Sunday 15 December 2013

Top 30 Of 2013: 10 To 6

10) Drinking Buddies by Joe Swanberg

One of the biggest surprises of the year, since a mere few days before seeing it at the LFF I didn't even know of its existence. And while I knew Joe Swanberg as a great actor (A Horrible Way To Die, You're Next, The Sacrament...), I had not seen any of his films as a director previously.

Drinking Buddies follows the interactions between two couples, from friendship to love and anything in between, and is a great throwback to a certain kind of grown-up cinema that was more prominent in the 70's. Indeed, watching this makes you realise how very few American contemporary films seem to actually tackle relationships head on without the need for some padding, be it comedic or overly dramatic. Even indie films often hide behind a rather grating affectation. Here there are no artifices, it all feels terribly real and well observed, very funny at time but never over-written, since most of it was actually improvised.

Sunday 8 December 2013

Top 30 Of 2013: 15 To 11

15) Blancanieves by Marco Berger

This Spanish silent adaptation of Snow-White, transposed in the Seville of the 1920's could have turned so horribly wrong, as a pastiche or vacuous style exercise. Yet instead, this is a pure joy, a beautiful love letter to cinema, stylish and stunning, with tributes to many classics of silent cinema of all genres. Blancanieves is also incredibly funny, with a hilarious and plucky rooster, and a star turn from Maribel Verdú channeling old school glamour as the OTT wicked stepmother.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Top 30 Of 2013: 20 To 16

20) Lords Of Salem by Rob Zombie

Rob Zombie has surprisingly proven to be one of the most consistently interesting voices within the US indie horror, even with his misguided Halloween remake and its sequel. And I hold The Devil's Rejects as one of the best and most exciting horror films of the last decade. Yet he takes another unexpected turn with his latest, Lords Of Salem, which features a cast that is not just a tribute but actually includes the entire group of genre actors from the 80's (Dee Wallace, Maria Conchita Alonso, Meg Foster, Ken Foree...).

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Tokyo Fist Review

With the skyscrapers of Tokyo pressing down on him, insurance salesman Tsuda (actor/director Shin'ya Tsukamoto) lives a life pinned in and sedated by the cubicles of modern apartment living, his job and the traditional conventions of his engagement to Hizuru (Kaori Fujii). Tsuda bumps into his childhood friend Kojima (Kohji Tsukamoto, real life brother of the director), who is an obsessive boxer and  who quickly turns Tsuda's life upside down by attempting to seduce Hizuru.

Sunday 1 December 2013

Top 30 Of 2013: 25 To 21

25) Gravity by Alfonso Cuarón

I may have been the last person to seen this, but I am even more impressed by its stratospheric success considering how singular this is. First of all we can't deny the spectacular technical achievement this represents, making any other films set in space seem comically inaccurate. But while some have lamented how straight-forward the story is, I enjoyed its simplicity, in an age of overwrought scripts with 17 writing credits. While it doesn't match the metaphysical highs of say, Solaris or 2001, it still contains some unusual philosophical depths for a film of that scale.

I find thinking about the unfathomably enormous vastness of the universe and our minuscule place within it dizzying, and seldom has it been so adequately represented, within a nail-biting yet almost contemplative survival adventure. I love cinema when it can still be that bold despite a big-budget, and make us reconsider the 3D format we had long given up on.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Top 30 Of 2013: 30 To 26

30: Birdemic 2: The Resurrection by James NGuyen

This might sound like a joke, and this won't help with recent accusations of contrarianism, but Birdemic 2 truly deserves a spot on here, even if it's at the bottom. Yes it is completely inept at every possible level, with the lack of skills here reaching an almost surreal quality, all the more surprising that nowadays it is not that hard to do a decent film with even an iPhone, and the "actors" are uniformly terrible, laughably so. But while there is a long history of "so bad it's good" films, with Asylum churning out one after another rather cynically, this is different. James NGuyen might have zero talent whatsoever, but he gets top marks for blind enthusiasm, in an Ed Wood kind of way, and there is a real love of cinema on display here, the film being peppered with unexpected references to classics such as Sunset Boulevard.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

My Top 30 Of 2013: An Introduction

When I watched my first film of 2013 at the cinema, Texas Chainsaw 3D, I knew it could only get better from there onwards. Little did I know at that stage however that 2013 was going to be one of the most scintillating and exciting years for films for as long as I can remember, so much so that I feel the need to compile not a top 10 but a top 30 of 2013! Compared this to 2012 where, outside a strong top 4, I struggled to find a decent bunch to fill a top 10. Not only that, I have already seen enough films at various festivals this year with a UK release due for next year to set up a strong top 10 of 2014 which would satisfy me as end of year list.

Monday 25 November 2013

Gravity's Metaphors - SPOILERS

I have enjoyed Gravity quite a lot more than anticipated. And it is easy to forget, given its stratospheric box-office success, how much how a risky proposition it was on paper. Yes the story is pretty straight-forward, but it has moments of haunting beauty and devastating arthouse brilliance which I did not expect (I was particularly impressed by some of its unusual soundtrack). Even though the story is simple, having gathered my thoughts, there are a couple of metaphors which have sprung to mind. I am usually careful with those, and I particularly lament the annoying modern trend of over-analysing popular culture to death. But here they go: (SPOILERS)

Friday 15 November 2013

In Fear Review

In Fear finds Lucy (Alice Englert) and Tom (Iain De Caestecker) a young couple travelling together to a music festival in Ireland. The tentative phone call by Tom to Lucy setting up the initial date signals the fledging aspect of what is just a two week relationship by the time Lucy agrees to change her accommodation plans to stay in a country hotel with Tom. Director Jeremy Lovering uses well honed psychological tricks to create a sense of fear for his film.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Blue Jasmine: A Theory... SPOILERS

I have finally seen Blue Jasmine just after about everybody else, and I adored it, even though I never want to watch it ever again. I don't recall having been as depressed by a film since The Mist (which is a good thing in my book), and I am very sad that Cate Blanchett's towering and sensational performance will still see her lose out to Sandra Bullock for Gravity at the Oscars next year simply because the latter made more money. However I had a minor niggle with a plot development with Blue Jasmine while watching it, which felt a little artificial and convenient, until I began to wonder if there was more to it than met the eyes. And I developed a theory as below, which you absolutely should not read unless you have seen the film. SPOILERS

Utopia Review

Utopia is a near sequel to Australian journalist and film maker John Pilger's 1985 documentary The Secret Garden which looked at the lives of the first people or Aboriginal people of Australia. Pilger concentrates his documentary around the area called Utopia where a large section of the Aboriginal community now lives.

The documentary's title is more than ironic when the poverty likened to Third World conditions in which the Aboriginal people live brings Australia under continued criticism from the UN. However, as the documentary points out, the area of Utopia happens to sit on some of the most abundantly wealthy mineral rich areas in the world.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

LFF 2013 Capsules: Asian Kicks

The downside of having seen so many films at the LFF is that I also had less time to write about them. And since at that rate I'll only have finished their reviews comes Cannes 2014 (or even LFF 2014), I have to resort to write shorter reviews, and reserve full reviews for those which really made an impact for all the right... or the wrong reasons! First off, 2 films from the Far East, two very different films who only have their relatively close geographical connection in common. As well as the 4 stars rating I gave them.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

London Film Festival 2013 Round Up

Though it's been written here, it goes without saying that this FilmLandEmpire contributor would like nothing more than to travel the world's film festivals and see all the films on offer. All of them with a packed lunch made up of very quiet food and plenty of water and nicely brewed tea/coffee options at hand. To be able to nonchalantly observe that 'Yes, I saw it at Cannes' is an actual life goal.

So it was with Oyster card at the ready that this film fan happily donned the red cloth string that held my pass to attend the near neighbourhood based London Film Festival. 2012's LFF was marred a little bit by a slight case of blood poisoning (true) and this year was restricted by the unplanned for absence of my trusted familial dog sitter - also true. So though I did not see every film I had hoped to see, ie all of them, below is some of the films that were highlights or not especially memorable-lights to me from the festival.

Thor: The Dark World Review

Thor: The Dark World, as with the other Marvel Avengers films, picks up the thread of its story a few years after the Battle of New York. One of the strengths of Thor as a character, is that he is not restricted to an Earth bound story but instead, the canvas of any Thor driven story has the vastness of Nine (whole) Realms in which to explore and utilise.

Co-screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, well versed in the Marvel universe from Captain America: The First Avenger, 2011 make references to events on Earth but the world of Asgard is opened up in all it's baroque grandeur. The Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three are included in an array of battles with the talents that Thor (Chris Hemsworth) brings to the battle field and as a regal leader on display though gone is Thor's adolescent-like swagger.

Sunday 27 October 2013

LFF 2013 Capsules: All Cheerleaders Die

There is no greatest betrayal than from those you love. Is it because of the emotional investment, the higher expectations... Being scorned by those you have cherished, supported, admired, longed for... is the ultimate tragedy. It happened at the London Film Festival, and it took the incredible quality of the rest of the line up to make it up for it. But it is hard to let it go, for you might find a new director to lust after, but one object of your affection never replaces the previous one. I'm looking at you, Lucky McKee.

Friday 25 October 2013

London Film Academy

In a listed building, formally a Church in Fulham, the London Film Academy was founded in 2001 by two enthusiastic friends, Anna MacDonald and Daisy Gili. Both women are joint principles of this non-profit making trust dedicated to running practical and professional film making courses including their full-time one year Filmmaking Diploma along with a wide variety of short specialised courses such as Acting for Directors which can be completed in three days. Over the three floors of the Academy, the air is filled with the buzz of near palpable industrious enthusiasm for the behind the scenes minute of creating a film from pen on paper screen writing to dead line driven production.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Interview with Michael Blyth, Programmer Of The Cult Strand At The LFF

It is safe to say that the London Film Festival has seen its best edition in a long time, thanks to a varied and inspired line-up which more than delivered on its promises. Among it, the Cult strand in particular was the gift that kept on giving. I have nowhere near finished writing all my reviews and I shall keep churning them out through the following days, but it has given to us such highlights as The Strange Colour Of Our Body Tears, The Sacrament, The Congress, Only Lovers Left Alive... Given the quality of the Cult films presented this year, I was keen to ask its programmer Michael Blyth a few question about it and about genre films in general.

1) The Cult strand was introduced at the London Film Festival last year, just as Clare Stewart took over as Festival Director. Was it her idea to include such a strand, and if not, was she easily convinced? 

When Clare took over as Head of Festivals she brought with her a load of new ideas. Luckily for me, a desire to represent cult and genre cinema in the LFF programme was one of them, so I didn’t have to do any convincing. In fact, she approached me with the idea of the Cult strand. We had a lot of discussions about what we wanted to achieve, and the direction we wanted to take the programme, and then she let me run with it. It’s been a very exciting working relationship. She’s not afraid to try new things which is really the most that I could ask for.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

LFF 2013 Capsules: The Epic Of Everest

The British Film Institute's role is not just to promote contemporary cinema and develop and support homegrown talent, it also has an important task of conservation and restoration of British cinema. And as has become a tradition every year at the London Film Festival, an old film from their archives was given the Archive Gala treatment, this time, The Epic Of Everest (1924) by Captain John Noel.

While the atmosphere at the LFF a decade ago used to be rather sedate and stuffy, filled with OAPs, it has become a lot more vibrant, with a wider and more diverse audience over the last few years. But the Gala screening of The Epic Of Everest, which I attended, was a different affair, with an amusingly old world, very posh and ancient audience. Indeed I must have been the youngest member of the audience by about 100 years, bar two young toffs sat next to me, who I fully expected to be secret members of the Bullingdon club about to unleash mayhem in the cinema.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Prince Avalanche Review

Prince Avalanche is one of those curious films that masquerades itself within the absurd and comedic while considering the profundities of life and how to live it. Director David Gordon Green's screen adaptation of the Icelandic film Either Way, centres around Alvin (Paul Rudd) and Lance (Emile Hirsch) as they spend the summer of 1988 freshly marking out vast swaths of roads in a Texan region devastated by wildfires.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

LFF 2013 Capsules: The Double

Richard Ayoade is best known for his comedic turn in the tv serie The I.T. crowd (and for his supporting part in the turkey blockbuster of last year The Watch, as the token eccentric foreigner). A few years ago he tackled his first film as a director, Submarine, a bittersweet coming of age story, which is exactly what would be expect a first film to be. But for this second film, The Double, he has taken a radical turn, from a narrative as well as a formal point of view.

LFF 2013 Capsules: The Sacrament

Ti West is one of those emerging talents from the new wave of independent horror cinema, but some of his output has been a little hit and miss of late. His films are always very distinctive, and slow burning, which is such a relief in a time of derivative horrors and epileptic editing. And House Of The Devil was a wonderful and pretty much perfect tribute to 80's horrors. But other times he has missed the mark. The Inkeepers suffered from uninteresting leads and an unengaging story. His segment in V/H/S jarred with the others but offered an interesting pay-off. And his ABCs Of Death one was needlessly offensive. Now he is back with The Sacrament, which played in the Cult section of the festival.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

LFF 2013 Capsules: Chinese Puzzle

Earlier in the year, we met up with Céline and Jessie again, in Before Midnight. But another, less remarkable film franchise which has also spread out along the years in (nearly) real time is also making a return this year. After Pot Luck and Russian Dolls, here comes Chinese Puzzle. What's next, French Windows?

Pot Luck followed a bunch of Erasmus students sharing a flat in Barcelona, their friendship and romance, their aspirations for the future... Having been a Erasmus student myself, living with a bunch of European students, this struck a chord, especially thanks to the likeable cast, despite the direction being a bit hit and miss. Then Russian Dolls followed a few years later, seeing our characters grow older, wiser (maybe), having to make some life changing decisions, with the carelessness of their youth already ebbing away.

Friday 27 September 2013

Prisoners Review

On paper, the plot of Prisoners is nothing remarkable: two young girls from two good decent families go missing on Thanksgiving Day with an odd ball suspected. With time ticking by, the families become increasingly desperate to find their daughters alive while a young detective, who has never not solved a case, tries to find the little girls. In the case of Prisoners however, Aaron Guzikowski's (Contraband, 2012) script, helped by a truly stellar and Oscar nominated rich cast, is consistently mercurial and arguably has the rare quality of a Hollywood 'whodunnit' that is unpredictable.

Thursday 26 September 2013

London Film Festival 2013 Capsules: Gare Du Nord

The excitement is rising as the London Film Festival is nearly upon us! While I will be doing some proper, daily coverage of my days at the festival once it officially starts on the 10th of October, I shall also write a few capsule reviews of the few films I will be seeing beforehand at press screenings, in case you are still undecided on some titles! As much as I'd love to, I won't have time to write full reviews of all of them, so I am offering you those LFF capsules instead. First stop, Gare Du Nord.

Friday 13 September 2013

Forbidden World: Emmanuelle Meets Alien

When Forbidden World started, I actually thought something was wrong with the dvd. It looked like the editor had pressed on all the buttons in front of him while half-drunk, resulting in some spliced footage of battle in space as well as short clips fast-forwarded from later on in the film, all of it which made no sense whatsoever. A few minutes later, after a space marshall escapes said space battle by going through "hyperspace" (read: the director placed the camera inside a lit Pringles tub while blowing some light air over the actor's hair to simulate the gigaspeed), he arrives on a scientific base in a distant planet, where some scientists have been playing God and splicing up various species's DNA to create new ones. Obviously it all goes wrong. Plus the female crew seems to have a weird allergy to clothing.

Thursday 12 September 2013

The London Film Festival Meldtown

The London Film Festival has grown and grown in popularity and stature over the years. Over a decade ago, it was a more sedate affair, mainly populated with pensioners and students, serving as a catch-up of films shown previously in Cannes, Toronto and Venice. But under the masterful direction of first Sandra Hebron, and since last year Clare Stewart, the festival has seen its attendance and prestige increase dramatically, thanks to a winning and versatile programme which includes red carpet galas for bigger films as well as smaller, undiscovered gems, all of this fuelled with an infectious enthusiasm and a casual yet vibrant atmosphere. Helped by a growing appetite for a wider range of films in the UK, and the chatter and connections of films fans made through social networks and especially Twitter, it has become an essential rendez-vous for film fans in the capital and outside it. But with popularity and an increased attendance comes a flip side, one which, due to an incident today, might threaten to dim the enthusiasm of its supporters.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Harrigan - Policing the Hard Way in the 70's

Sharp and brutal, Harrigan is a crime thriller set in 1974, in Newcastle. Like a strong punch to your gut, this film will hold you captive and take you back on a journey to Thatcher's destitute 70's. Against the bleak working class area of a dark November, we see the return of  detective sergeant Harrigan (Stephen Tompkinson) who has been working in Hong Kong for many years.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Phonegate: Why Turning Off Your Smartphone Benefits Everybody

I love Film4 FrightFest. Horror audiences care about movies a lot. So much so, if anybody dares to use their smartphone during a screening, they’re likely to be shouted at and harangued until said person is shamed into either leaving the auditorium or being a good cinema-goer and switching off the phone. Seriously, the zero tolerance policy is brilliant and Alex Billington would love it.

One year, I heard somebody bellow out across the cavernous Screen 1 of Empire Theatre, “Turn your phone off, you fucking c*&t!” FrightFest run slightly less abrasive (but often gory) adverts before each screening at the festival. The ‘Turn Your Bloody Phones Off’ idents are most amusing. If you haven’t got the message then there’s grouchy Scottish FrightFest co-director, Ian Rattray, to threaten you into compliance. The organisers have cultivated a policy regarding mobile phone use that totally works.

Monday 9 September 2013

FrightFest Day 2: It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times

After the appetiser of day 1 with only two films, came the piece de resistance, a day of 4 films back to back. This is what I love about FrightFest, the way the screenings are concentrated in one place, making it much easier to watch them back to back, as well as enhancing the social factor greatly. There is nothing I enjoy more than coming out after each screening to discuss the film we have just seen with my fellow festival-goers. On this full day, there were no half-measures. Out of the four films I saw, two were brilliant, and two were rubbish.

Sunday 8 September 2013

My Picks For The London Film Festival 2013

Under The Skin

The London Film Festival line-up has been revealed earlier in the week, and it's a cornucopia of riches, a smorgasbord of delights, and one of the strongest, most inventive selection in years. While not up there in the big league alongside Cannes, Venice & Toronto, the LFF has grown in popularity over the last decade, offering a selection that offers a catch-up from the other film festivals in the calendar year, as well as unearthing some true treasures of its own. Indeed my favourite thing every year is to flick through the programme and discover all these new films I knew nothing about yet I am dying to see.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Riddick Review

Plot: Betrayed and left for dead on an inhospitable planet, Riddick has to contend with a hostile and deadly wildlife. Activating a rescue beacon, he attracts the attention of two different groups of mercenaries and bounty hunters, with some very different reasons to go after him. And just as you think it cannot get any worse, an even bigger threat looms at the horizon...

The first film in the Riddick franchise, Pitch Black, is a classic as far as I am concerned, a terrifying and smart sci-fi horror, with some real depth to it, and some unusually fleshed out characters, especially its main protagonist, the anti-hero Riddick, with his ever shifting moral principles. Then came its sequel, Chronicles Of Riddick, a film which can be lauded for at least attempting to go on a completely different direction, and not doing a bigger reboot of the first one, which so many modern sequels do. Sadly there is little else you can praise it for. Larger in scale and budget, it was an attempt to extend and explore the universe of Riddick, but it turned into a dour and rather boring space opera which satisfied nobody.

Monday 2 September 2013

Exclusive Interview With Matila Malliarakis - Beyond The Walls

Most of the British audience will have only recently discovered Matila Malliarakis in the French serie The Returned. But in Beyond The Walls, out in the UK on dvd, he shows a different side of him, and in an exclusive interview with FilmLand Empire, he has come up with some very thoughtful answers about the film making process, LGB cinema and French tv series.

1) Your characters in Beyond The Walls and your relationship in it feel incredibly real. Did you have any input in the script? 

Most of it was already written into the screenplay, but David had a very clear idea of the characters, and is one of those directors who knows how to let the actors invent in the moment. Once we all agreed on the heart of the film, he trusted us enough to let us propose things, even if they didn’t initially correspond to the storyline.

Sunday 1 September 2013

FrightFest 2013: Day 1 - Haunted Houses & Haunted Tapes

Ah, FrightFest! My guilty pleasure among the film festival circuit. More than any other films, horrors demand to be watched in a huge, packed screen, with an audience who laughs and screams at all the right parts. And the audience at FF is probably the best in the world, the most fun, and also the nicest there is, respectful of any cast & crew which comes up on stage, and happy to put it with some truly atrocious films, as long as there is a fun decapitation involved. Last year brought us the unforgettable Tulpa, and the Chinese banquet incident I wrote a poem about. While this year did not have such memorable moments, or any films as exceptional as two I saw in 2011 (The Woman) and 2012 (Berberian Sound Studio), the general quality was higher. It was to be a year to remember for a sad reason, in an end of an era kind of way, but more on that later.

Saturday 31 August 2013

Beyond The Walls

In Beyond The Walls, what begins as an impromptu one-night stand between Illir (Guillaume Gouix), an attractively scruffy man with little time for romance, and Paulo (Matila Malliarakis), a confused and more sensitive young man, evolves into a more long term relationship due to unexpected circumstances. But no relationships is ever immune to what life throws at you and the trials of time.

Thursday 22 August 2013

The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones

Clary (Lily Collins) is just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life of teenage sulkiness in New York City. Or so she thought, until she finds herself in the midst of a war between angels and demons, taking place in front of humanity's very eyes, but invisible to most of them. For Clary is a Shadow Hunter, blessed with supernatural powers, and whose role it is to protect humans. And she is thrown into action when her mum (herself a Shadow Hunter) is kidnapped by a demon. She must join other Shadow Hunters, finding out a few truths about herself along the way, and fulfil her destiny.

Friday 16 August 2013

2 Guns

With a promising opening scene and clear markers towards a dialogue heavy film, two star header 2 Guns' simplistic title appears to be a marketing ploy to play up the action elements of the film, of which there are many. Denzel Washington as Robert 'Bobby' Trench returns to familiar ground of being a charismatic, intelligent, government trained capable agent who may or may not have the best of intentions as in Training Day (2001) and the more inferior Safe House (2012). Mark Wahlberg is Bobby's partner Michael 'Stig' Stigman, at times the opposite but always the equal of Bobby in terms of intentions and having a particular kind of skill set. 

Sunday 11 August 2013

Pi: Blu-Ray Release

Darren Aronofsky has got to be one of the most interesting and versatile directors working at the moment. He has a unique visual style but his cinema is never style over substance, on the contrary, he is never afraid to tackle some pretty ambitious subjects. And all of his qualities were very much apparent in his first film, Pi. Fifteen years after its original release, his first film is getting a 15th year anniversary release on Blu-Ray, so now is the perfect opportunity to discover it.

Saturday 10 August 2013

FrightFest & The Chinese Takeaway: A Poem

They say the arts are therapeutic. Some events are so traumatic that they get buried deep inside the dark depths of your psyche, unable that you are to face them. But the arts can help you heal the trauma, by letting you express yourself creatively and challenge those painful memories.

As we are nearing FrightFest, it is time to face my old demon, an event that occurred at last year's edition and got branded on my brain. I have only mentioned it to a few trusted people, in hushed tones, looking in the oblivion at the Lovecraft-like, unfathomable horrors that the memories conjured. Even now, nearly 12 months later, it is too raw to be openly talking about them. I could have drawn the event, I could have sung it. Instead, I have decided to write a poem about it. And I hope I will finally heal.

Friday 9 August 2013

The Lone Ranger Review

Jerry Bruckheimer and Johnny Depp know their way around a lucrative franchise that dabbles liberally and expediently in the magical filled with bombastic action as seen with Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) and it's near in-exhausted sequels. Bruckheimer and Depp share producer duties on their latest venture The Lone Ranger, based on the original 1933 American radio series. 

Sunday 4 August 2013

The Adjuster: Nostalgia for 90's Indie Cinema

I first saw Atom Egoyan's The Adjuster one afternoon on TV in France, whose much more relaxed censorship meant it was perfectly possible to watch that kind of film in the daytime, despite a particularly graphic scene. I was 17 and the film flew right over my head, as well as grossing me out a couple of times too. I became a fan of Atom Egoyan a few years later, especially with Exotica so with the new Artificial Eye release of The Adjuster on Blu-Ray, it was high time to rediscover it. And what a shock it has proven to be on its second viewing, a rediscovery which also prompted a slight nostalgia for a certain kind of North American's indie cinema of the 90's.

Friday 2 August 2013

Silence, a film about sounds

Silence by director Pat Collins is, as the title antagonistically suggests, a film about sounds. But sounds that are far from human-made noise, so when I sat down on my seat with a bottle of water in one hand and a bag of crisps on the other, and the film hummed its blissful massage-like tones, I felt embarrassed at every bite, crick and crack. As any good Londoner (from abroad in my case) would.

Sunday 28 July 2013

Gérard Depardieu Wears His Tenue De Soirée

First of all, apologies for the long break! Moving to a new place meant no internet for a fortnight. At least, it gave me time to watch films. I went on a bit of a French Festival, having picked up a few dvds in Paris, and one of them I found was one I have been wanting to watch since 1987.

My favourite decade for films is the 80's, as much for the films I saw then as for the ones I knew about but did not get to see as I was too young. I had my imagination in overdrive trying to imagine what they were like, solely based on a few stills, in those pre-internet days. One of them was Bertrand Blier's Tenue De Soirée, with its outré poster featuring Gérard Depardieu and Michel Blanc dressed up in drag like some cheap and unconvincing transvestites, and its tagline, which I shall not translate because Blogger does not allow swear words. I knew it was not for me but I was fascinated by it.

Friday 12 July 2013

Monsters University Review

Pixar can be credited with taking it's time between monster box office hits for the studio, not simply due to the time consuming animation process it champions, but because they are truly interested in character and storytelling. 

So it is not exactly hot on the heels of the 2001 hit Monsters Inc that we have the Monsters prequel Monsters University. How did Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) first meet is the jumping off point of this prequel. Concentrating more on Mike than Sully, Monsters University shows how Mike was inspired to become a Scarer, his first few months of university life and getting to know Sully. 

Saturday 6 July 2013

Jodorowsky's Dune: The Best Sci-Fi Film Never made

It is safe to say that David Lynch's Dune is a terrible failure, the only misfire in the illustrious director's career. I had heard a while back than another film adaptation of Dune had been worked on but had never made it past the concept stage. All I knew about it that it was to feature Salvador Dali in its cast, and Alejandro Jodorowsky was at the helm, a director I knew very little at the time.

But a new documentary, Jodorwsky's Dune, which was presented at the Cannes Film Festival in the Director's Fortnight selection this year,  shows how far the project went (even though it never actually reached the shooting stage), by having the director and all of those who worked on the film recall the incredible saga of the best film (well, potentially!) never made.

Thursday 4 July 2013

Now You See Me Review

A sprinkle of cheese, a coating of “Robin Hood razzle dazzle”, three elaborate illusions and a Shyamalan twist make up this ludicrous and funny heist/magic caper. Add to that a stellar cast including Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo , Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Melanie Laurent and you get a concoction that plays out a little like one of the Ocean’s films.

Jack Wilder, Henley Reeves, Merritt McKinney and J. Daniel Atlas are plucked from obscurity by a mysterious figure to make up the most prestigious magic act of all time The Four Horsemen.  Though magic is on the cards their main aim is to target large corporations who have done the public a disservice. The banks, insurance companies and surveillance are the targets who they not only steal from them but humiliate in front of an audience too.

Friday 28 June 2013

This Is The End Review

Childhood friends and long time film collaborators Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen share directing and writing duties on This is the End. Straight from the stoner successful writer/director/producer world shared with Judd Apatow, This is theEnd uses a plethora of real life actors and friends of Goldberg and Rogen playing versions of themselves at a party at James Franco's new house right before the Biblical version of the Apocalypse. Not a fan of L. A. Jay (Jay Baruchel) isvisiting Seth (Seth Rogen) as the two attempt to rekindle their friendship since the Californication of Seth and his inclusion into a new set of friends that include the likes of Franco and Jonah Hill to name just a few.

Monday 24 June 2013

Cannes Diaries Day 7: Tom Hiddleston & Tilda Swinton

You would think writing about an event a month later is tricky. Not when it is the Cannes Film Festival. Each of its editions since 1992 is branded upon my brain, and I remember all 21 films I saw in 1993 for example, the lady I was sat next to when I saw The Piano, when I saw Gary Oldman just outside the jury's lodge and asked for his autograph... To think there was no Twitter, no blog, nothing to relay all this at the time, and few of my friends actually cared about any of it apart from the actual "being in Cannes Film Fest" cool factor. So yes, my last day in Cannes 2013, twenty years later...

As amazing as the festival had been up until this point, I had my eyes on my most anticipated films of all, which was also the last film shown in competition: Only Lovers Left Alive, by Jim Jarmush. I mean, a vampire film by Jim Jarmush! With Tilda Swinton! And Tom Hiddleston! For some bizarre reason, the film had been added to the line-up a few days after the official announcement of the competition, and I wonder what kind of politics took place behind the scene to explain it.

Sunday 16 June 2013

Cannes Diaries Day 6: Mads & Marion

For whatever reason, a lot of people tend to leave the Cannes Film Festival in its last few days, even though some of the most exciting films are usually showing at the end. It is very noticeable, after the crazy first week end, which I have decided to avoid, that the attendance drops little by little every day. On my penultimate day, I had a date with two of my favourite actors, Mads Mikkelsen and Marion Cotillard.

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Cannes 2013 Diaries Day 5: Blue Is The Warmest Colour

Good lord, at that rate I will have finished my Cannes 2013 diaries on time for Cannes 2014. I admire those who, on top of watching films at the festival (sometimes 5 or 6 a day!), drinking, socialising etc... also manage to write! So the previous night had ended in drunken debauchery, yet I was determined to wake up on time to see La Vie D'Adele (Blue Is The Warmest Colour) for its morning screening in the Palais. Later on that day, I was to see a restored classic for the first time, instantly becoming one of my favourite films ever, before seeing a screen icon and one of my favourite actresses in the flesh. Cannes truly is worth all the tears and nervous breakdown (when it all goes well).

Monday 10 June 2013

For Love's Sake: West Side Story Meets Takeshi's Castle

Some films are truly cursed. I had an invitation for For Love's Sake for its midnight screening slot in Cannes last year, but had to give it up as I had no way to go back to Nice on time that night (I should have slept on the beach, a timeless Cannes tradition). Then I booked a ticket to see it at the London Film Festival later in the year, only to fall victim to the seemingly inevitable LFF flu. But finally, while it did not secure a cinema release, For Love's Sake is now available on DVD/Blu Ray, and I have seen it without the world ending, result.

I was about to call this Takashi Miike's latest, but with the prolific director, you can be sure that he already has at least 3 news film finished by now. In fact, I saw his more recent one Shield Of Straw at Cannes this year. I cannot think of anybody who has tackled more different genres and styles than the Japanese director. He is the man who gave us a film about a half-man/half-zebra superhero (Zebraman) after all.

Sunday 9 June 2013

Top 10 Best Actresses

Following our interblog top 10 of best directors last month, we have now lavished our attention on actresses. There is absolutely no way I am going to rank them as I am a gallant person, so I present them to you in alphabetical order. I am not saying there are the best actresses ever, far from it, this is instead a very personal list.