Film reviews and more

Month: April 2012

DVD Review: ‘The Wicker Tree’

★☆☆☆☆ Revered British horror director Robin Hardy returns to familiar ground with The Wicker Tree (2010), an impromptu sequel-of-sorts to his seminal 1973 cult classic The Wicker Man. Sadly, this time around Hardy can only offer up an extraordinarily trite affair that lacks the mystery and genuine horror of his original masterpiece.The Wicker Tree sees young pop star-turned-evangelical Christian […]

DVD Review: ‘The Iron Lady’

★★★☆☆ The most striking aspect of Phyllida Lloyd’s Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady (2011) is in its treading-on-eggshells approach to dealing with the politics that made the grocer’s daughter from Grantham such a polarising figure. Whilst Lloyd has since made it explicitly clear that that was her intended approach in depicting the Iron Lady (played magnificently by Academy […]

Cannes 2012: ‘Lawless’ preview

Those of you who have been kept awake at night wondering what had happened to John Hillcoat’s adaptation of Matt Bondurant’s historical novel The Wettest County in the World can finally rest easy, as the film – renamed Lawless (2012) – will receive its World Premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. This recent name change has been the […]

Udine Far East Film Festival 2012: ‘Vulgaria’

★★★☆☆ Ho-Cheung Pang’s Vulgaria (2012), which had its European Premiere during a packed midnight screening at the 14th Udine Far East Film Festival, stars Chapman To as fictional film producer Wai-Cheung To. From his blunt and coarse comparison of the role of a film producer to the function of pubic hair, to his phenomenal story of self-sacrifice in an […]

Sundance 2012: Safety Not Guaranteed review

★★★★☆ American director Colin Trevorrow’s Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) is just the type of sweet-natured, low budget indie comedy (with an all-important intelligent heart) that has slowly become synonymous with the world-renowned Sundance Film Festival. Starring rising star Aubrey Plaza, Jake M. Johnson and US mumblecore actor/director Mark Duplass, Safety Not Guaranteed is a pitch perfect slice of contemporary […]

Sundance 2012: Filly Brown review

★★☆☆☆ From directors Yousser Delara and Michael D. Olmos comes Filly Brown (2012), a fictional tale of a promising Latino rapper trying to make it big in LA despite numerous domestic and professional obstacles. Starring Gina Rodriguez, Chrissie Fit and Lou ‘Diamond’ Phillips, this hip hop-infused drama sadly struggles to find its voice amongst its myriad of ill-advised subplots. […]

Sundance 2012: LUV review

★★★☆☆ From debut director Sheldon Candis comes LUV (2012), and unconventional crime drama set on the mean, crab-filled streets of Baltimore. Candis largely ensures the cat-and-mouse structure typical of most gangster narratives, instead choosing to focus on the relationship between 11-year-old Woody Watson (Michael Rainey Jr.) and his entrepreneurial Uncle Vincent (played by US rapper Common). Estranged from his […]

Sundance 2012: For Ellen review

★★☆☆☆ Regardless of others involved, a new film starring US indie darling Paul Dano will always be an intriguing prospect. Having broken onto the scene with fine performances in Sundance favourite Little Miss Sunshine (2006) and Paul Thomas Anderson’s towering Oscar-winner There Will Be Blood (2007), Dano has since retracted into the background with a number of ho-hum supporting […]

Sundance 2012: Chasing Ice review

★★★★★ Easily one of the most eagerly-anticipated films to feature in this year’s inaugural Sundance London festival programme was the National Geographic-funded documentary Chasing Ice (2012). Director Jeff Orlowski has painstakingly created a fascinating and powerful movie about climate change by presenting the audience with the globally important work of photographer James Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey Project […]

Udine Film Festival 2012: ‘You Are the Apple of My Eye’

★★★★☆ Reminiscent of 2010 Thai romance A Little Thing Called Love, You Are the Apple of My Eye (2011) by Taiwanese author-turned-director Giddens Ko brings back memories of falling in love for the first time. It is a story about the glory of high-school days, when everyone struggles to navigate the ship of life through the rocky streams of […]

Sundance 2012: Finding North review

★★☆☆☆ Thanks to the enormous popularising influence of filmmaker Michael Moore, American ‘social issue’ documentaries can now be found in relative abundance. Taking more than a few nods from past efforts such as 2008’s Food, Inc, Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush’s oddly-titled, Civil Wars-scored Finding North (2012) seeks to highlight the hunger crisis currently sweeping America, hypothesising over the […]

Sundance 2012: An Oversimplification of Her Beauty review

★★☆☆☆ Perhaps the most unconventional film in this year’s Sundance London programme, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (2012) plays out as director Terrence Nance’s experimental ode to the girl that got away. Combining a multitude of styles, this multifaceted, non-linear documentary is likely to divide audiences despite its obvious artistic flare. Essentially, Nance’s film is a self-reflective rumination on […]

Sundance 2012: Nobody Walks review

★☆☆☆☆ If this year’s inaugural Sundance London can be accused of exporting some of its US counterpart’s more underwhelming films, then Ry Russo-Young’s dreadful Nobody Walks (2012) has to be considered the main offender. Every stereotypical American indie trope and cliché is present and waiting before being promptly flogged to death, leaving behind a hollow, vacuous shell that epitomises […]

Sundance 2012: The Queen of Versailles review

★★★☆☆ Lauren Greenfield’s The Queen of Versailles (2012) takes an alternative perspective on the recent economic crisis to befall America by examining the Siegel family – a wealthy ‘new money’ household who made their fortune selling time shares before almost losing it all during the financial downturn of 2008. Originally planned as a documentary following the construction of the […]

Sundance 2012: Liberal Arts review

★★★★☆ Liberal Arts (2012) is the sophomore directorial effort by Josh Radnor (most commonly known to UK audiences for his role in TV’s How I Met Your Mother), a witty and incredibly sweet independent comedy that stars Radnor himself amongst a stellar cast which includes Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins and Zac Efron. Jesse (Radnor) is a thirty-something “over articulate […]

Cannes 2012: Competition jury announced plus more films added

The 65th Cannes Film Festival today announced the main competition jury members who will be joining head juror, Italian film director Nanni Moretti, in presiding over the festival and ultimately awarding the coveted Palme d’Or prize. Foremost amongst the newly announced jurors are European actresses Diane Kruger and Emmanuelle Devos, who will join Scottish actor Ewan McGregor (who one […]

Film Review: ‘Buck’

★★★★☆ Buck Brannaman appears to be your average modern-day cowboy; yet in the equestrian world and beyond, he is nothing short of a superstar. In the inspirational and emotionally-charged documentary Buck (2011), the first feature release from Cindy Meehl, we meet an enigmatic man who possesses an extraordinary gift to communicate and heal troubled or misbehaving horses across the […]

Film Review: ‘Strippers vs Werewolves’

★★☆☆☆ It’s probably unwise to analyse films like Strippers vs Werewolves (2012) too closely. Peel away the gimmicky editing (which is effective in a naive comic-book way), and what’s left of this British produced horror-comedy from director Jonathan Glendening (responsible for the recent horror release Night Wolf (2012)) lacks any real guts. Starring Robert Englund, Steven Berkoff and newcomer […]