Sunday, February 24, 2008

The King of Kong

This Friday at 6pm I'll once again be gracing the airwaves on 89.7 for Eastside FM's Cinemascape. This week I'll be producing the show and reviewing one of my favourite films of the year so far The King of Kong. This David and Goliath tale to become the world's Donkey Kong champion has it all. The filmmakers must have been thanking the God's of the film world when they met the duo making battle to become the king of Donkey Kong. Billy Mitchell, the self proclaimed Video Game champion of the Universe, is the sort of character that documentaries are made for. An egotistical, arrogant megalomaniac with a penchant for BBQ sauce and voluminous hair do's is the antithesis of his competitor, Steve Weibe, the down on his luck family man who just wants to be good at something.
Mitchell on the other hand wants to be the King of the world. The supporting cast of arcade dwellers are a delightfully eccentric bunch and this clash of the video gaming titans has an hilarious effect on this retro clique who are more at at home playing Space Invaders and Pac-Man, than dealing with the real world. Whether you are an arcade junky or not; there is plenty to enjoy. The King of Kong, against the odds, is less a film about mustachioed Italian plumbers and pixelated monkeys and more a heartwarming story about the strength of the human spirit. Tune in to hear my review.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Priceless DVD Review

From the moment that the world set eyes on Audrey Tautou in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie they fell in love. Her elfin beauty led to further cute performances in the likes of A Very Long Engagement and The Spanish Apartment but she was always a little pixie rather than a vision of lust. That has all changed with Pascal Bonnet’s Priceless.

Tautou plays Irene a gold digger with her eyes on the wallets of the rich. She becomes a trophy on their arm in exchange for diamonds, dresses and a decadent life style. Whilst in a hotel bar she drunkenly mistakes barman and waiter Jean, a hilarious performance by The Valet’s Gad Elmaleh, for a millionaire playboy and he is quite content to perpetuate the deception and lure her into bed. Before you can say volia, the hapless Jean is head over heels in love and Irene is on the streets after her previous benefactor found out about her discretion with the barman and cancelled her credit cards. The pair both head to the French Riviera where Irene bleeds the besotted Jean dry and he is left to follow in Irene’s footsteps and becomes a plaything of a rich French businesswoman. As Irene tutors Jean into the dark ways of the gold digger and how to get the most from your partner; her previously hard veneer softens and she realises that she is falling in love with Jean.

The Breakfast at Tiffany's comparisons are spot on. Much like Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly; Tautou’s Irene is a beautiful and mischievous character that everyone can’t help but fall in love with but beneath the charm is a sad lonely sole who basically sells herself for money. This potentially sad tale is given a delightful French twist by a spot on script and fabulous performances from the two leads. You just can’t help but love with Irene, with the possible exception of the scenes when she pushes Jean to spend every Euro to his name.

Visually the film recalls Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief and shares that film’s eye for the rich and beautiful. Priceless is a frothy, light concoction that will melt most hearts. Perfectly cast, Elmaleh is a revelation and Tautou proves, once again, what a captivating actress she is. Let’s hope she stays in France to make more films like Priceless, she doesn’t need any more films like The Da Vinci Code blemishing her record.

Extras include the Making of Priceless, deleted scenes, behind the scenes footage and the original theatrical trailer.

DVD available at

Sunday, February 10, 2008

We're Going to Need a Bigger Boat

Very sad to hear of the passing of actor Roy Scheider, the star of one of my favourite films Jaws, on February the 10th last week. He also put in fabulous performances in Marathon Man, Klute, Cronenberg's Naked Lunch, 2010 and was nominated for an Oscar for his work in Bob Fosse's All That Jazz. He also got to utter one of the greatest lines in modern cinema; he'll be sorely missed.