The Grand Budapest Hotel – 9/10.

The most stellar of stellar casts come together to tell a truly beautiful story about a hotel.

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.I have been cantankerously suggesting for a long time that live action directors need to take a look at Pixar for inspiration in terms of imagination and style, I am pleased to say that Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenanbaums, Rushmore etc) has managed to do that with The Grand Budapest Hotel. This film is quite simply one of the most beautiful looking films ever committed to screen. Imagine all the glorious colours of WALL•E brought to life and you are somewhere close.

It is always easy to see a comment about how good one of Andersons films looks and think ‘Yes, yes we know all about that, what is new though?’. Well don’t expect the same old same old from Anderson here. Every shot is absolutely stunning, the colours are enchanting throughout, the score is absolutely perfect. Grand Budapest Hotel feels like a musical without the singing in as much as it is choreographed to perfection. Ralph Fiennes is hilarious and brilliant as the poetic Gustave, all the Anderson regulars do what they do (Arkin, Murray, Owen Wilson, Ed Norton etc etc) Jude Law, Jeff Goldblum and Harvey Keitel are as good as ever. Saoirse Ronan continues to impress and newcomer Tony Revolori is also excellent as the protagonist.

It is hard to compare this film with my other current best film of 2014 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 so I wont bother… just treat yourself and watch them both.

IMDB TOP 250 #185

WON 4 OSCARS (9 NOMINATIONS):

Best Costume Design

Best Makeup and Hair

Best Original Score

Best Production Design

22 Jump Street – 7/10.

Jenko and Schmidt return to do… all the same shit they did in the first movie.

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22 Jump Street‘s ace in the pack is that it pokes fun at itself all the way though. It almost breaks the fourth wall when referencing the fact that when a film is a hit the sequel has twice as much money thrown at it. Indeed there are a number of self referential plot points and the credit sequence is a glorious piss take of not only the buddy cop genre but the film industry as a whole. The problem is you can’t have it both ways. You can’t take the piss out of unoriginal sequels and then make a sequel almost identical to the original. Anyway if you were a fan of 21 Jump Street then there is no doubt you will enjoy its successor.

Channing Tatum continues to surprise with another convincing comic turn. We know what to expect from Jonah Hill now but that doesn’t make him any less hilarious and he frequently delivers most of the films best lines. Ice Cube steals the show though with a masterful comedic performance similar to the one John Witherspoon brought us with his portrayal of Ice Cube’s unforgettable foul mouthed Dad in Friday.

22 Jump Street misses Dave Franco’s brazen douchebaggery from the first film and the out and out action sequences grate slightly alongside the more slapstick stuff but overall this is a solid sequel.

The Amazing Spider Man 2 – 10/10.

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Peter Parker faces a moral dilemma amidst several new antagonists appearing in NYC.

I’ve been racking my brain all afternoon for a reason to not give this movie 10/10 and I just can’t do it. I said in my review for The Amazing Spider-Man that Andrew Garfield was born to play Peter Parker AND Spiderman but I’m starting to think he could play any role handed to him at this stage. He brings an extraordinary amount of emotion and vulnerability to what is essentially a supposedly low brow genre. The performances of Emma Stone and particularly Sally Field also pack an emotional wallop that wouldn’t be out of place in any Oscar winning film of the last ten years. The Amazing Spiderman 2 has all the humour and stunning action sequences that Avengers had but it adds much more character depth and heart wrenching shocks. Christopher Nolan’s Batman series had this knack as well but it never hit home as much as certain scenes in this film. One thing I realized whilst watching this is that I am REALLY invested in these characters after only two instalments in a way I haven’t felt since Silver Linings Playbook. I’ve never been much of a Jamie Foxx fan but Electro is a genuinely menacing villain and is actually pretty scary at times. Relative newcomer Dane DeHaan is also a vast improvement on James Franco as Harry Osborn. Basically there is just nothing not to love in The Amazing Spiderman 2. We could well have already seen the film of the year.

13 Sins – 6/10.

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A man in financial difficulties has the opportunity to win a huge cash prize by completing a series of ever escalating bizarre and gruesome tasks.

As ever with modern Western horror the main problem here is lack of originality. This concept is obviously born of Saw just like recent bedfellow Would You Rather. Another problem is how to stretch what is basically a single idea into a feature length movie. German director Daniel Stamm ( The Last Exorcism) does ok with the latter problem by having the film run at a skinny 88 minutes and wringing every lost drop from what is a pretty flimsy premise. I enjoyed Mark Webber in the lead role quite a lot, he elevates 13 Sins above B-Movie territory but Ron Perlman just seems bored and faintly embarrassed throughout. This is an ok movie if you don’t want to have to think too hard but as a result of this it is pretty forgettable.

Babylon – 7/10.

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TV Movie from Danny Boyle about an American PR executive joining the police force in the midst of a shooting.

Writers Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain attempt to bring a Black Mirror style tint to their very British brand of humour. Whilst never even coming close to the genius of Peep Show, Babylon sits alongside Fresh Meat as a very watchable and at times very good show from the pen of Armstrong & Bain. Brit Marling (The East, Sound Of My Voice) brings her seriousness and intensity to the role as PR exec Liz Garvey whilst not being overly rigid. Lots of familiar faces from top British shows build a strong supporting cast with James Nesbitt, Adam Deacon, Jill Halfpenny, Daniel Kaluuya (who also appeared in the best episode of Black Mirror) and others. The cleverest moments still come from the sharp humour rather than the satire but there is enough here to suggest that Bain & Armstrong are capable of branching out beyond comedy into something more serious.