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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Spectre (2015)

Bond, James Bond is on his 24th outing after scoring extremely well with his previous Skyfall escapades.  With

Daniel Craig back with

Sam Mendes can this duo strike gold twice?

The anticipation for this Bond was fever pitch, especially when the trailer dropped with a wonderful

Christoph Waltz as our Bond baddie, Blofeld, and of course a brand spanking, custom designed Aston Martin, the DB10.   Throw in a great theme sung by Sam Smith, we could have an epic on our hands.

Let us cut to the chase – yes we do have an epic on our hands.  While not up to the same high standard of Skyfall, this outing does not do anything to dent the reputation of the Bond series.  The moment we open up to the classic through the barrel of his gun tracking Bond walk across the screen and then shoots, the goose bumps didn’t end.

The opening sequence, set in Mexico City is right up there with the classic multiple stunts of Bonds of past.   Though, as we are introduced to Mexico City there is a death/voodoo celebration going on in the street giving us a feel of the 1970′s Live and Let Die Bond.   This isn’t the first time you have a feeling of deja vu.   We have the World is not Enough story line creeping in with the notion of global surveillance and Quantum of Solace with the complex in the desert setup.

But that all aside, the movie stands on its own very well, with a story line that is far fetched enough to live in the Bond universe and be enough for us to think, what if such things were allowed to go unchecked.

The story moves along at a wonderful pace, with the usual beautiful women, exotic locations and various action scenes.   Andrew Scott (from BBC Sherlock) plays an excellent role and does his usual intense psychotic character.

The real star of the movie is Waltz.  Once again he puts in a performance that simply steals the show.   He plays the iconic Blofeld with a quiet, unnerving stillness.  This is no Dr Evil (the parody from Mike Myers in Austin Powers).  No over the top character flaws.  For once we have a true baddie that feels real enough.   Though personally I am not as keen on the back story here of how he and Bond knew each other.  No spoilers.

The only real gripe I have is the relationship he forges with

Léa Seydoux, a beautiful lady some 17 years his younger.  It doesn’t feel right. He doesn’t even look right.  But that aside.

This was an excellent Bond and I am looking forward to watching it again.  It was definitely one of the best, even though I am not a huge fan of the DB10.  Though he does redeem himself driving off in the end in the classic 1960′s Aston Martin.

#82 in the series


Viewing Date
Sunday, 8th November 2015 (Richmond, Movieland)


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Office Space (1999)

This 16 year old gem was not an immediate hit when it first came out.  

Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead fame) wrote and directed this story about a young mans disillusionment with corporate life.   Let us cut to the chase – if you have never worked in an office cube, with all the inter-office politics then this movie will simply fly over your head.  Let me save you some time, keep on going, nothing for you to see here.

If however, you have indeed been in that environment then you will find this painfully funny.  Why painfully?  Because you will realize just how futile and petty and darn right childish your daily struggles with office politics are when they are transposed onto the screen.

And this is the genius of this movie.  When you see the whole story line of Milton and his stapler you will instantly identify with at least one person in your office to which this will apply to and you will find yourself howling at the guilty pleasure.

The fun doesn’t stop there.  If you have ever undergone a take-over, a buy-out or even had consultants come in to optimize your work force, then the two Bobs will have you rolling in the aisles.

So what would you say, you actually do here?

Office Space hits many marks, taking a wonderful swing at every single office character you have ever run into.   This is a movie that simply keeps giving and if you listen out carefully you will find the lines of this movie being quoted back in the office to you.  It is like a secret code being passed back and forth.

If you have ever had a bad day at the office and in that mood where you think everyone is out to get you, throw on this movie and you will be instantly reminded that the world is filled with a lot of predictability.

#80 in the series


Viewing Date
Friday, 6th November 2015 (Richmond)


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Shakespeare in Love (1998)

I remember the first time I seen this movie.  It was the opening weekend in Leicester Square, London and the whole place was decked out in a very Shakespearean theme.  We follow Will Shakespeare in Elizabethan London as he attempts to finish his play; Romeo and Ethel – the pirate princess.

So already you know this is not a serious retelling of Britain’s most beloved and favorite playwright.  It is a romantic comedy set in the whimsical world of the actors and stage of the time,  A time where females were strictly forbidden from starring on the stage.

Joseph Fiennes takes on the role of Will, playing it perfectly as he tries to navigate getting words written while paying the bills.   

Geoffrey Rush takes on the role of the theater owner who is in debt and is desperate to put a play to be able to pay his debt to

Tom Wilkinson the local Shylock.

This movie is littered with big stars, popping up in various roles. Not just the A-list British set as you would expect, but American stars such as Ben Affleck.  Speaking of stars, the female lead is

Gwyneth Paltrow playing the daughter of a nobility, who is in love with the stage, but has been sold off to Colin Firth who has made it big with his plantation in Virginia.

The wit and pace of this story is extremely well pitched.  If you know any of the real story of Shakespeare then you will spot lots of little references here and there that don’t detract from the story or make you feel silly for not spotting them.

Well worth the watch.

#77 in the series


Viewing Date
Tuesday, 3rd November 2015 (Richmond)


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Beasts of no Nation (2015)

I always knew coming to this movie was readily admitting you were willingly stepping into an emotional roller-coaster that was going to throw you around and have you screaming to get out, but you have to stay to the end.  Netflix’s production of Idris Elba’s story of child soldiers in Africa did not disappoint.

The African country is not named, but pick any of the current warring nations at the moment and suddenly it becomes very real.  We are taken on the journey through the eyes of a young boy Agu, who is in and around 10 years of age.  We see his normal childhood, interacting with his brother, father, mother, his friends and the other people in his poor (by Western standards) village.   Agu is just a boy, doing what normal boys of his age do.  Annoying his brother, playing with the local children, attempting to find things to do and explore their surroundings.

Then political upheaval and the security of the village is under threat when an army come in to invade.   The movie is clever in not clearing defining who is the good guys or the bad guys.  It allows the real confusion of what is going in the country to continue to play out and take the viewer along with it.  Agu has no more knowledge on who is right or wrong than you or I.

The Father decides to pack up his family and send them to the city for safety.  However there is such a mass exodus that he can only persuade one shady taxi driver to take the mother and their young baby, leaving Agu with the elders of the family.  This scene in of itself was absolutely heart breaking and one can only imagine the pain having your family ripped apart like that, with no mobile phones, or addresses to even think about keeping in touch.  Horrendous.

But the journey has only started.  Agu witnesses his family being gunned down and basically runs for his life deep into the forest.   He wanders for days, trying to find food and keep himself alive.  Again, heart breaking to watch and you keep wondering, if you have a son of that age like I, how they would have coped in the same situation.

After a few days he falls in the small platoon of child soldiers run by Elba.   This is when the uncomfort value really kicks up.   If you were already sobbing at this point, then do yourself a favor, go and get another box of tissues, and be prepared to maybe need another box before its over.

I won’t begin to articulate the rest of this tale, because I do not believe any words would do the story telling any justice.  While you are watching this, you are reminded that this is based on a true story, and this is happening now with children picking up guns and pointing them at an enemy they have no clue about.

Idris Elba is deserving of an Oscar nod here for his outstanding role here.  The movie itself should be nominated, and I only hope the Academy don’t get snobby and snub the online streaming genre as not worthy of their attention.   The movie did get a simultaneous release online and in the cinema.  Though, the top four distributors refused to show it because of the online component going on at the same time.

Definitely watch this movie.  Make time for it and give it your full attention.  You won’t be disappointed. 


Viewing Date
Wednesday, 28th October 2015 (San Francisco Marriott)


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The Angels’ Share (2012)

This was one of those movies that you would have had to seek out.  It didn’t make the cinema and went straight to DVD release obscurity.   Yet this, amusing Scottish comedy, about a young Glaswegian man who finds himself on just the wrong side of the law, escapes a prison sentence decides that he isn’t going to have his new born baby live the same life as he.

So while doing his community service, he discovers he has a unique talent for determining the quality of whiskey through taste.  He can tell the difference between the top of the line single malts and the cheap supermarket tripe.

When whiskey is distilled and aged through the years, a significant portion is lost through evaporation.   This is known as the angels’ share.  Whiskey, or at least good whiskey, is sunlight trap in water.  This movie captures very well the essence of the mystic and beauty in a single malt without Hollywood’ising the experience.

The fact the cast is largely unknown disallows the actors ego not get in the way of this wonderful story.  The opening scene, with the drunk staggering around on train station, with the station announcer telling him to step back, is laugh-out-of-loud.  If you don’t find that scene (voiced by Still Games

Ford Kiernan) funny, then I advise you stop viewing at that point.

Ken Loach is the director behind this little gem.  Loach, for my generation was the man that brought us the emotional rollercoaster that was Kes.  Loach, like

Bill Forsyth, has the ability to show a real depiction of life without over glamorizing and pulling out the natural comedy from the situation we find the characters.

Angels Share, is another one of those movies, that sadly finds it hard to win an audience outside of the UK, or even dare I say, Scotland.  I found myself howling at some of the scenes, wondering how you even script the lines, because it feels so familiar and natural that I can’t imagine anyone having to


write the lines.  Doesn’t it write itself??

There is some harsh violent scenes for sure, playing on the hard Glasgow image.  But the setup allows us to follow the transition from bad guy to good guy, with the help of Harry.  Harry is the community service officer who takes a shine to our hero and helps him transform.  Harry is that character that everyone in life needs, but at the time, don’t realize you do need him.  Someone that believes in you, but isn’t going to take any of your nonsense and kicks you into shape and helps you.  We all have our Harry.  The trick is, knowing who Harry is.

The story here, while weaved around whiskey and Glasgow, is a classic redemption story.  The mentor taking the sibling through its paces and inspiring.

If you could stick through

Trainspotting then you will manage this one with no problems.  If you couldn’t, then use this one as a warm up to Trainspotting.

Viewing Date
Tuesday, 27th October 2015 (San Francisco Marriott)


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