Film Review: 'Mystery Road'

★★★☆☆
The wilds of Australia play home to Ivan Sen's latest in both a physical and metaphorical sense. The oppression of indigenous peoples was a topic explored in his previous film, Toomelah (2009), and it glints as a rich vein of this new genre nugget, Mystery Road (2013). Determined to steer clear of anticipated escalations in narrative thrust, it prefers to grip your attention by allowing a constant simmer beneath the surface of the barren outback. Jay Swan (played by Aaron Pedersen) occupies the role of local lawman. An entire police department is at the disposal of this small town, but the Aboriginal detective seems to stand alone after returning to his hometown from a spell in the "Big Smoke".

Film Review: 'The Keeper of Lost Causes'

★★☆☆☆
Nordic noir has been doing brisk trade on both page and screen over the last few years, cannily stimulating an apparently global appetite for a slew of flawed detectives and macabre investigations from the region. Although there have been some successful cinematic outings, it is actually on the small screen that the genre has made its most prominent splash, which is sadly where The Keeper of Lost Causes (2013) feels as though it belongs. Based on Jussi Adler-Olsen's international bestseller and brought to life by Mikkel Nørgaard - the director responsible for raunchy comedy Klown (2010) - its unsettling crime and detective odd couple aren't enough to elevate this largely forgettable affair.

Film Review: 'The Internet's Own Boy'

★★★☆☆
In January 2013, Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz committed suicide following a series of protracted legal battle over copyright infringement after downloading JSTOR articles. It was the tragic conclusion to years of persecution, frustration and innovation. The Internet's Own Boy (2014) takes a close look at Swartz, both as a person and as an icon for the internet generation. Brian Knappenberger, who also directed the Anonymous documentary We Are Legion (2012), has crafted a tender portrait which tries to look beyond the screen. Swartz was an adorable child who grew into a socially frustrated teenage genius, an arc portrayed through archive material and interviews with key family members and friends.

Venice 2014: Read our Venezia 71 programme preview

This week, the world's oldest and often most unpredictable film festival, the 71st Venice Film Festival, will unroll on the Lido. Twenty films will screen in competition, vying for the prestigious Golden Lion and a further fifty-odd films will show out of competition and in the various sidebars - all but one of which will be world premieres - along with nineteen restored classics and a series of shorts. French composer Alexandre Desplat is heading the jury, which includes Britain's very own Tim Roth. Following on from last year's big bang opening of Alfonso Cuarón's Oscar-engulfing Gravity (2013), fellow Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu's (Amores Perros) heavily shrouded Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), ought to kick things of in some style if early glimpses are anything to go by.

DVD Review: 'Transcendence'

★★☆☆☆
From former Christopher Nolan cinematographer Wally Pfister and packing an all-star cast, there were plenty of reasons to be excited about Transcendence (2014). Sadly, the end result is a disappointing mess of a movie which fails to deliver on its strong premise. Transcendence follows Will Caster (Johnny Depp), one of the leading minds in artificial intelligence research along with his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall). That makes them the target of anti-tech extremists, and an assassination attempt leaves Will wounded and dying from a radioactive bullet. With time running out, Evelyn and colleague Max (Paul Bettany) hatch a desperate plan to upload Will's consciousness into a sentient A.I. construct.

DVD Review: 'Tom at the Farm'

★★★★☆
Prodigious Canadian writer and director Xavier Dolan's fifth feature, Mommy (2014), took home a Jury Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Before Mommy comes to UK cinemas next year, Dolan's fourth film, Tom at the Farm (2013), based on a play by Michel Marc Bouchard, arrives on DVD and Blu-ray. Tom at the Farm is a strange, off-kilter drama starring Dolan himself as Tom, a recently bereaved gay man visiting his deceased lover's home for the funeral. It soon becomes clear that his mother, Agathe (Lise Roy), is unaware of her dead son's sexual orientation, an ignorance that her older son, Francis (Pierre-Yves Cardinal), is determined to preserve.

DVD Review: 'Locke'

★★★★☆
A man drives alone in a car with a telephone. At first glance there's deceptively little to Locke (2013), the sophomore feature from director Steven Knight. We're with Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) on the night before he's due to oversee the concrete pour of a massive new construction site. Risking the project, his career and his family, Ivan is driving south to be present when a woman he barely knows gives birth to their child. During the journey, Ivan makes and receives phone calls from many: his colleague, Donal (Andrew Scott); his boss, Gareth (Ben Daniels); his wife, Katrina (Ruth Wilson); his sons, Eddie (Tom Holland) and Sean (Bill Milner); and Bethan (Olivia Colman), the woman to whose side he is rushing.

DVD Review: 'The Informant'

★★☆☆☆
Gibraltar's contentious political situation might well be the basis for something darker in Julien Leclercq's The Informant (2013), an atmospheric if melodramatic French crime thriller from A Prophet (2009) scribe Abdel Raouf Dafri. Only 10% of drug trafficking is supposedly detected in the territory, one of tension between not just Europeans and Africans, but also British, Spanish and French, where, on the shores of the Cote d'Azur, most of the uncharted drugs end up. Gilles Lellouche plays Marc Duval, a French expat running a tavern in 1987 Gibraltar whose money worries lead him to become an informer for the French state on disreputable customers that come in to his bar.

Interview: Amat Escalante and the brutality of 'Heli'

Director Amat Escalante's third feature, Heli (2013), has been the subject of much discussion since it received its world premiere at last year's Cannes Film Festival. Featuring more than one scene of brutal violence, it's been described variously as a portrait of modern Mexico, a tender love story and a blatant attempt to shock squeamish audiences. Particularly unsettling is the way in which violence seems so unexceptional to the characters, many of whom are young children. With the film arriving on DVD and Blu-ray this week courtesy of Network Releasing, just over a year after its bow on the Cannes Croisette, CineVue's Ben Nicholson had the opportunity to sit down with the Mexican director and exchange thoughts on how his film has been received to date and also how Heli came to fruition.

DVD Review: 'Heli'

★★★☆☆
The third film from Mexican director Amat Escalante (Los Bastardos, Sangre), Heli (2013) could perhaps be accused of following the shoulder-shrug school of social commentary. An at times almost-unspeakably brutal portrayal of one young family caught up in a cocaine deal gone wrong, Escalante's Cannes prize-winner offers little respite for its titular factory worker, who finds himself horrifically tortured for his unwitting role in the theft of several parcels of prime marching powder. Neither does the filmmaker offer any fresh optimism for his country's future, torn apart as it is by corruption, gang violence and narcotics. And yet, Escalante still manages to evoke beauty through some exemplary visuals.

Blu-ray Review: 'Frau im Mond' review

★★★☆☆
Fritz Lang is a behemoth entity who encompasses cinema from the Weimar age to playing a director called 'Fritz Lang' in Jean-Luc Godard's Le Mepris (1963). Within this startling career are elements of his disdain for the influence of the powerful and how guilt destroys and enables. Frau im Mond (1929) is the latest instalment of Eureka's Masters of Cinema look at early Lang following on from Metropolis, M, the Mabuse films and Die Nibelungen. After Metropolis in 1927 was there anywhere for Lang to go? He ventured after escape, imagination and the boy's own thrill of space flight. Two years after his operatic yearning for communality he gazed towards the moon - that friend for the lonesome to talk to.

DVD Review: 'The Changes'

★★☆☆☆
The BFI's admirable commitment to preserving classic items from the British film and television industry's past brings this DVD release of The Changes, a TV serial from 1975. Based on a series of books by Peter Dickinson, adapted by Anna Home and directed by John Prowse, The Changes explores a vision of 1970s Britain shorn of modern conveniences. After a sudden strange noise causes everyone to smash up all technology, society collapses to the point that...well, actually, outside of the emptying of the cities, not all that much seems different. Given the premise of the series you might be surprised by how often the protagonist finds old men in flat caps drinking pints of ale in the sunshine outside pubs.

DVD Review: 'The Boy from Space'

★★★☆☆
The BFI really do take an exhaustive approach to their film seasons. To tie-in with the forthcoming Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder, they have ventured deep into the BBC archives to unearth this classic piece of children's small screen sci-fi. The Boy from Space was a ten-part serial attached to educational series Look and Read. Aimed at improving children's literacy skills at primary level, schools programme Look and Read ran for an unprecedented five decades, lasting from 1967 until 2004. The Boy from Space, available here in Look and Read bite-sized chucks, or as a standalone hour-plus minute version, was first broadcast in the early seventies, but was deemed successful enough to be repeated a decade on.

FrightFest 2014: 'The Shining' review

★★★★★
Stanley Kubrick's horror masterpiece The Shining (1980) is one of those rare films that has found itself submerged into the public consciousness across several generations. Continually parodied in popular culture, from The Simpsons to Family Guy, even those yet to have seen Jack Nicholson's maniacal lead performance as Jack Torrance may well feel like they know the film backwards. This Film4 FrightFest 2014 appearance of Kubrick's classic - the reworked US theatrical cut of the film which is shorter than other incarnations - couldn't have come at a much more pertinent time to examine just why this blood-curdling tale remains one of the best horror films ever made.

FrightFest 2014: 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' review

★★★★☆
Familiarity, they say, breeds contempt, as has clearly become the case with the Nightmare on Elm Street cycle. There have been nine entries in the iconic series to date (each increasingly weaker as time has progressed), to the extent that it's remarkably easy to forget how groundbreaking the original film - screening at this year's Film4 FrightFest - actually was. The early 1980s saw the golden age of the teenager in peril subgenre, which has since become a staple of the wider slasher field. Genre offerings such as Prom Night (1980), Terror Train (1980) and The Burning (1981) have long thrilled audiences with their mixture of teenage promiscuity and grizzly series of murders.

FrightFest 2014: 'The Mirror' review

★★☆☆☆
It's films like The Mirror (2014) which make one despair about the current state of films in general, and more specifically those which try to pass themselves off as horror. This new chiller by British writer and director Edward Boase has all the finesse of an amateur dramatics production without any of the appeal which allows you to overlook the shortcomings of such enterprises. In order to enter a one million dollar competition to prove the existence of paranormal activity, a group of three friends - Jemma (I Spit on Your Grave 2's Jemma Dallender), Matt (Joshua Dickinson) and Steve (Nate Fallows) - buy a reputedly haunted mirror on eBay, and set out to record their studies of it.

FrightFest 2014: 'The Guest' review

★★★★☆
Fans of blood, guts and supernatural terror rejoice - FrightFest is back in London this weekend with its 15th incarnation, bringing lashings of new horror cinema to the baying hoards of the capital. Kicking off proceedings last night at the Vue West End, Leicester Square was the new genre flick from Adam Wingard, the man whose besieged family bloodbath You're Next (2013) had audiences howling with delight in 2011. The Guest (2014) once again sees people under threat in their own home, but on this occasion, the danger comes from within. The film premièred at the Sundance Film Festival in January and gleefully channels B-movie pulp lacing it with a delicious self-awareness.

FrightFest 2014: 'Extraterrestrial' review

★★☆☆☆
Four years after making a respectable impact with his debut Timecrimes (2007), Nacho Vigalondo returns with Extraterrestrial (2011), a low-budget Spanish science fiction drama that's unlikely to have the same impact. The film centres on Julio (Julián Villagrán) and Julia (Michelle Jenner), two people who wake up together with no memory of the night before. Before they have chance to figure out what has happened, they come to the realisation that there's an alien spacecraft hovering outside their window. Confined to Julia's apartment, the pair must not only deal with the looming outside threat, but also the arrival of Julia's ex-boyfriend, Tipo (Miguel Noguera), and her neighbour, Ángel (Carlos Areces).

FrightFest 2014: 'Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead' review

★★★★☆
What two more distasteful subjects could there be than Nazis and zombies - neither of which could usually be mistaken as the basis for a humorous film. Combine them however (with the addition of the remnants of a Russian army), under the guidance of director Tommy Wirkola, and what you get is Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (2014). The follow-up to his cult hit Dead Snow (2009) is the ultimate in gross-out horror with heavy helpings of side-splitting humour. Picking up where the original instalment finished, we see Martin (Vegar Hoel), the sole survivor of the zombie massacre, involved in a car crash along with the severed arm of Nazi Colonel Herzog (Ørjan Gamst) lying on the floor beside him.

FrightFest 2014: 'All Cheerleaders Die' review

★★★☆☆
Devoted horror fans Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson combine for knowing FrightFest 2014 offering All Cheerleaders Die (2013), a jocular genre piece that subverts the popular high school movie template in favour of a more menacingly comic - and bloody - offering. A rollercoaster ride of tongue-in-cheek cliché, there's plenty of fun to be had with this cheekily reverential horror; yet, a dependence on the sexualisation of the female form anchors the film firmly within 'knowing' horror misogyny. Maddy (played by Caitlin Stasey) takes the horrific death of a local cheerleader to heart, deciding to no longer be quite so cynical of this archaic tradition and in turn spontaneously signing herself up for the team.

Competition: Win Hardy drama 'Locke' on DVD

Written and directed by Academy Award nominee Steven Knight and starring one of Britain's great character actors, Tom Hardy, in the titular lead role, Locke (2013) is the story of one ordinary man's life unravelling over the course of a tension-fuelled 90-minute race against time - all in one location, his car. To celebrate the DVD and Blu-ray release of Locke this coming Monday (25 August), we have THREE DVD copies of Knight's supremely inventive and engrossing one-man show to give away to our valued readers, courtesy of the folks at Lionsgate Home Entertainment. 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 doc 'I Am Divine' on DVD

Jeffrey Schwarz's award-winning documentary I Am Divine (2013) is the story of Divine, aka Harris Glenn Milstead, from his humble beginnings as a bullied and teased you from Baltimore to internationally recognised drag superstar through his collaboration with queer filmmaker John Waters. To celebrate the DVD release of I Am Divine this coming Monday (25 August), we have THREE DVD copies of Schwarz's fabulous tribute to "the most beautiful woman in the world" to give away to our regular readers, kindly provided by the team at Peccadillo Pictures. 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 'Cycling with Molière' on DVD

Heartwarming, witty and with intelligence in spades, Philippe Le Guay's Cycling with Molière (2013) is a likable French comedy about two arrogant yet affable middle-aged men is like a French version of BBC's The Trip. To celebrate the eagerly anticipated home entertainment release of Cycling with Molière this coming Monday (25 August), we've kindly been provided with THREE DVD copies of Le Guay's Gallic gallivant to give away to our francophile readership, courtesy of the hardworking cineastes at independent and world cinema specialists 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.

Film Review: 'What If'

★★★☆☆
Daniel Radcliffe continues to stretch his capacity in Michael Dowse's What If (2013), a smart and funny American romantic comedy that puts a modern spin on the age-old topic of whether men and woman can merely be friends. Mourning the loss of his failed relationship, Wallace (Radcliffe) attends a party thrown by his friend Allan (Adam Driver). It's here that he sparks up an immediate friendship with Chantry (Zoe Kazan), a peculiar animator. Chantry, however, is already in a long-term relationship with Ben (Rafe Spall), a UN economic negotiator. But, determined not to let their connection simply pass them by, Wallace and Chantry agree to be friends - an understanding that proves difficult to maintain.

Film Review: 'Two Days, One Night'

★★★★☆
Narrowly missing out on a hat-trick of Palme d'Or wins at this year's Cannes Film Festival, socially conscious Belgian directing siblings Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne return with the uplifting Two Days, One Night (2014), their first work to be bolstered by whom many would consider to be an A-list star in the guise of French actress Marion Cotillard. The premise is a simple one: Cotillard's depressive family worker has two days and one night to convince her fellow colleagues to reject a potential bonus so she may keep her job and continue to support her husband and children. A sharply-drawn morality tale for a Europe still reeling from the global economic downturn, the Dardennes are at their plausible best.

Film Review: 'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For'

★★☆☆☆
Nine years after the release of 2005's Sin City, directors Robert Rodriquez and Frank Miller (who also wrote the script) reunite for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014). Not much has changed, however. As visually intoxicating as the film is on the outside, it's dimly vacant on the inside, with not even Eva Green's presence and charged performance able to hold the audiences attention. Unravelling over four vignettes (two that have been ripped from Miller's own comic-books, and two that have been written specifically for the sequel, A Dame to Kill For adheres to the same template as its predecessor. The film opens once again with the grizzled figure of Marv (Mickey Rourke), abandoned at the roadside with no memory.

Film Review: 'The Police Officer's Wife'

★★★★☆
The pursuit of truth is a demand that cannot be fulfilled through seeing alone. An encounter with cinema resides through a locale of turbulent openings that allow a mental space for future thought still to be developed. Our very idea of narrative enjoyment is a misnomer, a cul­-de-­sac that needn't answer anything other than enjoyment. Yet there exists an avenue where the idea of enjoyment is something only to be savoured retrospectively; the experience of this achievement is of the moment - painful, meditative and transcendental. Philip Gröning's The Police Officer's Wife (2013) arrives burdened by existing on its own terms, a film experienced but not particularly enjoyed by most at Venice last year.

Film Review: 'Lucy'

★★★★☆
There's a popular myth often perpetuated in movies that humans only employ a small percentage of their brain's capacity. One of the reasons this idea endures is the following assertion that there is the potential for us to unlock untapped mental power if only we could breach the fabled 10% barrier. With just a sliver more brain power, we might be super-intelligent or have even greater capabilities. These myths form the basis of The Fifth Element (1997) director Luc Besson's latest science fiction adventure, Lucy (2014), starring the excellent Scarlett Johansson. Having taken the US box office by storm, this undeniably silly, but raucously entertaining, off-the-wall transhumanist actioner is an absolute riot.

Film Review: 'Into the Storm'

★★☆☆☆
At least nobody says "there's a storm coming", because every other disaster cliché going is thrown at Into the Storm (2014). There's the team of storm chasers from Twister (1996), the cack-handed attempt at 'cli-hi' moralism from 2004's The Day After Tomorrow, the split-up family from every disaster movie ever - even that annoying po-faced seriousness that has trended this year with the likes of Pompeii. Where's the fun gone from these movies? Twister had a scene where cows fly through the air. In Silverton, Oklahoma, the high school kids are all smiles for their end of term graduations. The sun is shining, but something's in the air that's making vice-principal Gary (Brit Richard Armitage) worried.

Film Review: 'God Help the Girl'

★★★☆☆
Scottish musicals are a lot like buses - you wait years for one to come along and then two arrive near simultaneously. Following Dexter Fletcher's all-singing, all-dancing Proclaimers crowdpleaser Sunshine on Leith last year, Belle and Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch's Glasgow-set debut, God Help the Girl (2014), is a far smaller, quainter and cooler affair. For better or worse, it's close to watching one of their records writ large on screen, with their whimsical but doleful tunes intact. While Murdoch's directorial style will be too arch at times, it ultimately wins you over like a breeze of fresh Caledonian air. Emily Browning plays Eve, a lonely, anorexic twentysomething in a Glasgow hospital.
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