Following on from his disappointing psychoanalysis drama A Dangerous Method (2011) and the overly faithful chamber piece Cosmopolis (2012), fans of Canadian auteur David Cronenberg will be hoping for something of a comeback when Maps to the Stars (2014) potentially hits the Croisette this May. 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 his precocious stint in a drug rehab clinic and is ready to restart his career.
- Andrew Garfield returns as your favourite neighbourhood wall-crawler in The Amazing Spider-Man 2
- Cementing itself as one of this year's best British offerings is hypnotic Tom Hardy drive 'em up Locke
- Punk may be dead, but thankfully no one told Lukas Moodysson and the stars of We Are the Best!
- Only Pierce Brosnan's twinkle-eyed self-parody makes Brit-com The Love Punch remotely watchable
- Ron Burgundy and his news team reassemble for Adam McKay's comedy sequel Anchorman 2
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.
Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013), Abdellatif Kechiche's Couscous (2007) is a film similarly built upon corporeal appetites, with the majority of its runtime spent around the bustling dining table of a Tunisian immigrant family. Flooding the senses with a warm, thematically rich and appetising drama about community and cultural identity, Kechiche's intimate portrait of migrant life in Southern France is a dish to truly savour. Slimane (Habib Boufares) is a 60-year-old Tunisian immigrant living in Séte, a port and seaside resort on the Mediterranean coast with a rich multicultural population.
★★★★☆Cinematic fanaticism has been tackled in factual form before, perhaps most notably in Xan Cassavetes' Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (a title which would equally befit this film). But while the subject of that feature, Jerry Harvey, proved to be a dark and ultimately tragic personality, the legendary lead figure in director Shivendra Singh Dungarpur's fascinating 2012 debut Celluloid Man (released last year in India to tie in with the country's centenary of home-grown cinema) proves to be both a heroic and endearing advocate of film conservation. Indian cinema is a hugely prolific industry, and that was also the case during the silent era, which saw several hundred titles churned out.
Secret Things (2002) and The Exterminating Angels (2006), he's a director adept in sexual boundary pushing and transgressive provocations, poised on the shady precipice between liberation and exploitation. Axiom's rereleases of his earlier films, A Brutal Game (1983) and the Cannes Special Youth Jury Prize winner The Sound and the Fury (1988), certainly bear the hallmarks of what was to come, but they reveal a more expansive director with technical expertise and an original vision.
From acclaimed Studio Ghibli director Isao Takahata and available for the first time on Blu-ray in stunning high-definition, 1994's Pom Poko is at once a unique window into Japanese folklore, a comedy of modern failings and also an elegiac tale of unlikely heroes fighting insurmountable odds. To celebrate the long-awaited Dual Format (DVD and Blu-ray) release of Takahata's Pom Poko Fill the Void this coming Monday (14 April), we have THREE copies of this sumptuous Japanese anime to give away to our Ghibli-grateful UK audience, courtesy of the folks 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.
Having already seen massive success with their Bafta-winning series The Bridge, Borgen and The Killing, Arrow Films are thrilled to announce the imminent home entertainment release of Inspector De Luca, an exciting crime series which will mark the first Italian television show to be released by the new Noir sub-label. To celebrate the DVD release of Inspector De Luca this coming Monday (14 April), we have THREE copies of the Italian period crime series to give away to our army of regular readers, courtesy of the generous team at distributors Arrow 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.
As tense and gripping as many a thriller, Rama Burshtein's Fill the Void (2012) is a breathtaking exploration of the struggle between familial bonds and individual freedoms. The drama has garnered innumerable festival awards, including an seven Israeli Academy Awards as well as the Best Actress prize at the Venice Film Festival (for Hadas Yaron). To celebrate the long-awaited DVD and Blu-ray release of Fill the Void this coming Monday (14 April), we have THREE copies of Burshtein's debut to give away to our worldly readers, courtesy of the fantastic team at distributors 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.
★★★★☆With The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears (2013), their follow-up to 2009's Amer, Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani kick down the doors of perception and let loose with a spectacular work of psychedelic genre pillaging. This is cinematic pilfering with a difference; it's not so much the result of watching a swathe of gialli as it is endless nights spent dreaming about them afterwards. The archive is raided for images, sounds and motifs with fetishistic detail, then reconstructed according to the directors' distinctive kaleidoscopic vision. Cattet and Forzani treat giallo as an elaborate Freudian minefield; a pure cinematic expression of the proximity between sex and death - la petite mort as a dark night of the soul.
★★☆☆☆Around five minutes into Welshman Gareth Evans' The Raid 2 (2014), a door begins to shake. The camera dollies in as the lock starts to fall apart and a cacophony of impending violence builds on the other side. It's a Pandora's box of illicit possibility and, when it finally crashes open, Evans unleashes a tirade of lightening-fast martial arts, bringing us right back to the tight, visceral thrills of the film's 2011 predecessor. But then it stops, and we're sadly faced with a 150-minute gangster film that sags and drags when it should fly. Evans' ambition in both expanding the scope of The Raid and refusing to trade on past glories is laudable, but the shift from lean, self-contained action film to baggy crime epic is fatal.
Let Me In (directed by Matt Reeves) and 2012's Victorian frightener The Woman in Black, the recently revived Hammer return to UK screens with The Quiet Ones (2014), a stylish and ably acted yet ultimately lacklustre psychological horror that's as predictable as it is almost entirely devoid of bona fide scares. Mad Men star Jared Harris heads up the cast as Joseph Coupland, a paranormal expert who believes he can isolate and eradicate negative energy from troubled teen case Jane (Olivia Cooke). The only problem is that his funding has been cut off, leaving him with little choice but to recruit pupils from his lecture group to assist him in his work.
It's not very often that a foreign-language original leaves you hankering for its already announced, big budget US remake. This, sadly, is the case with Norwegian director Erik Skjoldbjærg's surprisingly frothy fourth feature Pioneer (2013). Whilst substantially glossier than his most famous directorial offering to date - the pre-Nolan Insomnia (1997) - there's little of the heart or indeed dramatic tension that made his gloomy detective thriller such a noirish delight. Once again illustrating a preoccupation with hasty cover-ups and morally dubious goings on, Skjoldbjærg's Pioneer aspires to plummet the depths of his nation's collective conscience, but instead reveals itself as a rather shallow pseudo-conspiracy thriller.
A nostalgic throwback to the Satyajit Ray heyday of Indian arthouse - though admittedly lacking much of Ray's sociopolitical spice - Ritesh Batra's The Lunchbox (2013) blends teasing comic romance with a not-unrealistic portrait of modern Mumbai. Irrfan Khan warms the cockles as the retiring (in every sense of the word) office worker picking through the delight-laden lunchboxes that begin to arrive at his desk each day from a mystery cook. Its more vehement critics will predictably decry its middle-class leanings, but as the success of filmmakers like Joanna Hogg and Jon Sanders here in the UK has proven, there is an appetite for stories about pencil-pushers as well as poverty-stricken slumdogs.
The King and the Mockingbird (1980) in a fully restored version after a popular reissue in France last year, offering audiences both old and new the chance to experience a landmark work of sublime hand-drawn animation 28 years in the making. Long considered a masterpiece of the genre, the film is the product of a collaboration between filmmaker Paul Grimault and screenwriter Jacques Prévert who, together in 1947, began loosely adapting Hans Christian Andersen fairytale The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep, though complications arose and an unfinished version was released without their approval.
Frozen (2013) and The Lego Movie (2014) can attest to, animated movies have seldom been more popular than they are today. Though noble in its intentions, Anthony Silverston's Khumba (2013) - the sophomore effort from the Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation Studios - is a substandard digimated excursion that's all the more dissatisfying when compared to the films that inspired it. When young zebra Khumba (voiced by Jake T. Austin) is born with only half of his usual stripes, his superstitious herd believe it to be a bad omen and he is quickly blamed and branded an outcast when a drought falls upon the dazzle's land.
12 Years a Slave's Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Olanna (Thandie Newton) are sat in uncomfortable silence at the dinner table before the quiet is pierced by a question: "Are we still trying to have a child?" This stuffy, uneasy scene - furnished with dialogue awkward and laboured - is regrettably Half of a Yellow Sun (2013) in microcosm. Based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adicie's novel of the same name, Biyi Bandele's stuttering directorial debut is a valiant attempt to navigate a tumultuous period in Nigerian history, but not an enormously successful one. An uneven blend of melodrama and the horrors of civil war, it should be anchored by strong leads but instead remains listless and adrift.
The Guard (2011), John Michael McDonagh reunites with Brendan Gleeson for Calvary (2014) - an acerbic yet wryly humorous study of faith and the vilification of Catholicism that laudably displays the good the bad and the ugly side of organised religion. "That's certainly a startling opening line" ripostes Gleeson's surly father on hearing the declaration that "I first tasted semen when I was seven-years-old," from the individual in his confessional box. This confrontational introduction sets the tone for McDonagh's self-referential black comedy, the line delivered surreptitiously from behind the wooden lattice by Gleeson's future murderer.
Pit Stop, a 1969 collaboration between B-movie king Roger Corman and director Jack Hill (renown primarily for his work across a number of Blaxploitation titles), represents something of a dream pairing for trash cinema aficionados. With its intriguing Faustian-like plot, stunning stock car racing footage and memorable performances, including a young, very beautiful Ellen Burstyn (credited here as Ellen McRae), Pit Stop proves to be a cut about the usual low-grade genre works from that period in US cinema. Weathered James Dean lookalike Richard Davalos plays Rick Bowman, a young tearaway (at 39) who has a penchant for fast cars and a talent for pushing them to their extremes.
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