You & Me Forever (2012) fits neatly into this sub-genre, obeying most of the conventions that we know - intense platonic friendship, interloping third-parties, burgeoning sexuality and parental concern - without ever really challenging that set of rules. Munk appears to follow the age-old adage 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it', leaving the narrative somewhat pedestrian. Thankfully, the film's vivacious performances and visual aesthetic are there to pick up the slack, elevating this Scandi drama above the pitfalls of imitation.
- British director Joanna Hogg scales brave new heights with her third feature, the superb Exhibition
- Tracks is a handsome big-screen rendering of Robyn Davidson's nine-month trek across the Outback
- Institutionalised racism towards the Roma people is exposed in An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker
- Punk may be dead, but thankfully no one told Lukas Moodysson and the stars of We Are the Best!
- Ron Burgundy and his news team reassemble for Adam McKay's comedy sequel Anchorman 2
Tracks (2013), a handsome adaptation by John Curran starring a terrific Mia Wasikowska. Davidson - then 27 years old - walked the half the island's length from Alice Springs across 1,700 miles of desert to the Indian Ocean, accompanied solely by three wild camels and her dog, Diggity. As much an attempt at personal emancipation as physical endurance, it was captured by National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan, whose parched photos of her trek made Davidson a cover star and story a sensation.
The Informant (2013) is a thriller based on an autobiographical novel by Marc Fievet. In this instance, it's a title that seems a little less unique than the French original - Gibraltar - but arguably one more fitting. The prospect was of a smuggling yarn made ever more enticing by a handful of engaging leads including Gilles Lellouche and Tahar Rahim. Regrettably, however, hough Leclercq's customs thriller begins well, it never manages to get its engine going, its solid performances unable to inject some much-needed dynamism into the bland proceedings.
★★★★☆Despite, or perhaps due to, the ever-present spectre of funding cuts and the commonly espoused notion that our national cinema's global influence is on the wane, Britain is currently producing some exceptional filmmaking talent. Alongside the box office and awards success of the McQueens and the Nolans, our green and pleasant land is currently being examined by a fresh and artistically invigorating group of directors from Clio Barnard to Ben Wheatley. One such cause for excitement is Joanna Hogg, who has scaled new heights with her third feature, the fantastic Exhibition (2013). After two films chronicling the holidaying middle-classes, she now confines a strained relationship to a single abode.
An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker (2013) arrives in selected UK cinemas having claimed the Jury Grand Prize at the 63rd Berlinale and being chosen as Bosnia's entry at this year's Academy Awards. Documentary-like in feel, Tanović has decided to recreate events by casting the family themselves in a film that raises important points yet lacks dramatic heft. With a camera trained over his shoulder, Nazif (Nazif Mujic) spends his days foraging for scrap metal in a remote township.
★★☆☆☆Selected as part of the Directors' Fortnight strand at last year's Cannes Film Festival, Basil da Cunha's feature debut After the Night (2013) paints an initially intriguing picture of nocturnal life in Lisbon's crime-ridden suburbs, but ultimately fails to match its style with the substance needed to genuinely grip. Our guide through the halflight is the dreadlocked Sombra (Pedro Ferreira), a destitute ex-con on the run after a local crime lord decides to collects his debts in full. With only a pet bearded dragon (da Cunha here recalling Werner Herzog's similar fascination with reptiles in 2009's Bad Lieutenant) and a rusty machete as allies, Sombra leads us across the rooftops as he attempts to avoid the gun-toting gang.
★★★☆☆The debut feature from beloved Scottish writer and director Bill Forsyth (best known for such classic regional offerings as Gregory's Girl and Local Hero), That Sinking Feeling may not have aged particularly well since its 1979 release, but it still has a rough-around-the edges, lo-fi charm that's largely absent in contemporary indie cinema. In many ways it feels like an early precursor to the works of Shane Meadows, the main character here sharing the same name as the eponymous loser in Meadows' Where's the Money, Ronnie? Like that film, it also features an inept and desperate bunch of crooks, similarly portrayed by inexperienced actors delivering unpolished, endearing performances.
In starkest contrast to Peter Berg's bombastic and bloody Lone Survivor (2013) (also released in UK cinemas earlier this year), ex-soldier Tom Petch's British offering, The Patrol (2013), is a far more meditative and thoughtful contribution to the War on Terror debate. There are no elongated shoot-outs or Audie Murphy heroics here; instead, we see a unit's morale slowly seeping away as boredom, fear and hunger all combine to devastating effect following the wounding of one of their most valued comrades. Though slightly televisual in its execution - and without a star draw - Petch deserves recognition for his unwillingness to conform to generic type.
Kiss the Water's (2013) contributors, though it could be said that any individual attempting to create an intriguing documentary based on the life of deceased salmon fly fabricator Megan Boyd is as equally imprudent. However, Eric Steel's elegantly sketched film, released on DVD by Soda Pictures this week, is almost as faint and intricate as the flies we witness being meticulously constructed throughout the film. Burrowed away within an isolated cottage on the North West coast of Scotland, Boyd spent her days delicately entwining feathers, floss and silk to create miniature works of art.
Kill Your Darlings (2013), director John Krokidas' ambitious debut feature, is about the early years of the hedonistic group of American writers who became known as the Beat Generation, as well as the violent murder that nearly derailed their literary movement in its infancy. It's autumn 1943 and the Second World War is raging, but the battlefields of Europe seem a million miles away from Columbia University where freshman Allen Ginsberg (Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe) meets sophomore Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) for the first time. Ginsberg is immediately drawn to Carr's subversive energy and his love of such unorthodox writers as Henry Miller and Arthur Rimbaud.
Days of Grace (Días de gracia) makes its way onto DVD in the UK this week after a prolonged spell in distribution purgatory. Stylishly shot on location in Mexico City over the course of three subsequent FIFA World Cups, the film follows a central triumvirate of morally obtuse individuals, each desperately trying to survive on the mean streets of this hostile concrete jungle. Gout's feature debut may owe several debts to the hugely successful Brazilian Elite Squad series, but also carries the necessary bite to match its rabid bark.
From executive producer Eli Roth (Hostel) and based on Brian McGreevy's novel, Hemlock Grove is a murder-mystery series involving the eccentric residents of a former steel town in Pennsylvania. The story begins with the discovery of a high school cheerleader, mangled and murdered in the shadow of an abandoned Godfrey steel mill. The ensuing investigation exposes the community s underbelly and reveals that nothing is as it seems. To celebrate the DVD and Blu-ray release of Hemlock Grove: Season 1 this coming Monday (21 April), we have THREE DVD copies to give away via Kaleidoscope. 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.
Mexican director Everardo Valerio Gout's Days of Grace adopts a multi-strand narrative akin to Latino scorchers Amores Perros (2000) and City of God (2002) before supercharging it with the sort of dynamic energy seen in the best works of Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. To celebrate the home entertainment release of Days of Grace this coming Monday (21 April), we have THREE DVD copies of Gout's slick, stylish and adrenaline-fuelled crime epic to give away to our avid readers, courtesy of the fantastic team at genre specialists Chelsea 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.
earlier today in Paris, we've teamed up with the accommodating home entertainment team at prestigious UK world cinema distributors Artificial Eye to offer our followers the chance to win one of THREE five-film DVD Cannes bundles. Included in this fantastic giveaway are acclaimed films from 2014 Palme d'Or contenders Olivier Assayas (Something in the Air), Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Uzak), the Dardenne brothers (The Kid with a Bike), Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) and Alice Rohrwacher (Corpo Celeste). 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.
Fans of body horror master David Cronenberg will be hoping for a late career revival when his new film, 2014's Maps to the Stars, has its grand unveiling at Cannes this May, particularly after the joint disappointment of 2011 psychoanalysis drama A Dangerous Method and the overly faithful Cosmopolis (2012). Enlisting A-List stars Mia Wasikowska, Julianne Moore, John Cusack and Robert Pattinson, the film sets itself up as an acerbic portrait of celebrity competition and madness in the shallow waters of Hollywood. Dr. Stafford Weiss (the ever-sleazy Cusack) is a self-help guru while his wife, Christina (Olivia Wilde), manages the career of an obnoxious millionaire child star, Benjie (Evan Bird), who has just checked out of a stint in a drug rehab clinic and is ready to gte back into acting.
Personal battles against mental illness have long been the mainstay of cinematic drama, with countless deserving Oscar winners (and an even greater number of less-deserving awards fodder) exploring the effects of autism, schizophrenia and Alzheimer's upon the most beautiful of minds. The latter is dealt with in novel form in Spanish animator and director Ignacio Ferreras' Wrinkles (2011). A touching and often funny portrayal of one man's upheaval after his son and his son's wife move him into a retirement home, and based on the Paco Roca graphic novel, Wrinkles' irreverence is commendable, even if its integrity does now feel somewhat compromised by a dull, lifeless English-language dub.
Reaching for the Moon (2013) follows the passionate relationship between Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Elizabeth Bishop (The Lord of the Rings star Miranda Otto) and Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares (Glória Pires). It's 1951 and Elizabeth, suffering from writers' block, is encouraged by fellow poet Robert Lowell (Treat Williams) to try a change of scene. Elizabeth embarks on a journey around South American and stops off to visit Mary (Tracy Middendorf), an old college friend now settled in Brazil. Mary lives with Lota on her beautiful landscaped country estate, where they regularly entertain fellow urbanites with similar pursuits.
If you were one of the many rubbed up the wrong way by Michael Hoffman's lightweight yet likable crime caper throwback Gambit (2012) a few years back, prepare yourself for the Second Coming. Starring Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson as jet-setting divorcees on a mission to nick back their stolen nest egg (in diamond form), Joel Hopkins' The Love Punch (2013) is one of those films so implausible that it scuppers any hopes of being in any way ingratiating. Scraping the barrel for laughs revolving around 'being old', cat allergies and, when all else fails, Timothy Spall's digestive tract, it's only the twinkle-eyed self-parody of former Bond Brosnan that makes this dire Brit-com remotely watchable.
Cementing itself as one of the best British offerings of the year thanks to a tour de force solo turn from Tom Hardy - whose titular labourer feels like he's been hewn straight from a block of his own beloved concrete - Steven Knight's Locke (2013) harks back to the bygone era of the one-person show. With only one discernible location - the interior of an expensive yet tellingly practical SUV gliding towards a date with destiny - Knight's follow-up to last year's Jason Statham revenger Hummingbird (2013) is more drive 'em up than beat 'em up. It's also utterly enraptured in the subtle drama of one perfectly ordinary man whose life begins to crumble around him after a past trespass comes back to haunt him.
Rebel Without a Cause (1955), there's a seemingly unassuming conversation that takes place between Nathalie Wood's Judy and Sal Mineo's Plato that neatly sums up five decades of audience fascination with James Dean. Plato - a shy, troubled lad - is exaggerating the extent of his friendship with Dean's Jim Stark, exposing his own vulnerability as well as Dean's irresistible allure: "His name is Jim. It's really James but he likes Jim more. And people he really likes, he lets them call him Jamie." We are Plato, intoxicated by the feigning familiarity with a dream just beyond our reach. Dean was Hollywood; a man who defined an era, an industry, a zeitgeist.
Suzhou River (2000) and Zhao Dayong's Street Life (2006), Shanghai has also featured in numerous western productions such as Mission: Impossible III (2006), Skyfall (2012) and Spike Jonze's Her (2013).
Suzanne (2013), is an ambitious attempt to present a good twenty-five years (or perhaps, in greater detail, a decade) of her titular lead character's life into a single ninety-minute feature. Following on from the coming-of-age trials of her debut, Love Like Poison (2010), Suzanne charts the stilted maturation of a flawed young woman. That Quillévéré manages to create an impressively touching dénouement to her latest offering is certainly praise-worthy. What comes before that is, regrettably, somewhat inconsistent with regards to how much it is possible to fully connect with and commit to her selfish heroine.
★★★★☆Following specialist distributor Third Windows' past championing of Shûichi Okita's The Woodsman and the Rain (2011), the director's next equally impressive film The Story of Yonosuke (2013) receives a welcome DVD release this week which will hopefully introduce the filmmaker to a broader audience in the UK. Okita seems to be carving a very specific niche in Japanese cinema, with films focused on downtrodden, marginalised men with identity issues struggling to find their place in contemporary society. Such a premise is nothing new, and to draw attention to such male ineptitude for comedy value is now a staple of male centred Hollywood vehicles for the likes of Seth Rogen.
★★★★☆Tradition and duty are the themes of Fill the Void (2012), a tightly observed family drama and Rama Burshtein's debut feature. Set in a Orthodox Jewish community in Tel Aviv, the film draws a sympathetic portrayal of a young girl Shira (Hadas Yaron) who must come to terms with the sudden death of her sister, Esther (Renana Raz) and the position it puts her in of potentially obeying the imperative of the title and taking her place as her brother-in-law's new wife and step mother to her sister's child. The business of marriage is mediated via a series of match makers and family members and yet below the surface complex emotions are bubbling and Shira's dilemma is further complicated by her own family.
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