Sherlock Holmes - THE REVIEW

This is the classiest pic that Guy Rich-Tea has ever made.
This is the wannabe geezer in mainstream, family territory for the first time and you know what, it suits the ex-Mr Madge. By reigning in the traits that made his name - but which soon became cliches - but by still using his sharp eye for a slick moment, he's created a great action movie. It's got an Indiana Jones feel to it, that kind of old-skool caper. A romp. The sequel potential is massive - and I actually hope there is one.

Sure, this has got some of Guy's trademark flash - fast cuts, replaying scenes from different points-of-view - but it's not showy. Of course, he gets a bit 'cockerney' too but then, this is set in Victorian London. You expect a few Dickensian wideboys, guv'nor.

In fact, the London setting rocks - all street urchins and dirty sewers. It's still like that where I live, actually. The city is really used to serve the mystery that Holmes has to solve, a tale of political greed and eerie black magic, centred on the creepy Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) and his attempts to overthrow the British government.

Most importantly though, Robert Downey Jnr (as Holmes) has created a character that could run and run. He's not the most obviously likable bloke but RDJ's eccentricity makes his self-obsession more palatable. He's just really funny, odd, different. Jude Law's Dr Watson might not be quite so characterful but it's a nice touch that he's been turned in to a gambler. Rachel McAdams **sigh** meanwhile plays eye candy Irene with serious attitude. No-one is just a flat cut-out.

There are occasional giveaways that this had multiple writers and (allegedly) re-shoots and cuts. Sometimes there's just too much going on. But as a reboot it works - Holmes' appeal hasn't diminished, only gotten more enjoyably quirky, especially up against the blandness of, say, Tom Hanks' Dr Robert Langdon. Holmes can also kick ass, as you'll see a in great bareknuckle boxing scene. Come on, this is from the guy that made Snatch. You gotta see a bit of 'claret'.

It's out 26th December.

An Avatar kinda day.

Guns aren't cool, people - we know that. But film props are. And who's this movie geek with a real Avatar machine gun?

I was at the 'junket' today, y'see, and there was a whole room dedicated some of the gizmos and artwork from the movie. It would've been rude of me not to have snuck in.

But waaaay more importantly, obviously, I met up with James Cameron for a half hour chat about his life for an ITV2 documentary that I'm presenting. He was on good form. The early days, Arnie, winning 11 Oscars, special FX - you name it, we chatted about it. I also met up with the stars of Avatar too - Sam Worthington (very Aussie, very grounded, very 'the next Russell Crowe'), Sigourney Weaver (like meeting royalty), Zoe Saldana (smart, sexy, thin) and Stephen Lang (the best thing in the movie - a military man with an attitude).

There was a real good buzz about the whole place (a posh hotel in London) and the stars seemed to genuinely believe in the project. I liked it too - but can't go into too much detail yet becayse of the usual embargo-ing.

The doc's going out several times on ITV2, from lunchtime on Sat 19th, so look out for it. It's a pity it's only about 25 mins long as there'll have to be a lot of juicy stuff cut out but hey, it's a start. Hope you enjoy.


So I had a 'phone chat with Bruno the other day, as the DVD's now out. And seriously, it was Bruno NOT Sacha Baron-Cohen. He never broke character once.

The interview has had a bit of play on Radio 1 but, frankly, most of it is too out there for daytime radio. So I've decided to transcribe a bit and put it up here instead. Suffice to say, to any lawyers reading, IT'S ALL A JOKE, HE'S NOT SERIOUS, HE'S BEING DELIBERATELY PROVOCATIVE etc etc etc. With Bruno, NOTHING is sacred - which I kinda like...

JK: Hello to my favourite Viennese schnitzel, it's Bruno!

B: Wassup James!

JK: So 2009's been a big year for you. How are you looking back on it?

B: It's been really amazing, James. Really ausgezeichnet. My movie Bruno was a huge success, despite it having more naked guys in it than any Austrian film since the home video of Arnold Schwarzeneggar's stag night. I don't know if you've seen that but it's on You Tube. I'm the little blonde boy in the corner wearing just a jockey's hat.

JK: Christmas is coming up, Bruno. What's it like in your house?

B: Y'know, ich have a traditional Austrian christmas. The whole family are gathered together, mit the young children in their dungeon. We exchange gifts und if ich am lucky I may get from my boyfriend a pet. From my parents maybe some money - some geld. And from my grandparents maybe some stolen Jewish art. And then we have a big meal about 2 o'clock in the afternoon and afterwards the others go for a long walk to burn it off. That's not a problem for me - ich tend to just to the bathroom and... eeeeeuuurgh.

JK: It sounds very festive. You're a fashionista Bruno, what's going to be hot next year?

B: For me fashion's all about going green next year. You've got to go grun. We can all make little sacrifices to help save the planet. It doesn't take much effort to wear new clothes twice before throwing them away.

JK: Back to your film. It was very revealing, Bruno. How do you feel about so many viewers seeing you at your most raw?

B: Well, they haven't seen me at my most raw. My most raw was in Ibiza last year at Simon Cowell's 'scheisser' party. It looked like someone had sledgehammered a watermelon back there. That's also online.

JK: What's been your favourite film of the year?

B: Jesus! Stop it! Stop flirting with me! You're so naughty, you English...

JK: It's the accent, what can I say? What's been you favourite film of the year, Bruno?

B: It's been a great year for gay movies. Bruno, of course, and Milk, und best of all that movie Fast & Furious. Have you seen that? How sexy is the Vin Diesel in that movie? Ich watched it with 500 guys in a theatre in Salzburg. The title Fast & Furious was the perfect metaphor for what was going on in the screening. As was the massive explosion at the end of the film.

Hmmm, I'll leave it there for the moment...

Brothers - THE REVIEW

Another 'War On Terror' issues movie, anyone? You want it starring Peter Parker, Donnie Darko and Queen Amidala? And based on an award-winning 2004 Danish film (who doesn't)?

Well, Brothers it is then.

Here's what you need to know:

1. The casting's pretty clever. Tobe and Jake have long been muddled in the public eye, thanks to nookie with Kirsten Dunst and both being up for the role of Spiderman. That kinda gossip may not have gone through the director's mind, but it certainly adds an extra sparkle to their chalk-and-cheese characters.

2. Tobey's really going for it. When he comes back home to his family after being tortured in Afghanistan, he's understandably tormented. There's a bit where he trashes the new kitchen that his brother has installed for him - man, it sends shivers down the spine. He just can't handle being domestic again.

3. There are lots of unanswered questions. It's all deliberate, of course - post traumatic stress disorder tends not to have easy solutions. But it makes for a frustrating watch. Brothers is a film that's better on raising the issues rather than dealing with them.

4. So ultimately, despite the good turn from TM (Jake and Natalie are on autopilot), Brothers is just a bit frustrating. Actually, a bit dull. Director Jim Sheridan (The Boxer, In The Name Of The Father) still has the passion, but his heart-on-sleeve directing still leaves me feeling preached at rather than entertained. It's no surprise that there's a U2 track over the end credits. Yawn.

Brothers is out 22nd January.

Paranormal Activity - THE REVIEW

Horror nuts may have heard about Paranormal Activity years ago (it was made in '06) but it's only now gone mainstream, thanks to the determination of writer/director Oren Peli and his producers. With Paramount's millions behind them, the American multiplexes can't get enough of these lo-fi scares, told via Blair Witch/Cloverfield-style 'found video tapes'. Here's what you need to now:

1. Everything about PA is minimal. It's set completely in one house (Peli's own pad, actually) and it's simply home footage of a couple (Micah & Katie) investigating a possible poltergeist. They record everything, including sticking their camera on a tripod in their bedroom at night, then watch back looking for weird stuff.

2. Weird stuff is DEFINITELY found but the pic keeps everything believable. The grainy camera footage helps, so does the down-to-earth acting (from two unknowns). Mainly though, it's the pace. At first, Katie and Micah only notice tiny things; a door closes a little bit at 3am, their car keys move from the worktop to the floor. They're freaked out... yet not massively. But the grip of whatever is in their house tightens and tensions become unbearable.

3. Crucial to this is the repetition of one shot - the static camera in their bedroom, recording night after night. The couple sleep, their door enticingly open. Night-time noises are heard. Was it just the pipes? And are those footsteps on the staircase? A shadow on the wall? You can never be sure. We see this same shot umpteen times over umpteen nights, each time something a little more odd happens. It's a shot I began to dread. A lot of the things it records are banal - Katie getting up at 2am and staring at her boyfriend for an hour and a half (thankfully, we see that on fast forward) but it's precisely that banality that frazzles your nerve endings. Minimalism has never been so unsettling.

4. The horror gets bigger but the pic remains a masterpiece of eliciting thrills from what you don't see rather than what you do. Events seem at a distance. Sounds are heard a long way off. You feel like a helpless voyeur as the initial bubbliness of the film descends into pure, ice-cold terror. Watching someone's personal recording makes you feel privileged to be so close to the action and yet you're not entirely sure what you see. If only you could get closer... and yet you don't want to be too close. As a viewer you never get comfortable.

5. In other words, it scared the living crap out of me. Seriously. It hooks you in and try as you might to not buy into it, the whole thing just feels so NORMAL. Such a style may have come from necessary budget restrictions rather than some great theory of film directing but whatever, it delivers. Small-time movie, big-time screams.

It's out 27th November.

Nowhere Boy - THE REVIEW

Interpreting icons for the big screen isn't always a great idea. I'm still recovering from the moment in Cadillac Records where 5 scruffy herberts with plentiful hair rock up to the studio and announce in jarring Mockney tones: "'Ullo... we're the bleedin' Rowling Stownes ain't we" (or something like that.) We're so used to seeing/hearing the real famous people that we feel like we know them already. Movie adaptations are only likely to disappoint.

Posh British artist Sam Taylor-Wood's now had a go at 50s-era John Lennon in Nowhere Boy, with the help of the fella who wrote Control (about Joy Division's Ian Curtis). Here's what you need to know:

1. Even though Sam Taylor-Wood is a 'modern artist' (**the sound of Daily Mail readers getting irate**) this is actually a very mainstream film. Straightforward, clear and classy. It's specifically focused on Lennon aged 15/16, chronicling his relationship with his prissy Auntie Mimi (Kristin Scott-Thomas), who raised him, and his troubled mum Julia (Anne-Marie Duff) who gave him up when he was 5. Basically, both women want to mother him. He just wants to have fun.

Oh... he also meets some bloke called... now what was it... Paul... Paul... Paul Something-Or-Other.

2. The acting is SUPERB. Aaron Johnson as is astounding as JL, full of energy, dreams and laughs. So many laughs. His teen life may have been hard but his gallows humour kept spirits high. Johnson really does create someone unique, someone like you've never seen before. If that's not credit to Lennon, then I dunno what it. Anne-Marie Duff and Kristin Scott-Thomas are also perfect as chalk-and-cheese sisters. Only KS-T can make the eating of soup look so threatening in one lunch scene.

3. It avoids cheesiness. The first meeting with McCartney (oh yeah, that was his name) is sweet, rather than obviously monumental. Thomas Brodie Sangster as Macca is also nicely restrained. And the re-naming of their band from The Quarrymen to The Beatles is so subtle that the latter are never even mentioned.

4. So it's defo worth seeing. A real celebration of the vibrancy of youth, the power of new and exciting music and how both have helped teenagers throughout the years cope with difficult times. If it is a little TV-movie looking in parts, the acting takes it way beyond, well into awards territory.

Nowhere Boy is out 26th December.

A Christmas Carol - THE REVIEW

Some things to know about Jim Carrey and the new animated version of A Christmas Carol.

1.) It's out this week (ie. early November). I'm all for whacking on Jonah Lewie's 'Stop The Cavalry' asap, but even I struggle to get festive this early.

2.) It's no longer Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It's now Disney's A Christmas Carol. Normally this would inspire me to write something about how evil corporations are taking over our culture with no thought for our heritage etc etc but point 3) stopped me.

3.) You see, Disney's A Christmas Carol is rather good. Director Robert Zemeckis earnt his seasonal stripes with The Polar Express but this is even more yule-tastic. It's full-on festive Victoriana - snowy streets, candle-lit rooms, roaring fires and street urchins singing carols whilst holding lanterns. Feelgood is not in short supply.

4.) But what adds another level of interest is that it's also true to its literary roots as a ghost story. The spirits that visit Scrooge (Jim Carrey) are really quite haunting, if not scary (esp. The Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come). Scrooge's apparition of his own death takes things to very bleak, hugely surreal, places and it was then that some kiddywinks in the audience started to freak out and head for the door. I loved it. Also true to the original text, the dialogue is flowery and old-fashioned. It was another thing that bemused a few littl'uns but for me, a surprisingly daring touch for a 2009 blockbuster.

5.) The animation, done by performance capture, is impressive generally although 'humans' still look a little odd, a touch lifeless. Carrey's Scrooge overcomes this by being beautifully sinewy and slithery but supporting roles such as Colin Firth's Fred (Scrooge's nephew) is stodgy. It looks like Colin Firth but if Colin Firth had been drawn by one of those ropey portrait sketchers you get in London's Leicester Sq. Luckily the glorious flow of the movie, all creepy angles and aerial shots, makes up for this.

6.) The result? It looks good, it feels good and it scares the crap outta you. There's a quote for the poster. The Christmas cheer is infectious but the haunting undertones are what really hit your heart hard.


So... Jacko's rehearsal footage of what would've been his final gigs has been stuck together by the bloke who directed High School Musical (Kenny Ortega) and is now on the big screen within months of the legend's death. Not a good sign.

Here's what you need to know:

1. The pic's opening dedication 'For the fans' is a bad start. Directors say their film is 'for the fans' when they know that the majority of ordinary punters are gonna hate it. The movie proper then begins with dancers in tears telling us how happy they are to be working with MJ, then some Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' trial runs. To be honest, it's average.

2. But the music sounds amazing. Michael's vocals are patchy - he wasn't even trying to be 100% - but the band is tight, the editing tighter, and played over cinema speakers the classics send shivers down the spine. But still Jacko seems like a shadowy figure. Designers, choreographers, costumiers are all interviewed but MJ is a mumbly man in the background for the first 20 minutes.

3. Then we start to really see him. The perfectionism, the easy going chats, the gags. Whilst this is definitely not a film about Michael's private life, we see a clear picture of a professional. Every aspect of the impending show is in his head. He knows exactly how he wants it to be and is happy - often hilariously - to tell everyone. He looks at home on the stage and his ambition knows no bounds. Yet he's also very casual and it's certainly the most I've seen of Jacko as 'just a guy', the kind of man that his friends have been saying he is for years but which the media liked to ignore.

4. So the movie becomes a snapshot of what could have been. A performer who appears to be on top form smashes his way through umpteen tracks and has a vision for a spectacular event. We can only sit back, enjoy at least having this much, but also muse on what could have been. It's pretty electrifying, actually.

5. And what you're left with is a breathtaking but undeniably strange viewing experience. This is a movie that only got made because its star died. It's been hyped beyond belief yet details have been kept meticulously secret. Just watching it at the London premiere was a major event (for starters, it was at 1am!). Normally that kind of buzz shouldn't affect a film review but then this is no ordinary bit of pop culture. Its peak into a theatrical world is in itself fascinating, a great little film on preparing for a show. But tap yourself into the fact that you're also witnessing a bit of showbiz history and This Is It becomes an incomparably exciting film to watch.

The latest JKM poll result!

I asked you who your favourite wrestler-turned-actor was. The result? The Rock is beaten by pure indifference. Now there's a fight I'd like to see on WWE:

1. Like you James, I really don't know or care much about wrestling
2. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson
3. Terry 'Hulk' Hogan
4. John Cena
5. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin

Precious - THE REVIEW

Precious is the gritty story of a 16 year old single mother in late 80s Harlem, New York, dreaming of a better life. Although Mariah Carey is in it, to say it's a Mariah Carey film would be like saying The Hangover is a Mike Tyson movie. She's actually pretty good in it, playing a welfare officer - and just a little bit scary without make-up - but Precious is something else altogether.

Here's what you need to know:

It's 80% brilliant. The unknown lead, Gabourey Sidibe (as Precious), plays nearly everything under the surface. She has a stony face that you know is hiding a million feelings but she's just too confused to let it all out. Because she's in such a helpless situation - but is so silently stoic and tough - you're rooting for her every step of the way.

It's 15% overdone. Precious' mum Mary is played by Mo'nique who gives one of the most startlingly shocking performances of recent years. Seriously, she will scare the crap out of you. At times though, her big scenes in her high rise flat are shot a bit like a horror movie, all moody lighting and eerie camera angles. It turns those moments into something from Carrie rather than what it should be - just really raw, indie cinema. The direction (not the performance) is completely out of sync with the rest of the film. Later, Mary has a scene in the Welfare Office which doesn't have that melodrama and, man, IT'S ONE OF THE MOST PANT-WETTINGLY DRAMATIC MOMENTS YOU'LL EVER SEE.

It's 5% a bit silly. Precious has dream sequences where she imagines being a superstar, all glamorous clothes and paparrazi flash bulbs. They're done a bit like something from a kids' TV show. It doesn't really work and again, isn't in tune with the rest of the film.

The cons don't ruin it though. This is one awesome display of acting, even if the direction is a bit amateur and occasionally sappy. It reminded a little of Hustle & Flow, another Sundance Film Festival movie that took on the big guns. Like that, this'll get Oscar nominations. Oprah's ALL OVER IT so you know something big's gonna happen.

Bunny And The Bull - A CLIP & REVIEW

Here's a clip from Bunny And The Bull, a film by Paul King, one of the gents behind TV's The Mighty Boosh. As you'll see in this clip, he's got Boosh-man Julian to make a cameo. There's also one from Noel **sound of Pixie Geldof screaming** Fielding.

The pic is very well made, being the daydreams and recollections of an agorophobic (played by Edward Hogg) who's both mourning and lovesick. Remembering his road-trip around Europe with best mate Bunny (occasional Boosher Simon Farnaby), his OCD house transforms into Swiss mountains, Polish back streets and Spanish bull rings.

All of which is very impressive - if you've never seen any films or music videos by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) who's done it all before, and in a more magical, less depressing way. The film's deliberately artificial, ramshackle feel - like a 70s jumble sale - is also breathtaking at first... but it's all so constraining, it's hard not feel suffocated after half an hour.

Loner Stephen and lairish Bunny are also pretty hard to like - one too weedy, one too beery. Luckily those Boosh cameos from Julian and Noel lift things just at the right time (Noel as a matador, anyone?), leaving a film that's as hypnotically weird as you'd expect it to be but too frustrating to break out into must-see territory.

Fantastic Mr Fox - THE REVIEW

You know how some people manage to look exactly like BOTH of their parents? That combination of Dad's unique goofy smile and Mum's cute button nose means that they could only have been sired by those two specific people? What's more, it's a look that on paper shouldn't work but somehow it kinda does... (or maybe it's just me with a thing about goofy smiles and button noses?)
Fantastic Mr Fox is the movie version of that very definite kind of offspring. Watch this animation and there are a million giveaway signs that mean it could only be the child of Darjeeling Limited director Wes Anderson and kiddy lit legend Roald Dahl.

Fans of the book will be relieved to hear that Dahl's trademarks remain. Like many of his stories, FMF champions the underdog (or in this case, underfox), relishing the power of family bonds over greed.
Fans of Wes Anderson, meanwhile. will see Dahl's characters imbued with Texan director's unique deadpan humour, something which works especially well with animals' more limited range of facial expressions. No wonder Wes loves working with the King Of Miserable, Bill Murray, whose voice features in this as... wait for it... a badger.

Add in Anderson's passion for shooting many scenes head-on, in a tableau style, and letting the intricate positioning of characters do the talking, like a painting, and you've got a family movie as grown-up as any of his previous outings. 'Family' is an apt word too - like The Royal Tenenbaums before it, this a film about relatives and blood ties, however dysfunctional.

All of which is several shades of awesome. Dahl's odd tale of a fox getting his own back wildlife-hating farmers is perfect for a director as matter-0f-fact as Wes. It's the only way to make the story believable. His use of 60s rock on the soundtrack once again does what it always has done - creates a picture of characters slightly at odds with their time, slightly shambolic, gently rebellious. His use of old-skool 'stop motion' animation just reiterates that, creating a film that's less 2009 Hollywood, more 1969 bohemian Europe. To me that's exactly what Dahl the man - and many of his characters - completely embodied.

That said, it doesn't ENTIRELY work. The weird blend of US accents (George Clooney and Meryl Streep as Mr & Mrs Fox) with English ones (Michael Gambon as Farmer Bean) is messy if you think too much about it. Locations are similarly patchwork, being part-Americana, part-Postman Pat. It's a brilliant film but one that would've been even better were its English heritage played up to more, giving the atmosphere more continuity. As it is, it's certainly less cosy than Dahl's original story.

Still, the voice talent (despite the accents) is spot-on, especially Gambon and Anderson regular Jason Schwartzmann as Mr Fox's depressed teenage son Ash. No, he wasn't in the original book but it's another opening out of the tale that fits the general tone of the story perfectly in its unique weirdness. Wes Anderson sure knows the most important rule for great kids' films - you've gotta really freak them littl'uns out.
It's out Oct 23rd.

The Rock IS The Tooth Fairy

Basically, this is The Santa Clause but about The Tooth Fairy. It's even directed by the guy who made The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (nice). It will, however, be better because:

1. It's The Rock not Tim Allen.
3. A great supporting cast - Stephen Merchant (cruelly cut out of much of this US trailer but will be in the UK one more I'm sure), Julie Andrews and Billy Crystal.
4. Its tagline is 'You can't handle the tooth!' which is actually brilliant.
5. I've had a very little sneak peak at the script and seem some stills 'and stuff' and it genuinely looks like it's got its heart in the right place. That's something in my book.

It's out early next year.

The latest JKM poll results!

Your fave turn by an ex-Friends star?

1. Marcel the monkey in Outbreak
2. Lisa Kudrow in Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion
3. David Schwimmer in Madagascar
4. Janiston in Marley & Me

I used to say that there's no such thing as a bad dog film until I saw Marley & Me. Here's my new mantra: 'There's no such thing as a bad monkey movie'. FACT.

Couples Retreat - THE REVIEW

It's always seemed a massive irony to me that Hollywood makes movies that take the piss out of so-called 'New Age' therapies.
It's as if the countless actors who regularly have them - the 'A' listers whose colons are irrigated, chakras cleansed and auras (and egos) massaged by LA therapists - can't quite see the comparison between their lives and their films. Why not celebrate what you so obviously believe in?

Couples Retreat doesn't, being another example of lowest-common-denominator thinking. Essentially its point is: 'Therapy? Nah, it's all bollocks.' Alas it doesn't have the guts to really make a pinata out of its target and give it a good thwack. The result is a half-hearted splat of a film that bookends its story with a gag about a kid taking a leak in a demo toilet at a DIY store. Classy.

The pic tells the story of three couples - Dave & Ronnie (Vince Vaughn & Malin Akerman), Shane &Ttrudy (Faizon Love & Kali Hawk), Joey & Lucy (Jon Favreau & Kristen Davis) - who spend a hastily arranged week at a relationship retreat as favour to friends Jason & Cynthia (Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell), whose own romance is crumbling. If you've seen the trailer you know that it's a good concept. You'll also know all the best gags (the stuff in the yoga lesson). It's just the handling that sucks dogs.

For a start, how do all these people get time off work at such short notice? Normally I hate that kind of anally retentive questioning of films ('How does Superman get changed in a 'phone box? That couldn't happen!' 'Shut up you pedant! It's a frickin' FILM') but in this case, when the main part of the film is so reliant on our believing that these people could all go away together, it's pertinant.

But the film doesn't bother to tell you.

If you can shut off important logic for a second to accept it, it's then you're faced with yet another lazy sketch of alternative therapy as being populated by weirdo hippies, poncey psychotherapists and sexually pradatory yogi, all of whom are just after your money. It's as open-minded as a Jon Gaunt fan club meeting.

What's more, most of the guy characters can see through the 'sham'. It's just the women who are tricked by it all. So not only do we have a film that distrusts anything slightly away from the norm, it also distrusts females. It's no coincidence, incidentally, that all the wives in this are pretty, quiet and bland. The only one who isn't - the black girlfriend Trudy - is some ridiculous kind of feral nymphomaniac. Yep, Couples Retreat is a film that just keeps on ticking those cliche boxes.

It reminded me of Wild Hogs, the stupidly successful middle-aged biker movie from 2007 whose main joke was that muscley gay men wanted to bum rape Martin Lawrence et al at any opportunity. Of course, it never actually happened although I'd quite like to have seen it. Would've been more entertaining than Big Momma's House.

To see Vince Vaughn, once so gutsy and edgy in his anger, reduce himself to this (and co-write the script) brings tears to the heart although several recent outings (hello Four Christmases) have hinted that his once inspiring punky attitude is now just pot-bellied laziness. As the film drags to a conclusion, packed with ridiculously wordy and over-complicated resolutions, it's like he's just given up. Goodnight Vince. It was fun for a bit (Old School, Dodgeball, Wedding Crashers).

So there we have Couples Retreat. Another unfunny prod at liberal thinking, where dull characters with no imagination are supposedly something to aspire to.

It'll make millions.

Out 16th October.

Zombieland - THE REVIEW

Until I saw Zombieland, the winner of the Best Cameo award for '09 was a shoe-in: Mike Tyson in The Hangover.

My mind has now been changed.

I'm not gonna ruin things by telling you which star now holds that title but suffice to say, as with everything in Zombieland, it's a perfect moment.

For this is a film with everything. Yes, it's first and foremost a horror flick, telling the tale of a handful of survivors after 99.9% of Americans have been turned into the undead. But it's a gorefest with so many nods to comedies, road movies, romances and teen pics that actual scares are less important than knowing winks, great lines and loveable characters.

And there are plenty. Jesse Eisenberg's nerdy Columbus - surely the only horror movie hero with Irritable Bowel Syndrome - is joyously understated, providing the perfect foil for his macho co-hort Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson). If I'm pushed, it's Woody's picture, swaggering around as he does with his cowboy boots and sawn-off shotgun. He fills the screen with redneck attitude, a Tarantino/Rodriguez kinda guy with an odd love of the banjo. As Columbus puts it so poetically: 'He sets the standard for not to be fucked with'.

Meantime, the female stars Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who the boys meet en-route to a Californian safe-haven, are certainly no wallflowers. Stone is sexy for sure but it's never overplayed - quite refreshing for a teen slasher pic.

Most of all though, Zombieland works because it knows exactly what it wants to say, how it wants to say it and who the movie is for. With unerring energy it's a Shaun Of The Dead USA; ballsy, bloody and in-yer-face (witness the slo-mo opening credits, with Metallica on soundtrack duties) and with a use of locations from supermarkets to theme parks that kicks ass. The peppering of pop culture gags are spot-on and emotional moments are crucial but not over-played. In short, it's a slamdunk.

And then there's that mystery cameo, a scene or two of pure movie genius. Now, who's gonna tell Mike Tyson that he's lost his crown. You or me?

The latest JKM poll result!

Your favourite dog movie? The results, ladies and gents, are in:

1. Turner & Hooch
2. Beethoven
3. Marley & Me
4. Spiceworld

Altogether now: 'Hooch! I got a muffin for ya Hooch! I got a muffin for ya!'

Love Happens - THE REVIEW

Poor old Judy Greer.

The name might not mean much but you'd recognise her. Cast your mind back to a host of 'dorky best friend' roles (27 Dresses, 13 Going On 30, Elizabethtown) and that's Judy. A brilliantly talented actress for sure - but up against a Heigl or Garner, she'll always be the bezzy mate instead of the lead. The shame is, she'd nearly always be more interesting to watch than her big name co-star.

Now it's Jennifer Aniston she's out-acting in the winsome Love Happens; a film where, in essence, Not Much Happens.

Here's the plot. Janiston is a Seattle florist called Eloise (have I lost your already?) who meets self-help guru Burke (Aaron Eckhart) in the city hotel where he's staying and where she arranges the flowers. As he's still recovering from his wife's death in a car crash he's not much of a date but hey, they still hang out over the few days he's there, running courses in bereavement counselling.

That's it really.

Whilst the performers struggle with a script that can't decide if it's meant to be funny or not, we're sat there in the audience ticking off the cliches and twiddling our thumbs waiting for the obvious loose ends to be tied up so we can get home. Essentially, Burke just needs to get his head around his own loss. I never thought that the 109 mins it takes could feel so long.

Eckhart, we know, is a strong performer but his cool seriousness as an actor makes for hard viewing in a film that's supposed to be warmly melting hearts. Janiston is...well... the same as Janiston ALWAYS is. She's kooky in a way that only chick flick characters are:

1. She likes gardening in her chunky knits (see also Andie McDowell in Green Card).

2. She graffitis long intellectual words on hotel walls, then hides them under hanging pictures, for people to discover. KOOKY ALERT (and a watered-down version of Audrey Tatou's quirky Amelie).

3. Her life is soundtracked by weedy soft rock music, including 'This Time Around' by Helen Stellar that was also used in Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown. Which also featured Judy Greer. You'd be right in thinking at this point that Love Happens is a wannabe Crowe type of film, a laid back romance where plot is secondary to charm.

It fails. Why? Because Love Happens, like its bland title, is as beige and boring as its lead actress. It meanders around stereotypes and cliches for nearly two hours only to give us, as a payoff, ANOTHER of those scenes where everything is resolved in front of an audience (in this case, the audience for Burke's self-help seminar) who proceed to applaud when the leads have finally blurted out their true feelings in front of everyone.

In other words, like all the supposed 'new and exclusive' stories on Jansiston that mags around the world publish every week, this actually has nothing new. That's not the end of the world for a genre movie, I admit. But when it doesn't have a glint of sparkle to compensate either, well... At least this kind of film will always have one thing going for it.

Judy Greer.


The legacy of Fame is a bit of a joke. The original movie and TV show might have been groundbreaking at the time but their memory has been reduced to gags about legwarmers and impromptu street dancing in 'I Love The 80s' shows. I'm sure there must have been more to it than that.

The fact is, I bloomin' love the new Fame because it did have more.

The first thing you notice is the style - you can really wallow in its loose, documentary feel. It's exciting, even urgent, after the shiny Disney polish you get with those other stage-struck kids Troy and Gabriella. The music is punchy, vibrant, belted out, feeling more heartfelt than by-the-books-Broadway. The teen issues, whilst perhaps of least interest to the film-makers, also resonate a fair whack. When Kevin, a dancer, is told he's not gonna make it (in an awesome scene that uses Sam Sparro's 'Black & Gold'), his response hints at a gut-wrenching loneliness.

In case you didn't know, Fame is set at the New York School Of Performing Arts. Starting on Audition Day, we're introduced to a group of disparate wannabes - Jenny the actress, Marco the singer, Denise the pianist, amongst others. As they rise from freshmen to seniors, we watch them date, dance, act, rebel, try to work out just what their future holds - all in the space of 100 minutes. Film-wise, it might have been better to set this over one year, rather than four, so frenetic is the pace. But then of course, you wouldn't get graduation or the stress involved with moving on after college.

The bittiness of the many storylines is tough at first but everything soon comes into focus. From then on, it's a home-run. Sure there are cheesy moments - and we love films like this because of them - but it's still surprisingly un-glamorous. This is New York through and through; brassy, ballsy and blunt. You can almost smell the pretzels on the street and feel the heat from the steamy sidewalks. It's a crucial element to the film, reminding us that this is a tough city and a tough industry. Showbiz isn't all smiles and jazz hands.

Performances are all fine enough and Kay Panabaker (Jenny) and Asher Brook (Marco) do make a ridiculously cute couple. Teachers, including Kelsey Grammar, Charles S Dutton and Megan Mullally are likeably brash too.

Who knows if, in a post-Step Up world (which basically re-did Fame 4 years ago), there's still an appetite? With Bandslam tanking only weeks ago, maybe not. But the way director Kevin Tancharoen has captured that unscratchable itch to see your name in lights, an itch that never goes way, is done with a fresh looseness that shows some real flair.

It's out 25th September.

The latest JKM poll result!

Well done Jim Robinson.

I asked you to name your favourite performance by an ex-Neighbours star and look who won:

1. Alan Dale in EVERY American TV show ever...
2. Guy Pearce in Memento
3. Holly Valance in Taken
4. Kylie in Streetfighter

I don't know what to say, readers. You're on the site of a man who was in the front row for Kylie at the O2 last Summer. HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!

Triangle - THE REVIEW

Christopher Smith knows about progress. His debut feature, Creep, was a cute calling card but the follow-up, Severance, mixed some genius gags into the horror genre to really up the ante. Now with his third flick, Triangle, he's moved on yet again. Sure, it's another horror but this time it's all in the mood rather than the slashing.

Triangle tells the tale of Jess (Melissa George), a stressed single-mum who's off for a day out with her new boyfriend and his mates on his yacht. When they hit an electric storm, tidal waves get the better of them, but they soon jump on board a passing ocean liner in the hope of sailing back to civilisation.

Woops. That'll be a mistake then.

On board, things are eerily quiet apart from a shadowy figure. And Jess can't work out why she keeps getting a feeling of deja vu...

Imagine Donnie Darko meets The Shining and you'll get the idea. Smith shoots the endless corridors of the giant boat with glaring bluntness rather than spooky shadows, frequently playing with mirrors to hint that all is not simple. But it's all refreshingly light on OTT atmos. The fact that this giant hunk of metal feels so normal - apart from its lack of crew - is what makes it so chilling when the refugees start going screwy.

Melissa George is also awesome, playing peril without too many histrionics and some considerable depth at the same time as looking hot in denim shorts. As she learns more about her fate on board the 'ghost ship' - and beyond - you see how the horror comes from within her, her emotions, rather than from a simple killer on the loose. What goes on in people's heads is far more scary than a bloke in a leather mask running around with a chainsaw.

Attempts to convince us that the actors really are in the middle of the sea are occasionally a little too green screen clumsy whilst I'm sure the time-loop scenario, like so many before it, will be successfully picked to pieces by some punter with too much time on their hands. I just prefer to let it joyfully play with my brain.

Ultimately, though, this is a strong thriller from an ever-maturing British writer/director. He knows his horror heritage yet infuses his work with emotional personality. It's a cool mix.

Out 16th October.

A Serious Man - THE REVIEW

If you can get past the annoying woman introducing it, this trailer for the Coen Bros new pic A Serious Man has plenty to like. The movie itself is a joy. Think Philip Roth, The Graduate and classic Woody Allen.

Michael Stahlberg is great in the lead role as Larry, a nebbish Physics prof whose life slips from his grip. The fact that he's not a star only helps his helplessness (although box-office glory might be a tough call without a big name).

Once again, the Coens play on the randomness of life's events, with Larry fighting a sudden battle to hold on to his family, home and career, That blend of big laughs and existentialism is intoxicating. 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' springs to mind watching this - it's amazing how much pleasure we can get from seeing someone basically having a breakdown. It may be a very time (1967) and race (Jewish) specific film but as the pic unfurls there's plenty of universal humour on offer to let you in.

Out 20th November.

New Moon - New Trailer!

Because we all love a bit of Twlight...

RIP The Swayze

Not the greatest actor. Not the greatest singer. But one film that defined an era and genre will make sure Patrick Swayze will be remembered for as long as there are wedding discos.

RIP Patrick.

(Point Break, Donnie Darko and Ghost were pretty blimmin' awesome too. )

This week's poll winner!

Congratulations to somebody called Angelina Jolie for winning the JKM Best Pout Poll. But seriously you guys, Keira is like REALLY upset. Just think about what you've done to her. Just think.

1. Angelina Jolie
2. Megan The Fox
3. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
4. Keira 'Twice' Knightley

'The never before seen rehearsal footage the world has been waiting for...'

So it is actually happening then. Sony Pictures really are putting out a movie - A MOVIE! - of Michael Jackson's rehearsal footage - REHEARSAL FOOTAGE! ('Ok. Enough capitals to express outrage.'Ed)

Now Jacko was one of the great show people of the last 30 years, fact. But it seems odd that such a fastidious, perfectionist performer should now be remembered in footage that will clearly show him not at 100%, either physically (presumably) or professionally. Had the actual O2 gigs gone ahead, polished and preened to perfection, then a movie of the show would be obvious (3-D would've been good too). But to cobble something together from material that was never intended to be used as a movie seems nothing more than... surprise surprise... an attempt to fill the coffers.

It's intriguing of course. But I prefer to save 'intriguing' for 4 minute packages on The One Show, not rushed cinema cash-ins.

As with anything Jacko, the excuse that it's 'for the fans' can always be wheeled out. No-one has more dedicated fans the King Of Pop (TM). But surely the fans who really care for his legacy wouldn't want him to be remembered as anything but the slickest star of his generation. Something this hasty can't ever be that slick, surely?

Drew! Ellen! Rollerblades!

Drew Barrymore is one of my favourite actors from my 'youth' (Never Been Kissed = her greatest performance). Ellen Page is one of my favourite current stars. Put them together and you have Whip It, Drew's directing debut and Ellen's chance to show off her rollerblading skills.

10 things to know about The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus

1. It's very much in director Terry Gilliam's signature style i.e hugely overblown flights of fancy at the expense of anything approaching rigorous storytelling.

2. It's about an ancient guru (Christopher Plummer) who tours contemporary London with his travelling show - and the secrets he is hiding. Heath Ledger co-stars as a disgraced ex-charity worker who latches on to Dr P.

3. Heath died before filming was completed, so the not-entirely-unknown trio of Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stood in for his character in three fantasy sequences (the fantasy bit allows them to look different to Heath).

4. The three fantasy sequences are, to be honest, a little bit pointless. Admittedly the film couldn't have got finished without them - but having some massive names in fairly brief, CGI-heavy scenes seems a little bit of a waste.

5. Heath Ledger's character is a bit 'unfocused' (ie. not really much of anything).

6. The best thing in the movie is actually Lily Cole, the model/actress who stars as Plummer's daughter. Her cherubic face and red locks give her an other worldly look that perfectly complements the pic's antique feel, whilst she's also pretty good at playing it appealingly naive. She's the emotional heart.

7. The film is REALLY hard to follow.

8. It's out in October.

9. You can't help but admire the movie for the awesome way it looks (especially the non-CGI stuff of Dr P's ramshackle coach and horses that trots through night-time London) - but its computerized dream sequences look a bit Spy Kids. There'll be a flurry of interest in this one because of the Heath factor but it's little more than a colourful curio.

10. It's not a sequel to Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium.