Thursday, 1 December 2016

December 2016 - Forbidden Planet, Moana, Sully, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Snowden

Hi Everyone,

If you'd like to see trailers for the dozen or so major movies being released in the UK in December 2016 - in a single playlist - follow this link:

I can't let 2016 go by without mentioning Forbidden Planet. This is a ground-breaking science-fiction movie released by MGM in 1956 – and it has therefore been celebrating it's 60 year anniversary this year. When the crew of a spaceship land on an alien world – Dr. Morbius, a survivor from a previous mission 20 years before, gives them a guided tour of the wonders of a lost civilization.

I first encountered the film at the age of 12 (in the early 1970s) when we all piled into the theatre at school – where a screening of the movie formed the centrepiece of that year's Christmas festivities. Having grown up enjoying Doctor Who on TV – in primitive black and white – all of a sudden one was faced with the magnificence of Eastmancolor and Cinemascope. And, from the opening credits onwards, the pioneering electronic score created by Bebe and Louis Barron - billed rather unusually as “electronic tonalities” - was absolutely mind-blowing.* 

Of course, modern audiences may think the film a bit dated, and may wonder at the “handsome leading man” - Commander John J. Adams of the Starship C-57D – turning out to be none other than Leslie Nielsen – far better known today as a corny gag man in The Naked Gun and Police Squad parodies. But I think the movie, despite being stylistically a work from the mid-1950s, holds up very well. The Blu-ray edition – which I watched again two days ago – has only a few shots that seem a bit sub-par, and on the whole the film looks crisp and beautifully restored.

Rather than waffle on too long about the film's great merits, let me simply invite those who haven't seen it to track down a copy and give it a look. This is not only intelligent story-telling (loosely based on Shakespeare's The Tempest) but there is also thrilling action, murder mystery, romance (with the gorgeous Anne Francis as the alluring but naive Alta), and perhaps - with the possible exception of Gort in The Day the Earth Stood Still it has the most iconic of all the movie robots: “Robby the Robot” voiced brilliantly by the (uncredited) Marvin Miller. 
I am a huge Sci-fi fan and count many movies among my favourites - including Blade Runner, Moon, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, King Kong, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Solaris, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ex Machina, The Andromeda Strain, Metropolis, Soylent Green, The Time Machine, Star Trek: First Contact, Quatermass and the Pit, Gravity, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and many others. Yet, after sixty years, Forbidden Planet remains, in my view, the greatest science-fiction film of all time.

*It's a shame that, as non-musician's union members, they weren't deemed eligible for an Academy Award nomination.

There are some really good movies coming out this month; and among the most notable of these are:- Disney's Moana, Sully: Miracle on the Hudson, Snowden, and Rogue One: a Star Wars Story. Here's a still from each of these films to whet your appetite:-

Moana © 2016 Disney Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Sully: Miracle on the Hudson © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Village Roadshow Films North America Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story © 2016 Lucasfilm Ltd. Photo courtesy of Film Frame. All Rights Reserved.

Snowden © 2016 Vertigo Releasing. All Rights Reserved.

Here's a comprehensive run down of the December 2016 new releases:-

The major films are Ballerina, Birth of a Nation, Bleed For This, Collateral Beauty, Moana, Monster Trucks, Office Christmas Party, Passengers, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Snowden, Sully: Miracle on the Hudson, and Why Him?

Limited or “key cities” releases include And Then Came Munich: The Story of Duncan Edwards, Befikre, Crash & Burn, Dangal, Half Way, Holy Cow, Kahaani 2, Krisha, Jet Trash, Life Animated, Reset, The Ardennes, The Black Hen, The Dreamed Ones, The Eagle Huntress, The Heritage of Love, The Son of Joseph, The Unknown Girl, The Weekend, Uncle Howard, and The Young Offenders.

Other limited releases which have been given their own little spot in the magazine are Chi-Raq, Eat That Question, I am Not a Serial Killer, Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism, Mr. Right, Operation Chromite, The Coming War on China, and The Pass.

In addition to the above are three classic movies being showcased theatrically, and these are Blue Velvet (1986), Donnie Darko (2001), and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). 

Update: See Odeon, Cineworld, and other websites for details of screenings of such films as: A Trip to Jamaica, Get Better: A Film About Frank Turner, Pitbull: Niebezpieczne Kobiety (aka Pitbull: Tough Women), Suddenly Seventeen, Rats (a Morgan Spurlock documentary), 12 Chairs, and Lion. Look out for special UK screenings and previews of A Monster Calls from December 23rd onwards. 

Not included in the magazine are this month's “Event Cinema” special screenings and the like. This, however, is what's happening in December 2016:-
  • 2nd December 2016 – Nutcracker – Royal Opera, London 2016/17 (Royal Opera House). (Please note that I have uncovered alternative information giving the dates 8th and 11th December 2016 – so please double-check dates for yourself.)

  • 7th December 2016 – Madame Butterfly – Teatro Alla Scala Live 2016 (opera) [one night only] (Soda Pictures)

  • 9th December 2016 – L'Amour De Loin – Met Opera 2016 (By Experience)

  • 15th December 2016 – No Man's Land (Harold Pinter play starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart – including a Q&A with the cast and director) (NT Live) 
  • 16th December 2016 – Nutcracker – The Bolshoi Ballet 2016 (Picturehouse Entertainment)

  • 30th December 2016 – New Year's Gala Concert: Berliner Philharmoniker Live 2016 (More2Screen)

Here is the link to my latest newsletter (which is a download of approximately 27MB):-

With lots of great films in theatres I hope you are going along and having a good time at the movies. Have a wonderful holiday at the end of the year. Seasons greetings to one and all. Happy viewing!

See below for trailers for most of the above mentioned films:-

 And Then Came Munich: The Story of Duncan Edwards



Birth of a Nation

Bleed For This

Blue Velvet


Collateral Beauty

Crash & Burn


Donnie Darko

Eat That Question

Half Way

Holy Cow

I am Not a Serial Killer

Kahaani 2


Jet Trash

Life, Animated


Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism

Monster Trucks

Mr. Right

Office Christmas Party

Operation Chromite



Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


Sully (aka Sully: Miracle on the Hudson)

The Ardennes

The Black Hen

The Coming War on China

The Dreamed Ones (aka Die Getraumten)

The Eagle Huntress

The Heritage of Love

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Pass

The Son of Joseph

The Unknown Girl

The Weekend

The Young Offenders

Through the Wall

Uncle Howard

Why Him?

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

November 2016 - Rotten Tomatoes, Arrival, The Accountant, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Hi Everyone,

As I sit down to write this blog page, I've just heard that the Amy Adams sci-fi film Arrival is at 100% on the Rotten Tomatoes website, and is being described as “...ambitious, accomplished filmmaking that deserves an audience” on

Obviously, that's a brilliant score on Rotten Tomatoes. It's early days and (in the weeks to come) that number could slip a little. But this bodes well for Arrival (which opens on 10th November in the UK). I'm happy to report that Doctor Strange (which I have seen twice already) is at a very healthy 90% on Rotten Tomatoes at present.

Thinking about Rotten Tomatoes (or RT) ratings, perhaps it might be interesting to select a few recent titles and see how they're doing on the site. Could be fun. As you're probably aware, their percentages basically represent the proportion of critics out there that have given a film “the thumbs up” rather than a thumbs down. A film is regarded as “Fresh” - i.e. good - if it manages to reach 60%. But, with a score of 59% or under, a film is deemed to be “Rotten”. At 75% (or more) a title is regarded highly – and is given the epithet “Certified Fresh”.

Here's a look at the several dozen major films released in September and October in the UK, and their RT scores (as of lunchtime on 29th October 2016 - when I compiled the list). As you will see, the movies have received a very differing range of receptions, as follows:-

American Honey = 81%

Anthropoid = 66%

Ben-Hur = 26%

Blair Witch = 36%

Bridget Jones's Baby = 77%

Blood Father = 89%

Brotherhood = 67%

Café Society = 69%

Captain Fantastic = 82%

Deepwater Horizon = 83%

Doctor Strange = 93%

Don't Breathe = 87%

Free State of Jones = 47%

Hell or High Water = 98%

Hunt for the Wilderpeople = 98%

I, Daniel Blake = 92%

Inferno = 20%

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back = 38%

Keeping Up with the Joneses = 21%

Kubo and the Two Strings = 97%

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children = 65%

Morgan = 39%

Ouija: Origin of Evil = 81%

Queen of Katwe = 93%

Sausage Party = 83%

Storks = 64%

Swiss Army Man = 67%

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years = 95%

The Girl on the Train = 44%

The Infiltrator = 69%

The Magnificent Seven = 63%

The Girl with All the Gifts = 83%

Trolls = 84%

War on Everyone = 65%

I don't agree with every rating listed above, but these do give a good general idea of how a film is being perceived. In a way, it's a blunt instrument – as 100% doesn't mean a movie is a “ten out of ten” film. It just means all the critics polled gave it a thumbs up. And, worryingly, too low an RT score is, these days, putting a lot of people off seeing a movie – even me! But this shouldn't be the case. If you want to go and see a particular film – you should just do it. Don't let anyone put you off! lol.

There are some really interesting movies out this month; from the haunting Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender drama The Light Between Oceans to the Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard war drama Allied. But perhaps the biggest highlights of the month are the thoughtful sci-fi movie Arrival (mentioned above), the Ben Affleck action crime-thriller The Accountant, and (of course) J. K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and where to find Them. It's great to have some really interesting and entertaining movies on the horizon.

Arrival © 2016 Paramount Pictures and Entertainment One. All Rights Reserved.

The Accountant © 2016 Warner Bros. Ent. Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Ent. LLC. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them © 2016 Warner Bros Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo by Jaap Buitendijk.

Here's a comprehensive run down of the November 2016 new releases:-

For a playlist of the November 2016 major movie trailers click here:-

Note: It seems there are previews of Sully: Miracle on the Hudson in selected cinemas on 17th November 2016.

The major films are Allied, Almost Christmas, American Pastoral, Arrival, A Street Cat Named Bob, A United Kingdom, Bad Santa 2, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Indignation, Mum's List, Nocturnal Animals, Paterson, The Accountant, The Edge of Seventeen, and The Light Between Oceans.

Limited or “key cities” releases include Chaar Sahibzaade: Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur, Chocolat, Creepy, Dennis Viollet: A United Man, Francofonia, Girl's Lost, I Olga Hepnarova, Kahaani 2, Magnus, My Feral Heart, Revolution: New Art for a New World, Panic, Rock On 2, The Darkest Universe, The Incident, The Innocents, The Music of Strangers, The New Man, The Search for Simon, The Wailing, The White Knights, United States of Love, and We Are the Flesh.

Other limited releases which have been given their own little spot in the magazine are 100 Streets, Dog Eat Dog, Gimme Danger, Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny, Rupture, Your Name (aka Kimi no Na wa), and You've Been Trumped Too.

In addition to the above are two classic movies being showcased theatrically, and these are Napoleon (1927), and In the Heat of the Night (1967).

Also not included in the magazine are this month's “Event Cinema” special screenings and the like. This, however, is what's happening in November 2016:-

  • 3rd November 2016 Exhibition on Screen: The Curious World Of Hieronymous Bosch – Seventh Art Distribution
  • 4th November 2016 – Bright Stream – The Bolshoi Ballet 2016 – Picturehouse Entertainment
  • 11th November 2016 – Les Contes D'Hoffmann – Royal Opera, London 2016/17 – Royal Opera House
  • 16th November 2016 Alan Bennett's Diaries Live – Picturehouse Entertainment
  • 18th November 2016 – Andre Rieu's Christmas Concert 2016 - CinemaLive
  • 18th November 2016 – Cinderella – Australian Ballet 2016, Fairytale Series - CinemaLive
  • 27th November 2016 – Tristan und Isolde – Teatro Dell'Opera Live 2016 (Opera) - Soda Pictures
  • 28th November 2016 – I am Bolt – Usain Bolt Documentary Live - Picturehouse Entertainment

Here is the link to my latest newsletter (which is a download of a little under 26MB):-

Well if you've getting into the Halloween spirit and watching horror movies this week, or going to the pictures to see other kinds of movies – I hope you have a great time. Happy viewing!

Here are trailers for most of the above mentioned films:-


Almost Christmas

American Pastoral


A Street Cat Named Bob

A United Kingdom

Bad Santa 2

Chaar Sahibzaade: Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur



Dennis Viollet: A United Man

Dog Eat Dog

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them


Gimme Danger

Girls Lost


I, Olga Hepnarova

In the Heat of the Night

Kahaani 2


My Feral Heart


Nocturnal Animals



Revolution: New Art for a New World

Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny

Rock On 2


The Accountant

The Darkest Universe

The Edge of Seventeen

The Incident

The Innocents

The Light Between Oceans

The Music of Strangers

The New Man

The Search for Simon

The Wailing

The White Knights

United States of Love

We Are the Flesh

Your Name (aka Kimi no Na wa)

You've Been Trumpted Too