Category Archives: BEST OF 2015

Films To Get Excited About in 2015 [Part 3 – Comedy]


(Or films that feature a football in the groin)

1195663_Absolutely Anything

Absolutely Anything | Terry Jones | UK

Monty Python legend Terry Jones brings us a film starring Simon Pegg as a man who is given the ability to do absolutely anything by a group of all-powerful aliens (played by Jones and the Python gang).  The teaser clip introduces us to Pegg’s character in the process of granting his dog, Dennis, the ability to talk in the hope that he will imbibe him with some much needed relationship advice.  Dennis is voiced by the late great Robin Williams and has but two interests, biscuits and shagging.  The script has been doing the rounds for nigh on 20 years which leads one to wonder how on earth Adam Sandler manages to get so many films made.


Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance | Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu | USA

Birdman is up for 9 Academy Awards so I think it’s safe to assume you may have heard more than a little about it.  The film itself is made up of scenes that fit seamlessly together creating the illusion that it was captured in one uninterrupted shot.  The long take has always been the guitar solo of directors, most famously demonstrated by Welles and Scorcese, but in this case it recalls Brian De Palma’s Snake Eyes, the beginning of which opens with a great sequence where the camera buzzes around the build up to a boxing fight giving a real sense of time and place.  In this case we find ourselves flying through a Broadway theatre following a washed up actor (played by Michael Keaton), best known for his work as the titular superhero, who is struggling to put on a show in a bid to escape the role that made him famous.  The film explores the space between imagination and reality whilst serving up pitch black humour along the way.  Keaton is joined by a great supporting cast (Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Naomi Watts and Emma Stone all on top form) but the real star of the show is the theatre itself.


Ted 2 | Seth MacFarlane | USA

Revisiting Ted seem’s a wise move for MacFarlane after the poorly received A Million Ways To Die in the West, the failure of which somewhat overshadowed the success of his first movie.  Comedy sequels should always be approached with caution, with Dumb and Dumber To and Anchorman 2 both being recent examples of diminishing returns in the chuckle stakes.  However, this caution is balanced by the fact that the initial idea of bringing a cute teddy bear to life and allowing him to grow up to become a womanising, drug abusing, foul mouthed down and out, still seem’s an inspired one.  The trailer landed this week and it seems Ted is fighting the courts for the right to father children.  Amanda Seyfried and Morgan Freeman will be present in the court room and expect a cameo to rival Flash Gordon’s appearance in the first film.  Thunder Buddies for life!


The Voices | Marjane Satrapi | USA/Germany

 A grizzly black comedy starring Ryan Reynolds as the seemingly loveable Jerry, a man with a Doctor Doolittle like ability to speak to his pets, Bosco the dog and Whiskers the cat.  But all is not well, as one of these pets is pressuring him to murder his girlfriend (cat’s are bloody evil).  Co-stars include the dismembered head of Bond Girl Gemma Arterton (who lives in Jerry’s fridge) and Anna Kendrick as the potentially doomed love interest.  This is a change of pace for director Marjane Satrapi who previously directed the brilliant Oscar Nominated animated film Persepolis.

Sacha Baron Cohen film set Grimsby.

Grimsby | Louis Leterrier | USA

Sacha Baron Cohen, the man who managed to ruffle the feathers of right wing America and the entire Republic of Kazakhstan, returns with Grimsby.  Set in the 1980’s, the film follows a government spy (Mark Strong) who is forced to recruit his football hooligan brother (Baron Cohen) to help foil a criminal plot.   Baron Cohen, star of Borat, helped pen the screenplay and with his most recent incarnations (Bruno the fashion guru and Aladeen the dictator) falling somewhat short of his own high standards, he will be hoping that this sees a return to form.  Rebel Wilson, Penelope Cruz and Isla Fisher are all on board.  Expect to add the good people of Grimsby to the list of people Baron Cohen has managed to upset.


Trainwreck | Judd Apatow | USA

Comedy Central sketch show star Amy Schumer both writes and stars in Trainwreck, with Judd Apatow co-writing and directing.  Trainwreck has a really strong female cast (Schumer is joined by Brie Larson, Tilda Swinton and Marisa Tomei) which might seem a bit of a departure for Judd “King of Bromance” Apatow (best known for 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up) but lets not forget that he has worked as a writer on Lena Dunham’s cult show Girls and a producer on the box office hit Bridesmaids.  Absolutely nothing has been revealed yet regarding the plot but expectation is high considering the talent involved.  Harry Potter fans will be pleased to know that Daniel Radcliffe appears, having previously worked with Apatow on a Funny or Die sketch.

Dope film still

Dope | Rick Famuyima | USA

Dope was one of the major success stories at last month’s Sundance Festival, garnering huge critical acclaim and a distribution deal.  The film is set in one of Inglewood’s roughest neighbourhoods, a location the director, Rick Famuyima, feels is only seen on screen through the perspective of “the crime, the athletes, [and] the gangs”.  He is hoping to remedy this by giving us a semi autobiographical account of life in ‘the hood’, following the antics of a group of adolescents led by Malcolm (Shameik Moore), a geek doing his best to stay out of trouble whilst harbouring dreams of making it to Harvard.  Malcolm is flanked by best friends Jib (Tony Revolori, The Grand Budapest Hotel’s lobby boy) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons), and the three of them inadvertently acquire a huge stash of MDMA which could prove to be a curse or a blessing.  Expect to be taken on a whirlwind of 90’s hip-hop culture, Bitcoin, and drugs, in what could prove to be the indie breakout hit of the year,


Sisters | Jason Moore | USA

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are making a film together!  It’s seven years since they last collaborated for the big screen (Baby Mama) but the excitement for their latest reflects just how far their stars have risen in the interim.  Individually they have both managed to create and star in their own award winning sitcoms (30 Rock and Parks and Recreation) and together they have hosted the last three Golden Globe ceremonies to hilarious effect.  Pitch Perfect director Jason Moore is at the helm for this, and Paula Pell (a writer on Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock) has written the screenplay.  The comedy duo will play estranged sisters summoned home to clean out their childhood bedroom after their parents decide to move out.  It’s not long before they start planning one last house party to bring together some old school friends in an effort to rekindle their glory days.


Don Verdean | Jared Hess | USA

The director of cult comedy Napolean Dynamite returns with more offbeat humour in the form of Don Verdean.  Sam Rockwell plays the titular role, a self anointed biblical archaeologist hired by a local church group to find religious relics in the Holy Land and bring them back to America.  Danny McBride (Kenny Powers in Eastbound and Down) is one of the church group members which should add some spice and Rockwell is joined in his hunt by Flight of the Conchords Jermaine Clement (last seen in vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows).


That’s What I’m Talking About | Richard Linklater | USA

After the hard earned success of Boyhood, Linklater has been given the opportunity to return to familiar ground with a project that he describe’s as a spiritual sequel to his cult classic Dazed and Confused.  Whereas Dazed and Confused followed High-School students in the 1970’s, That’s What I’m Talking About will focus on a University baseball team in the 1980’s.  Much like it’s predecessor That’s What I’m Talking About will star a cast of relative unknowns.  It’s worth remembering that Dazed played it’s part in launching the careers of Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey and Ben Affleck among others.  Expect a great soundtrack and plenty of laughs.



Films To Get Excited About in 2015 [Part 2 – Sci-FI]


(Or films that star at least one robot)


Star Wars: The Force Awakens | JJ Abrams | USA

So the film that is so anticipated it is almost not worth mentioning.  We await with baited breathe to see if JJ Abrams has the skills to live up to the George Lucas space opera classics.  Most directors wouldn’t have the arrogance to think they could compete with the guy who created not only Jar Jar Binks, but the irrepressible Howard The Duck.  Abrams has a promising record after revamping Star Trek and he has managed to fill the cast with a great mix of old and new.  All the keys players from the original trilogy are back on board and the newbies are a who’s who of future star’s.  Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver, who previously starred together in Inside Lleweyn Davis, are fantastic additions.  I can imagine Driver playing either a charismatic Hans Solo type or a bad-ass Sith, or both!  Let’s not forget Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong’o, John Boyega, and Game of Thrones favourite Gwendoline Christie.  Don’t get too excited though, as this won’t be with us till the end of the year.


Tomorrowland | Brad Bird | USA

Like Pirates of the Carribean before it, Tomorrowland is inspired by a Disneyland ride.  It is directed by Brad Bird, a man famous for working on The Simpsons when it was at it’s best.  He also wrote the screenplay for Batteries Not Included, directed one of my favourite animated movies, The Iron Giant, and on top of that, two great Pixar movies (The Incredibles and Ratatouille).  Having struggled for years to get his 1906 San Francisco earthquake project off the ground he moved onto Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol which featured some great set pieces but lacked the genuine warmth we have come to expect from him.  Step up Tomorrowland.  The trailer hints at a world in chaos and introduces us to a young female lead who seem’s to have the ability to access another world.  Is it just me or does the other world look a lot like the place Russell Crowe dreams of in Gladiator when his mind wanders?  She will be joined by George Clooney (playing a former boy genius inventor) as they attempt to find a way to reach this new world.


The Martian | Ridley Scott | USA

You owe us a good’un Sir Ridley!  The Riddler has churned out his fair share of dud’s in recent years, with promising projects spluttering out by the time they reach the big screen.  There was Cormac McCarthy scripted The Counsellor, a sloppy Alien prequel, and most recently Exodus: Of Gods of Men which managed to make some headlines but for all the wrong reasons.  The Martian is based on a best selling novel and the film will star Matt Damon as an astronaut who has only gone and managed to get himself stranded on Mars.  It has been described as Robinson Crusoe on Mars and Damon is by a stellar cast including Kristen Wiig, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ned Stark (or Sean Bean to the uninitiated).  Hopefully the stripped back premise will draw the best from Scott.


Ex Machina | Alex Garland | USA/UK

Alex Garland’s directorial debut looks very promising indeed.  The writer of 28 Days Later, Sunshine and The Beach steps into the director’s chair for a good old fashioned science fiction drama in the mould of Silent Running or the more recent Doug Jones movie Moon.  Put it this way, I, Robot this ain’t.  Domhnall Gleeson (who has previous in this kind of thing having once played a robot of sorts in Black Mirror) stars as the wide eyed innocent stepping into Oscar Isaac’s futuristic yet isolated scientific man cave.  Rising star Alicia Vikander plays the part of Ava.  Ava essentially seems to be the robot from the Bjork video All Is Full of Love with the added smarts of Siri.  Just from watching the trailer you get the sense that Vikander has really got a handle on finding the balance between appearing suitably robotic whilst offering enough to suggest there may be a soul within.  Rumour has it she prepared for the role by studying the work of England football sensation Peter Crouch.


Chappie | Neill Blomkamp | Mexico, USA

Based on an idea seen in his early short Tetra Vaal, Neill Blomkamp sticks with what he know’s by returning to Johannesburg and casting Sharlto Copley as the titular robot.  Chappie, South Africa’s answer to Johnny 5, is kidnapped shortly after being created and brought up by a rag tag bunch, including one of his makers (Dev Patel) and a couple actors who will be familiar to fans of bizarre South African rap group Die Antwoord.  Jeopardy arrives in the form of retired soldier Vincent (Hugh Jackman with a mullet) and Sigourney Weaver, who are against the use of artificial intelligence.  Vincent sets out to kill poor innocent Chappie after discovering that the robot is learning to think, feel and make bad art.  Blomkamp likes to weave socio-politics into his films (District 9 = Immigration, Elysium = Private Healthcare) and there is certainly plenty to explore here.  The set up has similarities with Rise of the Planet of the Apes and only time will tell whether Vincent’s ‘robo-phobia’ is warranted.


Jupiter Ascending | Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski | USA

The Wachowski siblings are back with a blockbuster space opera and their first original screenplay since The Matrix trilogy.  Curiously the film was due for release last summer but was shunted back to 2015 just weeks before release.  The official line from the studio was that this was to give the film makers time to finish the sheer mountain of special effects required, but since then other sources have suggested that poor test screenings led Warner Brothers to fear they would perform badly in a financial quarter that featured another risky blockbuster (Edge of Tomorrow).  There’s nothing quite like the thought of a throng of accountants frantically discussing fiscal quarters to build up the hype around a movie.  The film itself stars Mila Kunis as Jupiter Jones who is down on her luck and working as a caretaker.  Now you might be thinking that such a profession is unlikely for someone sporting the name Jupiter and rightly so, as she is interrupted from her janitorial duties by a genetically engineered albino wolfman named Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) who informs her that she is in fact the heir to planet Earth.  Another alien, Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne), is not best pleased with this development as he wants Earth all for himself.  Drama inevitably ensues (hence the need for all those special effects).  The film makes the list for the quirky character names alone.


The Phoenix Project | Tyler Pavey | USA

A brooding low budget indie film in the vein of Primer from first time director Tyler Pavey.  The trailer cranks up the tension as four scientists work on an elaborate machine they hope will reanimate dead organisms.  Now if there is one thing we all know as seasoned film goers it’s that nothing good can come from bringing dead things back to life.  The film was funded with a Kickstarter campaign and if it manages to find an audience could be one of the success stories of the year.  Everyone likes an underdog.


High-Rise | Ben Wheatley | UK

One of Britain’s most exciting directors brings the work of one it’s most legendary writers, JG Ballard, to the big screen.  To top it all off it stars the man who made Thor so much fun in the form of Tom Hiddleston.  The director, Ben Wheatley, has been at the helm of some of the most interesting film’s to have come out of the UK in the last decade (Down Terrace, Kill List, Sightseers and A Field In England), and High Rise feels like the ideal project for him.  Details of the production have been kept under wraps but we do know that the novel is set in a self sustaining futuristic high-rise where the community live in luxury.  What could go wrong?  Rather a lot it would seem.  Living in isolation from the outside world results in the community dissolving into clans, spawning a class system where minor disputes escalate into extreme violence at a moments notice.  This is definitely one to watch.


Midnight Special | Jeff Nichols | USA

Not much is known about Midnight Special but the latest from Jeff Nichols should receive plenty of attention after the success of his last film Mud.  Staring Joel EdgertonAdam Driver, Kirsten Dunst and Nichols regular Michael Shannon (Mud, Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter), the story follows a boy with an “extraordinary power” who is on the run with his father from the government and a dangerous religious cult (led by Sam Shepherd).  The director has suggested the film will be set almost entirely at night (which explains the title), that it will have an old fashioned chase feel to it, and best of all, he has cited Tremors and Starman as big influences.