Transport from Paradise (1963). Presented merely as the Nazi's overseeing an autonomous Jewish community in the appropriated town of Terezín, the film reveals the stifling fear and horror beneath the otherwise smiling façade. Co-written by Asnost Lustig, who survived both the occupation and a concentration camp, the film is often considered both a jewel of the Czech New Wave and of holocaust films and arrives on UK DVD shelves courtesy of Second Run.
- Our Film of the Week is Wes Anderson's fillet steak of a whodunit, The Grand Budapest Hotel
- Murro replaces Snyder for muscle-rippling swords & sandals sequel 300: Rise of an Empire
- Christoph Waltz stars in the eccentric Terry Gilliam's latest sci-fi outing, The Zero Theorem
- Wrenched out of the dry earth and roundly dusted off this week is Ted Kotcheff's Wake in Fright
- Ron Burgundy and his news team reassemble for Adam McKay's comedy sequel Anchorman 2
Starlet (2012) is a sun-drenched LA-based drama that's almost as warm and glamorous as its geographical setting. Starring Dree Hemingway (the great-granddaughter of novelist Ernest Hemingway) in her first leading role, Baker's film may contain the same adult iconography of his TV puppet show Greg the Bunny, yet couldn't be further apart in tone and mood. Hemingway stars as Jane, who has recently moved from Jacksonville, Florida, to enhance her career within the flourishing 'adult entertainment' industry. On arrival, she rents a room from her friend and work colleague Gracie (Liz Beebe).
With Sundance hit Short Term 12 (2013), debut director Destin Daniel Cretton has crafted an intimate yet highly moving tale, bolstered further still by a powerful, superlative performance from up-and-coming star Brie Larson. Larson plays Grace, a twentysomething supervisor at a foster care facility - a mainly relaxed environment where the kids are free to leave at any time, and employees can't physically touch or restrain them outside of the grounds. Grace is passionate about looking after the kids and she brings a dedication to her position, sometimes at the cost of engaging in her outside life with boyfriend and fellow employee, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.).
★★★★☆Sean Ellis' Filipino drama Metro Manila (2013) took home the Best British Independent Film award at the BIFAs last December, although you'd be forgiven for not recognising its homegrown credentials. Set in a foreign capital, with dialogue primarily in Tagalog (which the director doesn't speak), it may be a far cry from a kitchen sink drama, but demonstrates the success a number of British filmmakers - including Gareth Evans, director of The Raid (2011) and The Raid 2: Berandal (2014) - are achieving with a wider canvas in locales where budgets stretch further. Ellis brought small crews onto the city streets, telling the story of a desperate, destitute family starting over.
Duel (1971) and Tarantino's Death Proof (2007) being two of the most successful examples. With In Fear (2013), Sherlock scribe Jeremy Lovering takes on the premise of a home invasion, confines the action into a car and documents events in real-time. As a result, it's a darkly atmospheric journey to a destination that's satisfyingly difficult to approximate. After a mysterious altercation with some locals in a country pub, young couple Tom (Iain De Caestecker) and Lucy (Beautiful Creatures' Alice Englert) set off to spend the weekend at a music festival.
Orson Scott Card's revered sci-fi novel Ender's Game spent years in development limbo, directors and stars coming and going before South African writer and director Gavin Hood got behind the reins to bring it to the big screen. Hugo lead Asa Butterfield stars as Ender Wiggin, a child prodigy believed to have the potential to lead humanity against the invading alien 'Formics'. Under the stern eyes of a pair of officers played by Harrison Ford and Viola Davis, Ender rises through the ranks of military training school, making allies and enemies along the way. When Ender gets promoted, the film kicks up a gear, introducing mystery elements and several new characters.
New Girl's Jake Johnson and Anna Kendrick to create his boozy anti-rom-com Drinking Buddies (2013), a far more polished and neatly packaged example of his lo-fi sensibilities.
Following the runaway success of Danish director Nikolaj Arcel's A Royal Affair (2012) a couple of years back, another period European drama of revolt and revenge starring the magnetic Mads Mikkelsen would undoubtedly have seemed like an excellent idea. Somewhat regrettably, Arnaud des Pallières' Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas (2013), adapted from the Heinrich von Kleist novella, not only fails to live up to the mark but struggles to work on a more fundamental level. Even the presence of the venerable leading man fails to elevate this glossy but staid vengeance drama that repeatedly struggles to either quicken the pulse or provoke the mind.
Sin City (2005) first splashed itself across screens almost a decade ago, graphic novel writer Frank Miller's reputation has flourished in the world of cinema. Robert Rodriguez's film, which Miller helmed segments of, went down a storm and, following Zack Snyder's adaptation of Greek odyssey 300 (2006), Miller took to the director's chair solo for The Spirit (2008). With sequel 300: Rise of an Empire (2014) assailing UK screens at this very moment, the timing couldn't be any better for a first glimpse of the long-gestating follow-up to that original box office outing in Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For (2014). A first trailer has now arrived and submerges us once again into the noirish hell of Miller's despicable, monochrome underworld.
Veronica Mars (2014), showcasing the sharp combination of silliness and self-awareness that made the original TV series such a winning proposition. Almost seven years on from the third season finale, the film arrives on a tidal wave of industry hullabaloo (with a premiere at SXSW) thanks to a pioneering, high profile Kickstarter campaign that raised the $6 million budget directly from fans. In this brave new financing world, however, questions have inevitably been raised about the artistic viability and ethical obligations of a film paid for by a demographic with no monetary stake in its success.
Once again, that potentially lucrative and creative synergy between the gaming world and action cinema falls considerably short with the release of Scott Waugh's Need for Speed (2014), a particularly lunkheaded adaptation of the phenomenally popular EA racer series. Gravity-defying motor porn exploits take pole position over plot and everything else, despite some admittedly thrilling in-camera stunt work. Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul is Tobey Marshall, a talented driver and proficient mechanic whose business is teetering on the breadline, threatening both his livelihood and his brotherly band of pin-up 'N Sync-lookalike grease monkeys.
Sexy Beast and Birth director Jonathan Glazer's magnificent Under the Skin (2013) is the story of an alien in human form. Part-road movie, part-science fiction, part-real, it's a film about seeing our world through alien eyes. To celebrate the cinematic release of British filmmaker Glazer's latest triumph - starring American actress Scarlett Johansson - next Friday (14 March), we're giving away THREE Under the Skin prize bundles containing the official UK quad poster and CD soundtrack by Mica Levi, courtesy of the hardworking folks over at StudioCanal. 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.
Short Term 12 (2013) was the breakout hit of last year's South by Southwest Festival (SXSW), where it won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award. To celebrate the DVD and Blu-ray release of Cretton's award-winning directorial debut this coming Monday (10 March), we've kindly been provided with THREE DVD copies of the film to offer out to our regular readers, courtesy of our good friends at UK indie distributor Verve 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.
Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence returned as plucky heroine Katniss Everdeen in last year's action-packed, breathtaking Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire, which makes its way onto DVD and Blu-ray from Monday 17 March. To celebrate the long-awaited home entertainment release of Catching Fire, based on the second book in Suzanne Collins' popular Hunger Games trilogy, we have THREE DVD copies of Francis Lawrence's blockbusting sci-fi smash hit give away to our lucky readers, courtesy of the team at Lionsgate. 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.
There are many charming discrepancies in Terry Gilliam's creative output but one miscalculation lingers; is it us or him who's lost the plot? Are we too wired into our own pragmatic nightmares to appreciate his homegrown brand of sociopolitical lampooning? Or is his genius simply burning out? A decade of 'hmmms' have left us craving for something altogether undeniable. In The Zero Theorem (2013), possibly the most conspicuous dead ringer to his faultless Brazil yet, hermetic number-cruncher Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz) undertakes menial corporate tasks in a pre-Blade Runner dystopia as he waits for a call from an unknown celestial deity.
Wrenched out of the earth and roundly dusted off for a long overdue UK theatrical and home entertainment rerelease, Ted Kotcheff's nightmarish Antipodean anomaly Wake in Fright (1971) offers no apologies and takes no prisoners. Its rank, at times skin-crawling depiction of the bestial depths of humanity and sickening substance abuse in the darkest recesses of the Australian Outback may not have made a star of its leading man, Gary Bond, but should now attain the fully-fledged cult status it so evidently deserves. A key text in the undervalued Ozploitation movement, Kotcheff chases the evil that lurks behind small-town banality with the blackest of black humour.
By 1944, Italy's film industry was virtually non-existent. Funding in the arts was severed to pool resources in the reconstruction of the country's war-torn landscape. Yet it were these financial obstructions that inspired one of the most important movements in 20th century cinema. Mere months after the Nazi withdrawal from Rome, Roberto Rossellini and Federico Fellini began work on a picture that would lead to individuals like Martin Scorsese calling it "the most precious moment of film history" in years to come. Rome, Open City (1945) not only solidified Rossellini as a a world-class storyteller, but has since become the esteemed inception of Italian neorealism.
★★★★☆Wes Anderson has long been a purveyor of painstakingly detailed worlds; heightened realities from which tastes and textures seem to leap off the screen. His latest offering, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), is no different and stars a wonderful Ralph Fiennes as rakish concierge M. Gustave. The aroma of his cologne, L'Air de Panache, clings to the nostrils and the sweetness of an extravagant morsel from boutique patisserie Mendl's lingers on the lips. The lead and his establishment, both grandiose and antiquated monuments in a changing world, are paeans to vanished luxury that provide the perfect setting for Anderson's unique brand of whimsy.
★★☆☆☆Despite being an orgy of blood and testosterone, there was something refreshing in the depiction of ancient Greece in Zack Snyder's 300 (2006). Cinema has a propensity for curbing the outlandish elements of Hellenic mythology - by doing away with it altogether, a la Troy (2004), or invoking grittiness as with Clash of the Titans (2010). Based on Frank Miller's graphic novel, Snyder's film did the opposite; it threw supernatural elements - in the comic creator's typically grotesque aesthetic - into a historical epic. It wound up being a silly but enjoyable action extravaganza which its sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire (2014) fails to replicate.
The Patience Stone (2012) was adapted from. Perhaps then, the kudos should go to lead actress Golshifteh Farahani, who spends ninety per cent of the proceedings alone and yet still manages to maintain the viewer's attention with her tender, understated performance. Farahani, as 'The Woman', plays an Afghani wife and mother whose soldier husband lies in a vegetative state after being shot.
★★★☆☆Gravity (2013) plays on that classic dramatic conflict - man versus the elements - exploited by Alfonso Cuarón in his Oscar-winning and visually arresting film about two astronauts lost in space. Sandra Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer on her first NASA mission, accompanied by veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). When disaster strikes and the satellite they're working on is destroyed, the two are left tethered to one another, floating in space; their communication with mission control in Houston (Ed Harris) abruptly severed. Both realise that their only hope is to reach another space station.
For Those in Peril (2013) tells the story of Aaron (George MacKay), a troubled young man who's the sole survivor of a fishing accident that claimed the lives of his brother and five other crew members. Unable to recall the incident and convinced that his shipmates might still be alive, Aaron's mind is filled with confusion - a paralysing mental state exacerbated by the small Scottish fishing community in which he reside. Believing he, in some way caused this tragic event, the villagers take the step to cruelly ostracise our conflicted protagonist.
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