Copshop

Frank Grillo with gun

More tightly controlled chaos from Joe Carnahan with Copshop. Following hard on the heels of Boss Level, it’s another display of post-Tarantino buzzsaw brilliance, and again it has Frank Grillo – late to the action party but most welcome – as a badass lead. Most Carnahan films – The Grey and The A Team being notable exceptions – are like Copshop. The action starts out with a couple of characters doing something fairly preposterous, and then Carnahan widens his net with real skill to incorporate more and more characters, all also doing preposterous, or bad, or mad things, before he finally gets everyone together for a gonzo finale usually involving excessive gunplay and suicidal … Read more

Greenland

The family driving to save their lives

Gerard Butler is a fine actor capable of great nuance, a line usually guaranteed to get a laugh. No, but he is. It’s just that he’s chosen the action-guy route in films like the (Olympus, London, Angel) Has Fallen series rather than the sensitive thespian path he could have taken after 2004’s Frankie (plenty of nuanced Butler there). Greenland gives us a lot of one sort of Butler and enough of the other to suggest that the actor is weighing up a return to actual acting, rather than continuing exclusively to pull Action Man poses. Because Greenland is a movie with nuance and some psychological depth wrapped up in a very familiar disaster … Read more

How to Train Your Dragon

Hiccup rides Toothless in How to Train Your Dragon

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     8 March   Raymonde de Laroche is first woman with a pilot’s licence, 1910 On this day in 1910, Raymonde de Laroche became the first woman in the world to receive a pilot’s licence. The Wright brothers had only invented the heavier than air machine seven years earlier, and Louis Blériot had flown the 21 miles across the English Channel, thus proving that long-distance flight was possible, only the year before. De Laroche had learnt to fly after visiting the factory of the Voisin brothers, who manufactured planes in their factory in Chalons, France, in October 1909, where … Read more

RocknRolla

Gerard Butler and Idris Elba in RocknRolla

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     06 September     Idris Elba born, 1972 On this day in 1972, Eve Elba gave birth to Idrissa Akuna Elba, who shortened his name to Idris after starting school in London’s Canning Town. A big kid at school, Idris had the status that went with it, was good at sport, interested in music, keen on acting, where he found he had the self-confidence to “disappear into the character”. At 14 he was a pirate DJ. At 16 he was a theatre stagehand and also did night shifts at Ford’s Dagenham factory. In his early 20s the acting took … Read more

The Phantom of the Opera

Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler in The Phantom of the Opera

      It’s something of a minor industry to make fun of Andrew Lloyd Webber. But with this film version of his stage phenomenon (billions of dollars at box offices worldwide, and counting) it looks like the musical lord is once more going to be having the last laugh. It’s a story we all know – a hideously disfugured creature, endowed with a gift for music, yearns for the love of a pretty, young singer. He tutors her and turns her into a star. But could she ever love him? It’s often said that the story is a coded version of the relationship between Lloyd Webber and his ex-wife, Sarah Brightman. Brightman … Read more