REVIEW: A FANTASTIC FEAR OF EVERYTHING

Starring

Simon Pegg (Shaun of The Dead)
Clare Higgins (I Give It a Year)
Amara Karan (The Darjeeling Limited)
Paul Freeman (Getaway)
Kerry Shale (Snow Dogs)
Alan Drake (BLackwood)
Henry Lloyd-Hughes (Weekender)
Alice Orr-Ewing (The Theory of Everything)
Kiran Shah (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Bernard Cribbins (Carry On Columbus)
Simon Kunz (City of Ember)

Simon Pegg and Amara Karan in A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)Jack is a children’s author whose happy marriage has been destroyed by his obsession with his unpublished first book, Harold the Hedgehog. He is working on a series of scripts titled Decades of Death, about Victorian era serial killers. He has become obsessed with serial killers and paranoid that people are watching him and trying to kill him, which isn’t helped by the fact that a serial killer called the Hanoi Handshake Killer, who cuts off the fingers of his victims, has been active in his neighbourhood.Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)While trying to give money in a sock to carolers, Jack is startled by a phone call from his agent, Clair. She tells him that Harvey Humphries, the head of scripts at the BBC, is interested in Jack’s scripts and arranges a meeting between the two in just a few hours. Jack convinces himself that Humphries is a serial killer but plans to attend the meeting anyway.Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)Jack tries to clean his clothes in the oven to be presentable for his meeting with Humphries, only to find that he has super-glued a carving knife to his hand. After trying to remove the knife, he discovers that his clothes are ruined. Jack realises that he has to go to the laundrette. Since he is terrified of the prospect, he calls Professor Friedkin, an old friend, and asks for help. After listening to Jack’s traumatic memories of the launderette, Friedkin convinces Jack that he must confront his fears and go there.Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)While at the laundrette, he doesn’t understand how the machines work. Frustrating the fellow patrons, he decides to just dry the clothes because he doesn’t have time to wash them again. A beautiful young woman then enters, causing Jack further distress, so he rushes to remove his damp clothes from the dryer so he can leave. Forgetting that the carving knife is still glued to his hand, he removes his hand from his pocket and causes the other customers to panic and lock him in the laundrette. The police arrive, break into the laundrette and subdue Jack. The police remove the knife from his hand and treat his wounds. They are about to take him to the police station when a helicopter flies over and announces that there is an emergency and they are needed elsewhere. They hastily throw Jack into the back of the police van and drive off, but he falls out of the vehicle as it begins driving.Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)Perkins, a community support police officer, follows the young woman while Jack returns to the laundrette to get his clean shirt for his meeting. While Jack is changing into his shirt, he notices that a back door that had been locked is now open. He goes through the door and finds a hatch in the floor. As he looks through the hatch, someone hits him from behind. Jack wakes up in the basement of the laundrette tied up next to the young woman. As they begin to panic, Perkins comes down the stairs. They urge him to get help but he reveals that he is the Hanoi Handshake Killer; he cuts the fingers off of his victims and blames the killings on the Vietnamese mafia. Perkins says the laundrette used to belong to his grandmother until the Vietnamese immigrants pushed her out, and he now murders for revenge. He then goes upstairs to sharpen his knife.Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)Jack tells the woman about the traumatic events in his childhood regarding the launderette, and she comforts him and urges him not to give up hope. She says her name is Sangeet and Jack asks her if she will have dinner with him if they survive. Perkins returns carrying a boombox playing the song “The Final Countdown” by Europe. Perkins and Jack argue about the song’s genre, causing Perkins to tell them about his childhood. His mother died when he was very young and his grandmother took him in and gave him a room in the cellar. During this story we see that this was the same launderette that Jack was abandoned in and he was being watched by Perkins from the back room.Jack and Sangeet try to get Perkins to admit that his grandmother did not take proper care of him. Jack argues that Tony is not a good serial killer because he is not original (he supposedly has his grandmother’s body in a rocking chair, which references the film Psycho).Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)Sangeet frees herself and injures Perkins as he is about to murder Jack. Sangeet tries to escape but Perkins recovers and drags her back into the cellar. As Perkins is struggling with Sangeet, she frantically suggests that Jack tell a story. Jack convinces Perkins to listen to a story as his final request. Jack tells a story called Brian the Hedgehog; Perkins relates to the story and cries, admitting that he didn’t kill the first victim and he had only found the body. The owner of the launderette opens the hatch, prompting Jack and Sangeet to scream for help. Several months later, we see a well-groomed Jack reading his book about Harold and Brian to a group of children. Sangeet and Professor Friedkin are there. Clair finally introduces Jack to Humphries, causing Jack to become briefly fearful. Sangeet reminds Jack that they are going to dinner, and so they leave the event and catch a taxi as the credits roll over the frame.Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)Overall, the film is humorous, entertaining, and incorporates a number of dark, unorthodox story-telling features (including bits of animation). Therefore, if you primarily enjoy big-budget blockbusters or expect that every film featuring Simon Pegg to be “Shaun of the Dead” that sadly, you will probably not enjoy this film. However, if you appreciate story-telling, exemplar acting, and something a little different than the norm, I would highly recommend this film.

 

REVIEW: I GIVE IT A YEAR

CAST

Rose Byrne (Bad Neighbours)
Rafe Spall (The World’s End)
Anna Faris (Mom)
Simon Baker (The Mentalist)
Stephen Merchant (Logan)
Minnie Driver (Ella Enchanted)
Jason Flemyng (Layer Cake)
Olivia Colman (The Iron Lady)
Jane Asher (Runners)
Clare Higgins (Hellraiser)

Ambitious high-flyer Nat (Rose Byrne) and struggling writer Josh (Rafe Spall) fall in love at first sight at a party. After seven months together they decide to marry. The film highlights their struggles during their first year of marriage, switching back and forth from flashbacks of the year’s action to a marriage-guidance counselor’s office. Their wedding goes as planned despite many friends’ comments that the marriage will not last, an embarrassing best-man’s speech, and a coughing priest. When Nat returns to work after the honeymoon, she’s embarrassed when Josh calls her in the office—on speakerphone in front of her colleagues—to tell her she is sexy and that he misses her, causing her to abruptly hang up on him. Later, the two meet with their solicitor to discuss how to handle medical crises (last wishes). Nat becomes annoyed when Josh, knowing she would be late, admitted that he deliberately told her the wrong time, causing her to turn up early.The couple throw a dinner party to use their wedding gifts. Some of their differences are highlighted when they talk about their honeymoon in Morocco: Nat didn’t enjoy the leather museum; Josh remembers it as interesting. When the topic changes to Josh’s former flame, Chloe (Anna Faris), Nat discovers that the two never officially broke up when Chloe departed to Africa for four years. In the kitchen Chloe apologizes to Nat for not realising she didn’t know. The women talk about the constrictions of marriage. Nat’s sister Naomi has issues with her own husband’s annoying habits. Josh’s best man Danny asks Chloe out but is rebuffed.The following day, Nat and her work-colleagues make fun of their new client, Guy Harrap (Simon Baker), the new owner of a bleach company. They believe he will be a stereotypical American who thinks the British are “quaint”. They do not realize that their client has been sitting right there in the same café. Before the meeting, one colleague steals Nat’s wedding ring, believing that the account will have a better chance of success if she appears single. During the meeting, Guy deliberately fulfils their expectations of him: speaking in a brash American way, asking for high-fives and casual fist-bumps, asking Nat to repeat certain words he finds amusing and doing a crude Austin Powers impression. Then when they focus on business talk, he switches to his true self, embarrassing the women for their earlier stereotyping. As he and Nat exit the boardroom, she apologizes for their misjudgment of him, and he says they should get better acquainted for the sake of the account. Feeling the attraction between them, she struggles with telling him she’s married, then ends up leaving without telling him.Josh talks to Chloe about his book while she’s working at a charity office. He invites her to dinner because Nat’s going to a work party that night. Chloe declines, saying she’s going out with her work-colleague Charlie, whom she’s been dating. The scene returns to the marriage-guidance counsellor’s office as the two explain that the realities of marriage do not live up to the fairytale expectation they both had. Unable to focus on his writing, Josh sits at home watching television while Nat’s out jogging. At work, Nat receives a large bouquet of roses from Guy. The couple bicker over domestic issues; Josh leaving the toilet seat up, Nat’s inability to sing the right words to popular songs and their different definitions of the rubbish bin being full. Guy shows Nat around one of the factories he owns, where one of his longest-serving workers expresses approval of her as a potential wife for him. Guy explains that he basically grew up in the factory during his childhood summers. Nat comments that she’s not the marrying type, still unable to tell Guy she’s married.Nat tries to discourage Josh from accompanying her to a work party, but he is determined, irritating her. At the party, he makes a fool of himself with embarrassing dancing and standing next to a poster he can joke about during the night. When he approaches Nat while she’s talking with Guy, she still doesn’t reveal that he is her husband and Guy attempts to shake him off, assuming he’s an unwanted menace. Guy asks her to dinner and Nat declines. Incredibly annoyed at Josh for embarrassing her at the party, she heads home without him. Meanwhile, Chloe and Charlie attend a boring dinner party, then leave early to adjourn to Charlie’s apartment. As they kiss on the bed, Chloe’s colleague Alexandra joins them and Chloe finds herself in an awkward threesome. Feeling too silly to continue, Chloe eventually leaves. The next morning she calls Josh to tell him about it, and he soon turns up at her apartment with coffee and her favourite sweets to cheer her up.Chloe and Josh then go Christmas-shopping. Josh wants to get casserole dishes for Nat but Chloe laughs that this is not a present for a wife and she must help him; they end up at a lingerie shop with Josh uncomfortably trying to make conversation with the shop assistant amongst the shop’s expensive contents. Chloe tries on a lingerie set, and asks Josh what he thinks of it. They end up kissing in the dressing room, although both are embarrassed about it afterwards. Josh ends up buying the lingerie. When Nat meets with Guy at his hotel to discuss their business deal, she rebuffs his attempts to get her into his room. He mentions that he has booked a conference room down the hall, but when Nat enters she finds a romantic dinner complete with doves and a violinist. When Guy makes advances, she finally blurts out that she’s married and can’t leave her husband because it would destroy him, and finally storms out.Guy chases after Nat and they bump into Chloe and Josh on the street. After some initial awkward exchanges, Josh suggests that Chloe and Guy get together and they agree on a double date. Back to the present in the counsellor’s office: Nat explains that they hit a low point around the Christmas period, commenting that her husband’s family are weird—in particular his mother. Josh retaliates that Nat’s family were not overly friendly towards him. The scene shifts to a Christmas family reunion at Nat’s parents’, where a series of embarrassing incidents revolving around Josh occur. Josh unwittingly but clumsily offends Nat’s grandmother during a game of charades, Nat’s father makes him sleep on the upper deck of a bunk bed of a young female relative, and Nat’s parents giving Josh a pair of books titled How to Be a Successful Writer and How to Stop Wasting Your Life. At the end of the visit, while leaving her parents’ house, Nat confronts Naomi about why she stays with her husband as they clearly hate each other. Naomi says that they both “embrace the hatred” and that is what marriage is about. Even though she admits there could be something better out there for her, she ultimately loves her husband.Nat and Josh have a conversation about his suggestion of Chloe dating Guy. The two talk about the prospects of both of them as romantic interests. The four meet for dinner, and spend the evening playing pool. Chloe and Guy seem to hit it off, happily competing against Nat and Josh. Nat becomes more frustrated with Josh’s clumsy and patronising attempt to teach her how to play properly, as well as with her growing jealousy towards Chloe, who can play well. They leave the bar, and Nat asks Guy to talk about packaging details, intending to meet Josh back at their flat afterwards. Chloe and Josh depart together, while Nat and Guy go the other direction. After a moment, Nat passionately kisses Guy, resulting in the ripping of the underwear bought for her by Josh.Meanwhile, Josh attempts to discourage Chloe’s attraction to Guy, and she admits she is and has always been still in love with him, lamenting that Josh never stopped her from leaving and insisting that their current circumstances are impossible, that they cannot see each other anymore. When Nat returns home, she and Josh talk about their relationship. After nine months they decide to get help instead of giving up on their marriage. This leads us back to the counsellor’s office, who ultimately advises them to try to make it to the one-year marker. The couple then put up with each other’s quirks over the next few months, eventually making it to their anniversary. Nat brings out the same expensive lingerie for the special occasion, and struggles to do it up because of two broken hooks, remembering the circumstances in which they were broken—her with Guy. Josh meanwhile leaves the flat, telling Nat he’s remembered he has to do something and that he will meet her at the restaurant. He races to Chloe’s apartment, only to find that she is heading off in a cab with Guy, whom she embraces lovingly. Nat contemplates phoning Guy, but then decides to go to the restaurant, where her friends and family are there waiting to surprise the couple. After failing to contact Josh, Nat sits down. She discovers that their friends didn’t think her marriage would last. Josh makes it to the restaurant party, and tells Nat that he thinks she is the perfect wife, just not for him. He asks her for a divorce and she immediately and delightedly agrees. The couple rejoice at the situation, and immediately leave the party one after the other.Meanwhile, Guy and Chloe are at the railway station waiting to go to Paris on a romantic trip. Josh finds them and professes his love for Chloe. When it’s discovered that he split up with Nat, the two are shocked. Nat appears behind Josh, who awkwardly assumed he is the one she wants to speak to, but it turns out she was there for Guy. After a short exchange they happily discuss how perfect Guy and Chloe are for them. In the end, Chloe and Guy mutually break up. Nat ends up kissing Guy and Chloe shares a kiss with Josh.I really enjoyed this movie! It’s a laugh-out-loud romcom, which is genuinely unconventional. It is awkward in all the right places. This movie is clearly making fun of mainstream romcoms. Definitely worth checking out.

REVIEW: CASSANDRA’S DREAM

CAST

Ewan McGregor (Star Wars – Episode I)
Colin Farrell (Intermission)
Hayley Atwell (Cinderella)
Tom Wikinson (Batman Begins)
Andrew Howard (Agents of Shield)
Ashley Madekwe (Venus)
Sally Hawkins (Layer Cake)
Clare Higgins (Hellraiser)
Tamzin Outhwaite (Eastenders)

Brothers Terry (Colin Farrell) and Ian (Ewan McGregor), who live in South London, were raised by a weak father Brian (John Benfield) who runs a restaurant, and a strong mother Dorothy (Clare Higgins) who taught her sons to look up to their uncle Howard (Tom Wilkinson), a successful plastic surgeon and businessman.cassandras-dream-640x360The brothers buy a sailboat at an oddly low price, despite its near pristine condition. They name it Cassandra’s Dream, after a greyhound that won Terry the money to buy the boat. Knowing nothing of Greek mythology, they are unaware of the ominous antecedents of this name—the ancient prophetess Cassandra, whose prophecies of doom went unheeded by those around her. While driving home from a day’s sailing in a borrowed car, Ian crosses paths with beautiful actress Angela Stark (Hayley Atwell), with whom he becomes infatuated.Terry has a gambling addiction that sinks him deeper in debt. Ian wishes to invest in hotels in California to finance a new life with Angela. To overcome their financial issues, they ask Howard for help. He agrees to help them, but asks for a favor in return: they must murder someone for him. Howard faces imprisonment for unspecified crimes and his future is threatened by Martin Burns (Phil Davis), a former business partner who plans to testify against him. Howard asks his nephews to get rid of Burns, and in return he will reward them financially. After initial reluctance, the brothers agree. They make two zip guns, untraceable and easily destroyed. Lying in wait in Burns’ home, their plan is foiled when Burns arrives with a woman. Their resolve shaken, they leave and agree to commit the murder the next day.

The next day, they succeed in carrying out the murder and later destroy the guns. Ian is content to move on as if nothing happened, but Terry is consumed by guilt and begins abusing alcohol and other drugs. His behavior frightens his fiancée (Sally Hawkins), who tells Ian about the situation and that Terry believes he has killed someone. After Terry confides that he wants to turn himself in to the police, Ian goes to Howard for advice. They agree there is no alternative but to get rid of Terry. Ian plans to poison Terry during an outing on the boat. Ian can’t bring himself to kill his own brother, and attacks him in a fit of rage. In the chaos, Terry knocks Ian down the steps into the cabin, killing him.

The boat is later discovered adrift by the police, and the audience learns that Terry snapped and drowned himself after killing his brother. The last shot is of Cassandra’s Dream, still in beautiful condition despite the tragedies it set in motion.

Really good drama from woody Allen that shows his versatility and ability at writing drama. Definitely worth a watch even if you’re not a woody Allen fan.

REVIEW: THE GOLDEN COMPASS

CAST
Nicole Kidman (Australia)
Daniel Craig (Tomb Raider)
Dakota Blue Richards (Skins)
Freddie Highmiore (Bates Motel)
Ian McKellen (The Hobbit)
Eva Green (Dark Shadows)
Ian McShane (Hercules)
Sam Elliott (Hulk)
Christopher Lee (Lord of The Rings)
Kristin Scott Thomas (Mission Impossible)
Kathy Bates (Misery)
Derek Jacobi (Gladiator)
Clare Higgins (Hellraiser)
At the beginning of the film, we learn that the story takes place in one of many alternate worlds, in which a person’s soul is contained within an animal companion called a dæmon (pronounced demon). The Magisterium, represented as a unified religious power, exercises power in the secular world. Lyra Belacqua, an orphan that resides in Jordan College, in a city that resembles Oxford, with her dæmon Pantalaimon (Pan), accidentally witnesses a Magisterium member poison her uncle’s bottle of Tokay. Lyra then warns her uncle, Lord Asriel, who instructs her to remain in hiding. Lyra watches Asriel give a presentation regarding Dust, a particle that the Magisterium has forbidden the mention of. The college gives Asriel a grant to fund a northern expedition. At dinner, Lyra meets Mrs. Coulter, who insists on taking Lyra north as her assistant. Before Lyra leaves, the Master of the college entrusts her with the only remaining alethiometer, a compass-like artifact that reveals the truth. The Magisterium has destroyed all the others. He instructs her to keep it secret, especially from Mrs. Coulter.
At Mrs. Coulter’s house in a city that resembles a futuristic London, Lyra mentions ‘dust’, a type of mysterious particle. This puts Mrs. Coulter on edge and she warns Lyra never to mention it again, and also insists that she leave the bag containing the aleithiometer. Mrs. Coulter’s dæmon (a golden monkey) attacks Pan, causing Lyra to give in. Lyra and Pan discover that Mrs. Coulter is head of the General Oblation Board, the “Gobblers”, who have been kidnapping local children. She also discovers that her best friend Roger and her Gyptian friend Billy have been taken by the Gobblers.
Lyra and Pan walk in on Mrs. Coulter’s dæmon attempting to steal the alethiometer. They escape into the streets. The “Gobblers” pursue her, but she is saved by some Gyptians. Aboard a Gyptian boat heading north to rescue their children, Lyra shows the alethiometer to a Gyptian wise man, Farder Coram. On deck that night Serafina Pekkala, the witch queen, tells Lyra that the missing children are in a place called Bolvangar. Mrs. Coulter sends two mechanical spy flies after Lyra and Pan; one is batted away but the other is caught and sealed in a tin can by Farder Coram, who explains that the spy fly has a sting with a sleeping poison. Lord Asriel is captured by Samoyeds hired by Mrs. Coulter on his expedition but he bribes his captors into releasing him.
At a northern port, Lyra is befriended by a Texan aeronaut named Lee Scoresby, who advises her to hire an armoured bear. Exiled in shame, the giant polar bear Iorek Byrnison has been tricked out of his armour by the local townspeople. Using the alethiometer Lyra tells Iorek where to find his armour. Armoured again, the fearsome Iorek and his friend Lee Scoresby join the trek northward. That night while riding on Iorek’s back, Lyra finds a cowering and changed Billy separated from his dæmon Salcilia. Lyra reunites Billy with his mother just as the group is attacked by Samoyeds who capture Lyra. Taken to the armoured bear king Ragnar Sturlusson, Lyra tricks him into fighting Iorek one on one. At first, Ragnar seems to have the upper hand in the fight, but Iorek eventually tricks his rival and kills him. He then becomes the new king. Iorek carries Lyra near to a thin ice bridge near Bolvangar. Reaching the station, Lyra is taken to eat with the missing children. While hiding again Lyra discovers that the Magisterium scientists, under the guidance of Mrs. Coulter, are performing experiments to sever the bond between a child and his or her dæmon. Caught spying, Lyra and Pan are thrown in the intercision chamber, and end up unconscious from the energy force that tries to cut them. On seeing Lyra in the guillotine, Mrs. Coulter rescues her and takes her to her quarters.
When Lyra wakes up she is comforted by a distraught Mrs. Coulter, who explains the dæmon cutting to Lyra and also tells Lyra that she is her mother. Lyra then guesses that Lord Asriel is her father. When Mrs. Coulter asks for the alethiometer, Lyra gives her the can containing the spy fly. The spy fly stings Mrs. Coulter, knocking her and her dæmon out. Lyra runs to the room with the intercision machine. The growing chain reaction builds as Lyra yanks a control box loose and hurls it into the intercision machine, causing it to explode. This sets off a series of explosions that tear the facility apart.
Outside, the children are attacked by Tartar mercenaries and their wolf dæmons. The battle is joined by Iorek, the Gyptians, and a band of flying witches led by Serafina Pekkala. The Tartars are defeated and the children are rescued. Rather than returning south, Lyra, Roger and Iorek fly north with Lee Scoresby in search of Lord Asriel. Unaware that he is in mortal danger, Lord Asriel has set up a laboratory to investigate the glowing Dust from another world.
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The Golden Compass is hardly Lord of the Rings as many had hoped for, but thankfully it looked it is very much worth watching.