Belfast (2021)

Quick synopsis: A semi-autobiographical film that chronicles the life of a working-class family and their young son’s childhood during 1960s Northern Ireland.

I will never go into a film as blind as I did this one. I’ve sometimes gone into films not knowing much about them, just watched a single trailer etc. A few times it’s just been the synopsis. Sometimes it has just been the title. This I didn’t even know that. It was a secret preview screening, I worried it was Cyrano, but assumed it would be The 355. I think this was quite unexpected, as when the title card came up there was a general feeling of “not what I expected, but I’ll take it”.

That was a great way to watch this film. It’s a coming of age story, and in life, you don’t know what’s coming. We don’t live in a horror story, or a romance story, we live in our own stories, the genre defined by what we see in front of us. What is coming is unknown, but we can make guesses based on what we’ve seen. It’s great to watch such an uncertain time period unfold through the eyes of a child. We see him play in the streets with childlike wonder, then shit starts going down. Considering when and where it was set, it’s not completely surprising, but it’s unsettling to see that kind of sudden terror interrupt something so innocent and pure.

That being the way to open is PERFECT. Then when more things like that happen they also stick in your head. This affects the way you watch the film. Even when nice things happen, even when there are moments of pure joy, the potential for sudden explosive violence is in your head. The fear that at any moment everything can go wrong is always in the back of your mind. That must have been what it was like though, so that alone does more to put you in their shoes than anything else similar but lesser films have done.

This feels like the most personal film in the career of Branagh, you can feel the genuine heart and love he has for the subject. The whole thing feels like someone is telling you a story, and the film is just in your mind as you try to picture it. He directs it beautifully, lending every moment a real intimacy.

The performances are great too, not just individually but how they interact with each other. The cast has such great chemistry that it’s easy to believe they’re all family. The one downside is that perhaps Dornan and Dench are too recognisable for this to be as effective as it could be, but that’s a minor quibble. The people you won’t know pull you in brilliantly. I didn’t know who Caitríona Balfe was before this but I probably should have (truth be told for most of the film I thought she was Cate Blanchett), I have seen her in things but she’s never stood out to me before now. She’s great in this, the torment she’s going through echoes through every moment of her performance. The true star, though, is Jude Hill, who gives a remarkable performance for someone so young.

So in summary, go see this. It’s a wonderfully personal tale and one that deserves to be seen.

How We Got Through…January 2017

Let’s face it, this year has not got off to a good start. Not even a month in and we’ve already lost John Hurt, our governments have been so devastated by that news that in tribute they’ve decided to turn the world into a fully interactive version of 1984 running 24/7  . In times of crisis we have two options; we can either 1) Help solve the problem. 2) Ignore the problem and lose ourselves in film, television, video games and music. Obviously we did number two. So here’s how we got through the first month of this year


A Monster Calls


This is not an easy film to watch on an emotional level, one of the few films I’ve seen lately that seeks to emotionally blackmail the watcher. Definitely the best looking film I’ve seen at the cinema this year (note: it’s the only film I’ve seen at the cinema this year). One of the few downsides is Sigourney Weaver’s English accent, which is slightly uneven throughout. Reminiscent of a mix between Pan’s Labyrinth and a Neil Gaiman book, can be best described as a modern day fairy tale. Bayona did a fantastic job of directing this, whilst the Liam Neeson tree is telling stories (it’s an odd film) the film switches visual styles so it almost becomes a living watercolour painting, it’s awe-inspiring and genuinely new, never seen anything that was done like this (the closest is when Hermione was telling the stories of the Three Brothers in Harry Potter and the style switched to a weird animated one). The only previous film I’ve seen of his was The Impossible, and that was in 2012 so can’t remember too much about it, but I can remember being really impressed with the way he directed certain moments in it and was really good at creating visual tension, which is a good sign for his next film; the Jurassic World sequel.



Whilst A Monster Calls is bleak, it cannot hold a candle to this. A film which begins with someone kicking a dog to death, gets progressively bleaker, and then culminates in the lead character decapitating a dog and sitting there with it’s head in his lap, with tales of domestic abuse and rape in the middle. If you know someone who is annoyingly optimistic and happy, show them this film, you will break them. Still a major disappointment that Olivia Colman didn’t win a BAFTA for this, didn’t even get nominated which is a shame as I truly believe she’s one of the best British Actresses around at the moment, nobody can wring emotion from a story like she can.

The Lego Movie


This was mainly to recover from Tyrannosaur. Brought for £5 from Morrisons and I feel like I cheated them somehow by getting it so cheap. The film equivalent of a rainbow emanating from a bowl of skittles and raining sunshine and joy onto people below. One of the few films this year which has made me genuinely laugh out loud multiple times, which takes some doing as I’m a miserable bastard.


Artemis Fowl – Eoin Colfer

Slightly too anvilicious in it’s environmental message, but otherwise it’s fantastic literature. Brilliant characterisation as well, the series is basically about somebody becoming a hero over the course of 8 books, and he was very evil in the first book so it was a long journey. A tale of growing up, a tale of greed, and a tale of humanity. One of the the best children’s book series I’ve ever read, it’s basically Die Hard with fairies, if the lead character was Light from Death Note. A film adaptation directed by Kenneth Branagh is hopefully on the way, and he’s a director who I feel can really do it justice.

TV Shows

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend


I know, I go on about this all the time, but there’s a reason for that; because I love it so much. Funny, heartbreaking and with songs so catchy it’s almost suspicious.

Insert Name Here


An odd panel show on BBC (previous episodes available on iPlayer) about people. Basically they answer questions about historical figures and celebrities who all share the same name. Each episode focuses on a different name, so, for example, the episode this week was based on Charlie, so you had the teams answer questions about famous people called Charlie. Hosted by Sue Perkins, with Josh Widdicombe and Richard Osman From Pointless (to give him his full name) as team captains. A show which I can’t imagine working on any other channel than the BBC, and which wouldn’t be made by any other country than this one. Very very funny, and you learn a lot too.




Lonely Daze – Kate Tempest

Completely different from what I imagined Kate Tempest would sound like, but oh so good. A wonderful piece of lyrical storytelling that you can just put on and lose yourself to.

Stars – Nina Simone

I first heard it in Bojack Horseman, and it has stuck with me ever since. Beautifully emotional, like proper tears and angry shaking emotion. The kind of song you’d drink yourself to death to.


So that’s how we got through this month, what did you use?

Why I’m Not A Massive Fan Of Downloading Media

1. Lack Of Special Features

I may be in a niche audience here but I like the little things that are added to films for DVD and blu-ray releases. For example, whilst I’m not a fan of the Thor film, the commentary by Kenneth Branagh is superb, insightful and full of interesting details which help you enjoy the film, and when the credits are going on he makes sure to point out how important different members of the crew are even though they’re not talked about that much. David Fincher too has delivered some absolutely stunning commentaries on his films, particularly on the platinum release of Seven which had so many commentaries that you almost feel that you know absolutely everything about that film.


But with downloads you don’t get that as often, you get them sometimes but not as prevalent as they are with physical releases, and that disappoints me. I like the weird stuff, it shows passion that the film-makers have towards what they’ve done.

2. No Ownership

Random fact, if you download something, be it a game or an album or a film, you don’t own it. You’re just leasing the content. As such it’s not really yours to do anything with. If you want to leave your downloads to someone when you die, you can’t do that (well, unless you give them the password beforehand) as it’s not yours to give away. That’s if it lasts that long of course, after Disney’s licensing deal with Amazon ran out in 2013 people found they couldn’t stream or redownload Disney soundtracks or movies that they had already brought. They had been essentially locked out of content that they paid for. You may think “yeah, but if I’ve already downloaded it, what’s the problem?”. Oh you poor naive fool, then it gets deleted off any device you’ve downloaded it onto. In 2009 some users of Kindles found their digital book collection lighter. It turned out the company who supplied the digital books to Amazon wasn’t 100% legit and didn’t own the rights in the first place. So Amazon took the books down from their online store, and then DELETED IT OFF PEOPLES KINDLES! That’s right, even if you pay for, and download something, you still might not be able to access it. Interesting fact; one of the books effected by this: 1984 by George Orwell.

3. The Thrill Of The Chase

The beautiful thing about downloading content is the wide variety it gives you access to. Think back to the 90’s, or even the early 2000’s. You hear about a film that could be good so you scour the local shops to find it, and if they didn’t have it they had to order it in, and who knows how long that will take, especially if it’s an import? Now? Just click on a button and it’s there. There can be a film made on a budget of £1,000 in Brazil (only, you know, in Brazilian Real, not Pounds Sterling) and if the makers decide to upload it onto their website, you can have it. I don’t think people truly realise how great that is, almost every film in history is at your fingertips, accessible in seconds, it’s amazing. But part of me likes buying in a shop. It’s not just having a hard copy of what you’ve brought (although that is quite important, it’s nice to have something you can physically hold), it’s being disappointed that you can’t find a film, being in a dingy charity shop in a random town, and seeing it there. That thrill when you FINALLY find it, after months of searching to no avail and suddenly you have it right there in your hands, the waiting is over. Nothing can touch that moment. There’s no streaming equivalent, it’s far far too easy and convenient. I kind of touched upon it earlier, but there is also something special about actually owning a DVD. You organise them in a way that means something to you, in a unique way that confuses everybody else yet makes complete sense to you (if you ever meet someone who orders their DVD’s autobiographically, give them a hug, they probably need it). You FEEL like you own it, you look at it like a king surveying his kingdom, basking in the greatness of your purchases.

Henry VIII owned all seven Police Academy films on Blu Ray yet still no had son.

4. Rebuying.

This one, admittedly only applies to kindles. People love them, they constantly talk about how convenient they are, and they are, I won’t deny that. But I will never buy one for one simple reason; I can’t transfer my books onto it. You can transfer your CD’s onto your iPod or MP3 player but books you can’t for obvious reasons, and that annoys me. I’ve already paid for these books, I don’t want to buy them again just for convenience. But maybe that’s just me.

5. I’m Old And I Don’t Like Change.

Actual picture of me

Here’s the most important reason, the one that I feel overshadows and is the cause of all the others. I remember when MP3 players came out and I stuck with my portable CD player, which required you to change the batteries every 90 minutes and would skip if you didn’t hold it in just the right way. But I still kept on, even when I had to replace it on an almost yearly basis I still maintained “no, I like cd players better, mp3 players lack that special something”. I now have an iPod and I was wrong, very very wrong. Right now, because of my iPod, I carry around 1,912 albums, 23,717 songs in total, all in my pocket. If you had come up to 10 year old me and said that in the future that would be possible I wouldn’t have believed you (mainly because you’d be an adult talking to a 10 year old child, you creep), and if you told me I’d reject that out of some ridiculous notion of authenticity I’d have slapped you in disbelief, and then slapped myself for being such an idiot. So when you see me in a few years time, reading my kindle and then watching a film on my tablet on the train (with headphones in, I’m not a dick), remind me of how stupid I used to be, I deserve it.

Musings On Marvel: Day 3 (Iron Man 2)

Director: Jon Favreau (Chef, The Jungle Book)

Budget: $200 million

Box Office: $623.9 million

  • Ok let’s see what exciting new property Marvel use for their third movie. Wait, a sequel? Lazy.
  • Surely you’d have realised that if you read the title of this article?
  • Shut up.
  • This press conference is different from how it was in the first film.
  • Wait, the news cuts away to reaction shots during a live press conference? Bit of a stupid move.
  • Mickey Rourke (not Tim Robbins as I first thought when I first saw this film), looks older than his dad.
  • Yeah, it’s impressive that Iron Man is jumping from a plane to launch himself into the conference, but you know what’s better? The queen parachuting with James Bond.
  • To quote Deadpool: “Woo! Superhero landing! You know that’s really hard on your knees. Totally impractical, they all do it.”
  • “Nobody can go toe to toe with me on my best day”. On average days, I can be bested by a sloth, but on my best days…..
  • “It’s not about us, it’s about legacy”. Oh crap, that’s not another really obscure superhero that’s going to appear is it?
  • Oh, it’s not?
  • Shame.
  • Shame!
  • Tony Stark arguing with the government. Makes the superhero registration act a bit difficult to figure out.
  • Seriously? The weapons expert is called “Hammer”? Subtle.
  • Anthony? His name is Anthony?
  • Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerd.
  • Hey Rhodes, you look different.
  • A lot of people taking photos. They’re probably surprised a black guys got a speaking role too.
  • Apparently Al Pacino was going to play the role of Justin Hammer. As much as I like Rockwell, f*cking Pacino!
  • The news network misspelt “Capitol” in title of their video. Yay journalism
  • And now we have the most annoying thing about this film: Tony Stark drinking a chlorophyll based drink to counteract heavy-metal poisoning. That wouldn’t work. At all. I know some of these films are lacking scientific accuracy but that’s normally because they contain future technology. This is just pure bullshit. It would be like saying that cling film can stop HIV or dipping your cock into boiling water stops genital warts.
  • I’m fairly certain he can’t just walk into a Formula 1 circuit and decide to drive in a race on the day. If that is possible, Donald Trump would have done it by now, and he’d had died in a flaming wreck of hot justice.
  • Note to self: a film about two cops who go under cover as strippers: Hot Justice.
  • Random fact: Tony Stark was meant to be driving a car that was yellow and red in this scene, you know, the Iron Man colours. Robert Downey Jr. changed it.
  • “Hey, there’s a crazy guy chopping up cars in the middle of this race, think we should stop?” Do you see the chequered flag? No, then the race is still going. Continue!
  • So he just stood there whilst Tony was suiting up? That’s polite of him. See, he ay be a Russian bastard, but he’s got manners.
  • Random fact: everytime the word “Russian” was said in this film it was muted in the Chinese version.
  • This film was much better in cinema. Mainly because I got cake during it.
  • “There will be blood in the water, and the sharks will come”. Sharks have the weirdest sexual fetishes.
  • “i was at a hearing where he insisted those suits can’t be made by anyone else, yet here we are”. Not all suits are the same. That’s like saying “I was told that nobody else had this machine gun, and yet there’s a guy with a pistol”
  • Do you not think it would have been a good idea for them to tell this EXTREMELY DANGEROUS person what the plan was instead of surprising him and putting a hood over his head?
  • “His continual erratic behaviour”. Yeah, like getting attacked, what a bastard, how dare he.
  • That’s actually a picture of Mickey Rourke getting arrested.
  • And thus begins a long tradition in Marvel films of “friends fighting friends in an action scene that has no narrative purpose and is all but forgotten about later and is just an excuse for a poorly designed action scene”. See also: the Thor/Captain America/Iron Man threeway in Avengers, Hulk going grrr in Age In Ultron. So the idea of Civil War being “OMG, these guys are going to fight” is like “and? Big f*cking whoop, they’ve already done that”.
  • “I’m going to have to ask you to exit the donut”. I get told that like every day.
  • Samuel L Jackson there expertly playing the role of Samuel L Jackson.
  • “why are drones better?” You call yourself a weapons manufacturer? You f*cking idiot, drones are cheaper as you don’t need to pay people to be in them so there’s a lower staff turnover as less of them die. It also means you can go to warzones without risking troops. And it’s harder to deliver a plane full of people in place than send drones over so the enemy has less time to prepare. For a weapons manufacturer, he knows next to nothing about his own industry.
  • “then you can solve the riddle of your heart”. That sounds like a line from an 80’s power ballad.
  • Turn around, bright eyes.
  • Every now and then I fall apart.
  • And you need you more tonight.
  • And I need you more than ever.
  • And if you only hold me tight.
  • We’ll be holding on forever.
  • I’ll stop now.
  • “this is my Eiffel Tower” so something that most people will hate and won’t appreciate until decades later?
  • “what is, and will always be my greatest creation is you”. Awwww so nice, shame you put it on a video that he may never see. This is like telling somebody you love them by putting a note in a random book in a library.
  • How on earth did that not cut through the wires holding the thing up as well? It cut through almost everything else but not the wire. That shouldn’t create a new element, it should create an electrical fire that blows the building up.
  • This song was in a GTA game. Always reminds me of walking around shooting people and stealing cars. Not because of GTA though, just because it’s what I listen to whilst doing it on weekends.
  • “that’s a hell of a lot better than cheerleaders”, yeah but not as sexy. Unless you’re into robots of course.
  • Again with the superhero three point landing.
  • An entire glass ceiling gets shot down and lands on people, yet nobody dies. Bullshit.
  • “I’m locked on, I have target lock” “on what” “on you”. You know you could have just said “the targets locked on you”, would have saved time.
  • “tell me everything you know: go” Knuckle indentations coincide with the amount of days in every month, bananas are an excellent source of potassium, rainbows are pretty. Oh, you mean about this specific situation?
  • Movie teases kid getting shot. But kid doesn’t get shot.
  • A spin kick? That’s needlessly showy and is worse than a normal kick. Do screenwriters not read Artemis Fowl before doing stuff like this?
  • Is it just me who doesn’t think Gwyneth Paltrow can act? She’s probably the most well known actress in this film and gives the least convincing performance. For evidence of this watch her “you’re really dying” and see if you find it believable.
  • Tony and Rhodes are lucky those suits decided to stand there for dramatic effect for a few seconds before doing anything.
  • These drones have the worst attack plan: walk slowly towards them.
  • So the first film ended with Iron Man vs someone who made his own Iron Man-like suit. And the second film ends with Iron Man battling someone who made his own Iron Man-like suit. See, this is why people like Loki so much, because he’s different.
  • Whip it. Whip it good.
  • So he set up not only a really obvious red light telling them they’re going to explode, but also a like 30 second timer? This is what is known as “bond villainy”, as in; works in film but is really really stupid.
  • Avengers reference. Subtle.
  • Post credits scene sets up Thor. Random note: this was actually directed by Kenneth Branagh.