The Cinema Review: Shrek the Third & Hostel Part II

Shrek the ThirdShrek the Third (PG)

The big green Ogre (voiced by Mike Myers) returns in the third installment of the enormously popular animated series.

This film sees Shrek on a quest to find the true king of Far, Far Away with his trusted sidekicks Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) and Donkey (Eddie Murphy).

But alas, things go wrong as the sequel seems merely content to lazily repeat the same gags. There are still some witty moments but this is disappointing stuff given the quality of the first two films.

Hostel Part 2Hostel – Part II (18)

The sequel to 2005’s enormously profitable low budget horror about backpackers getting tortured in Eastern Europe.

This one has almost exactly the same scenario only this time it is a group of women who are tortured in ever more grisly ways.

Directed by Eli Roth it is a sloppy affair – although the extreme sadism and violence will put off some viewers, the main problem is the lack of genuine scares.

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DVD Pick: H.G. Clouzot Box Set

H.G. Clouzot CollectionHenri-Georges Clouzot is one of the great masters of suspense and Optimum have a new box set out featuring three of his best films: Le Corbeau, Quai Des Orfevres and the enduring classic The Wages of Fear.

Seen by many as the “French Hitchcock”, his reputation rose and fell throughout his 40 year career, but his best work still resonates today.

Clouzot began his film making career as a screenwriter, but it wasn’t until the early 1940’s that he made his mark as a director.

Le Corbeau (1943) is a noir thriller set in a small French town about a spate of poison pen letters. A dark and intriguing drama starring Pierre Fresnay and Ginette Leclerc, it was actually made under the occupation and thus attracted a good deal of controversy.

After the Allied liberation of France in 1944, it sparked a debate: was it a work of resistance or an act of collaboration with the Nazi’s? Today it is a fascinating film precisely because of that dichotomy. However, the furore meant that Clouzot was suspended from film making for two years.

In 1947 he returned with Quai des Orfèvres, another thriller dealing with the dark side of France. A music hall singer (Suzy Delair) is willing to go to any lengths to further her career, much to the chagrin of her husband and manager Maurice (Bernard Blier).

When an admiring businessman is found dead, Maurice become the suspect in an investigation headed by Inspector Antoine (Louis Jouvet). A smart and clever drama, it won at the Venice Film Festival and helped reestablish his career. Released here on DVD for the first time, it has also been remastered.

However, it was with The Wages of Fear (1953) that Clouzot was propelled to international acclaim. Widely regarded as his masterpiece (along with Les Diaboliques) it is a magnificent drama filled with suspense. Based on the novel by Georges Arnaud, it deals with four drivers stuck in a dead end South American town.

When a US oil company offers them $2000 dollars a man to transport a deadly cargo of nitroglycerin across the country they sign up. What follows is a tense and brilliantly constructed thriller exploring the desperation of the drivers who take on the challenge: Yves Montand, Folco Lulli, Peter Van Eyck and Charles Vanel.

The first half of the film sets the scene with a slow but biting precision whilst the grueling second section detailing the drive itself is a full blooded attack on the audiences nervous system. A classic film of its era, it inspired a remake by William Freidkin in 1977 and more recently has even been referenced in modern TV shows such as Lost (a minor, unseen character called “Montand” is named after Yves Montand).

The Henri-George Clouzot Collection is out now from Optimum Home Entertainment

> Buy the DVD box set from Amazon UK
> Find out more about H.G. Clouzot at Wikipedia
> Check out the IMDb entry for H.G. Clouzot





The Cinema Review: Captivity & Lucky You

Captivity posterCaptivity (18)

The career of New York model Jennifer Tree (Elisha Cuthbert) takes a downward turn when she is drugged whilst out at a club. After awaking she finds herself confined to a darkened cell and at the mercy of a ruthless killer.

The latest in a seemingly endless stream of horror films clogging up the multiplexes is a mix of Saw and Hostel in which the central character is tormented by mysterious mastermind. Directed by Roland Joffe (the director behind The Killing Fields and The Mission) it is a passable but derivative concoction.

Like too many horrors out recently it substitutes suspense with gratuitous gore and genuine scares with cheap sadism. Elisha Cuthbert does her best with the material but her character and the villain are too one dimensional for us to really care about their predicament.

Lucky You posterLucky You (PG)

After 2005’s In Her Shoes director Curtis Hanson continues his retreat in to more mainstream films with this amiable but forgettable tale of a poker player (Eric Bana) struggling to cope with relationships and personal demons.

When he goes to Las Vegas for the World Championship, he meets a singer (Drew Barrymore) and she tries to help him resolve his problems. But matters are complicated with a match against his estranged father (Robert Duvall) .

Although the lead performances are agreeable enough this isn’t in the same league as Hanson’s best films (such as LA Confidential, Wonder Boys). Even more incredibly the screenplay is by Eric Roth (The Insider, Forrest Gump) so one can only hope they both get back to more challenging material sooner rather than later.

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To subscribe to The Review Podcast via iTunes just click the image below:

> Download this podcast as an MP3 file (just right click, save as and rename the file)
> Check out the local listings for these films at Google Movies
> Listen to Elisha Cuthbert discuss Captivity on our Interview Podcast