Monday, 30 December 2013

New to Netflix UK - 30/12/13

It's almost the New Year, so lets hope we get a wider variety of content soon...

The Good Wife (TV) - A housewife returns to work as a lawyer in order to make ends meet after a humiliating scandal involving her husband. Law dramas are almost as common place as police procedurals but strong leads and good storytelling help to keep this series above the others.

A Late Quartet - An ageing group of musicians' inner demons come to light when one of them announces his retirement following a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Not to be confused with the more humorous Quartet (also available), the movie is a captivating drama fuelled by excellent performances and is a sombre portrait of escalating egos and mortality.

Like Crazy - A relationship between an English and an American is put to the test after she is deported for overstaying her visa, forcing them to cope with the long distance. Surprisingly decent romantic drama, particularly given the track record of these kinds of movies, that is made all the more heartfelt by the realistic and natural performances of the lead actors.

Wuthering Heights - After being rescued from poverty, a young boy develops a relationship with his foster sister, but the relationship becomes more complicated as they grow older. Dissecting the classic novel to its rawer elements, Arnold's film is in some ways the best film adaptation of the novel but also the worst straight forward adaptation, and while fans of the novel might whine about the lack of key plot elements, many will revel in the new take on the story that's brought to life by a great cast and keen direction.

Monday, 23 December 2013

New to Netflix UK - 23/12/13

No new movies this week it seems, disappointing given its the Christmas week.
If new content crops up during the week I may be forced to do an extra post...

Dexter (TV) - A Miami forensics expert tries to hide his serial killer alter-ego. The last two seasons have finally been added and while the show can never live up to the greatness that was Season 2 or 4, the series does start to get better after the stale last two seasons. Season 7 sees Dexter goes up against a Ukranian crime boss looking for revenge while Debra deals with the fallout of learning about Dexter's true nature. Season 8 has a mysterious figure from Dexter's past come back to haunt him as he and Miami Metro take on a sinister killer called 'The Brain Surgeon'.

Californication (TV) - A writer struggles with alcoholism, sex addiction and writer's block in California while desperately trying to keep his family together. Season 5 of this criminally underwatched series picks up three years after Hank's lucky escape from a jail sentence and sees him living in New York with a new bestseller about to be released only for Charlie to drag him back to California where Hank has to deal with the fact everyone else has moved on.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

New to Netflix UK - 16/12/13

It's a bit of a late post but there's some good stuff here...

Chuck (TV) - After a computer nerd accidentally gets top-secret CIA files implanted in his brain, he is forced to accompany two of their top agents as they try to take down a sinister terrorist organisation. Surprisingly decent spy comedy series that works thanks to Levi's great comic presence and Baldwin's physical presence. All five seasons are available though the show starts to go downhill by season 4.

Adventure Time (TV) -In a post-apocalyptic wasteland colourful fantasy version of earth, inhabited by candy-creatures and magical animals, a boy and his dog go out in search of adventure and to battle evil. It may be a kid's show but there is a lot in here to cater to the needs of an adult who grew up with the golden-era of cartoons, or simply people who have a love for whimsical D&D-inspired shows.

Black Rock - An island holiday for three friends turns into a battle for survival after they meet some people from their past. Though it's better than most people give it credit for the film can feel a bit loose at times and this can affect the otherwise tense atmosphere of the movie.

The Words - A writer finds his past comes back to haunt him after it becomes apparent that the best-seller he wrote was another person's idea. A prime example of a love/hate movie, you will either find yourself drawn in by the compelling story and complicated characters or bored by the messy and unconvincing narrative.

The Short Game - Netflix Original documentary about 7 year-old golfers as they strive to win the coveted 'world champion' title. It can be at times charming but it is otherwise one for true golfers.

Dirty Wars - Documentary following a reporter as he uncovers the truths behind America's covert wars and operations and the impact they have on the world, even if no one ever knows about them. Compelling and highly relevant look at the shady dealings behind the world's greatest superpower, what makes this movie one to watch is that without it you would otherwise have no idea what was going on.

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God - Documentary following the sudden wave of sexual abuse claims against the Catholic Church as it's traced all the way to inside the Vatican. Gibney is one of the most important documentary makers of our time and he turns his keen eye onto one of the most shocking revelations of the modern age, providing a gruelling experience that's as informative as it is horrific.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Trailer Frenzy (part 2) - Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Open Windows, All Is Bright, The Double, Anchorman 2, The Raid 2, X-Men, Jupiter Ascending, Bad Words, Spiderman 2

More trailers...

Inside Llewyn Davis 
A semi-musical drama chronicling the rise of folk music in 60's New York and directed by the Coen Brothers? Sold.

Out of 15 full length features, they have only made two questionable movies. Suffice to say their latest effort is nothing short of a must see following the sprawling epic that was True Grit. The critical response has been nothing short of phenomenal so expect this one to eat up awards a Coen Brothers movie. It opens January 24th.

Alexander Payne's follow-up to 'The Descendants' puts us once again on a journey of self discovery, full of humour and (possibly) tragedy.

Another movie that's likely to eat up awards (given the already glowing response), hopefully giving Bruce Dern that Oscar he's deserved for so long. The film should have opened last Friday (8th), so I guess it's a matter of finding the right cinema...just do it fast.

Open Windows 
Nacho Vigalondo gave us the mind-twisting time-travel thriller 'Timecrimes' and the offbeat romantic-comedy-with-alien-invasion conception that was 'Extraterrestrial'. For his latest effort, he seems to be channelling the world of voyerism.

Elijah Wood seems to have made a name for himself starring as creepy weirdos (to be fair he does it really well) and it has an actress who I'm sure I've seen before...somewhere...In any case, this looks to be a unique thriller, given that it's supposedly shot in real time only from the computer camera. No UK release date as of yet.

All Is Bright 
'Junebug' director Phil Morrison returns to the chair after a lengthy absence to spin the tale of an ex-convict who is forced to sell Christmas trees to buy a gift for his daughter for Christmas.

The reception has been mixed but it seems Rudd and Giamatti have good chemistry and it could prove to be a decent alternative Christmas movie...if it's ever released, as there's no date set.

The Double 
Richard Ayoade (aka Moss from IT Crowd) wowed us with 'Submarine' and he looks set to wow us again with a thriller about a doppelgänger.

'Loosely' based on the Dostoevsky novel, there's no denying that this trailer brims with style, showing everything we need and yet revealing nothing. It opens April 4th.

Anchorman 2
They've teased about it for so long, and it's finally here.

Apart from the fact Ferrell and Carell don't seem to have aged as well as their team mates, this looks to be exactly what we wanted. Be classy for December 18th.

The Raid 2: Berandal
The Raid was among the top action movies of 2012 (hell, it was one of the best action movies in a very long time). It was brutal and unforgiving...and it's sequel is set to top it. See the Red Band below now.

Set 2 hours after the first, Berandal ("thugs") was intended to be the original movie however 'The Raid' was made due to low funding. God only knows what we are in for if this is the movie they wanted to show us. No exact date has been set but expect it spring/early summer.

X-Men: Day of Future Past 
The most popular storyline of the X-Men universe gets the big-screen treatment in an attemoot to tie in all the movies...and it's directed by Bryan Singer.

Despite the fact they lifted the music from other movies, this trailer does everything right in getting people excited once again for a full-on X-Men movie, reuniting the original cast and the First Class cast. See it May 22nd.

Jupiter Ascending 
The Wachowski's return, not to confuse us (hopefully), but to wow us.

So. Much. Epicness.
It looks insanely ambitious, just what you'd expect from the Matrix duo. Let's just hope this doesn't turn into another Chronicles of Riddick fiasco, although in any case the action and visuals look stunning. July 25th is when all will be known.

Bad Words 
Jason Bateman goes behind the camera (and in front) in a tale about a man who stays at an 8th grade level so he can compete in spelling bees. Yes, really. Red Band trailer ahoy...

In all fairness this doesn't look too bad. Bateman has a certain charisma about him that makes him highly watchable and the insanely bad-taste ongoings in this trailer add a lot of promise to this title that could end up being as heart-warming as it is crass. It opens sometime next year. Probably.

The Amazing Spiderman 2 
The sequel where they try to repeat everything that went wrong with Spidey 3, only trying to get it right this time...

I didn't think too much of the reboot. The actors were fine (no JK Simmons though) and it was a refreshing take on the character but it's still too soon. Looking at looks promising but it also looks hideous (seriously, what's up with the CGI for these movies). Only time will tell, it opens April 18th.

And that's all the upcoming movies for a while. There's absolutely nothing else to mention. No sprawling fantasy epic. No part 2 of any kind.

The Hobbit: The Desoulution of Smaug 
 It opens in naught but a few days, but what the hell. It's Christmas...

Trailer Frenzy (part 1) - Godzilla, +1, We Are What We Are, Neighbours, Dom Hemingway, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Monuments Men

Part 1 of a bumper selection of trailers.

Starting off with the big one, Gareth Edwards brings the big monster back to the big screen in an attempt to erase all memory of the last Hollywood outing.

A top secret mission, soldiers jumping out of a plane, a destroyed city, frightened people, that shadow, that roar. Hopes are exceptionally high for this one and this teaser does exactly what it sets out to do. It's a shame they'll ruin any anticipation with another trailer (the typical Hollywood "let's-show-off-all-our-major-set-pieces-so-you-know-how-much-money-we-spent-on-it" trailers) as this one just sets the mood so well, giving us just enough to begin desperately counting down until May 16th.

It may fool you into thinking it's another 'Project X'/'21 And Over' movie, but get half-way through the trailer and there's a clever little twist that makes this indie film catch your attention.

The idea is a nifty take on the teen-party-gone-wild scenario, almost Project X meets Primer, and preliminary reviews seem to be favourable towards it. I personally think there should be more movies like this out there, just because they actually try to upset the norm (even if they do end up being bad). No actual release date for the UK yet however something tells me this will probably end up heading straight to DVD.

We Are What We Are
 Jim Mickle (director of the criminally under-seen vamp horror 'Stakeland') offers his take on the watchable Mexican film about a family of cannibals.

It looks to be a very dark and grim affair indeed. The current consensus seems to be that it's a competent remake ('Let Me In' style) that offers an authentic horror experience without resorting to cheap thrills. This has apparently already opened in the for next Halloween methinks...


Not an adaptation of the Aussie soap, this film sees a new family waging war on the frat house that just moved in next to them. This is the Red Band trailer (which is arguably a lot funnier than it's counterpart) so don't watch this at work.

 It's probably going to be a dumb movie but it's brought to you by Nicholas Stoller, who made us laugh at Russell Brand in 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall', so this should still be an entertaining watch. Plus Zac Efron has still got some ways to go to shed his Disney image and this seems to be a good way to do so. Film opens May 9th.

Dom Hemingway
The director of 'The Matador' and 'The Hunting Party' returns with a film about a robber released from jail and going after what he's owed...while enjoying himself along the way.

There's also a Red Band trailer which gives a much better indication of which direction the humour heads in.

The reviews for this have been mixed, with many pointing out that the story doesn't really work, but they all agree that Jude Law dominates as the titular character...and who can blame them. Plus it's also nice to see Grant in a role that's not too far removed from Withnail. Again, this film has apparently already opened, which is weird as I never saw any listings for it.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson films take far too long to make. Far...too...long.

Say what you will about the man but he has a unique visual brilliance about him that makes anything he touches turn into a wonder of quirkiness. After the more straight forward Moonrise, this looks to be a return to form, full of whimsical nonsense (in the most flattering use of the term) and amazing characters, and is one of my most anticipated films of next year, opening March 7th.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 
Ben Stiller tackles the classic James Thurber story about a man who resorts to escapism to cure his mundane life.

It was at one pointed mooted for Oscar buzz but that seems to have all gone away since critics have taken a dislike to the movie, which is a shame as it does look somewhat magical. Normal people on the other hand seem to be more positive about it, but you can make your own mind up when it opens on Boxing Day.

The Monuments Men 
George Clooney puts together an Expendable's-style ensemble of 'oldies' whose job it is to save art from the Nazi's.

Clooney has had a pretty strong track record when it comes to directing and his latest effort looks to continue that trend. The film alone should be worth watching for both Murray and Goodman (who seem to be less and less on our screens at the moment) however the subject of the movie itself is one that hasn't been seen before so this could turn out to be a very memorable experience. It opens February 14th.

Monday, 9 December 2013

New to Netflix UK - 9/12/13

Slim pickings this week, not really what you would expect in the lead-up to Christmas.

Person of Interest (TV) - An ex-CIA agent with a complicated past is hired by a shady programmer to help prevent violent crimes. Combining the brains of JJ Abrams and Jonathan Nolan was always going to result in special and this is one of the most thrilling series currently on air, filled with political intrigue, daring espionage and edge-of-your-seat action.

War Horse - After his horse is sold to the army, a young man enlists and is sent to the front-lines of the First World War where they must both find a way to survive. While not as impressive as the stage version, it's still incredibly moving in its own right with great acting all round and the film stands as proof that Spielberg is still on of the greatest storytellers of the modern age.

Me and You - A young boy tricks people into thinking he is going on holiday so he can spend a week by himself in his basement surrounded by the things he loves but his solitude is brought to an end when his older sister discovers him. It's Bertolucci's first film in 9 years and while it lacks his cunning political eye or in-depth analysis of sexuality it still manages to be rich and uplifting in a way that's not been seen in his movies before.

Also it seems Netflix jumped the gun last week when they uploaded some Cartoon Network shows as by Tuesday they had been taken down.
Those shows are now once again available to stream.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Telltale Games Announce Two New Series

Telltale Games, despite having a rough patch in regards to their point-and-click games, stunned gamers everywhere when they released their Walking Dead series. Keeping a faithful tone to the original comics, the series proved to be an exercise in making tough decisions and caring about the characters in the game, something which few games can lay claim to, and remains one of the greatest story-driven games of the 21st Century.

They recently released a series based on Bill Willigham's Fable comics called 'The Wolf Among Us' (currently on episode 2), which sees fairy-tale and folk creatures hiding out in the modern world under human disguises, which was also well received by critics, with many drawn to it's violent noir atmosphere.

Now, witha second series of the Walking Dead of the Walking Dead on the way, Telltale have just caught the attention of every gamer with their announcement of not one, but two new games, one of which is based on a highly lucrative fantasy TV series.

At the VGX awards, the company announced they would be adding series based on both Game of Thrones and Gearbox's Borderlands games. Not much is known about their Game of Thrones series (chances are it will be a prequel, given the nature of previous titles) but their Borderlands game (called 'Tales from the Borderlands') is promised to incorporate the wit and atmosphere of the popular first-person shooter while being a completely different experience.

A trailer was released for Tales from the Borderlands as well as Game of Thrones, but the latter hasn't made it to YouTube yet.

'House of Cards' Season 2 Release Date Announced (UPDATED with teaser trailer)

Continuing on from the Netflix announcements, the company just announced that the second season of the critically acclaimed US adaptation of House of Cards will hit the site on February 14th, just in time for Valentine's Day.

The series follows ruthless congressman Frank Underwood who, after being turned down a position in the White House, starts the gears on a scheme of revenge on those who betrayed him with the ultimate goal of becoming president himself. Those of you who haven't seen it yet, I strongly recommend you go do so now. It's exceptionally well written and it gives Kevin Spacey on of his best roles to date.


The teaser trailer has been floating around on YouTube. Don't get your hopes up though, this is by all definitions a 'teaser'.

Netflix's Daredevil Series Get a Showrunner

Marvel have announced that the new Daredevil series, exclusive to Netflix, will be helmed by Drew Goddard. For those of you who don't know who is (you really should by the way), he is the writer of Cloverfield and co-writer/directer of Cabin in the Woods (as well as writing several episodes of Buffy and Lost). In other words, Daredevil just became one of the most promising looking new TV shows to be announced. Goddard is also set to write some episodes as well as direct the pilot.

Unfortunately, the series won't hit Netflix until around 2015 (although I have a feeling they may try to have it ready at around the same time as Avengers: Age of Ultron opens). There's still no cast attached nor is there any word on the three other Marvel/Netflix ventures, though this should hopefully change in the coming months.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Japan Pledge to Turn the Moon into a Solar Farm

Or at least Japanese construction company Shimizu does...

Japan has been actively embracing forms of alternate energy following the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster but one company seems to have gone the extra mile by promising to provide power to not only Japan, but the entire world.

In what feels like a suggestion from the pages of a sci-fi book, Shimizu are looking to place a ring of solar panels around the moon's equator, effectively resulting in non-stop exposure to sunlight (also because there's no weather in space). Solar energy becomes electricity via generators which will then be 'beamed' down to earth via lasers to be converted into conventional power.

Seem mad enough yet? It gets better.

The facilities on the moon to help with all this will be constructed with resources from the actual moon, with all the necessary raw materials already available to make concrete, glass and bricks (though no word on how they plan on constructing furnaces out there).

It's an ambitious proposal, and the scary thing is that it completely plausible, but what are the implications of such a venture?
It's nice to think that the whole world can be powered using only the moon but it is disconcerting to think that only one company will be responsible for dishing out the power. This means they can dictate prices, especially if they control the market, and this could lead to severe political issues some ways down the road. Also, solar cells are currently incredibly ineffective to the point that every day someone invents a much more capable design. To get the most from this project you would have to ensure that what you were sending up into space was the most technologically advanced solar cells ever designed because once they are up there it's going to be difficult to replace them.

Consider me intrigued, no less because of the huge benefits this could have on mankind, but I still can't help but be sceptical about it.

Monday, 2 December 2013

New to Netflix UK - 2/12/13

An interesting mix this week including forgotten classics, game-inspired-series' and some rather excellent kids shows.

Farscape (TV) - After getting sucked into a wormhole, an astronaut finds himself in the midst of a full scale war and bands with a small alien crew on the run from a violent military species. Though largely forgotten, there's no denying that many elements of Farscape - notably the complex plots, edgy humour and dark storylines - would influence many the modern sci-fi shows, but it still remains a gripping piece of space opera and a must watch for anyone with a love of the genre. (All four seasons are available, but no Peacekeeper Wars).

Warehouse 13 (TV) - Season 4 has been added of this show that follows a secret government organisation who track down historical artefacts that possess supernatural behaviours. It took me a while to get into the series but once you're hooked that's it, and it seems that it just gets stronger and stronger with every season.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - After being framed for an attack on the Kremlin, the IMF have to track down a dangerous terrorist who's stolen nuclear launch codes while finding a way to prove their innocence. Despite being Brad Bird's first live action debut, this is one hell of a great movie with all the action/suspense/humour/gadgets you would expect from the franchise, and it is by far the best one yet.

Munich - After Israeli athletes are assassinated by Palestinian radicals at the '72 Munich Olympics, a covert squad of Mossad agents is put together to exact revenge on those responsible. Spielberg crafts a finely weaved tale of revenge and determination that, powered by some exceptional performances, makes for a very enjoyable suspenseful thriller.

Dragon - A martial artist, looking for a clean break, finds himself stalked by a persistent detective determined to prove he's responsible for many unsolved violent crimes. It's not the most robust thriller ever made but it keeps you hooked until the end with it's deep characterisation and some well choreographed fight scenes..

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn - Cadets at a military training academy find their knowledge and skills put to the test following a sudden attack by hostile aliens. It's really one for the Halo fans out there but this movie (compiled from the web-series) is actually surprisingly well made and, even if the acting feels a little flat at times, it probably is one of the best video game movies made.

Video Game High School (TV) - After successfully defeating one of the top gamers, a gamer with next to no social life finds himself enrolled at the prestigious Video Game High School, a facility that aims to produce the best gamers on the planet. Another one for gamers, this diverting series was created by Freddie Wong of Rocket Jump (formally FreddieView), a popular YouTube contributor who incorporates game logic into the real world with special effects, and that's pretty much what you get here.

Regular Show (TV) - The adventures of a blue jay and raccoon and how they cope with their boring jobs as park grounds-keepers. It may be a kids show but there's something about this one that makes it highly entertaining for adults to (like Adventure Time), what with its bled of surreal humour and otherwise 'grown-up' situations.
[Netflix have announced that this should have been released on Dec 9th]

Netflix have also made available some of the classic Cartoon Network shows.
- Samurai Jack
- Courage the Cowardly Dog
- Jonny Bravo
- Dexter's Laboratory
- The Powerpuff Girls
Fingers crossed we get the golden era of Hanna-Barbera shows too...