UK Cinema Releases: Friday 3rd July 2009

UK Cinema Releases 03-06-09


Public Enemies (Universal): Michael Mann’s adaptation of Bryan Burrough’s non-fiction book ‘Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933–34′, explores the FBI’s attempts to capture gangster John Dillinger during the Great Depression. It features a heavy weight cast with Johnny Depp as Dillinger, Christian Bale as his FBI nemesis Melvin Purvis and Marion Cottilard as his girlfriend Billie Frechette.

For various reasons it never catches fire: Dillinger remains a remote protagonist, the hi-def visuals don’t look right and the narrative lurches from one shootout to the next without conveying the importance of the story. Universal will be expecting a solid opening weekend given the star power of Johnny Depp but negative word of mouth is likely to affect its long term box office in a busy summer season. [Empire Leicester Square & Nationwide / Cert 15] (Opened on Weds 1st July)

Ice Age 3 (20th Century Fox): The biggest animated franchise for Fox returns for a third installment and this one sees more prehistoric animals voiced by the likes of Quuen Latifah, Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo and Simon Pegg. Like the first two films it is likely to to stellar business amongst the target family audience. [Cineworld Shaftesbury Ave., Vue West End & Nationwide/ Cert U) (Opened on Weds 1st July)



Strawberry And Chocolate (Contemporary Films): A re-issue for this 1994 film about a gay artist (Jorge Perugorría) who falls in love with a straight communist (Vladimir Cruz) full of prejudices and doctrinary ideas. Directed by Tomás Gutiérrez and Alea Juan Carlos Tabío. [Barbican and selected Key Cities / Cert 18]

Am I Black Enough For You (Verve Pictures): A documentary about 1970s Philly soul music artist Billy Paul, the city of Philadelphia and the lifelong companionship between Billy and his wife Blanche. [Apollo Piccadilly Circus, Ritzy & Key Cities / Cert 12A)

Kambakkht Ishq (Eros): A romantic comedy about an Indian stuntman who takes Hollywood by storm but cannot find true love. [C’Worlds Feltham, Ilford, S’Bury Ave, Vue Harrow & N’wide] (Previews 2 July)

Red Mist (Revolver Entertainment): A horror film about a group of medical students who accidentally put the hospital’s creepy caretaker into a deep coma and then have to deal with the inevitable revenge. Directed by Paddy Breathnach (Shrooms) and starring Arielle Kebbel, Sarah Carter, Andrew Lee Potts and Martin Compston. [London & Key Cities / Cert 18]

Embodiment Of Evil (Anchor Bay UK): A 2008 Brazilian horror film by director José Mojica Marins that is the third installment of his Coffin Joe trilogy. [ICA Cinema & Key Cities / Cert 18]

> UK cinema releases for July 2009
> DVD Picks for this week including Che (Part One and Two) and Gran Torino (W/C Monday 29th June)

Cinema Thoughts

Public Enemies

Public Enemies

Public Enemies left me with that particular kind of disappointment you feel when you see a great director fall short of his own high standards.

Based on Bryan Burrough’s non-fiction book ‘Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933–34‘, it explores the FBI’s attempts to capture the gangsters who are robbing banks all across the Midwest during the Great Depression.

The focus is on John Dillinger (Johnny Depp), his girlfriend Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard) and Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale), the federal agent entrusted with catching him.

For director Michael Mann, this is familiar territory featuring many of his favourite themes: crime, extreme conflict, good and evil, obsession and the male psyche.

Given that this film saw him re-teaming with cinematographer Dante Spinotti (who he has collaborated with several times on films such as Manhunter, Heat and The Insider) you could also be forgiven for thinking that a visual feast would be in store.

But sadly Public Enemies never really catches fire and curiously it is largely down to the visuals and the acting – things which Mann is famous for getting right.

Like his last two films, Collateral and Miami Vice, Mann has opted to shoot with high end digital cameras (principally the Sony F23 and some smaller cameras).

Although this creates some interesting sequences (especially those set at night), it also leads to others which just look odd, especially when you see occasional bright flaring and sudden movements which the camera doesn’t quite catch.

Some directors like smaller and lighter digital cameras because they can shoot in smaller spaces, often with greater speed.

In Public Enemies this has the effect of putting you ‘in the scene’ in the action sequences and it has clearly been Mann’s intention to create a new visual aesthetic.

But the main problem here, as in his two previous films, is that the images here lack the richness and vibrancy of Mann’s earlier work on 35mm film.

In some ways this film also marks the end of a decade in which Mann has increasingly retreated into his own head. All of his films since 2000 have lacked the weight and stunning craftsmanship of his best work on Manhunter, Heat and The Insider.

Another aspect of the film that is puzzling is the casting of Johnny Depp as Dillinger. Although he can be a brilliant technical actor and a charming screen presence, he gives a Dillinger an aloof coolness here which I find hard to square with the real life criminal.

Christian Bale on paper sounded a fantastic choice to play his lawman nemesis too, but he also seems restrained and lacking in the intensity you might expect given the pressure he was under.

Marion Cottilard brings some emotional substance in the often neglected ‘gangster’s moll’ role, even if her accent sometimes fluctuates here and there.

There are some fine performances, although frustratingly the best stuff comes from the supporting cast with the likes of Billy CrudupGiovanni Ribisi, Stephen Graham and Stephen Lang offering tantalising glimpses of the film this could have been.

As you might expect for a Mann film the production design is excellent, with great use of a variety of locations in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.

But despite these qualities Public Enemies never hits the high notes you would expect given the potential of the material and the talent involved in bringing it to the screen.

Universal deserve a lot of credit for being the Hollywood studio most likely to take risks on more adult material and filmmakers like Mann, but opening this film in the height of summer is going to be a real test for them.

They have sold it on Johnny Depp’s star power (greatly increased since the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy) but I find it hard to see it making serious money and it may even struggle to recoup its $100 million budget back.

In fact, if this film does badly it may give a lot of studio executives an excuse to no longer green-light similar projects, especially as some of them are probably doubting how much stars are now worth in terms of box office dollars.

I actually hope it does do well because in a time of turgid studio fare such as Transformers 2 and Terminator Salvation, Hollywood needs directors like Michael Mann and mainstream films that cater to more than just the popcorn munchers.

But on the other hand Mann needs to return to the form that made him such an important filmmaker.

Given that the economic model for Hollywood is slowly breaking, maybe a return to lower budgets (along the lines of Stephen Soderbergh) would give him the creative rejuvenation he needs.

> Official site
> Read other reviews at Metacritic
> Find out more about John Dillinger at Wikipedia


UK Cinema Releases: July 2009

UK Cinema Releases July 2009


  • Ice Age 3 (U) / 20th Century Fox
  • Public Enemies (15) / Universal / Empire Leicester Square & Nationwide

FRIDAY 3rd JULY 2009

  • Am I Black Enough For You (12A) / Verve Pictures
  • Kambakkht Ishq / Eros
  • Red Mist (18) / Revolver Entertainment
  • Strawberry And Chocolate (18) / Contemporary Films
  • Embodiment Of Evil (18) / Anchor Bay UK

FRIDAY 10th JULY 2009

  • 35 Shots Of Rum (12A) / New Wave Films
  • Bruno (18) / Universal
  • Cloud 9 (15) / Soda Pictures
  • Echoes Of Home / ICA Films
  • Fired Up (12A) / Sony Pictures
  • Ichi (15) / Manga Entertainment
  • Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters (15) / ICA Cinema/Screenwriters Festival)
  • The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee (15) / Icon
  • Soul Power (12A) / Eureka Entertainment (Previews Glastonbury 2009)


  • Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (12A) / Warner Bros.

FRIDAY 17th JULY 2009

  • Burma VJ (12A) / Dogwoof
  • Frozen River (15) / Axiom Films
  • The Informers (TBC) / Entertainment
  • Kisses (15) / Optimum Releasing
  • Moon (15) / Sony Pictures


  • The Proposal (12A) / Walt Disney

FRIDAY 24th JULY 2009

  • Antichrist (18) / Artificial Eye
  • The Blues Brothers (R/I) (15) / Universal
  • Charles Dickens’ England / Guerilla Films (BFI Southbank fm 21 July)
  • Just Another Love Story / Revolver Entertainment
  • Once Upon A Time In The West (R/I) / bfi Distribution
  • Skin / ICA Films


  • Coco Before Chanel (12A) / Optimum Releasing
  • Crossing Over (TBC) / Entertainment
  • G Force (3D) / Walt Disney
  • The Heavy / Kaleidoscope Entertainment
  • Land Of The Lost (TBC) / Universal
  • Love Aaj Kal / Eros (Previews 30 July)
  • Mad, Sad & Bad / Soda Pictures
  • The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3 (15) / Sony Pictures

Keep a look out every Friday for a breakdown of the weekly releases with more detail on each film.

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

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