UK Cinema Releases: Friday 14th May 2010

Including Robin Hood, American: The Bill Hicks Story and Lebanon


Robin Hood (Universal): The second big release of the summer season sees Ridley Scott reunite with Russell Crowe for a revised take on the Robin Hood story. Set in the 12th century, Robin Hood sees an archer named Robin Longstride (Crowe) returning to England from the Crusades with a small band of followers, after King Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston) has been killed in battle. After a chance encounter with a fallen knight named Sir Robin Locksley, Robin returns to Nottingham and discovers the oppression of the villagers by the Sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew Macfadyen) and the danger posed to the newly crowned King John (Oscar Isaac) from a suspiciously bi-lingual nobleman (Mark Strong).

Different from previous feature films about Robin Hood (The Adventures of Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves) this version has a wider historical scope that is more embedded in the intrigue of the time and has a lavish attention to period detail, even if historians will have a field day picking out inconsistencies and inaccuracies. As you might expect from a Scott production, the technical contributions are generally excellent: but there isn’t much redistribution of wealth going on here as the film is basically an extended origin story. Universal have spent a lot of money making this film and despite a big launch at Cannes this week, the mixed reviews and old fashioned feel of the film may result in relatively disappointing box office. [Empire Leicester Square & Nationwide/ 12A]

* Read my full thoughts on Robin Hood here *


American: The Bill Hicks Story (Verve Pictures): A documentary about the US comedian Bill Hicks, who broke through in the early 1990s before dying at the age of 32 in 1994. A brilliantly perceptive and angry voice against the darker side of American culture, he went on to achieve an enduring posthumous status. Directors Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas using a lot of unseen footage of Hicks in performance and an innovative animated approach that weaves in audio and filmed interviews with his family, friends and colleagues. [Curzon Soho, Greenwich P’House, Odeon Covent Gdn., Ritzy & Key Cities / 15]

Lebanon (Metrodome Distribution): Another Israeli film to deal with the haunting legacy of the first Lebanon War is this claustrophobic drama set inside a tank. Directed by Samuel Maoz, it achieved acclaim on the festival circuit last year, winning the Golden Lion at Venice, and is effective at depicting the tension and paranoia of warfare. That said, the central concept wears off around the hour mark and it lacks the power and style of others films to deal with this material such as Beaufort and Waltz with Bashir. [Coronet, Curzon Soho, Everyman, Ritzy & Key Cities / 15]

Vincere (Artificial Eye): An Italian drama based on the life of Ida Delser, the one time mistress of Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini. [Chelsea Cinema, Curzons Mayfair, Wimbledon, Renoir & Key Cities / 15]

Eyes Wide Open (Peccadillo Pictures): An Israeli drama about a married, Orthodox Jewish father of four (Zohar Strauss) who falls in love with a twenty two year old male student (Ran Danker). Directed by Haim Tabakman. [Apollo Piccadilly Circus, Odeon Panton Street & Key Cities]

Pandora And The Flying Dutchman (Park Circus): A reissue for this 1951 British film starring Ava Gardner and James Mason as an unlikely couple who come together in unusual circumstances. [BFI Southbank & Key Cities / PG]

Petropolis (Dogwoof): A timely release for this short (43 minutes) documentary about the oil business, directed by Peter Mettler. [ICA Cinema]

Triomf (Contemporary Films): A drama about a dysfunctional family in South Africa set on the eve of the historic 1994 elections. Directed by Michael Raeburn and starring Pam Andrews, Obed Baloi and Vanessa Cooke. [Curzon Wimbledon & Ritzy Picturehouse]

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