DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

You met me at a very strange time in my life...

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Darkmatters Review: La La Land


La La Land 12a

Dir: Damien Chazelle

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“You could just write your own rules. You know, write something that's as interesting as you are.”

Welcome to a La La Land, no that’s not my stuttering, this is a cinematic place of musical wonder and smoldering romance which will leave you dazed and amused in the best possible way…

Love is very much in the air for La La Land as it has already bagged 7 Golden Globes, a host of Bafta nominations and will likely get some Oscar love too. The thing is, this isn’t one of those ‘all hype and no trousers’ flicks, oh no, this is a singing, dancing odyssey to dreamers everywhere and a bittersweet celebration of the power of love!

a fool who dreams

At heart it’s a simple story of struggling musician - Sebastian (Ryan ‘Drive’ Gosling), who meets aspiring actress - Mia (Emma ‘Birdman’ Stone), set against the handy backdrop of gigs, parties, auditions and clubs. Can Sebastian’s jazz piano skills set the world on fire, and perhaps more importantly – can his tunes win the heart of the actress who has the skills but not the breaks to dazzle tinsel town?

feel the joy

Director Damien ‘Whiplash’ Chazelle packs the film not just with infectiously catchy songs, heart warming dance numbers and savvy observations but also finds time to look at the trials and tribulations of star-crossed lovers everywhere. What La La Land does best is to grip your heart and make you yearn to see true love win the day. This is the cinema equivalent of a sugar rush mixed with a roller coaster which delivers quite a high and yet might also put a tear (of joy) in your eye.

written (and danced) in the stars

Also on hand for some able support are Finn ‘The Big Short’ Wittrock as Greg – Seb’s love rival and singer / song writer John Legend as Keith, one of Seb’s high school classmates / bandmates. But it is the main duo who rightly steal the show here – and they really sparkle with infectious chemistry and gleeful dance moves. Gosling proves that he is super versatile and looks gorgeous doing so, whilst Stone is right at home as a classic screen heroine and rocks some fantastic costumes. Plus massive props to the makers for featuring the ‘80s-tastic ‘I Ran (So Far Away)’ by A Flock of Seagulls.

sparkle in the eyes

Everything about La La Land is pure class and it deserves the heaps of praise it is getting. If ever a movie could single-handedly re-launch the big screen musical this is the one.

Here's to the fools everywhere who dream – my advice is to go and join them in the cinema as soon as you can!

Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö

(5 - An infectiously gorgeous charming good time)...

Awesomeness öööö – Eye-popping scenes and great style throughout

Laughs ööö – Some good funnies but not a comedy

Horror ö – Nothing unless you can't stand jazz

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - that's the power of love...


Monday, January 02, 2017

Darkmatters Review: A Monster Calls


A Monster Calls (12a)

Dir. J.A. Bayona

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“The story begins with a boy, too old to be a kid, too young to be a man. A boy who called a monster…”

A Monster Calls kicks off 2017 with a powerful and emotional tale of wisdom which deals with life. Seen through the eyes of young Conor (Lewis ‘Pan’ MacDougall), his existence is one of misery as cruel and unfathomable events threaten to break him, drive him mad with the feeling of helplessness. Stuck in a small UK village where his mother (Felicity ‘Rogue One’ Jones) is ill and not getting better, his father (Toby ‘Warcraft’ Kebbell) has left them for a new life in America and the only attention he gets at school is regular beatings from his bully classmates.

evening - nice night for a walk...

Conor is tired all the time, his sleep every night broken by a nightmare where his mother is swallowed up by an earthquake and he isn’t strong enough to save her. What’s a lad to do with only his imagination and his strict grandmother (Sigourney ‘Chappie’ Weaver) looking out for him.

Then one night an incredible, huge ‘Lord of the Rings Ent-like’ tree monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) comes to visit and challenges him to hear three tales before facing his own difficult truth.

troubling times

A Monster Calls is a visual marvel – channeling the art style from the bestselling novel about love, loss and hope from the double Carnegie Medal-winning Patrick Ness. The tale might deal in tough life situations but it uses fantasy to deliver deep wisdom and a strong life lesson for all ages about how: ‘There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most people are somewhere in between.’

life is tough

The monster’s tales challenge Conor’s thinking and provide a ton of talking points for you to consider or discuss afterwards. Faith, truth and the power of stories which are described as ‘wild creatures’ are depicted in a watercolour world that is wonderful to behold.

some monsters walk in human form

A Monster Calls is an astonishing and highly impactful film super charged with an emotional core that deserves a wide audience. You’ll be moved, challenged and maybe shed a tear or two. This is a great alternative to the wham bang action spectacles out there and a monster tale which is a wild tale indeed and will engage on many levels. Pan's Labyrinth is the nearest kin to this - freaky in such a good way!!

Vital viewing!

Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öööö

(4 - Monstrous adventure and life-affirming wisdom )...

Awesomeness öööö – Some jaw dropping scenes

Laughs öö – Limited mirth, occasional dark humour

Horror öö – Slightly scary and disturbing nightmare / adult themes

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - power is within




Saturday, December 24, 2016

Darkmatters Top 10 Films of 2016



Matt Adcock’s Top Ten Films of the Year

Another year of cinematic offerings - so which were the good (as opposed to the bad and the ugly)... Amidst the chaos of the political and planetary events - the cinema has at least served up some great opportunities to escape from reality!

You can disagree or debate via twitter: @Cleric20  but here are the ten which made the wall of Darkmatters fame...

Top 10 films of 2016



10 The Girl With All The Gifts (Darkmatters Review HERE)

Melanie, she’s a special girl. Bright, polite and caring, full of wide-eyed wonder at the world around her – oh – and she’s not actually human, even thought you couldn’t tell by looking at her… Director Colm ‘Sherlock’ McCarthy takes the excellent, heartbreaking novel by M.R. Carey and brings it to brutal life on the big screen. Bonus points because I got to be one of the ‘zombie-alike’ extras!?




9 The Edge of Seventeen (Darkmatters Review HERE)

Meet Nadine (Hailee ‘Enders Game’ Steinfeld) a super awkward teenager whose life is a cringe-em-up writ large on the big screen.  The best big screen teenage angst for years. The Edge of Seventeen is just a great film which will make you laugh, cry and feel all the pain of being young and unsure of yourself again.




8 Captain America: Civil War (Darkmatters Review HERE)

The super smack-down of the year which tore The Avengers apart in fine style as team Iron Man take on Team Captain America in a battle royale. Exciting and funny, this is a super treat for the senses which gives great fan service without upping the ante too far. Normally war is hell but this one is a blast!



7 Arrival (Darkmatters Review HERE)

 A cool new take on humanity’s first contact with extra-terrestrial life, as witnessed through the experiences of language expert Louise Banks (Amy ‘Nocturnal Animals’ Adams). Not a ‘shooty’ sci-fi, but a meticulous, deeper, thought-provoking communicate-em-up tinged with a haunting melancholy and packing an emotional punch.



6 Hell or High Water (Darkmatters Review HERE)

Hell or High Water is a film that has family at the heart. Exciting bank heists, shootouts, chases and a body count follow but relationships form the core and it is the family dynamic that makes Director David 'Starred Up' Mackenzie's film so engaging. Just how far will a good man go when desperation closes in around him from every angle?




5 Suburra  (Darkmatters Review HERE)

Prepare yourself for an Italian apocalypse of criminal chaos, corruption, sleaze and heavy duty violence. Suburra is a powerhouse of a film that beguiles and thrills in equal measure. Suburra is a gutsy, beautiful and haunting neo-noir crime-em-up that grips from the start and doesn’t let go. The violent set pieces are just incredible, burning themselves into your mind’s eye




4 Deadpool (Darkmatters Review HERE)

Another superhero origin story? I know right. But this one is a little different, a bit of a spicier cocktail of seriously non-PC jaw-dropping violence, laugh-out-loud profane funnies and ironic pop-culture zeitgeist that bleeds cool from every frame. Expect to have your boundaries expanded – it’s a ballsy ride.




3 Love & Friendship  (Darkmatters Review HERE)

Lady Susan - who shares her name with the unfinished novella on which this movie is based - is on a mission to find both her and her daughter Frederica (Morfydd 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' Clark), eligible husbands, packing fortunes preferably. An absolutely perfect date movie, a master class in romantic shenanigans and jolly good time all rolled into one. As Lady Susan might say: “it would be offensive to us both” if you were to miss it!




2 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Darkmatters Review HERE) 

Prepare to jump to light speed once again as we find ourselves caught up in the big screen sci-fi events of a rebellion built on hope… Not ‘A New Hope’ which was the blueprint for the last year’s The Force Awakens but rather a desperate gambit by some plucky rebels who must risk everything if they are to help stop the Empire’s new ‘Death Star’. Let The Force flow through you (again).




1 Hunt for the Wilderpeople  (Darkmatters Review HERE) 

The most heart-warming action comedy of the year delivers on every possible level. Hunt For The Wilderpeople, based on Barry Crump’s 1986 novel is directed by Taika ‘What We Do In The Shadows’ Waititi – who brings both an exciting comic manhunt movie and a powerful essay on family life, meaning and the courage required to trust. Simply essential viewing!

Read the Darkmatters Top Ten Films of 2015: HERE

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Passengers


Passengers (12a)

Dir. Morten Tyldum

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: The Chronicle

“We boarded the Avalon with the destination a hundred and twenty years hibernation means you wake up in a new century, on a new planet, but a year ago everything changed.”

Space – the final frontier for big budget romance films apparently. Now though we have the strapping Jim Preston (Chris 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Pratt) and gorgeous Aurora Lane (Jennifer 'Joy'  Lawrence) daring to go where no epic sci-fi has gone as literally star-crossed lovers on an intergalactic voyage of luuurve.

"Nice spaceship - shame about the action"

It’s not quite what you think though as Preston finds himself awoken from his planned 120 year hyper-sleep after just 30 years – and with no capacity to go back under, is staring at living out his remaining years alone in space (all the crew and other passengers are still blissfully asleep). All Preston has for company are serving / cleaning robots, and an android named Arthur (Michael 'Nocturnal Animals' Sheen) who tends a Shining-esque bar.

"Table manners don't happen in space"

But even a cursory glance at the trailer or poster will alert you to the fact that Lane – the woman of his dreams – is on board and despite that in doing so he’s condemning her grow old and die with him – he reads all about her, noting everything that she likes in an advance pre-stalking move and then wakes her up…

The two of them then fall for each other despite his dark secret of having basically hand picked her and manipulated her fate to be his mate. Lawrence and Pratt however do make an extremely handsome couple though and each gets to spend obligatory time in their skimpys in case we were in any doubt of their loveliness.

"Let's go outside!?"

To break up the creepy ‘arranged’ space cohabitation there are at least some intergalactic peril scenes – pick of the bunch being a jaw dropping loss of gravity whilst Lawrence is swimming. It seems that the spaceship might be going wrong – hhhmmm, I wonder if Preston being an Engineer is going to come in handy? Alas though the plot doesn’t do anything very surprising despite the android holding the possible power to let Lane know about her non accidental awakening and Laurence Fishburne popping up for a short plot device mechanic.

"Extreme swimming"

In the end director Morten ‘The Intimidation Game’ Tyldum makes Passengers a good looking, slick piece of romantic drama beyond the stars which is only really worth checking due to the star power of the two leads. If you can get over the uncomfortable plotline, an enjoyable ‘lust in space’ riff on a high-tech desert island awaits.

"Ah Mr Torrance... We've been expecting you"

Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööö

(3 - In Space no-one can hear you Stalk)...

Awesomeness ööö – Occasional bursts of good stuff

Laughs öö – Some but could have done with more

Horror öö – Peril scenes and creepy plot!?

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Don't play God just cos you fancy someone



Thursday, December 15, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Rogue One A Star Wars Story



Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (12a)

Dir. Gareth Edwards

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read my newspaper version of this review: The Bedford Times

“I fear nothing. All is as the Force wills it.”

Prepare to jump to light speed once again as we find ourselves caught up in the big screen sci-fi events of a rebellion built on hope… Not ‘A New Hope’ which was the blueprint for the last year’s The Force Awakens but rather a desperate gambit by some plucky rebels who must risk everything if they are to help stop the Empire’s new ‘Death Star’.

Rogue One is both the prequel to Star Wars IV (A New Hope) and a kind of sequel to Star Wars III (Revenge of the Sith). It’s certainly a new kind of Star Wars prequel, namely one that doesn’t’ suck.

Miss Erso... Don't call her Rey

Meet gutsy young Jyn Erso (Brit actress Felicity ‘A Monster Calls’ Jones), whose dad happens to be the architect of the Empire’s planet destroying super weapon. Aided by a rag-tag fugitive crew that includes Force samurai Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ Yen), freelance assassin Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and a reformed Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz ‘Nightcrawler’ Ahmed) they attempt an audacious mission.


Also in on this potentially suicidal effort to steal the plans of the Death Star are Rebel Alliance Captain Cassian Andor (Diego ‘Elysium’ Luna), Clone wars veteran Saw Gerrera (Forest ‘Arrival’ Whitaker) and comedy kick-ass enforcer droid K-2S0 (Alan ‘Big Hero 6’ Tudyk) who steals every scene he's in. And if you don’t recognize any of those names from the sequels – you just know that all bets are off as to who will survive, which gives Rogue One a fantastic sense of unpredictability and peril.

I'm not programmed to respond to men with moustaches

The Dark Side sees the glorious return of the iconic Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl-Jones) and suitably nasty Director Orson Krennic (Ben ‘Slow West’ Mendelsohn) doing the Empire’s nefarious bidding. Also back is a surprise - aided by CGI - character that helps this link to the next film.

if you only knew the power of the Dark Side

When the battle to steal the plans kicks off it’s all wonderful Star Wars battle business, there is pure nostalgic joy in seeing AT-ATs attacking the rebels whilst X-Wings and a variety of other spaceships duke it out in some of the best space combat ever committed to film!

these ARE the troopers you're looking for

Although it drags initially, if you’re not on the edge of your seat by the finale you’re probably in a Force coma – Rogue One is a cracking space odyssey that does great fan service to those who love the original Star Wars films whilst simultaneously expanding the universe in new and cool ways.

Packed with crowd winning references and cameos from other Star Wars movies - this is how you make a truly epic prequel Mr Lucas.

The Force will still be with you...

Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öööö1/2

(4.5 - A Franchise rebuilt on hope!)...

Awesomeness ööööö – The Force is still strong

Laughs ööö – Some metal head fun quips

Horror öö – Slightly violent in your standard Star Wars way

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - Sacrifice and honour for the greater good

Watch the Rogue One Trailer HERE

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Hunt For The Wilderpeople


Hunt For The Wilderpeople (12a)

Dir. Taika David Waititi

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I'll never stop running!”

“Yeah, and I'll never stop chasing you - I'm relentless, I'm like the Terminator.”

“I'm more like the Terminator than you!”

“I said it first, you're more like Sarah Connor, in the first movie too, before she could do chin-ups.”

Buckle up for what might just be the best film of 2016. A touching, heart-warming action family comedy that delivers on every possible level. Hunt For The Wilderpeople, based on Barry Crump’s 1986 novel is directed by Taika ‘What We Do In The Shadows’ Waititi – who brings both an exciting comic manhunt movie and a powerful essay on family life, meaning and the courage required to trust.


"I didn't choose the skux life, the skux life chose me. #Wilderpeople"

Meet young orphan Ricky (Julian Dennison) a troubled soul who has been rejected by every foster family he’s been placed with. This is a boy with accumulated issues who deals with his repeated rejection through a mixture of bad attitude, hip-hop music and petty crime minor gangsta ambitions. But maybe, just maybe his new foster aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and her gruff husband Hec (The awesome Sam ‘In The Mouth Of Madness’ Neill) could be his ‘happy ever after’…

In the real world though, things never quite turn out to plan and before you can say ‘too good to be true’ Ricky finds himself on the run from terminator-alike Child Services Nazi Paula (Rachel “Wolf Creek’ House), lost in the Bush. With the reluctant Uncle Hec (Sam Neill) and a dog called Tupac the two rejects must battle through mishap, injury, wild bore attack and manic bounty hunters.
New Zealand looks great, especially when shot from cool drone POV and native director Waititi shows off the country as if it was one of the characters. Dennison is superbly likeable as the unfortunate orphan – who comes out with class sweary haikus and a true emotional core which will leave you shaken and stirred.

Nature's gangsta

Juvenile delinquency has never played so well on the big screen and this bizarre outback adventure wrings both heart-breaking pathos and astonishing honesty from the comic plot. Blessed with a soundtrack boasting cool Leonard Cohen and Nina Simone, Hunt for the WIlderpeople keeps the good times rolling even when young Rickly and his reluctant Uncle face gun toting enemies or sheer survival challenges.

I’m a huge believer in experiencing films with pals and a lot of the joy I had watching this was seeing witnessing the similar reactions being registered to the cool pop culture references and genuinely beguiling action by the big hairy old man next to me (props Mr Wilmshurst!).

fast and furious eat your heart out

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a film everyone should witness – this is cinema at it’s best, in a word “Majestical”.

Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö

(5 - Life can be an adventure - whatever cards you're dealt)...

Awesomeness ööööö – Grin inducing fun and action

Laughs öööö – A wicked cool sense of humour throughout

Horror öö – Slightly violent but not too nasty

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - Nature just got gangster


Friday, December 09, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Office Christmas Party




Office Christmas Party (15)

Dir. Josh Gordon & Will Speck

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“It’s Christmas, we should celebrate they say, just a little get together for the employees. Have a few drinks, blow off a little steam, nothing crazy.”

Tis the Season for work-based Christmassy corporate hair being let down and that’s exactly what Office Christmas Party (OCP) delivers – with the Hollywood spin of things getting extremely out of hand. Sure we’ve seen big screen parties going off the deep end before with varying levels of success with the classic Animal House, the riotous Project X etc, but this attempts the mix the formula with some Yuletide Ho Ho Ho’s.

the OCP test viewing wasn't hitting the spot

The flimsy plot sees the sour faced Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston) CEO of tech firm Zenotek planning to close her branch run by her drop out brother Clay (T.J. Miller). His only shot to save his branch and keep the jobs of his workers lies with straight laced Chief Technical Officer Josh Parker (Jason Bateman) who must help arrange an epic office Christmas party to impress a potential millionaire client Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance).

bring  your own snacks?

So with a kick-ass Christmas party the only hope of salvation, festive chaos breaks lose despite the best efforts of super uptight Human Resource Manager Mary Winetoss (Kate McKinnon). Cue all sorts of drunken raunchy antics, debauched co-worker naughtiness and utter Christmassy mayhem. It’s quite a spectacle to behold and the likeable cast look like they’re having a ball shooting it all.

Alas the comedy is very hit and miss and the trite plot which shoehorns in unnecessary gun packing pimps and a weak feel good conclusion detracts from the glimpses of occasional comic genius. I laughed most at the end credit out-takes which doesn’t bode well for those looking for a full on comedy.

dance floor action

Director team Gordon and Speck who made the fun Blades of Glory do pay fun homage to other movies – climaxing with a full on Fast & Furious “(They just get faster and more furious” as Clay tells Josh) recreation using a Kia which is worth seeing.

The best way to enjoy Office Christmas Party is to lower your expectations, imbibe the Christmas spirit and let the mildly offensive and sometimes amusing party fun wash over you without thinking about it too much.

Better festive mayhem than Bad Santa 2, this Office Christmas Party is certainly not mandatory attendance but I’ve absolutely been to worse ones in the real world!?



Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öö1/2

2.5 – The party you never got invited to (until now)

Awesomeness ööö – occasionally does get awesome but never enough

Laughs ööö – be sure to stay for the outtakes

Horror öö – gross out in places

Spiritual Enlightenment öö – Jesus makes a brief appearance!?


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