Papadopoulos And Sons: The Chip Shop At The Beating Heart Of The Family

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A Greek Business titan, played by Stephen Dillane, is brought low and must go back to his roots and in doing so he finds his spark for life all over again.

I thought that this film did what British films do best it brought out both the pains and the triumphs of everyday life and reflected that on screen. There is something very human in British cinema that American cinema often lacks for one reason or another, it dwells more in the overly fantastic than the real for one.

I also thought that Dillane and Georges Corraface were both fantastic and played off each other well. I thought they were very believable as brothers, especially as estranged brothers, and I thought the final scene towards the end of the film hit with a hell of a punch because of this.

The one thing I will say of the film that maybe could be viewed as a criticism is that it struggles to match the comedy with the drama and leans far more into the latter. The final third of the film is quite the gut punch and the laughs here and there aren’t really enough to balance it out, so tonally things start to come unstuck by the end.

Overall, a bittersweet film that hits mostly all the right cords.

4/5

Pros.

The emotion

Dillane

Corraface

The message of the film

Cons.

A little light on laughs and at times fairly depressing

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The Drop: Get Some Better Friends

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A cringe comedy following the events covering and following a woman, played by Anna Konkle, who drops a baby.

I am a fan of Sarah Adina Smith as a director, I think her film Midnight Swim is powerful in the way a lot of films wish they can be, however, I think this film is beneath her talents and feels like a big step back when compared to her other films.

The main issue with this film is that as a cringe comedy it just doesn’t work, though it has some good cringe moments for the most part it isn’t cringe enough and the rest of the comedy doesn’t land. A lot of the characters are unlikeable, but that doesn’t make them funny even in a cringe comedy sense, but it does make a lot of their scenes unbearable.

Moreover, the commentary on women and babies feels several years out of date, what this films presents as strong statements and new suggestions about maternity have almost all been made before. The ending realisation that some women don’t want kids and that is okay isn’t new and it doesn’t feel challenging or praise worthy for the film to say it, you are left saying ‘yes and’, it needs to go further if it wants to commit to the social commentary.

Overall, it’s watchable but a big step back from Smith.

2/5

Pros.

It is watchable

The teenager character has a few funny lines

Cons.

The social commentary doesn’t go far enough

The cringe comedy doesn’t work

It all feels very played out

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A Man Called Otto: The Perfect January Film

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Tom Hanks plays a curmudgeon who after losing his wife seals himself off from the world, until his new neighbours give him a reason to live again.

This is one of those films that you will watch once and enjoy but then likely never watch again. I don’t think that is inherently a bad thing, rather I think this film has a powerful message and conveys it beautifully and it will reach those who need it, when they need it and it doesn’t need to do more than that.

In many sense this film is the perfect January film it is both sad and at times manically depressing but also hopeful and life affirming. Many of us who find January an incredibly hard month for a lot of different reasons, need the positivity this film brings and for them it will be a boon.

I really enjoyed Tom Hanks here I thought he played the role really well and as the film progressed it was incredibly hard not to root for him. The flashbacks were incredibly moving and affecting, but I won’t talk about them as they made me get upset in the cinema and I can feel the same emotions stirring as I sit here and write out this review, suffice it to say you will be wiping away a few tears in this one.

Overall, a beautiful film but one that will never stand a rewatch.

4.5/5

Pros.

The message

The emotions

Hanks

The ending and its feel good properties

The supporting cast

Cons.

It would be hard to watch again

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House Party: LeBron Is Kind Of A Jerk

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Two friends, played by Tosin Cole and Jacob Latimore, host a party at LeBron James’ house whilst he is out of town.

I thought this film was fun enough, it was fine and relatively easy to watch whilst not reinventing the wheel in any way and playing out the same old tropes over and over again.

The cameos were mostly used well, though at times the film did over use them by having the camera simply pan over to show a famous face without even giving them much to do or more than a few lines, Snoop Dogg I’m looking at you.

I thought the film was held up by the chemistry between the two leading men, they were convincing friends and had a good back and forth. I thought the film was at its best when it was the two of them being thrown into extreme situations and having to come up with some zany way out, in that sense it reminded me of Harold and Kumar.

Overall, watchable but nothing to write home about.

3/5

Pros.

It is watchable

It has a few good laughs

The wackiness is fun

Cons.

Not all the jokes land

It is a lot of recycled plot points and tropes

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Interview With Writer/Director Graham Jones: Silicon Docks

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview Writer/ Director Graham Jones about their new animated comedy, drama film Silicon Docks, which follows a group of recognisable tech figures meeting for a drink in an Irish pub. In this interview we discuss tech billionaires and who would win in a fight between them, modern internet culture and the ever forward march of progress.I hope you enjoy.

Q: What was your message with this film?

GJ: SILICON DOCKS is mainly to do with modern culture or the internet – and the way that tech is transforming our lives. Technological advances have changed human interaction, in some cases, for the better – but in many cases not. Ireland is a culture that is quite social, traditionally. We commune, we communicate, we gossip like you wouldn’t believe. It’s very interesting to see that culture transplanted into the 21st Century or the internet era. 

A lot of the web is interconnected, but paradoxically distant and removed. We’re closer to each other, yet also further apart. We have all this great tech and these zippy apps and social media platforms that purport to make communication easier, but which often just leave people staring at their phones like zombies instead of really connecting like they used to. 

So I wanted to riff on all of that stuff, from an Irish perspective.

  Q: Why focus on tech moguls?

GJ: Human beings are really the only things an audience can relate to – and so wanting to explore the kind of themes mentioned above, I needed to find the right characters for the story. Granted, I could have used a collection of Irish characters and shown how their lives have changed because of tech. But I found the whole Silicon Docks area of my native city – where these big US tech corporations have congregated due to low corporation tax passionately hawked by the Irish government – more and more intriguing and using the moguls gave me other narrative opportunities also. Many of these moguls are actually my own generation and it seemed like they would make good protagonists because, like me, they actually lived through this change or even brought it about. No, they are not completely responsible for the internet, but dramatically speaking they made great punching bags. It certainly seemed valid to subject them to same kind of distortion that is commonplace online nowadays, it felt almost karmic! 

Q: What sort of impact do you think tech and the digital space has had on our daily life?

GJ: I think it has a huge impact. I grew up without this ‘web’ and have seen the way it’s grown and mutated and really kind of taken over our lives at this point. I do wonder what it must be like for people who were born into it, who arrived when it was already operating. What really strikes me is that it used to be peripheral, whereas now it’s all-consuming. Just how far will this go, or where exactly are we going – I wonder? There is no doubt that it’s improved some aspects of our lives, but at what cost? That’s the big question. To me, it’s as if we are going forward and backwards at the same time. A good example is indie filmmaking. It’s easier to make an indie film nowadays, compared with back in the nineties when I used to shoot on celluloid and distribute expensive cans of film to cinemas. But on the other hand, it’s also much harder to get attention for your movie nowadays, after you have made it. Backwards and forwards, better and worse, that’s the internet. I suppose we’ll see what happens…

Q: Who do you think would win in a fight between Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey?

GJ: Ha, I haven’t a clue – but must confess that I would probably watch that fight, a guilty pleasure. I guess that’s kind of what our film is: Musk and Dorsey and Bezos and Zuckerberg’s idea of fighting. One-upmanship or pissing contests – basically like a tech mogul version of fighting. Again, tech bros don’t like a lot of touching or interaction!

Q: Why choose the medium of animation to tell your tale?

GJ: I thought animation was the right medium for SILCON DOCKS because it so resembles the world we live today – I mean so resembles the internet or the metaverse or pick your word. Instead of meeting in a pub, on the street or wherever – people basically now send data to each other through their little electronic devices. We are becoming increasingly virtual and so right away I suspected animation would be the right medium to portray that virtual vortex. But it’s not just animation we use, as the background in SILICON DOCKS is actually rotoscoped. It’s animation on top of a rotoscoped world, which again seemed natural given our new reality. On this planet, we’re humans who increasingly operate in a digital web and so we tried to reflect that visually. The medium is the message, as Marshall McLuhan once said.

Q: Any funny stories from production?

GJ: Well, I couldn’t find anybody to do Elon Musk’s voice authentically, because he’s got a kind of scattered, hard to place ‘new world’ accent – and so, in the end, José just did a Dublin accent for us! 

Q: What are your future plans for your next feature?

GJ: I can’t say anything about my next film at the moment, unfortunately.

Q: Do you have any words of advice for future filmmakers who  may be reading

GJ: The main error new filmmakers make is assuming they only have to make the film and that once they do so, everything else will kind of magically fall into place. In reality, there are 2 stages to the process. One is literally making the film and everything that involves, all the way through from script to final mix. The second stage is getting it to people via whatever route you choose to take. Typically what happens is that new filmmakers are so exhausted after the first stage, they have no energy or spirit or realisation the second stage even exists! So do watch out for that…

If you would like to check out Silicon Docks  for yourself it is currently out now on YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cG8gwP3kQfE

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Velma: First Two Episode Overview

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Mindy Kaling turns herself into Velma from Scooby Doo and creates one of the most grotesque vanity projects I have ever seen in my life.

Who is this for? It certainly isn’t for Scooby Doo fans, as the talking dog himself is not even in this, is it for new fans as it feels like a new show? Well maybe, but if that is the case then have the balls to call it something different and not attach it to the Scooby Doo IP. In my mind this is for fans of Harley Quin as this is basically just the same show, but set in a different fictional universe.

Where to begin with why this show doesn’t work. Frankly Scooby Doo as a franchise was never calling out for an adult take, we never needed to hear the gang talk about sex and drugs and for the most part here it just feels like the show is trying to be edgy. However, the issue is that in its attempts to be edgy it just feels desperate instead, and the comedy, if you can call it that, feels at least a few years out of date.

However, I think worst of all is Velma herself. Kaling takes the very worst aspects of her characters from her other shows and forces them all up to the max to create a truly irritating character that only gets worse. In the two episodes that I watched, and believe me I won’t be watching anymore, Velma went from stupid, to irritating to hateable really quick.

Overall, for once Zaslav should have used his axe for good and should have prevented us from ever having to be subject to this, it makes you truly thankful for and remember fondly the James Gunn films and that is saying something indeed. Truly a trash show destined to not find an audience and fail.

0.5/5

Pros.

It gave me a renewed appreciation for the James Gunn Scooby Doo films

Cons.

It is a vanity project and is in no way Scooby Doo

It is unfunny and the adult humour feels try hard at best

Velma is deeply irritating and unlikeable

There is no Scooby Doo

It feels like Harley Quinn but with different characters

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The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty: Jumping On A Fish Boat And Heading Out To Parts Unknown

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Walter Mitty, played by Ben Stiller, is a boring office drone, who spends half his life in a day dream until one day adventure comes calling.

I enjoyed this film quite a bit, I found it to be uplifting and an incredible force for positivity which in these dark days we all need. It certainly isn’t an original premise, both because it is based on a book, and also because the idea of the stiff finding his spirit of adventure has been so done to death over the years, though Stiller certainly tries to put his own spin on it.

Having watched many, and I do mean many, of Ben Stiller’s films over the years I have to say this is one of his best and certainly more nuanced: think The Royal Tenenbaums Stiller. There is a certain degree of emotion to his performance that will make many people sit and reflect on their own lives, Walter Mitty feels like the ultimate everyman but that is the point. I also thought that Sean Penn was great even though he only had an incredibly small role.

I will say that this film leans more towards being an earnest yet uplifting drama and take on human life and the spirit of adventure rather than a Ben Stiller comedy film. It really isn’t goofy and the laughs are not forthcoming a lot of the time and that is okay, in a sense stupid dumb jokes would break the wholesomeness of the film in a sense.

Overall, a sweet life affirming film that is only let down by a fairly generic plot.

4 /5

Pros.

It is truly feel good

It reminds you of the good in the world

Stiller is fantastic

It is paced to perfection

Cons.

The plot does feel a little familiar to a lot of other projects

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Music And Lyrics: Deeply Out Of Tune

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A washed up musician, played by Hugh Grant, must team up with an aspiring but timid writer, played by Drew Barrymore, in order to write a song for a competition that could put him back on top.

For Hugh Grant this is as far away from his heyday in films written by Richard Curtis as you can get in terms of quality, though maybe Mickey Blue Eyes was worse. There is little to be excited about in this film as there is nothing new here, it is just Grant playing a role that we have seen him play before, that’s not exciting.

Whilst an argument can be made that Barrymore and Grant have good chemistry and that certainly helps the film, the sometimes quite incredibly toxic dialogue hurts it beyond repair. Grant’s character in this does not come off as one we want to root for but rather a bit of a tosser and that is amplified by the often quite corrosive statements made by the film.

For me the worst sin committed by this film is the pace which borders on tedious at times, it doesn’t go over but it comes damn close.

Overall, one of Grant’s weaker rom-coms and proof of why he needed to get out of the genre.

2/5

Pros.

It is watchable

Grant and Barrymore have good chemistry

Cons.

It has a toxic message

It has pacing problems

It is a weak rom-com in multiple senses

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Daddy Day Care: The Adventures Of A Stay At Home Dad

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Eddie Murphy becomes a stay at home dad and then decides to turn his home into a day care centre.

This film was by no means awful, as some of Murphy’s later films are, but it was simply incredibly familiar and frankly lame. The plot of the film was so formulaic and played out that you knew exactly what was going to happen and when, and all of this was obvious from the jump, there were no surprises.

The humour was obviously for a younger audience a lot of slapstick and some gross out jokes these didn’t really land for me, but they did have a few more adult jokes that landed and made me laugh. On the whole I would say far more misses than hits.

However, what really does end up saving this film in my view is Eddie Murphy himself. Murphy brings a lot of charm and heart to the role and this helps to elevate the film beyond mediocre and into better territory. The end realisation that he was actually doing it to be closer to his own son all along and that it was better than the cushy advertising job he had before would had felt generic and dull with another actor but Murphy really sells it.

Overall, Murphy really does put in a lot to get this one over the line.

3/5

Pros.

Murphy

The heart

It is watchable

Cons.

More misses than hits with the jokes

It is incredibly predictable

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True Lies: Abducting Your Wife And Forcing Her To Almost Cheat As You Think She Is Cheating On You

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A husband, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and wife, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, become tied up in the spy game.

An Arnold Schwarzenegger action film whilst he was still roughly in his prime is an inherently appealing prospect, however, this film feels deeply rooted in the Nineties and I don’t mean that in a good way. In many senses a lot of the cliches and toxic ideas of the decade do bleed through, the way Schwarzenegger’s character treats his wife is incredibly dated and borderline sociopathic yet the film wants us to think it is okay and justified.

The action of the film is fun in an over the top extremely macho sort of way, Schwarzenegger can break men’s necks with just a quick snap of the neck no struggle at all. Though I would say that the poor CGI does mean that some of these action sequences age poorly and come off looking like an early video game.

In terms of performance Schwarzenegger seems to be having a lot of fun, but Jamie Lee Curtis is incredibly one note and plays the bored yet still loyal housewife cliché, her character lacks any kind of depth.

Overall, fun but incredibly dated.

3/5

Pros.

Schwarzenegger

The over the top action

It is unintentionally hilarious

Cons.

Curtis

Incredibly dated

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