Sunday 30 October 2011

Survival Of The Dead: Please Put Them Out Of Their Misery

Survival of the dead is the last chapter in George A Romero's new Dead trilogy. And what a tragedy it is. When the zombie master announced that he was working on a new dead film back in 2004, as the zombie genre was going through a revival, with Shaun of the Dead and the Dawn of the Dead remake (that went to the Cannes Film Festival it has to be noted), fans all around the world where wetting themselves with excitement. And yet what a cruel disappointment it has been, made even more painful when each new film turned out to be even worse than the previous one. Survival of the Dead is , I am sorry to say, the final straw.

Thursday 27 October 2011

LFF Day 9: The Day Things Went Bump In The Dark

So the London Film Festival did not quite turn out the way it was supposed to, as I was struck half-way through by the notorious festival bug that has claimed so many victims this year. (They should really have put Contagion as an ominous opening film) And I only managed 16 films out of the 27 I was supposed to see. Still, I ended on a high note with British supernatural thriller The Awakening. Having read the very negative 2 stars review from Empire on my way there, I feared the worst. But I cannot say no to an even half decent ghost story. And what an unexpected pleasure this turned out to be.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

LFF Day 8: Surprise Film and Mumblecorgasm

The hottest ticket in town for the London Film Festival was not the W.E. premiere last night, with the media scrum surrounding Madonna's appearance on the red carpet. (She managed to alienate all her fans by not taking the time to sign a few autographs, nice work). No, those of us in the know had paid to see a film not knowing what it was going to be! Such is the allure of surprise and our playful nature that we were willing to go wherever artistic director Sandra Hebron was going to take us, and indeed the Surprise Screening of the festival is its fastest selling ticket.

Monday 24 October 2011

LFF Day 7: This Was The Best Of Times, This Was The Worst Of Times

The highs and lows of film festivals. While deciding which films to see, with sometimes nothing more than a picture and a quick blurb, you just have to take a chance. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it backfires dramatically. So it was a case of reaching dizzying heights yesterday only to fall into a bottomless pit of abjection.

Saturday 22 October 2011

LFF Day 6: Norwegian chills, French intrigues and Argentinian thrills

A great deal of variety at the London Film Festival yesterday, with a Norwegian then an Argentinian thrillers as well as an experimental French film. And one of them turned out to be a real gem.

The day started off with Headhunters, which came preceded with some positive buzz. Scandinavian genre films have come out of nowhere to occupy an emerging place in cinema lately, with such recent successes as Let the right one in, Dead snow and Trollhunters. Yet this Norwegian thriller, while technically accomplished and a well oiled machine, left me as cold as a plate of near frozen shrimps I had at a hotel's restaurant on a rainy day in Gothenburg a few years ago.

Thursday 20 October 2011

LFF Day 4/5: Corionalus & The Artist

A very strange feeling at the LFF over the last few days, with me only seeing one film per day, the heresy! I am going back in the full swing of things today however, with 3 films! I still managed to see a couple of great films over the last couple of days.

Monday 17 October 2011

LFF Day 3: Shame, The Dirty Shame?

Just one film yesterday but one that I was looking forward to the most at the festival. And as has happened a few times before in the previous years, one of the most anticipated films turned out to be a disappointment.

Shame by Steve McQueen finds the director teams up with the ubiquitous Michael Fassbender yet again, after their award winning first collaboration, Hunger, put them firmly on the map. In here, the Irish/German actor plays Brandon, a man with a succesful career and a beautiful designer flat in New York. Except that he is consumed by an addiction to sex (internet porn, prostitutes, picking up women in bars, in the underground...) while unable to commit to any relationship. And his life's fragile balance is further threatened when his unstable sister comes and live with him.

Sunday 16 October 2011

Exclusive Interview with First Night's director: Christopher Menaul

As per my review, British romantic-comedy First Night, which just came out in the cinema, turned out to be a great surprise, a classy and immensely enjoyable film that is miles away from your average British or American rom-com. So I was keen to find out a bit more about it and below is my exclusive interview with the director Christopher Menaul.

While this is only his second film for the cinema, the British director has some done extensive work for TV, with highlights including The Forsyte Saga (2002), and the BATA winning See No Evil: The Moors Murders (2006). Interestingly, he started work on First Night right after finishing this film about Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, so it must have been one hell of a transition! I was intrigued to see that he has also directed a TV movie about the philosopher Ayn Rand, starring Helen Mirren in the lead, and THAT is something I would love to see! But back to First Night and the interview:

Saturday 15 October 2011

First Night Review

Taking a nice break for the madness of the London Film Festival, I wanted to put the spotlight on a delightful British film that is coming out this week end, First Night by Christopher Menaul. In it, Richard E. Grant plays a wealthy industrialist who decides to stage an opera in his country house, bringing in a cast of youthful and talented singers as well as a female conductor he had his eyes on for quite some time. As the rehearsals take place, dramas unfold and passions sizzle.

LFF Day 2: Cancer, Class War, Sarah Palin and Melancholia

You would probably assume by the post title that today was not exactly a laugh a minute, but what a great, if butt-numbing day! It really feels like I have got into the swing of things at the festival now and I am looking forward to ten more days of this! So a busy day today with four films back to back.

Friday 14 October 2011

LFF Day 1: South Korean and Belgian Experimentalism

After yesterday's opening night, the London Film Festival started in earnest today. I decided at the last minute to switch from the afternoon screening of stinker opener 360 (what were they thinking exactly, putting it on the opening night, apart from the star wattage?) to South Korea's Stateless Things. And then this was followed by Chantal Akerman's Almayer's Folly. Both films were very slow paced and clocked out at over 2 hours, perfect to get me in gear after a summer of frenetic blockbusters and horrors.

Thursday 13 October 2011

LFF 2011: 5 More Films Under The Spotlight (And Still Available!)

Getting some tickets for the London Film Festival's most sought after screenings over the last few years has made getting some for the London Olympics look like a walk in the park in comparison. It is all to the credit of the festival to have managed to increase the frequentation so dramatically, and as such, the most popular screenings sell out within minutes of going on sale. Yet, as the festival just opened today, there are still plenty of screenings available.

A final glance through the programme has revealed a few more interesting titles, which still have available seats as I am writing this. And even if I know nothing more about these films I have chosen to put the spotlight on other than their description on the programme, I have learned to trust the impeccable tastes of the festival over the last few years. If anything, those lesser known titles have a better chance of turning out well unlike some of the gala screenings, whose mere presence seems to have been solely justified by big names in the cast and the guarantee of media coverage more than actual quality. And given the terrible reviews of the festival starry opener, 360, I rest my case!

Tuesday 11 October 2011

The Three Musketeers 3D

It is an understatement to say that Paul W.S. Anderson does not have the best reputation among film fans. In fact, for many, he is only second to Uwe Boll in the scale of awfulness. His main crime is to have squandered the Resident Evil adaptation with an anemic film franchise, as well as committing the woeful Mortal Combat to the big screen, yet another misguided videogame adaptation.

Yet he has not always been without his merits. His "Hellraiser in Space", Event Horizon, has earned a cult status of sort, and I might be alone in this but I felt that Resident Evil 4 was a real improvement in the serie. So it was intriguing to see him embark on a new chapter of his career and target a wider audience with a family blockbuster. Was he to surprise us all?

Friday 7 October 2011

The Battle of the Snow Whites: Julia Roberts Is An Evil Queen

2012 will be the year of the Snow Whites. In March, Tarsem Singh's version, called Snow White (or Untitled Snow White as credited in IMDB), will come out first, featuring Lily Collins and Julia Roberts. And then in June of the same year, it will be the turn of Snow White and the Huntsman by Rupert Sanders (who?) with Kirsten Stewart and Charlize Theron. Why would two studios choose to release two similar film so close to each other? Yet again should I add.

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Werner Herzog: Ach Mr Tom Cruise, I Expect You To Die!

News have emerged of some truly inspired casting today. Maverick German film director Werner Herzog has just been cast as the villain in Tom Cruise's new film, One Shot, to be directed by Christopher McQuarrie (scriptwriter of The Usual Suspects). Anybody who has ever seen the frankly crazy German director of Fitzcarraldo, Aguirre and more recently, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans being interviewed will know full well that he is scary enough in person to make this choice rather logical after all.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Quirky Guys And Gals Review

Quirky Guys and Gals is a Japanese anthology of four short films with a common theme of, well, quirkiness! In "Cheer Girls", a trio of ex-cheerleaders forms a squad whose sole mission is to cheer anybody in need, with some uplifting songs and dance routines. But do their actions truly have the desired effect? In "Boy? Meets Girl", a shy student, used to fading in the background, shines when he lets himself talk into dressing up as a girl to get close to the object of his affection. In "Claim Night" a Japanese woman's war against a customer care department produces an unexpected result. In "The House Full of Abandoned Businessmen", a Japanese woman's house becomes a haven for unemployed businessmen trying to hide their situation from their families.