Thursday 29 September 2011

DVD Catch-up: Lucio Fulci's The House of Clocks

Plot: A trio of opportunistic hoodlums plans to rob an isolated house, inhabited by a seemingly frail and old couple. The nights turns into a nightmare when the inhabitants reveal their true, murderous colours and the time shifting powers of their magical clocks are unleashed...

I have to confess, despite being a true horror fan, I had not seen a single film by Italian master Lucio Fulci until now. The man responsible for The Beyond and The City of the Living Dead among other classics, has a reputation for ultra-violence, and a certain blend of surrealism (a few iconic scenes from his films include death by a big wooden splinter shoved in the eye and a zombie punching a real shark). So I decided to fill my cultural gap and tackle his work by the back door (so to speak), by picking probably one of his lesser known film, The House of Clocks. This was initially made for the Italian TV in the late 80's, but deemed too violent and released in cinemas instead.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

DVD Catch-up: The Wedding Song

One of my favourite colours is pale blue, and nobody does it better than Tunis, a crumbling city of courtyards and alcoves, secrets and mysteries. Tunis in 1942 during the German occupation is the setting for this beautiful film about the friendship of two girls, Nour and Myriam. This is the second film from French writer/director/actress Karin Albou, who also plays the widowed mother of Myriam.

Monday 26 September 2011

Going #GayForGosling: A Bromance

A strange phenomenon is taking place with straight men recently. They are declaring their undying love for a short man who wears a yellow nylon jacket with a scorpion stitching at the back. A man of impossible cool, of few words, with can dispense passionate kisses as well as unspeakable violence at the drop of a hat. This man is Ryan Gosling in Drive. How do you explain this? After all, the screens are filled with metrosexual hunks, yet they do not command the same kind of orientation crossing adoration?

Saturday 24 September 2011

The Thing Prequel's Red Band Trailer Looks Rather Fantastic

A few months ago, a first trailer was released for the Thing's prequel that was not all that promising to say the least. As my favourite horror film of all times, it is a understatement to say that I was not looking forward to this prequel raping the memories of the John Carpenter's version. Yet a new red band trailer has been released and it has increased my interest tenfold!

David Lynch's Three Rs: Sick and Disturbing

I really wish I was writing about a trailer for a new film by David Lynch. But at the moment, he seems more interesting in saving the world through yogic flights (I am not making this up) than making films, and cinema is all the poorer for it. So any cinematic nuggets that comes from him are still welcome, and we are being treated to a very short film he has made for the Vienna Film Festival, or Viennale, which is taking place next month. And it ranks among the best thing I have seen in months.

The Iron Lady? Or The Dagger Lady?

After a puzzling first promotional shot, followed by a puzzling first teaser, comes a puzzling first poster for The Iron Lady. The film, in case you have been hiding under a rock for the last few months, stars Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher, and will attempt to portray her as a fully human being, including her softer side. I now look forward to: "Pol Pot: I Was Misunderstood".

Thursday 22 September 2011

Krabat and the Legend of the Satanic Mill Review

Synopsis: In medieval Europe struck by the war and illness, a young and wandering orphan finds himself led to a strange mill through his dreams. Welcome by the mill master within the rank of his young disciples, he quickly realises that his new companions are dabbling with the dark arts. And what nefarious plans does the mill master have in mind?

It is not often that a German fantasy makes it to our screens. In fact, the last one I remember watching was the classic Neverending Story, and that was back in 1984! It is a shame because the country has got a large cultural heritage of myths and folklore to pick from, coupled with some stunning and fairy tales like landscapes. I have indeed often wondered why nobody has ever used the magnificent Neuschwanstein castle, which inspired the Sleeping Beauty castle, in a live action fantasy film? Its sole presence in films that I know of was in Visconti's period drama Ludwig.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

The Muppets: The Pig With The Froggy Tattoo

It is becoming more and more obvious that the Muppets new film is shaping up to be the most important cultural phenomenon of the year. And no matter how the actual film turns out, its marketing will remain like one of the best in the history of cinema.

Thursday 15 September 2011

The Lion King 3D: Disney's Pride and Glory

3D post conversion has become a dirty word in films, conjuring memories of the atrocious and botched post conversion job of Clash of the Titans, which has become a case study on how not to do it. Indeed, this was heralded by some as the beginning of the end for 3D. So when news emerged that Disney was planning to convert one of its most beloved film, The Lion King, you could be forgiven for being a little nervous. We clearly should not have been.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Spotlight on Raindance 2011

While the London Film Festival line up was recently announced, we should not forget an equally important date on the film calendar, the Raindance Film Festival, which is taking place from the 28th of September until the 9th of October in London. Raindance started off as a training organisation for filmmakers19 years ago and a mere year into its existence, started off a film festival entirely focused on independent cinema. So do not expect any gala screening of high profile but mediocre films only added to the line-up to add some media exposure, but some truly innovative and little seen gems, showcasing the talents of tomorrow.

Monday 12 September 2011

London Film Festival 2011: Who Likes A Surprise?

Sandra Hebron is teasing us...
The hottest ticket at the London Film Festival every year is not the opening or closing ceremony. It is not any of the gala screenings, no matter how big the stars due to attend are. Instead, hundreds of festival-goers every year will brave the maddening booking system to get their hands on a highly coveted ticket and watch a film they know nothing about and for a very good reason: it is a Surprise Screening and the title will not be revealed at all until the credits start rolling. And year after year, it has become one of the most endearing traditions of the festival.

Sunday 11 September 2011

Tomboy - One Girl's Summer Freedom

This is a brilliant film, with a simple story, and due to the impressive cast of youngsters the film has a unique raw innocence. Celine Sciamma, whose previous film 'Water Lilies', was well received in 2007, earning a slew of awards, has written and directed this touching film. As only her second feature length film, Sciamma wanted to avoid the path of bigger budget and grander film, that tempts so many successful young directors. She opted instead for a low budget summer shoot, for which she wrote the script in only three weeks. The filming took place over 20 days in the summer of August 2010. Sciamma herself states that at the heart of the film, is a philosophy of energy and spontaneity, that is not possible on films that require longer for financing and producing.

Saturday 10 September 2011

London Film Festival 2011: The Hidden Gems Part 2

The Secret Illusion 

Moving on from the previous post, a few more intriguing films I have come across while flicking through the programme. Every single year without fail ever since I started attending in 2008, the festival has brought me a wonderful surprise, a great film I knew little or nothing about, and it is part of the joy of the event to try your luck with as many films as you can, sometimes merely guided by a picture and the blurb next to it.

Thursday 8 September 2011

London Film Festival 2011: The Hidden Gems Part 1

Nobody Else But You (2011)

The London Film festival, which runs for a fortnight every October, has gone from strength to strength under the of artistic direction of Sandra Hebron over the last few years. Her knack for securing high profile screenings, coupled with her infectious enthusiasm, as well as her team's talents for unearthing a varied and satisfying line up, with a good mix up of obscure art-house and more mainstream titles, mean that the attendance has consistently gone up year after year, with a more youthful and eclectic audience.

While not quite in the same league of Cannes, Venise and Toronto, the festival is nevertheless a great way of catching up with films shown at all the festivals mentioned, as well as discovering some new gems. Many ask what is the point of seeing films there that sometimes get a release date a mere few days after their festival's screening, but the atmosphere is so informal yet electric and the buzz so exhilarating that I recommend watching as many films as you can there, especially since, more often than not, the cast and crew follow the screening with a Q&A. I will certainly be speaking a lot about the festival in the few weeks before it is due to start, and obviously during the festivities, with the target of 20 to 25 films to watch (but most certainly more!).

Tuesday 6 September 2011

My Friend From Faro Review

Life is pretty dull for Mel aka Melanie, with her job at the aeroplane food factory, until along comes Nuno. Is he the friend from Faro? Well kind of, but the film starts off a little confusingly and I was starting to think that Mel was into guys, but it turns out she wants to be a guy. Or more specifically a Portuguese guy named Miguel. Sounds interesting doesn't it? My Friend from Faro, came out in 2008, from German director Nana Neul, who also wrote the screenplay.

Sunday 4 September 2011

London FrightFest 2011: The Woman Review

Plot: Under a facade of suburban normality, a family lives under the abusive reign of the father, with his twisted view of what a perfect family should be, and who dispenses mental and physical abuse. While on a hunting trip, he comes across a feral woman and captures her and brings her back home in a bid to civilise and "educate" her, with disastrous consequences.

Review: I have a confession to make. I nearly skipped The Woman at FrightFest. Watching three films back to back before its screening had taken its toll and I knew nothing about it apart from its reputation of ultraviolence. Yet what a fantastic surprise this turned out to be, an electrifying experience from start to finish, that instantly became my favourite film of the year so far.