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Thursday, 11 February 2016

A Bloke Down the Pub Talks to You About Hammer Films - Evening One: Dracula Has Risen From The Grave


In a new series of articles 'The bloke down the pub' will tell us all about his favourite Hammer Horror films. This first week he's forcing us to listen to him excitedly ramble on about Dracula Has Risen From The Grave from 1968. Enjoy!

"What about those rooftops, eh? Very spooky.
Dripping in proper atmosphere they were; your foggy, twilit, black shapes rising from the depths to loom over the town sort of atmosphere. Weird how freeing the rooftops were though eh? Given how awesomely spooky they are. I mean, there’s Dracula, hiding out in the basement next to a coffin he nicked from some poor dead bird he had turfed out of it, and there’s the two young lovers scampering over the black rooftops back and forth to each other like the world was all promise and hope instead of grim and dark and full of fear... like that horrible no good priest.

You know, come to think of it, the whole film was about the horrible no good priest really, wasn’t it? I mean, he’s the cowardly bugger who wouldn’t go near Dracula’s castle at the beginning (a castle, by the way, that takes a whole day to climb up to - even poor old Dracula at the end has to schlep all the way up there, although this being Christopher Lee it’s much more of a gliding menacing sort of a schlep), he’s the one who woke Dracula up, he’s the one who led the Count on a revenge mission to find the other priest - his mate! - who barred the door to Dracula’s castle with that dirty great cross (lovely visual of the other priest with the huge cross strapped to his back climbing through the murk to the castle of evil - lovely stuff), he’s the one who gets Dracula nice and settled in the pub basement - Dracula in a pub basement! - and he’s the one who brings him an old-fashioned wench to feed on. My point is, without the no good horrible priest, what would Dracula be eh? Just a grumpy tall bloke on a hill no-one can get to.

By the way, what’s up with Dracula making the edges of the screen glow green? Did I miss a meeting that decided green was the colour of evil? I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was a fantastic way to turn Lee into even more of an other-worldly monster… but why bloody green?!

Anyway, if you want my opinion, I’m not sure the horrible no good priest deserves the chance of redemption he gets in the end especially when he goes on to do even more unforgivable things. But then maybe, and this has only just occurred to me sitting here talking to you on this murky old evening of our own, that maybe that’s the point of the whole film! Here he is, total slimy, scaredy cat bastard - carrying on living when good people are dying - and he’s the one God chooses for redemption!
Gives hope to all of us eh?
Another pint?"
The bloke down the pub is always three sheets to the wind, has the crumbs from an old pork pie on his lapel and smells of pipe tobacco and pickled eggs but he knows his Hammer movies and he wants to share his thoughts.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Bang Bang! - Bollywood Movie Review

You may not know this but we used to have a section of this website dedicated to Bollywood movie reviews from the very awesome Kiva Ashby. Well, she's been away a while but now she's back with a bang! well a Bang Bang! to be precise. Get ready for her take on Bollywood's mad action movie...

Bang Bang!
October 2014
Director: Siddharth Anand
Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif, Pavan Malhotra
Length: 2hr 33min

Short summary:
Hrithik Roshan stars as mysterious jewel thief Rajveer Nanda who happens to get mixed up in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an even more mysterious villain Omar Zafar (played by Danny Dengzopa). But of course no thief can take on an all powerful villain without the help of a painfully sexy, if not dimwitted, woman. Katrina Kaif plays Harleen, a stunningly beautiful bank teller that, for some odd reason, can’t get a date/man to save her life. She decides to rectify this problem by utilizing the most common form of matchmaking our generation currently has at its disposal…online dating sites. This of course leads to her chance encounter with Rajveer. Sparks fly between them, as well as a few bullets, during dinner. The two separate but this is only the beginning of their adventure. Numerous car chases and gunfire scenes ensue. It all leads up to the climax of the Rajveer, Harleen and Omar on a private airplane.

Action rating:
*****
This movie is adequately titled. It is chock full of suspense and fighting scenes.
There are many notable scenes, including Rajveer catapulting out of the water wearing water jetpack boots, guns blazing and bad guys in hot pursuit. Towards the end of the movie he literally sky dives into the bad guys hide out even though there was no actual plane that dropped him off. He just free falls in from the heavens. He then proceeds to rappel up a building as casually as he’s taking a stroll to buy groceries. The guards are all taken out single handedly, of course, and he finds himself in a chamber with Omar Zafar and at least 20 goons. This then cuts to a high speed chase with a random construction ramp set up on the highway which they use for a well timed jump and flip. The two get knocked off their dirt bike and are surrounded by goons (again). Rajveer takes them all out and goes off after Harleen. He can’t do this without some help, of course, but, oh look! over there! it just so happens that there is a formula one race car show going on right down the block. He easily highjacks a car and chases Omar and Harleen to a sea plane waiting at the dock. He arrives just in time to shoot a harpoon into the plane's pontoon before it takes off.
These were just a few, and I stress few, of the action scenes. So if you are looking for non-stop action (most of which doesn’t make sense) then this is a great movie.

Music/Dancing:
**
Not the best songs but Hrithik Roshan is a great dancer so he always puts on a good show. I was surprised there weren’t more than three. The movie was long enough to have at least five but it was a little refreshing to have so few. The two upbeat songs were super catchy and not traditional bollywood songs at all. They were more along the lines of today’s pop club music but they were both enjoyable.

Outfits/wardrobe:
*****
I think we all get the Hrithik Roshan is beyond jacked. He’s so muscular that his muscles have muscles. However this movie showcases them way too much. His shirts are almost never buttoned or zipped up. Even if he ever wears a pull over or suit, he manages to get them ripped open just enough to showcase his chest. Katrina Kaif also spends a good amount of time in very revealing clothes but, that’s expected, because she’s the eye candy. However, I must say, that whoever her stylist was for this film, they need to be paid more. All her outfits were amazing! Every Last One. I need her stylist/costume team in my life.

Believability:
*
This gets one of the lowest ratings ever. The only reason I gave it 1 star was because the story was pretty good. It started with the death of one brother who vows, with his last breath, that someone will avenge his death and it comes full circle when his brother Rajveer keeps that promise.
Other than that, the rest of the movie is highly unbelievable. The last time I checked the following things are impossible:
  • Guns firing out of water
  • One man single handedly defeating a hundred
  • Driving a formula racecar without a helmet
  • Waterskiing without water skis
Overall rating:
**
If you’ve got some time to kill and you want a good laugh and lots of loud noises then check out Bang Bang!
Kiva Ashby is a true Bollywood fanatic trying to convert westerners one film at a time.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Standing Up For the Collector and the Fan in All of Us

The second weekly column from Grant Nock, new columnist here for The After Movie Diner.

I buy and watch a lot of movies.
About 60% of those are movies I want to own because I've seen them previously and enjoyed them, or they're movies I'm upgrading from DVD, or never got round to buying on DVD.
About another 30% is recommendations from other people (mainly from the brilliant After movie Diner and Dr.Action Facebook group). These are usually films I've not seen before but have piqued my interest in someway. I usually ask for opinions on them and, if the general feedback is good, I buy it. If I don't like the movie once I've watched it, I sell it on ebay. This is the risk you run with blind buying but, in reality, it's just the same as a buying cinema ticket. You pay your money, you take a chance. If I don't like a movie, it's down to my personal preferences and tastes. Which brings me on to the final 10%.

This is strange category. These are movies I feel like I should watch. The all time classics. The number one film of a certain genre. The Awards contenders and winners (you know the ones with a third of the cover design taken up by the words usually reading "nominated for 15 Academy Awards" and all the twaddle).
It's a strange category as I put pressure on myself to watch these. Sometimes it's pressure from other people who say "you have to see this" or "it's a classic" and immediately I feel pressure that I have to like it, otherwise I'm some sort of lesser fan of cinema that's not willing to broaden his horizons.

Let me give you a couple of examples:
Over the Christmas holidays I watched Psycho for the first time in over 15 years. I remembered really enjoying back then so I thought I'd give my newly purchased Blu-Ray a spin. This time around, I found it a bit of a struggle to be honest. Anthony Perkins' performance is great and genuinely makes you feel uneasy but I found it quite slow moving and, apart from the well renowned scenes, I didn't really engage.
Ultimately I came out of this viewing appreciating the film for how ground-breaking it was but also coming to the conclusion that I'm never going to love it and probably won't watch it again anytime soon.

I also watched Blow Out. This was a first time viewing for me and I didn't like it. I enjoyed Travolta's performance but found De Palma's direction all a bit tricksy and showy. I really didn't like Nancy Allen's character and so wasn't that bothered when she was in peril at the films finale.
Again, I appreciate why people are a fan of his film, but its not for me.

Now here is where we get to the root of my somewhat self induced pressure. When I voiced my opinion on our Facebook group not once was I made to feel bad for not liking the film. Not once was I made to feel like a Cinematic dunce for not loving two perceived classics, because it isn't that type of group.
Whereas, in the past, I have listened to other film podcasts and read articles virtually proposing the fact that if you didn't like, for example, Blow Out, you were basically a moron. The presentation of an opinion as fact is becoming a lot more common and I find it incredibly off putting. It's just your opinion. I'm glad that people are passionate about certain films, as am I but that's all it is: an opinion. There's no right or wrong when you're discussing your favourite movies. If I would've expressed my view of the film to any of these particular groups, I'm pretty sure I would've been given a hard time over it.

That's when I came to the realisation that I like what I like. There is a world of difference between appreciate and love.
When Indiana Jones is lowered in to the map room in Raiders and that music starts, I still get goosebumps, when Doc Brown is sliding down the conductor cable and Marty is hurtling down the street, I still feel tense and when Rey walks those steps and we see a man standing there in a robe and he turns round and lowers his hood, tears are rolling down my cheeks. These are the moments that strike a chord within me, these are the movies that matter to me, these are the movies I am passionate about and never will I be made to feel guilty, stupid, or any lesser of a film fan for that!
Grant Nock is a 35 year old balding husband and father.
He doesn't drink or smoke but does spend a ridiculous amount of money on blu rays an dvds.

Friday, 29 January 2016

My Bond With Bond

The After Movie Diner is proud to present this FIRST article by new columnist for the site, Grant Nock.

I can't remember my first James Bond movie. It just feels like it's always been part of my life.

I grew up during an era when a Bond movie on T.V. was just as much of a part of Chritmas and Easter as Brussel Sprouts and Chocolate Eggs.

I have certain Bond movie memories:
Being 5 and renting "A View To A Kill" from the video shop with my Uncle, and my Auntie not being best pleased. Apparently she hated Roger Moore (some people have no taste).
Watching "The Man With The Golden Gun" with my Dad on the T.V. upstairs back when, if you had two T.V.'s in your house, you were considered rich.
Collecting stickers of "The Living Daylights" from Trio chocolate bars and plastering them over my bedroom door.



Taping "Goldfinger" off the T.V. and nearly wearing the tape out.
Catching the end of "Octopussy" and thinking "why the fuck is he dressed as a clown?"

I suppose I grew up in quite a strange era for the franchise as after "License To Kill" was released, when I was 8, the series was dormant for 6 years. However, with them being virtually on constant rotation on the television, it didn't feel like a you were missing out that much. After all, I still had 16 films to seek out to rent or record.

When I left school and got my first job, I immediately starred buying the official VHS tapes. There was a Woolworths right by my workplace and I'd walk there on my dinner break and grab a couple. Within a couple of months I'd got them all and they took centre stage amongst my video collection. It was also during this time that I borrowed "The James Bond Encyclopedia" from the library. It became my bible. Bond was the first franchise that I took an active interest in the 'behind the scenes' stuff: Producers, directors, actors, order of release, etc. I devoured it all.

During my late teens/early twenties (or as I like to call them, "My Movie Douche Years") I started getting into different types of cinema but my love for Bond remained, even though it was a difficult period for the series. We were in the latter stages of the Brosnan era and it remains my least favourite era to this day.

I was 21 when I went through my first breakup. I did what most movie fans do, when going through tough times, I bought lots of movies. I had my first dvd player by then, the time had come to take the plunge and upgrade the collection. All 19 titles. I can remeber coming home from the work, seeing the parcel on the kitchen table and the smell as I opened the box. Even thinking about it now makes my stomach feel funny. I was like a pig in shit.
This was back in the days when you got plenty of extras and a collectable booklet with your physical media. They really went for it with the extras. You sometimes got three documentaries per title and not just five minute fluff pieces but informative, enjoyable twenty five minute retrospectives. I was enjoying them almost as much the films themselves but not quite.
The films had been restored and I was seeing them in widescreen for the first time. They were stunning. I've gotten rid of plenty of dvds after upgrading them to Blu Ray but not these, they remain my favourite DVD releases even now.

Is Bond the best written, directed or acted series of films in cinema history? Of course not but I can find at least one thing in every movie to like (yes, even "Die Another Die"). They are pure entertainment. To me they are the cinematic equivalent of comfort food. If I've had a bad day I know I can stick on a Bond film and within ten minutes all is good in my world.
Despite some bumps along the way, and the fact that the Mission:Impossible series is probably doing classic Bond better than Bond itself at the moment, I still believe that nobody does it better.
Thank you James.



Grant Nock is a member of the After Movie Diner and Dr.Action Facebook Group and this is the first column he has written for the website.
If you are a movie fan and want to send in an article, review, opinion piece, video, music or whatever then please contact me on aftermoviediner@gmail.com
All contributors welcome!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

2015 - I can just about scrape together a Top 7

So this is normally where I would post my top 10 movies of 2015 or write some sort of blog encapsulating the last 12 months.
Well looking through what came out this year and what I watched, I have managed to scrape together a paltry 7 films and, if I am honest, I could probably whittle it down further to maybe 4 films, if I wasn't so lazy and didn't have better things to do.

On many of the top 10 lists, I have seen, there are films I either didn't bother to watch or films I've never heard of.  On one hand you could call this sheer laziness or lack of money (both of which would be partly true) but, in all honesty, it was lack of interest. I went to the cinema plenty last year and I also kept up with what was being released (as I normally do) but I can't say I was wowed by very much at all.

This was the year that the Marvel/Superhero cinema started to, finally, bore me ridged, wash over me or, in the case of Avengers: Age of Ultron, disappoint me in a way I haven't been since Spiderman 3. It was also a year where very little surprised me and what did, made it on to my list.

Were there films I wanted to see but didn't get round to seeing? yeah, of course. Was I bothered about those films enough to hunt them out, leave my cosy nest and pay exorbitant amounts to see them? Not really, no.

I saw lots of retro screenings this year and also watched plenty of old movies at home and every time I did I was reminded that invention, creativity, originality, weirdness, chance taking and, generally, story telling in a way I haven't seen it before are massively lacking in modern cinema. Even amongst the straight to video crowd.

I am also, if you didn't know by now and for full disclosure, someone who likes films to excite, amaze, entertain, weird me out, scare or make me think. I am not a film critic but rather a film fan. A fan of all things film can be. I also don't watch many foreign or highbrow indie films because, generally, they send me to sleep and I don't care. I am both, at the same time, craving something different and weird and demanding just pure, well done, simple, old fashioned entertainment.
Just because you have subtitles or someone stares out of a window while contemplating existence, doesn't make you a good film. I also have no patience for things that don't get to the point.

Which is hilarious when you look at all the pontificating I have just done.

GET ON WITH IT!!

Ok, so without further dribble from me, here are my top 7 movies of 2015,l in chronological order:

Run All Night - Neeson Season is hit and miss but this time round it was a hit and when it's a hit I want to celebrate that fact. Also I appreciate a well done, simple chase film featuring great actors and New York City.

Mad Max: Fury Road - If it wasn't for Tom Hardy stinking up the joint with his multiple, mumbled accents and his inability to play a character properly then this would've been the perfect movie.
I absolutely loved everything about this apart from Tom Hardy. Luckily Charlize Theron more than made up for it, as did the visuals, the action, the cinematography, the stunts, the score, the plot... everything. It was jaw dropping, visceral cinema at its best and, despite the lack of Mel Gibson (which really would've made this film absolutely incredible) it's still the best of the Mad Max franchise. Seriously. Go back and watch the original trilogy. It's really not that easy.

Tomorrowland - because it was a real surprise and the closest I've seen in modern cinema of a true 80s, action/adventure throwback. Hear us podcast on the film HERE

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation - because it was so so so so so much better than any Bond film has been in 2 decades.

Creed - because it made me cry and because it understood not just the legacy of those characters but the legacy of the man who created them, Sly Stallone.

Bone Tomahawk - between this and The Hateful Eight I am not sure, exactly, which Kurt Russell with a massive, cool-as-fuck moustache western I enjoyed more this year but I know that Bone Tomahawk was definitely the better film. Hear us podcast on the film HERE

Cop Car - Kevin Bacon in the performance of a life time. Also it was a small, indie film that didn't suck and, therefore, didn't get much publicity. If you didn't catch this then go back and watch it.  It's the Coen Brothers with a dash of Stand By Me and Buster Keaton thrown in for good measure. Hear us podcast on the film HERE

Honourable mention goes out to The Martial Arts Kid. You can read my review HERE

I want to hear your opinion, please leave a comment below.
Thanks
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