Film reviews and more

Month: August 2012

Venice 2012: ‘Paradise: Faith’ review

★★★☆☆ Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise trilogy began with Paradise: Love (2012), first screened just a few months ago in Cannes. Each film takes as its protagonist one of three sisters, who seem to be at a point of crisis in their lives. For Love, the first sister was on a trip to Africa to find, if not love, at least […]

Venice 2012: ‘Stories We Tell’ review

★★★★☆ Canadian director Sarah Polley’s most famous work, the Julie Christie-starring Away from Her (2007), dealt with the effects of Alzheimer’s on a relationship between husband and wife. Her latest film and Venice Film Festival offering Stories We Tell (2012) is a semi-documentary dealing with what families remember and how individual truth and memory can differ so much and […]

Venice 2012: ‘Superstar’ review

★★★☆☆ “I woke up one morning and found myself famous,” wrote Lord Byron, one of the first celebrities in our modern sense of the word. Today, the notion of celebrity as a nightmare rather than a dream is already ingrained in our culture. Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love (2012) features a nobody suddenly thrust into the public eye, […]

Venice 2012: ‘Tai Chi 0’ review

★★★☆☆ Directed by Stephen Fung, choreographed by Sammo Hung and starring a whole host of Kung Fu legends, Tai Chi 0 (2012) is a kinetic frenzy of a movie, whose giddy inventiveness will be far too much for some, but a giggle for anyone who enjoys the frenetic quality of filmed martial arts. Those grasping for comparison pieces would […]

Venice 2012: ‘Betrayal’ review

★★☆☆☆ Love, obsession and revenge are the themes of Kirill Serebrennikov’s beguilingly strange, yet ultimately flaccid Betrayal (Izmena, 2012). The film is a Crime and Punishment-style morality tale, told via Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958). Franziska Petri plays a doctor who whilst examining one of her patients (Dejan Lilic), reveals that her husband is cheating with his wife. His life turned […]

Film Review: ‘Cockneys vs. Zombies’

★★★☆☆ Matthias Hoene’s FrightFest opener Cockneys vs Zombies (2012) is an enjoyable, bare-faced zomventure that delivers exactly what the title promises – a fun-filled, B-movie romp with plenty of thrills, spills and jellied eels. When construction workers unwittingly unleash a horde of zombies from a tomb that has been sealed since the reign of King Charles II, the East […]

Film Review: ‘[Rec] 3: Genesis’

★★☆☆☆ Whilst his former directorial partner Jaume Balagueró was off making FrightFest sleeper hit Sleep Tight (2012), Paco Plaza appears to have squandered his time with the subsequent time with [Rec] 3: Genesis (2012), the third entry in the Spanish zombie horror trilogy. Whilst Plaza thankfully ditches the done-to-death found footage formula in favour of a more traditional approach […]

Film Review: ‘Total Recall’ (2012)

★★☆☆☆ Back in 1990, ‘Austrian oak’ Arnold Schwarzenegger hit our screens as the mind-muddled Douglas Quaid in Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall, an adaptation of the Philip K. Dick sci-fi novel We Can Remember it for you Wholesale. Now, Hollywood hack Len Wiseman has undertaken the challenge of remaking the original cult sci-fi classic, with a decent cast including Brits […]

Film Review: ‘Samsara’

★★★★☆ Following 1992’s acclaimed Baraka, groundbreaking director Ron Fricke presents his latest feature Samsara (2011), a similarly mesmeric, non-verbal meditation about the invisible bonds shared between humanity and nature. Lacking any tangible narrative structure, Fricke has substituted conventional storytelling for a beautifully-woven tapestry of profoundly striking images that creates what can only be described as a cinematic work of […]

Film Review: ‘Berberian Sound Studio’

★★★★★ British director Peter Strickland follows up his acclaimed debut feature Katalin Varga (2009) with the eerie and aurally-disturbing Berberian Sound Studio (2012), a tale that blurs the lines of reality, set within a sleazy Italian post-production studio in the 1970s. Toby Jones plays Dorking-born protagonist Gilderoy, an English sound mixer who unwittingly departs from his Surrey home to […]

Venice 2012: ‘Bait 3D’ review

★☆☆☆☆ The 69th Venice Film Festival got under-way with its first foray into 3D, diving into Kimble Rendall’s Ozploitation movie Bait (2012). The story opens with our surf-rescue hero Josh (Xavier Samuel) a little worse for wear after his engagement party. Josh’s future brother-in-law Rory (Richard Brancatisano) heads out to check the buoy in Josh’s stead but this poor […]

Venice 2012: Our coverage begins…

The 69th Venice Film Festival kicks off later today (running from 29 August-8 September) with Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist – showing on the Lido and out of competition – starring Kate Hudson and Riz Ahmed in what looks to be a handsome adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s 2007 novel. There are some 17 films vying for the prestigious Golden […]

DVD Review: ‘Truth or Dare’

★★☆☆☆ British filmmaker Robert Heath returns to screens with Truth or Dare (2012), a low-budget horror that attempts to put a generic spin on the well-known party game of the same name. The film follows five university friends – Paul (Liam Boyle), Chris (Jack Gordon), Luke (Alexander Vlahos), Eleanor (Jennie Jacques) and Gemma (Florence Hall) – as they celebrate […]

Blu-ray Review: ‘Rumble Fish’

★★★☆☆ Francis Ford Coppola Rumble Fish (1983) is the latest cult favourite to be given the Blu-ray treatment thanks to the Masters of Cinema. It’s easy to see why the teen odyssey has been given precedence, with its artful monochrome cinematography and menagerie of American talent, including the likes of Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Nicolas Cage and Diane Lane. […]

DVD Review: ‘Dinotasia’

★★☆☆☆ A heady combination of Werner Herzog and dinosaurs should be enough to draw people to David Krentz and Erik Nelson’s pseudo-documentary Dinotasia (2012), a dramatic retelling of a the age of the ‘terrible lizards’, leading up to the destruction of these prehistoric titans by a giant meteor crashing into the Earth. Sadly, this rambling retelling of the dinosaur’s […]

DVD Review: ‘White Vengeance’

★★★☆☆ Director Daniel Lee’s White Vengeance (2011) follows a long precession of Chinese period action epics which have been released in the UK with growing frequency. Yet, Lee’s film represents a refreshing shift of focus – albeit a shift which may prove to alienate the target demographic – the casual chop-socky action fan seeking the mandatory martial arts mayhem […]

DVD Review: ‘Let the Bullets Fly’

★★★★☆ Jiang Wen’s Let the Bullets Fly (2010) is now one of the highest-grossing Chinese films of all time, and it’s not difficult to see why. The title of the film seem to suggests a return to the classic heroic bloodshed movies of John Woo, an assumption supported by the presence of Woo’s iconic leading man Chow Yun-fat. However, […]

Film4 Summer Screen 2012: Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’

This August, Somerset House’s Film4 Summer Screen season played host to a very special screening of British ‘Master of Suspense’ Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 classic The Birds, featuring a digitally re-mastered version of the film shown for the very first time in the UK. Illuminated with blood-red lighting, the open-air venue could not have been more perfect considering the content […]