UK Cinema Releases: Friday 26th February 2010

[ad]

NATIONAL RELEASES

Everybody’s Fine (Walt Disney): A comedy about a widower (Robert De Niro) setting off on an impromptu trip ride to reunite with each of his grown children.

Arriving from the States with decidedly mixed reviews and tepid box office, this looks to be another sad chapter in the decline of DeNiro from the greatest actor of his generation to a goofy comedy uncle. Another irony of this film is the title – as one of the last films to be produced by Miramax before Disney effectively shut the studio down, everyone was decidedly not fine. [Cineworld Shaftesbury Ave., & Nationwide / 12A]

Extraordinary Measures (Sony Pictures): A drama about a biotechnology executive (Brendan Fraser) whose two young children are afflicted with Pompe disease (acid maltase deficiency) and the research scientist (Harrison Ford) who might have a cure for their rare genetic disorder.

The first film from the newly formed CBS Films (released in the UK by Sony) was a critical and commercial bomb, with some critics saying it sidestepped the glaring issue of medical costs in the US. [Nationwide / PG]

From Paris With Love (Warner Bros.): A thriller set in Paris, involving a young employee in the office of the US Ambassador (Jonathan Rhys-Myers) who hooks up with an American spy (John Travolta) looking to stop a terrorist attack in the city.

Directed by Pierre Morel (who had an unexpected hit last year with Taken) and produced by Luc Besson, it seems likely to have the same formula of mindless action, cheesy dialogue and decent box office. [Nationwide / 15]

Leap Year (Optimum Releasing): A romantic comedy about an American woman (Amy Adams) who travels to Ireland to propose to her boyfriend only to fall for an earthy local (Matthew Goode).

The above trailer is one of the most hideous in recent memory and it looks like all concerned (especially director Anand Tucker, who recently directed the third part of The Red Riding Trilogy) are doing this for commercial rather than creative reasons. Hollywood films set in Ireland usually contain the following cliches: Celtic flutes all over the soundtrack; earthy-but-charming locals who drink Guinness and red headed girls who are persuaded to dance in a pub. This looks like it could tick all those boxes. [Odeon Covent Garden, Vue West End & Nationwide / PG]

The Crazies (Paramount/Momentum): A remake of George A Romero’s 1973 horror about a town which goes crazy (or should that be crazie?) after the water supply has been poisoned by an unknown toxin.

Starring Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell, it looks like it will attract poor reviews but decent initial box office. [Vues Finchley Rd, Fulham Broadway, Cineworld Shaftesbury Ave., & Nationwide / 15]

Capitalism: A Love Story (Paramount/Momentum): The latest documentary from Michael Moore examines the effect of corporate dominance on the everyday lives of Americans, especially in the light of the recent global economic meltdown.

Although the buzz on this film was mixed when it premiered at Venice and Toronto back in the Autumn, it is a more thoughtful film than some critics have given it credit for. The title is misleading as it’s more of a critique against the winner-takes-all capitalism ushered in by the Reagan administration and how the policies under Clinton and Bush have contributed to the current financial crisis. There are some sequences that drag a little, but for the most part it is a thought provoking examination of how we’ve got to where we are as a society. Strangely, it could actually win Moore audiences amongst the right-wing ‘Teabaggers‘ as well as his core liberal audience as his criticisms of the TARP scheme chime in with theirs. [Curzon Soho & Key Cities / PG]

[ad]

ALSO OUT

Micmacs (E1 Entertainment): The latest film from Jean Pierre-Jeunet is a charming and highly inventive caper about a man (Dany Boon) who hooks up with an eccentric group of activists in order to get revenge on two unscrupulous arms dealers.

Despie being a fixture on the festival circuit, I’m surprised there isn’t more buzz about this film because it is one of the most inventive and pleasurable I’ve seen in the last year. It bears more similarities to Jeunet’s earlier work like Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children, but also manages to mix in a powerful social message without being preachy. The technical aspects of the film are a treat to watch and most of the actors (including Jeunet regulars like Dominique Pinon) are excellent in roles which require a great deal of physicality, sometime reminiscent of a Buster Keaton comedy. [C’World Haymarket, Curzons Mayfair, Soho & Nationwide / 12A]

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Park Circus): A BFI reissue for one of the most overrated comedies of all time. [BFI Southbank & Key Cities/ 12A]

Freestyle (Revolver Entertainment): A British film about a poor basketball player (Arinze Kene) who falls for rich girl (Lucy Stanhope) when he coaches her in the art of freestyle (basketball set to music). [London & Key Cities / 12A]

She, A Chinese (Optimum Releasing): Directed by London-based Chinese novelist Xiaolu Guofrom her own book, it is the tale of a young woman (Lu Huang), who travels from a ­remote Chinese village to London, finding that the West is a tougher place than she expected. [ICA Cinema]

Karthik Calling Karthik (Eros); A Bollywood film about a loser whose life is changed with a phone call.

> DVD and Blu-ray Picks for Monday 22nd February including Wings of Desire and M
> Get local cinema showtimes for your area via Google Movies

Steve Jobs and John Lasseter discuss Pixar in 1996

Back in October 1996 Steve Jobs and John Lasseter went on The Charlie Rose Show to discuss Pixar and the future of animated film.

A little bit of background: Jobs bought the animation division of ILM from George Lucas in 1986, renamed it Pixar and in 1995 their first feature length movie Toy Story began an incredible run of acclaimed animated blockbusters; Lasseter was the creative chief who directed A Bug’s Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999) and Cars (2006) whilst also serving as executive producer on Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo(2003) and The Incredibles (2004), Ratatouille (2007) and WALL-E (2008).

The interview is fascinating in retrospect because it was only a few months before Jobs returned to Apple (the computer company he had co-founded in 1976) and began the great renaissance that gave the world the iMac, the iPod and the iPhone.

Just a decade after the following interview was recorded, Pixar was bought by Disney in early 2006 for $7.4 billion – Jobs became the largest individual shareholder and Lasseter was appointed Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Feature Animation.

Watch it in full below:

Tim Berners-Lee on the web he invented

The BBC series The Virtual Revolution aired on BBC2 over the last four weeks and explored the past, present and future of the world wide web.

If you are in the UK, you can watch all four episodes on iPlayer at the links below:

  1. The Great Levelling
  2. Enemy of the State
  3. The Cost of Free
  4. Homo Interneticus

The inventor of the web Tim Berners-Lee was interviewed for the series and in a neat touch the BBC has made available the raw interviews (or ‘rushes’ in film and TV speak) on their website.

Here is some of the interview which covers how people think when using the web; the ‘spirit of the web’; the impact of the web on nation states and web censorship.

Presenter Aleks Krotoski has also compiled a Flickr album of photos from filming the series:

Blu-ray: Wings of Desire

[ad]

After a spell making films in the U.S., director Wim Wenders returned to his native Germany for Wings of Desire (1987), a beautiful meditation on existence in a Berlin that was heading towards the end of the Cold War.

The story follows two angels, Damiel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander) as they observe and listen in on the lives of Berlin’s citizens, most notably a trapeze artist, Marion (Solveig Dommartin) and Peter Falk (playing himself) who is in the city making a film.

Co-written with frequent collaborator Peter Handke, Wenders manages to contrast the poetic ruminations of the angels with the doubts and anxieties of the humans to stunning effect: monochrome is contrasted with colour, the camera goes from the skies above to the streets below and the journey of one of the angels is a touching reversal of what usually happens in these kinds of stories.

Wenders the Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival and the film spawned a decent – though inferior – sequel in 1993 with Faraway, So Close! and a Hollywood remake (City of Angels) which is best left forgotten.

An instant art house hit when it was originally released, the film has gained an extra layer of poignancy given the seismic changes the Berlin it so lovingly documents was about to undergo when the Wall fell in 1989.

This Blu-ray release is a massive improvement on existing DVDs and is a restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by Wenders and the 1080p rendering looks fantastic, with the details and black and white being rendered more faithfully than ever before.

Extra features include:

  • 1080/23.98p 1.66:1 Widescreen (extras in SD PAL format)
  • German 5.1 DTS-HD MA with optional English subtitles
  • Feature-length commentary with Wim Wenders and Peter Falk
  • Deleted scenes with optional commentary
  • ‘Conversations on Wings of Desire’ featurette
  • Trailer
  • Exclusive limited edition 24 page collector’s booklet

Wings of Desire is out on on Blu-ray from Axiom Films

> Buy Wings of Desire on Blu-ray from Amazon UK
> IMDb entry
> Find out more about Wim Wenders at Wikipedia
> Check out screen grabs of the Blu-ray at DVD Beaver