Categories
Cinema

UK Cinema Releases: Friday 13th February 2009

UK Cinema Releases 13-02-09

NATIONAL RELEASES

Notorious (Fox): A¬†biopic¬†about the life of hip hop star¬†Biggie Smalls aka The Notorious B.I.G, sees him played played by newcomer¬†Jamal Woolard. It has a supporting ¬†film that includes¬†Angela Bassett¬†as his mother¬†Voletta Wallace,¬†Derek Luke¬†as¬†Sean Combs,¬†Anthony Mackie¬†as Tupac Shakur, Naturi Naughton¬†as¬†Lil’ Kim¬†and¬†Antonique Smith¬†as¬†Faith Evans. Despite mixed reviews in the US, it earned a respectable gross and looks like it will easily earn back its modest budget in foreign and ancillary markets. [Cert 15 / Vue West End & Nationwide]

Hotel For Dogs (Paramount): Dogs are big business at the box office these days with Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Marley and Me and Bolt proving to be big hits in the States. The latest dog themed film is this¬†adaptation of the¬†Lois Duncan¬†novel¬†about two orphans who take in stray dogs at an empty house. Directed by¬†Thor Freudenthal, it stars¬†Emma Roberts,¬†Jake T. Austin,¬†Lisa Kudrow,¬†Kevin Dillon,¬†Kyla Pratt¬†and¬†Don Cheadle. Paramount will be hoping that it eats into Bolt’s box office, but that could be a big ask given the lack of stars and buzz.¬†[Cert U / London & Nationwide]

The Pink Panther 2 (Sony Pictures): Soon to be an entry in the dictionary of unnecessary sequels is this follow up to the 2006 reboot of The Pink Panther with Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau. Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan appears in the female lead as criminology expert, Sonia, whilst John Cleese replaces Kevin Kline as Chief Inspector Dreyfus. Jean Reno and Emily Mortimer reprising their roles as his partner Ponton and his girlfriend Nicole whilst Andy García and Alfred Molina round out the cast as two detectives. Given that the 2006 film netted Sony an inexplicable $158 million worldwide gross, Sony can expect decent box office from undiscerning audiences. [Cert PG / London & Nationwide]

Friday The 13th (Paramount): Another unnecessary remake (a theme this week) of a famous horror film that looks like it was partly green-lit just so distributors could get a kick out of releasing it on [cue scary music] …Friday the 13th. Directed¬†by¬†Marcus Nispel¬†(who remade the 2003 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) it is a¬†reboot¬†of the¬†Friday the 13th¬†film series, whose last film was the 2003¬†crossover¬†film¬†Freddy vs. Jason. The film stars Derek Mears as¬†Jason Voorhees, with¬†Jared Padalecki¬†and¬†Amanda Righetti¬†portraying the male and female leads. Apparently this one will use elements from the first four film and will involve similar levels of dismemberment. [Cert 18 /¬†Nationwide]

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IN SELECTED CINEMAS

Billu Barber (Eros): A¬†¬†Bollywoodfilm¬†directed by¬†Priyadarshan, which¬†stars¬†Irrfan Khan¬†and¬†Lara Dutta¬†in the lead roles and¬†Om Puri,¬†Rajpal Yadav¬†and¬†Asrani¬†in supporting roles with guest appearances by actresses¬†Kareena Kapoor,¬†Deepika Padukone¬†and¬†Priyanka Chopra. [C’Worlds Feltham, Ilford, Shaftesbury Ave, Odeon Greenwich & Key Cities]

Under The Sea 3D (Imax Corporation): A 3D IMAX documentary that looks at the diverse coastal regions of Southern Australia, New Guinea and the Indo-Pacific areas and the impact of global warming on the oceans. [BFI Imax, Imax Cinemas Greenwich & Wimbledon]

Three Monkeys (New Wave Films): Am acclaimed Turkish film directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan about a driver and his family who are drawn into a web of lies when his employer offers a large monetary reward, on condition that he takes the blame for a hit-and-run.  [Cert 15 / Apollo Piccadilly Circus, NFT, Renoir & Key Cities]

King Of The Hill (El¬†Rey de la monta√Īa)¬†(Optimum Releasing): A Spanish thriller from¬†director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego¬†about two people trying to avoid snipers in a forest.¬†¬†[Cert 15 /¬†ICA Cinema only]

Fuck (ICA Films):¬†A 2005 documentary on the expletive’s origin, why it offends some people so deeply, and what can be gained from its use.¬†[ICA Cinema / Key Cities from March]

> UK Cinema Releases for February 2009
> Get the latest showtimes for your local cinema via Google Movies
> Check out our latest DVD picks (W/C Monday 9th February)

Categories
Cinema Interviews Podcast

Interview: Liam Cunningham on Hunger

Liam Cunningham is one of the actors in the new film Hunger, which deals with the 1981 IRA hunger strike and marks the feature film debut for director Steve McQueen.

Although he only appears in one scene, it is an extraordinary unbroken sequence in which plays a priest who questions Sands about the wisdom of his actions.

The film premiered to great acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival and recently screened at the London Film Festival, which was when I spoke to Liam.

You can listen to it here:

[audio:http://filmdetail.receptionmedia.com/Liam_Cunningham_on_Hunger.mp3]

Download it as a podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

Hunger opens at selected UK cinemas on Friday 31st October

> Download the interview as an MP3 file
> Official UK site for Hunger
> Liam Cunningham at the IMDb
> Read our recent LFF piece on Hunger and a longer review from last month
> Green Cine Daily with the reactions to Hunger at Cannes earlier this year
> Find out more about the 1981 Hunger Strike at Wikipedia

Categories
Cinema

UK Cinema Releases: Friday 24th October 2008

NATIONAL RELEASES

High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Disney): The third part of the Disney TV movie behemoth is all set to storm the UK. If you are over the age of 15 you might not know that this musical is probably the biggest kids phenomenon since, well, the last thing that was really popular.¬†The first two High School Musicals were huge hits on The Disney Channel and became such a phenomenon that they have released this one in cinemas. The plot for all three films revolves around¬†about two¬†high school¬†kids¬†‚Äď Troy Bolton (Zac Efron), captain of the¬†basketball¬†team, and Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens), a shy student who is good at maths and science. When they¬†try out for the lead parts in their high school¬†musical, it all kicks off. This one involves their final or ‘senior’ year (obviously).¬†The Mouse House have made so much money from this franchise already (with lucrative tours and album sales keeping the accountants happy) that a cinema release is a slam dunk. [Cert U]

* Listen to an interview I did with Zac Efron last year for the Hairspray movie * 

Saw V (Lionsgate): In some ways the Saw films are to horror fans what HSM is to younger kids – an emormously profitable franchise that has defied expectations. Only instead of cute people singing in a high school school, these films involve people getting tortured to death in ever more fiendish traps set by the diabolical Jigsaw (Tobin Bell). Although, this wasn’t press screened (as per usual since the second film) my sources inform me that the opening death is ‘a belter’ and that this is more of the same, prompting one to consider the fact that Lionsgate will just keep making these films until audiences get sick of them. Which could be quite some time. Expect this to do solid business. [Cert 18]

* Listen to an interview I did with Tobin Bell about the Saw films in 2006 *

Ghost Town (Paramount): The first proper leading man role for Ricky Gervais in a mainstream¬†Hollywood movie is a smartly written comedy about a grumpy English dentist in New York who starts seeing ghosts after an operation goes wrong. Written and directed by David Koepp (who made the overlooked ghost story Stir of Echoes in 1999, as well as penning blockbusters like Spider-Man and Jurassic Park), it has a neat comic setup, solid supporting performances from Greg Kinnear and Tia Leoni and some surprisingly touching moments. It has picked a tough week to come out though with the kids seeing HSM3 and the lads gearing up for Saw V, so it will be an interesting test of Ricky Gervais’ ability to open a movie like this. The fact that his persona in the film is very similar to the one in The Office and Extras may or may not be a hindrance. Good but not great box office could await. [Cert PG]

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IN SELECTED RELEASE

Incendiary (Optimum): An adulterous English mother (Michelle Williams) has her life torn apart when her husband and infant son are killed in a suicide bombing at a football stadium. Ewan MacGregor co-stars as a journalist, Matthew Macfadyen plays a dectective and it is directed by Sharon Maguire. [Selected cinemas nationwide / Cert 15]

Blessed¬†(Independent Distribution): This low budget drama stars¬†James Nesbitt, Natascha McElhone and Gary Lewis in a tale of a¬†city trader who’s life changes when he moves to a remote island. [Independently distributed at the Clapham Picutrehouse and the Rex Berkhamstead / Cert U]¬†

A Bloody Aria (ICA Films): A 2006 Korean film about opera student (Cha Ye-ryeon), who is riding in the passenger seat of a new car of a powerful older man (Lee Byeong-sun). After a serious altercation they find themselves in a remote location surrounded by hostile locals. [ICA Cinema & Key Cities / Cert TBC]

Chocolate (Showbox Entertainment): A drama¬†An autistic woman with powerful martial art skills looks to settle her ailing mother’s debts by seeking out the ruthless gangs that owe her family money.¬†[ICA Cinema / Cert¬†18]

Heroes (Eros): A Bollywood film directed by¬†Samir Karnik¬†and starring¬†Salman Khan. [C’Worlds Feltham, Ilford, Shaftesbury Ave, Vue O2, Odeon G’wich & Key Cities / Cert 12A]

Outlanders (Miracle Comms): A low budget drama about a young Pole joins his brother in London, only to be sucked in to covering up a crime. [Apollo West End / Cert 15]

Quiet Chaos (New Wave Films): A look at the strange bereavement behavior of an Italian executive, based on a novel by Sandro Veronesi and starring Nanni Moretti and Valeria Golino. [Apollo West End, Curzon Mayfair, Gate, Everyman & Key Cities / Cert TBC]

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If you have any questions about this week’s cinema releases or any upcoming titles then just email me or leave a comment below.

> Get local showtimes for a cinema near you via Google Movies (just enter your local postcode)
> Check our latest DVD picks for this week (From Monday 20th October 2008)

Categories
Cinema cinema releases

UK Cinema Releases: Friday 17th October 2008

NATIONAL RELEASES

Burn After Reading (Universal): After the Oscar winning triumph of No Country For Old Men, the Coen Brothers return to more comic ground with this tale of a demoted CIA agent (John Malkovich) who loses the manuscript to his memoirs and then gets blackmailed by two clueless gym workers (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt). George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins and J.K. Simmons round out an impressive cast but this is actually a very quirky and mannered comedy. Critical reaction was mixed when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival and there is no doubt that some will find it a chilly, even condescending, film with its characters nearly all appearing to be either stupid, vain or clueless. I have to say that I found much of it a welcome satire on the unapologetic idiocy of the Bush era, with some excellent comic performances. Universal will be hoping for a repeat of the US box office performance, in which the starry cast helped sell what is actually quite an uncommercial film in many respects. [Cert 15 / Empire Leics Sq & Nationwide]

Eagle Eye¬†(Paramount): Director D.J Caruso and Shia LeBeouf team up again after the success of Disturbia, which was essentially a teen version of Hitchcock’s Rear Window. I’m not sure if there is some kind of Hitchcock fetish at DreamWorks because this appears to be a reworking of North by Northwest. It also has elements of Enemy of the State and involves LeBeouf as a young man on the run from shady government forces after he gets framed for a crime. Although the pace and action are slickly handled it doesn’t help that most of the action is utterly preposterous. Although ’24’ creates a world in which computers can seemingly do anything at any given moment, this film takes that concept to new levels of incredulity. However Paramount can expect brisk business given the rising star of Shia LeBeouf and the slick, undemanding nature of the film. ¬†[Cert 12A / Vue West End & Nationwide]

Igor¬†(Momentum): This animated film about a lowly lab assistant named Igor (voiced by John Cusack) who dreams of becoming a scientist didn’t exactly hit the mark at the US box office last month. Directed by Anthony Leondis (the man behind straight-to-DVD animated sequels like The Emperor’s New Groove 2: Kronk’s New Groove and Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch) this doesn’t look like it will have much of an impact in the UK. Momentum will be hoping for the half term family crowd to check it out before recouping their money in DVD and ancillary markets. [Cert PG / Vue West End & Nationwide / Opened in Scotland on Friday 10th October]

The Rocker (Fox): This comedy about an unsuccessful drummer (Rainn Wilson) who is given a second chance at fame bombed at the US box office last month and looks like having similar prospects here. Directed by Peter Cattaneo, whose came to fame with The Full Monty in 1997, it also stars Christina Applegate and Will Arnett. Fox will be hoping that that their promotional activities for this might yield audiences hungry for a broad comedy (after all if The House Bunny can top the UK charts like it did last week, there is hope) but surely a film like this needs a clever concept (e.g. The 40 Year Old Virgin) or a big star? [Cert 12A / Odeon Leicester Square & Nationwide]

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IN SELECTED RELEASE

La Zona (Soda Pictures): A Mexican thriller from director Rodrigo Plá that explores the social divisions in modern Mexico. Soda Pictures will be pleased at the positive critical reviews and word of mouth and hoping for some decent art house action. [Cert 15 / Key Cities]

Young @ Heart (Yume Pictures): A documentary from director Stephen Walker about the Young@Heart Chorus, an elderly singing group in Massachusetts, who cover rock songs by The Clash, Nirvana and Coldplay. Yume Pictures will be hoping solid reviews and good word of mouth will get curious audiences in to see this. [Cert PG / Curzon Soho, Greenwich P/House & Key Cities / Opens in Scotland on Friday 24th October]

Afro Saxons (Chocolate Films): A new indie documentary that follows several hair stylists as they enter the Black Beauty and Hair awards Рthe biggest Afro hair competition in the UK. Chocolate Films will be aiming for word of mouth and a decent per-screen average. [Cert 15 / Peckham M/Plex, S/Case Wood Green, Ritzy & Tricycle]

Free Jimmy (Break Thru Films): A curious animated film about four stoners, five vegans, three mobsters, four hunters and a million reasons to free one junkie elephant. A cult hit in Norway (it is actually 2 years old) that has been revoiced and repackaged for the UK market. [Cert 15 / Showcase Newham & Selected Key Cities]

Sisterhood (Blue Dolphin) An indie film from director Richard Wellings-Thomas about a woman having an affair with someone in Chelsea. It would be fair to say commercial prospects for this release from Sisterhood Film and Blue Dolphin are limited. [Cert 15 / Odeon Panton Street & selected cinemas]
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If you have any questions about this week’s cinema releases or any upcoming titles then just email me or leave a comment below.

> Get local showtimes for a cinema near you via Google Movies (just enter your local postcode)
> Check our latest DVD picks for this week (From Monday 13th October 2008)

Categories
Cinema cinema releases

UK Cinema Releases: Friday 10th October 2008

NATIONAL RELEASES

City Of Ember: With the half term holidays upon us this fantasy movie is being positioned as the family film to go and see. Adapted from a 2003 novel by Jeanne Duprau, it is the story of two children (Saoirse Ronan and Harry Treadaway) battling to save the underground city they live in. Directed by Gil Kenan, it was also produced by Tom Hanks. Entertainment will be hoping a stellar supporting cast, which includes Bill Murray, Toby Jones and Tim Robbins, plus the family appeal at half-term will propel this to the Number 1 slot. [Nationwide / Cert PG]

The House Bunny: This comedy starring¬†Anna Faris¬†as a Playboy bunny girl¬†who gets kicked out of the Playboy Mansion did fairly good business in the US but might have more limited appeal here. Despite Faris having an engaging presence the absence of laughs and the US-centric setting of university life (does anyone in UK know what¬†sorority girls¬†are? Directed by¬†Fred Wolf¬†and written by¬†Legally Blonde¬†screenwriters¬†Kirsten Smith¬†and¬†Karen McCullah Lutz¬†it may have more of a shelf life on DVD.¬†Sony will be hoping for teen girls and ‘curious’ males, plus the light appeal of this film to get it into the top three. [West End & Nationwide / Cert 12A]

Mirrors:¬†This horror film about¬†a night watchman (Kiefer Sutherland) who is haunted by erm…, mirrors co stars¬†Paula Patton¬†and is directed by¬†Alexandre Aja, the Frenchman behind Switchblade Romance and the recent The Hills Have Eyes remake. Fox will hope that horror fans will turn out for this despite a critical mauling in the US, the absence of any big stars and a general aura of fatigue surrounding US remakes of Asian horror movies. Most of the profits look certain to come from foreign and ancillary markets.¬†[Vue West End & Nationwide / Cert 15]

Nights In Rodanthe:¬†Richard Gere¬†and¬†Diane Lane¬†team up again for this adaptation of the novel by¬†Nicholas Sparks¬†about a¬†doctor stops at an inn in North Carolina and has a ‘life-changing romance’ with an unhappily married woman. Heavily marketed to appeal to the female viewers who lapped up previous Sparks adaptations like¬†The Notebook¬†and¬†Message in a Bottle, this¬†could surpass expectations at the box office despite some poor US reviews. [Nationwide / Cert PG]

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IN SELECTED RELEASE

Gomorrah:¬†Unqustionably the best film of the week – if not the year so far – is this stunning adaptation of Roberto Saviano’s best-selling book about the criminal organisation in southern Italy known as¬†the Comorrah. Directed by Matteo Garrone, it interweaves fives stories (based on true life tales) of people affected by the crime, corruption and poverty around¬†Naples. Shot in a docu-drama style there isn’t a false note in the film and it forms a welcome counterblast to the glamorous depictions of the mafia on the big screen. It has got rave reviews since it premiered at Cannes earlier this year and Optimum will be hoping for solid art-house business around the country.¬†[Barbican, Curzon Soho, Odeon Covent Gdn, Renoir & Nationwide / Cert 15]

* Listen to our interview with director Matteo Garrone about Gomorrah *

Bigga Than Ben: Low budget tale of¬†two self-confessed ‘pieces of Moscow scum’ who come to London to rip it off.¬†¬†[Apollo West End, Tricycle Kilburn, Dublin, Edinburgh & Manchester / Cert 15]

Gunnin For That #1 Spot: Documentary by founding Beastie Boy Adam Yauch about eight of the U.S.’s top high school basketball players competing in the first “Elite 24” tournament at Rucker Park.¬†[Diffusion Pictures [The Ritzy / Cert¬†12A]

Mutant Chronicles: A sci-fi action movie about 23rd century soldier Major Mitch Hunter (Thomas Jane) leads a fight against an army of underworld NecroMutants. [Nationwide/ Cert 18]

Tu£sday: British film about 3 groups of people who decide to rob the same bank on the same day. [Vue Shepherds Bush & Bury only / Cert 15]

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If you have any questions about this week’s cinema releases or any upcoming titles then just email me or leave a comment below.

> Get local showtimes via Google Movies (just enter your local postcode)
> Check our latest DVD picks and the other releases this week (From Monday 6th October 2008)

Categories
Interviews Podcast

Interview: Matteo Garrone on Gomorrah

Matteo Garrone is the director of Gomorrah, a new film based on the best selling book by Roberto Saviano.

It explores the world of the Comorrah, the mafia-like organisation based around the city of Naples in Southern Italy.

The film follows five stories that are based on real life accounts:

  • A young boy named¬†Toto (Salvatore Abruzzese) who is slowly sucked into the world of drug dealers near his housing estate
  • An elderly accountant named Don Ciro (Gianfelice Imparato) who acts as a courier for the relatives of imprisoned gang members
  • A tailor named¬†Pasquale (Salvatore Cantalupo) who endangers himself by trying to work for new company that isn’t controlled by organised crime
  • A university graduate named¬†Roberto (Carmine Paternoster) who starts working for a toxic waste company that has ties to criminal gangs
  • Two unruly young men called Marco (Marco Macor) and Ciro (Ciro Petrone) who fantasise about being mobsters when they uncover a stash of weapons.

I recently spoke to Matteo in London where we discussed various aspects of the film, including: his initial reaction to the book; how he approached casting the various roles; the issues the film raises about contemporary Italy; the reaction at the Cannes film festival back in May and the music in the film by Massive Attack.

N.B. Although Matteo conducted the interview in English, we had an interpreter handy for those trickier phrases and words.

You can listen to the interview here:

[audio:http://filmdetail.receptionmedia.com/Matteo_Garrone_on_Gomorrah.mp3]

You can also download it as a podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

Gomorrah is out at UK cinemas from this Friday

> Download this interview as an MP3 file
> Matteo Garrone at the IMDb
> Official UK website for Gomorrah
> GreenCine Daily with links to the various reactions to the film at Cannes
> Find out more about the Comorrah at Wikipedia
> Guardian feature on the film by Clare Longrigg
> Buy Roberto Saviano’s book at Amazon UK

Categories
Cinema Interviews Podcast

Interview: Tarsem Singh on The Fall

The Fall is the story of an injured stuntman (Lee Pace) in the early days of Hollywood who forms a friendship in hospital with a younger girl (Catinca Untaru) by telling her a fantasy story, which we then see in flashback.

Directed by Tarsem Singh, who’s previous work includes The Cell and numerous award winning commercials and music videos, it was largely funded out of his own pocket and took many years to make.

I recently spoke to Tarsem in London about the film and you can listen to the interview here:

[audio:http://filmdetail.receptionmedia.com/Tarsem_Singh_on_The_Fall.MP3]

You can also download it as a podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

N.B. We conducted the interview in a hotel with a rather loud swimming pool in the background, so apologies for the background noise.

The Fall is out at selected UK cinemas from today

> Download this interview as an MP3 file
> Official site for The Fall and the IMDb entry
> Tarsem Singh at the IMDb
> Check out the R.E.M video for Losing My Religion which Tarsem directed in 1991
> Find a local cinema showing The Fall via Google Movies

Categories
Cinema cinema releases

UK Cinema Releases: Friday 3rd October 2008

NATIONAL RELEASES

How To Lose Friends And Alienate People: Paramount will be expecting this adaptation of Toby Young‘s bestselling memoir about his time at Vanity Fair magazine in the 90s to bag the top spot. On the surface it has many things going for it: an impressive cast (Simon Pegg,¬†Kirsten Dunst,¬†Jeff Bridges,¬†Danny Huston, and¬†Megan Fox); a timely appeal (although inspired by the craziness of 90s celebrity culture, things have actually got worse);a director from a great TV show (Robert B. Weide¬†of¬†Curb Your Enthusiasm¬†fame) and it will appeal to male and female audiences. The problem it faces is that given all the elements in it’s favour, the finished film is not as funny or clever as it should have been, so word of mouth and critical buzz won’t be that good. Despite that, the appeal of Simon Pegg is a major plus point – if he can help a comedy like Run Fat Boy Run top the UK charts for a month then he might very well have a similar effect on this film. Added to that the rise of Megan Fox should give a similar bump to its US prospects. Anything outside the box office top two would have to be considered a major disappointment. [Vue West End & Nationwide / Cert 15]

* Listen to our interview with Simon Pegg and Robert B Weide * 

Brideshead Revisited: Aimed squarely at lovers of period costume drama, this adaptation of¬†Evelyn Waugh‚Äôs¬†classic 1945¬†novel of the same name.¬†It faces a number of challenges, most notably in the looming ghost of the famous 1981 TV adaptation (screened on ITV, believe it or not). The other problem is one of costume fatigue, as this is just three weeks after Kiera Knightley swanned around country houses in The Duchess. Plus, Walt Disney will be concerned about it’s underwhelming performance at the US summer box office which practically killed it’s awards buzz and have dampened expectations here. But despite all this, it is actually rather good. By compressing the story of a young Englishman (Matthew Goode) who becomes involved with an aristocratic family, it not only covers all of the novel’s themes (the decline of the English aristocracy; faith and atheism; love and duty) but gives them a renewed power and urgency. The performances are all fine (especially Emma Thompson as the domineering matriarch) and the feel of the film is surprisingly contemporary despite the period setting. [Odeon Leicester Square & Nationwide / Cert 12A]

* Listen to our interview with Matthew Goode and Hayley Atwell * 

88 Minutes: Back in Cannes 2007 (that’s nearly 18 months ago) I walked past a poster for this Al Pacino thriller which said it would be opening there that week. So why, you may ask, is this film opening here just one 7 days after his misguided team up with fellow icon Robert De Niro (the lumbering cop thriller¬†Righteous Kill). Well, the answer is that this is an another film produced by Avi Lerner – an expert (it seems) at getting big stars to sign up for genre films that are then sold off to gullible distributors around the world. This is just such a project, a hacky thriller about a¬†forensic psychiatrist (Pacino) who gets a phone call informing him he has 88 minutes to live. Directed by Jon Avnet (who also made Righteous Kill) it represents a new low for Pacino with it’s laughable dialogue, terrible plotting and bizarre Cique-du-Soleil-esque climax.¬†Warner Bros are the UK distributors will presumably be hoping that either undemanding thriller aficionados or unsuspecting Al Pacino fans will be the ones to witness this dreck. [Apollo West End & Nationwide / Cert 15]

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IN SELECTED RELEASE

The Fall: This remarkable visual feast from director Tarsem Singh originally screened at the Toronto Film Festival in 2006 and finally makes it to the UK a full two years later. It is the story of a stuntman (Lee Pace) in the early days of Hollywood and the stories he tells to a little girl, which are then shown in fantasy sequences. Funded by Tarsem’s own work in commercials and a lot of favours from former colleagues, the locations for the film span the globe and although the story doesn’t always work, it really is worth seeing for the extraordinary images. Momentum will be hoping curious cineastes and more discerning audiences check it out on a cinema screen, which is where any true film fan should see it. [Curzon Soho, Ritzy, P’House Greenwich & selected Key Cities / Cert 15]

Fear(s) Of The Dark: Metrodome will be hoping for some art house action from this patchwork of tales using different black-and-white animation techniques tell several scary stories. They include: a story of a teenage boy who meets the wrong girl; a small community where people disappear and are never seen again; a little Japanese girl who suffers from horrible nightmares.  [Odeon Panton St, Ritzy & selected Key Cities / Cert 12A]

Fly Me To The Moon 3D: Aside from The Fall, Momentum will also be releasing this 3D family movie about three young houseflies stow away aboard the Apollo 11 flight to the moon. The synposis alone should tell you this isn’t going to be 2001: A Space Odyssey.¬† [Vue West End & Key Cities / Cert U]

Good Dick: The title of this one could mean all manner of things but is actually a comedy drama about a lonely introverted girl and a young video store clerk vying for her attention. The Works are releasing this in selected cinemas nationwide but the cinema run looks more like a dummy run for the DVD sales. [Odeon Panton St, Ritzy & selected Key Cities РDublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow / Cert 15 ]

Heavy Load: A documentary charting a year in the life of the punk band, Heavy Load, whose members include some musicians with learning disabilities. Met Film/Miracle give it a limited run at the ICA in London [ICA Cinema РPreviews 1st Oct / Cert 12A]

Import/Export: A grim but critically acclaimed drama about a nurse from the Ukraine who is searching for a better life in the West, while an unemployed security guard from Austria heads East for the same reason. Trinity Filmed Entertainment will be hoing for respectable for niche arthouse business. [ICA Cinema, Barbican Cinema & Select Key Cities / Cert 15]

Drona: An Indian film who’s central character¬†is inspired by the character of Dronacharya from epic Mahabharata of Hindu mythology. Dronacharya is the guru or mentor of Kauravas and the Pandavas in the epic, and is well-known for his skill in advanced military.¬†Eros release it in key cities. [C’worlds Shaftesbury Ave & Feltham, Odeon Greenwich & Key Cities]

How Ohio Pulled It Off: Mercury Media release this timely documentary chronicling elections from 2004 to 2006 in the bellwether state of Ohio.¬†[P’Houses Clapham & Greenwich, Ritzy, Screen On Green & Nationwide]

Kidnap: Studio 18 release this film starring Sanjay Dutt as a father whose daughter is kidnapped and the story follows his struggle to get her back. [Nationwide / Cert 12A]

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If you have any questions about this week’s cinema releases or any upcoming titles then just email me or leave a comment below.

> Get local showtimes via Google Movies (just enter your local postcode)
> Check our latest DVD picks and the other releases this week (From Monday 29th September 2008)

Categories
Cinema Trailers

Afro Saxons

Afro Saxons is a new documentary that follows several hair stylists as they enter the Black Beauty and Hair awards Рthe biggest Afro hair competition in the UK.

There is Angela,¬†a braid stylist to the stars;¬†Wayne and Cyndia, the leading junior stylists at the UK’s biggest chain of Afro hair salons; George and Apple, a Thai couple obsessed with Afro hair; and Michael, Birmingham’s leading Afro stylist who is out to beat the all-powerful London salons.

Afro Saxons opens at selected UK cinemas on Friday 17th October

> Official site for Afro Saxons
> Find out more about local screenings of the film
> Official MySpace page and YouTube channel for the film

Categories
Cinema cinema releases

UK Cinema Releases: Friday 26th September 2008

NATIONAL RELEASES

Righteous Kill (Lionsgate UK): Although there will be considerable interest in seeing Robert De Niro and Al Pacino team up for the first time since Heat (1995), I would be surprised if this routine cop thriller does any real business outside of the opening weekend. The two stars play veteran New York cops on the trail of a killer but the hacky direction and plodding narrative make it a dull experience. This is all a great shame as the two screen icons at the centre of it all have only shared a few minutes together on screen in Heat and were in separate stories in The Godfather II. Here it is sad to see them wasted in such an average film and I expect it will only do moderate  box office numbers for Lionsgate once the negative reviews and word-of-mouth pile up. [Cert 15 / Nationwide]

Taken (Fox): Liam Neeson stars in this Luc Besson produced thriller as an ex-CIA agent who goes after his daughter when she is kidnapped in Paris. The fact that this came out in France back in February – and doesn’t come out in the US until next year – might have signalled problems but despite being an older version of Jason Bourne, Liam Neeson’s character is actually fun to watch as he wreaks havoc against all manner of sleazy types in Paris (who are presented in a massively un-PC light). There are some weak spots but this is a well paced, crowd-pleasing thriller that could earn a tidy sum for Fox. [Cert 15 / Nationwide]

Death Race (Universal): This loose remake of Roger Corman’s Death Race 2000 sees Jason Statham as a convict in a futuristic prison forced by the warden (Joan Allen) to participate in a death race involving souped up armed cars. Although, a lot of it is fairly mindless, the actual death races themselves are well done and there is a certain gritty charm to the look of the film. However, things like plot and character are not the strong points here. Universal will be hoping the car/action angle will entice male audiences away from Taken, so it will be interesting to see how they fare against one another. [Cert 15 / Nationwide]

Swing Vote (Delanic Films): This political comedy stars Kevin Costner as an Average Joe single father in New Mexico, who by an improbable series of events, comes to be the swing voter in the US general election. With an impressive cast including Paula Patton, Kelsey Grammer, Dennis Hopper and Nathan Lane this is actually not that bad, with some intelligent digs at the US political process. The problem it has is twofold: 1) It died at the US box office, which suggests the same will be true here, and 2) The real US election is far more entertaining. The marketing and awareness factor for this film appears close to zero, which is eerily reminiscent of it’s US release, which appears to suggest it will get voted out of cinemas rather quickly. [Cert 12A / Nationwide]

Appaloosa (Entertainment): Based on the 2005 novel by Robert B. Parker, this western centres around a  lawman (Ed Harris) and his sidekick (Viggo Mortensen), who are hired to defend a lawless town from a murderous rancher (Jeremy Irons). Renée Zellweger rounds out an impressive cast but given the lack of awareness and the poor track record of Westerns at the UK box office, this faces an uphill task to make decent box office for Entertainment.  [Cert 15 / Entertainment]

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IN SELECTED RELEASE

I’ve Loved You So Long (Lionsgate UK): Although it will be getting a selected opening around the country, this is easily the pick of the week’s cinema releases. Kristin Scott Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein play two sisters who reconnect with one another after a prolonged absence and the result is a rich and deeply satisfying emotional drama. Scott Thomas is almost certainly a contender for end of year awards and Zylberstein is almost as good. Try to avoid reviews which give too much of the plot away and experience this gem with as little plot information as possible.¬† [Cert 12A / Key Cities]

Redbelt (Sony Pictures): David Mamet wrote and directed this drama starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert who comes across a popular actor (Tim Allen) and a legion of Hollywood folk before realising he has been the victim of a con. [Cert 15]

Alexandra (Artificial Eye): This story about a mother who goes to see her son at a military outpost during the Second Chechen War, was written and directed by Alexander Sokurov (who made the one-take 2004 film  Russian Ark). [Cert PG / Key Cities / Opens in Ireland on October 3rd)

The Foot Fist Way (Momentum Pictures): Made for just $70,000, this cult comedy sees Danny R. McBride play a deluded martial arts instructor. Well done for the budget in which it was made, it seems likely to find more of an audience on DVD. [Cert 12A / Key Cities]

Steep (Metrodome): An IMAX run for this documentary which traces the legacy of extreme skiing from its early pioneers to the daredevils of today. [Cert PG / BFI Imax]

A Matter Of Life And Death (bfi Distribution): A BFI re-release for this classic from the writer-director-producer team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger which sees David Niven as a British World War II Royal Air Force pilot who forms an unlikely relationship with an American radio operator (Kim Hunter) based in England. [Cert U / BFI Southbank & Key Cities]

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If you have any questions about this week’s cinema releases or any upcoming titles then just email me or leave a comment below.

> Get local showtimes via Google Movies (just enter your local postcode)
> Find out about films showing near you at MyFilms

Categories
Cinema Thoughts

I’ve Loved You So Long: A moving drama of sisterly love

I’ve Loved You So Long is an intelligent and beautifully crafted portrayal of family love which¬†revolves around two sisters named Juliette (Kristin Scott Thomas) and Lea (Elsa Zylberstein), who reconnect with one another after a prolonged absence.¬†

To say too much about the plot would be to spoil the cleverly constructed narrative which gradually reveals their past and the reasons as to why they have been separated for so long. 

Writer and director Philippe Claudel is better known as a novelist in his native France and this also shares many of the pleasures of well written fiction: nuanced characters, slow burning emotions and a real sense of the complexities of human relationships. 

This is a film in which a lot of characters spend a lot of time in rooms talking about themselves, but at the same time manages to burrow deeply into the tangled emotions of it’s protagonist.¬†

Much of the power comes from two marvellous central performances and Scott Thomas proves what a captivating screen presence with what is arguably the role of her career so far. 

Since coming to prominence in the 90s with films like Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) and The English Patient (1996), she seemed to get typecast in one dimensional roles as an upper-crust ice queen whether it was middlebrow disappointments (Random Hearts, The Horse Whisperer) or in period pieces (Up at the Villa, The Other Boleyn Girl). 

Her work on stage Рnotably in Chekhov productions like Three Sisters and The Seagull Рdemonstrated that she had much more range and ability than some of her screen performances suggested, so it is gratifying to see her grapple with such a juicy part and take it to another level. 

Credit must also go to Claudel for the way in which he has captured the small but subtle details that gradually reveal her character: the silence as she sits alone in a cafe, the wetness of her hair or even the way she smokes a cigarette. 

Zylberstein, in a more straightforward role, also impresses as th younger sister. It isn’t always easy to portray a humane and loving person on screen without resorting to clunky sentimentality but her she does fine work in creating a character who – like the audience – goes on a journey of discovery about her enigmatic sister.¬†

Since screening at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals a few weeks ago, this film has had a good deal of awards buzz and deservedly so. 

Although it’s status as a foreign film might be a handicap – especially when faced with heavily marketed awards bait from the likes of Miramax and Fox Searchlight¬†– this richly deserves to be recognised for the sheer excellence of it’s writing and acting.

I’ve Loved You So Long opens in selected UK cinemas from this Friday¬†

> I’ve Loved You So Long at the IMDb
> Trailer for the film
> Kristin Scott Thomas at Wikipedia
> Critical reation to the film from Kim Voynar at Cinematical, Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere, Jonathan Romney in Screen International and Derek Elley in Variety
> Awards buzz for the film at In Contention
> Profile of Scott Thomas in The Times

Categories
Cinema Podcast Reviews

The Cinema Review: Tropic Thunder / Linha De Passe

This week on the review podcast we examine Tropic Thunder and Linha De Passe.

[audio:https://www.filmdetail.com/podcast/get.php?fla=podcast-2008-09-19-32040.mp3]

Download and subscribe to the review podcast via iTunes by clicking here

> Download this review as an MP3 file
> Tropic Thunder and Linha De Passe and at the IMDb
> Get showtimes for these films at your local cinema via Google Movies

Categories
Cinema cinema releases

UK Cinema Releases: Friday 5th September 2008

NATIONAL RELEASES

Rocknrolla (15) Although director Guy Ritchie plumbed the depths with his last two movies (Revolver and Swept Away ), Warner Bros will be aiming for this London-set gangster caper to signal redemption for the British director. Despite a spaghetti-shaped narrative and too many cockney gangsterisms, this is a deliberate throwback to the subject and style of Ritchie’s earlier work like Lock, Stock… and Snatch. Some of it feels strangely dated but for the most part it is watchable, has an impressive cast (including Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Toby Kebbell, Thandie Newton & Mark Strong) and goes into the weekend as the box office favourite.

The Duchess (12A): Pathe will be hoping that a period costume drama starring Kiera Knightley as an unhappy 18th century aristocrat (Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire) will tempt the female and highbrow audiences. The recent faux-controversy about Princess Diana being used to market the film (the main character is distantly related to her) seems a little stage managed, but the main problem this film has is that, despite some decent production values and competent performances, it is essentially a TV costume drama with a more handsome budget. Although Knightley has become a big star (mainly down to the Pirates franchise), she has yet to really prove herself as someone who can open a movie. Despite the presence of Ralph Fiennes in a key supporting role, this will be an interesting test of a film heavily marketed on her pulling power alone.

Bangkok Dangerous (18): The Pang Brothers remake their own 1998 thriller stars Nicolas Cage as a hit man in Bangkok. Entertainment will be hoping action fans will turn out for this one, but given the lack of buzz, a key change to the original film and wildly erratic career of Cage it is difficult to gauge how this one will do. I imagine the target audience at the multiplex will opt to choose Rocknrolla, if their girlfriends haven’t already dragged them to The Duchess. It opens in the US today as well, although I suspect if it does any real box office it will be in foreign and ancillary markets.

Disaster Movie (12A): One can only hope that the US box office failure of this spoof will signal justice for the cinematic crimes Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer have inflicted upon audiences. In case you are unaware, they are the team behind a series of wildy unfunny – but bafflingly successful – comedies such as Date Movie, Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans. The formula is to just spoof recent hits at the box office along a certain theme. However, the cycle now looks in trouble as last week potential viewers might have found the release of this film on the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to be a little too much. Momentum will be hoping less discerning viewers see it or at least buy the DVD in the near future.

IN SELECTED RELEASE

El Cantante (15): Revelation Films are the UK distributor for this film based on the life story of salsa singer Héctor Lavoe (who is played in the film by Marc Anthony). The main point of interest from a commercial viewpoint is that Jennifer Lopez starred and produced in it, but it gets a release two years after premiering at the Toronto Film Festival and a full year after bombing at the US box office to mixed reviews. Given the dramatic decline of Lopez as a box office star and the niche appeal of the story, it is hard to see this doing any real business. [Opens in Select Key Cities]

Never Apologise (15): Verve Pictures give a limited release for this documentary about director Lindsay Anderson, who made such films as This Sporting Life (1963), If…. (1968) and O Lucky Man! (1973). It is narrated by Malcolm McDowell, who was a friend and collaborator. [Opens at the Curzon Soho & selected Key Cities]

Sweet Land (PG): Revelation Films release this 2005 independent film about a woman who travels from Germany to Minnesota in order to meet the man destined to be her husband. [Opens in Select Key Cities]

Mera Pind – My Home (U): Adlabs release this film centered around a Punjabi village, starring Navjot Singh Sidhu and Harbhajan Mann. [Opens at C’Worlds Feltham, Ilford, Staples Corner, Wood Green & Nationwide]

> Get local showtimes via Google Movies (just enter your local postcode)
> Find out about films showing near you at MyFilms
> Check out the full UK release schedule for cinemas this month
> DVD releases for this week (W/C Monday 1st September)

Categories
Cinema cinema releases

Cinema Releases: Friday 29th August 2008

NATIONAL RELEASES

Step Brothers (15): Will Ferrell and John C Reilly play two step brothers who have been living at home with their parents for too long and the result is a broad but funny comedy from director Adam McKay who also made Anchorman and Talledega Nights. Sony will be hoping for the same kind of solid business that this did in the US, which was overlooked amidst all the fuss over The Dark Knight back in July. Although it’s a busy weekend here in the UK, this looks to be the favourite to top the box office given the marketing and continuing popularity of Will Ferrell. [Opens Nationwide]

* Listen to our interview with Will Ferrell and John C Reilly about Step Brothers *

Babylon A.D. (12A): Vin Diesel stars in this pedestrian post-apocalyptic thriller as a mercenary who has to escort a woman from Eastern Europe to New York. Interestingly, director Mathieu Kassovitz has practically disowned the film, complaining that the studio forced cuts on him during the editing process. Although the film is fairly middling, Fox might expect better than average box office given the marketing and appetite for this kind of action material. [Opens Nationwide]

The Wackness (15): An engaging US indie film set in the summer of 1994 about a teenage pot dealer (Josh Peck) and his psychiatrist (Ben Kingsley). Since premiering at Sundance earlier this year to considerable buzz and acclaim, the US release was something of a box office disappointment for Sony Pictures Classics (as some bloggers had predicted). Here though things might well be different and Revolver (the UK distributor) might expect a decent per-screen-average due to word of mouth and the fact that it is coming out at the tail end of the summer movie season. [Opens Nationwide]

* Listen to our interview with Jonathan Levine about The Wackness *

The Strangers (15): A horror movie starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman as a couple terrorised in their home by strangers. For some reason I wasn’t allowed to see it, but it looks a lot like a US version of the 2006 French film Them. Universal will presumably be hoping the cinema release does well enough to help the DVD sales in a few months. [Opens Nationwide]

IN SELECTED RELEASE

Angel (15): Francois Ozon‘s latest film is an adaptation of Elizabeth Taylor‘s 1957 novel about Angelica “Angel” Deverell (Romola Garai), a romantic writer in Edwardian England. Although Ozon is one of France’s best contemporary directors, this film has met with rather mixed reviews since it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year. Lionsgate will be hoping that the art house crowd embrace it, but given the importance of critical support that will be very difficult given some of the pans this film has received. [Opens at Curzon Mayfair, ICA Cinema & in Key Cities]

Ben X (15): This Belgian drama about an autistic teenager (Greg Timmermans) who retreats into the world of online role-playing games has an intriguing premise and has already garnered some positive reviews. However, Momentum will do well to   [Opens at Odeon Panton St., Richmix, Coronet & in Key Cities]

Badlands (15): A BFI re-rerelease for Terence Malick‘s stunning debut film from 1973 with Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek as two young lovers who go on the run in the badlands of North Dakota in the late 1950s. Although it is only showing on two screens, it is worth making the effort to see one of the truly great films of the 1970s with its pitch perfect performances, gorgeous visuals and haunting score. [Opens at BFI Southbank & Edinburgh Filmhouse]

Times And Winds (BeŇü Vakit) (15): Artificial Eye give a limited release for this acclaimed drama directed by Reha Erdem set in the mountainous region of north-eastern Turkey. It explores the lives of three children in their early teens as they struggle with the day-to-day reality of their lives and has already garnered some rave reviews despite the delay in getting it to UK cinemas (it is already two years old and is available on Region 1 DVD). [Showing at Curzon Mayfair, Renoir & selected Key Cities / Opens in Scotland on 3rd October]

Daylight Robbery (15): Liberation Entertainment release this film at one venue only release for this film about a group of England football supporters who steal millions of pounds from a London bank. [Opens at the Apollo West End, London]

Hijack: Eros release this Indian thriller directed by Kunal Shivdasani and starring Shiney Ahuja and Esha Deol about a [Showing at C’worlds Ilford, Feltham, Odeon Greenwich, Vue O2 & in Key Cities]

Rock On!!: Adlabs Films release this Hindi film starring Arjun Rampal and Farhan Akhtar and Prachi Desai in the lead roles. [Showing at C’worlds Ilford, Wood Green, Staples Corner & selected cinemas nationwide]

Sakuran (15): ICA Films release this live-action film adaptation of the Japanese Manga series about a girl named Kiyoha who becomes an oiran courtesan. [Showing at the ICA Cinema in London & in Key Cities]

Triangle: Manga Entertainment release this Hong Kong crimethriller film produced and directed by a trio of ‘tag team’ filmmakers: Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam, and Johnnie To. [Showing at the ICA Cinema in London]

If you have any questions about this week’s cinema releases or any upcoming titles then just email me or leave a comment below.

> Get local showtimes via Google Movies (just enter your local postcode)
> Find out about films showing near you at MyFilms
> Check out the DVD releases for this week (W/C Monday 25th August)

Categories
Cinema Podcast Reviews

The Cinema Review: Man on Wire / The X-Files: I Want to Believe / The Love Guru

On this week’s review podcast we look at Man on Wire, The X-Files: I Want to Believe and The Love Guru.

Listen to the review podcast here:

[audio:https://www.filmdetail.com/podcast/get.php?fla=podcast-2008-08-01-91789.mp3]

Download and subscribe to the review podcast via iTunes by clicking here

> Download this review as an MP3 file
> The X-Files: I Want to Believe, The Love Guru and Man on Wire at the IMDb
> Listen to our Man on Wire interview with Philippe Petit
> Get local showtimes via Google Movies

Categories
Cinema Podcast Reviews

The Cinema Review: The Dark Knight

This week in an early review we look at the latest Batman film The Dark Knight.

Listen to the review podcast here:

[audio:https://www.filmdetail.com/podcast/get.php?fla=podcast-2008-07-25-67692.mp3]

Download and subscribe to the review podcast via iTunes by clicking here

> Download this review as an MP3 file
> Official site for The Dark Knight
> The Dark Knight at the IMDb
> Reviews for The Dark Knight at Metacritic
> Countdown to The Dark Knight: Links, videos and background information to the film
> Get local showtimes via Google Movies

Categories
Cinema releases

Cinema Releases: Friday 25th July 2008

Every Friday from now on I’m going to post a breakdown of what’s being released in UK cinemas be it a big, small or medium sized release.

I’ve broken it down into national releases (e.g. films that play on multiplexes in most towns and cities) and limited releases (which basically means the big UK cities and other places with an arthouse cinema).

Hopefully you’ll find it a helpful guide to what’s on and – as ever – if you have any information or feedback just get in touch.

Plus, you can also check out our recent DVD release breakdown if you fancy staying in.

The UK cinema releases this week include: The Dark Knight, Baby Mama and Angus, Thongs And Perfect Snogging.

NATIONAL RELEASES

The Dark Knight (12A): The new Batman film arrives in the UK on a wave of hype, critical acclaim, record breaking box office numbers and news that Batman himself (or rather Christian Bale) has been questioned by police(!). Warner Bros’ accountants must already be giddy, counting the $158m it took in the US last weekend – breaking the 3-day opening weekend record. It looks set to dominate UK cinemas this week and also opens in IMAX on the same day, with previews yesterday (Thursday).

Baby Mama (12A): The female orientated alternative to the Batman juggernaught is a comedy with Tina Fey as a career woman in Philadelphia who can’t have children and has to recruit a surrogate mother (Amy Poehler) who has a very different outlook on life. Universal will hope that this will act as counter-programming to The Dark Knight but with Mamma Mia already taking up that slack, things might prove tough for this comedy.

Angus, Thongs And Perfect Snogging (12A): Based on Louise Rennison‘s novel Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, this is Paramount’s attempt to offer an alternative to the caped crusader. This might have a better shot than Baby Mama as it is appealing to a younger demographic but it will be interesting to see how it shapes up to

LIMITED RELEASES

The following films are released in selected cinemas nationwide, which usually means a large city or a place with a decent arthouse cinema. Check local listings (like Google Movies) to see if any are near you.

Before The Rains (12A):A limited release in key cities for the second film from Indian director Santosh Sivan set during the twilight years of British colonial rule, about a tea plantation owner (Linus Roache) having an affiar with a young Indian servant (Nandita Das).

Buddha Collapsed Out Of Shame (PG) Slingshot Studios are releasing this Iranian film about the destruction by the Taliban of the gigantic statue of Buddha in 2001, as seen through the eyes of children. It is in a limited run at the ICA cinema in London before going out to selected cities from August (dates TBC).

Lou Reed’s Berlin (12A): Artificial Eye give a release in selected cinemas for this concert film by Julian Schnabel of Lou Reed performing his acclaimed album Berlin in St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn back in December 2006.

Money Hai To Honey Hai (Eros): A release in key cities for this Bollywood film about six different characters getting a text message informing them that they own a big company but must also repay it’s debts.

Paris (15): Optimum give a release in key cities for this new film by Cédric Klapisch concerning a large group of people living in Paris. It stars Juliette Binoche, Romain Duris, François Cluzet, Maurice Bénichou and Karin Viard.

Quiet City & Dance Party: A double bill of low-budget short features from young American film-maker Aaron Katz that is showing at the ICA Cinema in London.

If you have any questions about this week’s cinema releases or any upcoming titles then just email me or leave a comment below.

> Get local showtimes via Google Movies
> Find out about films showing near you at MyFilms
> See what’s out on DVD this week

Categories
Cinema Thoughts

The Dark Knight takes blockbusters to a new level

On Friday I finally saw The Dark Knight at a press screening in London, the same day that it broke box office records in the US.

There is no doubt that this film has transcended its comic book origins to become one of the most accomplished and ambitious blockbusters in years.

As I couldn’t make the IMAX screening I had to go to the standard 35mm one earlier in the evening, so when I catch it on IMAX next Friday I’ll write something about seeing on that format.

But even in a conventional cinema it is probably worth beginning with how I felt as it ended – drained. There is a lot of stuff going on and at just over two and a half hours it looks and feels like a serious crime epic, rather than a conventional summer movie.

When Batman Begins came out in 2005, it was an impressive reinvention of the DC Comics character but I wasn’t as blown away as some were. But props to the suits at Burbank for recruiting a director like Christopher Nolan – it certainly atoned for the Joel Schumacher Batman films.

The realistic approach to the Bruce Wayne character and Gotham City worked well and has really reaped dividends with this sequel, which not only builds on the foundations established that film but makes this a richer and more rewarding experience.

In the same way that the first film rebooted our expectations of a comic book movie, this one takes it to another level – imagine a dark, sprawling and realistic crime saga set in a modern city, that just happens to have Batman and The Joker in it.

Emboldened after the success of the first film, director Christopher Nolan and co-screenwriter Jonathan Nolan (with story credit by David S Goyer) have crafted a spectacularly ambitious summer blockbuster, one that has many layers and twists alongside some brilliant work from the cast and crew.

The story, set in a Gotham City soaked in crime, violence and corruption, revolves around three central characters: Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), a billionaire vigilante dishing out justice at night time; Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), the District Attorney boldly taking on organised crime; and The Joker (Heath Ledger), a mysterious psychopathic criminal wreaking havoc on the city.

Added to this are several key supporting characters: Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman), the senior cop in Gotham and Batman’s main ally; Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), the Assistant District Attorney who is now Dent’s lover; Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), the newly promoted CEO of Wayne Enterprises who helps supply Bruce Wayne with hi-tech weapons and equipment; Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine), Wayne’s trusted butler and Sal Maroni (Eric Roberts), a local mobster in league with the Joker.

What’s quite startling about the film is the way in the plot doesn’t just revolve around Batman – it gives equal weight to Dent and Joker, forming an impressive triangular narrative.

Added to that, some of the supporting cast (especially Gordon) are given much stronger roles than you might expect for a film of this type.

Most impressively of all, these different strands are developed in ways that are engrossing and genuinely surprising – at times it is so layered, with key sequences often having parallel consequences.

There are points when the narrative (especially in the later stages) stretches to near-breaking point, so exhaustive are the plot lines and events on screen.

But despite the almost suffocating nature of the storytelling, it gives the film a grandeur and seriousness that complements the darker tone of this rebooted Batman franchise.

As for the action, it follows the script in being similarly dense, and some of the big set pieces – especially two key sequences – have an unpredictable and chaotic quality to them.

This at times makes it a little dizzying (I can only imagine what they felt like in IMAX) but also refreshing for this kind of movie, where the beats and outcomes are often too predictable.

What I particularly loved was the old school stunt work in the chase sequences and that actual (although presumably disused) buildings were blown up – it was a raw, effective contrast to the type of CGI-driven sequences that have become the norm for big budget blockbusters.

The performances too are a revelation for this type of genre movie. Bale continues his solid work from the first film but Ledger and Eckhart bring much more to their roles than what might have been expected.

As The Joker, Ledger has managed to completely reinvent him as a wildly unpredictable psychopath who brings Gotham to it’s knees.

Although – due to his tragically early death – there was always going to be added interest in his performance, he really is outstanding.

Completely immersing himself the role, he creates a villain who is scary, funny and unpredictable. Caring only for chaos and death, The Joker uses his considerable ingenuity to alter a city and the two figures (Batman and Dent) who can save it.

Eckhart has perhaps received less press but Harvey Dent is no less important to the story – in some ways his character is where Batman and The Joker meet.

He radiates an old-school charisma and integrity that fits his crusading DA perfectly, making his later problems all the more powerful.

Another interesting aspect of the script is the way in which it taps into modern fears about terrorism and the struggle to fight for good in a world that has become severely infected with violence and evil.

Many aspects of the film raise interesting questions and parallels. Can we see Batman – a sophisticated force for good caught up in a moral dilemma – as a metaphor for the US military? Could The Joker – a psychopathic enigma wreaking terror on society – be a twisted version of Osama Bin Laden?

The fact that a comic book adaptation subtly provokes these questions is daring, but what’s also clever is that they have mined the comic books (especially The Killing Joke) for themes and story lines which have a¬† contemporary echo.

The anticipation of The Dark Knight has been immense over the last few weeks and in the last few days reached fever pitch: it has already grossed over $155m (breaking the the 3-day opening weekend record held by Spider-Man 3); Batman related articles are all over Digg; critics have mostly given it high praise and IMDb users have even voted it the number 1 film of all time (although I think this should and will change in a few days or weeks).

What is behind on all this mania? I think this is a film that appeals to many different types of audience: fanboys eager to see a cool comic book adaptation; Batman fans; summer moviegoers keen for escapism; cinephiles who loved Nolan’s earlier films (especially Memento) and those caught up in the recent hype.

Time will tell how well it will ultimately do, but for now I can’t wait to see this on an IMAX screen next Friday.

Have you seen The Dark Knight? Why do you think it has become such a success?

Leave your thoughts below.

> Check out more links, videos and background to this movie in our Countdown to The Dark Knight
> A post back in December about the Prologue at the London IMAX
> Official site
> The Dark Knight at the IMDb
> Reviews at Metacritic
> Get local showtimes via Google Movies
> Find an IMAX cinema near you
> Variety report on the box office opening
> Slashfilm report on it topping the IMDb user list

[All images copyright 2008 / Warner Bros / Legendary Pictures / DC Comics]

Categories
Cinema Podcast Reviews

The Cinema Review: Standard Operating Procedure / City of Men / Meet Dave

In the second part of our reviews this week, we take a look at Standard Operating Procedure, City of Men and Meet Dave.

Listen to the reviews here:

[audio:https://www.filmdetail.com/podcast/get.php?fla=podcast-2008-07-18-93166.mp3]

Download and subscribe to the review podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

> Download this review as an MP3 file
> Standard Operating Procedure, City of Men and Meet Dave at the IMDb
> Check out local showtimes via Google Movies

Categories
Cinema Podcast Reviews

The Cinema Review: WALL-E

In an early review we take a look at the latest Pixar film WALL-E.

Listen to the podcast here:

[audio:https://www.filmdetail.com/podcast/get.php?fla=podcast-2008-07-17-77271.mp3]

Download and subscribe to the review podcast via iTunes by clicking here

> Download this review as an MP3 file
> Official site for WALL-E
> WALL-E at the IMDb
> Reviews for WALL-E at Metacritic
> Get local showtimes via Google Movies

Categories
Cinema Podcast Reviews

The Cinema Review: Kung Fu Panda / The Visitor / The Mist

This week we review Kung Fu Panda, The Visitor and The Mist.

Listen to the reviews here:

[audio:https://www.filmdetail.com/podcast/get.php?fla=podcast-2008-07-04-91173.mp3]

Download and subscribe to the review podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

> Download this review as an MP3 file
> Kung Fu Panda, The Visitor and The Mist at the IMDb
> Check out the Kung Fu Panda launch at the Cannes Film Festival
> Listen to our recent interviews with Richard Jenkins and Tom McCarthy on The Visitor
> Frank Darabont talking about The Mist to Inside Reel
> Check out local showtimes via Google Movies

Categories
Cinema Podcast Reviews

The Cinema Review: Hancock

Today we review Hancock, the new film starring Will Smith as an unconventional superhero.

Listen to the review here:

[audio:https://www.filmdetail.com/podcast/get.php?fla=podcast-2008-07-02-74620.mp3]

Download and subscribe to the review podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

Hancock is out at cinemas today

> Download this review as an MP3 file
> Hancock at the IMDb
> Listen to our interviews with Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron & Akiva Goldsman and Peter Berg
> Check out local showtimes via Google Movies