*NEW* GREEN ROOM REVIEW *NEW*

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This should have stayed in the cutting room.

A punk rock band is forced to fight for survival after witnessing a murder at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar.

An intriguing premise hampered by an agonising pace, lack of suspense and interesting characters. A shame that this will be remembered as one of Anton Yelchin’s last works.

The opening 20 minutes felt like a completely different film. Having not read anything about the film beforehand and going in only on hype, I thought I was watching a gritty indie drama with Yelchin’s punk rock band The Ain’t Rights struggling to gain fandom or even a gig.

Squatting in a fan’s apartment and siphoning fuel out of cars to keep their mini-van going. Their bohemian lifestyle and music escaping the suffocating realms of social media. Trying to make it the old fashioned way.

Despite the meandering pace, I would have been much happier to watch this subplot than the actual story that unfolded.

This could have been the perfect platform for some underrated actors to shine; Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development), Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders) and Mark Webber (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) BUT alas it was not to be.

They did their best with the wafer thin characters BUT it just wasn’t enough.

The tension bubbled away nicely when the band arrived at a neo-Nazi bar. I cringed at the uncomfortable atmosphere as if I was there. “If you back out, I’ll tell them you’re Jewish”. Especially when the first song was “Nazi Punks, F*ck off!”.

However, it wasn’t the nerve wracking gig where the problem lied. It was the body waiting for them in the green room.

Cue a dull and dreary nihilistic slow burner that not even Captain Picard could save.

The band are soon thrown into an Assault on Precinct 13 situation with the skinheads desperate to remove all witnesses.

A stand-off that should have been tense and suspenseful. Initially for 15 minutes or so, it was.

I kept waiting for Patrick Stewart to appear. He was a nasty piece of work and really carried the piece when it tragically dragged. His presence missed in every scene. Even if his mangled accent sounded like a Deep South Gandalf.

BUT from all the hype, you’d think that critics have never seen play him a bad guy before. Conspiracy Theory, anyone? Hell, Star Trek for crying out loud (Resistance is futile!).

It really was a waiting game BUT one that was frustrating me. The squabbling and escape attempts were feeble.

The inevitable unfolding as each band member was picked off one by one (and quite graphically).

When the pit bulls were released on the unsuspecting prisoners, my grumbling ceased as Yelchin’s Pat tried to outwit the relentless skinheads.

Other than Stewart, Macon Blair (Blue Ruin) was probably the only other supporting character to make an impression as the conflicted underling. Desperate to keep a handle on the situation as it escalated beyond his control.

Yelchin did his best and was a charismatic lead. His reunion with Imogen Poots (Fright Night) could have been so much more.

She really got on my nerves and her character only really got going in the final moments when it was too little, too late.

There was only going to be two outcomes with this situation and either way I wasn’t interested by the time the end result arrived. I just wasn’t invested in it.

There were moments to be had BUT a few tense scenes compiling 15 minutes does NOT a good movie make.

Dreadful. Move on from this bore-fest!

2/5

STILL ALICE REVIEW

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Julianne Moore’s still got it!

A stand out performance from a talented actress.

I knew it would have to take something special to stop Pike or Jones taking the gold.

A heartrending, emotional drama on a disease that really needs looking at.

A linguistics professor (Julianne Moore) and her family find their bonds tested when she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

I know Moore’s Oscar win caused a little stir back in the UK. That was mainly because it hadn’t been released yet!

BUT here we are at last . . . and it’s good.

Directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland allow for a slow burning piece as we join Alice celebrating her 50th birthday.

It isn’t long before we notice her making little mistakes; answering the wrong question, forgetting words, etc.

At first glance, minor quibbles. Who hasn’t been guilty of mixing up the odd word or forgetting their train of thought?

Innocently playing it down to age, Alice continues her work and enjoying time with her family.

There was a tense atmosphere around the film as the impending diagnosis lingered around the corner.

I don’t want to divulge too much as this is certainly worth a viewing.

Alice soon forgets where she is, people’s names, notes on her presentations. And the initial diagnosis came short and sharp.

Moore was perfect for the role and you really feel for her character as she does everything she can to fight it.

The range of emotions that she encapsulates were brilliant. She goes from defiant to angry, confused to sad in a matter of a few frames. I couldn’t possibly imagine what that would feel like.

Alice is diagnosed with an incredibly rare stand of Alzheimers. (I wasn’t even aware that were a variety of types).

Her mental condition soon deteriorates much faster than she is prepared for. Or even ready to accept.

The original questions that Alice had to answer to test for Alzheimers threw me off. Something as simple as being told to remember a name and an address and being asked later about the details after a conversation was crazy.

The memory tests that Alice gives herself were quite interesting to watch. Writing three words on a chalkboard. Putting a timer on. And going back to write said words felt like a little game. I was trying to remember them as the family drama unfolded.

There was quite a talented cast being involved in the family dynamic; Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth and Kristen Stewart.

Their reactions to Alice’s diagnosis and inevitable deterioration were unexpected. The discovery that the condition can be passed on to your offspring was a daunting prospect. The probability of one of Alice’s children carrying the gene being incredibly high.

Kristen Stewart, where has she been? Still donning the tom boy look and mumbling away, her performance perfectly suited the role of Alice’s younger daughter. She worked well with Moore and you really felt for their relationship.

Despite all that’s going on for Alice, she is still concerned for her daughter’s carefree attitude and refusal to acting her failing acting career. Mothers never stop caring. No matter what.

Kate Bosworth was good as her snobby older daughter. An early revelation certainly spiked the tension BUT as the film progressed, her character seemed to disappear into the background.

Alec Baldwin didn’t seem to be in this as much as I thought. Obviously, the film was always going to be revolved around Alice BUT his constant disappearing and reappearing was a little irritating. However, there was a reason for this which does lead to some sombre viewing.

Despite a stellar performance on a serious condition and for all the hype, I felt the film left me wanting.

I don’t think it helped that the ending was quite odd. I could see what the writers were trying to do BUT it came off a little abrupt and long at the tooth with Kristen Stewart mumbling away about looking down from the sky to her bemused mother.

It just seemed a little pretentious and fizzled out what had been an engaging story of one woman’s struggle.

BUT it is still heartbreaking, dramatic and tough to watch. A scene involving a video message from a recently diagnosed Alice to an ailing ageing Alice certainly hit home.

Alzheimer’s Disease still needs to be looked into and I’m glad that films like these are getting made. The only other film that I could recall was the underrated Away From Her with Julie Christie.

This could happen to anyone. Worth a watch.

3/5

As a little side note for any Walking Dead fans; Seth Gilliam plays yet another pointless role. Yes! Even more useless than Father Gabriel Stokes. I know. I didn’t think it was possible.

BOYHOOD REVIEW

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Richard Linklater brings us his most ambitious, and longest, project to the big screen with . . . mixed results. An intriguing, if overhyped, concept works as a great marketing tool but also delivers a good story with a great cast. However, despite offering a different and interesting viewing experience, it soon borders on pretentious as the second hour passes.

We follow our lead character Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he grows up and battles with abusive stepfathers, negligent fathers and continuous moves across the state. The first half of the film was an engaging, slow burning look into young Mason’s life as he endures boyhood. It was great to see the same cast over the 12 year gap. It was a nice change and helped get rid of those continuity gaffs that always irritate me in movies. Coltrane is a likeable and talented lead across the years, which always helps in such an ambitious project.

However, Mason suddenly ages or the story skips a few years without any warning or marker. If it wasn’t for the fact the soundtrack spanned my childhood, I wouldn’t have known what year it was. An excellent indie soundtrack by the way. One that included the likes of Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, etc added to the film. Patricia Arquette (Medium) and Ethan Hawke (a Linklater regular of late) were perfectly cast as the divorced parents. The inevitable competition between the warring parents for their kids’ affection was predictable but nicely done. Hawke stole virtually every scene he was in and proved that he is still a reliable actor.

Arquette had to play the role a little more straight faced but she got to have her moment to shine in the final moments as she sees her children off to college, which made for an endearing moment as the film came full circle. A tense chapter in which Arquette moves in with a deadbeat alcoholic made for uncomfortable, if dramatic, viewing. Kudos to Marco Perella. He was fantastic as the volatile Bill Welbrock. A ticking time bomb with his inevitable detonation vastly approaching with every drop of whiskey.

As Mason endures love, heartbreak, disappointment and . . . life really; you cannot help but feel you are watching someone’s life and after two hours, with a further 45 minutes to go, I felt that Linklater was self-indulging a little bit. Coltrane had enough charisma to keep the film going but once he reaches 18, I felt myself getting infuriated with him. He seemed to be too laidback and without a care in the world. I mean, of course, the idea is about finding oneself and choosing the right path and making a future for yourself but Mason doesn’t care at all. You can respect it to an extent but in terms of viewing, he soon becomes a greasy haired mumbler of a teen that borders on douche-baggery.

I mean for any teen, it can be frustrating with that endless pondering of what lies next. The endless questioning by family figures and friends interrogating Mason on life decisions was relatable for any one. At the same time, I felt that more could have been out of certain scenes. You expect in certain arguments or decisions, something else to happen, only for it to wither out and lead to nothing or skip past it altogether. Mason’s issue with bullies, for example, leads nowhere. Mainly because he keeps moving school. One of Arquette’s partners appears to become another angry drunk with tension mounting between him and Mason, only for it to be skipped forward a few years with the partner gone and only a sentence to explain.

There were so many points as the film drew to an excruciating close, in which it could have ended sooner. I mean the final moments do make for an uplifting and open ending, which does work surprisingly. However, it seemed to go out with a whimper and a mumble than a bang. A different concept made for watchable viewing but a questionable length (again that phrase) seemed to slacken this vehicle. A great cast (credit where it’s due also to Lorelei Linklater. Using your own family in a movie doesn’t always work . . . not unless you’re a Coppola), good story just do enough to do more good than bad. Worth a watch if you want an easy going, coming of age drama. 3/5 for me.

Currently ranked 64 out of 198!