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That’s A Wrap: Kylie Minogue, Fantastic Beasts, Paddington 2

Angie Greaves and I are back with another edition of our entertainment news podcast, That’s A Wrap.

This week we’re discussing everything from Elton John’s autobiography to Kylie Minogue’s new film plus an update on Paddington 2 and my thoughts on the new Netflix comedy, Mascots.

Continue reading That’s A Wrap: Kylie Minogue, Fantastic Beasts, Paddington 2

DVD news

News of two big DVD release in the next few months.

First up, my favourite film of 2014, Paddington.

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The little bear from Peru arrives on DVD, Blu-Ray and Download on March 23. If you haven’t seen it yet then you really should!

The week before, March 16, sees the the arrival of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 on DVD, Blu-Ray and limited edition Blu-Ray Steelbook. The film will be available to download the day before.

My top 10 films of 2014

It’s that time of year when everyone starts compiling their best of the year and I’m no exception! This is the list of MY top 10 films of 2014 – so it’s completely subjective and you probably don’t agree with me in any way. What is apparent is that I didn’t see as many films as usual this year (too much ‘proper’ work to do) and so I missed some of the film’s that I suspect are on other critics’ lists. Also, my list is for 2014 so it doesn’t include some of the films I’ve already seen that will be in UK cinemas in early 2015.

10. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

It’s tough for me to only place this at number 10 but I really don’t think it can go any higher. I do believe it’s the weakest of all six Middle-earth films and I was very underwhelmed the first time I saw it. However, on second viewing I enjoyed it much more. And both times I was brought to tears by the final 20 minutes. For that reason it squeaks in.

9. Get On Up

The James Brown biopic was released in the UK the same weekend as the new Hunger Games film and I think it therefore was missed by a lot of film fans. It shouldn’t have been. I hugely enjoyed the film which shows Brown warts and all – it doesn’t shy away from his darker side. Plus I thought Chadwick Boseman in the lead role was absolutely fantastic. It’s a shame he’s not getting more attention during awards season, he deserves it.

8. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Not much happens in the film, it’s busy setting everything up for what I imagine is going to be an all-guns-blazing finale, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. Jennifer Lawrence once again carries the whole film, she’s really grown into the role of Katniss. And the scene when she sings ‘The Hanging Tree’ gave me goosebumps.

7. Guardians of the Galaxy

I went into Guardians with absolutely no expectations but I came out Hooked On A Feeling (sorry). I knew nothing about the story beforehand but I was completely carried away but the rollicking good story which was jam packed with humour. I’m really looking forward to the sequel. And I want a Baby Groot!

6. Chef

I bet you missed this at the cinema. Well go and find it on DVD! Jon Favreau directs and stars this tale of a man going through a major crisis. It’s a world away from the bombastic Iron Man films and that’s one of the things I loved about it. Plus the fantastic cast (including the cameos). Seriously, if you haven’t seen it please check it out!

5. 12 Years A Slave

It feels a bit strange including the Oscar-winning film but as I said at the start this is a review of films released in 2014. I saw it in October 2013 and it still haunts me now. Chiwetel Ejiofor is superb in the lead role and I thought his was a stronger performance than Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey, plus Lupita N’yongo was a revelation as Patsy. I’ll be honest, it’s not a film I’ve watched a second time but it’s a film I feel is incredibly important and that’s why I rate it so highly.

4. The Imitation Game

Hands down the best Benedict Cumberbatch performance on film. While we all know the outcome of the main storyline (can they break the Enigma Code?) it’s still a thoroughly compelling story that draws you in. Cumberbatch is supported by an excellent cast, not least Keira Knightley who I think gives one of her best ever performances. It’s a fantastic British film and throughly deserves the recognition it’s been receiving.

3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I really wasn’t sure about this from the trailers. The apes are talking? Hmm. But after attending an early footage screening my interest was peaked. And the final film didn’t let me down. Once you get used to Caesar speaking it becomes quite normal and the relationships between the apes are really touching. Toby Kebbell gives Andy Serkis a run for his money in the mo-cap acting making Koba pretty terrifying in places. Is it better than the first film? I’d say yes. And I’d also say it’s time to five mo-cap actors the credit they’re due!

2. Pride

Oh what a joy of a film. I came to the Pride love-in a little late but now I’m thoroughly on board. It’s sweet, touching and laugh out loud funny. Who knew a story about a group of gay activists and Welsh miners could bring so much joy? The ensemble cast emits such a warmth that you just want to gather them all up in one great big hug. I loved it.

1. Paddington

Yes a film about a marmalade loving bear from Peru has topped my list of the best films of 2014. And I don’t care if you disagree because I told you this is MY choice. Paddington is a film that the whole family can enjoy. There’s plenty of slapstick for the little ones, laughs for the adults and a message for everyone. As Paddington says “I will never be like other people but that’s ok”. Well the 21st century Paddington is just like the bear we all grew up with. And you know what, I can’t wait for the sequel!

Paddington – film review

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When I read there were plans for a big screen outing for Paddington Bear I was worried. I grew up watching the BBC’s version of Paddington and I took the little bear to my heart. What if the modern-day CGI version ruined Michael Bond’s creation?

I needn’t have worried. The 21st century version of Paddington is a joy to behold. Director Paul King and producer David Heyman (of Harry Potter fame) have brought the fun and spirit of both the books and the TV series to their film.

The story begins in Darkest Peru where Paddington’s Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo are discovered by ‘the explorer’. From him they develop a love of the English language (spoken perfectly properly), London and (of course) Marmalade. Cut to 40 years later and Lucy and Pastuzo have adopted their orphaned nephew. Theirs is an idyllic life of marmalade making and dreaming of a trip to London. But when disaster strikes, Lucy decides to move into a home for retired bears and Paddington stows away on a ship to London because, as Aunt Lucy tells him, Londoners “will not have forgotten how to treat a stranger”.

Paddington’s ship finally docks in London (the passage of time is illustrated by how many jars of marmalade he’s eaten) and through a series of events the young bear finds himself at Paddington station where he hopes to make friends and find a new home. Of course this is London and Londoners don’t talk to anyone, except for Mrs Brown who takes pity on Paddington (watch out for the lovely Lost And Found moment) much to the annoyance of her risk assessor husband and daughter Judy, who finds everything so embarrassing.

After supplying her new friend with a name, Mrs Brown offers him a bed for the night and Paddington hopes he’s found his new home. But that may not be the case after he manages to destroy the family’s bathroom almost immediately. After Paddington tells the Browns the story of ‘the explorer’, Mrs Brown sets out to help the young bear to track him down and maybe find his new home. The plot also involves Natural History taxidermist Millicent – Nicole Kidman at her wicked best – who has her own reasons for getting to know Paddington.

The film features a great cast with Hugh Bonneville the human stand out as Mr Brown. I also loved Peter Capaldi’s turn as the Brown’s neighbour Mr Curry who develops something of a crush on Millicent. In fact, one of my few criticisms is that I would have liked to have seen him a bit more! Julie Walters as the Browns’ housekeeper Mrs Bird gets one big scene and there are also cameos from the likes of Matt Lucas, Matt King (Peep Show’s Super Hans) and Jim Broadbent as the kindly Mr Gruber who tells Paddington “a home is more than just a roof over your head”.

But the real star of the show here are the film’s effects. It’s not just the work done on the bear, there are so many scenes that will take your breath away: the jungle in Peru, Paddington’s visit to the Geographers’ Guild archives, even the painted tree on the wall in the Browns’ hallway, the beauty of the effects work is just astonishing, Paddington himself is realised with such care and love – every strand of his fur is visible, the animators have him flying through the air, skateboarding behind a bus and even having a Mission: Impossible moment (complete with theme tune). I truly forgot I was watching a computer generated creature. Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington is pitch perfect and I do think he suits the role much better than original choice Colin Firth. The little bear makes you laugh like a drain but also pulls at your heartstrings.

To sum it up, Paddington is a film that the whole family can enjoy. There’s plenty of slapstick for the little ones, laughs for the adults and a message for everyone. As Paddington says “I will never be like other people but that’s ok”. Well the 21st century Paddington is just like the bear we all grew up with. Thank you Paul King and David Heyman for staying true to the bear we all love. Now, when is Paddington 2 out?