Monday, 3 December 2012

The Dark Knight Rises.


The Dark Knight Rises.



This is it. The ending of the Nolan-Bale Batman legacy which has surpassed all expectations, from its birth and to its now unfortunate but timely resting. The beginning of the series in 2005 has resulted in them becoming the best superhero films of all time and that can be said without even a shadow of doubt in your mind. What Nolan has achieved is making his Batman not some ludicrously cheesy guardian but rather an actual possibility to reign over the crime syndicates of this made-up metropolis. The villains may be exaggerated with costumes but it’s no bigger fear than the real terrorists who unfortunately exist. The previous incarnations of Burton and Schumacher were instantly forgotten after Begins and further fossilised and buried once The Dark Knight was released. Thanks to Nolan and Bale’s excellent work we can now conclude that Batman is real – or at least possible.



The trilogy can be simplified as such: he begins, he falls, he rises. With this final instalment, Batman must be resurrected because it has been eight years since that infamous night in Gotham where The Joker got to Gotham’s unmasked hero, Harvey Dent. Since then, Bruce Wayne recluses himself and lives in a locked room with no interaction bar good, old faithful Alfred. Meaning that Batman also lives in this room, as a memory, a regret, an idea; lurking in the shadows of the room and Bruce’s subconscious. The masked vigilante that had done so much for Gotham is now nothing but a memory and a bitter one at that with him being blamed for the murder of Two-Face Harvey Dent. Thanks to the Harvey Dent act which followed, Gotham is now at peace with thousands of people behind bars leaving this city without organised crime.



Batman is not needed any more because justice has prevailed because one unjust lie and story of that night. It is there to protect the people and Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) wishes everyone knew that Batman was the real hero of that night, and not the maniacal hostage-taker of “fairness”. The state of turmoil is soon returning though as a new man claims to be “Gotham’s reckoning”, this villain is the almightily huge Bane (Tom Hardy).Being massive is his literal power, but it is not his only one, he uses the power of his own genius to plan and to manipulate. It may be true that his intelligence may be scarier than his physical prowess, he is the epitome of intimidation while he stands there as one giant muscle, mechanical mask fitted on his scarred and bald head with a twisted look in his eyes. Bane’s voice was already under criticism from the prologue and trailers and although at times it can sound like Graham Norton having a stroke whilst gargling mayonnaise it isn’t hard to adjust to it and in a weird way it’s oddly affecting.



It isn’t all focused on Bane, in fact, it isn’t really focused on anyone and it can feel a bit bloated and a tad muddled on first viewing though clarity will ensue on multiple viewings. There is the addition of Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle, if there was any scepticism in your mind about her playing this role then you can safely put them to bed as she may even surpass Michelle Pfeiffer’s interpretation of the villainess. She is sultry, sexy, shady, sneaky, sly, selfish and ravenous. It is played fantastically with her introduction summing her up perfectly, leading to many more great scenes with her and her complicated, conflicting arc. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake has sounded like such a simple character from his early descriptions as an incorruptible beat cop who works under Commissioner Jim Gordon. Though he seems simple, he is far from it. The Nolans prove again that they have a talent for characters.



As Batman begins his rise, it is from obligation more than passion, it’s clear that he has matured and has to have his wits about him. Christian Bale makes this Batman a dutiful, clever head that knows what has to be done and how it has to be him rather than let Gotham sink into the wrong hands. Though the newcomers are all notable, none surpass the usually brilliant Alfred (Michael Caine) who manages to steal every single scene he accompanies. He may even bring a tear to your eye in a couple of scenes as the frail, loyal servant who can’t cope any more. It’s a chest-tightening performance that suitably wraps up his character for the trilogy.



This film trilogy is insatiable, it is trying to go out on a high but it feels like such a shame to let it all go so simply when it could go on for a while longer. It is a selfish thought but another Batman fix is necessary and something that the reboot will struggle to do successfully. Nolan’s Batman should be regarded as the film Batman now, he was imperfect yet the perfect interpretation of the Dark Knight that solely serves as a protector. It clearly wraps up the series and though it has sparked great debate about which Batman film is your favourite, it does manage to surpass Batman Begins but fall just a bit short of the darkness that encapsulated The Dark Knight and made it so special. Needless to say, that is not an insult to the film.



The Dark Knight Rises firmly bites into your neck infecting you with a fever for more making the next 164 minutes, making you feel like it’s over just as quickly as it began. It transfixes you, leaving you in a state of pure concentration and of pure delirium when it ends. It feels as you have tumbled through Gotham with all the characters that you know so well, being sucked into this devilishly perfect end to a great series. A perfect way to end a film with so many things unfinished and so many things left to explore, it leaves you wanting more of something you can’t have. The Dark Knight Rises still shocks and awes as a twisted blockbuster and the Nolans have impeccably written another story and more brilliant characters, leaving you tapping your arm to get the veins showing for another injection of the Nolan Batverse.

★★★★★

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Glengarry Glen Ross Blu-ray review.

Glengarry Glen Ross Blu-ray review.
Glengarry Glen Ross Blu-ray review.
When moving something from the stage it can be risky. The stage gives a more focused view with small sets that can bring the intimacy to the piece that makes it successful, when moving it to the screen, the idea of the intimacy can get lost and the sets can become massive. The 1992 film of Glengarry Glen Ross kept its smaller sets with the small telephone boxes these salesmen use to simulate their jet-setting ways. David Mamet’s dialogue is plain, direct and simple but uttered quickly and repetitively that it’s a delight to hear such free-flowing words. Films have become accustomed to using dialogue to only hint towards the story or push it further along. Where we’re told about why this person is the biggest bastard around and all of his indiscretions to sum him up in a montage. This dialogue here is to get an insight into the characters, into their habits, into their emotions, their deviations, into them.

TO READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW, CLICK HERE.

Derren Brown: The Experiments DVD review.

Derren Brown: The Experiments.
Derren Brown: The Experiments DVD review.
Opinions seem to be divided when it comes to Derren Brown, or illusionists in general really. There are some who are fascinated by them, captivated by their intricacy so much that it feels magical; then there are the others who know it’s fake, finding it more boring and infuriating than anything else.Whereas opinions differ, Derren Brown usually comes in between both things. He never claims to be a magician, only a hypnotist, mathematician, mentalist, painter and writer. Derren Brown denounces all paranormal and psychic ideas, refusing all accusations and claims that he has these supposed abilities. Instead, he reads people so well that it is almost supernatural by influencing their body language then deciphering it to be seemingly reading their mind.

TO READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Retrospective: Videodrome.

Videodrome poster.

Videodrome

Director: David Cronenberg
Release Date: 23rd November 1983
Starring: James Woods, Deborah Harry, Sonja Smits, Peter Dvorsky and Jack Creley.
Censorship may be the thing that plagues the world of media currently. The internet is the only exception to this but that’s under threat as well. Videodrome was made before the inception of the internet yet its relevance can be transferred to today and the struggle to keep the internet untainted. It fights against the censorship of the world with one of the monologues uttered from the funnily named Professor Brian O’Blivion (Jack Creley), claiming that TV has now become more real than what we’d call reality: “The retina of the TV is the mind’s eye.” Only because television in the Videodrome universe is uncensored, perverse at times. We live in a sheltered reality considering we stop ourselves from being real by censoring ourselves, ignoring primal thoughts to strive to be civilised to stop all counter-productive measures – at least things that are deemed counter-productive, wrongly.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Retrospective: Scum.

Scum poster
The British borstal system was a poor attempt at rehabilitation. There was not even an attempt to help, in reality it was an excuse to be violent and let them be violent in a confined space for however long their sentence was. The place was barely ruled by the guards who would strike the inmates and abuse them, completely dehumanising them and making them more dangerous as they came to accept it as normality. The theory behind it is even more dreadful and it led to the violent becoming more violent and the weak and uneducated being punished for not being good enough. It completely shattered all confidence and morality that they might have had beforehand. It was awful and Scum depicts it so well that it can be hard to stomach and grim but enthralling. It’s almost horror.


TO READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

In Defence of Kristen Stewart.

Kristen Stewart
It seems too easy to bash this girl; everyone seems to be jumping on board. In fact, it has become a meme to find things with more facial expressions than Kristen Stewart. Her sparkly companion, Robert Pattinson, receives criticism too but less for reasons that are unknown – perhaps it’s because of how openly he bashes the franchise or because he’s in Harry Potter or people have seen other outings of his and are basing their opinions on more than one film. What is hard to understand is why this criticism of Kristen Stewart is so commonplace, so ordinary, so definite, when it is blatantly, blatantly so wrong. You may disagree right now but think of it without being biased and how awful, awful the Twilight franchise is, think about her other performances, can you see what there is actually to see, her talent?

TO READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 7 September 2012

That's My Boy.

That's My Boy poster.

Adam Sandler is clearly the cornerstone of sentimental, highbrow comedy. Even with that task he manages to bring an extra edge to it, with zany zingers and intelligence to boot. Of course, these are not true at all. Long ago are the days of the touching Big Daddy, the lovable Happy Gilmore, the enjoyable The Wedding Singer, the idiotic guilty pleasures Billy Madison and The Waterboy, even the mildly entertaining Little Nicky. The change of pace comedy role of Airheads would be welcome now or a return to drama which he did surprisingly brilliant in with Reign Over Me and Punch-Drunk Love – with Spanglish being tolerable. In fact, anything would be better than the crap that’s been churned out since 2008. Can the comedy world not do better than You Don’t Mess with the Zohan? Grown Ups? Just Go with It? Jack and Jill? There’s now another awful title to add to the list: That’s My Boy.

TO READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

In Memory of Tony Scott.

Tony Scott

It’s a sad reason to be writing this way; it’s a sad article to write for anyone but even more so with a man who took his own life for reasons currently unknown. Tony Scott is a legend in the filmmaking business and he influenced more than just a generation and a genre but the way films were made in general. He was the master of the blockbuster coming out with Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop II, True Romance and other classics. As his career developed and his name was further cemented as a safe pair of hands his work became more experimental, bolder and more daring. All you need to do is watch his latest few releases to see he was a man with a vision, one that blockbusters will now sadly miss.

TO READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE CLICK HERE.

The Retrospective: True Romance.

True Romance poster.

True Romance

Director: Tony Scott
15th October 1993
Certificate: 18
Starring: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Val Kilmer, Brad Pitt, Saul Rubinek, Bronson Pinchot, Tom Sizemore, Chris Penn, Michael Rappaport, Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Beach

This True Romance retrospective has come about from unfortunate circumstances and that is because that we have lost the great Tony Scott to tragedy for unknown reasons. We wish all his family and friends the best and in his honour, it feels fitting to review what could be his greatest film – though there are lot of choices for that. True Romance is a special film and one which manages to incorporate the many different genres that it’s hard to categorise it. There’s action, comedy, drama and romance which is all subject to a thrilling ride in the crime world. It’s stylish to its decade being typically ‘90s with its colours, music and fashion; in fact, it’s still stylish today. This could very well be his masterpiece. It’s a fitting tribute to celebrate the life of an innovative director that changed films forever.

TO READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW CLICK HERE.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Retrospective: Hot Rod.

Hot Rod poster.


Hot Rod

Director: Akiva Schaffer
Release Date: 28th September 2007
Certificate: 12A
Starring: Andy Samberg, Isla Fisher, Jorma Taccone, Bill Hader, Danny McBride, Sissy Spacek, Ian McShane and Will Arnett.

Hot Rod, the feature debut from, now, SNL veterans and mock-rap enthusiasts The Lonely Island is one to watch and always will be if you’re into stupid humour. In fact, the opening scene sums up the film and the inherent laziness of all the characters. “Did you reinforce the ramp?” Obvious answer to this is no and shows the ambition and hopefulness of these characters that you’ll soon be sharing a painful 87 minutes with. This is The Lonely Island’s film; Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone are the leads while Akiva Schaffer goes behind the camera to string it all together. This was their feature-length debut and it had to bring together their inherent silliness and make it enjoyable for a full film; a challenge to continue on from their shorts but they succeeded.

Friday, 20 July 2012

The Retrospective: The Dark Knight.

The Dark Knight poster.

The Dark Knight

Director: Christopher Nolan
Release Date: 24th July 2008
Certificate: 12A
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Chin Han, Cillian Murphy, Nestor Carbonell and Anthony Michael Hall.

Batman Begins may have been the beginning of a new era of Batman but The Dark Knight is the clincher. With its realism amped up, its CGI less used and its creepy, emotional ride lengthened. This is what makes the Batman series what it is. This could be the most realistic form of villainy and terror in a comic-book film which could be the main reason it’s so affecting. The main publicity came to the film in a negative light however. With Heath Ledger passing away from a cocktail of prescription drugs while the film was in post-production. Though any publicity is good publicity, you feel they’d rather have the talent that is Heath Ledger than the resulting fame. It seemed everyone was sad that a young man died but after its release, everyone mourned more that such a talent went to waste.
TO READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW CLICK HERE.

The Retrospective: Batman Begins.

Batman Begins poster.

Batman Begins

Director: Christopher Nolan
Release Date: 16th June 2005
Certificate: 12
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Cillian Murphy, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson, Ken Watanabe and Rutger Hauer.
This is it: the beginning of a saga, a legacy. Something that’ll be argued to be the best trilogy of all time. Arguably the best comic adaptation too. This is the beginning of it being brought to the masses and making it enjoyable for all, accessible for everyone, instead of just for nerds and geeks. They bring a whole new dimension to comics and a whole lot of new people. They’re now an in thing with The Avengers coming out this year and smashing box office records to gross an inordinate amount of money. The films beforehand were just trailers to the eventual build-up of that. Now Marvel may have all this success but DC have Batman and with Nolan at the helm, he brings it to life in a gritty and realistic way. The battle of the box office for The Dark Knight Rises begins soon. Marvel vs. DC just like usual.


TO READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW CLICK HERE.

The Retrospective: Battle Royale.

Battle Royale poster.

Battle Royale

Batoru Rowaiaru (Original Title)
Director: Kinji Fukusaku
Release Date: 14th September 2001
Certificate: 18
Starring: Takeshi “Beat” Kitano, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Tarô Yamamoto and Chiaki Kuriyama.
The first thing to clear up is that Battle Royale is NOT a Japanese Hunger Games. It’s not even close to it. They aren’t tributes in a dystopian world to fight against the other districts. You don’t get random packages sent down from sponsors with medicines or anything else you require. The main thing that doesn’t make this a Japanese Hunger Games is the fact it was released in 2000 and based on a book published in 1996 which is years before Suzanne Collins’s books. This is a class of people who have been friends for years who are chosen to be sacrificed to fight against each other for the amusement of others. In this, your weapon isn’t what you choose to risk to get it’s what you’re given and they aren’t all winners as you find out. The Battle Royale programme is used to keep control of children in times of serious austerity and a dystopian vision of Japan. Though it is satirical, people find the ultra-violence and comedy-horror-gore mishmash to be hard to stomach and to get past. It feels as though people focus on these more than the message that is supposed to be portrayed but isn’t that always the way?

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Retrospective: Rope.

Rope

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Release Date: 28th of August 1948
Certificate: PG
Starring: John Dall, Farley Granger, James Stewart, Edith Evanson and Constance Collier.
Hitchcock is the master of suspense and all of his films have this element. There’s one film that isn’t mentioned as much as the rest. Almost forgotten amongst the likes of Psycho, Rear Window, Vertigo, Rebecca, Dial M for Murder and North by Northwest. Though they are all great, Rope is masterfully done and seldom seen; a film that is just an experiment at heart. It was Hitchcock’s first colour film and he used that to effect with a flashing neon light that illuminates the right side of the room. The film is an experiment about an experiment: committing the most perfect murder; so perfect that it’s an art form.
READ ON BY CLICKING HERE.

Monday, 14 May 2012

The Retrospective: John Carpenter's The Thing.

John Carpenter's The Thing poster.

John Carpenter’s The Thing

Director: John Carpenter.
Release Date: 26th of August 1982.
Certificate: 18.
Starring: Kurt Russell, Keith David, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter, David Clennon, Richard Dysart, Donald Moffat and Richard Masur.
John Carpenter is famous for his contributions to horror. He brought us the infamous Michael Myers with his horrifying Halloween. One of his main contributions, though, is his claustrophobic horror, The Thing. He clearly had an unalterable image of how Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks’s 1951 film should’ve been done. It’s a timeless horror; the real power comes from the paranoia and that’s what’s focused on. Keeping it a subzero horror, miles from everyone and everything. Or so you think – the only thing you’re far away from is help. He plays on this premise of something that may as well be invisible because it blends in and mimics others. It plays on the inescapable environment and turning the station into a paranoid hell. The people you’ve spent endless days with are now no longer who they seem or even what they seem. This thought tinkers in their head, destroying everything they used to know.


READ ON BY CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

You Should Be Watching: Breaking Bad.

Breaking Bad poster.

The star of this glorious TV programme by AMC is one you’ll instantly recognise; he may be the same person but it’s hard to believe.

Bryan Cranston has taken the world of acting by the jugular, showing that he may be one of the best actors of our time. It’s taken him a long time to get here after being known as the clumsy do-wrong dad Hal in Malcolm in the Middle. He’s now known as whatever role he inhabits since you don’t see that character anymore; he’s unrecognisable. He disappears into his roles like he did in Drive, like he will in Red Tails and all of the upcoming projects of the world’s busiest actor.


Read on about why you should be watching here.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Retrospective: Natural Born Killers.

Natural Born Killers poster.


Director: Oliver Stone.
Release Date: 24th of February 1994.
Certificate: 18.
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Juilette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Sizemore and Tommy Lee Jones.

SPOILER ALERT: This retrospective look at Natural Born Killers contains spoilers, if you have not seen the film we recommend viewing first before reading.

Oliver Stone has never had a very normal direction style. It’s easy to tell from Platoon – another classic he has made – that he borders on the eccentric; making things a little incoherent at times too. He does what Baz Luhrmann tries – and fails – to do. He does eccentricity like no other and this is probably the pinnacle for him. There’s only one word to describe it: surreal. It could be surrealism but it’s probably too lucid and structured for that but it’s unstable in its direction style. The characters are unstable but the physical camerawork is unstable too – reflecting the characters. It dashes from colour to black and white for moments as the camera waves around, tilting as if on a rhythmically fluid yet rough sea. It’s bizarre.


Click here to read the rest of the review.


Wednesday, 29 February 2012

You Should Be Watching: Party Down.

Party Down poster.

There are a lot of TV programmes that have been missed here in the UK and this new column aims to bring them to your attention. It’s a shame as it means we miss out on a lot because of it not being advertised, on an unwatched channel or not even on TV here at all. The latter is what happened to Party Down – it never made it to our TVs.

It was by pure chance that I found about Party Down through browsing Tumblr and seeing quotations or people bringing up how much they love it. It lead to a curiosity and something that had to be looked into and it is something that I far from regret. It has everything a comedy should: wit, lovable and unusual characters, storylines filled with misfortune, running jokes and an amazing yet underrated cast.

Then why didn’t it get a UK distributor?

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Sundance Festival 2012.

Sundance film festival 2012.

As the sun dances –ah, clichés – in Park City, Utah, the Sundance film festival rolls around again where films look for distributors and get them criticised by the critics of the world. Sundance has shown what have been known as classics. In fact, my Memento poster about a foot to my right reads “Official Selection – Sundance Film Festival” so it’s something to boast, to be used as an advertisement. It’s the largest film festival in the United States and it’s for international independent filmmakers in search for recognition, distribution and criticism. It has made the careers of famous directors who you can’t imagine the film world without like Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs), Steven Soderbergh (sex, lies and videotapes) and Kevin Smith (Clerks). Another interesting turn for the constantly growing Sundance is its first festival outside of the US which will be held in London in late April this year. Now it’s time to analyse the releases of this year’s Sundance.

Friday, 3 February 2012

The Alternative Must See Films of 2012.

Must See 2012 Films.

As you may have read previous articles reflecting on 2011, this article looks ahead instead of behind. It bypasses the blockbusters – the obvious choices; this focuses on films that seem promising but may have been ignored with a lot of the attention being on The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers and so on. It focuses on the films that can have the depth that popular films like Paranormal Activity 4 will most certainly lack. People claim that films have lost a lot of quality in the years but those are the same people who are unwilling to change; everything has to evolve as it is the way. Some films may have become shallow, usually blockbusters are criticised for this, and with the Internet it’s easier to find the great films. This is the list of the must see films of 2012 that may have already been forgotten in the wake of the big blockbusters, these are the alternative films of 2012. However, with Shame, The Descendants, Goon and Coriolanus being already released there’s no need to go into detail about them.


To read the full article on the already forgotten must see films of 2012, click here.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

My Top 10 Films of 2011.

It was a mixed bag in 2011 but a year which installed a lot more confidence than the rather disappointing 2010. The lows of the year were stuff like the insult that was Beastly, the time-slowing and unfunny Just Go With It, the llama faced return of topless Taylor Lautner in Abduction and Twilight as well as Nicolas Cage having his worst year in film possibly ever. It's difficult to narrow it down to just my favourite ten of the year. A challenge which I accepted and will be heavily criticised.

Note: Due to cinema restrictions I did not get to see some films like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Hugo 3D, Moneyball, The Thing and Senna. A crime which I will soon rectify with numerous amounts of trips to the cinema and when my Amazon order is delivered.

10. Source Code.

Source Code Poster.Source Code is Duncan Jones's follow up to his directorial debut, Moon, and is cementing himself as a great sci-fi director. Source Code follows a soldier who wakes up as someone else and has to repeat the same minutes until he finds the bomber. What seems like a straight-forward sci-fi, action thriller turns into something which is very emotional and meshes in drama and romance but not as an after-thought. A truly great film with Michelle Monaghan hopefully rising to fame.

★★★★

9. Midnight in Paris. Midnight in Paris poster.

Woody Allen is a consistent director and although this best films are from the '70s-'80s, this film may compete with them. Midnight in Paris is a romantic comedy about an engaged couple who tag along to Paris. As Owen Wilson travels back in time to his golden age and meets some of the greatest authors which act as a muse to his own story leads him to discover himself and his current lifestyle. It's light-hearted and its message is clear but is a thoroughly enjoyable film that'll leave you smiling from the story and the beauty of Paris and how wonderfully it was shot and edited.

★★★★

8. The Tree of Life.

The Tree of Life poster. Terrence Malick is patient with making his films and that's why this one took so long to make with its beautiful cinematography. It establishes that films are sometimes regarded as a lesser expression of art and intellect and this proves the opposite as a thought-provoking piece of magnificence. It's the Marmite of the film world completely dividing opinions on whether it's beautiful or pretentious but it is important for Malick as it is based on his past. It also features Brad Pitt doing another timeless performance, Jessica Chastain breaking through in one of her many films and three child actors that should be stars in the future. Full review here.

★★★★

7. 50/50.

50/50 poster.The words "cancer" and "comedy" don't really go hand in hand. Usually, anyway. It seems that 50/50 is the exception to the rule though by being one of the funniest films of the year but still keeps it emotional. It's written by Will Reiser and is semi-autobiographical when he was diagnosed with cancer. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the part of Adam, the young-man diagnosed with rare form of cancer and his struggle through chemotherapy and to keep his spirits up. Seth Rogen plays the part of the best friend perfectly who tries to ignore the realisation that his buddy may not be around for much longer. Very funny yet hard to watch at times.

★★★★★

6. Warrior.

Warrior poster.This didn't get the box-office that it thoroughly deserved. Even with a 12A certificate, you wouldn't be able to tell thanks to the brutal fight scenes and great direction of Gavin O'Connor. It focuses on introvert fighting machine Tommy (Tom Hardy) and disciplined family-man Brendan (Joel Edgerton) Conlon who enter an MMA tournament called SPARTA which reunites Tommy and his alcoholic father (Nick Nolte) who is in search of redemption. A film that balances action with drama (in and out of the ring) which divides your attention between the main characters. A true great. For my full review, click here. ★★★★★

5. Blue Valentine.

Blue Valentine poster. This counts as a 2011 film because it wasn't released until the 14th of January. It's a story of two different time periods of a relationship and it doesn't focus on how it got there, leaving it for you to imagine yourself what happened in between. An emotional drama that is one of Ryan Gosling's brilliant films of the year (Drive, Crazy Stupid Love, The Ides of March) cementing himself as one of the best actors of the new generation. Michelle Williams earned herself an Oscar nomination for her performance too and you can see why. Understated and under-appreciated with its perfect dialogue and hard-hitting realism.

★★★★★

4. Super 8.

Super 8 poster.A perfect nostalgic film which throws back to Spielberg in the '80s - using his producer credentials to influence probably. The year is 1979 and the story focuses on some pre-teens making a film when they witness a train crash which leads to some mysterious events that intrigue and scare a tiny town. What you have is two ideas melted into one with children growing up in a small town and a monster-mystery all-in-one. It works perfectly but it can lead to complicated feelings about how it might have been better as two films. It's entertaining and the children - if they avoid drugs and bad choices - should grow to be stars in their own right. Full review here.

★★★★★

3. Drive.

Drive poster.It's Empire's and Total Film's film of the year and it's easy to see why. Ryan Gosling plays a driver who's a stunt driver by day and a wheelman by night. There's a lot of reasons why it works and one is the performance of Gosling as well as his brilliant supporting cast members. A film whose supporters are Carey Mulligan, Oscar Isaac, Albert Brookes, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman and Christina Hendricks proves how special it is. Then there's the direction of Nicholas Winding Refn that shoots this in a retro, '80s throwback, making this cityscape seen in a way never before. The soundtrack is also one of the best of the year. Unmissable.

★★★★★

2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo poster. David Fincher does it again and although people may disagree with an English remake of this it works. Many expected it to be dumbed down and numbed a little by being more blasé for audiences but it was graphic and it was raw and had this amazing magnetism in this murder mystery, action, thriller come drama. It is a mish-mash of genres and that's one thing Fincher is perfect at. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is hired by a head of a family and empire to find a woman who has been missing for forty years. In his aid, he acquires a girl who is trivial and unorthodox, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) and what unravels is a mystery so intense that time'll disappear.

★★★★★

My number one film of the 2011 is...

The Fighter poster.

There are no words to describe this film other than perfect. It balances a lot of issues and a lot of problems - including its own problem of actually getting made. Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) is in the shadow of his crack-addicted brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) and his rise to becoming a professional boxer. It has family problems, dysfunction, romance, addiction and many other great things and it's all balanced perfectly by the direction and the perfect cast of Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo. It's just overwhelming with the storyline; the underdog story is tried and tested but it feels authentic. You'll connect to the characters, feeling like a lost sibling which would be easy in that family. My full review is here.

★★★★★

Honourable mentions: Crazy Stupid Love, Tyrannosaur, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Paul, Bridesmaids, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, 127 Hours and Black Swan.