Review: The LEGO Movie

An anti-capitalist corporate-sponsored advert? Everything about this really is awesome.

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In Order of Disappearance trailer: Taken to Norway Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 22 August 2014 12:03

Stellan Skarsgard. A dead son. Guns.


Taken to Norway? I'm in.


It's out on Friday 12th September.

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Competition: Win tickets to the Gala Screening of Million Dollar Arm Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Saturday, 16 August 2014 18:38

Jon Hamm stars in Million Dollar Arm, out in UK cinemas on Friday 29th August - and we're giving away two tickets to the Gala Screening of the film on Thursday 21st August in a London hotel, attended by celebrity guests including Jon Hamm himself.


Based on a true story, Million Dollar Arm follows failing, struggling US sports agent JB Bernstein (Hamm), who travels to India in a last ditch effort to save his career by finding a young cricketer to turn into a major sports star. With the help of a cantankerous retired talent scout (Alan Arkin), JB sets up a national contest called "The Million Dollar Arm" and discovers Rinku (played by Life of Pi's Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Slumdog Millionaire’s Madhur Mittal), two 18-year-old boys who have a knack for throwing a fastball. Hoping to make a quick buck he brings them to LA to train, but the boys, who have never left their rural villages before, struggle with their new life and cope and the pressure heaped on them.


His livelihood on the line and relationship with the boys at stake, with the help of his friend Brenda (Lake Bell) JB realises that family and friendships are more important than sealing the deal.


But enough of that - how can you see the film early while making eyes at Don Draper at London's Mayfair Hotel? All you have to do to win two tickets to the screening is answer the following question:


Who does Jon Hamm play in Mad Men?
A) Don Draper
B) Roger Sterling
C) Dan Dopper


Email your answer to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it along with your name and - if you're on Twitter - your Twitter username by 23:59 Monday 18th August. The winner will be informed on Tuesday.


Note: You must be free on Thursday 21st August and available to attend the screening at the Mayfair Hotel (Stratton Street, W1J 8LT). Doors open at 6.30pm (the film starts at 7pm).

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I plagiarised The Verge's Expendables 3 piracy article and I'm still going to read it on their website Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 06:08

Why theft could be the best thing that ever happened to David Pierce and The Verge.



The Expendables 3 comes out August 15th in thousands of theaters across America. I watched it Friday afternoon on my MacBook Air on a packed train from New York City to middle-of-nowhere Connecticut. I watched it again on the ride back. And I'm already counting down the days until I can see it in IMAX.


Last week, torrent sites lit up with a high-quality Expendables 3 screener, which almost never happens before a big movie's release date. Much hand-wringing ensued: Will the leak kill its chances in the box office? Will everyone who might otherwise pay $17 to watch Sylvester Stallone And His Merry Men blow things up just download the movie instead?


Two hours and six minutes later, I'm pretty sure it's going to be the opposite. Leaking a month before its release might just be the best thing that ever happened to The Expendables 3.


... [OMITTED EXCERPT] ...


When George Lucas and Steven Spielberg said moviegoing will someday be more like a sporting event, they must have had in mind movies like The Expendables 3. It's worth seeing in theaters because the spectacle trumps the content, not because that's the only way to see it. It's obvious in the way the film is shot (tight, moving, disorienting), the way it's scored (loud, loud, loud) even the way it's cast. This movie is meant not to be watched but to be experienced. As art becomes commoditized experience becomes the only thing worth paying for, and there's evidence everywhere that we'll pay for it when it's worth it. We don't want to pay for access, but we'll gladly pay for experience. Those that won't (and there are certainly some) will be served with easier ways to get and watch movies at home. Those that will, will get something remarkable for their money.


This movies begs for that something remarkable. Enables it. I watched The Expendables 3, but it doesn't feel like I really saw it. I watched a two-hour trailer, really: it showed me just enough to entice me to want to see more. A lot more — and a lot bigger.



Critics are going to hate The Expendables 3. They hated the last two, they'll hate numbers four through forty if they get made. They hate most movies like this one, and with plenty of good reasons. But The Expendables 3 isn't a terrible movie, unlike X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the last high-profile movie to leak well before its release date. (Wolverine was slightly but demonstrably hurt by the leak, if only because it gave downloaders time to say, "Hey guys that movie sucks don't go see it.")


It's not a complex, deep, or particularly thoughtful movie, but it's fun as hell. It's a series of set-piece action scenes, like levels in a video game, that culminate in one of the most sprawling and exciting fight scenes I've seen in a long time. That's good enough for me, and likely for everyone else who's seeding the movie right now on The Pirate Bay.


The people who have downloaded a leaked torrent of the movie are, almost certainly, the series' most fervent fans. They're the ones most likely to go see it in theaters, the ones who turned the two previous films into a $600 million franchise. And sure, maybe some of them won't pay $13 to see it again. But many of them will, because they'll realize how much they missed the first time. Many of them will also spend the next three weeks telling everyone they know how awesome this movie is, how Rotten Tomatoes is full of it and that really The Expendables 3 is two-plus hours of near-flawless action porn. They'll tell their friends to go back and watch the other two movies before this one comes out. They'll get all their best bros together and go to the theater to watch a movie that is basically 300 with way more guns and way fewer visible abs.


Ok, I haven't plagiarised the whole thing. Just a few chunks. Because if I did copy the whole article, that would be theft - and, contrary to this article's headline, many probably wouldn't go to read it again on The Verge's website. Which would mean the site would lose out on traffic and David Pierce wouldn't get any money for his work. Something he probably wouldn't be very happy about.


Funny, that. It's almost like Intellectual Property and copyright has a point.

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Teaser trailer for Morten Tyldum's The Imitation Game, which will open 2014 London Film Festival Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Monday, 21 July 2014 17:01

The director of Headhunters has made a film about Alan Turing starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Mark Strong and Charles Dance and it will open this year's London Film Festival and here is a teaser trailer of that film. If you are not excited by this sentence, we cannot be friends.

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1 reason why I don't go back to Slashfilm every day Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Monday, 07 July 2014 13:38

Last week, Slashfilm published an article called "107 reasons you need to see Richard Linklater's Boyhood". It looked to be an interesting exercise in subverting a Buzzfeed-style article to promote a small, indie film. Until you clicked on the link and saw this message: "Seriously, fuck you."


The article is a middle finger stuck right up at its readers - and that single digit is the one reason why I don't read Slashfilm.


"You really need me to list 107 reasons to see this incredible film?" the post continued. "You went and paid $15 bucks to see Transformers: Age os Extinction in 3D even though you hated the other Transformers films and saw all the bad reviews in your twitter stream… but you can't just take our word on this epic indie film?


"You've already heard us rave about this film many times over the past six months… But you haven't bought ticket yet…"


The article raises all sorts of questions, not least those of grammar and snobbery. (For an excellent takedown of that, see The Shiznit, who continue to write essentially what I think in a more eloquent way than I can manage.)


But it also shows an astonishing lack of self-awareness on the part of a website that has written roughly 8 times as many articles about Michael Bay's blockbuster as it has Boyhood.


Why? The same old reason: traffic. Click bait like "107 reasons you need to see Richard Linklater's Boyhood" is exactly the kind of thing you expect to find cluttering up Slashfilm's endless cycle of blog posts about anything and everything, including - yes - 40 Things I Learned On The Set Of Transformers: Age Of Extinction.


If you're going to run a website and make that decision to become a marketing machine, fair enough. But to shovel adverts for the latest Transformers sequel onto your readers' monitors and then tell them off for not paying attention to a tiny film you've (relatively) barely featured is absurd. Scratch that, it's insulting.


"Fun fact; you can make a healthy living from the ad-fees garnered from running a website solely about films like Boyhood," tweeted Adam Batty, the chap who runs the always-impressive Hope Lies.


It's true - you can. But what helps sites like Hope Lies isn't their coverage of Boyhood, but that (in my opinion) they have the thing Slashfilm does not: integrity. And without self-awareness, it's hard to come by.


Slashfilm could well defend their slew of Transformers content as a response to their readers wanting to read it. It wouldn't be a dissimilar argument to that used by UK site What Culture when they posted a spoiler-filled article about Iron Man 3 before the movie was even released. While both sites arguably show a lack of respect for their readers with such pieces, Slashfilm's post shows a lack of respect for themselves - or, to put it another way, a misunderstanding of what their site is.


Every time an article is published by a website, it sends a message: this is what we are about. Choose to cover something, choose not to cover something; every decision positions you and confirms your identity. Recently, I started a video on-demand magazine called VODzilla.co, devoted to all things digital video. Does it cover cinema releases? No, of course not. That wouldn't fit in with the site's remit.


For Slashfilm, before publishing such an article, the question is simple: Is it a website about Boyhood or Transformers? If the answer is Boyhood, why publish the article at all? People reading the site are more likely to see it over Transformers anyway. If the answer is Transformers, why swear at the people they have been promoting Michael Bay's blockbuster to? If the answer is both, and that the website welcomes all kinds of films and film fans, why be hostile at all?


Now stop me if I'm getting carried away here, but that lack of self-awareness and integrity is something that seems to be a problem in media today.


With print publications struggling, media's in a bit of a bewildered state. Sites are desperate to do anything to keep their audiences up: traffic, the assumption goes, is the most important thing.


And so articles spread across multiple webpages to garner more clicks is a common practice, while every little event - be it a tweet or a leaked set photo - is pounced upon by film sites and speedily reported, re-reported and then, hours later, corrected. If it gets changed later, who cares? That just means people will click on it again, right?


That willingness to readily publish rumours, "exclusive" photos, teasers for trailers, etc, seems to be spreading to subject matter too.


Empire Magazine, a film publication, has dedicated lots of coverage to the small screen for some time - something that its editor, Mark Dinning, admitted was controversial in an interview with the Guardian. Nonetheless, despite that awareness, the website's title still promises "Movie News and Interviews" with no mention of TV; their coverage is good, but it's a confused brand statement to say the least. Other movie blogs have followed suit. A number of film sites cover not just TV but plays without question as to whether it fits within their remit - a fact helped, perhaps, by the fact that a film PR company has expanded their very efficient and effective work into the theatre realm.


(Away from film, just look at the Metro, where Buzzfeed-style lists now regularly crop up in an attempt to emulate the popular site. Does it have anything to do with news? Of course not. Or The Daily Mail's side bar of shame and regular publication of 'controversial' columns to drive up rage traffic from angry users.)


It's telling that in the last year, a number of new websites have sprung up to counter the trend; a backlash of principle. Verite Magazine has found success in its monthly digital format, offering coverage of off-beat, independent and foreign language cinema. Film Divider has also launched since then with a similar, equally admirable, intention - although, despite their name, they also cover TV. VODzilla.co, meanwhile, has gone from strength to strength thanks to its unique scope of coverage.


What they have in common is not just a niche focus, but an awareness of what their sites are about. This is, of course, still possible with bigger, broader websites - and, indeed, is achieved by many, both within film criticism and outside of it. Den of Geek has established itself as not just a hub of all things nerdy, but one with a strong moral (as well as editorial) stance that never ceases to impress. The same is true of TheShiznit.co.uk, who are not afraid to call a spade a spade. If by spade, you mean something that isn't a spade. As I mentioned earlier, they often seem to write what I think in a more eloquent way than I can manage - and that's important. If I visit there, I know what to expect. Well, that and Photoshopped movie posters. These websites don't just have identities, but integrity.


If you want to run a website that covers Transformers in extensive detail, great. The internet is a wide open place with space for any and all opinions. But if you're going to do that, don't blame your readers for reading your content. Well, don't do it and expect me to have any respect for you.


But hey, what do I know? Look at the comments on Slashfilm's article: "Hahahaha, that's awesome!" said one. "Best post ever, probably it pretty much explains why I keep on coming back to /film every day," said another. Meanwhile, The Daily Mail enjoys nearly 11.8 million visitors a day. And the Metro recently hit 1 million unique daily hits.


Maybe this really is what people want. But if that requires a website to start telling its loyal readers to go fuck themselves, you wonder if something's gone wrong somewhere.

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Competition: Win the soundtrack from Jon Favreau's Chef Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Thursday, 26 June 2014 16:28

To celebrate the release of Chef in cinemas now, we are giving away 2 copies of the movie's soundtrack, stuffed with Latin and New Orleans jazz rhythms.


Chef features an all-star cast including Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Robert Downey Jr. and young actor Emjay Anthony. It follows Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau), who suddenly quits his job at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity for its controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman). Finding himself in Miami, he teams up with his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara), his friend (John Leguizamo) and his son (Emjay Anthony) to launch a food truck. Taking to the road, Chef Carl goes back to his roots to reignite his passion for the kitchen - and zest for life and love.


To be in with a chance of winning a copy of the soundtrack, either RT this tweet, or answer the question below:


Jon Favreau is the director of which of the following action films?

a) Spider-Man
b) Batman
c) Iron Man


Send your answers to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it along with your UK postal address and - if you're on Twitter - your Twitter username. The deadline for all entries is 23:59 on Monday 30th June.


Chef is out in UK cinemas now. Follow the foodie fun on Facebook at facebook.com/ChefTheMovie and Twitter at twitter.com/LionsgateUK with the hashtag #ChefMovie.


Terms and Conditions


• The winner will be drawn at random from all the correct entries, and only they will be contacted personally. Prize must be taken as stated and cannot be deferred. There will be no cash alternatives.

• The competition is only open to people in the UK.

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Happy Birthday, Dracula: Listen to Chrisopher Lee's new heavy metal album Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 16:46

What do you do when you're a 92 year old actor who's had roles in The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, defined a generation of horror movies, won a BAFTA Academy Fellowship award and been knighted by Prince Charles?


Release another heavy metal album, including a cover of the most famous Frank Sinatra song of all. Obvs.


"I DID IT MYYYYYYY WAY," booms Dracula with all the oratory authority of Saruman shouting at the Misty Mountains.


You bet he flipping did. Listen to Metal Knight here.


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RIP Gordon Willis Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Monday, 19 May 2014 09:26

The Godfather


All the President's Men


Broadway Danny Rose


Zelig


Manhattan


There's a Twitter account called @OnePerfectShot, which tweets perfect shots from different films every single day. You could set one up that just tweeted perfect images from Gordon Willis' films. It would run for years. From glittering rain in the background of a showbiz failure to the closing of a door, he was, quite simply, a genius.

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