finest roles in years. He is absolutely one of the key filmmakers to watch at the moment, so his latest film is definitely worth discussing. Don’t let the casting fool you – yeah, that’s Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn as a pair of police officers – this is one of the finest films of the year.

At 159 minutes, it’s certainly a pretty meaty film. We follow the escapades of two cops - one an old-timer (Gibson), the other his volatile younger partner (Vaughn), who find themselves suspended when a video of their strong-arm tactics become the media's cause du jour. Low on cash and with no other options, these two embittered soldiers descend into the criminal underworld to gain their just due but instead find far more than they wanted awaiting them in the shadows. With a title like Dragged Across Concrete and a filmmaker like Zahler behind the lens, you know that this is going to be a grim ride. But while it does certainly pack some pretty violent punches, this is a slow-burning character study more than anything.


Our two leads – Brett (Gibson) and Anthony (Vaughn) are complex, layered characters. While their ultraviolent behaviour is not glamorised, it is also not particularly condemned. This film, if nothing else, is a stark observation of modern America and corruption in the police force. The film does not make any real attempt to explain or comprehend this sort of behaviour, but rather take a look at the sort of people who engage in it. We are dropped right in with these vulgar characters and over the two and a half hour runtime, we don’t gain any respect for them whatsoever. But we do gain something of an understanding, thanks to two stellar performances and an incredible screenplay from director Zahler. 

This is a pitch-black drama with absolutely no light, joy or anything resembling happiness or fulfilment in the characters. We are in a dark, twisted world – but isn’t that the world we live in? This shadow-soaked film is very much a modern-day noir with dishonest, violent characters galore and absolutely no redeeming characters that you feel any sort of connection to. And yet, you cannot look away. This is one of the most engrossing and hypnotic films I’ve seen in a long time, and yet also one of the most depressing, harrowing and vile.

Dragged Across Concrete is, therefore, a difficult film to review. Some people will watch it and be disgusted, shocked and appalled. They will be sickened that I have this much positive stuff to say about it. But I stand by it. I do not for one-second stand by the characters’ actions, motives or behaviour – but the performances, writing and directing here is absolutely first-rate. S. Craig Zahler continues to prove himself as one of the finest filmmakers working today and I for one cannot wait to see what he comes up with next.

★★★★★
Sam Love

Dragged Across Concrete at CeX


Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

CeX Tottenham Court Road Has RE-OPENED!


London, your newly refitted CeX at 70 Tottenham Court Rd has RE-OPENED and is packed to the rafters with Games and Gadgets. Feel free to swing by, say "hey!" and check out our new look.

Find us at:

70 Tottenham Court Rd
London
W1T 2HB

Whether you’re buying or selling, get the best prices at our newly made-over store, or online at webuy.com



Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Friday, 13 September 2019

European Games Week Cancellation


We have received the unfortunate news today that the CeX sponsored event, 'European Games Week' has now been cancelled.

CeX was really looking forward to being a part of the show and sadly, this has happened due to some other sponsors sadly pulling out.

All winners of the EGW ticket giveaway shall receive a pair of weekend tickets to Insomnia Dublin as a replacement prize.

If you are one of our lucky winners, please look out for correspondence via the social network account you were announced as the winner on.

Many thanks

CeX


Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook

And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Stan & Ollie ★★★☆☆


I was never a big Laurel & Hardy fan growing up. I know, I know, that’s a very controversial thing to say – they are certainly sacred figures in the comedy community. But I was always in the Marx Brothers camp or Buster Keaton. Still, I’ve always respected Laurel & Hardy’s craft, and when the new biographical comedy-drama Stan & Ollie from Filth director Jon S Baird was released, I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about the people behind the legend – reflected indeed by the title not being Laurel & Hardy and instead focusing on the real Stan & Ollie.


This is not a thorough biopic of their entire lives and careers but rather is focused primarily on their later period. Diminished by age, the duo set out to reconnect with their adoring fans by touring variety halls in Britain in 1953. The shows become a hit after a rocky start, but Stan and Ollie can't quite shake the past as long-buried tension and Hardy's failing health start to threaten their precious partnership. 

On the surface, the film is absolutely a loving tribute to the iconic pair from a team who clearly feel nothing but admiration for their subjects. The scenes recreating iconic film scenes or stage performances are so uncannily recreated that it is scary – the film features some of the most spot-on recreations I’ve seen in a biopic in some time.

This is of course aided by a pair of utterly stellar performances at the heart of the film – Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel, and John C. Reilly as Ollie Hardy. Coogan continues to prove himself as a truly underrated drama actor, delivering an understated and eerily uncanny performance as one half of the beloved duo. John C. Reilly’s stellar performance is also no surprise – despite a minor hiccup with Holmes & Watson, Reilly has a phenomenal year with The Sisters Brothers and Ralph Breaks The Internet. His performance here only strengthens his superb year as he utterly transforms into Ollie; granted, with the aid of a fat suit and some remarkable facial prosthetics.


But while Stan & Ollie excels in performance and the clear passion for its subject, it dips somewhat in other areas. While there is nothing wrong with the film per se, there’s nothing else of note either. This is very much a by-the-numbers biographical film, filled with cliché and very little originality in the portrayal of events. I often mention Bill Pohlad’s incredible Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy at times like this – now that is how you shake up the genre. Portraying two parallel timelines side-by-side with a different actor playing your subject in each, that’s just an example of how you can do things a little differently. Stan & Ollie on the other hand just does things in the exact same way that many other biopics have before it, and it’s difficult to shake the feeling that we’ve just seen it all before.

Still, the film’s performances are enough to recommend it. This is a character study really, and when our two main characters are portrayed so wonderfully, it’s difficult to grumble too much. Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly are remarkable in the film and the film does offer an interesting insight into what made the duo tick, and how they never let any tension between them get in the way of a good gag – and the film certainly serves as a reminder that their comedy is timeless.

★★★☆☆
Sam Love

Stan & Ollie at CeX


Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Apple Keynote - Sept 2019 Summary


Criticism at the ready, it’s time for a rundown of the 2019 Apple Event. 
Starting with the launch of the Apple Arcade, which is the Apple answer to Google Stadia I guess?


Apple Arcade:

  • Game subscription service for mobile, desktop and TV
  • Exclusive games
  • No upfront payment
  • Available via the Arcade tab in the App store
  • Partnered with Konami & Capcom
  • Frogger (Arcade exclusive) available at launch
  • Available from September 19th, with over 100 games at launch. The subscription will cost $4.99 a month, and if we go on Apple’s track record, we can expect pretty much the same for a UK price
  • Designed to spread across multiple platforms, this is aimed to redefine the mobile gaming world, I’m not 100% sold on it, but hey, I’m sure someone will pay for it...


Apple TV+

  • World wide premiere trailer for See
  • Available from November 1st from $4.99 a month for the whole family.
  • Original shows such as “The Morning Show,” “Dickinson,” “See,” “For All Mankind” and “The Elephant Queen.”
  • When you buy a new product, you get one year of Apple TV+ for free

I can only presume that the last one is specific to the US, but one can hope, right? I can’t really say much about this, they’ve evidently invested in some good actors and jumped on the plot lines of some absolutely cracking films. It’s another on-demand subscription from another major company, and to be honest, we’re going to spoilt for choice with Netflix, Disney, Apple, Prime and I’m sure there are others I’ve missed out...


IPad

  • IPad OS
  • 7th gen iPad - home button’s back
  • 10.2” Retina display
  • 3.5 mil pixels
  • New floating keyboard
  • Made from 100% recycled aluminium 

So basically, it’s a better, faster iPad with a bigger & better display, but the home button’s back. I mean, sure, fine. It’s not that exciting to be honest but I think the real star of the iPad show will be the release of the iPad OS.



Apple Watch

  • 3 new health research studies, Hearing, Women’s health study, Heart & movement study
  • Always on Retina display
  • ‘All-day battery life’ 
  • Built-in compass 

So again, nothing has really changed from the previous generations. A slightly longer battery life with an “Always on” display might be worth it, but honestly, they probably have just saved up for a more impressive release next year. 


 

iPhone 11

  • Last year launched 3 iPhones, with the XR being the most popular iPhone & most popular smartphone in the world
  • Combined 99% customer satisfaction 
  • iPhone 11 will replace the XR
  • 6 new colours - Purple white yellow green black product red
  • 6.1’ Liquid Retina display
  • Dolby Atmos and immersive audio coming to the new 11 range
  • Wide camera & Ultra-wide camera
  • 120-degree camera view
  • Immersive camera interface 
  • Semantic rendering 
  • Night mode
  • Automatically on 
  • Front camera 4K video
  • Slow-motion video to the front camera 
  • ‘Slo-mo selfies’ slofies
  • A13 - fastest CPU ever in a smartphone
  • Fastest GPU ever in a smartphone


iPhone 11 Pro

  • 3 cameras
  • Surgical grade stainless steel
  • 4 colours - Midnight green space grey silver gold
  • OLED panel
  • True Tone
  • 15% more energy efficient
  • Pro display XDR
  • HDR 10 
  • Dolby Vision
  • Dolby Atmos
  • Machine learning
  • Lightning to USB-C for fast charging

So basically, they’re just answering the Pixel’s taunts from last year about their Night mode camera and giving the real Apple fans the ability to charge their phones from the newer MacBooks. 
All in all, this year’s release has been a bit of a disappointment. No 5G phone and nothing from any of the devices that would make me consider swapping out an XS to get the 11 Pro. Obviously, it’s a massive jump if you’re going from anything pre iPhone X, and if so, this is on paper their best tech today. Well, if you’re Apple, I guess it’s a question of perfecting perfection ...right?

I’m way more interested in seeing what they have up for next year...


Sammy Curtis



Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

WIN Tickets to MCM London Comic Con + £500

Tag a friend for a chance to WIN:

2 EARLY ACCESS PASSES to MCM Comic Con - Excel London
£500 spending money
2 pairs of Voxos Smartglasses

Head on to our Facebook Page and tag a friend on the competition post HERE!

For 15 years Horror Channel has filled your world with fears! 
To celebrate their 15th anniversary we’ve teamed up with the Horror Channel
to give one lucky winner this awesome prize!

Entry closes at 11:59pm on 25th September 2019.

Competition is 18+
.
MCM London Comic Con takes place 25th - 27th October 2019
For more info on MCM head to mcmcomiccon.com/london.


Find out more about the Horror Channel at horrorchannel.co.uk.

*Terms & Conditions apply 
Full information and T&Cs Here



Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Escape at Dannemora ★★★★☆


Everybody loves a bit of prison break entertainment. From timeless films like The Shawshank Redemption and Escape from Alcatraz up to TV’s Prison Break and gaming’s A Way Out, it seems like there is always going to be an interest in it. It’s a timeless genre that has birthed some of the finest pieces of entertainment and is continuing to do so, with one of the year’s best bits of television. Created and written by Brett Johnson and Michael Tolkin and directed by Ben Stiller of all people, Escape at Dannemora is addictive, riveting viewing.

The series is based on the true story of the 2015 Clinton Correctional Facility escape in upstate New York. The escape prompted a massive manhunt for the two convicted murderers – Richard Matt (Benicio Del Toro) and David Sweat (Paul Dano), who were aided in their escape by a married female prison employee (Patricia Arquette) with whom they both became sexually entangled – although the employee denies this allegation to this day and claims Ben Stiller is “an idiot” and “a son-of-a-bitch liar”. Regardless, this stranger than fiction tale makes for utterly engrossing viewing and plays out like a real edge-of-your-seat thriller, made even more shocking due to the true nature.


But the show isn’t all thrills. Escape at Dannemora is an often excruciatingly slow-paced affair, demanding patience from even the most discerning viewers. This is not Escape Plan starring Sylvester Stallone. This is a real prison break unfolding in front of our eyes, and if reading about any prison escape can tell us anything, it’s that they ain’t like the movies. They require a hell of a lot of prep and lots of work. Thus, this 7-part series does spend a lot of time before and during the break, which might lead some prison break fans to kick off. But where there is a lack of action, there is an abundance of phenomenal acting talent on offer.

Benicio Del Toro and Paul Dano are simply incredible as the convicted murderers embarking on this big escape, both frightening and charming in equal measure. But the series belongs to an unrecognisable Patricia Arquette. How unrecognisable? Well, put it this way – early in the production, Arquette joined in a conversation during a break with some of the other actors on set (including Del Toro). They didn’t recognise her and thought she was a, and I quote, “crazy lady”. As Joyce "Tilly" Mitchell, Arquette delivers a heartbreaking performance of a desperate and entangled woman. She is truly remarkable here, delivering one of the finest TV performances in years. If there is any justice, she will be showered in awards for her work here.

So, is Escape at Dannemora worth your time? Absolutely. But adjust your expectations – while there are edge-of-your-seat thrills to be had here, they are incredibly slow-burning and demand patience from the viewer. If you’re willing to put in the time and attention, you’ll find Escape at Dannemora to be one of the most engrossing and addictive shows of recent years and an absolute masterclass from three stars at the top of their game. Highly recommended viewing.

★★★★☆
Sam Love

Escape at Dannemora at CeX


Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Destination Wedding ★☆☆☆☆


When we look back in many years’ time, we will remember each period as being linked to key figures. And after the last few years of one of the most inexplicable and yet ‘breathtaking’ resurgences, this period is going to be the era of Keanu Reeves. Thanks to John Wick, some truly hilarious(ly bad) straight-to-DVD titles and his scene-stealing work in Toy Story 4, Reeves has truly become a walking meme. So, of course, it is time for him to drop a rom-com. And it is every bit as bad as you might expect.

When Frank (Reeves) and Lindsay (Winona Ryder) meet on their way to a wedding, they soon discover they have a lot in common: they both hate the bride, the groom, the wedding, themselves, and each other. As the weekend's events continually force them together -- and their cheerlessness immediately isolates them from the other guests -- Frank and Lindsay find that if you verbally spar with someone long enough, anything can happen.


This is really a rom-com for our time – packed to the brim with cynicism and hate, it is a relatable affair and a pretty realistic indicator of how love blossoms these days – with mutual vitriol. But despite this refreshing portrayal of modern love, the film falls totally flat. For starters, and it upsets me to say this, but Reeves and Ryder are shit in it. Their chemistry is totally non-existent and they don’t seem to be really making any effort whatsoever with the mediocre material in front of them. Some of the scenes between them fall flat with a deafening thud and it’s not even laughably bad, it’s just bad. And without a sharp, biting script, these hateful characters are just aggressively unlikeable.

This is very much a two-person show. With the focus entirely on the two leads, every other character is completely one-dimensional and unexplored, reduced to extras. For me, this approach worked. We’ve all been to a wedding where we don’t know anybody and it just seems like a faceless mass of ‘room meat’. Destination Wedding portrays that interestingly by giving zero character to any of the guests and leaving us in the company of Reeves and Ryder alone – but, in doing that, their painful lack of chemistry is all the more apparent.

Destination Wedding could’ve been a delight. A Reeves romcom, reuniting with his old co-star Ryder (they worked together on The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and A Scanner Darkly in the past), should’ve been at least watchable. But unfortunately, it’s just a tedious slog that neither of the leads seem to want to have anything to do with. The script is clunky and without any real bite to the dialogue which, as I mentioned earlier, just makes the two characters unpleasant – and spending 90 minutes in their company is not a pleasant way to spend your time. Watching this film is like being at a wedding you don’t want to be at. Except this film is a CHOICE. You don’t have to be here. Despite any goodwill, you might have for Keanu, avoid this one like the plague.

★☆☆☆☆
Sam Love



Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Blinded by the Light ★★★★★


As someone with a real passion for music, I have always loved films that portray the true power of it. Films like Sing Street, Begin Again and Once, for example (and ironically all directed by John Carney), have always spoken to me. I can relate to characters whose lives are transformed by music and are inspired to be their best selves. Sure, these films can be a little heavy-handed at times and rammed full of cliché, but it’s always been a subgenre that I’ve had a huge place in my heart for. So, when Blinded by the Light was announced, I was excited!


Directed by Bend It Like Beckham’s Gurinder Chadha, this feel-good true story based on the memoir Greetings from Bury Park by Sarfraz Manzoor follows a Brit-Pakistani teenager growing up in 1980s England whose life is transformed by the music of Bruce Springsteen. Javed (Viveik Kalra) dreams of finding out what life is like beyond the trappings of his hometown of Luton, England. As a budding poet, Javed is frustrated by his tradition-bound parents who aggressively push for him to pursue a ‘real job’. After his friend Roops (Aaron Phagura) introduces him to the music of Bruce ‘The Boss’ Springsteen, Javed finally feels like someone understands him and is inspired to stand up for himself and fight for his dreams.

Director Gurinder Chadha is no stranger to the concept of tradition vs. personal fulfilment, so it is clear from Blinded by the Light that it is a subject she is passionate about. These complex themes are portrayed powerfully and yet handled in an accessible way that doesn’t bog the feel-good film down into misery. Despite the battles Javed must fight with his family and with the era in which he lives (white nationalists and hate serve as the primary antagonist), the film is still an uplifting and heartwarming comedy at its core. That’s not to say the scenes of drama don’t resonate and hit home, but the film is more concerned with the joy and the personal story of Javed’s self-discovery than viscerally portraying the racism and battles he must endure.

Crucially, this is a music film – and thankfully, Springsteen gave his permission for his music to be used. And so, if you’re a Springsteen fan, you’ll be delighted to know that this film is absolutely rammed with his hits that are used in effective and powerful ways – eg. Javed’s rage during a storm listening to “The Promised Land”. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Bruce film without “Born to Run” – easily the most crowd-pleasing scene of the film, as Javed and his friends run through the town having joyously discovered their identities. The performances are stunning across the board – Viveik Kalra’s performance as Javed is wonderful, while his powerful chemistry with Kulvinder Ghir playing his father is heartbreaking and, by the end of the film, heartwarming.


Anyone who has ever discovered music that has spoken to them will related to this charming film. And I think that’s all of us. We’ve all found comfort in times of struggle through the gift of music, and we’ve all been inspired by our favourite songs to stand up and pursue something. This universal theme makes the film a true crowd-pleaser in every sense of the word, and one that could easily be one of the next big hits for Brit cinema. I absolutely adored this wonderful little charmer, and I’m confident you will too.

★★★★★
Sam Love


Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn ★★★★☆


Say what you want about Kirby, but you can’t argue with his versatility. While characters like Mario are largely reused in similar ways and genres with each new entry, the little pink puffball has embarked on many different adventures of different styles - Kirby's Tilt 'n' Tumble and Kirby's Canvas Curse gave players a new way to control the little guy, while Kirby's Dream Course and Kirby's Air Ride introduced the character to racing simulators. 9 years ago, Kirby’s Epic Yarn hit the Wii and transformed Kirby into a shapeshifting piece of string in a ‘fabric-ated’ world. It was a huge success, so now, the game has been re-released as an updated 3DS exclusive – Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn.

While strolling through Dream Land, Kirby discovers a rather tasty-looking tomato and decides to eat it. Yin-Yarn, an evil sorcerer who possessed the tomato, appears and banishes Kirby into Patch Land, a world made completely from fabric. Kirby transforms into yarn, rendering both his flight and inhaling abilities useless. He must embark on an adventure to help Prince Fluff by collecting seven pieces of magic yarn to stitch Patch Land together in order to thwart the evil plans of the sorcerer Yin-Yarn. Yeah, it’s totally bizarre. But it’s really quite charming. The simplistic tale is told like a children’s story, complete with a quaintly British narrator. The presentation is all rather adorable.


First of all, and arguably most importantly, this is not a direct port of the Wii original. The key added feature is the new so-called Devilish Mode, which is exactly what it sounds like. While the original release was criticised by some for being far too easy, with Kirby able to take damage and fall into pits and simply lose a few recoverable gems and continue to progress through the stage. Devilish Mode laughs at that approach, and gives Kirby a health bar – take five hits from the yarn monsters who consistently appear, and you’re buggered. It’s back to the start of the stage for you, young gamer. Now for those who want a mindless and simple session with Kirby, the original and easier mode is still an option – but honestly, even Devilish Mode doesn’t present much of a challenge. The three added devil AIs aren’t particularly intelligent and are fairly easy to overcome, meaning the game is still pretty simple.

On the whole, Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn plays pretty much exactly the same as it did on the Wii – although the delightful co-op mode from the Wii is gone – but the similarity to the original game is by no means a criticism. The visuals retain their wonderful child-like flair and the world is as engrossing as ever. This charmingly nostalgic and beautifully rendered little game is an absolute delight throughout and harks back to one of Nintendo’s finest releases of the 21st century. I had a lot of fun revisiting Patch Land and although it was a peculiar choice not dropping this one on the Switch, it could just act as a nice final word on the 3DS console. It might not be a particularly essential purchase for anybody who played the original, but the newly added Devilish Mode adds a new challenge and it’s nice to be able to take this game on the move.

★★★★☆
Sam Love

Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn at CeX


Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Friday, 6 September 2019

Cricket 19 ★★★☆☆


I’m not a sports fan. I don’t watch it, I don’t play it, and I don’t really touch the video games. I’ve just never had sporting blood in me. I remember in school, I would awaken my inner actor and channel Robert De Niro in my powerful portrayal of somebody too unwell to take part in physical education. Every week, I would fake a different ailment. Looking back, I suspect everybody could tell how lazy I was being, but hey, I thought I got away with it…


Anyway! I suppose that’s what sporting video games are for! Us lazy folk who want a taste of a sport without having to go out – or indeed have any friends! But in the world of sporting simulators, there is one sport that has always been side-lined to make way for the endless parade of FIFA and PES. It is, of course, cricket! I know absolutely nothing about cricket (I did however once have a coffee with Henry Blofeld and found him to be one of the nicest people I’d ever met), but I jumped into Cricket 19 on PS4 – for you guys! 

Now, I have it on good authority that 2019 is a pretty big year for cricket in the UK with the World Cup followed by the Ashes series, so it’s a no brainer that Big Ant Studios (whoever the hell they are) pumped out this very basic but serviceable simulator. There’s not really much to say about Cricket 19 if you’ve played any sports simulator ever in your gaming life, and of course, you have. Firstly, there is – of course – a career mode that lets you work your way up from club cricket to the big time, or you can start straight off with a pro if you don’t want to go through the tedious climb to the top. You can either control a single player or the entire team – again, just like any sporting simulator you’ve seen before it. 

Visually, the game is incredibly basic. This is not a game that put any particular focus onto graphics, and it does give the whole thing a rather dated feel. Regardless of the gameplay, there’s no escaping the fact that certain parts of the game do look very PS3. That’s not to say they are disgustingly bad, but they’re not great. Being officially licenced for the Ashes means all the England and Australia’s male and female players are accurately rendered and look fairly faithful to their real-life counterparts – but players from all other countries are totally made up and bizarre. But on the plus side, no matter how unusual they may look, the surprisingly smart AI at least means they can be worthy adversaries and not mindless zombies.


But things fare slightly better on a gameplay level. The control system does the job and does allow for skill to have some input in proceedings (rather than some button bashing sports games), with lots of options with control and deliveries giving the player the chance to really stick it to the other team. Like many games of its ilk, there are two control options – button-based or analogue control, both of which have their benefits. There are some fun customisation options with bats and grounds and you can create your own competitions, or even play famous scenarios from historic games. 

On the whole, this may well be the current standard for cricket on consoles, but it by no stretch a gaming sim masterpiece. There is room for improvement to bring the game into the 21st century – the graphics especially need an overhaul. But if you’re a fan of the sport, at least now you can play it from the comfort of your own home in its best format yet.

★★★☆☆
Sam Love



Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Good Boys ★★★☆☆


We’ve had plenty of comedies of adults going wild. We’ve had Bad Moms, we’ve had Bad Santa, we’ve had endless comedies like The Hangover, Bridesmaids, Old School and American Pie. We’ve had the older generation going wild in Last Vegas and we’ve had teens in Superbad. But one age that has never been covered in these gross-out comedy films is children. The time has never been right for a film of children swearing, drinking and playing with anal beads. But hey, it seems like anything goes in 2019…

Screenwriters Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (veterans of the US Office) team up with producers Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Evan Goldberg for Good Boys, one of the crudest – and most hilarious – films of the year.


After being invited to his first kissing party, 12-year-old Max (Jacob Tremblay) is panicking because he does not know how to kiss. Eager for some pointers, Max and his best friends, Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams), decide to use Max's dad's drone, which they are forbidden to touch, to spy on a teenage couple who are making out. But when things go ridiculously wrong, the drone is confiscated. Desperate to get it back before Max's dad gets home, the boys skip school and set off an odyssey of epically bad decisions involving some accidentally stolen drugs, frat-house paintball, and running from both the cops and terrifying teenage girls.

This is a film destined for controversy – these youngsters behave so badly in this film that it warrants an age rating that forbids the actors themselves from technically even watching the trailer, let alone the film. But despite the vulgarity, there is heart here. It’s been done before by The Inbetweeners – as our crude friends share a moment of quiet in which they question how long their friendship will last and whether or not life will take them in different directions. But despite that, it’s one of several charming interludes in a film that is otherwise quite amazingly inappropriate considering a combined age of the three leads that probably wouldn’t even top 40. 

Despite their young ages, though, the cast is stellar – with the most praise going to Jacob Tremblay who continues to prove himself as one of the finest young actors in the history of cinema. After a career-making turn in Room, he has been consistently working on a wide array of projects that have really shown his versatility and skill far beyond his years.


Good Boys is exactly what it looks like – it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. But that’s not a criticism. If you enjoy sex jokes, you’ll enjoy them whatever aged mouths they come out of. The USP of Good Boys having child leads is fresh and fun, but it isn’t the sum of the film’s parts. There is more here than the premise – the jokes land, the simplistic plot is fun, the characters are well-written and the heart is in the right place. Good Boys is no comedy masterpiece but it’s certainly one of the funniest films of the year so far, and one that I had a good time with.

★★★☆☆
Sam Love



Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Monday, 2 September 2019

Burning Rubber ☆☆☆☆☆


Oh dear. Just when you thought cinema – or indeed John Travolta’s career – could not get any worse. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Burning Rubber (aka Trading Paint), another in a long line of uncomfortable ego trips for Travolta in a desperate attempt to feel young again, kinda like a cinematic fountain of youth. Except it never works and it makes him look even older. This is one of the most laughable entries in Travolta’s late-career – yes, that includes Gotti - and one that I will really struggle to talk about for long because there’s really nothing to say…

Student Award-winning filmmaker Karzan Kader makes his English-language debut with this story of a legendary father and son racing duo Sam (John Travolta) and Cam (Toby Sebastian) who have a falling out as their winning streak begins to fail. A rival racing giant takes advantage of this rift and offers Cam a lucrative opportunity racing for the adversary (Michael Madsen). Cam accepts and the gap between father and son grows even bigger. Engines rev and sparks fly as the two are set against each other in an ultimate high stakes race and the most dangerous competition between father and son. Last year, Travolta gave us the wonderful gift of the unintentionally hilarious Speed Kills – a story of a veteran speedboat racing champion. And yes, now he’s a veteran race car champion…Bit of a theme developing here, eh?


But I digress. Burning Rubber is every bit as predictable as it sounds. First of all, there’s a painfully sappy, overly sentimental – and pretty aggressively crowbarred in – romance between Travolta and a character played by Shania Twain. Yeah, you read that right. The attempts at a love story here are nothing short of laughable and far more suited to a different film. Any other film. Just not this one. This is supposed to be an intense, kinetic racing film – and the actual racing scenes are few and far between. And when we are in the driver’s seat for a race, it’s bloody dull. Partially due to the piss-poor editing – frantic cutting and disjointed scenes make for a really uncomfortable viewing experience that is difficult to settle into, and semi-decent practical effects on the racecourse are ruined by that. A sequence in which a car is split in half is ruined by the dreadful editing and lack of tension around it.

There’s nothing in Burning Rubber to recommend. John Travolta totally phones it in as usual, while Michael Madsen’s attempts to recapture youth are equally futile. The editing is a mess, the plot is all over the place, the script is pants. To use the parlance of our times, “I can’t even”. There is nothing here. Nothing at all. I hated every single second of it. I wanted it to stop from the second it started. It was what we’ve come to expect from Travolta in every respect, but you deserve better. There are far more valuable ways to spend 90 minutes than with Burning Rubber. Oh, but Kevin Dunn is in it. He’s absolutely wonderful in everything so if you do find yourselves having to endure it, don’t worry. Kevin Dunn has your back. 

☆☆☆☆☆
Sam Love

Burning Rubber at CeX


Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl