Friday, March 20, 2015

TCM Film Festival Preview



Last year I made my first trip down to the TCM Film Festival and crashed a screening of my favorite film. I was jealous of my friend Michael who was there for the whole Festival, but also grateful to him for saving some seats for my wife and I. I briefly met Will McKinney and Kellee Pratt, two bloggers that I follow and friends of Michael s'. I'm sure they don't remember because it was about 90 seconds and they were off to another activity. This year however, I pulled the trigger and bought a weekend pass for the event. My job is keeping me away from the Thursday opening and the Friday morning screenings but I have planned a full schedule for myself from Friday evening on.

Some of you may be headed down to Hollywood for this this weekend of bliss, and if you have time, I would love to meet you in person. I'm not on twitter, which is apparently the best way to connect when at a function like this, but I will be updating my Facebook posts on my Movie Blog Page.

I plan on doing a full report on the event after it is over, and I hope to have pictures and video to include. For now though, I thought I would post a list of the films I am going to try to get into and if you are seeing any of these, I hope you will look for me in the crowd. I'm a reasonably friendly person and I'd love to trade opinions, stories and what not with you.

Friday Night

5:30 pm at the Chinese Multiplex 4




Same place, different Classic 7:30 p.m.


In House 1 at the Chinese Multiplex, 007 at 9:15



Saturday

 Christopher Plummer, aka Rudyard Kipling, is supposed to make an appearance at 10:00 am. Egyptian Theater

 

 

 

The last film produced by Jack Warner himself, at 1:45 in the Chinese IMAX

  

 Maybe the greatest score bu my favorite film composer, in a movie from rebel John Milius.  6:15 pm at the Egyptian

 

 

 Speaking of rebels, William Friedkin is scheduled to speak at this screening of his Academy Award winning film, starring my favorite actor, Gene Hackman, 9:15 at the Chinese IMAX

 

 

 

Sunday

 The great Tyrone Power in a dark, dark vision of con men and carnivals.
"You know what a geek is, don't ya?"

Chinese Multiplex House 6 10:00


I'm a sucker for swashbuckling British Soldiers, Egyptian Theater 1:00


George Clooney locked in a trunk with Jennifer Lopez. Throw in Steve Zahn, Don Cheedle and Albert Brooks, from an Elmore Leonard Novel, of course this is where I will be.

Chinese Multiplex House 1 4:15



The Greatest Showman of the 20th Century, made movies as well as making things disappear. After Disappearing itself for 70 plus years, Houdini's "the Grim Game, with musical accompaniment. 8:15 at the Egyptian Theater.



Hope everyone who goes gets to see everything they came for, and I hope I get to meet you as well. See you next week in Hollywood.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Run All Night



There will be cynics out there who will dismiss this movie as another reach for your wallet, simply because of our love of Liam Neeson. I am as guilty as the next person of perpetuating the chain of Neeson badass characters showing up in the first part of the year and giving us some meaningless action pieces. "Unknown", "Taken 2", "Non-Stop", and "Taken 3" are all about an inch deep and are really just an attempt to allow Liam to play a hard case. The storytelling in those movies is not well thought out and the action is usually shot in a manner designed to give us a memorable moment with Liam Neeson with a gun in his hand. While there is a moment like that in this film, the rest of the movie strays far from the formula and builds a real story around a sad character that we should have no sympathy for but who ultimately tries to redeem himself for his son and for all of us watching.

"Run All Night" comes much closer to the great Neeson action films of the last few years; the original "Taken", "The Grey" and last years criminally under appreciated "A Walk Among the Tombstones". Like those films, his character's weaknesses are developed as part of the story, not just laid on to create background. His character, Jimmy Conlon, is a mob enforcer formerly known as "The Gravedigger". Jimmy's fortunes have fallen by the wayside as he drowns his nightmares in drink and sloth that barely keep him alive. His best, friend and former employer makes sure that he is taken care of but no longer entrusts him to do the dirty jobs he was once responsible for. That friend, Shawn McGuire, played by Ed Harris, no longer needs that help because his business is more legitimate and less violent than it once was, at least until his son Danny tries to make a name for himself in the rackets. If you have seen the trailer, you know the set up of the movie and it looks like it will be standard action killings for a couple of hours. There are indeed several action sequences and a lot of people get dead, but unlike the disposable types of perfunctory death that Neeson's characters usually provide, these all take a toll on him one way or another. As he attempts to protect his son, Jimmy is forced to confront his legacy as well and it is not a pretty picture.

Neeson plays a real character here not simply some automaton  that walks through the door with guns blazing. The strained relationship with his son makes the process of trying to protect his boy more difficult. The fact that he understands his enemy so well because he once was that enemy is a slap in the face for the kind of person he has been most of his life. Ed Harris give a very strong performance in the film as the conflicted best friend and boss who now wants to make his former associate suffer for what are really his own faults as a father. He knew his kid was a bad seed, but he loved him. The tough love he tries when Danny attempts to build a drug kingdom, is directly responsible for the death of his son. No one will be able to accept that when he can put the blame on a boogie man that he helped create. Jimmy and his son Michael (Joel Kinnaman), become the fall guys for McGuire's own faults. Everybody knows this except Michael, the grown son of Jimmy with a young family of his own and the good sense to stay away from his father's old life.  When Michael tries to do the right thing, it leads to all hell breaking loose. Some cops are crooked, old haunts become dangerous and old friends want to kill the father and son. Reason was never a strong suit with these characters and there is no way of making this right. Ed Harris just received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and it was timed to go with this films opening. He can be proud that his work here is more vital than some of his recent efforts like "Snowpiercer".

Even though it is a well told story, there are still a few trite elements that are inevitable. Michel's family is in jeopardy so there will be scenes of them being stalked. The father-son dynamic is stress filled so there will be some defiance of orders/advice given by a criminal to his honest as the day is long son. An implacable hitman is put on the job to dispose of the pair, regardless of the fact that Shawn already has nearly two dozen guys and insiders in the police department working on the task. So if there is so much SOP in this movie, why do I see it as being so much better than the rest of these films? One reason is that there is a side story of a dedicated but frustrated cop who knows what Jimmy has done in his life and he still wants answers for those who have been gone for years. Vincent D'Onofrio is the weary but dogged honest cop who could be a key to saving Michael, if Jimmy plays it straight. An uncredited big name shows up for one scene and delivers a heart rending piece of information that makes it even more impossible for Michael to trust his Dad. There are also good supporting performances from the thugs and victims of the story. Whenever Bruce McGill shows up in a movie, it gets a little better, I only wish he had more to do in this.

The director Jaume Collet-Serra, who made "Non-Stop" and "Unknown" with Neeson before, has a much better story here and he uses the camera and the city of New York in an interesting way to tell it. Ultimately though, it is the story arc of Jimmy that makes this work. He is legitimately troubled by his past but lives through it in daily misery as a penance for what he has done. He never sees this as a chance to redeem his relationship with his son, he knows that he is a dead man, he just wants to do the right thing at the end of his life. The relationship he and Shawn had is brought to life by the solid work done by Liam Neeson and Ed Harris. Their scenes together are sad but reflect a deep bond in spite of the circumstances. You will get a requisite amount of mayhem, but you will also get a tragic story of wasted lives and lost friendships.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Second Best ExoticMarigold Hotel



If ever a movie would have been fine without a sequel, this continuing story of the elderly residents of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in India would probably qualify. In the first story, all the loose ends seemed wrapped up, the key characters who were moving on did so and the ones who were staying appeared to have things under control. Of course when you make nearly a $140 million at the box office on a $10 million dollar investment, it is hard to walk away from the table. You have to figure that you are playing with the house's money so why not take a shot?

Fortunately, instead of being a straight money grab like the two sequels to "Taken" have been, "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" has a few pieces of pleasure to dispense. There is nothing here that is essential to a story, but if you enjoyed the company of the cast in the first movie, there are some nice moments to get reacquainted and to have a mild laugh or two. If you never see this film, you are not depriving yourself, but if you do, you are certainly not hurting either yourself or the memory of the earlier movie.

This time out the culture clash is keep to a minimum, and in fact, the main characters are emerged in their new home and culture very nicely. The outside influence this time is the involvement of a major American Company that has been asked to invest in a franchise of the original establishment and expanded capacity. A brief  visit to America by young Sonny the Hotel Manager played by Dev Patel with Maggie Smith's Miss Donnelly as adviser, brings the promise of an investigation of the facility by the potential partners. Lickity split, two new arrivals appear at the hotel and Sonny begins to lose control and allows jealousy and fear to blind him to his behaviors. His upcoming wedding becomes the playground for several episodes of embarrassing humor and for a little bit of drama.

We see less of the gritty part of India in this chapter and instead focus more on the festive. I had the pleasure once of attending an Indian wedding here in Southern California, or I should say one part of an Indian wedding because it seems that there are several rituals to go through. The different events each allow an escalation in the tension (what little there is) but mostly provide a beautiful backdrop for music, dancing and costumes of the sub-continent. The mild romantic endeavors of the aging sweethearts are side shows to the nuptials of the young couple. There is some silly business about an accidental contract put out on one of the women, a slow realization that wealth is less important than compatibility, and a final push toward the edge of commitment for couples that do not have that much time left to commit. None of it means anything, it is like it's predecessor, a frothy confection for the over 50 set who don't want to see an action film or a science fiction film this month.

Richard Gere shows up and while his hair has always been prematurely white or grey, he looks this time like he is actually moving into the golden years, still handsome but a little more weathered. Bill Nighy continues to play the same hesitant, nearly stammering older character that has been so delightful in earlier films, although it does seem he commits to the role a bit. Judy Dench dashes through the film with as much screen time as any other character but with less importance to her role than many of the other characters. Maggie Smith manages to be funny this time without the racial jibes that made her character irascible in the last film.   If the India of this film, were the India of the real world, I might be tempted to retire there myself. I have learned however that a movie and reality are rarely partners and instead i will enjoy the view from my seat and move on to another exotic location in the next film I see.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Live Long and Prosper



A lot of Star Trek fans who are even more passionate than I am will be sharing their thoughts all over the internet in the next few days. I can't begin to match their stories of how the character of Spock, changed their lives. Some were able to live more happily by accepting their own differences, others will have been inspired to pursue careers in science and in writing. There will be a thousand good stories of the actor Leonard Nimoy, touching peoples hearts and minds at conventions, in interviews and with personal contact. I don't have any of those stories. What I have is a heart that was touched by one of the least emotional characters in fiction. How can this be? It is simple, the actor who played the alien was a real person and the real person is what made the character someone we could care for. We have an emotional connection to Mr. Spock because of the friendship he had with the other main characters on Star Trek, Captain Kirk and Dr.McCoy .

Ethos, Pathos and Logos battled it out each week in an effort to solve the problems faced by the crew of the Enterprise. We usually discovered that it was not one path that leads to a solution but many combinations of these essential traits. That two humans with outsized personalities could find comradery  with an emotionless, cold, half alien seems hard to believe, until you see the show. Then we know that friendship can be many things, including frustrating. Kirk and Bones would tease Spock but he never seemed to take it any way except in the way it was intended, as the gesture of a friend. Leonard Nimoy imbued the character with the capacity to be a friend, even if the nature of the character is to reject such an emotional relationship. Nimoy was accomplished outside of the Trek universe and he had much to be proud of in all his other work, but everyone knew that when this sad day came, this was the image of the actor that everyone would recall.


All of us will feel as if we were in this scene, unable to touch our friend as he left us, bereft of the friendship that has been a part of our lives for fifty years, and sad that as with all of us, the final frontier awaits.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

2015 Academy Awards

Having now seen all of the pictures nominated for Best Picture, and most of the performances in the Acting Categories, I'm willing to make a few calls for this evenings show. We will basically be going with the six big plus the live action and animated shorts since I have seen all of those.

Best Live Action Short



I'd be happy to see "Boogaloo and Graham" win. It was a delight to watch but it is ultimately a bit slight. My pick for winning is "Parvaneh", a well made, politically correct parable about cross cultural connections.

Best Animated Short




Of the five nominees, "Feast" has to be the most widely seen and it is also the one that is most completely put together. Basically it tells a complete story without dialogue but with a huge amount of heart and humor.

Best Supporting Actress




In the category that they found another slot to fit Meryl Streep, I think anyone would be surprised if someone other than Partricia Arquette were to end up with the Award. She is the glue that holds "Boyhood" together. She has been winning in all the other contests at the end of the year, so she is a pretty sure thing.


Best Supporting Actor




If a name other than J.K. Simmons is called tonight, all bets are off. He is as close to a sure thing as there is and he deserves the award. Whiplash was my favorite film of the last year and it needs to get some props from the Academy. It is unlikely to win the big Award tonight so this will be the one place where it can make a splash.


Best Actress




This is the one field where I have not seen all the performances. All indications seem to be that the barely released Alzheimers drama, "Still Alice" will;bring Julianne Moore her long overdue award. I thought Rosemund Pike was outstanding in "Gone Girl" but I will go with the conventional wisdom.


Best Actor




Since people like the idea of a horserace, this is the category where I can see a close competition. Eddie Redmayne as Steven Hawking did a good job with the physicality of his role but the part is so conventionally drawn that the character is just not as interesting as he should be. Michael Keaton has the opposite issue, his character is so interesting that the performance may be hidden by the fireworks. I'm going with Keaton, I think the movie is catnip to film proessionals, it is about an actor struggling with his place in the world and it is shot in a style that celebrates creativity.


Best Director




Alejandro González Iñárritu for "Birdman". Other than Keaton, his is the hand that is most visible on the film. Richard Linklater managed a similar influence with "Boyhood", if that film ends up as the Best Picture winner, he could be pulled into the winner's envelope. Conventional wisom is to go with the DGA winner and that would be Alejandro González Iñárritu. The Academy Awards gets more and more conventionally unsurprising as it's membership expands.

Best Picture


This is the place where there is the most uncertainty about the award. A late surge by "American Sniper" may have been undermined by controversy of a political sort. "Birdman" was a critical favorite and might still win, but it is the most off center film nominated, and the broader Academy is likely to be satisfied with splitting the awards and giving this unusual film it's glory in other categories.  My guess is that this is a "Driving Miss Daisy" and then "Crash"-ing year. The major award going to a film that is not a landslide but a default winner because it is ultimately emotionally satisfying. While I'd love to see "Whiplash" give every prognosticator a heart attack, I think the winner will be "Boyhood".



5 for 8, I can live with that but I've done better before.







Saturday, February 21, 2015

AMC Best Picture Showcase 2015 Day Two


So day two of the annual Best Picture Showcase featured four films that I had not yet seen. This was an unusual year for me, last year at the Best Picture Showcase, "Her" was the only film I needed to catch up on, so it was the only one from either day that I needed to do a fairly complete post on. This year, the burden is more complicated. All four of today's movies were new to me, but I don't have the energy to do a full review of each at this time of night and I want to be finished before the Awards tomorrow. So you are going to get a thumbnail review of each of the four, and during the Awards tomorrow, I may post some commentary video to go along with my opinions and guesses.

This is the film that I was least looking forward to. The subject sounded a little mundane and the film looked like it was entirely predicated on a gimmick. I had heard a number of positive comments and the reviews have mostly been glowing, but I could not shake off my dread. After being subjected to "The Wolf of Wall Street", "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "The Tree of Life" in the last few years, I assumed there would be a pretentious turkey in the bunch and this looked like it would fit the bill. I am happy to say I am completely surprised and that this is indeed an outstanding piece of work, deserving of some acclaim and a warm spot in almost anyone's heart.

While it is episodic and sometimes without much of a theme or structure, it is also a lot more entertaining than I expected. There is a stronger narrative than I was lead to believe, although it gives Patricia Arquette the thankless task of playing a woman who can only choose losers as husbands.  I should have known that the slice of life approach could be enthralling coming from director Richard Linklater. He did a fantastic job on "Dazed and Confused" twenty one years ago and this proves that he has the right touch for character pieces.

Ellar Coltrane grows up in front of us but there is more to the story than that. His character has to give up friends, confront bullies, live with neurotic parents and cope with a broken heart. I read some criticism of him in a few spots but I thought he was very good at the younger age and got better as the years passed. If you are a parent, be prepared to see some of the events in the growth of your own child pass by in the blink of an eye. It was not always smooth, and the "movies" have conditioned us to expect the worst at times, but this personal diary of a young boys life is a nice way to experience those moments again (minus the abusive drunks).

Eddie Redmayne may very well win the Oscar tomorrow for his portrayal of physicist Steven Hawking. He has a love story and a tragic human malady to support him, and the well known specter of Hawking himself hanging over the proceedings. The part is an actor's dream because it requires a variety of emotional touchstones and a physical transformation that will impress even the most casual of viewers. It is as a result, a technically excellent performance but an unsatisfactory accomplishment. The fault is the completely straightforward narrative of the picture, which takes us from point A to point B and then to point C in exactly the manner that everyone expects.  There are no surprises here, and the thing that even the cosmologist would say is the least important reason for his being well known, the crippling disease that trapped him in a failing body. The brilliant theories are in the movie but they are not realized in a creative way and they are still almost as abstract as the lesson in quantum physics we got in "Interstellar".

The Cambridge environment and the 1960s setting are an elegant tapestry for the love story between the two leads to play out against. The clothes, music and manners of the times feel genuine with these characters. Felicity Jones is a match for Redmayne's performance, without all of the physicality that goes with it. The sad dance of decaying romance turning into respectful friendship also undermines the last half of the story. Yes it is honest and sensitively played, but it is also a downer which finishes the movies  early strengths with hard fact.

This was the most conventional of all the films nominated this year. Even Selma, a story that has history all over it, managed to inject a little tension and anticipation to the events it showed. This film just feels like the cliff notes version of the story, and a very obvious biopic that could have worked on any number of media formats. It is a very good film, but not an excellent one.

From a story telling point of view, this film feels like a very traditional mainstream Academy friendly movie. An oddball genius, has to overcome his own failings as a human being in order to work effectively on a critical job. It is an important part of history, especially World War Two, but also technology since it features what is basically an early computer. It also benefits from having a theme about the oppression of women and homosexuals, two pieces of bait the Academy is unlikely to ignore. Coming as it did right after "The Theory of Everything" it made me feel as though I'd seen almost every British actor of the current generation in a four hour span.

Bouncing around three time periods in the life of Alan Turing, we get enough background to see where he is coming from and why he ends up as he did. The central part of the story is the pressure filled race to crack the "Enigma" code and save lives and win the war. Benedict Cumberbatch has secured his place as a modern British movie icon after a short ten year period where he had small roles in a dozen big films and a breakout role on BBC television. His face is a passive mask on which we can easily project coldness, malevolence and a robotic personality. That he manages to make the later scenes into something more human explains his presence among the nominees for Best Actor this year. Kiera Knightly shines in a clearly supporting role as a woman who is also incredibly bright and overlooked for completely different reasons.

"The Imitation Game" is a well told war story, with a huge chunk of intrigue to boot. That it makes math puzzles interesting and important is an accomplishment of some sort. Mark Strong will soon be the new Michael Caine, he will be appearing in every other movie that comes out of Great Britain before long.  I also enjoyed recognizing Rory Kinnear as the police inspector. He is now a regular in the 007 films playing Bill Tanner the Chief of Staff, and he is technically Veruca Salt's brother.

At Eighty Four years old, Clint Eastwood puts the rest of us average mortals to shame. He had two films that he directed out this year, the musical "Jersey Boys" and this combination war film and biopic of Navy Seal Chris Kyle. As I watched this film today, I was impressed with the detail of the battles and the settings used in filming. There is a terrific performance from the lead actor (and producer of the film) and Clint manages to get a musical credit for himself as well. This is the most financially successful of all of the films nominated and the biggest hit of Eastwood's  career, either in front of or behind the camera. Oh yeah, did I mention that he is 84. Man I feel like a slug by comparison.

Billed as the most lethal sniper in U.S. history, Chris Kyle's story is one that is motivated by a deep love of country and a creed that appears to have been a part of his life since childhood. He is a Shepard protecting the flock from the wolves. I can hardly believe that this story has come in for criticism from some political points of view. There may be legitimate criticisms of the Iraq war, but the troops shown here are heroes, doing their job in incredibly hard circumstances. They have a tough time balancing the warrior spirit with the need to win hearts and minds of the locals. The film never depicts the enemy as anything other than what they are, and it walks the fine line of showing evil and innocence in the same places. That is the story that Kyle tells and the movie shows.

Bradley Cooper is nominated for the third year in a row, suggesting that we can put to rest any doubts about his abilities. He shows that Kyle was a simple man who had to life a complicated life in order to do his duty. While we can celebrate his acts, they are never lingered over or shown in a gratuitous fashion. The only time any sniper shot is show boated is in a final tense shootout when an incredibly difficult shot is depicted with a slow motion camera zoom along the trajectory of a CGI bullet. This moment from a CSI episode was needed because of the distance being shown at which the shot was taken, not to make the killing of an enemy more spectacular.  The much criticized other special effect in the film ( a mechanical baby used for a brief couple of scenes) was not nearly as distracting as some have said.

The brotherhood of the soldiers and the strains on the family at home are not new concepts. They are however honestly shown here and not played for melodrama. Eastwood has the right touch for the domestic scenes and a surprising ability to make the war sequences harrowing and real.  "American Sniper" is a more relevant story than any of the other films nominated this year and the film making skill that went into telling it is second to none. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service



This is one of those meta experiences that so often crop up in films these days. It is a film about spies that references James Bond, Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer, yet it engages in the same over the top story telling and effects that it is simultaneously lampooning. Having done the same thing to Fairy Tales with "Stardust" and Comic Books with "Kick Ass", director Matthew Vaughn now turns to a new genre with this hyper violent exercise in adrenaline based movies. Oh, and just so you know, he pulls it off brilliantly.

The opening credits will make you giggle with the use of exploding pieces of an ancient fort, blowing onto the screen to form the credit titles. All of this is scored with Dire Straights "Money for Nothing", yeah that's the way you do it. Colin Firth is is Harry Hart, codename Galahad, an agent of the privately organized intelligence and espionage agency that borrows from every cartoon spy film of the sixties and makes the idea of a gentleman spy come to life. Firth was once imagined as a James Bond replacement, and the fact that his boss "Arthur" is played by Michael Caine, the working class Bond of the Harry Palmer films, makes the whole thing even more delicious.

Newcomer Taron Egerton plays the hard knock, working class son of an earlier protege of Galahad, rough around the edges but ready to be polished. Early parts of the movie and recurring sequences focus on the recruitment and testing process of likely "Kingsman" material. As the job interview begins, a threat to the world by well meaning but crazy billionaire tech guru Valentine, sends the regular agents out in the field to investigate. Samuel Jackson plays a George Soros/Al Gore hybrid with a distinct lisp and an aversion to seeing the violence that he himself wants. As Hart crosses swords with Valentine, they engage in a parody of cliches from most spy movies of this variety. In their interactions they even discuss the Bond films that feature megalomaniac rich guys who play villain to the English spy, and they both play with those roles effectively.

If your liberal sensibilities are easily offended, you may want to stay away from this. Jackson's character is a rich genius with an evil plan to save the world from global warming. He attempts to recruit influential leaders and celebrities from around the world to be part of his new world order. Visualize the Socialist/Green/Celebrity Environmentalists as the dupes that will populate the Earth like Drax's genetic specimens in "Moonraker" or Stromberg's mermen in "The Spy Who Loved Me". This is the biggest drubbing of liberal sacred cows since "Team America". The Kingsman might seem reactionary to some, invoking as they do the names of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. They even use a piece of equipment supposedly part of the loathed Strategic Defense Initiative [referred to as the Star Wars satellite system] to fight back against the plans of the villain.

Since Star Wars does get mentioned here, it is fun to note that a nearly unrecognizable Mark Hamill appears as a kidnapped scientist. Mark Strong, who has been in most of Vaughn's previous films, plays "Merlin" the aide de camp to the Kingsman.  There also seems to be a CGI version of an American Leader with prominent ears, who plays along with the scheme. At this point some audience members heads will explode, but hold on because that will not be the end of the fireworks. This movie also parodies the Westboro Baptist church crazies, the aristocrats of Great Britain, and dog lovers everywhere. Some of the humor is broad, such as the meal served by the suspected billionaire to the agent posing as another billionaire. It is either biting satire or great product placement.

The young leads get to take over the action at the end and they are just as effective as Firth was in his moments of glory ( or maybe I should say gory). This movie takes "Kick Ass" violence to new levels with some sick jokes mixed in. Imagine the damage a flying marital artist with razor sharp blades for feet can do, and then expect to see it on the screen. The slow mo, fast action styles explored in other films of this ilk are used here to good effect, but if you are over that approach, there are plenty of other bits of violence to delight you.

In all honesty, this is a movie that was genetically designed to tickle my funny bone and stimulate my adrenal glands. If "Kick Ass" and "James Bond" had a love child, this would be it. The film never takes itself too seriously but sometimes it plays with that idea as well. There is classic rock on the soundtrack, Colin Firth, Samuel Jackson and Michael Caine on the screen, and there is enough violence for ten movies. I was in love with this film when it was being hatched in the minds of the comic book artist who created the concept and the person who is responsible for putting Matthew Vaughn in charge. To quote Harry Hart: "Manners maketh man. Do you know what that means? Then let me teach you a lesson". I consider myself well schooled after seeing this.