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Penny Glen’s Rants
Is there actually anything good out at the moment to watch? (Part 1)
Or are we doomed to mediocre films for the rest of our days?

Back the other side of the holiday period (and moving) Penny returns to amaze us with her knowledge of films that are around for watching today. So we don’t drown you, we’re going to drip feed these articles on a weekly basis to you. When Penny presented her latest article to us my first thought was, “There are this many films around?” and then started thinking of what we see entering Blockbuster or somewhere similar to rent one. So, yes, there are a lot of films out there - and I think Penny has watched most of them! For those who don’t watch films, don’t read these articles, you’ll probably have a heart attack. You have been warned. If you are interested in films, here’s an insider’s view from someone who’s not afraid to share her opinions. Happy reading as Penny lets you inside her mind!  
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Hi Rochford Life Readers! I know you probably won’t remember me, but I’m the girl who rants about everything that annoys, amuses, excites or angers me.  I have not (contrary to the rumours) just landed back on Earth from a two month space shuttle ride to Mars and back. However, I have been stressfully moving from my hometown of Rochford to Eastwood and slowly been trying to get used to it. I’m very much going to miss the area, but as we all know – rental property prices in our little town are high enough to discourage chav infestations and other unmentionables.

Although, I’m kidding about the chav thing, but we moved to Eastwood anyway to enjoy a new life. I personally have a whole new community to rant to as the neighbours are unusually friendly, so I am as happy as I can be!

It’s great to be back to normal and writing for Rochford Life, so I’m going to immensely enjoy putting together this next article for your reading pleasure. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have loved writing it.
Welcome back to Penny’s rants!

Over recent months I’ve been compiling some research about upcoming films and settling into my new Penny cave with almost Gollum-like behaviour. The curtains hardly ever get opened much to my family’s disappointment and I have been watching like a madwoman the newest films from work, to give you all my advice on what to watch or what to stay away from on pain of death. This is the time for good films being released and we all should have at least a basic knowledge of what the film industry is offering before Christmas. I hope I can help you guys distinguish between the good, the bad and the Adam Sandler of films in the upcoming months.

The three questions I get asked most often at work are ‘Hi, can you recommend anything?’, ‘what are the newest films out?’ and ‘is there anything good coming out?  I often feel sorry for these people as most of them just come in for ‘any old film’ on a night in and have no idea what to expect. To make for easier reading and referencing, the next part of this article is going to be divided into four sections: The Best Films out at the Moment, The Worst Films out at the Moment, Future Films I’m Shivering with Excitement to see and Future Films that will line my Future Dustbin. I’ll give you the best information and advice that I can, while ranting as much as I possibly can for my own enjoyment.

If you haven’t read any of my previous articles please refer to ‘What makes a good film’. This is for one reason and one reason only. By nature I am opinionated, so with this comes an undeniable bias toward things, people, concepts and other opinions that conflict with my own. I’m not going to deny this, so I’ll mention a few of my pet peeves before I get started so you know exactly why I like the films I do, why I’m recommending them and where I’m coming from. Most comedy films annoy me as they all have the same basic plot and terrible acting/comedic timing these days. I loved the Hangover though, as it was the only thing to make me laugh properly in years. I adore horror films (mainly down to studying them), and love anything with copious amounts of blood in celluloid. I will however curb myself while loosely reviewing any horror films because most people don’t share this view. There are also some horror films that are so bad, not even I like them – so my taste will be momentarily restored for a brief shining moment. Romantic films or ‘Rom-Coms’ also are a bit hit or miss for me as there has to be something special about a film in this genre to make me fall in love with it as the main characters are supposed to. If a pair of actors do not have chemistry, that’s it for me. If a script is lame and predictable, that’s also it for me.

I’ll try to restrain myself when it comes to Jack Black, dear readers. I promise I’ll try.

Section One: The Best Films out at the Moment. Are there any?

I suppose as a Blockbuster employee, I’m qualified enough to answer this question. Or at least I think I am – but indulge me.

We’ll start with a few of my favourites: Source Code, The Adjustment Bureau, Taken and Unknown. While the latter is Liam Neeson blowing up half of Paris and then Berlin, the former are action/thriller Sci-Fi extravaganzas that had me hooked all the way through.

Source Code is Jake Gylenhall waking up in a chamber designed to send his mind to the past into someone else’s body for eight minutes. The purpose being; to discover the identity of a bomber of a train that murdered a few hundred people and definately not to fall in love with the woman sitting opposite him. Written and directed by Zowie Bowie (his changed name being Duncan Jones), this is an A star effort with things not being as they seem. Groundhog day on steroids it is not.

The Adjustment Bureau on the other hand is Matt Damon falling in love with Emily Blunt during his stint as a politician. They are inexplicably split up though by these bowler hated mystery men who appear and disappear at once (one of their many strange talents) and don’t seem to want old Matt reaching the girl of his dreams. Who are they? What are they? Watch to find out!

Taken and Unknown are solid, yet simple thrillers that both have Liam Neeson searching for something (the first being his kidnapped daughter and the second being his mind) and killing anyone in his way. Both very entertaining in their own ways.

If you want something a bit more cerebrally stimulating and different there are some wild cards I’m going to throw in e.g.
Black Swan, Never Let Me Go, Conviction, Trust and 127 Hours. All fantastic dramas in their own right, I love the way each of these films unfolds in a way that I wasn’t expecting. If you didn’t know by now I LOVE surprises in film. It shows directors and writers are paying attention to what they’re doing....unlike Mr. Michael Bay. Bless him.

Black Swan tells the story of the emotionally fragile and stressed professional ballerina Nina, who is desperate to become the Swan Queen of the Swan Lake production her company is putting on. Having forcefully ‘retired’ his previous muse, the self obsessed and often tyrannical director (played by the always excellent Vincent Cassell) has decided to give Nina the chance to shine. Nina then goes through a downward spiral, mentally and physically exhausting herself and eventually goes completely bonkers. Not for the faint of heart this one, but one of the most unique films (most unique? Oh well!) I’ve seen in a while.

Never Let Me Go confused the general public as Keira Knightley is on the front cover. Old Keira does period dramas, we all  know this – so why do people rent this film and bring it back confused? I’ll tell you why. It’s a science fiction drama about the life of cloned humans trying to live their lives until they donate their organs and eventually die. Depressing, yet awesome in its own way. I fell in love with it and the performances – even though I wanted to watch it at first to check out Andrew Garfield who is going to be our new friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. The man knows his acting, I’ll just say that.

Conviction is a moving and heart wrenching drama of a sister believing in her brother. Trouble is – her brother is behind bars of a state penitentiary for murder and she becomes a lawyer to prove the judge, jury and executioner wrong. Definitely one I would recommend for a good cry.

Trust is something quite uncomfortable to watch due to the horrific subject matter but for quality in a film, it can’t be beaten. Clive Owen is the father to a 14 year old girl that is being slowly groomed by a pervert on the internet. The story isn’t about the paedophile himself, but how the family deal with the aftermath of a disgusting assault on a child. There are people like this out there and I feel awful just thinking that they are the same species as me. If you want a film to marvel at stellar performances, this is the one for you. You won’t enjoy watching it, but you will respect the actors for their interpretation of such a sensitive subject matter.

127 Hours is the true story of an adrenaline junkie who becomes trapped between a rock and a hard place. I reckon this is where the saying comes from, but I’m probably wrong. He things about his life, his predicament and his limited water supply as he realises he must do something unthinkable to get free. Brilliantly deserving of the Best Actor and Director Oscar nominations – James Franco and Danny Boyle deliver unforgettable performances and gritty story -telling (as only a British director could) as you become slowly entranced with whether this man will live or die alone in the desert.

Other films I enjoyed for what they were such as Thor, Stakeland, Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, Limitless, The Lincoln Lawyer, Tangled, Inception, Red, Sucker Punch, Attack the Block, Blitz and Tron Legacy.

A Marvel Comics powerhouse, Thor is Kenneth Branagh’s interpretation of a God who is banished by his father Odin from his homeworld of Asgard – and sent to Earth. His brother Loki, being the bastard that he is, takes over the kingdom and tries to kill Thor quite a bit.  Chris Hemsworth is the man, even being god-like in appearance as a 6”5 blonde giant. He impressed me with his dedication to the role and I’m sure he’ll continue to impress me in a fairly huge upcoming film I’ll mention later.

Stakeland is quite simply an awesome vampire film, slightly dystopian in nature and very cleverly done. The horror film I’ve been waiting for quite simply. If you want a bit of fun – go for it.

Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil is another of my most favourite film at the moment on the shelves. Its an anti-horror film, where the story is told from the eyes of two backward hillbillies on their way to a ‘fixer-upper’ vacation home on the lake. Stereotypical college kids are on the opposite side and when a young-girl has an accident, Tucker and Dale try to help her. Thinking that the hillbillies are brutally murdering their friend, the college kids try some desperate, blood drenched ways of getting her back -  with funny, limb severing results. It’s great. Really, really great.

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This first part is now continued onto the next page - the remaining part will come in two weeks time