• General
  • The Night Before: Holiday Mischief and Mayhem


    Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anthony Mackie star in the 2015 holiday movie, The Night Before. The movie may technically be a Christmas movie, but don’t be fooled – this is not one for the kids. If you haven’t done so already, you can call Sky customer services and get help with your parental viewing settings (this movie is rated R). The movie is a comedy, but many want to know, just how funny is it? I’ll do my best to answer that question for you if you read on…

    Seth Rogen and comedy go hand in hand, making him an excellent actor for this type of role. In fact, he is the funniest of the three main characters and carries most of the jokes throughout the film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is less known for comedy, but is nonetheless a talented actor, as is Anthony Mackie. The three do work well together on The Night Before, playing off one another and delivering solid performances. As far as the acting goes, viewers are not likely to be disappointed.


    I should probably back up a step and tell you how you can watch the movie from home. Currently, it has made it out on DVD and Blu-Ray for rent. If you subscribe to Sky, you can access the film from the rental section. To learn more about rentals or to ask about costs, I recommend that you contact Sky customer service. Their support agents have helped me numerous times over the years with accessing the movies that I wanted to watch, and have even provided me with details about special deals and no-costs freebies (quite helpful for a movie aficionado like myself). Don’t hesitate to give them a call if you need help.

    The Night Before takes place in the course of one night – Christmas Eve. The three main characters have been getting together for a wild night of debauchery for many years on Christmas Eve. A life and obligations have begun to get in the way; the three come together for one final night of living it up on the night before Christmas. The misadventures that follow are well, funny. Are they as funny as they could be? Not in my opinion. However, it is easy to see why many movie fans would want to contact Sky and order this comedy.

    Reviews for this film are rather mixed. On IMDB, it scored a 6.6 out of 10. This tells me that many viewers felt the same way that I did. There were many missed opportunities for laughs. Even so, I was glad that Sky customer services were able to point me in the direction of this rental. There were enough laughs to make it worth the nearly two-hour run time and the story line was certainly new and different. While The Night Before is not the next Christmas classic that viewers will be watching year after year, it is certainly festive, entertaining, and worth a watch if you are a fan of comedies.

  • General
  • Cry of the Owl – Pne of The best Movies Ever!


    Patricia Highsmith wrote good quality thriller novels. Just go look at her Google listings and search out ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’, for example. However, it’s her first book, ‘Strangers on a Train’ that is on the best read list. It was made into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock and then a play that has toured the world. I’ve seen it twice in two different adaptations and it clings right through to the end.

    Her 1962 novel, ‘Cry of the Owl’ became a French movie in 1987 – you can still get it on DVD. Now it’s the turn of an updated version with the screenplay written by Jamie Thraves (who also directed). He’s completed a difficult task with generous results.

    Julia Stiles gives the movie it’s big star name. She plays Jenni, who has her own personal stalker. What the stalker didn’t know was that Jenni was a tad more strange than he. She invited him into her house and into her life, dumping her fiancé at the same time.

    The twists and turns mix between the expected and the unpredictable. The stalker’s ex wife, played by Caroline Dhavernas, while owning a serious disposition herself, teams up with Jenni’s ex fiancé to rid the world of the stalker. The stalker is now appearing like the most sane character in the whole film. Even the police officers appear to have 40 cents to the dollar.

    Paddy Considine, as the stalker, is excellent. This may not be the first movie where the victim falls in love with the stalker, but we end up feeling so sorry for this stalker we want him just to leave his home, his city, his country and just get the hell out of there.

    A couple of the twists are quite, well, silly. There are also a couple of coincidences (which move the film along nicely) that are just too way out to be believable. We’ll forgive them, though, as this script moves us in different directions, leaving you believing that a bad day can’t get any worse, but it can.

    You’ll say you guessed the ending because it’s quite obvious, but did you really? My guess is you didn’t really expect the way it turned out. Let me know after you’ve seen this agreeable thriller.

    I particularly like the acting from Caroline Dhavernas. She’s expertly playing an ex-wife, with more than a small grudge against her ex-husband. Their views of the past don’t tell the same story. The way she jokes about not wanting a divorce and then saying it was just a gag – she does want one – are riviting and sad. If ever you should meet such a person, don’t be afraid to leave the continent on the next airplane. It could save your sanity and your life.

    I hope it gets a general release soon. It’s too good to go straight to DVD.

  • General
  • My Personal Mamma Mia Movie Review – Part 2


    I didn’t think Bond could do it, but he nailed it. Not only was Pierce Brosnans’s acting wonderful, his singing was in tune and accurate. Okay, he might not have a hit single but he has guts and will have earned a lot of respect for his part in Mamma Mia!

    Colin Firth has been a sterling Brit actor in many a major movie. We’ve come to anticipate what to expect from his roles. To see his play guitar and sing ‘Our Last Summer’ was a delight.

    Amanda Seyfried has a lovely voice. Her ‘I have A Dream’ would stand up in any concert hall. However, it’s her carrying of a lone voice with piano for the closing credits as she takes us through ‘Thank You For The Music’ that sets her apart.

    It doesn’t really matter where you stand on the Abba subject. The songs are as strong and fresh today as they were over thirty years ago. The sales figures maintain the strength of their music. They became the Beatlemania of the late seventies and early eighties. They may not have been quite in the Beatles league (but no-one ever comes close to that once in a lifetime experience) but they managed to achieve a perfection of song after song to continue scoring top ten hits all over the world.

    Abba managed to perfect the pop song with the catchy melody, the chorus you’ll never forget and mix in rock guitar and ballads. They perfected exactly with the same approach as the movie; a simple approach that’s actually full of complexity. The musicians from the original recordings reformed to give us an outstanding soundtrack performance.

    The band has been copied and karaoke sung to the hilt. Their tribute band, Bjorn Again, is even more successful in live concerts. This movie uses quality actors to karaoke their hearts out – and it works.

    What sets this movie apart from the not so perfect is the attention to detail. Here the editing of Lesley Walker gains a high value citing. Working with the writer and director, the editing has been set to ease the journey through the preparation and the wedding on the Greek island. It’s never boring, it’s never slow. The film speeds along at a frantic pace that matches the fraught activity of anyone’s wedding day nerves. My only complaint is that I could have sat there for another hour; such was the quality of the activity.

    What also positions this movie in isolation, are the so many subtle touches all the way through that it’s hard to see them all in the first pass. Examples include the marriage performing clergyman playing the tubular bells during ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’ and the fleeting appearances of our main hosts, Benny and Bjorn; go spot them. The expertise of a brass band playing a wedding march version of ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ and Amanda Seyfried humming ‘Fernando’ as she walks along, further present just a glimpse of the writer’s screenplay skills.

    If you apply the industry standards of beats, acts, format of what happens when, then Mamma Mia! matches them perfectly. On first viewing I’m sure many will just believe the movie has been thrown together; perhaps a copy of the show. Actually it’s the opposite; the craft shown is exemplary, it takes the stage show through an update that only the silver screen could allow. The differences are significant.

    The vital test of a movie is how well you feel you were entertained. That entertainment can be to marvel at the brilliant writing, the outstanding direction, the stunt crew, sadness as well as joy. Mamma Mia! is a feel good movie. No, it’s a feel great movie. If you want to see people singing along in the cinema, dancing and clapping at the end; the audience not leaving before the end of the credits rather than making the rush to the car park to get out first – this is the movie to see.

    Whatever you do, don’t leave early. The spectacle of the three fathers singing ‘Waterloo’ is worth the ticket price alone. You’ll also be treated to another epic in full seventies gear.

    I enjoyed the movie and was so completely entertained that I’m going again. That’s something I’ve never done before; see the same movie two days running.

  • General
  • My Personal Mamma Mia Movie Review – Part 1


    Rarely do I come across a movie where I can’t find a fault. ‘Silence of the Lambs’ was one with Jodie Foster’s ‘The Accused’ another. In musical terms Lionel Bart’s ‘Oliver’ is a perfect mix of songs, dance and action. The plot was great and the characters were spectacularly acted. Now we have another to join that team (almost).

    I don’t expect the academy will dare to agree come January, but they should be brave. There are so many academy winning benchmark performances from both cast and crew.
    mamma mia

    The stage play of Mamma Mia! is almost beyond anything imaginable and yes, the exclamation mark is part of the title and well deserved. Seeing it on Broadway in New York helps, especially when I marvelled at it, we’d flown over 4000 miles for the weekend just to be able to observe from the front rows. It is the stage play to end all stage plays and to transfer it so closely to screen was a risk, but one worth taking on.

    Screenplay writer Catherine Johnson has excelled in moving her stage play to the silver screen.

    Producer Judy Cramer (and Gary Goetzman) has managed an operation that I quite expected to fail. How could anything be as good as that stage play? I can confirm that she managed it with perfection. The stage play’s director Phyllida Lloyd must have a magical eye. Her direction throughout is everything the movie requires. She always has the right shot, she always has the right movement and she maximizes the dramatic scenery with the dance routines.

    I’ve read complaints about the plot, but it works very well; it’s correct for the occasion. The intricacy of the storyboard proves a quality teamwork approach.

    The movie lost the one per cent off top score because of the poor blue screen minute or so when Ms Streep drives her jeep. She might move the sterring wheel correctly, but the background doesn’t gel. My goodness, that’s the only fault.


    The film really is very funny. I laughed so much (as did the entire audience) it brought me to tears. The film is much funnier than the theatre version which is due to the ability to use close ups and much more individual action. It’s also mainly due to the wonderful charm of Julie Walters (Mrs Overall of Victoria Wood fame and Rita in Educating Rita). She’s a hoot, consistently, throughout the movie. Her mixture of character brings a new light to this side of the movie. Walters OBE and CBE, demonstrates comedy to its maximum degree when she falls into the sea from a small boat; it just has to be seen to be laughed at. Comedy is all about timing and this lady has mastered it.

    Then there’s Meryl Streep. She’s been in the best of the acting ranks for many a year. She’s been close by and got the t-shirt. She took on this role and looked as though she had a real fun time. Looking through her extensive portfolio, there’s nothing like Mamma Mia! in there, although she is an experienced singer and theatre actor. To go from Kramer verses Kramer, via Sophie’s Choice and detour to Mamma Mia! is a perfect choice. She sings, she dances and we know she can act. She’s taken Abba’s ‘The Winner Takes It All’ into another classroom. That performance will be studied for years at acting school titled ‘How to steal the scene from James Bond.’