Get Low (2009)

This was one of those Netflix finds, that with its heavy weight cast of

Robert Duvall and

Bill Murray should have popped up on my radar a lot sooner.  After watching it, there is a reason it didn’t pop up – it isn’t very good.

The story centers around Duvall’s character, a 1930′s Tennessee hermit who has lived by himself in near isolation for 40 years.  Apparently the story has a pixie dust sprinkling of truth but one shouldn’t look too closely for it.   As he’s getting to the end of his life, he realizes he hasn’t been the easiest to interact with.  So comes up with this idea to throw his own funeral while he is still alive.

His criteria for those coming, is to simply come along and share your stories about him.  Every interaction, however small, is game.  As an incentive, he runs a lottery, $5 entrant, puts you in the running for the draw for his estate when he dies.

Naturally he needs someone to help with this, and the local undertaker, Murray helps him with this endeavor.  Business is a little slow for him and his new understudy so he’s only too keen to help on this.

The story never really gets going.  It isn’t truly dramatic, nor is it comedic, it walks some where in-between.  You are left wondering if you should feel sorry for them or not, or if you should invest in the supporting characters.

The movie is not completely without its merits, but it isn’t something you would go running towards, but if you find it on, then take a seat and continue watching it.

#94 in the series


Viewing Date
Friday, 20th November 2015 (Richmond)


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In the Loop (2009)

How do you describe Malcolm Tucker to the world?  How do you describe a fowl mouth, intimidating, shouty Scottish government spin doctor in a way that properly articulates the side splitting humor?    In the Loop, is a movie derived from the very popular BBC TV series, The Thick of It, from 

Armando Iannucci (he who is behind the HBO series VEEP).

Peter Capaldi (yes, Doctor Who) is Malcolm Tucker, who finds himself attempting to stave off an International joint war invasion when one of his British ministers slips up on a radio interview proclaiming war is inevitable.  The Americans latch on to this, as they are looking for British support to go into the war with them and through wonderful manipulation takes this minister’s reluctance to back peddle (because he’s enjoying the attention) as validation they are moving forward together.

Tom Hollander plays the hapless minister who is at the center of all of this, with 

James Gandolfini and

Mimi Kennedy working the American angle.  

Be warned, the dialogue of this movie is outstandingly funny, with ‘fuck’ mentioned 135 times, of those, Tucker uses 86.  You would think this would wear thin after a while, but trust me, it really doesn’t.  It just gets funnier.

Simon Foster: Come on, Malcolm, he asked me for a personal opinion.
Malcolm Tucker: Why didn’t you say? He asked you. Fuck, of course, that explains it. If he’d asked you to fucking black up, or to give him your PIN number or to shit yourself, would you have done that?
Simon Foster: I would have blacked up, yes. It was radio, nobody would’ve known.

You may even find yourself uttering the odd Malcolm Tucker’ism in your daily work environment. I urge you to keep this as inner dialogue, however apt it may seem at the time.  If you need a giggle/reminder, then watch the definitive Tucker

If you find this movie entertaining, then check out the original BBC TV series, it won’t disappoint.

#86 in the series


Viewing Date
Thursday, 12th November 2015 (Richmond)


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Up in the Air (2009)

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a business man that spends the vast amount of his time in the air, flying some 360,000 miles a year and 322 days away from home for a company that specializes in helping companies to downsize, or in other words, he’s sent out to fire the staff.

He is at his happiest when he is in his natural habitat “All the things you probably hate about travelling -the recycled air, the artificial lighting, the digital juice dispensers, the cheap sushi- are warm reminders that I’m home“ as he goes through the wonders and joys of always being first to be served, no queuing and always welcomed with service, due to the sheer amount of points he has accumulated through the various loyalty programs.

Anyone that has spent time in the air on a regular basis will feel right at home at the observations made by Clooney as he does the voice over at the front setup part of the movie.   In fact if you truly are a air warrior then you will cringe at just how close to home it hits.

Ryan Bingham: Never get behind people traveling with infants. I’ve never seen a stroller collapse in less than 20 minutes. Old people are worse. Their bodies are littered with hidden metal and they never seem to appreciate how little time they have left. Bingo, Asians. They pack light, travel efficiently, and they have a thing for slip on shoes. Gotta love ‘em.
Natalie Keener: That’s racist.
Ryan Bingham: I’m like my mother, I stereotype. It’s faster.

While on the road, Ryan meets up with his female counterpart, Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) who they hit it off in a business lounge at some airport and get equally turned on when they show and compare all their loyalty cards.   This begins a series of sexual encounters when they cross airports as they fly all over the country.   Interesting wee aside, Vera Farmiga had just given birth, and opted to have a body double for the few nude scenes in various hotel rooms. 


Ryan’s company decides that they spend way too much money on travel and wish to trial fire-by-video over the Internet.  Ryan isn’t terribly happy with this, and reluctantly takes on the road with him the mastermind of this new idea, Natalie (Anna Kendrick).   Naturally Natalie is no road warrior and has a real life, with a real boyfriend, and is the complete polar to Ryan.

And there in where we have the setup for the rest of the story, as Ryan is made to see what his life is really all about.  He is adamant he never wants to get married and is happy keeping it simple.  Natalie begins to grind him down, making him question his relationship with Alex and his sisters who he really can’t tolerate.

There is a wonderful hilarious part of the movie where Alex, Natalie and Ryan all gate crash a tech conference that is happening at the same hotel they find themselves at.  Again, another cringe worthy scene for those of us that are all too familiar with the pattern here and how these things happen when on the road.

Outside of the familiar references for those of us that have lived that same life style, the story is a bit worn and while it does have an interesting wee twist, it doesn’t go off the beaten track too much, with a huge amount of sentimentality smeared in there to pull at the heart strings.

Clooney does a very good job convincing you of his lonely life on the road.  Though let us be frank, if you look like Clooney, you are not going to be wanting for female company upon an evening in a remote location.

Thoroughly enjoyable movie and one I enjoy dipping back into every so often to get a kick out of the real world travel monologue. 


Viewing Date
Tuesday, 22nd September 2015


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Harry Brown (2009)

Who remembers the character, Paul Kersey, wonderfully played by Charles Bronson in the Deathwish movies from the 1970s?  Quiet man, turned

vigilante   after his limits have been pushed.  You know the story, we have to witness all the atrocities, wrong doings and darn right evil acts, so when the hero of the story finally flips you gain that wonderful sense of redemption, evening up the score.

Michael Caine is our hero in this story.  A retired army officer, who is living out his days, in a packed London concrete vertical village (council estate flats!), who goes about his daily routine without too much fuss.   The local criminal element however are slowly taking over, intimidating the residents, hassling them, mugging and generally threatening .

Mr Caine tolerates, nay, turns his eye away from this, feeling too old to actually do anything about it.   After his wife dies in hospital his best friend confides him that the local gang is harassing him so he has taken to carrying an old bayonet from his army days for self protection.  However it goes wrong on a confrontation and his friend is murdered.

The police come (Emily Mortimer) to investigate but are powerless, to actually do anything since little evidence has been found and it could be argued self-defense.   Of course this was going to be the case, because if it wasn’t then this revenge movie was going to fall short very quickly.

Caine decides enough is enough and decides to be jury, judge and executioner.

He plays this role very real.  An old man, knowing he’s past his prime, getting to grips with his violent past he had left behind when he killed for Queen and country.   His body isn’t as fast or as agile as once was.

There is a wonderful scene where he goes to buy an underground gun from a drug dealer, who himself is off his head and toying with a young girl, played excellently by Sean Harris.   Caine is disgusted he has to see this injustice and wad through this cesspool to get the tools he needs to right his world.  Naturally he can’t let this go after obtaining his desires.  Plays out great.

There are enough twists and turns to make it interesting and give the main character room to move without bumping into too many morality fences.   

How the police are portrayed in this movie is what lets this otherwise great thriller down.  There is no way they would be that powerless and stupid.   Reminds of that scene in So I Married an Axe Murderer when Alan Arkin asks he should yell as the police chief as that is the way it is done in the movies “yeah, but easy on the ethic slurs next time”.    The police in Harry Brown, is a cliched modern day Key Stone cop view.  Shame.

On the whole, a good effort Deathwish clone of a movie and well worth the 1hr 40minutes investment. 


Viewing Date
Tuesday, 8th September 2015


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Moon (2009)

Think more 2001 less Star Wars, as this one-man thriller will take you through the longevity of loneliness while challenging what you perceive as real and fiction and what it means to hold onto hope.

Sam Bell, played excellently by Sam Rockwell, is an engineer that has been stationed on the Moon for a 3 year engagement to mine minerals to send back to Earth so it may be powered.  His only companion is a rather boxy ugly robot (voiced by Kevin Spacey) who turns out to have more flexibility in its AI than you would normally have expected from space robots, Hal for example.

Everything appears absolutely normal at first.  Getting up each (Earth) day, checks messages from home, does some exercise, washes, dons his space suit and heads out to the large machines that are mining ore for later return to Earth.

One day though he gets himself into an accident and the routine is disrupted.  Things go from bad to worse and without giving too much away, he discovers he is in fact a clone when a new ‘Sam’ is revived.

The inter play between the sick Sam and the newly created Sam is absolutely fantastic and clever in parts.  Imagine coming face to face with yourself, as everything you thought was real starts to crumble around you.  Confirmation is made when the sick Sam manages to bypass normal protocols and make an unauthorized call back to Earth only to discover his daughter now grown up and his wife dead.  Reality kicks him hard.

As both of them discover the room full of all the other Sam’s awaiting for awakening, they then realize they are in a loop that needs to be broken and hatch a plan to send one back to Earth in the next consignment.

What I love about this movie is some of the issues it raises and makes you think about the value of life.  For example, is it truly a self sacrifice if its your clone that decides to die?   How do you out think yourself?  

With only a budget of $5M, Moon managed to make nearly $10M in worldwide takings.  So while it wasn’t a runaway box office hit, it proved that small thought provoking movies are worthy to be made with minimal special effects, even if set in space.

If you are in the mood for a thinking science fiction then you can’t go wrong with Moon and you will be impressed at the ending and the debate it leaves you with to wrestle yourself.   I love a story that isn’t scared to ask a series of questions without offering any answers.


Viewing Date
Tuesday, 25th August 2015


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