Sunday, 30 September 2012

Film Review: THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987)

The Princess Bride - poster Director: Rob Reiner
Writer: William Goldman (Book/Screenplay)
Running time: 95 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): PG

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure/Romance
USA Release date: 25th September 1987

Watched on DVD Sunday 30th September 2012.


I have to admit I fell in love with this film the first time I saw it on TV back in the nineties. It just occurred to me when I pulled out the DVD to give it a viewing today that it was released 25 years ago (almost to the day!). Certain of my friends will give me some stick for liking this “chick flick”, (their words, not mine) but they’ve never seen what I see in it; much to their loss I might add. But enough of my prattling on, here’s a brief summary before I tell you just why I love this film so much.

The Princess Bride - 10 The story is told by a grandfather to his grandson who is sick in bed; as he explains, “When I was your age, television was called books.” He tells the boy that this is a very special book that has been passed down through the generations. Having allayed his fears about the amount of kissing; he begins. The story concerns a girl, Buttercup, who falls in love with a farm boy, Westley. He leaves to seek his fortune but his ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts and, as everyone knows, the Dread Pirate Roberts doesn’t take prisoners. Buttercup is devastated and becomes numb to the world. Years later we find she is betrothed to Prince Humperdinck; but she will only ever have one true love (sorry, that part’s a tad soppy). She is out riding one day when she is kidnapped by an evil genius, Vizzini, a giant, Fezzik and an expert swordsman, Inigo Montoya. They set off towards the neighbouring kingdom of Guilder but soon find they are being pursued by a masked man… There is much more to tell but I’m going to leave it here with you wondering just who this masked stranger could be.

The Princess Bride - 9 Really well made with one or two dodgy amamatronics, but I’ll forgive that given its vintage. A great score by Mark Knopfler complements the film without overpowering it at all; in fact it wasn’t until we were well into it that I noted that the music sounded kinda familiar. Great performances all round; of particular note were; Cary Elwes as Westley, Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, Chris Sarandon as Prince Humperdinck, Christopher Guest as Count Tyrone Rugen, Wallace Shawn as Vizzini, AndrĂ© the Giant as Fezzik and introducing Robin Wright as The Princess Bride. I also have to give honourable mentions to; Fred Savage as The Grandson, Peter Falk as The Grandfather/Narrator, Peter Cook as The Impressive Clergyman, Mel Smith as The Albino, Carol Kane as Valerie and finally Billy Crystal as Miracle Max.

The Princess Bride - 4 So why do I love this film so much? Well, for me it has everything; pirates, a giant, great swordplay, a damsel in distress, an evil bad guy, revenge, an awful lot of humour and not least a happy ending. There is quite a modern feel to it all but with the traditional values of chivalry along with a little dastardly play. Of course, some magic; how could you have a fairytale without magic? But over all, I love it because it doesn’t pretend to be anything more or less than it is; a great adventure. If I ever need cheering up or I need to restore my faith in human nature I can escape into this film and when I come out the other side I know I’ll feel better. No, it’s not perfect, but I’d watch it in preference to many modern films any day.

SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

My score: 8.9/10

IMDb Score: 8.1/10 (based on 171,422 votes at the time of going to press).

MetaScore: 77/100: (Based on 20 critic reviews provided by at the time of going to press).

The Princess Bride - 7 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 96/100 (based on 48 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 39/100 ‘Want to See’ (based on 489,334 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

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The Grandson: A book?
Grandpa: That's right. When I was your age, television was called books. And this is a special book. It was the book my father used to read to me when I was sick, and I used to read it to your father. And today I'm gonna read it to you.
The Grandson: Has it got any sports in it?
Grandpa: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...
The Grandson: Doesn't sound too bad. I'll try to stay awake.
Grandpa: Oh, well, thank you very much, very nice of you. Your vote of confidence is overwhelming.

Vizzini: A word, my lady. We are but poor, lost circus performers. Is there a village nearby?
Buttercup: There is nothing nearby... Not for miles.
Vizzini: Then there will be no one to hear you scream.

The Princess Bride - 3 Fezzik: [to Inigo regarding the man in black] You be careful. People in masks cannot be trusted.

Man in Black: I challenge you to a battle of wits.
Vizzini: For the Princess?
Man in Black: [nods]
Vizzini: To the death?
Man in Black: [nods]
Vizzini: I accept!

Fezzik: Inigo?
Inigo Montoya: What?
Fezzik: I hope we win.

The Princess Bride - 5 Inigo Montoya: Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
Count Rugen: Stop saying that!

Buttercup: You mock my pain.
Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

Prince Humperdinck: Surrender.
Westley: You mean you wish to surrender to me? Very well, I accept.

…there are many more but they might give too much away, so I’ll leave you with these…

The Princess Bride - 1 LINKS:
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Official Site:
Official Facebook:
Trailer (apologies for the advertisement at the beginning):

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Film Review: THE FOUNTAIN (2006)

The Fountain - poster Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writers: Darren Aronofsky (Screenplay/Story), Ari Handel, (Story)
Running time: 92 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Drama/Romance/Sci-Fi
USA Release date: 26th January 2007

Watched on DVD Saturday 29th September 2012.


Having a look around the internet it looks like this film has divided opinion all over the place. I have to say I liked it; beautifully made with an astonishing arc of a story that stretches hundreds of years and billions of miles. Aronofsky has made some great films in recent years; ‘The Wrestler’ and ‘Black Swan’ to name but two; and I find his work always challenging to watch. He doesn’t treat the audience like idiots and I appreciate that; so few are prepared to take that risk these days. Hopefully it’s a sign that things may be on the change. But I digress, here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

The Fountain - 7 We begin with Tomas, a Spanish Conquistador in the 16th Century searching for a Mayan temple that holds the Tree of Life. Then we have a research Scientist; Tommy Creo searching for a cure for the brain tumour his wife Izzi is suffering from. Then there’s an astronaut, Tom, in the far future who is travelling in a clear bubble that contains a dying tree. He is approaching his destination, a nebula that could release him from the long life he has suffered. All these stories are interlinked with the backbone of the plot being that of Tommy and Izzi. It seems that a story written by Izzi about a Spanish Queen and the soldier she sent to search for the Tree of Life needs an ending… I will leave it there or the Spoiler Police (Aronofsky Division) will be confusing me with even more daring and complex plots.

The Fountain - 6 Beautifully shot with some stunning images. I wasn’t sure about the muted tones used at first but as the film went on it grew on me. The musical score by Clint Mansell was both beautiful and inspired; I will be tracking it down. The performances of the two central characters; Hugh Jackman as Tomas / Tommy / Tom Creo and Rachel Weisz as Isabel / Izzi Creo were stunning; Aronofsky certainly knows how to get a performance and they didn’t let him down. I also have to give honourable mentions to; Ellen Burstyn as Dr. Lillian Guzetti, Mark Margolis as Father Avila, Stephen McHattie as Grand Inquisitor Silecio and Fernando Hernandez as Lord of Xibalba.

The Fountain - 9 I have to admit this is the second time I’ve seen this one and it’s one of those that gets better each time you see it. There are so many nuances and plot devices that it can be quite a hard one to get a handle on first time around. That’s probably one of the reasons it has divided opinion so much. The three threads of the story seem so remote at first but as you watch it all gradually pulls together. For me it is just the right length, any longer and it might have become a little tedious. I know there are many out there that didn’t like if first time around; to you I say; give it another chance… try to watch it with an open mind. It is slow-paced deliberately to allow the audience time to assimilate the story. If you’re watching it for the first time on my recommendation, then be prepared to give it a second viewing; you may not get it all first time around.

SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

My score: 8.1/10

IMDb Score: 7.3/10 (based on 119,092 votes at the time of going to press).

MetaScore: 51/100: (Based on 36 critic reviews provided by at the time of going to press).

The Fountain - 1 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 51/100 (based on 194 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 73/100 ‘Liked It’ (based on 234,155 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

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[first title card]: Therefore, the Lord God banished Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden and placed a flaming sword to protect the tree of life. - Genesis 3:24

Tom Creo: What are you doing here?
Izzi: Take a walk with me.
Tom Creo: I have too much work.
Izzi: It's the first snow, we always...
Tom Creo: [interrupting] They're waiting on me.
Izzi: Come on Tommy...
Tom Creo: Please, Izzi!
Tom Creo: I'm sorry. I am.
[Izzi walks out]
Tom Creo: I'll see you tonight, OK?

Isabel: Kneel, Conquistador.
[Tomas kneels before her]
Isabel: Let in the morning light.
[the doors are opened; light floods into the hall]
Isabel: The beast runs amok in my kingdom. He has isolated me, and now he is sharpening his talons for one more fateful push. But salvation lies in the jungles of New Spain. Will you deliver Spain from bondage?

Tom Creo: Death is a disease, it's like any other. And there's a cure. A cure - and I will find it.

The Fountain - 3 Tom Creo: There you are.
Izzi: Hey, what are you doing here?
Tom Creo: Babe we have a
Tom Creo: at three.
Izzi: This is an actual Mayan book. It explains the Creation myth. You see that's first father. He's the very first human.
Tom Creo: Hum. Is he dead?
Izzi: He sacrificed himself to make the world.
Izzi: That's the tree of life bursting out of his stomach.
Tom Creo: Hey come.
Izzi: Listen. His body became the trees' roots. They spread and formed the earth. His soul became the branches rising up forming the sky. All the remained is first father's head. His children hung in the heavens creating Xibalba.
Tom Creo: Xibalba. The star, eh,
[corrects himself]
Tom Creo: nebula
Izzi: So what do you think?
Izzi: About?
Izzi: That idea. Death as an act of creation.
Tom Creo: [looks away, withdrawing] I'll pull out the car and meet you out front.

[last lines]
Tom Creo: I finished it.
Izzi: Is everything all right?
Tom Creo: Yes. Everything's all right.

The Fountain - 4 LINKS:
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Official Site:

Friday, 28 September 2012

Film Review: LOCAL HERO (1983) - REVISITED

LocalHero_poster Writer/Director: Bill Forsyth
Producer: David Puttnam
Running time: 111 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): PG

Genre: Comedy/Drama
USA Release date: 17th February 1983

Watched on DVD Friday 28th September 2012.


This is essentially my original review from back in July 2011 with a few additions – Enjoy!

This is one of my all-time favourite comedies; not only for the gentle understated script, but also for the beautiful haunting score by Mark Knopfler. It picked a few awards in its time, amongst them, Bill Forsyth won the 1984 BAFTA for Best Direction and Mark Knopfler was nominated for Best Score. Here’s a brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

Local Hero - 1 Knox Oil in Houston, Texas is exploring for oil in the North Sea and need a site for a new refinery. A stretch of coastline is selected but it is inhabited and so they send young executive MacIntyre out to make a deal with the locals. It seems the locals already know he is coming and are keen to make a deal. The local accountant Gordon Urquhart agrees to liaison with the villagers leaving MacIntyre to enjoy the scenery. Over time he falls in love with the place, but knows he’s there to do a job. With agreement looming they hit a sticking point when they discover that the beach is owned by the local beachcomber, Ben. Unable to persuade him, MacIntyre’s boss, Felix Happer arrives to conclude matters. Could this mean the end for the  beautiful fishing village, or is there another twist in the tale? Of course I’m not going to tell you here or them Spoiler Police will be taking me for a ride in a boat.

Local Hero - 6 Having recently purchased this copy on DVD I was keen to see how it would look. It does take a little time to get used to the stereo sound (I’m so used to seeing them in Dolby 5.1 these days). I found the script much more subtle than I had noticed before. Apart from the obvious comic elements, I got much more out of it this time around. Great performances all round; Peter Riegert did a good job as MacIntyre, as did Denis Lawson as Gordon Urquhart. I should also mention Burt Lancaster, who did a sterling job as Felix Happer and Fulton Mackay who was really great as Ben. And finally, an early role for a young Peter Capaldi as Danny Oldsen, better known these days for his role in the TV series The Thick of It, and the 2009 film, In the Loop. There are many others I would like to mention, but I would be here all day if I did.

Local Hero - 5 It does look a little dated and it’s very obvious there wasn’t much of a budget to play with after Mr Lancaster had been paid. But even so, it’s still a fine piece of work and one I would be very happy to watch several more times in years to come. There is one thing I wasn’t all that impressed with and that’s the incidental pieces of music that sound like they were played on a Stylophone. Don’t get me wrong; I’m most certainly not talking about Mark Knopfler’s wonderful theme, you’ll know what I mean when you hear it. Other than That I found it absolutely fine! I found it interesting to watch MacIntyre and how his appearance subtly changes throughout the film, I love that way that was done. But enough of my prattlings, I think you’ve probably already guessed…

SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

My score: 9.1/10

IMDb Score: 7.4/10 (based on 528,180 votes at the time of going to press).

MetaScore: No Data: (Based on 0 critic reviews provided by at the time of going to press).

Local Hero - 4 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 100/100 (based on 31 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 57/100 ‘Want to See’ (based on 7,120 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

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Rev. Macpherson: You want to buy my church?
MacIntyre: Not as a going concern.

[approaching Ben Knox's beach shanty]
Mac MacIntyre: Where's the door here?
Gordon Urquhart: There is no door. Just knock on the window.
Mac MacIntyre: How do you do business with a man who has no door?
Victor: The ethics are just the same.

Townsman: Are you sure there are two l's in dollar, Gideon?
Gideon: Yes! An' there are two g's in bugger off!

Victor: How are things? I heard about the ceilihd.
Gordon Urquhart: Oh, we've lots to tell you. We've been invaded by America. We're all gonna be rich.
Victor: Really?
Gordon Urquhart: We won't have anywhere to call home, but we'll be stinkin' rich.

Local Hero - 3 [repeated line]
Happer: Keep watching the sky, MacIntyre.

MacIntyre: What's the most amazing thing you've ever found?
Ben Knox: Impossible to say. You see, there's something amazing every two or three weeks.

MacIntyre: [desperate to make the deal] Look, how much do you want?
Ben Knox: [fills his hands with sand] Would you pay me a pound for every grain of sand in my hand?
[drops some sand]
Ben Knox: Ah, well, that saves you some. Well, would you do it?
MacIntyre: No. Of course not.
Ben Knox: Ah, well that's a pity. You missed out on a good bargain, for I can only hold about ten thousand grains of sand in my hands. Did you think it would be more?

lh1 LINKS:
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Monday, 24 September 2012


LOTR - The Two Towers Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: J.R.R. Tolkien (novel), Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair & Peter Jackson (screenplay)
Running time: 225 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12

Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy
UK Release date: 18th December 2002

Watched on DVD Sunday 23rd September 2012.


Although I have seen all of the Lord of the Rings films before, I had never read the books, and so recently I decided to read them. I then thought it might be fun to watch each film as I complete each part of the story. And so, having finished ‘The Two Towers’… and read the first eighty or so pages or so of ‘The Return of the King’ we come to the second of Peter Jackson’s films. For the record I have to say that I watched the extended version, available on DVD and Blu Ray.

LOTR - The Two Towers - 6 NOTE: There may be spoilers in here; if you haven’t seen the ‘Fellowship of the Ring’ please skip this paragraph.

With the Fellowship broken at the end of the first film we follow the fortunes of the remaining adventurers. Frodo and Sam are to make their own way to Mordor, but not without a little help from an unexpected quarter. Gollum has been following them and now he finds himself aiding them on their quest; but can he be trusted? Sam certainly thinks not. Meanwhile Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are on the trail of Merry and Pippin who had been taken by a band of Orcs towards Isengard, the stronghold of the wizard Saruman, a follower of Sauron. The Orcs had been attacked by a band of horsemen from Rohan but the Hobbits escaped into the forest. Here they meet an Ent called Treebeard and he takes them to a gathering of all the Ents in the wood. Following them, the other three are surprised to be met by Gandalf who they thought had perished in the mines of Moria. From here on it begins to get a little complicated but needless say there are battles to be won as the war for Middle Earth hots up.

LOTR - The Two Towers - 2 Peter Jackson and his team did not disappoint again, another epic film with tremendous scope. I also have to mention again the original music by Howard Shore; another great score with some really great themes. As far as performances go, well everybody did a great job but those that stood out (for me) were; Elijah Wood as Frodo, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Sean Astin as Samwise ‘Sam’ Gamgee, Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn and Bernard Hill as Theoden (King of Rohan). Also worthy of note were; Billy Boyd as Pippin, Dominic Monaghan as Merry, Orlando Bloom as Legolas, John Rhys-Davies as Gimli/Voice of Treebeard, Liv Tyler as Arwen, Miranda Otto as Eowyn, David Wenham as Faramir, Christopher Lee as Saruman, Karl Urban as Eomer and not forgetting Andy Serkis as Gollum/Smeagol.

LOTR - The Two Towers - 1 Having recently read the book I did find that this departed from J.R.R.Tolkien’s original to a much larger extent than the first instalment ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’. Much more is put into establishing background and motive than in the text and, to a large extent, it works pretty well. It does, however, distract from the task at hand in places and I did find it a little heavy going here and there. I can’t, on the other hand, fault the production; it is all brilliantly brought together and it looks fantastic! The battle scenes are immense and to be admired. It’s certainly one, despite a couple of misgivings, I still rate very highly.

SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

My score: 9.1/10

IMDb Score: 8.7/10 (based on 528,180 votes at the time of going to press).

MetaScore: 88/100: (Based on 38 critic reviews provided by at the time of going to press).

LOTR - The Two Towers - 4 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 96/100 (based on 222 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 92/100 ‘Liked it’ (based on 1,207,142 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

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Theoden: A great host, you say?
Aragorn: All Isengard is emptied.
Theoden: How many?
Aragorn: Ten thousand strong at least.
Theoden: [astonished] Ten thousand?
Aragorn: It is an army bred for a single purpose: to destroy the world of men. They will be here by nightfall.
Theoden: Let them come.

Gollum: [to Sam] Stupid, fat hobbit.

Gimli: Oh come on, we can take 'em.
Aragorn: It's a long way.
Gimli: Toss me.
Aragorn: What?
Gimli: I cannot jump the distance, you'll have to toss me.
[pauses, looks up at Aragorn]
Gimli: Don't tell the elf.
Aragorn: Not a word.

LOTR - The Two Towers - 11 Gollum: We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us. Sneaky little hobbitses. Wicked, tricksy, false!
Smeagol: No. Not master!
Gollum: Yes, precious, false! They will cheat you, hurt you, LIE.
Smeagol: Master is our friend!
Gollum: You don't have any friends; nobody likes you!
Smeagol: I'm not listening... I'm not listening...
Gollum: You're a liar and a thief.
Smeagol: No!
Gollum: *Murderer*.
Smeagol: Go away!
Gollum: "Go away?"
[Gollum laughs as Smeagol begins crying]
Smeagol: I hate you, I hate you.
Gollum: Where would you be without me, gollum, gollum? I saved us! It was me! We survived because of me!
Smeagol: [stops crying] Not anymore.
Gollum: What did you say?
Smeagol: Master looks after us now. We don't need you anymore.
Gollum: What?
Smeagol: Leave now, and never come back!
Gollum: No!
Smeagol: Leave now, and never come back!
[Gollum screams in frustration]
[Gollum is silent]
Smeagol: [looks around] We told him to go away... and away he goes, Precious! Gone, gone, gone! Smeagol is free!

Gandalf: The fate of the world will now be decided.

Theoden: So it begins.

…and there are so many more!

LOTR - The Two Towers - 7 LINKS:
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Official Site:

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Film Review: JUNKHEARTS (2011)

Junkhearts - poster Director: Tinge Krishnan
Writer: Simon Frank
Running time: 96 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Drama
UK Release date: 4th November 2011

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 16th September 2012.


I knew very little about this one before I saw it in the TV listings this week. I was a little unsure about this low-budget British movie set in London but decided to give it a look anyway. To be honest I was a little disappointed with it by the end, although there were one or two redeeming features. I’ll tell you more about that after this very brief summary.

Junkhearts - 4 Frank is an ex-soldier who had served in Northern Ireland. He is haunted by acts of violence that he both witnessed and participated in while serving. To numb the pain he has taken to drink. We know that he had been married in the past and he has a daughter who doesn’t want to keep in contact. One day he meets Lynette, a sixteen year old girl living rough. He takes pity on her and takes her home (not in that way). She stays the night and is back on the streets the following day. Frank can’t get her out of his head and he goes out and asks her to come and stay with him. She does and the pair of them form a friendship. Things seem to be going well until Lynette invites her drug-dealer boyfriend, Danny to stay… I’ll leave it there or the Spoiler Police will be banging on my door (again).

Junkhearts - 5 Quite well made on a low budget; I did like the use of visual effects though, focus, the use of close-ups and lighting mostly, but quite effective. The performances were all pretty good; I found Eddie Marsan quite believable as Frank and Tom Sturridge was suitably intimidating as Danny. Newcomer Candese Reid as pretty good as Lynette although I’d like to see more of her work before I make a judgement on this performance. Finally there’s Romola Garai who plays Christine, another character, more of her in a moment, she was pretty good also.

Junkhearts - 1 An interesting film with two parallel storylines; one involving Frank and Lynette and the other involving a well-heeled woman called Christine. She is a single mother with a young daughter; she’s seeing a married man and her mother is taken ill. The thing is we don’t see anything more about Christine until quite near the end of the film. I found myself wondering just what was the point of showing us those little fragments of her and then nothing more for about and hour (or so it seemed). But back to Frank; I guess I was hoping for a film along the lines of the rather excellent ‘Harry Brown’, but sadly not to be. Although there are parallels, this one doesn’t take the same course and (I felt) it suffered because of it. It does have some good points though but be prepared to be a tad disappointed by the end.

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED (Just)

My score: 6.0/10

IMDb Score: 5.2/10 (based on 267 votes at the time of going to press).

MetaScore: No Data: (Based on 0 critic reviews provided by at the time of going to press).

Junkhearts - 2 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 60/100 (based on 10 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 65/100 ‘Liked it’ (based on 137 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

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None available.

Junkhearts - 6 LINKS:
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)

Film Review: TAKE SHELTER (2011)

Take Shelter - poster Writer/Director: Jeff Nichols
Running time: 120 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Drama/Thriller
UK Release date: 25th November 2011

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 16th September 2012.


This is another of those films that has sat on the back burner for quite a while now. I remember it coming out and being very well received by the critics; it was duly put on ‘The List’. Of course it never played at the local cinema and so a TV viewing became the preferred option. I have to say, for the most part, I am in agreement with the critics on this one; it is very good, but in a very understated way. I will explain more after this very brief summary.

Take Shelter - 2 Curtis is being bothered by bad dreams; dreams in which a giant storm causes people to go mad and do harm to each other. He wants to protect his family; wife Samantha and daughter Hannah, who is deaf. Becoming quite obsessed, he takes out a loan and extends the storm shelter they have behind their house. He does all this without consulting Samantha and she begins to worry about him. Curtis is also worried because there is a history of schizophrenia in his family; his mother was diagnosed with it in her thirties. To this end he goes to the doctor and he recommends a psychiatrist but Curtis is worried about the money and ends up seeing a councillor instead. All this begins to affect his work and Curtis finds himself in trouble with his boss. They had just heard that Hannah can have surgery to help with her hearing, but it all hangs on Curtis’s medical insurance through work. Has he had a glimpse into an apocalyptic future, or is he going mad?... Well, I’ll wager you know I’m not going to tell you here.

Take Shelter - 5 First of all I’ll throw out a little praise for the guys that did the sound design. I only listened to it in stereo and it was nice to actually hear different sounds coming from the two main speakers. It’s usually so badly mixed that it just sounds mono, but this was actually thought about and mixed properly (for a change); well done! Now on to the performances, well both Michael Shannon as Curtis and Jessica Chastain as Samantha were truly excellent; I found I could easily connect with both of their characters. They were ably supported by Shea Whigham as Curtis’s workmate Dewart and Tova Stewart as their daughter Hannah.

Take Shelter - 6 The film has a very slow deliberate pace and time is taken to explore all of Curtis’s actions. At one point he even sits down with Samantha and fully explains just what has been going on; his fears and frustrations and what he thinks might happen. It’s a scene you would never usually get in a film of this type and I’m very glad to see it here. At first I found it quite hard to sympathise with Curtis, but as it went on and we knew more about his thoughts, I came around. It’s a film I would certainly like to see again at some point; I’m sure there is much I missed. I know it won’t be to everyone’s taste, but for those that like this kind of thing I urge you to give it a look; you won’t be disappointed.

SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

My score: 8.3/10

IMDb Score: 7.5/10 (based on 27,305 votes at the time of going to press).

MetaScore: 85/100: (Based on 33 critic reviews provided by at the time of going to press).

Take Shelter - 3 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 92/100 (based on 146 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 80/100 ‘Liked it’ (based on 17,420 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:

Take Shelter - 1 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
Curtis: [talking about Hanna, their deaf daughter] I still take off my boots not to wake her.
Samantha: [whispering] I still whisper.

Curtis: Is anyone seeing this?

Curtis: [ranting angrily at a roomful of neighbours] Sleep well in your beds. 'Cause if this thing comes true, there ain't gonna be any more.

Curtis: You think I'm crazy? Well, listen up, there's a storm coming like nothing you've ever seen, and not a one of you is prepared for it.

[last lines]
Curtis: [urging] Sam.
Samantha: Okay.

Take Shelter - 9 LINKS:
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
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Saturday, 15 September 2012

Film Review: A SINGLE MAN (2009)

A Single Man - poster Director: Tom Ford
Writers: Christopher Isherwood (novel), Tom Ford & David Scearce (written for the screen by)
Running time: 92 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12A

Genre: Drama
UK Release date: 12th February 2010

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 15th September 2012.


This is most definitely not the kind of film I would usually watch but it was so well received by the critics I persuaded myself to take a look. I have to say that, yes, there were things that impressed me about it, however I did struggle a bit with the subject matter (more on that later). Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

A Single Man - 3 We are told the story of one day in the life of George. It is 1962, he is gay and he has recently lost Jim, his partner of several years in a car crash. It soon becomes apparent that George has special plans for this particular day; but he has to get through it first. He is a professor of English at a University in California and, for some reason; he appears a little distracted in his lecture. That’s not to say he doesn’t come out with some sage advice for his students. One in particular, Kenny, seems very keen to strike up a conversation with him. After work he runs a few errands, during which he meets a young Spanish man, Carlos, who tries to pick him up. Later, having set everything for when he returns home, George goes out to meet his female friend, and one-time lover, Charley. They spend the evening reminiscing about lost opportunities before George returns home. The film is interspersed with flashbacks to when George and Jim were together; culminating with how they met. This seems to strike a chord with George and he feels impelled to return to the bar where it all began… I will leave it there or the Spoiler Police (Tom Ford Division) will be replacing my entire wardrobe (again).

A Single Man - 1 Really well made and, given the director, there is no surprise that it looks immaculate and extremely stylish. A great performance by Colin Firth as George is the highlight of this piece. He is ably supported by Julianne Moore who, as Charley, put on one of the best English accents I’ve ever heard from an American on screen. Also worthy of note were Nicholas Hoult as Kenny, Matthew Goode as Jim (in flashback), Jon Kortajarena as Carlos and Ryan Simpkins as the neighbours pesky daughter, Jennifer Strunk.

A Single Man - 7 Although it’s an extremely stylish and well made film I must admit I found it hard to watch despite Colin Firth’s excellent performance. I guess the subject matter of the piece is something I don’t find I have any interest in. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a homophobic thing, I have had friends that are gay and it hasn’t bothered me in the slightest. This one just didn’t do a lot for me I’m afraid; if it had been made about a heterosexual couple I guess it would never have seen the light of day, and that’s just where the problems begin. I think it’s a story that has been told many times before but because it’s about a gay man in the 60’s and it was made by Tom Ford it’s special. Well, for me, it wasn’t all that special; I will, however, still give it a good score because I think it was very well made and I do appreciate its style and Colin Firth’s performance.

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED (Just)

My score: 6.0/10

IMDb Score: 7.5/10 (based on 45,001 votes at the time of going to press).

MetaScore: 77/100: (Based on 35 critic reviews provided by at the time of going to press).

A Single Man - 5 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 85/100 (based on 175 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 78/100 ‘Liked it’ (based on 53,650 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

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George: [whispered] Just get through the goddamn day.

George: It takes time in the morning for me to become George, time to adjust to what is expected of George and how he is to behave. By the time I have dressed and put the final layer of polish on the now slightly stiff but quite perfect George I know fully what part I'm suppose to play.

Jennifer Strunk: Would you like to meet Charlton Heston? He's our scorpion. Every night we throw in something new to him and watch him kill it. Daddy says it's like a Coliseum. Daddy says he wants to throw you into the Coliseum.
George: No kidding. Why?
Jennifer Strunk: Well, he says you're light in your loafers. But you're not even wearing any loafers.

A Single Man - 6 George: If one is not enjoying one's present, there isn't a great deal to suggest that the future should be any better.

George: Let's leave the Jews out of this just for a moment. Let's think of another minority. One that... One that can go unnoticed if it needs to. There are all sorts of minorities, blondes for example... Or people with freckles. But a minority is only thought of as one when it constitutes some kind of threat to the majority. A real threat or an imagined one. And therein lies the fear. If the minority is somehow invisible, then the fear is much greater. That fear is why the minority is persecuted. So, you see there always is a cause. The cause is fear. Minorities are just people. People like us.

A Single Man - 4 LINKS:
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