by Dan Millen Reviews Sunday, May 26 2013

So I went to see The Hangover: Part III today with mixed expectations. The first one broke new ground in the movie arena, bringing a fresh concept to a party style movie with the twist of what happens when the sun comes up the next today. I laughed so much that when the second part was announced, I found myself itching to get in the cinema to watch it. (That was 6 months before its release!) Unfortunately, aside from the hilarious scene in a Bangkok Strip Club, I felt that Todd Phillips and the gang were just reproducing the first outing in a different location. The fans wanted more.

And boy oh boy, in Part III, Todd Philips has shown why he had to make the trilogy and answer his critics (myself included) following the second outing.

First thing you need to know is there is no-one getting married, hence no stag do (batchelor party), no mayhem… yeah right!

The film opens in Thailand where Mr Chow escapes his prison cell, worthy of Andy Dufresne might I add, during a riot. A chase through the sewers leads him to jump from a cliff edge, plunging into the Gulf of Thailand.

Alan has not changed since we left him. He is still immature, brainless and damn right funny. His parents are sick of him because he is a constant disappointment, and when it all becomes too much for his father (quite emotional but funny at the same time), it’s decided by his mom, sister and the Wolf Pack that he needs to go to Arizona Institution for an ‘intervention’.

ROAD TRIP! Phil, Stu, Doug and Alan hit the open road but are quickly side tracked, and rammed off the road, by Marshall, a gangster trying to track down 40 odd million dollars’ worth of gold bullion from Mr Chow. We then find out that subtle little hints have been dropped into the previous two movies to build up to this moment.

Always given the short straw, Doug is held hostage until the three amigos can track down Mr Chow, retrieve the gold and return it to Marshall before the sunrises 3 days later.

Cue the ‘hangover’. What follows is pure genius, with a bit of long windiness to prolong the Wolf Pack’s agony. I don’t want to give too much more away but you’ll be treated to a trip to Tijuana, old faces reappearing, seductive lollipop sucking in a pawn shop, abseiling down Caesar’s Palace and finally the finale just outside of Vegas. Oh, and a happy ending too.

All in all, enough to make you feel as though you’re the one with a hangover.

I am pleased to say that this movie is a good one to see, but do take it with a pinch of salt because after all, it is a comedy and therefore, not meant to be judged on anything more than whether it can make you laugh or not.

Salt or Sweet? Definitely Sweet.  

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Categories: blogs and bloggers | Entertainment | Film | General | Humour | Just Life | Leisure | Media | People of Kent

Small talk!

by The Odd One Out, with Dan Millen Saturday, March 2 2013

So I was sitting discussing with my colleague (JS) various different topics when we stumbled across old films we used to watch as children. There is not a significant age gap between us, only 5 years, but our choices in favourite films does differ quite considerably.

Once we had finished listing our favourite films, JS touched on the main actor in one of her films (The Indian in the Cupboard) and how she used to have a crush on him when she was 3 years old! I was more shocked at the age of her first crush then the fact she had a crush on Henri from the film.

After controlling my laughter, JS added fuel to the fire by declaring two further crushes: the first, Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone and the second, Buzz McCallister from Home Alone. This send me into an uncontrollable fit of laughter, some of the others joined me. JS literally smiled and joined in with us.

The dreaded question fell on me when on of the girls asked me who I had a crush on when I was younger? I could honestly say I went blank and could not think of a single crush at such a young age.

So now I've had time to think about it, I think it only fair I declare my crushes from childhood films:

1. Allie from The Karate Kid Part I (She also appeared in Back to the Future)

2. Andy from The Goonies

3. Jessica from The Karate Kid Part III

So there you have it, my three choice.

Keep reading and I'll keep you posted on my life as The Odd One Out.

Categories: blogs and bloggers | Entertainment | Family Life | Film | Leisure | Moaning | Moans and groans | Work

Oscar predictions

by The Kent film blog, by Lewis Dyson Thursday, February 21 2013

The 85th annual Academy Awards are nearly here and the sound of backs being slapped will soon be heard echoing across the world. I should say that I have not seen every film that has been nominated but I have seen most and my predictions are based slightly on hype, but mainly individual merit. Nonetheless, I am going to stick my neck out so here is my guide to who will win and who should win.

Best Actress

Who will win: Jessica Chastain

Who should win: Quvenzhané Wallis

I think this is Jessica Chastain's year. She seems not to have put a foot wrong in the roles she has played so far in her career and her name has been preceded by, "The up-and-coming actress", for a while now. It wouldn't be undeserved, she puts in a powerful performance as a focused, strong-willed woman in a masculine world. I also think Zero Dark Thirty will be overlooked in the other categories it's nominated in because it just cannot shake the criticism that it endorses torture. Jennifer Lawrence is not the finished article yet but no doubt she will appear in this category again.

Wallis would win if I were in charge because of the ones I have seen, her performance is the most authentic. At just nine years old performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild is brilliant because you do not for a second question she is growing up in a mystical American deep south village. Simply because she is so young it is so natural whereas the others are much more crafted. 



Best Actor

Who will win Daniel Day-Lewis

Who should win Daniel Day-Lewis

Who else but Day-Lewis? In this category he is like Barcelona FC competing in the Championship; the other actors are solid, admirable even but they pail in significance next to a once in a generation talent. He made a film which is 99% dialogue engaging. He also stands a real chance to become the first actor in history to win three best actor Oscars.

Best Director

Who will win Steven Spielberg

Who should win (Quentin Tarantino but since he's not nominated...) Ang Lee

This category is wide open which is why I think the judges will go for the least contentious choice. Spielberg is an Oscars favourite whereas David O'Russell would probably start shouting at everyone if he won. My pick is Ang Lee for Life of Pi because he has actually used 3D in an ungimmicky way and created something that is technically and visually stunning.


Best Film

What will win Argo

What should win Licoln

In my opinion, Django Unchained is the best film on the list but I would be disappointed if it won. Here's why: the best films buck trends, challenge opinions and make you feel something. Django is one of those films that leave you feeling intoxicated and your skin bristling. To be recognised would remove the very reason that makes it cool, that it is dangerous and different and its jagged edges mean it doesn't fit in. So I will be happy to see it lose.

As for Argo, which don't get me wrong is a brilliant film, it will ultimately win because it is about movies doing good in the world and the Academy won't be able to resist the chance to celebrate that.

Licoln ticks all the right boxes but I think it will just miss out.

We'll see on Sunday.

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Categories: Film

Lincoln and Django Unchained: two very different approaches to a thorny subject

by The Kent film blog, by Lewis Dyson Tuesday, February 5 2013


This year's Oscars features two nominees in the best picture category that are about slavery: Lincoln and Django Unchained

The one that probably stands a better chance of winning the judges' votes is Lincoln, not because it is a better film but because it ticks all of the requisite boxes. World-class actor, check. Worthy subject matter, check. Steven Spielberg, check.

I thought it was really well made and it was reverential to Abe Lincoln without being patronising, which is to its credit.

The best thing about it is without a doubt Daniel Day-Lewis' performance that is utterly convincing. I have never seen the man put a foot wrong, but then I have never seen Nine.

Overall the film is just what you would expect from arguably the best director of the past four decades teaming up with someone who is widely acknowledged as the greatest living screen actor. By that I mean it is near perfect and it is difficult to find fault but at the same time, it doesn't re-invent cinema. 

It looks beautiful, the sets are brilliant, and there are good performances all round. It is a team of people who are at the top of their craft making a film. It is like watching a master baker making a really nice cake, using all of the ingredients you expect. It comes out really tasty as you would expect but someone else might have added something completely different, like chili flakes but it's not that type of film.

Other directors might have been tempted to spice it up - anyone expecting Saving Private Ryan in the American Civil War will be disappointed. Instead it focuses on the politics. The script will either draw you in or bore the hell out of you. Luckily I think it's absorbing enough to hold your attention for the two-and-a-half hour length.

In summary you can't criticise it because it is near faultless, but you could argue it is only that way because it steers so close to the mark.

And then there's Django Unchained...


Quentin Tarantino's latest offering takes the same approach to historical accuracy as Inglourious Basterds and they are both incredibly similar to each other. They are both revenge fantasies of ethnic groups who have suffered great atrocities. But Tarantino handles this subject matter with the sensitivity of a Frankie Boyle.

Rather than making something preachy dealing with slavery head-on, the issue is used as a tool to make the audience feel all the more intensely. No one is going to go into this film thinking slavery is a good thing so it's an effective way of turning feeling you get rooting for the good guy Django (Jamie Foxx) and hating the bad guy (Leonardo DiCaprio) all the way to 11. Plus no one does violence like Tarantino and this doesn't disappoint with bucket loads of blood flying across the screen. 

The casual use of the N-bomb and the general way slavery is depicted is enough to incense anyone but, if a film can make you feel anything then it is doing its job.

Two very good films but in two very different ways.

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Categories: Film

Inbetweeners reunite for film screening in Gravesend

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Monday, January 28 2013

The cast of the Inbetweeners gave an ironic thumbs up when they were asked what they thought of Gravesend, as they attended a screening of the movie at the town’s Woodville theatre.

“I love Griggs bakery, which is surely just a copy of Greggs” joked a bearded Simon Bird, known to fans as Will McKenzie, at the event promoting the new cinema at the venue.

A near sell-out crowd sat for an hour as actors Simon, Joe Thomas, James Buckley, Blake Harrison and co-creator and writer Damon Beesley answered audience questions on Friday.

They posed for photos and signed various items of memorabilia from the show, which were auctioned to raise money for new seats at the theatre.

A signed poster of the Inbetweeners Movie – the highest grossing British comedy film – was bought for £200, while t-shirts and a jumper worn in the film and series sold for more than £100.

The four stars agreed to attend the screening as a favour to writer Damon, who grew up in New Barn and went to Longfield Upper School.

The audience laughed as Damon confirmed, unfazed, that the Woodville itself was the real-life setting for one particularly hands-on scene in the series, involving character Simon and a young girl at a school disco.

Damon himself agreed to attend thanks to a childhood friend who works at Gravesham Borough Council, who asked him to come along.

The Q&A got off to a spluttering start, as a couple of the mics did not work and the panel were flummuxed with some bizarre questions.

Damon, 41, confirmed there would be no more series but hinted a few ideas were being floated around between himself and co-writer Iain Morris about making a second film.

Just as the cast warmed up, the Q&A came to a close, almost too soon, with the film screened shortly after to roaring laughter from fans.

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Film | Gravesend | Gravesham | Showbiz | TV

Put a sock on it

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Wednesday, January 23 2013

The greatest pleasure of interviewing Inbetweeners co-creator and writer Damon Beesley was finding out that the stuff viewers didn’t see on camera was just as funny as what made it onto TV in the Bafta-winning show.

Ahead of talking to fans at a Q&A and screening of the Inbetweeners Movie, Damon revealed his sense of humour was still equally as juvenile as that of Will, Simon, Jay and Neil.

As well as his own adolescent experiences, the 41-year-old, who grew up in New Barn, near Gravesend, revealed his cast were such good sports that he could use their moments of embarrassment for comic scenes.

“Over the course of three series we have managed to get all four of them partially naked,” he said with glee, pictured below, right, with co-creator and writer Iain Morris.

“We have seen all their bottoms, which Iain and I are very proud of.

“Joe [Thomas, who plays Simon] gets the brunt because he is most pliable. There are a lot more rude bits just for Simon because Joe is just so up for it.

“When we were filming on the boat for the field trip episode and Joe had to stand naked, there was a quite a lot of concern for him because it was freezing cold in January.

“In the scene, he falls into the water and they have to take all his clothes off because he is going to get hypothermia and at one point he stands up naked, to wave back at the land.

“We asked costume to give him some coverage to go over his front parts, to save his embarrassment, but what wardobe didn’t tell us was that instead of putting a box on, for some reason they put a sock over his bits and it looked mental.

“As James Buckely [Jay] pointed out, they may as well have covered him with a condom because it was so tight. It wasn’t saving anyone from any embarrassment at all.

“We all fell about laughing and because it was so funny, during the edit we wrote in a few lines to the script that Neil [played by Blake Harrison] had put a sock over his parts – why would you do that?

“But it was brilliant and it made a good joke.”

As all four stars arrive with Damon at Gravesend’s Woodville Halls for the Q&A and screening – which is drumming up support for the new cinema which launched at the theatre this month – many will wonder what other behind-the-scenes gems will be unveiled.

The Inbetweeners Movie is shown on Friday, January 25, at Gravesend’s Woodville Halls with a pre-screening Q&A with writer Damon Beesley and the four stars. 

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Film | Gravesend | Showbiz | TV

Skyfall rediscovers what Bond is all about

by The Kent film blog, by Lewis Dyson Tuesday, October 30 2012

You may not have noticed but this week saw the much anticipated return of everyone's favourite alcoholic, sociopathic misogynist. Bond, James Bond is back for his 23rd outing and the result is good, very good. 

Skyfall sees Daniel Craig's 007 return to duty from a brief period of freedom. After a mission goes wrong he is presumed dead but when MI6 comes under attack from a former agent, Raoul Silva (played by Javier Bardem), he steps back into action.

What makes Skyfall so successful is that it goes back to what makes the franchise so great. That's not to say it goes back to the predictable Bond by numbers style some of the previous films are guilty of.  For instance, cartoonish gadgets seem to be a thing of the past. But it does reclaim the sense of humour without ever becoming tongue in cheek.

Skyfall is a massive improvement on Quantum of Solace, which, as a lot of people noticed, tried to reinvent James Bond by borrowing heavily from the Jason Bourne films. Thankfully, the sequel gets rid of the shaky camerawork and 50 cuts per second of Quantum. One thing it has is a genuine Bond Villain in Javier Bardem's menacing yet flamboyant Silva who seems like he wants to kiss Bond as much as he wants to kill him.

Although it has been touted as the best bond ever it probably falls just short due to some clunky, unconvincing flirting between Bond and Naomi Harris' character and it would probably benefit from being 20 minutes or so shorter.

Overall however it's hugely enjoyable and a massive crowd pleaser. Bring on number 24.

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Categories: Film

Frankenweenie: Burton back to his best

by The Kent film blog, by Lewis Dyson Thursday, October 11 2012


It's that time of year again when a load of animated horrors are released to mildly scare kids everywhere before they go off trick or treating. Probably the pick of the bunch this Halloween is Tim Burton's latest offering Frankenweenie, a 3-D stop-motion animation entirely in black and white. Actually a re-make of a short film the director made in the 80s, his latest offering is also a loving homage to classic creature features of the 1930s. This return to the influences that he made such excellent use in films like Ed Wood, and Edward Scissorhands, also sees him return to form after a handful of disappointing efforts - does anyone actually remember anything from Alice in Wonderland?

Frankenweenie is based on Mary Shelley's gothic novel except in this case Victor Frankenstein is a young boy who lives in the town of New Holland with his parents and his beloved dog Sparky. When the pet is killed in a tragic accident, Victor tries to resurrect his best friend after being inspired by a science experiment at school. After bringing Sparky back from the dead, things start to go wrong when the other children find out what has happened.

Tim Burton has dabbled in animation before as a co-director on Corpse Bride - he did not actually direct The Nightmare Before Christmas, although he produced it as well as the CGI animated 9. Frankenweenie is a much better film. It is heartfelt, funny and just the right side of morbid. There plenty of gross gags whether its bits flying off Sparky or exploding animal corpses. Meanwhile, there are lots of nods to classic horror films like The Wolf Man, The Mummy and, of course, Frankenstein, that will keep older audience members happy. There is even a reference to Bride of Frankenstein as the neighbour's poodle gets a lightening bolt beehive hairstyle. It is a film for children (big or small) obsessed with the gruesome and the gross -  the kids who chase each other around playgrounds with worms. 

What is particularly pleasing is that vintage Burtonesque mixture of gothic elements with the bland kitsch of 1950s suburban America. The town of New Holland is just like the setting of Edward Scissorhands where its bland perfection gets suddenly introduced to an element of otherness. 

The voice-overs are all well performed, particularly Atticus Shaffer who voices Edgar 'E' Gore and sounds exactly the way you would imagine a child version Egor to be. 

The 3-D does add a depth to the look of the stop-motion and there are moments when you can see how the models would have looked as the film was being made. Also because it is in black and white, the darker image you have to put up with in other 3-D movies is not an issue here. That being said, you forget about it after a while and it is probably  just as good without it.

While it is not Burton's best film, it is certainly a simple, enjoyable and a welcome return. 



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Categories: Film

The Dark Knight Rises

by The Kent film blog, by Lewis Dyson Sunday, July 22 2012

In 2008 Christopher Nolan completely changed the comic book movie with The Dark Knight. So it was hard to imagine going into this sequel how he could top arguably one of the greatest films of its genre. The answer he seems to have come up with is to go bigger. So with an extra $50 million dollars to play with he has pulled off the dual feats of improving on his previous effort and managing to bring the Batman trilogy to a satisfying conclusion. What a relief.

Picking up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, the caped crusader (Christian Bale) has disappeared from Gotham city after he was blamed for the death of Harvy "Two Face" Dent, who has become idolised as a white knight. Things are finally looking rosy as the people have unified and crime has dropped; meanwhile Bruce Wayne has become a recluse. Lying in wait beneath the streets, however, is "Gotham's reckoning" in the form of Bane (Tom Hardy), a huge, masked terrorist leader and his army of fanatics. Batman has to come out of hiding to face this new threat before the city is destroyed.

The Dark Knight Rises is a triumph of tension. There is a sustained threat for the majority of the film, like a wrench gradually turning tighter and tighter, which makes the near three hour running time fly by. The narrative keeps you guessing, as Batman gets broken, beaten and tested to his limits. Everything happens on such a grand scale that the twists and turns feel refreshingly new and unexpected. Rises also taps into the current climate of instability and questioning of society. As Gotham's underclass strike the stock exchange and go after the wealthy, some viewers may even find themselves sympathising with Bane's mission. The action is pretty awesome too.

The story is big and wide-ranging without ever becoming uneven or all over the place. There are a lot of strands, which are juggled to perfection by Nolan and everything comes together neatly, including events from the previous two films. Hopefully the massive box office takings it will undoubtedly make will not tempt the filmmakers to make a fourth one because Rises really does bring everything to a satisfying conclusion.

Tom Hardy gives an electrifying performance as the villain Bane, which is a worthy successor to Heath Ledger's Oscar winning performance as The Joker. His voice does take some getting used to and at first it comes across as a mixture of Sean Connerry and Brian Badonde from Phonejacker. But the longer he peseveres, the more effective it becomes. It is clear the decision has been made to replace the characteristic rage of the comic book Bane with a subtle menace. Hardy should also be acclaimed for the physicality he brings to the role. Anyone who has seen him in Bronson or Warrior will know he takes a similar commitment to changing his body for a role as Christian Bale, who withered down to eight stone for The Machinist. Also, despite wearing a mask that covers about 70% of his face, he is still able to convey the characters mindset which takes a special kind of actor.

The rest of the cast put in solid performances as well. Christian Bale cements his position as the greatest on screen Batman of all time (sorry Adam West), although that list is not a particularly stellar one. Anne Hathaway is impressive as Catwoman, the morally conflicted thief and Joseph Gordon Levitt's performance as a tough cop makes it hard to imagine him as the kid in Third Rock from The Sun

After Inception, The Prestige and Memento, critics might be expecting Christopher Nolan to drop a clanger soon, but The Dark Knight Rises is certainly no clanger.

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Categories: Film

The Dictator: General Aladeen in Da House

by The Kent film blog, by Lewis Dyson Thursday, May 10 2012

After the global success of Borat in 2006, the notoriety of the follow up Bruno, and not to mention the extravagant public appearances, Sacha Baron Cohen must have wondered how he could continue his career if everyone recognised him and his characters. The solution he has come up with in The Dictator is to depart from the hidden camera hijinks he became famous for and instead go back to a more conventional narrative comedy style. But I wonder whether this was a choice on his part or if he is a victim of his own success.

Luckily the film itself is pretty funny - fans of Baron Cohen will not be disappointed - but the bad news is it does not reach the giddy heights of Borat. In fact, it has more in common with Ali G in Da House than his last two mockumentaries. 

The latest character to be unleashed on audiences is General Aladeen, the beloved oppressor of the fictional North African state of Wadiya. He struts around his oil rich nation as the supreme ruler where all his subjects have to obey his every whim. That is until his jealous uncle (played by Ben Kingsley) stages a coup during a trip to a United Nations summit in New York. Aladeen escapes but robbed of  his trademark beard he is forced to walk the streets as an anonymous foreigner. Liberal American Zoe (Anna Faris) takes pity on him and takes the deposed leader on as an employee at her organic food store. 

The aim of the film is to make the viewer sympathise with someone who is completely detestable and it achieves this through sheer brute force. Aladeen is effectively a spoiled toddler given control of a country. He holds his own Olympic games where he wins every medal by shooting anyone who dares to out run him and he orders scientists to be killed because the missiles they make aren't pointy enough. But once you become acclimatised to his exploits you come to care for him as you would any other flawed protagonist. 

The laughs come steadily and there is a good mix of close to the bone un-PC jokes and gross out humour. It's not a movie for those who are sensitive or easily offended either by middle-eastern politics or the sight of genitals. Baron Cohen's trademark sharp satirical sense is also present, especially in *SPOLIER ALERT* a climactic speech when Aladeen describes the benefits of living in a dictatorship which are all too familiar, such as having all the media controlled by one family. 

Although it works as a straightforward story, it lacks the thrill of seeing interactions with actual people. So rather than linking together a series of improvised scenes with a loose plot as in Borat, you get some fairly functional scenes, performed by actors heading, towards a predictable outcome. 

In the end, although it isn't quite a worthy successor, The Dictator is just funny enough to rule on its own. 


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Categories: dictators | Film

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