Bleed For This – Review

Boxing has inspired some truly incredible films over the years. From biographies of real fighters such as Ali and Raging Bull to fictional drama’s such as Rocky and Million Dollar Baby, the fascination with fighters and the physical and mental obstacles they face makes for great narratives.

The latest addition to the large selection of fighter biopics comes in the form of Bleed for This which follows champion boxer Vinny Pazienza at the top of his game before tragedy strikes. Despite starring an on-form Miles Teller and great support from Aaron Eckhart, the film fails to create anything that sets it apart from the standard boxer flick.

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Vinny (Teller), known as The Pazmanian Devil, has already earned himself a championship belt in boxing. With his last match lost, he is beginning to lose momentum in his career. When introduced to trainer Kevin Rooney (Eckhart) he is persuaded to advance his weight class and really challenge himself. As his boxing becomes better than ever another title seems on the cards until a car accident potentially paralyses him. Although there are countless of warnings from doctors and family, Vinny continues his training and aims to one day fight again.

The film is based on Pazienza’s real life story. Written and directed by Ben Younger who had previously directed Boiler Room and Prime, the film begins when Vinny is already an established boxer. On meeting trainer Rooney, he moves into a different weight division and becomes a better fighter. Vinny makes for a charismatic, if stubborn and arrogant lead. His determination to succeed is the driving force of his character as well as the narrative. The film moves at good pace and the world of 1980’s boxing is brilliantly recreated through direction and use of archive footage.

As with any respectable boxing film Vinny hits a huge obstacle in his life and career when he is in the accident. With the prospect of neither walking nor fighting on the cards, he enlists the help of his no nonsense coach to train him back to health and gain another shot at the world title.

If the plot of the film sounds familiar it is because this is the plot of most boxer/athlete films. The film is a good watch and propelled by good performances and direction but this is all too familiar territory to really stand out. The film in no way breaks from the standard codes and conventions of most fighter based narratives. In this the film, despite its strengths, becomes very predictable.

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Visually the film is well directed with stand out fight sequences that are reminiscent of Rocky. The energy and thrill of the ring are contrasts by the sequences of Vinny alone wearing his halo brace. The character goes on a real development making him attractive to audiences.

Teller plays the electric, eccentric and egotistical Paz brilliantly. The driving force of the film, his portrayal turns the character from an arrogant play-boy to a determined athlete with ease and in either form makes him engaging.

Eckhart has physically transformed himself to play trainer Rooney. His chiselled blonde good looks swapped for the chubby, bald appearance here. Yet he gives a grounded, understated performance as the coach who helps Vinny win back a shot of his dream.

Despite a strong performance from Teller as boxer Paz, Bleed for This fails to bring anything new or original to the Boxer overcomes adversity troupe. Still, it is an entertaining biopic with electric fighting sequences and further proof of Teller’s acting abilities.

Bleed for This is out 2nd Nov

Beauty and the Beasts – 25 Years On…

Let’s face it. Those who know me know Beauty and the Beast is my all time favourite film. I literally own a version of the film on each format it has ever been released on, from VHS to Blu-Ray. I’ve seen every theatrical re-release, and saw the show several times on Broadway, including once with the Original Broadway Cast. If you’d say I was slightly obsessed, I’d probably agree.

So, why are we exactly talking about Beauty and the Beast? Why is it considered one of the most important and influential Disney films of all time? Could it be it celebrated its 25th anniversary this week, or there is a live action remake coming out in March? Or perhaps it could be the simple fact that Beauty and the Beast made significant film history when it was released. We’ll get to that though.

Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney’s most famous films and we all know the story. Beautiful girl meets angry beast, she teaches him how to love, typical battle and the beast transforms back into a prince. Everyone lives happily ever after.

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Yes, it is a typical Disney story. However, that being said, BatB has had a significant impact, perhaps small but still significant, both within the Disney animated world, and within the film world. BatB became the first ever animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award.

While it lost to Silence of the Lambs (let’s be real though, no other film that year stood a chance!), this nomination was significant enough to put a little Disney film into the history books. By Beauty and the Beast earning this nomination, the door was opened for any future animated films to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. It would take nearly 20 years for the next animated film to be nominated, but it did happen.

With the film recently celebrating its 25th anniversary, many events were held; these included the rerelease of the film on blu-ray, a panel held with the original film cast (minus Jerry Orbach) at both Comic Con and at The Academy. At one point earlier this fall, Angela Lansbury appeared on stage and flawlessly sang the main theme, accompanied by one of the film’s composers, Alan Menken.

What was so brilliant about Beauty and the Beast was the individuality of the characters, and to a very small degree, the story. It wasn’t all love at first sight (here’s looking at you, Ariel). Belle really was basically the first princess to have a mind of her own. A girl who thought for herself, didn’t immediately, nor rush to, fall in love, used her imagination (no, Gaston, not all books require pictures….), defended herself and even dared to use the word no; who knew, right? As for Beast, there’s no immediate dashing prince, or even the rugged good looks. We get to see change within all the characters, literally. It is such a classic.

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The film wasn’t perfect, but oh, it still is one of Disney’s greatest. We can only hope the live action remake, which is splitting the opinions of fans right down the middle, can live up to its predecessor. With Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the leading roles, with a supporting cast that includes Emma Thompson, Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, and Josh Gad fingers (and toes) are crossed.

The best thing about the live action remake is that original film composers Alan Menken and Tim Rice have returned to score this film. This is completely and utterly relevant, because having won two Oscars for the original film, the two know the music far better than anyone else. They have written new songs, and used original lyrics by the late Howard Ashman, who also composed for the original film.

The original film will always hold a special place in the hearts of many, myself included. Whatever may come of the live action remake, the original is still absolutely classic and is still a tale as old as time.

Happy Anniversary Beauty and the Beast

Rules Don’t Apply – New Clip

I had a pretty sheltered youth. For years I thought a blowjob was something you asked for at the hairdressers (it still could be I guess, but you might get thrown out depending on how accommodating they are). So this latest clip from Rules Don’t Apply immediately brought to mind some of the awkward conversations I had as a teenager. I was definitely the Marla of the group.

Here we see a pretty young thing get hit on unsuccessfully by a not so pretty thing, who has apparently tried his luck before. Relaying her sexual triumph to her friends, not so subtle innuendo is used to great effect. And Marla just does not click. Cue awkward giggles. Cue the embarrassment. Cue going home and confiding in your cat.

In Marla’s defence though, who would want to hide a salami?

Arriving in cinemas next year, Rules Don’t Apply follows two star-crossed lovers (Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich) who torn between their attraction to one another and not wanting to lose their jobs. As their eccentric boss challenges them morally, it seems being young and in love is a lot harder than you might think (that’s what she said)

Rules Don’t Apply is out 2017

Finding Dory – DVD & Blu-Ray Review

Pixar sequels are a very mixed bag; you get your masterpieces like Toy Story 2 and 3, then you get your middle of the road entertainment like Monsters University, and then you get toy commercials like Cars 2. It’s very hard to predict which way a Pixar sequel will go, and that was definitely the way I looked at Finding Dory when it was first announced. You all remember Dory, the forgetful blue tang voiced by Ellen Degeneres who stole the show in 2003’s Finding Nemo. She was a delightful character, and there was always potential of cashing in on her fame, and that was my fear when Finding Dory was first announced. The alarm bells rang; they’re going to stretch an amusing side character into a main plot device for the sole purpose of making money. I was dead against it, and the frankly terrible trailers didn’t help that. But when I got to the film itself? Boy, was I wrong…

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Dory is a wide-eyed, blue tang fish who suffers from memory loss every 10 seconds or so. The one thing she can remember is that she somehow became separated from her parents as a child. With help from her friends Nemo and Marlin, Dory embarks on an epic adventure to find them. Her journey brings her to the Marine Life Institute, a conservatory that houses diverse ocean species. Dory now knows that her family reunion will only happen if she can save her parents from captivity.

I’m gonna start with a negative because there’s really only one; the film is a little contrived. It focuses heavily on flashbacks of Dory’s past to explain certain quirks and plot developments, and at times it feels little too convenient, like there was no smarter way to inject this important information into the film. That’s about it for cons, and it’s minuscule in comparison to this film’s beauty. Finding Dory is a very emotionally overwhelming film, and not in the usual “All Pixar films are sad kind of way”, it’s emotionally overwhelming in the sense that you go through so many different feelings throughout the course of the film that it completely captures with every scene, whether it be elation or fear or adrenaline or sadness, there’s no emotional experience this film wont’ take to the extreme.

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One of the best ways to judge sequels like this, and determine whether or not they’re a cash grab, is to answer this simple question: Does it have a story to tell? Is this an important, well structured story that actually makes sense and not just some random events tacked on to the end of the last film just for the sake of making another one? Finding Dory definitely has a story to tell, and there’s no point where it feels fake or unwarranted. The jokes are hilarious, the voice cast is outstanding, the messages and themes within the film are heard loud and clear and impact deeply, and it’s the furthest thing from cheap and lazy you could imagine.

Finding Dory is a joyous, heart-wrenching, thrilling, absolutely marvellous family adventure that ranks among Pixar’s best sequels, and maybe even tops the first film.

Finding Dory is out on DVD & Blu-Ray Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers – Brand New Trailer!

One of the biggest cult movies was Goon. Look, I don’t know much about it because I haven’t seen it but it gave Sean William Scott something to do post American Pie. It revolves around a dim-witted but nice man who becomes an enforcer for a minor leave ice hockey team.

Written by Jay Baruchel, Goon: The Last of the Enforcers revolves around the return of The Thug, a garish ice hockey player who throws his brute strength into smashing the competition. Looking after popular group The Thugs, they face their biggest challenge yet.

Humorous inspiring sports comedy. That’s all you need to expect from this garish film. Check out the trailer, what do you think?

Goon: Last of the Enforcers is out next year! 

Barry – Brand New Trailer!

The past eight years have seen a generally well-beloved President in the White House, not only that, but Barack Obama was the first openly black President of the United States, a sign of how far we have come as a people after so many years of racist abuse (although, we still have far to go, let’s not pat ourselves on the back just yet.)

As with so many influential figures, it was inevitable that we would see some form of dramatization and/or documentary on one of the most influential figures in recent history, and Netflix has stepped up to the plate with an account of Obama’s time as a student at Harvard Law School.

The latest trailer is filled with a mixture of moments of doubt, violence, positivity and overcoming adversity. It also manages to take the time and give us what is supposed to be the beginnings of his eventual campaign slogan “Yes We Can.”

Barry looks set to tell an interesting (if potentially lionised) account of Obama’s early years, it should be a fun and fascinating telling of the story.

Barry is out on Netflix December 16th!