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Greetings. We've got a glut of films to tell you about in this episode, so without further ado let us tell you what we thought of Lincoln, Hyde Park on Hudson, Wreck-It Ralph, Hitchcock, A Good Day to Die Hard, Warm Bodies, This is 40 and Indie Game: The Movie.
Steven Spielberg's Lincoln is a portrait of the 16th president of the United States in one of the most trying, but most important, periods in his political career as he attempts to garner the votes necessary for the 13th Amendment to be passed into law and end slavery in the US. Old Abe is played by Daniel Day-Lewis, who is seen disappointingly infrequently on screen, but when he does appear he typically plays a blinder, as he does here. It's far from a one-man show, however, and there's outstanding support from a cast that includes the likes of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Strathairn and a career-best turn from Tommy Lee Jones. While it's perhaps a little long, and doesn't offer a great deal of insight into Lincoln the man, the outstanding acting from the ensemble is more than enough to give this high recommendation.
Similarly focusing on just a short period of a US president's political life, this time June of 1939, Hyde Park on Hudson sees Bill Murray play Franklin D. Roosevelt as he entertains the British king, George VI, and his wife Elizabeth, at his country estate in New York. Focusing both on the relationships between the individuals, and, amidst the gathering storm of World War II, the relationships between the nations, this is an interesting character piece that, while not essential viewing, features strong performances, particularly from Murray. One to keep in mind for the future.
All members of theOneliner crew being longstanding videogamers, a film based on the medium and, if the trailer is any guide, featuring plenty of references to its heritage, was something guaranteed to pique our interest. Enter Wreck-It Ralph from Disney Animation, the poor relation to Pixar in the House of Mouse. Set in a Toy Story-like world behind the scenes of the games, the titular Ralph is the Donkey Kong-esque antagonist of 8-bit videogame Fix-It Felix Jr. After 30 years of being the bad guy, Ralph is fed up of being left out in the cold and sets out to become a hero instead. Alas, after an opening 10 minutes of fan service full of references to classic games, the games become just a setting. Some use is made of game mechanics to advance the plot, but at heart it's a rather tawdry 'learn to love yourself' tale. Lacking the nuance, thoughtfulness and humour of even mediocre Pixar, Wreck-It Ralph suffers not from being bad but by being in no way special. Kids are likely to enjoy it but there's not a great deal here for their parents, and certainly not for gamers.
Hitchcock, you'll be amazed to hear, is about the legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, in particular a period of his life just after the release of the excellent North by Northwest when, despite its success, it is suggested to Hitch that he retire. The director takes umbrage at this and sets out to make a film that will make the world sit up and really take notice of Hitchcock again. The film is Psycho, an adaptation of a book based on the real-life serial killer Ed Gein. Hitchcock follows the director's struggles to get Psycho made, as well as his relationship with his wife, Alma. Not a hagiography, though certainly not the unvarnished truth, this is very entertaining and features strong performances from Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock and, particularly, Helen Mirren as Alma.
Still the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time, John McClane travels, in this 5th film in the franchise, to Moscow to meet his son, Jack. Shockingly, all hell breaks loose while he's there and some terrorists turn up that McClane must despatch. The reasons for this are almost entirely inconsequential, because explosions. And gunfire. It may be incredibly cynical, and a Die Hard film in name only, but it's brainlessly entertaining and silly enough to recommend viewing. We particularly urge you to catch this in the cinema, though. Why? Because explosions. And only a cinema sound system can do them justice.
The Wackness director Jonathan Levine brings us Warm Bodies, which, while seeming like a premise that would wear thin very quickly, is actually a consistently funny and clever twist on zombie movies. After a zombie apocalypse (yes, another one), one of the undead horde (going by the name of R) finds himself dissatisfied with his lot. On a trip to get some delicious human cerebrum, R falls in love with a living human woman and decides that he must protect her and keep her alive. His unusual behaviour begins a process that sees the undead begin to regain some of their humanity. Nicholas Hoult gives a great performance as R and the film is well-written and consistently funny. A pleasant surprise and a recommendation.
The story of some supporting characters from Knocked Up, This is 40 sees Pete and Debbie having mid-life crises as Debbie approaches her 40th birthday. Trying to be a drama as much as it is a comedy, it doesn't have anything particularly interesting or insightful to say about being 40, and a lot of the ideas in the film remain undeveloped. While there's humour here it's spread far too thinly over its 134 minute running team, and the gaps between the funny bits seem filled with bickering. The first real mis-step we've seen from Judd Apatow, and we find ourselves suggesting you give this one a swerve.
We return to the world of video games in documentary Indie Game: The Movie, an entirely inscrutable title for a movie which is about the challenge of making indie games. Indie Game follows 3 independent developers as they traverse the pitfalls and hurdles of getting a game finished and to market in an industry dominated by huge studios and monolithic publishers. While it suffers from a lot of repetitive camera shots (forgiveable given the difficulty of making people typing things into a computer visually appealing) and fails to make clear the huge disparity in resources between indie devs and the big studios, this is a compelling human story and very much worth watching. And if video games aren't your bag, have a look anyway - in the end the world in which the film is set is irrelevant, it's about the passion and the struggle to create in a world where the odds are stacked against you. If you've any interest in the creative process, not just of games, then check it out.
And... relax. That's us for this episode. If you've any comments you'd like to make, please do so either by emailing or hollering @theoneliner on Twitter. As always we'd appreciate you taking a few minutes to rate and review us on iTunes, or wherever better podcasts are served.
Well, uh, hope you folks enjoyed yourselves. Catch ya further on down the trail.