UK Cinema Releases: Friday 30th July 2010

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NATIONAL RELEASES

The A-Team (20th Century Fox): The movie adaptation of the popular 1980s TV show arrives in the UK after being stuck in development limbo for years. The premise is an updated version of the series with Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley and Quiton Jackson as a special forces unit who are framed for a crime. Directed by Joe Carnahan (Narc, Smokin’ Aces), it also stars Jessica Biel and Patrick Wilson.

On its US opening last month, it opened to less than enthusiastic reviews and softer than expected box office. Given the appeal of the show to a generation who grew up in the 1980s, it could still have a solid opening here but faces tough competition from The Karate Kid and Toy Story 3. [Vue West End & Nationwide / 12A]

The Karate Kid (Sony Pictures): Another franchise forged in the 1980s gets the remake treatment with Jaden Smith (son of Will Smith) playing a young boy from Detroit who moves to China, where he gets lessons in life and self defence from an ageing kung fu master (Jackie Chan).

Although it might seem counterintuitive to have the new Karate Kid learn Kung Fu, the film has already proved a success in the US, where it convincingly beat The A-Team on its opening weekend. Directed by Harald Zwart (who previously made Agent Cody Banks) the family friendly qualities of the film could also make it popular over here too, especially as the school holidays have just begun. [Nationwide / PG]

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ALSO OUT

Beautiful Kate (Matchbox Films): The directorial debut of actress Rachel Ward is an adaptation of the novel by Newton Thornburg and deals with a writer returing home to visit his dying father. It stars Rachel Griffiths, Bryan Brown, Sophie Lowe and Ben Mendelsohn. [Curzon Soho, HMV Wimbledon & Key Cities/ 15]

Down Terrace (Metrodome Distribution): A low budget British crime drama about a dysfunctional family in Brighton. Directed by Ben Wheatley, it stars Julia Deakin, Kerry Peacock, Robert Hill and Robin Hill. [ICA Cinema & selected Key Cities / 15]

Frontier Blues (Artificial Eye): A drama examining the lives of men on border of Northern Iran and Turkmenistan, directed by Babak Jalali and starring Khajeh Araz Dordi, Mahmoud Kalteh and Abolfazl Karimi. [Curzon Renoir & selected Key Cities / 12A]

Gainsbourg (Optimum Releasing): A biopic of the French singer Serge Gainsbourg, which depicts his early years in Nazi-occupied Paris through to his most successful period in the 1960s. Directed by Joann Sfar, it stars Eric Elmosnino, Lucy Gordon, and Laetitia Casta. [Cineworld Fulham Road, Curzon Soho & Nationwide / 15]

Separado! (Soda Pictures): A documentary exploring Gruff Rhys’s attempts to meet up with his lost long Patagonian uncle, the musician René Griffiths. Directed by Dylan Goch. [BFI Southbank, Curzon Soho & Key Cities]

South Of The Border (Dogwoof): Oliver Stone’s latest documentary sees him travel to Venezuela and explore the recent leftward tilt in South American politics. [Odeon Panton Street & Nationwide / 15]

DVD and Blu-ray releases for this week including Picnic at Hanging Rock and Stop Making Sense
Get local cinema showtimes for your area via Google Movies

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Of all the films to come out of the New Wave of Australian cinema in the 1970s, Picnic at Hanging Rock remains one of the most enduring.

A haunting adaptation of Joan Lindsay’s novel, the story is set at a Victorian girls school in Australia which is plunged into shock after some of the pupils go missing on a day trip to a local rock formation known as Hanging Rock.

Part of the appeal is blending of a realistic setting (despite being fiction) with a lyrical presentation, which features some exquisite cinematography by Russell Boyd.

Throughout his career Peter Weir has been a director of rare taste and intelligence and part of the reason this film still fascinates is down to its careful construction.

On paper the story could be a police procedural or even a horror film, but by emphasizing the mystery at the heart of it, Weir crafts a much more compelling tale of repressed emotions set against the sensual force of nature.

It explores similar territory to Nic Roeg’s Walkabout (1971). Both feature a picnic gone wrong in the outback and depict anxious young people on the cusp of adulthood.

But whereas Walkabout stayed mostly in the outback and contrasted two cultures (the native and settler), Picnic mostly focuses on the school as it copes with the emotional fallout from the fateful trip.

It is also reminiscent of Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon: a community of repressed people manifests itself in sinister and mysterious ways, although Weir’s approach is less political and more open ended.

Both films understand that it is the unexplained aspects of a story that can resonate with audiences as they repeatedly fill in the mysterious blanks left unfilled by the narrative.

Of the ensemble cast, Rachel Roberts has the most prominent role as Mrs Appleyard, the stern headmistress, but many of the pupils are equally memorable, especially Miranda (Anne-Louise Lambert), Irma (Karen Robson), Marion (Jane Vallis), Rosamund (Ingrid Mason) and Sara (Margaret Nelson).

The image of Lambert has become indelibly associated with the film, appearing on many of the international posters and also on this Blu-ray release.

Experiencing it in high definition for the first time, the visual look is especially striking, with the colours and locations given a new vibrancy by the new transfer.

Added to this is the improved audio, which adds an extra kick to the unmistakable pan pipe pieces by Gheorghe Zamfir that run throughout the film, along with various classical pieces by Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.

Whether or not you have seen the film before, this is almost certainly the best it has looked since the original cinema release, although it should be noted that this is the ‘Director’s Cut’ Weir sanctioned in the late 1990s for the then DVD release.

Unusually Weir and producer Patricia Lovell opted to take footage out of the theatrical version rather than add it back in. The excised sequences ran to about 14 minutes of footage, most of which happen in the final third of the film.

That said there are plenty of extras included on this disc, most of which have appeared on previous DVD versions but still providing valuable context for first time viewers.

Most prominent is a comprehensive two-hour documentary detailing the production called ‘A Dream Within A Dream’, which features interviews with cast and crew including Peter Weir, Patricia Lovell, Hal & Jim Mcelroy, Cliff Green, Russell Boyd, Bruce Smeaton, Jose Perez, Helen Morse, John Jarratt, Christine Schuler and Anne Louise Lambert.

There is also an on set documentary from 1975 ‘A Recollection: Hanging Rock 1900’ which includes interviews with author Joan Lindsay, Weir and other members of the cast including Rachel Roberts.

One of the aspects of the story that keeps cropping up in the supplementary interviews is whether or not the story was based on real events. It wasn’t but Lindsay and Weir were shrewd in dodging the question for so long as it helped create word of mouth for audiences desperate to know if it was all really true.

Perhaps the best thing that can be said about the Blu-ray of Picnic at Hanging Rock is that it reminds us the hypnotic power of the original film, which remains a classic of Australian cinema.

> Buy Picnic at Hanging Rock on Blu-ray from Amazon UK
> Picnic at Hanging Rock at the IMDb

Inception Timeline Graphic

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If you saw Inception recently and came out of the film wanting to to clarify some aspects of the plot, then this graphic by dehahs at DeviantART visualises the main mission along with the different characters, dreams and kicks.

I would recommend you skip it for now if you haven’t seen the film, but if you have then it is a good starting point for debating aspects of the puzzles Nolan created.

For a larger image click here.

[Via /Film]

> Inception review
> More about the film at Wikipedia

Trailer: Let Me In

Let Me In is a remake of the 2008 Swedish horror film Let the Right One In and is the story of a young boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who develops a friendship with a vampire (Chloë Moretz) in a New Mexico town during the early 1980s.

Directed by Matt Reeves, who made Cloverfield, it co-stars Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas.

It will open in the US on October 1st and in the UK on October 22nd.

> Official site
> Interview with Tomas Alfredson, director of Let the Right One In