Jun 28 2013

Review: This is the End

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 10:58 am

Even as a concept, This is the End sounds like a lot of fun: just about every young Hollywood comedy star appears in one a single film, playing themselves. And as soon as the party finds its groove, everything starts falling apart.

The film opens with Seth Rogen picking up his friend Jay Baruchal from the airport. They’re both film actors, although one of them is a lot more famous than the other, living in an extended episode of Entourage while the other one commutes from Canada (far away from the showbiz bull***t, he says). Jay wants to stay in all weekend playing Xbox and smoking weed but Seth ends up dragging him along to a star-studded party at James Franco’s house.

And then the apocalypse happens.

People on the street are raptured up into the sky by a blue light, helicopters fall from the sky, holes open up in the ground and celebrities star dying left, right and centre. A core group of guys end up barricade themselves inside the Hollywood mansion: Franco, Rogen, Baruchel, Jonah Hill and Hot Tub Time Machine’s Craig Robinson. Armed with the plan of surviving until help arrives, their characters slowly come undone as their rations dwindle. Danny McBride also turns up, expanding on his self-obsessed Eastbound and Down persona and starts throwing spanners into the works.

(Trailer NSFW)

You get the impression that Rogen and Co. are pre-empting the standard complaint that they’re always just playing themselves by, you know, playing themselves. There’s a unique rhythm to the way these actors talk, and there are plenty of hilarious moments that feel as though they developed through improv. By playing versions of themselves, they get to take pot-shots at each other’s movies and send themselves up as vain, privileged celebrities. There’s even a nice meta bit where the characters start recording confessionals on Franco’s handi-cam from 127 Hours.

With this, Rogen’s first directorial effort with partner Evan Goldberg, they’ve taken what they’ve learned from their time under Judd Apatow’s tutelage and created a raunchy flick with an emotional core. There are plenty of bawdy jokes, tonnes of celebrity cameos and a number of flashy special effects sequences, but they never lose sight of the things that makes the film funny, which are characters and the specific ways they get on each others’ nerves.

And it needs to be stressed: this is actually laugh-out-loud funny. I know that should seem like a given when millions of dollars are spent making a comedy, but it’s not always the case. There’s a bit where Jonah Hill futzes around with a gun that may the funniest thing we’ve seen all year.

You’d think with the sheer volume of profanity and scatological jokes, this movie would be incredibly divisive, but it doesn’t feel that way. Some people may say that your enjoyment of the film depends on whether you like Seth Rogen.

But who doesn’t like Seth Rogen?

This is the End is in cinemas now

Jun 28 2013

TRAILER: Jesus Traps Rambo and The Terminator in a Hi-Tech Prison

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 10:23 am

Holy crud! It looks like the early nineties are back this year!

In Escape Plan, Sylvester Stallone plays a security expert whose methods of discovering a prison’s flaws involve him having to escape from it. But when it comes to testing a new high tech facility run by Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ), he may have bitten off more than he can chew. In order to have any chance of getting out, he’ll have to team up with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s grizzled career criminal-with-a-beard. This isn’t the kind of movie you really get to see these days, having more in common with flicks like The Rock and Face/Off than your average modern blockbuster (which, let’s face it, are pretty much all superhero movies)

With two Expendables movies and now this, it looks like the Italian Stallion and the Austrian Oak are reinventing themselves as a regular double act, like some modern day Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder. I honestly can’t wait for their version of See No Evil, Hear No Evil where Stallone plays a deaf guy who mumbles and Arnold plays a blind man who also garbles his words. I would pay serious money to see that.

Escape Plan will be paroled into cinemas 27th September

Jun 27 2013

WIN: Headphones and a Signed Poster with Mark Wahlberg’s Broken Cities

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 2:04 pm

**NOTE: This Competition is now closed**
It’s competition time again here at blinkbox and this week, one of you folks can win a pair of Sennheiser HD 449 Headphones! They boast comfortable design, advanced noise-cancelling ability and come highly recommended by a number of audio review sites. It’s a great piece of kit that will greatly enhance your movie experience, whether you’re watching on your TV, your laptop or your tablet.

To sweeten the pot, we’re also throwing in a full-sized poster for this week’s biggest release, Broken City, signed by star Mark Wahlberg!

To win these great prizes, all you have to do is identify some major international metropolises just by looking at fragmented photos of them in a feature we like to call… Mark Wahlberg’s Broken Cities.

To be in with a chance to win, just submit your completed answers to competitions@blinkbox.com by 11:59pm on Monday 1st July. Good luck!

Name the cities:










Remember folks, DO NOT POST YOUR ANSWERS IN THE COMMENTS BOX. Those entries will be disqualified. Instead, send your answers to competitions@blinkbox.com. Good luck!

Broken City is now available to buy and rent at blinkbox

Jun 27 2013

Stop. Twitter Time: ‘Game of Thrones’ + Tennis = Epic Win!

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 11:10 am

It’s almost #July, which means only two things: the final week of #wimbledon and the arrival of #gameofthrones Season 3 on @blinkbox!

To merge these two exciting events in to one social media-friendly package, we’ve created mash-ups of the two in a feature we like to call Game of Tennis. In case there are any doubts, these are not actually images sanctioned by HBO or the creators of Game of Thrones: it’s not like there were any deleted subplots involving racquet sports.

We’re bringing the world of Westeros right into the heart of SW19, with Tullys and Tyrells going head-to-head in a tourney on the lawn. There will be dragons feasting on strawberries; ball boys will be executed at the whim of the All England Lawn Tennis Club; and Tyrion Lannister will preside over the Royal Box, slowly getting hammered on overpriced sparkling wine.

Here are a few we made earlier…

1. Like John McEnroe, Ned had a habit of losing his head on the tennis court

2. **Spoiler Alert** (in case we were too subtle with the previous caption)

3. A lovingly staged, though terribly anachronistic recreation of the Bobby Riggs/Billie Jean King match of 1973
If you think you can pwn us and do one better, post your own contributions to Twitter with the hashtag #gameoftennis.  We’ll RT the ones that make us ROFL the most!

Game of Thrones Season 1 and 2 are now available at blinkbox

Watch Game of Thrones Season 3 in HD on blinkbox from 15th July. Not available on Netflix, Lovefilm Instant or iTunes.

Jun 27 2013

10 Stars Who Made it Big After 40

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 10:06 am

If you’re like us, you worry all the time about getting older. But for an growing number of people these days, life really begins at 40!

To tie in with Judd Apatow’s new film, This is 40, we’ve picked ten Hollywood stars who didn’t become famous before they hit the big 4-0.

1. Jeremy Renner
Jeremy Renner was brought onto Mission: Impossible to inject some new blood into the series. But by then, he was already 40 years old! Since his big break with The Hurt Locker, he’s joined no fewer than 3 blockbuster franchises, including The Avengers!

2. Steve Carell
He spent over 15 years performing in theater, sketch and TV before he hit it big with the 40 Year Old Virgin. By then, the Office star was already 43! He has since eclipsed Jim Carrey has the highest-paid comic actor in Hollywood!

3. Leslie Nielsen
He was an unconventional matinee idol through the 50s and 60s, starring in B-Movies like the camp sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet. But it wasn’t until he was 54 years of age when Airplane! launched him as the king of deadpan spoofs, leading to a successful comedic career with The Naked Gun, Hot Shots and some of those Scary Movies.

4. John Slattery
A television mainstay with plenty of one-off appearance on shows like Providence and Law and Order under his belt, Slattery became a housewives’ favourite silver fox at age 45 with his turn as alcoholic bon mot machine Roger Sterling in Mad Men.

5. Tommy Lee Jones
Was there ever a time when Tommy Lee Jones was young? He arguably didn’t become a household name until he was 47, playing a tenacious US Marshal on the hunt for Harrison For in The Fugitive.

TLJ Trivia: Jones attended Harvard University, where he was roommates with future US Vice President Al Gore!

6. Morgan Freeman
The most recognisable voice in cinema was already 52 when he struck gold in 1989 with three hits: Glory, Lean on Me and the Oscar-winning drama Driving Miss Daisy. Before that, many Americans grew up watching him on children’s television staple The Electric Company, performing in educational sketches alongside Spider-Man!

7. Judi Dench
Before she played M in the James Bond films and her name became street slang, Judi Dench used to hang out in a place called a “theatre” with people like Gandalf from Lord of the Rings. With awards galore and a number in blockbuster films to her name, there’s no doubt now that Dame Judi’s a movie star of the highest order.

8. Samuel L Jackson
Coming straight off The Avengers, this ageless bad-ass might be in the prime of his career but we often forget that he was 46 when Pulp Fiction shot him into the spotlight! And since then, he hasn’t aged a day — how does he do it?

9. Billy Bob Thornton
Thornton was about 41 when he made it big with Sling Blade, an independent drama he wrote, directed and starred in. It became the sleeper hit of 1996, earning him two Oscar nominations and winning him the prize for Best Original Screenplay. But more importantly, it made him famous enough to convince Angelina Jolie to marry him and do crazy stuff to prove her love. Surely that must be his career highlight?

10. Ricky Gervais
Before he became Britain’s biggest comedy star with The Office at the age of 40, Ricky Gervais had been a University Union employee, a band manager and a Radio DJ for XFM. Oh yeah, and he was also in a New Romantic pop duo called Seona Dancing for a spell: a fact that gets brought up pretty much with every TV interview he does.

This is 40 is now available on blinkbox

Jun 26 2013

TRAILER: Pitt, Fassbender, Bardem and Cruz in Ridley Scott’s ‘The Counsellor’

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 4:50 pm

Hot off the back of last year’s love-or-hate-it blockbuster Prometheus, director Ridley Scott has reteamed with Michael Fassbender in a modern crime tale, The Counsellor. There are very few hints as to what the plot might be both on the internet and in the teaser but here’s what we do know:

  • It has an all-star cast that includes Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz.
  • It features an original script from novelist Cormac McCarthy, who brought up 2007′s Oscar winning No Country For Old Men.
  • According to Deadline, it concerns “a respected lawyer who thinks he can dip a toe in to the drug business without getting sucked down. It is a bad decision and he tries his best to survive it and get out of a desperate situation.”

We’ve been disappointed by Ridley Scott in the past but after this trailer, you can consider our interest piqued

The Counsellor will be released 15 November

Jun 26 2013

Glastonbury Preview: Rodriguez and ‘Searching for Sugar Man’

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 4:09 pm

SugarmanIf we were to ask you what you thought was the biggest story at this year’s Glastonbury is, you could say it’s the Rolling Stones’ headline set. Or perhaps, due to timeliness, you might suggest Mumford & Sons’ first gig since bassist Ted Dwane’s brain clot scare a few weeks back.  But for us and many others, one of music’s most amazing stories will be unfolding on the Park Stage on Saturday, where American folk singer Rodriguez will be playing one of the biggest crowds of his life.

Those of you unfamiliar with the name Sixto Rodriguez are not alone: he was an obscure singer known to very few people in America and Britain until recently when he became the subject of Searching for Sugar Man, a film that won global acclaim and the Oscar for Best Documentary. It’s also one of the most stunning movies ever made about a musician.

The film opens in South Africa where local music fans Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman and Craig Strydom help paint a picture of Rodriguez, a mythical American folk singer who recorded two albums in the early seventies that had an enormous impact in their home country. His tracks were regularly censored by the government and a few of the songs became rallying cries for the Anti-Apartheid movement. As they describe it, Rodriguez was bigger than Elvis and the Rolling Stones and his albums were regular fixtures in many South African homes. Thing thing is: very little was known about the man himself.

Thanks to there being no internet or anything, urban legends began circulating about how he killed himself: some believed that he pulled out a revolver at the end of a set while others suggested that he covered himself in petrol and set himself ablaze. But in fact, none of his fans had any real idea about who the man was beyond the pictures on the album sleeve of a enigmatic man wearing shades.

In the film ‘s first half hour, Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul beautifully recreates the mythology of Rodriguez for an audience that’s never heard of him before. Using newly shot 8mm footage, archive photos, animated sketches CGI and talking head interviews, he’s able to convey the significance and romance that surrounds this mysterious figure, allowing him to seamlessly shift gears into the film’s next act: one that sees fans Segerman and Strydom become detectives on the trail of their hero.

We’re not going to spoil any more of the film for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, although you can probably guess from his Glasto billing this week that Rodriguez isn’t actually dead. But the story of what he did in the intervening years and what happened to him after he was rediscovered by fans from another continent is something that really needs to be seen.

There could be casual comparisons to Anvil! The Story of Anvil which followed a once-promising Canadian metal band twenty years after their prime. But where the charm of Anvil laid in the fact that the band’s optimism perhaps exceeded their ability, we’re left with little doubt that Rodriguez actually had the talent to be as big as Leonard Cohen was. The soundtrack features over a dozen of his original songs and it’s not terribly hard to see why he was held in high regard by studio heads and producers who had worked with singers like Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin.

In some ways, Searching for Sugar Man is a modern fairy tale, telling of a humble man who is one day plucked out of obscurity and given the recognition he was denied almost a lifetime ago. Filled with improbabilities and strange twists of fate, it’s one of those stories you would find far-fetched if it didn’t actually happen. Fascinating and utterly entertaining, the film’s incredible climax sent chills down our spine like nothing else in recent memory.

So if you’re heading down to Glastonbury or even if you’re planning to just follow the BBC coverage: do yourself a favour and see this movie first. You’re going to want to say that you were there the moment when Rodriguez took a long-deserved bow on one of music’s biggest stages.

Searching for Sugar Man is now available to watch at blinkbox

Jun 25 2013

Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch are Lazy Line Painters in ‘Prince Avalanche’ Trailer

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 9:44 am

Director David Gordon Green was long ago considered the heir apparent to Terence Malick for his earlier, earthy films like All The Real Girls and Undertow. That was until he got mixed up with the wrong crowd and started making comedies like Pineapple Express and the awful Medieval stoner fantasy Your Highness: much of his hip indie cred had evaporated as he became collaborators with Danny McBride.

Well, okay: that’s somewhat untrue. His work as a consulting producer and frequent director of McBride’s HBO show Eastbound and Down resulted in the most cinematic television comedy we’ve ever seen (seriously). And judging by the praise his latest film ‘Prince Avalanche’ received at Sundance this year, he could be on his way back to becoming one of America’s most promising auteurs.

The film stars Paul Rudd as a man who takes his girlfriend’s brother (Emile Hirsch) on a summer-long job to paint lines on a highway. Based on an Icelandic film Either Way, it’s essentially a road movie on foot which sees an unlikely friendship blossom between two very different men.

There’s no word on a UK opening date yet, but it’s getting a couple of festival screenings this summer which would suggest a release later this year or early next year. So keep your eyes peeled!

Jun 24 2013

Review: Broken City

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 9:14 am

If it ain't Broken City... don't fix it.On the eve of an important election, disgraced cop Mark Wahlberg is called into the office of the Mayor of New York (Russell Crowe). As his bills for his detective agency are piling up, Wahlberg reluctantly accepts a simple job to tail the Mayor’s wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and find out who she’s sleeping with. The money is good and the work seems pretty straightforward — but as we know from years of watching movies, things are never that simple.

The set-up is a familiar one: a disgraced private dick is given one last chance at redemption. It’s a well-worn story that’s given a fresh lick of paint by director Allen Hughes (From Hell) and Wahlberg, who also serves as producer. They imbue his character with enough likability to keep things interesting as he begins to discover the dark secrets of the man who hired him.

Broken City’s lineage comes directly from Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, another neo-noir that sees a broken down ex-cop who becomes embroiled in a corruption plot that involves a cash grab by a prominent pillar of society. Crowe’s greasy, charismatic mayor has its genesis in John Huston’s intimidating water baron from Chinatown – all charm and hospitality with a thick undercurrent of menace. Crowe’s character doesn’t necessarily have a lot of depth to him, but it’s still a little more nuanced than the character Wahlberg’s been given.

Marky Mark has come a long way from his days as the leader of The Funky Bunch. He’s proven over time that he’s a dependable lead: he’s isn’t exactly Daniel Day-Lewis when it comes to character work but he’s able to modify his screen persona for a pretty wide range of projects. In Broken City, the repartee with his assistant (Alona Tal) and his scenes with Crowe are all very strong. The zippy dialogue is perhaps the film’s greatest asset. But on the flip side, it’s hard to see the anguish in that we’re constantly told Wahlberg’s character is dealing with. When we arrived at the film’s conclusion, we didn’t feel invested enough to give a damn about what happens to Wahlberg.

In making a film that closely follows the story of Chinatown, they’ve courted comparisons to the definitive film of the genre and have naturally been found a little wanting. Broken City is by no means a bad film; it’s simply a well executed, nuts-and-bolt detective thriller with lofty aspirations it can’t hit. Or, to look at it from another perspective, it’s probably one of the better cop mysteries from the past few years.

Broken City is now available at blinkbox

Jun 24 2013

TRAILER: Ashton Kutcher Dreams of the Future in Steve Jobs Biopic

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 9:06 am

Although it seems like forever since we first heard about Ashton Kutcher taking on a Steve Jobs biopic, we’re finally seeing the first trailer for the film.

Apparently cast for no other reason than that he bears a passing resemblance to the Apple co-founder and is also an actor (of sorts), Kutcher’s depiction of Jobs seems to be that of a visionary messiah: sentenced to corporate death by an executive board of greedy Judasas, only to rise once more to share his consumer electronics with the good people of Jerusalem.

The trailer, if not the film, looks like it was written by someone really junior in the Apple PR department; someone who understands the company line but has yet to master concepts like subtlety and believability.

The film also stars Book of Mormon break-out Josh Gad as co-founder Steve Wozniak and Dermot Mulroney as a slimy investor.

We haven’t actually seen the film, so far be it for us to pass final judgement on it. Will it end up being a big success like the iPhone? Or will it more likely become a forgotten curio like the Apple Newton MessagePad 100 in the face of an upcoming Aaron Sorkin-scripted movie about Steve Jobs? Only time and common sense will tell.