Louis Letterier’s Now You See Me has opened to a warm-ish reception and a healthy box office, grossing double its production budget (generally considered enough to be considered a success post marketing costs). It’s been described as a magic-caper film in the vein of the Ocean’s series, a review that almost entirely misses the point all because of one fundamental flaw; magic.
Magic as a genre in itself succeeds because of the audiences’ expectations being subverted in a real and tangible space. Magic exists and always has existed as something that happens before the spectators’ eyes, in this place. Stage magic succeeds because the prima facie evidence is corroborated by physical presence, that is, you were there, you witnessed it. Television magic succeeds because we accept the limitations of the technology in trade for an audience who are not party to the trick. They embody us as the spectator in that physical space.
Like ‘Dances With Wolves’ but with actual wolves, ‘Dog Soldiers’ is a low budget, high entertainment splatterfest that shows the true value of practical effects and cracking dialogue.
In 2002 Neil Marshall, then best known as the producer of Hellraiser, released onto the world Dog Soldiers; one of the best horrors in recent times – certainly one of the best British horror films – and undoubtedly the best horror ever made with a budget of about 8p.
read the rest here:http://www.thedailytouch.com/entertainment/tv-film-theatre/shlock-and-load-dog-soldiers/
Hammer Horror’s second venture into Ripper territory (after 1949’s Room To Let) provides an entertaining romp through the eyes (or should that be hands?) of a young woman haunted by the murder of her mother.
Directed by Peter Sasdy, perhaps best known for opposite-ends-of-the-spectrum productions Welcome to Blood City (very good) and The Lovely Lady (monumentally abysmal), Hands of the Ripper is an enjoyable murderous cavort through the streets of Edwardian London. It’s full of the hallmarks of classic Hammer; excellent character actors, unnecessarily heaving bodices and no small amount of crimson.
Read the rest at: http://www.thedailytouch.com/uncategorized/shlock-and-load-hands-of-the-ripper/
The concluding half of my series on Scandinavian cinema and its representations of fathers and fatherhood. This article looks in more detail at why such representations are often negative, and seeks a point of comparison in fatherly representations of Hollywood cinema.
Read the article here: http://www.thedailytouch.com/entertainment/tv-film-theatre/norwegian-wouldnt-scandinavian-cinema-and-its-ever-present-daddy-issues-part-2/
Jake Schrier’s sort-of-sci-fi is the beautiful, understated tale of a curmudgeonly rogue and his new best friend, Robot.
Frank (Frank Langella) is an aging cat burglar with dementia. Divorced, and with his daughter (Liv Tyler) globe-trotting and his son (James Marsden) feeling the strain of the weekly five hour commute, he is left with a robot, and the two form an unlikely bond.
Jake Schrier’s vision of the near future is one without moral obligation. There is no agenda, no dystopian technocracy nor spartan, Apple Mac paradise (pull apart the differences between yourselves), just a potential, a frame within which the action takes place.
read the rest here: http://www.thedailytouch.com/entertainment/tv-film-theatre/review-robot-and-frank/
This year’s Oscar ceremony, like its predecessors, celebrated the pomp and circumstance of American cinema. Awards were granted across every conceivable category (does anyone wish to tell me the difference between sound mixing and sound editing?), and everything from the obvious to the obscure was given its due regard. From director, to screenplay, from cinematography to costume, every aspect of filmmaking was gloried.
It is notable, then, that the award for Best Foreign Language Film is just that. One, single award that, by default, encompasses everything that went into making non-English speaking films. This isn’t a diatribe about the blinkeredness of American cinema, her award ceremonies or her politics, and I am very aware that other nations have their own Oscar-equivalents (a point I will touch on in a minute), but does it not seem somewhat lazy to have this catch-all category when the rest of the night revels in the minutiae of filmmaking?
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. In fact, something rankles across all of Scandinavia. Cinematic representations of men and masculinity are troublesome and worrying, with fatherhood, that definitive male trait, portrayed negatively, or often not at all. Absent or abusive fathers are a continuing trend in Nordic cinema. This first in a two-part series glances at just some of the films in which this is the case.
Read the rest here!
Some films are bad. Some films are so bad they’re good. Some films are so bad that you just want them to end. Dragon Wars is option three, a $32 million catastrophe that has probably done more to weaken US/Korean international relations than the early 1950′s.
Kathryn Bigelow’s critically overlooked drama takes an objective view of ten years of CIA work that ends with the ultimate payoff.
On 2nd May 2011 US Navy SEALS stormed a complex in Abbottabad, Pakistan, shooting dead Osama bin Laden. Bigelow’s film takes an unflinching look at the decade-long process leading up to his death through the eyes of Jessica Chastain’s Maya.
Nominated for an Academy Award for her performance, Chastain’s Maya is an elegant wildfire. Focused, disciplined, and with an almost pathological sense of purpose, Maya’s hunt for bin Laden could easily engender an aloofness that would leave her character just plain unlikeable. It is much to Chastain’s credit that Maya is as complex a character as the convoluted trail she follows. Every moment of clinical insight or militaristic assertiveness is tempered with pockets of individuality; she licks the peanut butter straight off her knife, she IMs her friend Jessica (Jennifer Ehle), ‘cool!’.
There’s a danger that this could stray into clichéd territory, the ice queen with a soft side. Chastain, working with Mark Boal’s excellent, pared-down script, neatly negotiates this throughout the film’s arguably most controversial scenes. The depiction of torture in 0D30 has been of great debate in the popular press, with the main concern being the justification of such methods. Chastain’s character develops through it by believing in its necessity to do her job, so single-minded is her focus, yet she never supports or denounces it. Jason Clarke’s Dan is the primary human face for these acts of violence, but he neither revels in his work nor suffers a psychological breakdown in its wake. The torture shown is presented simply as an inherent part of the process, an almost verité approach to the actuality of events.
Alongside the violence of the subject matter, a word or two must be said on Alexandre Desplat’s excellent score. Subtle, infusing a strong regional musicality with a prelude to war that remains aware of its focus (this isn’t a film about the war, it’s a spy film, a tech film, a historical drama that leaves the triumphalist bombast of America’s rising chords firmly in America), Desplat’s composition perfectly complements Boal’s efficient script, a jargon-heavy piece that demands the viewer’s attention. The near-ensemble cast of famous faces come and go in an orderly fashion, their screen time reflective of their input in the chase through Maya’s contact with them. As audience members we are privileged to see the whole thing unfold, and so our role demands the greatest attention be paid.
Bigelow’s direction has been sorely ignored by the Academy; it is a beautiful piece of work. Certain shots shine, particularly the interplay of long shots and close-ups of Maya, but the overall effect is one of (to steal a phrase) tradecraft. This is a director at the very top of her game, blending the stylistic choices and visual flair of Hollywood direction with the singlemindedness of the mission, the unitary, clinical focus on the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. Bigelow might have happened upon a jackpot resolution when OBL was killed during writing, providing the natural end to the script, but that still left the small matter of how to film it. The end result is an immersive and fascinating realisation of events that recalls the verisimilitude of David Simon’s and Ed Burn’s 2008 miniseries Generation Kill.
Zero Dark Thirty is a captivating dramatization of one of the most important events in modern history. The combination of direction, screenplay and score binds together ten years of history into a pacey two and a half hours, all anchored by Chastain’s excellent turn as Maya.
Tinker, Quadling, Munchkin, WIZARD.
That’s right folks, welcome back to Oz, or should that be Welcome to Oz, as Sam Raimi’s prequel takes us behind the curtain to show us the legend of the man behind the curtain.
That man is Oscar (James Franco), a conjurer of sorts, a trickster and a womaniser, and part of a travelling circus currently performing in Kansas. With the help of his stagehand Frank (Zach Braff) he bumbles his way through a performance, incurring the wrath of the crowd before a timely tornado whisks him away. This opening twenty-five minutes is Raimi’s attempt at a lovingly crafted homage to The Wizard of Oz, a black and white slice of 1.33:1 cinema that transports audiences just as much as bad weather hauls off our protagonist. It is unfortunate then that these expository vignettes feel as artificial as Oz’s tricks and charms. The traditional aspect ratio looks uncomfortable on the modern screen. Hyperinflated negative space frames the action, a sideways glance and you are looking outside of the film at, well, nothing.
The attempted homage is admirable, if flawed, and does at least lend the switch to 2.40:1 widescreen a certain awe-inspiring quality. This (perfectly seamless) transition also comes with the change of monochrome to colour, a change that emphasises the saccharinely sweet palette of Oz reminiscent of our first steps into James Cameron’s Pandora. This is an almost Glorious Technicolor adventure, the brightness of the image foregrounded and bursting off the screen, the background a collection of sumptuous CGI matte-effect paintings that again recall Garland’s old Hollywood. It is, however, an awkward adventure.
Simply put, Oscar is not a likeable man. Though his development does eventually see him evidence a change of sorts, it is nevertheless inherently difficult to root for a protagonist who is so cocksure, and often downright rude. Moreover, the film seems confused as to how it wants to represent the rest of Oz’s inhabitants. On the one hand, Finley the Monkey (Zach Braff) calls Oscar out on how he stereotypes his simian ways, on the other it is happy for Tony Cox to play Knuck, who may as well forgo a name entirely and play ‘Angry Black Dwarf #1’. Glinda the Good Witch (Michelle Williams) is a thankless part, the embodiment of a prototypically angelic caricature that simply doesn’t exist in contemporary cinema (society), and feels all the more mawkish for it.
Equally, Rachel Weisz’s Evanora never quite lives up to the HBIC craziness of Charlize Theron’s Ravenna from last year’s Snow White and the Huntsman, and whilst Mila Kunis’ Theodora is a wide-eyed wonder at first, what becomes of her is not much of a cut above Dr. Who villain-of-the-week; a jarring anachronism in this contemporary rendering. Spare a thought for Joey King, who steals both the show and our hearts as the porcelain princess China Girl (would it have killed the producers to give her an actual name instead of leaving her sounding as if she is a B-rate Bond girl?).
Oz is a poor film. It is overlong (particularly for a children’s film, clocking in at 2hrs 10mins) and lacks strong, likeable characters. What it does do is something that has been very popular in film of late. It celebrates filmmaking, a celebration made even more poignant in the wake of the current SFX industry crisis. Simply put Oz does not exist if not for the work of the marvellous men and women and their green screens. Now there’s an Emerald City worth saving.