Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Film Review: Like Crazy

FICTION-ADORE VERDICT:   ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ & 1/2

Winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in 2011, Like Crazy is an unconventional film about love, focussing on the anxiety and despair of separation.

British student at an LA college, Anna (Felicity Jones), and American design student Jacob (Anton Yelchin) instantly fall in love. But, dreading a summer of separation, Anna shortsightedly outstays her student visa and is banned from returning to the States. Their emotional connection is confronted with the realities of their physical separation as they struggle with 'stopping and starting' their relationship.

Directed by Drake Doremus, the cast of Like Crazy worked primarily from a screenplay outline, improvising the dialogue. This technique results in Like Crazy having an atmosphere of complete truthfulness. Awkward conversations, from Anna and Jacob's first date, to a conversation about seeing other people, are laid bare not only through the dialogue but in what the actors do not say and in the interaction that happens in the space between the words. Through his film making choices, Drake Doremus creates a sense of intimacy with the characters that in turn makes for an uncomfortable but satisfyingly honest film. At times, Like Crazy verges on disturbing as the audience can do nothing but watch the freshness of first love evolve into despair.


For her role as Anna, Felicity Jones was awarded the 2011 Sundance Special Jury Prize for Dramatic Acting. Her performance is a persuasive one. Jones' Anna is vulnerable and complicated. In a conversation with her editor, Anna declares 'I don't feel very young'. Jones and her co-star Anton Yelchin build this sense of weariness with subtlety.

Like Crazy is also accompanied by a fitting score from Dustin O'Halloran and songs by Stars and Paul Simon. This musical element adds a further layer of magic to Like Crazy evoking the complex emotions that co-exist with love.

Like Crazy has a compelling story, persuasive cast and offers the audience truthful and honest insights. Well worth the ticket price.

For more information on Like Crazy and to see the trailer click here





Film Review: The Descendants

FICTION-ADORE VERDICT:   ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪

It's hard to miss the buzz around George Clooney's new role in The Descendants. Already having won a Golden Globe for his performance as Matt King, The Descendants' uninvolved husband and father, Clooney is also tipped for Oscar success with critics claiming this is the finest performance of his career.

The Descendants is based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings and follows Matt King's attempts to reconnect with his two daughters (Alex and Scottie King) after his wife is involved in a boating accident and left in a coma. Set in Hawaii, the underlying sub-plot sees Matt King reflecting on how to proceed with a trust fund in his care that is nearing its expiration - should he sell or keep the family's 25,000 acres?

The film's success is credited not only to Clooney, but to director Alexander Payne. Payne's writing for his previous film Sideways also won an Oscar in 2005. And, in 2002, Payne co-wrote and directed the acclaimed About Schmidt. As with these two previous films, The Descendants sits somewhere between drama and comedy, encompassing both a great deal of sorrow and humour. Payne has an striking ability to pull the audience right into the inner feelings of his characters. Close up facial shots of Alex (underwater in the family pool) reacting to the news of her mother's condition and similar close ups of Matt (running through the street and across the beach) when he discovers details of his wife's affair, deliver emotion in droves.

The Descendants is brimming with interesting and complicated characters. Shailene Woodly gives an outstanding performance as Alex, who works through a complex and troubled relationship with both her parents. Scottie's (Amara Miller) inappropriate behaviour is stunningly portrayed and Sid's character (Alex's friend played by Nick Krause) injects a much needed dose of positivity.

Returning to the man of the moment, George Clooney, the suggestion of a career-best performance inevitably generates preconceptions that distract the viewer. Admittedly I kept wondering will this be the scene where he blows me away? And sadly, for me, that scene never really came. Personally, I preferred him as Ryan Bingham in the 2009 film Up In The Air. But this career-best debate is merely a matter of comparison. What counts is that Clooney delivers a very solid, moving and believable performance that makes The Descendants worthy of its Best Picture nomination at this year's Oscars. Not forgetting that The Descendants has a number of powerfully dramatic scenes that brutally carve their way into the audience's consciousness - these are few and far between but then intense is not the The Descendants' style. Instead, the beauty of Clooney's performance lies in the subtlety of the film's quieter moments.

The performance of Clooney's career? I'm not so sure. But definitely a performance worth seeing from both Clooney and his co-stars.
For the Official The Descendants website and trailer click here




Friday, 27 January 2012

World Book Night

I just signed up to be a World Book Night giver. I'm hoping to get the chance to give away 24 copies of my chosen book I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith!

World Book Night UK takes place on 23 April 2012 and the World Book Night team are currently looking for volunteers to give away 24 copies of a book from their chosen list. There are 25 books to choose from including Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, The Road by Cormac McCarthy and Misery by Stephen King. All you have to do is come up with a plan for how you will give your chosen book away to 24 non or light readers. Then, if your chosen to be a giver, you just have to collect your books and give them away!

There's still chance to apply to be a giver so have a look at the World Book Night website and apply by 1st February. World Book Night is also taking place in other countries including the USA so check out the website for more details.


Thursday, 26 January 2012

Any David Lodge Fans Out There?

If you're a fan of writer David Lodge, then you'll find this article in The Guardian online very interesting. Lodge talks about his experiences of writing Small World, which is The Guardian's choice for its book club this month. I haven't read this one myself but I'm currently reading Lodge's The Art of Fiction - an incredibly enlightening book that focusses on how fiction writing works. It is based on a series of topic centred articles that Lodge wrote for The Independent on Sunday. All just a few pages long, the topics include Beginning, Time-Shift, Showing and Telling, and Introducing Character. I highly recommend The Art of Fiction to anyone interested in literary criticism and to all aspiring writers.

I also saw a talk by David Lodge at the 2011 Cheltenham Literature Festival, click here for my coverage of the event.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Pick of the Week

THIS WEEK'S CINEMA RELEASES

This Friday sees the release of Golden Globe winning and Oscar nominated The Descendants. Starring George Clooney as indifferent husband and father, Matt King, The Descendants is billed as both humorous and tragic, concerning itself with the re-building of family relationships. Directed by Oscar winning Sideways director, Alexander Payne, The Descendants has met with critical acclaim. With many critics claiming The Descendants gives rise to the greatest performance of George Clooney's career, for many it is a must see.

Also released at UK cinemas this week are:

Like Crazy - Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for US Dramatic Film at the 2011 Sundance Festival, Like Crazy follows the long distance relationship between a British student and her American classmate;

The Grey - Liam Neeson stars in this thriller about a group of plane crash survivors struggling to stay alive in Alaskan temperatures, with a vicious pack of hungry wolves on their heels;

Intruders - A horror thriller from 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlso Fresnadillo;

A Monster in Paris - 2D and 3D animation from the director of Shark Tale.

Next Wednesday also sees the release of Chronicle which follows the story of three teenagers in possession of super powers.


THE BEST OF FILMS STILL SHOWING


If you haven't managed to catch them already, here are my recommendations (click on the links for the full Fiction Adore verdict):




Film Review: Coriolanus

FICTION-ADORE VERDICT:   ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ & 1/2

Coriolanus is a powerful and relevant re-telling of Shakespeare's tragedy of the same name. The film's protagonist, Caius Martius, loathes the common people of Rome but goes to great personal lengths to triumph over Rome's enemies, the Volscians, led by Tullus Aufidious. In reward he is given the name Coriolanus and put forward for Consulate. Pride, however, is this tragic heroes downfall. Coriolanus fails to demonstrate public humility by refusing to reveal his war wounds to the common people as is dictated by the city's customs. This results in his exile and ultimate desire for revenge.

Set in the modern day and filmed in Serbia, Coriolanus is visually compelling. Barry Ackroyd (of Hurt Locker) brings his experience of filming modern warfare with superb results, including powerful images of Coriolanus as he emerges from battle dripping in blood.

Coriolanus is an outstanding directorial debut by Ralph Fiennes who also plays the leading role of Caius Martius Coriolanus with finesse. Fiennes' Coriolanus is a reserved and proud character who is too much his own man, but Fiennes plays him just on the right side of arrogant to enable the audience to retain sympathy. Neither does Fiennes leave the audience in any doubt of the internal struggle Coriolanus faces during the threat and eventuality of his exile.

As its trailer suggests, the film is surprisingly easy to follow, even for those who are not familiar with the play. Long soliloques by the tragic hero, typically associated with Shakespeare's work and often difficult to translate to the big screen, do not have a place in Coriolanus. The meaning of the dialogue is conveyed beautifully by the accomplished cast. Vanessa Redgrave is particularly stunning in the role of Coriolanus' mother, portraying an almost manipulative control over Coriolanus during both his triumph and downfall.

Coriolanus is an intense film, but it is not without lighter moments. News reels help to navigate the audience through the story and inject a degree of humour in the appearance of news presenter John Snow.

One of the best Shakespeare adaptations in recent years, Coriolanus is impressive and accessible to all.
For more information and to see the trailer click here

Film Review: J. Edgar

FICTION ADORE VERDICT:   ✪ ✪ ✪

In 1924 J. Edgar Hoover was appointed Director of the Bureau of Investigation. He was instrumental in founding the successor organisation (the FBI) in 1935 and in establishing its scientific approach. In total, Hoover amassed 47 in years in charge, surviving numerous presidents and political events. All of this should make for an exciting movie: and so enters J. Edgar. Tracing Hoover's rise in political power, J. Edgar examines his role in key political events, the secrecy surrounding his private life, and his relationships with those closest to him.

Unfortunately, one of the most striking things about the opening to J. Edgar are the rather unconvincing rubber faces and fat suits designed to make the cast look older than their years. The make-up is certainly a distraction the film could do without. But it is more than just the film's aesthetics that make the first half of J. Edgar a test in the ability to re-frame expectations.

J. Edgar's promotional trailer suggests a dynamic, fast paced plot and at first this makes the the film's slow burning reality a little disappointing. Neither does the film have a clear, linear plot structure. Instead, Hoover's life is explored in a discontinuous fashion with frequent time shifts - a structure which chops up the chronology of J. Edgar Hoover's career, and introduces both public and private events in what feels at first like no particular order. Perhaps this style is designed to illustrate the dis-jointed nature of memories themselves, but this doesn't quite translate. The result is a confusing set up of the film's purpose and focus.

The variety of time shift periods also makes the numerous subplots difficult to follow without at least a basic grounding in American politics during Hoover's career. At times this results in J. Edgar feeling somewhat tedious, teetering on the edge of boring, and crying out for a sense of story direction. A stand out performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, however, rescues J. Edgar from the realm of mediocre biopics. DiCaprio's portrayal of Hoover's inner struggles with sexuality are compelling and, particularly in scenes with Hoover's mother (played by Judi Dench), DiCaprio makes it impossible not to feel empathy. The Golden Globe and Screen Actor's Guild Award nominations that DiCaprio has received for his lead role in the film are well deserved.

On adjusting expectations to the much slower than advertised pace and the film's stylistic choices, J. Edgar becomes enjoyable and settles into a comfortable rhythm. Interestingly, none of the main characters (J. Edgar, Clyde Tolson and Helen Gandy) form lasting peer relationships outside their trilogy. Instead all are unmarried, career focussed individuals. It is in the personal moments between these characters where J. Edgar is most insightful, concerning itself with themes of loyalty and friendship. And, despite the questionable make-up, scenes set at end of J. Edgar Hoover's career are touching. Hoover's unwillingness to accept the limitations of age is moving, whilst the fear for his own legacy feels both poignant and disturbing.

On the whole, it is difficult to really get excited about J. Edgar, but equally hard to dislike it. A decent biopic with a solid performance from DiCaprio, J. Edgar would benefit from an increase in pace and a more focussed plot.
For more information see Warner Brothers

Monday, 23 January 2012

Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale

Have you read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood?

If not, it's a disturbing tale set in a future society, The Republic of Gilead, which is roughly based on the borders of America. In Gilead, fertile women are rare. All fertile women, known as Handmaids, have been assigned to the state's powerful men for reproduction. The story itself is told by Handmaid Offred, who reflects on her past in a series of flashbacks and attempts to carve a life for herself in this repressive state.

Over the last few days, The Guardian have published some interesting articles on their website that you might like to read if your a fan of the book or just thinking about reading it. I read The Handmaid's Tale just over ten years ago and it continues to be one of the most moving books I have ever come across, so I thought I would share these articles with you.

Click here for an a wonderful insight into Magaret Atwood's experience of writing The Handmaid's Tale and click here for images from the new Folio Society edition of the book.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Pick of the Week

THIS WEEK'S CINEMA RELEASES

The film release that I'm most looking forward to this week is J.Edgar. Exploring the life of J. Edgar Hoover, who founded the FBI and ran it for 47 years, J. Edgar examines Hoover's political power, the secrecy surrounding his private life, and his relationships with those closest to him. J. Edgar is also an opportunity to see the first collaboration between director Clint Eastwood and acclaimed star Leonardo DiCaprio. Although J. Edgar has met with mixed reviews in the UK's major newspapers, DiCaprio has received Golden Globe and Screen Actor's Guild Award nominations for his lead role in the film.

Also released this week are: Coriolanus, a modern adaption of Shakespeare's famous tragedy directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes; director Steven Soderbergh's action thriller Haywire; comedy The Sitter starring Jonah Hill; and W.E.  which explores the relationship between Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson and is directed by Madonna.

Keep checking the Fiction Adore blog for my full reviews of these releases in the next few days.



THE BEST OF FILMS STILL SHOWING

If you haven't seen The Artist or Shame yet, I can certainly recommend them. Have a look at my reviews here:


THIS WEEK'S DVD AND BLU-RAY RELEASES

This week sees the release of The Guard on DVD and Blu-Ray. Brendon Gleeson plays old style Irish Police Sergeant Gerry Boyle in a small Irish town. Confrontational and politically incorrect, with a penchant for booze and girls, Boyle butts heads with serious FBI Agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) who's in town busting a drug smuggling ring. When Boyle's naive partner disappears, Boyle decides he needs to join forces with Wendell and take action.

Brendon Gleeson delivers both dry, sarcastic humour and scenes of sadness with equal perfection, creating a character that the audience is compelled to love despite his faults. Gleeson and Cheadle's rapport is faultless and charm is brought to the film by many of its supporting cast including Fionnula Flannagan (who plays Boyle's dying mother) and Mark Strong (who plays an international drug smuggler). 

Receiving a Best Original Screenplay nomination this week at the BAFTAs, The Guard is an outstanding, if unusual, comedy. Be warned though, The Guard is politically incorrect and a little off the wall - a little  reminiscent of Irish comedy Father Ted. Not for the easily offended, but if you like both Father Ted and a bit of action, you'll love The Guard.



Film Review - War Horse

FICTION-ADORE VERDICT:   ✪ ✪ ✪

Since the London previews of War Horse, British television and press have been brimming with War Horse hype. BBC breakfast claimed only a person with a heart of stone could hold back tears. So, expecting the film to be a powerful tear jerker from start to finish, I armed myself with tissues. But clutching them in readiness throughout, they turned out to be uncalled for. 

Based on Michael Morpurgo's book and Scripted by Lee Hall (Billy Elliott) and Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Love Actually), War Horse follows the relationship between West County boy Albert Narracott and his horse Joey. At the outbreak of the First World War, Joey is sold to the British army. It becomes Albert's quest to reunite with him and, when he comes of age, Albert also finds himself on the frontline.

On the plus side, the story did hold my interest and the film felt much shorter than the two and half hours it was. With its origins in a children's book, it is of course necessary to accept the film's somewhat predictable, cliche and unrealistic plot developments. But, in order to compensate for the limitations of the script, the cast and characterisation needed to be more compelling than what is actually delivered. Jeremy Irvine's performance as Albert Narracott was pleasant but falls far short of persuasive. Performances by supporting actors Emily Watson (as Rose Narracott) and Benedict Cumberbatch (as Major Jamie Stewart) are less convincing. During the first twenty minutes, becoming absorbed in the story is made especially difficult by an array of flawed West Country accents.

Cast performances are strongest and the film most realistic during War Horse's battle scenes, particularly in the trenches and no-man's land. The scene where Albert and his comrades go over the top into no-man's land was the only one during which I was close to tears. But even this had more to do with my own thoughts about going over the top - that men actually experienced these horrors on the frontline - than the way War Horse approached the topic. I have to agree with Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian, that this isn't up to parr with Richard Curtis' own  scripting of similar Blackadder Goes Forth scenes.

For animal lovers, the film is likely to hit many of the right notes. While most of the animal action is well put together, including Joey's sprint through no-man's land, a few action sequences are clumsy, immediately pulling the viewer out of War Horse's imagined world.

Director Steven Spielberg's trademark magic is also lacking and, although he has cited this as his most British film to date, War Horse has a definite Hollywood feel. The sunsets and score are all a little too much. Shots of the English farm at both the beginning and end of War Horse feel more like the American Wild West than exposed West Country farmland.

In many ways, War Horse is a solid family film balancing drama with more lighthearted moments. But, with a disappointingly un-British feel, War Horse ultimately lacked the poignant scripting and powerful performances from its cast that could have elevated it to a higher level.

For the official War Horse film site click here

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Film Review - Shame




FICTION-ADORE VERDICT:   ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪

Shame is a powerful exploration of sex-addiction and relationships that is uncomfortable to watch yet totally gripping. It follows the life of Brandon as he struggles to cope with his sex-addiction and hide it from view. His sister, also struggling with her own difficulties, moves in with him, encroaching on his privacy and increasing his anxieties.

Michael Fassbender's (Jane Eyre) performance as Brandon is exceptional. The journey of Brandon's descent deeper into addiction is entirely convincing. On a date with a female colleague we see Brandon plagued with fantasy but desperately grappling with the reality of human relationships. It is here where Fassbender's charisma in the role makes empathy with his character inevitable. Particularly in his final scenes, Fassbender is utterly compelling in showing the replacement of sexual pleasure with the desperation, anxiety and shame of addiction.

As sibling Sissy, Carey Mulligan (An Education, Never Let Me Go) captivates in a slow and tense performance of New York, New York that is charged with emotion. This, almost indulgent scene, is fundamental in establishing the difficult relationship between brother and sister, Sissy's painful past and doubting but dangerously naive view of the future.

Director Steve McQueen (Hunger) excels in a number of stand out scenes, including both this beautifully filmed New York, New York performance and an anguished night-time run through the streets of New York filmed in a single shot. In Shame he has created a disturbing but ultimately sad insight into a usually hidden world.

Shame is a courageous, perception changing film that is gripping from start to finish. With a career-making performance from Michael Fassbender, Shame is one of the best films of the last twelve months.

For more information see Fox Searchlight

Film Review: The Artist

FICTION-ADORE VERDICT:   ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪

The Artist is a silent film but over the last couple of days cinemas have reported audience members demanding refunds due to its lack of dialogue. For one, I find it difficult to believe that people could be unaware of The Artist's silent genre given the amount of press it has received. And isn't there always a risk in cinema-going that you might not like the film? Could I have received a refund for The Awakening's disappointing ending or the non-appearance of Sue Sylvester in Glee's 3D Movie? I don't think so.

More importantly though, the absence of dialogue is what makes The Artist so imaginative and original. Plus it isn't entirely silent but teamed with a magical, award winning score (by Ludovic Bource) which both complements and draws out the emotions established by the script.

As The Artist begins, silent actor George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) watches his new film premier. This is a clever opener by director Michel Hazanavicius. I was instantly transported back in time. Moving images of a 1920s cinema audience viewed from the back were filmed from just the right angle to make me feel like I was sitting in the row behind. I could almost feel a bonnet on my head and a flapper dress brushing my knees.

Jean Dujardin's performance as actor George Valentin is outstanding and well deserving of the Golden Globe he received on Sunday. The Artist's plot follows George Valentin's frustration as silent films become outdated, talkies (films with dialogue) become fashionable and he is forced to make way for new acting talent. George Valentin is both proud and vulnerable and Dujardin walks this tightrope with skill.

Bernice Bejo is equally brilliant as her character (actress Peppy Miller) grows from naive wannabe to Hollywood star. John Goodman also makes a superb appearance as stern studio boss, Al Zimmer. 

The Artist's retro black and white look never gets tired and I experienced pangs of sadness as I felt the film coming to an end. Neither does the retro appeal carry the whole film, the story itself is pure magic and the sheer volume and quality of wit that is produced in the film's few lines of text is more than impressive.

But a review of The Artist cannot go without mention of Uggie, George Valentin's faithful dog. If there was an Oscar for pets Uggie would beat the War Horse paws down.

Making a silent movie was a brave decision, but The Artist demonstrates exactly why more brave decisions should be made in modern film-making. The Artist is a five star classic - both charming and original. No refunds for me please, but I might just pay up to see it again!

For more information and to see The Artist trailer click here



Golden Globes - An English View

You know your getting older when it takes three days to recover from a 4am late-nighter. So was staying up for the Golden Globes worth my reduced capacity to function this week?

The two hours of red carpet were every bit the frivolous celebrity fest I expected and making it through to 1am was a breeze. But this was followed by E! blasting a tirade of Kardashian adverts over Ricky Gervais' highly anticipated welcome and I began to feel my frustration growing. The fear that Gervais would say something inappropriate blighted not only the opener but also the first two awards.

On watching the re-run of Gervais' jokes, it became clear that this interruption was completely unnecessary. Reactions to Gervais have been mixed. He did play it safer than last year but, for me, this didn't detract from the quality of his performance and I laughed aloud. Gervais' confidence and rapport with both presenters and nominees alike proves he has become an accepted member of the Hollywood community.

Of course, the Globes are a much more relaxed affair than many similar awards ceremonies and this makes them more watchable. In-jokes abounded, showing a much friendlier side to Hollywood than we usually see.

And so to the awards themselves...

The most welcome result of the night was Idris Alba's Best Actor award for Luther - the BBC detective drama in which he is utterly mesmerising. And Martin Scorsese's Best Director award for Hugo was certainly well deserved - that opening sequence in Hugo is beautiful. Awards for The Artist were well earned too.

But I have to admit that I was disappointed with many other results on the night. I had my fingers crossed for Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin) and Michael Fassbender (Shame) but the accolades went to the much more predictable choices of Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) and George Clooney (The Descendants).

I also closed my eyes and made a wish for Boardwalk Empire and its cast: Steve Buscemi and Kelly MacDonald. It was, perhaps, too much to ask for Boardwalk to clean up two years running but the writers and cast really did up their game this year - and that was hard to do given the outstanding quality of series one.

I was proud to see the number of British nominees equal those of their American counterparts in many of the categories, but I question why Downton Abbey trumped Mildred Pierce to win Best Mini-Series. I do love Downton and eagerly await each new episode but fear its idealised version of the English aristocracy has played into stereotypical American preconceptions. Alternatively, Mildred Pierce was fearless in its slow burning plot development which enabled the series to delve deep into the complexities of human relationships.

As the UK is sadly so far behind in terms of US film and television releases, I'm left to await winners The Descendants, Boss and Homeland with interest. I hope that they prove worthy of the accolades they have received and outdo their fellow Globe nominees We Need to Talk About Kevin, Shame, Moneyball, Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones. If they do, the British are certainly in for an exciting time this spring.
For more information see Fox Searchlight
For more information see Starz


  

Friday, 13 January 2012

Picks of the Week: War Horse, Shame, Boardwalk Empire Series One, and Troll Hunter

THIS WEEK'S CINEMA RELEASES

This week sees the release of the most hyped movie of the last twelve months, War Horse. Directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the book of the same name by Michael Morpurgo, War Horse is undoubtedly the popular choice this week. With a screenplay by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot) and Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Bridget Jones's Diary, Love Actually) my hopes for this movie are high. Yet there have been some differences of opinion between the critics. Whilst the Guardian claims War Horse is; 
an unconvincing attempt at summoning up the spirit of the time,
the Telegraph has argued that;
The film is genuine in its emotion, unflinching in its reality, epic in its grandiosity, effective in its performances, and imaginative in its storytelling

Marino for the Telegraph goes on to praise both John Williams' score and Janusz Kaminski's cinematography.

Despite these differences, War Horse has been nominated for a number of awards including Best Motion Picture at this years Golden Globes (taking place this Sunday), making it a must see.

Watch the trailer here
Personally though, my movie pick of the week has to be Shame. With a strong cast including Michael Fassbender (Jane Eyre) and Carey Mulligan (An Education, Never Let me Go), Shame tells the uncomfortable story of  two damaged siblings - Brandon, a thirty-something male with a serious sex addiction, and unhappy Sissy who is trying to make it as a singer. Directed by Steve McQueen (Hunger), Shame has been widely applauded by critics, with Empire magazine describing it as;
Brave, beautifully acted and emotionally revealing — an early strong contender for the most provocative and compelling film of the year
Watch the trailer here
THIS WEEK'S RELEASES ON BLU-RAY AND DVD


Monday saw the release of Boardwalk Empire's first series on both DVD and Blu-Ray. If you didn't catch Boardwalk on Sky Atlantic last year, it is set in Atlantic City during the prohibition era and focusses on the personal and private life of corrupt County Treasurer Nucky Thompson. The show was set to be a success from the beginning, being produced by both Martin Scorsese and Terrence Winter (Sopranos), and featuring an impressive cast which includes Steve Buscemi (Fargo, Sopranos). The pilot episode alone cost a staggering $18 million and was well spent with the series being nominated for eighteen Emmy Awards and winning eight. Series two has recently aired in the UK and is also up for a number of Golden Globes this Sunday. 

Boardwalk Empire is a must watch series. It is incredibly cinematic, from its vastly scaled and minutely detailed sets, to its costume and soundtrack. If you have a Blu-Ray player, it is definitely worth the extra few pounds to experience the full beauty of Boardwalk Empire in HD. 

More information on Boardwalk Empire can be found at HBO

Also out on Blu-Ray and DVD this week is the Norwegian movie Troll Hunter. Filmed in a documentary style, Troll Hunter follows a group of students in their attempt to make a film about bear hunters. Along the way, the students stumble upon a man who claims to hunt Trolls on behalf of the government and decide to tell his story instead with perilous consequences.

Toll hunter is original, imaginative, humorous and captivating. The best found-footage movie since Blair Witch project.
Watch the trailer here