Film Review: 'Time Is Illmatic'

★★★★☆
Rolling off New York's F line, 21st Street you find yourself in the maltreated bosom of North America's largest public housing development. Paved in the warren of great geometric brickwork, residents of Queensbridge lived in cost efficient Y-shaped complexes. It was said the area's abnormal design was the cheapest solution to permitting its inhabitants enough access to sunlight. And yet, in the bridge's shadows was the place where the Dream Team pushed, where only 'Shorty Doo-wop' stayed out all night, where the D's on the roof dwell and where pulling triggers brought fame to your name. Furthermore, the Projects has also been deemed one the most common geographical location to be eulogised in song.

Film Review: 'Love, Rosie'


★★☆☆☆
Etching another notch on the bedpost of the already crowded ‘will-they-won’t they?’ vein of romantic comedy, Love, Rosie (2014) boasts a fresh-faced cast whose star power will inevitably be bolstered by appearing in this heinious exercise in ignoble triviality. Directed by Christian Ditter and adapted from Cecelia Ahern’s 2004 novel ‘Where Rainbows End’, Love, Rosie is ostensibly the iPhone generation's When Harry Met Sally (1989) - a saccharin-drenched drama that rarely merits the chemistry its central cast ably displays. The film sees Lily Collins plays the titular Rosie opposite Sam Claflin’s Alex, two best friends who’ve grown up together side by side.

Film Review: 'Fury'

★★★★☆
The second film of director David Ayer's increasingly prolific career to be released this year following groggy Arnold Schwarzenegger shoot em' up Sabotage (2014), Fury (2014) is an epic Second World War action drama that - like each of his previous works - looks to examine the inner workings of violent men in violent circumstances on an even grander historical scale. Executive produced by leading star Brad Pitt and written by Ayer himself, the film is a bravura depiction of the harsh brutalities of war that, though monotonous, is an entirely rousing entry in the annals of great WWII cinema. Set in the spring of 1945 during the last month of the European Theatre of war, Pitt plays sergeant Don "Wardaddy" Collier.

Film Review: 'The Book of Life'

★★☆☆☆
Experienced animator Jorge R. Gutierrez teams up with fan-favourite producer Guillermo Del Toro for his directorial debut The Book of Life (2014), a visually dazzling but regrettably stale spin on the colourful Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead. Manola (Diego Luna), the sensitive son of a prized bullfighter, and Joaquin (Channing Tatum), an adventurous risk-taker, are childhood best friends with one thing in common: their love for Maria (Zoe Saldana). As the boys grow older, they vie for Maria’s affection in different ways - one with soft songs of undying love, and the other with the point of a sword - hoping to emerge the victor.

Film Review: 'The Babadook'

★★★★☆
Since Australian director Jennifer Kent’s debut feature, The Babadook (2014) premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival there has been a tremendous hubbub of excitement from both critical and horror circles . Much like Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) before it The Babadook, appropriates the trappings of the horror genre and employs them in a terrifying exploration of the psychological scarring a fractured parental bond can cause. Widow Amelia (Essie Davis) is struggling to cope with the demands of her young unhinged son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) who, like many young boys his age, possesses an unhealthy obsession with monsters, magic and making weapons out of household utensils.

London 2014: 'A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night' review

★★★★☆ 
For much of the past decade, creatures of the night have had to stand by and watch as their charisma was leeched by toothless tween angst franchises. Fortunately, attempts are now being made to give succubi their credibility back. First came the droll literary ennui of Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) and now, in what has been billed as Iran's first vampire film, we has A Girl Who Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) the striking and achingly cool feature debut of America-based Iranian director Ana Lily Amirpour. Sprinkled with notes from genres both gothic and western, Amipour's expansion of her eponymous 2011 short film is a fantastic undead rebuke to Middle-Eastern patriarchy.

London 2014: 'It Follows' review

★★★★★
With It Follows (2014), David Robert Mitchell has delivered one of the best horror films of the decade. A beautifully rendered vision of the teenage psyche in the 21st century, it’s a stylish, intelligent and densely textured masterpiece. While there are traditional scares and a familiar antagonistic force, the fear at the heart of the picture is terrifyingly human. We not only see the fragility of our younger selves reflected in its myriad horrors, we are confronted with the realisation that the nightmare of our teenage years is not ephemeral – it will haunt us throughout our lives. It Follows is the very essence of horror; sex, death and the bruising shackles of youth.

London 2014: 'Dear White People' review

★★★★☆
Writing about Justin Simien's barnstorming debut feature Dear White People (2014), critic Armond White drew a line between the film and the Hollywood gatekeepers' usually self-congratulatory cinematic response to race in America: "Simien's humorous sensibility must deal with the fact that the racial...attitudes of American film culture are controlled by a social class that demands its own recognition first." It's a searingly prescient jab that gets to the heart of race in American film in the 21st century. Dear White People cuts straight through prejudice, identity hang-ups and guilt complexes, laying out its thesis with such raw intelligence that nobody, regardless of background, will come away unruffled.

Blu-ray Review: 'Withnail and I'

★★★★☆
Since it's bow in 1987, Bruce Robinson's semi-autobiographical black comedy, Withnail and I, has become a bona fide cult-classic. For years audiences have revelled in its depictions of drunkenness, drug addiction and camp debauchery. Subsequently, Robinson's most well-remembered film has garnered a great deal of mythologising and alcohol-fuelled hyperbole. However, scythe through its now legendary status,  and the alcohol-fuelled tale still endures as a timeless comic masterpiece, capturing Britain in the fading frenzy of the tale-end of the Sixties, with Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann starring as our thespian anti-heroes.

DVD Review: 'Welcome to New York'

★★★★☆
Gérard Depardieu is barnstorming as the outrageous subject of Abel Ferrara's lurid Welcome to New York (2014), inspired by the scandal that ended Dominique Strauss-Kahn's career. The former IMF chief - and presumptive French presidential candidate - denied all charges and has now taken steps to sue the film's producers for defamation. Regardless of Ferrara's adherence to true life, it's a startling and compelling account not just of a sex addict, but a character whose wealth and standing in his field has allowed himself to be far removed from contemporary morality. Within five minutes, we've seen Depardieu's Georges Devereux shack up with four escorts at an orgy in New York's Carlton Hotel.

DVD Review: 'Two Days, One Night'

★★★★☆
After the critically adored The Kid With a Bike (2011) saw celebrated Belgian filmmakers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne take a softer approach to telling yet another tale of urban struggle, the brothers return with Two Days, One Night (2014), an agonisingly realistic story about the lengths to which one woman goes to preserve her mental stability. Having avoided casting big-name stars in their previous eight films, the pair go against expectation and install Academy Award-winning French star Marion Cotillard, who gives perhaps her most perfectly realised performance to date. She stars as Sandra, a young mother recouping after the debilitating effects depression has had on her mental and physical wellbeing.

Blu-ray Review: 'Shivers'

★★★★☆
Almost forty years after its first release, Shivers (1975) is still difficult to watch. Even for a director as renowned for his bizarre visions as David Cronenberg, his first big budget production - known under several alternative titles including They Came from Within and Orgy of the Blood Parasites - this film is weird. Starring 'Queen of Horror' Barbara Steele and actor/singer Paul Hampton it is not for the squeamish, or easily offended dealing as it does with several taboo subjects. Welcome to Starliner Towers, an ultra-modern apartment block where residents can live in peace and harmony, with their every need catered for.

DVD Review: 'Maleficent'

★★★☆☆
In the House of Mouse's third attempt at reinventing a classic fairytale as a live action adventure, director Robert Stromberg brings us a new twist on Sleeping Beauty with Maleficent (2014), starring Angelina Jolie as the titular villain turned misunderstood hero. Opening to a CGI-heavy landscape, we meet a diminutive Maleficent (Isobelle Molloy) dwelling in a tree, fixing broken branches and generally being a child of nature as she flies through the air upon her wings. A voiceover tells us that the world this horned heroine inhabits is divided into two. One is a peaceful land of magic, the Moor, where button-nosed trolls waddle through the marshes and all manner of flying creatures pepper the skies.

DVD Review: 'Cold in July'

★★★☆☆
After dabbling satisfyingly with horror in his three features so far, director Jim Mickle adopts a decidedly different pace with Cold in July (2014), a violent crime thriller adapted from Joe R. Lansdale's novel of the same name. In his first major role since TV's Dexter plunged his knife for the final time, Michael C. Hall makes a welcome return to the big screen, demonstrating how his collected and effortlessly engaging manner can lift even the most average material. Set in East Texas in 1989, Hall plays Richard Done, a mulleted, mild-mannered everyman and devoted husband and father, whose moderate life takes a dramatic turn when, after being awoken one night, he fatally shoots a burglar in his home.

Competition: Win 'Two Days, One Nights' on DVD

In what is already being heralded as one of her greatest ever performances, in the Dardennes' Two Days, One Night (2014) French actress Marion Cotillard plays Sandra, a factory worker who has her employment threatened by the very people she works with. Behind her back, upper management offer the workforce a significant bonus if they vote for Sandra to lose her job, leaving her one weekend to change their minds. To celebrate the release of Two Days, One Night this coming Monday, we have THREE DVD copies to give away to our readers thanks to 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 'Godzilla' on DVD



The arrogance of man is thinking nature is in our control. To celebrate the release of Godzilla (2014) on Blu-ray 3D™, Blu-ray™ and DVD on October 27th, out now on Digital HD™ we are giving you the chance to win a copy on DVD. In this gritty, realistic sci-fi action epic, Godzilla returns to its roots as one of the world's most recognized monsters. Directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters) and featuring an all-star international cast, this spectacular adventure pits Godzilla against malevolent creatures that, bolstered by humanity's scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence. 

Film Review: 'Palo Alto'

★★☆☆☆
Adapted from James Franco's novel of the same name - a reflection of the hometown ennui he managed to transcend, Palo Alto (2013) is another creative misfire from the talented multi-hyphenate. Franco's novel is a series of loosely connected vignettes that focuses on a group of teenage high schoolers and their inter personal relationships. The film is directed by 25-year-old Gia Coppola and suffers from the internal problems of a wannabe creative unsure of what outlet to use. Coppola has admitted that she was drifting through life: "I wasn't sure what my passion was. I never paid attention to movies until fairly recently." How lucky she is to be the granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola and niece of Sofia Coppola.

Film Review: 'Northern Soul'

★★★★☆
It's easy to forget that before the commercialisation of youth culture, movements emerged which offered a grand escapism and an exciting alternative to the safe, homogeneous product being fed to teens and twentysomethings. During the early 1970s, Northern Soul was a mini phenomenon and allusions to the acid house generation which emerged a decade or so later were unavoidable: the all-consuming music and the added artificial stimuli which goes hand-in-hand with being active on a dance floor all night. Elaine Constantine's fictional account of her own experiences is an age-old tale of friendship forged through shared passions, but it's told with heart and a dogged determination to document the time.

Film Review: 'My Name Is Hmmm'

★★☆☆☆
Agnès B is a created idea from the imagination of Agnès Andrée Marguerite Troublé. Known to the world as a fashion designer she has always held a candle for what the French call the Seventh Art. After embracing cinema and its more errant enfant terrible auteurs, she has made the final leap and created her own feature film: My Name Is Hmmm (2013). She has long been associated with cinema, from an early tee-shirt that read: "J'aime le cinema" to the use of her clothing in films such as Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994), where Uma Thurman's character Mia Wallace is seen wearing an iconic Agnès B white shirt. Co-founder of Harmony Korine's production company O'Salvation, the cinematic world has known and loved her for her support of visionary filmmakers like Claire Denis and Gaspar Noé.

Film Review: 'Cathedrals of Culture'

★★★☆☆
When six world renowned filmmakers - including Robert Redford and the late Austrian director Michael Glawogger - were asked to make short films for a television series about pioneering buildings of cultural influence, the results were never going to be boring. Cathedrals of Culture's (2014) six 30-minute segments - gathered here as one film - are nothing if not thought provoking. The selection of buildings chosen for inclusion may seem a little odd. Though one can appreciate the presence of the Pompidou Centre - Paris' famous hub for the arts, co-designed by the 1970s architectural enfant terrible Richard Rogers - that of Norway's Halden Prison may seem a little more obscure. Is it really a cultural centre?

London 2014: 'The Keeping Room' review

★★★★☆
Contorting the standard gender expectations of its genre, Daniel Barber's The Keeping Room (2014) arrives at the BFI London Film Festival on the back of considerable praise. Investigations of masculine identity regularly pass the time of day in traditional Westerns, yet this revisionist incarnation turns its attention away from the horrors of the Civil War battlefield and instead chooses to focus on the experiences of the women on the home front. The result is an atmospheric drama that fuses the bones of a home invasion flick into a gripping exploration of those exposed to the destructive forces that drive the kinds of characters that usually inhabit these harsh cinematic environs.

London 2014: 'Girlhood' review

★★★★★
In his barbed review of Richard Linklater's Boyhood (2014) Armond White stated the film celebrated the "emblematic figure" of white patriarchy. Céline Sciamma's Girlhood (2014) could easily be the antithesis to Linklater's expansive coming-of-age drama. An intimate and tender portrait of a young black girl realising the finite boundaries of her ambition whilst growing up in a deprived suburb of Paris, Sciamma's latest is an adrenaline shot of socially aware filmmaking that's an invigorating and perspicacious exploration of adolescence. Girlhood opens with a slow motion montage of an American football match - an explosive introduction you'd usually associate with emphatic displays of testosterone.

London 2014: 'The World of Kanako' review

★★☆☆☆
Tetsuya Nakashima's icy drama Confessions (2010) took the hyper-stylised aesthetics of his early work Kamikaze Girls (2004) and Memories of Matsuko (2006) and refined their energy and exuberance into a tightly wound revenge drama. His latest, The World of Kanako (2014), releases the clutch, utilising a repulsive former detective as its protagonists in an attempt to dissect the generational disconnect in contemporary Japan whilst painting a rancid portrait of youth culture. Based on the novel Kawaki by Akio Fukamachi, The World of Kanako amplifies the pulpy sensibilities of this atypical revenge drama with an abundance of the erratic cuts, violence and flamboyant visuals that have characterised Nakashima's work.

London 2014: 'Testament of Youth' review

★★★★☆
Débutante British feature film director James Kent, along with Calendar Girls (2003) screenwriter Juliette Towhidi, has succulently crafted an emotionally bruising, evocative and smartly streamlined adaptation of one of the greatest rallying cries to pacifism, Vera Brittain's remarkable Testament of Youth (2015). An account of her war years between 1914-18, Brittain's book is unique in a variety of ways and the challenges of adapting for the screen are numerous as a result. Kent, who gathers a cast of extremely bright young things, creates a drama that glides with sorrowful grace, pitching at a respectful and tear-inducing tone.

London 2014: 'A Little Chaos' review

★★★☆☆
For his second feature as director - following on from the Emma Thompson-starring The Winter Guest (1997) - Alan Rickman brings audiences the period folly A Little Chaos (2014), a film as mildly diverting and inoffensive as its title suggests. Based on a true story and adapted from ex-Casualty star Alison Deegan's debut screenplay, the film tells of a most ostensibly mundane period of King Louis XIV's tenure at Versailles, doing so in an entirely lightweight and likable manner that, though befitting a casual ITV costume drama, is saved by a wealth of assured hands both on and off screen. Set in 1682, Academy Award winner Kate Winslet plays widowed, green-fingered landscape designer Sabine De Barra.

London 2014: 'Dearest' review

★★★★☆
The taking of a beloved child is the nightmarish scenario at the centre of Thai filmmaker Peter Chan's effective melodrama, Dearest (2014), competing in the London Film Festival's Official Competition. China is painfully stricken by people trafficking, a fact that's at the forefront of Tian Wen-jun (Huang Bo) and Lu Xiao-juan (Hao Lei) minds when their three-year-old son disappears one day. Designed to tug firmly on the heartstrings, what follows is an intense account of their soul-crushing search that soon broadens into a desultory, but far more interesting examination into the consequences of such events. It's just another bustling day in Shenzhen when Lu Xiao Juan brings her son back to his father's shop.

London 2014: 'Birdman' review

★★★★★
Last year, Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity (2013) wowed audiences with its bravura setpieces and technical prowess, taking us into space and back down to earth again. This year, London's Surprise Film is Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman (2014) (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), who trumps his fellow countryman with a film that for the most part takes place in one long, seemingly continuous take. Rather than an immersive gee-whiz experience, however, here the technical choice recreates the danger and thrill of that old cinematic favourite - the theatre. From A Chorus Line to Shakespeare in Love, the theatre is frequently held up by cinema itself as its prestigious, more authentic sibling.

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

★★★★☆
In a town hardly renowned for its nurturing instincts and loyalty, Shep Gordon would appear to be something of an anomaly. The veteran talent manager - a job title which is as interchangeable as they come - has amassed a horde of A-list friends and clients over his decades and its one of those figures, Austin Powers creator Mike Myers, who has decided to make his directorial debut with this hugely entertaining and deeply affectionate portrait. Gordon's life has the kind of narrative which could almost be ripped directly from the pages of a fictitious Hollywood screenplay. From his humble beginnings to his P.T. Barnum-like ability to drum up publicity for his acts, there's enough material for a whole series on Gordon.

DVD Review: 'Sofia's Last Ambulance'

★★★☆☆
The state of crisis in an Eastern European healthcare system provides the meat of Ilian Metev's 2012 documentary Sofia's Last Ambulance. In some ways comparable to Cristi Puiu's acclaimed Romanian fictional film The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005), we follow a trio of ambulance personnel as they navigate the overwhelming task of caring for the populace of the Bulgarian capital. At the time of filming, there were only thirteen ambulances expected to service almost two million people, requiring an inhuman level of devotion and patience from the beleaguered paramedics. Metev's fly-on-the-dashboard film is both political comment and utterly human portrait of their ongoing travails.

DVD Review: 'Grace of Monaco'

★★★☆☆
Olivier Dahan's Grace of Monaco (2014), about the marriage of Hollywood film star Grace Kelly (Nicole Kidman) and Prince Rainier (Tim Roth) is beautifully shot but lacks depth and tension. When Grace married Prince Rainer III of Monaco in 1956 it was like a fairy tale come true: iconic beauty gets her prince. But Grace sacrificed a successful career for her marriage and Dahan's film opens six years later when the cracks have begun to show. Grace finds it lonely bringing up two small children, while her husband is increasingly absent from the palace; embroiled in a row with France and dealing with affairs of state. So when Alfred Hitchcock (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) turns up to offer her a part in Marnie, she's sorely tempted.
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