Interview: David Gordon Green on Southern noir 'Joe'

David Gordon Green is that rarest of directors - unpredictable and eclectic. He's directed gripping art-house dramas like his debut George Washington (2000), stoner comedies like Pineapple Express (2008) and the historical spoof Your Highness (2011) - which America's Salon Magazine somewhat hastily suggested might be the worst film ever made. In time, the latter may be remembered as a poor film made by one of America's true talents, a director who was once compared to Terrence Malick - who now seems to be inspiring others (see the films of Jeff Nichols and David Lowery). Wanting a change from broad comedy, he made the low-key but well-liked Prince Avalanche (2013) under the radar but now returns to his early form with Joe (2013), a Southern noir set in deepest darkest Mississippi.

DVD Review: 'Noah'

★★★★☆
Let it be howled from the mountain tops that with his extraordinary Noah (2014), director Darren Aronofsky has crafted a bold, phantasmagorical interpretation of the Old Testament tale as we've never seen it before. In it, mankind - led by Tubal-Cain (British hardman Ray Winstone) - has spread like a cancer across the world, consuming all in their path and living in smoggy, ashen cities. "The Creator", in his infinite wisdom, decides to send a great flood to cleanse the earth of his creation and start anew. He does, however, choose to save Noah (Russell Crowe, on-form here), last patriarch of the antediluvian age, and his family, who must build an ark that will house two of every living creature.

Blu-ray Review: 'Jules et Jim' & 'Shoot the Pianist'

★★★★★
French critic and auteur François Truffaut's tone and style have been both successfully and unsuccessfully mined by numerous directors over the years, including the likes of Wes Anderson, Richard Ayoade and Shane Meadows. Never as knowingly hip and revolutionary as others, his cinema belongs to Renoir and Vigo, and is carried on by that doomed depressive Leos Carax. Truffaut claimed that if he walked into a casino, his first instinct would be to master the rules. Godard's first instinct, Truffaut added, would be to invent new ones. With his second and third films, Shoot the Pianist (1960) and Jules et Jim (1962) - both rereleased this week - we see a true master at work.

VOD Review: 'Happy Christmas'

★★★☆☆
Fresh off the back of last year's Drinking Buddies (2013), mumblecore forefather Joe Swanberg returns with Happy Christmas (2014), another modestly budgeted drama which he customarily directs, writes, produces and stars in himself. Where Drinking Buddies flirted somewhat with a conventional narrative - whilst remaining true to Swanberg's anti-mainstream stance - his latest returns to the more sombre tones of his earlier, younger works, where character interaction took precedence over clear plot machinations. Arriving in Chicago after an inflammatory breakup, Jenny (Anna Kendrick) moves into her older brother Jeff's (Swanberg) basement while she figures out which direction to take next.

DVD Review: 'Behind the Camera'

★★★☆☆
E J-Yong's Behind the Camera (2013) is a doc-style film that offers an intriguing question; can an absent filmmaker direct a cast and crew over the internet via social media? The result is whimsical, amusing and more than a little disquieting. The premise is simple; E J-Yong (the character) has been commissioned to create a 10-minute short and decides to film a story about a director who will direct over Skype. In a satisfying twist of meta-proportions, E J-Yong the director does exactly the same, directing over Skype from LA. Starring a host of well-known actors from Korea such as Yoon Yeo-jeong, Kim Ok-vin and Oh Jeong-se, the film smartly utilises customary amateur aesthetics.

DVD Review: '20 Feet from Stardom'

★★★★☆
"Rape, murder. It's just a shot away." Merry Clayton's vocal projection pierce through at Gimme Shelter's most unsettling moment. Jagger presses on with playing the sex-crazed Pierrot as Clayton literally screams through a microphone. The story of Clayton's involvement has been allegorised frequently. Waking to a call in the middle of the night, hair in curlers, Clayton is requested at the Los Angeles recording studio where the Stones were finalising Let It Bleed. She delivered the most stirring vocals in only two takes. It was another successful turning point for the Rolling Stones and another notch to Clayton's exemplary reputation. Yet, as the Stones rolled, Clayton returned to the shadows.

Competition: Win 'We Are the Best!' on DVD

An adaptation of the graphic novel written by Lukas Moodysson's wife Coco, We Are the Best! (2013) revolves around three girls (Bobo, Hedvig and Klara) in 1980s Stockholm who decide to form a punk band - despite not having any instruments and being told by everyone that punk is dead. To celebrate the home entertainment release of Moodysson's winning crowd-pleaser this coming Monday (28 July), we have THREE DVD copies of the We Are the Best! to give away to our valued readers, kindly provided by the always generous folks at Metrodome Distribution. This is an exclusive competition for our Facebook and Twitter fans, so if you haven't already, 'Like' us at facebook.com/CineVueUK or follow us @CineVue before answering the question below.

Competition: Win 'Venus in Fur' on DVD

Based on the Tony Award-winning play by David Ives, Venus in Fur (2013) is a witty, highly intelligent and multi-layered examination of passion, perversion and the battle of the sexes from acclaimed French director Roman Polanski (Chinatown, The Pianist). To celebrate the home entertainment release of Polanski's latest offering this coming Monday (28 July), we have THREE DVD copies of the challenging and playful Venus in Fur to give away to our cultured returning readers, courtesy of the team at independent and world cinema distributors Artificial Eye. This is an exclusive competition for our Facebook and Twitter fans, so if you haven't already, 'Like' us at facebook.com/CineVueUK or follow us @CineVue before answering the question below.

Competition: Win 'Noah' on Blu-ray

Darren Aronofsky, the Academy Award-winning director behind Requiem for a Dream (2000) and Black Swan (2010), takes the helm of this epic re-telling of the biblical tale, Noah (2014). Academy Award winner Russell Crowe stars in the film inspired by the epic story of courage, sacrifice and hope. In addition, the supporting cast features such talents as Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Logan Lerman and Ray Winstone. To celebrate the home entertainment release of Aronofsky's bold take on a familiar tale, we have FIVE Blu-ray copies of Noah to give away. This is an exclusive competition for our Facebook and Twitter fans, so if you haven't already, 'Like' us at facebook.com/CineVueUK or follow us @CineVue before answering the question below.

Film Review: 'Who is Dayani Cristal?'

★★★★☆
Marc Silver’s award-winning documentary Who is Dayani Cristal? (2013), co-produced by and starring Mexican actor Gael García Bernal, explores the identity and tragic fate of one economic migrant after he attempts to forge a life for himself in the United States. Every year, thousands of Mexicans, Central and South Americans illegally cross the Mexican-US border in search of work and at considerable risk to their own lives. One of the most inhospitable terrains that the desperate migrants have to navigate is the Sonora desert in Arizona, known as 'the corridor of death'. Here, decomposing corpses or body parts are regularly picked up by the border patrol.

Film Review: 'The Lady from Shanghai'

★★★★★
Simplicity is often the conduit to a perverse complexity that grows more enigmatic the longer the gaze of the enchanted is maintained. Even in its present state of butchered grandeur, The Lady from Shanghai (1947) - back in UK cinemas this week - is a joy to behold. Like everything Orson Welles produced, there's an air of fractured menace in this film that resides outside the white noise that surrounds his presence as the poet of film maudit. Its possessed by an uneasy, frivolous wisp of a plot that ponders through the created anecdote whether our internal constructs are true enough to grasp. Welles plays wandering Irish sailor Michael O'Hara, a man too clever, too tough, but not too likable.

Film Review: 'Joe'

★★★★☆
From the same director who brought us such eclectic offerings as George Washington (2000) and stoner comedy Pineapple Express (2008), David Gordon Green's rural noir Joe (2013) - based on Larry Brown's grit-lit novel - stars Nicolas Cage as Joe Ransom, a man who, in the words of Johnny Cash, "Won't back down". Joe leads a work crew clearing trees so the land can be cultivated, and spends his evenings slumped on his sofa, at local dice games or at the whorehouse. Along the way he befriends Gary (Tye Sheridan, previously seen in The Tree of Life and Jeff Nichols' Mud), a homeless stray who washes up at a derelict house with his sister, mother and abusive father, Wade (Gary Poulter).

Film Review: 'The House of Magic'

★★★☆☆
With the likes of Disney Pixar and DreamWorks Animation already riding high on a wave of critical acclaim, box office success and Academy Awards, European animation houses are starting to emerge with increasingly strong output. The House of Magic (2013), the latest 3D animated adventure from Belgium's nWave Pictures, illustrates this well. Unfortunately, for all the inventive visuals flourishes and distinctive characters it boasts, there's not much underneath. Abandoned by his owners on the sidewalk, Thunder (Murray Blue) takes shelter in a mysterious house, which turns out to be owned by Lawrence (Doug Stone), an old magician and his striking array of animals and lifelike contraptions.

Film Review: 'Hercules'

★☆☆☆☆
Hollywood has made quite the habit of reappropriating myths and fairytales, setting about debunking and demystifying them for modern audiences. The latest such icon to undergo this particular treatment of refinement is the son of Zeus himself, the mighty Hercules (2014). Dwayne Johnson might ably fill the demigod's armour but the story labours to fill in the man behind the legend, putting a tired modern twist on his famous adventures. Based on a graphic novel by comics scribe Steve Moore, this is an attempt to ground the character in historical epic. Sadly, director Brett Ratner actually devalues one of the most enduring of heroes, turning a potential fun fantasy thrill ride into homogeneous rubbish.

Film Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

★★★★☆
When Marvel announced that the next characters they were going to introduce in 'Phase Two' of their ongoing saga would include a walking tree and a talking raccoon, eyebrows were raised. With Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), a substantial punt is being taken not only on characters less familiar to the public, but in firing their universe into the unknown cosmos. Fortunately, the gamble has well and truly paid off. Helmed by James Gunn, this intergalactic yarn is not only a refreshing addition to the space opera sub-genre, but also one of the studio's most enjoyable films to date. Abducted from Earth as an orphan, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) has grown into the swaggering 'Star-Lord' out in deep space.

Film Review: 'The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden'

★★★☆☆
There's a legend on the South American Galapagos Islands that the famous tortoises that inhabit their shores have the power to stare into the souls of men. These enormous reptiles are said to judge each new arrival on their archipelago, and curse those that alight there with nefarious intent. The question is raised whether such a hex was placed upon a group of settlers in the 1930s, who are the subject of historical documentary, Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine's handsome The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden (2013). A real-life whodunnit provides a riveting narrative backbone but despite some juicy melodrama, this languid doc never quite lives up the intrigue of its central conundrum.

Film Review: 'Earth to Echo'

★★☆☆☆
Earth to Echo (2014), director Dave Green's feature debut, admirably attempts to recreate the classic family adventure films of the eighties, but instead delivers an uneven mishap that comes up short on heart, soul and - in particular - originality. Forced to leave their neighbourhood because of a new highway construction project, best friends Tuck (Brian Bradley), Alex (Teo Halm) and Munch (Reese Hartwig) lie to their parents in order to spend their last night together. But when they start receiving unexplained message on their mobile phones, the trio set off into the desert to discover the source - a compact android called Echo. If any of the aforementioned sounds familiar, that's because it sadly is.

Film Review: 'Branded to Kill'

★★★★☆
After more than ten years and forty films at the Nikkatsu company through the 1950s and 60s, cult Japanese director Seijun Suzuki was fired - allegedly for making "incomprehensible" cinema. Known for visual panache, staccato editing and a particular dreamlike quality that eschewed narrative logic, he was hardly working against type. After repeated instruction to make his work more commercially accessible, the straw that finally broke the back of that particular production camel was the dizzying jazz noir of Branded to Kill (1967), back in cinemas this week ahead of DVD/Blu-ray. What makes the story all the more curious is that the film is, in fact, a stunning riff on gangster fare inflected with surrealism.

DVD Review: 'The Zero Theorem'

★★★☆☆
The latest mind-bending science fiction fantasy feature from American animator and director Terry Gilliam, The Zero Theorem (2013) depicts an admirable quest for higher meaning in the digital age, playing like a sadder B-side to 1985's Brazil. Detractors of the former Python's peculiar brand of fantastical whimsy will not find anything to convert them to the cause, but fans will find the picture to be a welcome compendium of his work to date. Gilliam, essentially a genre unto himself, mines his favourite thematic concerns, albeit with a modern slant. While it's unfair to call such an imaginative work predictable, there is a niggling sense that Gilliam is firmly operating within his comfort zone.

DVD Review: 'Visitors'

★★★☆☆
A trance-like meditation on humanity's relationship with technology, Godfrey Reggio's non-narrative documentary Visitors (2013) is an anthropological examination of postmodernity and capitalism's affects on human evolution. A poetic montage of intensely moving imagery, the profundity of Reggio's latest allows the audience to study themselves through the eyes of another, and in doing so attempt to understand the essence of our nature. Visitors is Reggio's first film in over a decade after his Qatsi Trilogy, concluding in 2002 with Naqoyqatsi. The trio wowed audiences, with their hypnotic sequences of time-lapse photography and slow motion coalescing beautifully with Phillip Glass' intense scores.

DVD Review: 'The Stag'

★★☆☆☆
Todd Phillips' The Hangover (2009) has a lot to answer for. Not only did it spawn two unfortunate sequels, it has embedded a newfound fascination with lads-only tales where bromance and morals are tested to their very limits. This - along with those films' basic narrative concept - is mimicked in Irish director John Butler's debut feature The Stag (2013), a largely unfunny lads-on-tour comedy that sets about trying to match broad slapstick and enforced camaraderie with brash sentimentality, blending them together into an ultimately flaccid excursion into pre-nuptial chaos. Hugh O'Connor plays Fionnan, a husband-to-be deeply involved with his the wedding plans.

DVD Review: 'The Lego Movie'

★★★★☆
"Everything is awesome" according to the whimsical song that's played repeatedly across plastic protagonist Emmett's (the voice of Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World star Chris Pratt) hometown. He spends his time assembling things out of tiny bricks, obediently following the manual. That, however, is exactly what Christopher Miller and Phil Lord's The Lego Movie (2014) doesn't do. Funded by Lego, it's a showcase for a construction toy that deconstructs everything in sight. Emmett's neatly interlocking world is demolished almost immediately when he discovers that he is "The Special", destined by prophecy to stop antagonist Lord Business (Will Ferrell).

DVD Review: 'A Hard Day's Night'

★★★★☆
A quasi-verité document of The Beatles at the height of Beatlemania, A Hard Day's Night (1964) is the unlikeliest of triumphs. The fact that Richard Lester makes the disparate elements work is tantamount to a cinematic miracle. The odds were aligned against him; a pop group who hadn't acted, an overbearing manager and an almost entirely plotless narrative. Indeed, the film is a rare instance of the stars perfectly aligning; a form of artistic alchemy predicated on the director's broad still set and his mainline into the zeitgeist of the Swinging Sixties. It's a film that succeeds thanks to the unique tension created by its competing elements. Crucially, writer Alun Jones' humorous script is a key foundation.

Blu-ray Review: 'The Jacques Tati Collection'

★★★★★
Comprised of all six of the director's small but remarkable directorial output, The Essential Jacques Tati Collection is a lovingly crafted celebration of one of France's most beloved filmmakers, offering a timely reminder of just how influential he both was and continues to be. Perhaps more renowned for his cinematic, socially inept alter ego Monsieur Hulot - who he played to wide and memorable acclaim in four of his features, Tati was a particularly skilled filmmaker when it came to his deft mixing of perfectly choreographed physical comedy and themes regarding a Western fixation with consumerism and materialism, social class struggles and the (then) unsteady environment of modern society.

Competition: Win 'A Hard Day's Night' *closed*

Back in 1964, the biggest band on the planet made their inaugural movie appearance with Richard Lester's Swinging Sixties caper A Hard Day's Night, a groundbreaking film that presented a typical day in the life of The Fab Four as they tried to outrun screaming fans, find Paul's mischievous grandfather, deal with a stressed TV producer and make it to the show on time. To celebrate the home entertainment release of A Hard Day's Night, we have THREE Blu-ray copies to give away to fervent Beatles fans across the UK, generously offered up by the distributor of this brand new rereleased version Second Sight. This is an exclusive competition for our Facebook and Twitter fans, so if you haven't already, 'Like' us at facebook.com/CineVueUK or follow us @CineVue before answering the question below.

Competition: Win 'Braquo: Season 3' *closed*

Following its widely acclaimed airing on the Fox television channel, Arrow Films' Noir Label is pleased to announce that the long-awaited third season of French cop drama Braquo will be released as a DVD and Blu-ray box set on Monday 21 July. Since the first two seasons were shown here in 2012, fans have been left guessing as to what creator Olivier Marchal, himself a former Parisian policeman, has in-store for Eddy Caplan and his team. To celebrate the home ent release of this crime series, we have THREE DVD copies of Braquo: The Complete Third Season to give away. This is an exclusive competition for our Facebook and Twitter fans, so if you haven't already, 'Like' us at facebook.com/CineVueUK or follow us @CineVue before answering the question below.

Competition: Win '20 Feet from Stardom' *closed*

In the compelling 20 Feet from Stardom (2013), award-winning documentary director Morgan Neville shines a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. To celebrate the home entertainment DVD and Blu-ray release of Neville's Academy Award-winning latest this coming Monday (21 July), we have THREE brand new DVD copies of 20 Feet from Stardom to give away to our regular and returning readers, kindly provided to us by our friends at the film's UK distributors Altitude Films. This is an exclusive competition for our Facebook and Twitter fans, so if you haven't already, 'Like' us at facebook.com/CineVueUK or follow us @CineVue before answering the question below.

Film Review: 'Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon'

★★★★☆
In his 2002 documentary The Kid Stays in the Picture, Robert Evans proclaimed there are three sides to every story: "My side, your side and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently." In Mike Myers' directorial debut (which he co-­directs with Beth Aala), Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (2013), the titular Hollywood man about town gets his day in the limelight. Standing over six feet in his stocking feet and looking and sounding not dissimilar to Larry David, Shep Gordon is an entertainment legend. A colossus within the fields of talent management, film producing and cooking he has excelled in a field where being the nice guy normally means finishing last.

Film Review: 'Some Like It Hot'

★★★★★
"Story of my life, I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop,"is just one of the many sublime, double-edged lines that Marilyn Monroe delivers in Billy Wilder's gender-bending comedy Some Like It Hot (1959), which this year celebrates its 55th anniversary. The note of that line is pitch perfect, the sensual, iconic actress allowing it to drop off her lips with comic finesse, whilst simultaneously echoing the tragedy of her own life. Monroe, who died just three years after Some Like It Hot, shares the limelight with two of the finest comedic actors of their generation, Tony Curtis (who, according to Hollywood legend, was sleeping with the actress during the production) and Jack Lemmon (who would star in The Apartment).

Film Review: 'Norte, the End of History'

★★★★★
One of the key modern exponents of slow cinema - although his films do range in length from eight minutes up to eight hours - Filipino director Lav Diaz made his Cannes bow last year with Norte, the End of History (2013), a four-hour epic that rightly garnered comparisons with such Russian literary giants as Dostoevsky. Using an impulsive double homicide as its focal point, Diaz's first colour outing draws together a group of disparate individuals on either side of the wealth divide, building an exquisite portrait of life in a country still bearing the deep psychological and physical scars of years of dictatorship rule. Languid yet always lucid, Norte is easily one of the highlights of this year's world cinema slate.
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