- Jennifer Lawrence returns as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
- The Imitation Game is entertaining fare but fails to capture the complexities of Alan Turing's life
- Winter Sleep is a claustrophobic chamber piece spun out into a rich and beautifully intricate tapestry.
- Hoop Dreams director Steve James pays tribute to the late US critic Roger Ebert in Life Itself
- Notions of childhood innocence and guilt through complicity play against one another in Wakolda
Winter Sleep (2014). A deserved winner of this year's Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Ceylan's latest is a claustrophobic chamber piece spun out into a vast, rich and beautifully intricate tapestry. Woven at its centre is Aydin (Haluk Bilginer); a grey, bearded, landowner who dispenses hortatory with relish, but whose own moral authority may be somewhat questionable. Driven by discourse on conduct and self-deception, a series of conversations form the narrative, resulting in a majestic and subtly rendered multi-character study.
What We Do in the Shadows (2014) proves that not every last drop of blood has been drained. Akin to Edgar Wright's 2004 zom-rom-com Shaun of the Dead, this is a film that doesn't set out to outwardly parody the genre, instead using those long-established vampire tropes as a hook for the humour, flipping them for comedic effect in a whole variety of imaginative ways.
★★☆☆☆At the age of 75, and with over 70 plays under his belt, prolific theatre director Israel Horovitz makes his cinematic debut, adapting his 2002 stage play of the same name, My Old Lady (2014). Given Horovitz’s proven track record of crafting critically successful and award-winning narratives for theatre, one would be forgiven for thinking that a transition into film would be a smooth one. However the journey has proven to be bumpier than first thought, with this first feature failing to break free from the shackles of its theatre beginnings. My Old Lady centres upon three characters played by Kevin Kline, Maggie Smith and Kristen Scott-Thomas.
Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy (2013) this disconnect is explored by representing the parallel between our passive physical form and the idealised image of ourselves we construct online.
Maidan (2014), revered Belarusian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa presents the public protest that eventually led to the toppling of the Ukranian premiere, Viktor Yanukovych, through a number of dichotomies. It is rigorous but unhurried; cool but compelling; faceless but personal; old-fashioned reportage and formally challenging modern cinema. Kiev's Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) was the venue for demonstrations in late 2013 that concluded in brutal clashes with the police and played a key role in the president’s impeachment. Loznitsa's unblinking camera observes this tumultuous period.
★★★★★There Will be Blood (2007) gave us the birth of American capitalism, The Master (2012) doused us in the uncertainty of post-war malaise and now Inherent Vice (2014) takes us to the crossroads of the modern Californian ethos. This is Paul Thomas Anderson's American history trilogy - how the West was won, bought and sold. Gore Vidal called his own series of historical novels the Narratives of Empire; it would be an apt title for PTA's trilogy, which serves as a document of the 20th century incarnation of that pioneer spirit. Daniel Plainview, Freddie Quell and Doc Sportello may initially seem like a disparate group of characters, but that spirit connects them. Each one is a pilgrim staking his place in the New World.
★★★★☆Tommy Lee Jones' second directorial effort following the underrated The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (which played at Cannes in 2005), The Homesman (2014) is something of a reverse western, with homesteader Mary Bee Cuddy (a sterling turn from Hilary Swank) and amoral old-timer George Briggs (Jones) heading from west to east with a cargo of three mentally-ill women, played by Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto and Sonja Richter. The characters have been variously defeated by the brutal reality of frontier life, with loneliness, diphtheria, child mortality and marital abuse having driven these women to the point of desperation and beyond into the realms of madness.
Get On Up (2014), is a bold, brash and innovative rendition of a man who was often perceived as all ego. He was a market-machine of tremendous talent at the forefront of music, making you love him with the fury of a hellfire preacher trying to convert a sinner. He was also a man who never really confronted the horrors of his upbringing, preferring to perpetuate and live by his own myth, remaining a childish, though never innocent, man, who wanted the love of everyone without being capable of giving it back. We meet Brown in 1988, hunched shoulders and showing signs of age.
Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) Michael Bay has delivered another deafeningly loud and schlocky picture, full of the explosions and glib dialogue that have bonded him and his audience in a sort of love-hate relationship for almost twenty years. The film delivers on its promises of high-energy action sequences and the return of some of the most popular Transformers, but are those things enough to push this episode, or the wider series to new heights?
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) still justifies its place in the pantheon of all-time horror greats. Fully ingrained in the psyche of genre fans via the many manifestations of real world-inspired horror directly indebted to it, the film's influence still ripples through pop culture to this day (see the putrid domicile of Rust and Marty's nemeses in True Detective). It remains a gruelling and unrelenting slice of shocking vérité terror, its power to disturb not diluted one bit (even director Tobe Hooper was fully cognisant of the challenges in trying to replicate the lighting in a bottle greatness of the original, altering the tone considerably with his 1986 follow-up).
Grand Central (2013), a French melodrama about illicit love in the shadow of a nuclear power plant. Tahar Rahim is Gary, a working class nomad who finds a job decontaminating aging cores at a rural power station. It’s better paid than normal, but that's because of the danger of radioactive contamination, which reveals itself to be less a threat than an everyday occurrence. He bonds with a local downtrodden traveller community with his boss, Toni (Denis Menochet), and Toni's fiancée Karole, played by Léa Seydoux, more guarded but just as sultry as she was in Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013).
It's amazing how in the space of fifty odd years public taste and opinions have changed. Take for instance the classic Science Fiction thriller The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) - newly restored and released on DVD and Blu-ray to coincide with the BFI's Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder season (running from October through to December). Directed by Val Guest, the filmmaker responsible for Hammer's groundbreaking 1950s Quatermass films, and starring Edward Judd and Janet Munro, The Day the Earth Caught Fire brings a gritty tabloid realism to a terrifying subject that was very much in the public consciousness at the time of its release.
Space Marine, require serious commitment. As well as putting on superhero costumes or dressing up like a supernatural being, getting ready for cosplay can also include using props such as cars.
Welcome to our weekly round-up of the best DVD, Blu-ray and cinema releases over the past seven days in the UK. We'll strive to keep you updated on upcoming festivals, interesting events and the latest trailers from across the web. Come back each Friday to see what our talented team of writers are recommending and catch up on all the week's new releases. As an independent film site, our aim is to reach out to the largest audience possible, whilst also highlighting and championing some of the more diverse and less known new releases from the world of cinema. We can only do this with your help and support, so please feel free to add your comments and let us know what films and events you'd like to hear more about. For regular updates, or to continue the conversation, be sure to follow us on Twitter.
Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait (2014), Jehane Noujaim's The Square (2013) and Talal Derki's The Return To Homs (2013), offer no niceties or homilies. Rather, they are a constantly evolving narrative with itself that does not exclude but immerses the audience into for what for many is a unknown political reality, and for others a nightmare from which they seek escape. The latest documentary to join these fantastic cinematic milestones is Greg Barker's We Are the Giant (2014), and it is a strange kettle of fish indeed.
The Imitation Game (2014) was a canny, albeit obvious move. No doubt Cumberbatch's performance as the shrewd and logical detective in BBC's Sherlock was a deciding factor. Within Cumberbatch's performance, he presents Turing as if his mind never became comfortable with the fact it had to be confined to a body, all awkward shuffles and ticks. It's this career-best turn from Cumberbatch which helps to raise the game of this highly entertaining but technically functional British biopic. The story, based on Andrew Hodges' comprehensive biography, darts across three distinct periods in Turing's life.
Blackfish (2013), enjoyed enormous success, rallying people to its cause. Though pitched on a comparatively tiny scale, Douglas and Roger Kass' Emptying the Skies (2013), which DocHouse are screening tonight at Rich Mix Cinema, deals with similar subject matter. Based on novelist Jonathan Franzen's eponymous article of for The New Yorker, the film brings to light the mass killing of migratory birds as they traverse the Mediterranean on their unavoidable annual flightpath. Whilst lacking the polish and punch of its illustrious forbears, Emptying the Skies manages to presents cruelty in black and white, whilst illuminating the grey areas of activism.
The Drop (2014), Michael R. Roskam’s respectable follow-up to 2011’s Bullhead, finds the Belgian director on different shores, working from a Dennis Lehane script and aiming to recreate the dramatic richness of James Gray’s auteurist Brooklyn crime dramas. A familiar story of families, criminality and blue collar angst, it’s a meaty, entertaining work featuring fine performances from its talented cast, including the final screen bow of the late James Gandolfini. For cinephiles however, the real interest lies in the questions it inadvertently raises about the increasing influence of the heavyweight crime-writers in the new century; their creative dominance in certain pictures becoming akin to its own form of auteurism.
Pieta (2012), tells the story of Kang-do (Lee Jung-jin), a loan shark debt collector, who - when his clients can't or won't pay - resorts to crippling them in one way or another and cashing the insurance claims they've already signed up to ("Death messes up the claim", he tells a man). He's a pitiless, towering figure, who doesn't even have enough humanity to be properly sadistic, remaining coldly unsympathetic throughout. Yet, Kang-do's own private life is as blank, cold and tragically empty as his facial expression.
One on One (2014), is the centrepiece of the London Korean Film Festival's director's strand and sees Kim forgo subtly in favour of explicit engagement with his country's social dynamics. However, despite boasting some intriguing ideas this is far from the Korean provocateur at the height of his gruesome powers.
★★★★☆There aren't many filmmakers who would want - let alone have the capacity - to make audiences gag and guffaw in equal measure. Even fewer would attempt to elicit such reactions simultaneously. A smaller number still would envisage doing so with a blackly comic tale of castration, cannibalism, masturbation and incest. Fortunately, for those that way inclined, there is always Korea's inimitable Kim Ki-duk, one of arthouse cinema's most gloriously twisted provocateurs. Amongst the preoccupations that have filled his oeuvre, the duality of sex and violence has been a central one, and it rears its head in typically excruciating fashion in his latest nightmare, Moebius (2013), in cinemas this week.
The ninth edition of the London Korean Film Festival launched on Thursday to a packed house at the Odeon West End with a gala screening of Yun Jing-bin's spirited period romp, Kundo: The Age of Rampant (2014). Best known for his viscous crime thrillers, the director's foray into historical action epic calls to mind the energy of Quentin Tarantino, streaking this Korean Robin Hood-esque fable with the essence, style, and many of the genre conventions of a spaghetti western. The results are varied, yet Yun's forth feature has stormed the Korean box office and thanks to some enjoyable lead performances and a healthy dose of of high-octane combat it makes for diverting fun.
Hill of Freedom (Jayuui Eondeok, 2014) it's also an accurate one-word review. Hong is known for his light, whimsical, and meandering narratives, but even in comparison to other such films this one feels especially fluffy. That is not to say that it is bad, however, as while the direction is fairly casual, there are a lot of laughs to be had during this gently awkward romantic quest of a Japanese teacher to seek out his lost love in Korea. That teacher is Mori (Ryô Kase) who arrives back in the country two years after a spell working at a foreign language institute.
24's Jack Bauer in Kim Seong-hun's sophomore feature, A Hard Day (2014). Having played at Cannes, Toronto and London earlier in the year, this genre flick is a perfectly enjoyable, if ultimately unremarkable, entry in the London Korean Film Festival's line-up. After the slapstick of his debut, 2006's How the Lack of Love Affects Two Men, Kim once again injects his movie with absurd humour, this time strewn throughout a cop drama brimming with crunching action. Ko is a few tipples over the limit when he gets a message calling him away from his mother's funeral.
Snowpiercer (2013), Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho has also sets his sights on the high-seas with nautical adventure Haemoo (2014). Co-written by Bong and director Shim Sung-bo, it showcases precisely why certain Korean directors are currently the toast of Hollywood, playfully lacing a sombre trawler-set stage play adaptation with social context, interesting characters and that off-kilter humour so redolent in the country's genre fare. Whilst not uniformly successful in its execution, it provides ample excitement and never fails to keep the audience off balance with unexpected plot lurches amidst perilous sea fog.
A Girl at My Door (2014) is at once a plangent character study and transgressive drama. For the child at the centre of the narrative exhibits manipulative tendencies of a sociopathic leaning. There’s been a scandal. Only, we don’t quite know what’s gone on. Some might well accuse the writer-director of obfuscation or lacking clarity in the storytelling. However, seen as a bold creative choice, it has thematic weight and a significant bearing on how you read the ending.
CineVue © 2014. All rights reserved. Powered by Blogger.