Viewed – 23 April 2010  Blu-ray

I hadn’t heard much about this one, apart from mild rumblings of that it was good.  Yet after watching a You Tube review recently, it made me want to take a gamble and buy it – and hey, I’m a sucka for a good sci-fi movie!  Well, this one tells the simple story of an astronaut (Sam Rockwell) due to complete his three year mission on the moon, mining the planet for valuable minerals and generally reporting back to earth via computer communication.  His only company is a computer called Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey).  He sends and receives messages to his wife and young daughter, but suffers from loneliness and isolation that bring on hallucinations.

This incredibly effective movie has a strong central performance from Rockwell in a very demanding role and is shot with plenty of style and atmosphere but never feels like something out of a comic book.  As events transpire the movie opens up and reveals itself and I was left very impressed by the basic idea and imagination, and above all else, the genuine emotion on display.  This is probably a movie you will easily pass by, but I recommend you take a look, as it offers more than you might expect.

Verdict:  5 /5


Viewed – 26 March 2009  Blu-ray

This entertaining teen comedy / thriller follows the (surprisingly) true story of mathematical wiz-kid Ben Campbell, who attracts the attention of teacher Kevin Spacey who also happens to run a secret club of card players on a mission to score big money in Las Vegas.  Thinking he has discovered the answer to his money worries, Ben reluctantly tags along, and soon finds his gift for card-counting and the return of fast-cash going to his head, and events quickly spiral out of control.

This is an energetic and well acted ‘romp’ with plenty of style and excitement that kept me glued, and lead Jim Sturgess proved a likable, charismatic presence that was easy to believe in.  Supporting cast, especially the always dependable Kevin Spacey were good (although Kate Bosworth remains for me at least, all looks and no substance), and the story, although a little light and fluffy considering the danger and risk involved, proved enjoyable enough to not start looking at my watch – and I was always wondering just what would happen next.  As with other films like Casino and Leaving Las Vegas, the glitzy look of the neon drenched Vegas was a big pull for me (and looked glorious in high definition, I might add), even if the film played things a touch too ‘safe’ to really be worthy of recommendation over those two classics.  Otherwise, if you want a couple of hours of entertainment with some great moments and a cheer-at-the-screen ending, this will do the job well enough.

Verdict:  3 /5

Beyond The Sea

Viewed – 23 August 2008  DVD

For some reason it has taken me a long time to get around to watching this.  I was first attracted to the idea of a Bobby Darin biopic when I saw Kevin Spacey perform Mac The Knife on a chat show -and was stunned.  If any actor was born to play this role, it’s Spacey – and here, in the movie of the actor / crooner’s life directed by Spacey himself – the results are quite remarkable.

Bobby Darin was basically a low-rent Frank Sinatra who eventually found fame in both singing and acting, mostly down to his boundless enthusiasm and magnetic charisma.  He married actress Sandra Dee and was a hit at various big name venues such as the Copacobana and the glitzy clubs of Las Vegas.  Yet he was also plagued with illness; as a boy he was said to not be expected to live beyond 16 years of age.  Although such claims were to eventually catch up with him in his late thirties, what he achieved in between is stuff of Hollywood and music legend.

What I was most impressed by with this film, was the way it avoids a warts and all biopic for more of a swansong to the man, his music and the effect he had on those around him.  Kevin Spacey is simply astonishing, proving himself a magnificent showman – and delivers brilliant song & dance numbers in both realistic and fantasy sequences giving the whole film a magical, surreal look & feel that makes me think of musicals like Singing In The Rain.  I was almost expecting Fred Astair to make a cameo.

Add to this a quality cast (including Bob Hoskins, John Goodman, Brenda Blethyn and Kate Bosworth as Sandra Dee), fantastic visuals and dance choreography – and this is probably one of the most purely entertaining films you’re likely to see.

Verdict:  5 /5