Film reviews and more

Month: February 2013

Film Review: ‘Broken City’

★★☆☆☆ Whilst sadly stale in its overall delivery, there are still some delights to be found in Allen Hughes’ fusion of political thriller with noir pot-boiler, Broken City (2013), which stars Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The New York of the film seethes with seediness, a hive of both corruption and vice. We open to Wahlberg’s protag, […]

Film Review: ‘Sleep Tight’

★★★★☆ From the man who co-directed the first two entries in the [Rec] horror franchise, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Balagueró now tries his hand at something a little less frightening – yet equally as disturbing – as we enter the deranged world of César (Luis Tosar) in Sleep Tight (Mientras duermes, 2011). Working as an apartment block concierge, César takes full advantage […]

Film Review: ‘Hi-So’

★★★☆☆ Thai director Aditya Assarat’s debut film, Wonderful Town (2007), saw a quiet romance set amidst a community mourning in the wake of the 2004 tsunami. Whilst his sophomore feature does shift away from it slightly, Hi-So (2010) – and its first half in particular – is still haunted by the spectre of that devastating natural disaster. Meditatively taking […]

Film Review: ‘Arbitrage’

★★★☆☆ In the midst of a global economic downturn, with millions out of work and struggling to make ends meet, Nicholas Jarecki’s Arbitrage (2012) poses a challenging premise by asking its audience just how much they care for the self-inflicted problems faced by the likes of Richard Gere’s hedge fund magnate Robert Miller. Jarecki doesn’t stop there either, as […]

Film Review: ‘The Bay’

★★★☆☆ Veteran filmmaker Barry Levinson makes his best movies at home in Baltimore. His memoirs, Diner, Tin Men, Avalon and Liberty Heights – buoyant with wistful charm and unpretentious fondness – have a personal acuity his non-Baltimore films have suffered without. Now in his 70s, the director returns to his home city – not this time for misty-eyed nostalgia […]

Film Review: ‘Stoker’

★★★★☆ Whilst all eyes will soon be glued to Spike Lee’s 2013 US remake of Park Chan-wook’s infamous revenge thriller Old Boy (2003), with Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen and Samuel L. Jackson set to star, the controversial South Korean director has been busy working away on his English-language debut feature, entitled Stoker (2013). Starring Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska and […]

Film Review: ‘Safe Haven’

★☆☆☆☆ American author Nicholas Sparks has been watching his novels re-purposed for the big screen for over a decade now. The Notebook (2004) is perhaps the most widely adored example, though it hardly garnered universal acclaim; still, it did good business at the box office and paved the way for a stream of further Sparks adaptations. The latest in […]

Film Review: ‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters 3D’

★★☆☆☆ After Norwegian Nazi zombie flick Dead Snow (2009) was devoured by horror fans, the good people at Paramount Pictures decided to give writer-director Tommy Wirkola $50 million to make Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters 3D (2013); an ill-conceived and frequently abysmal mash-up of the suitably grim Brothers Grimm (2005), and the godforsaken Van Helsing (2004). Abandoned by their […]

Film Review: ‘Caesar Must Die’

★★★★☆ Winner of the Golden Bear prize at last year’s Berlinale, the Taviani brothers’ Caesar Must Die (Cesare deve morire, 2012) is a humanist quasi-documentary about a group of Italian maximum security prisoners performing William Shakespeare’s illustrious tragedy, Julius Caesar. A fascinatingly perceptive film that blurs the lines between art and reality, Caesar Must Die brings a whole new […]

Blu-ray Review: ‘Onibaba’

★★★★☆ A fitting tribute to the late director Kaneto Shindō, who sadly passed away in May of last year at the age of 100, this week’s Masters of Cinema series’ Blu-ray rerelease of 1964 Japanese drama Onibaba (The Demoness) is every bit as bountiful and lush as the swaying susuki grass fields found within. A heady blend of dark […]

DVD Review: ‘Call Me Kuchu’

★★★★☆ A moving and sobering tale of the fight against prejudice and the quest for acceptance in the face of adversity, Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall’s doc Call Me Kuchu (2012) is almost structured like a fiction feature, with a final devastating third act which brings little closure or cause for celebration. While there are still instances of unjust […]

DVD Review: ‘Rust and Bone’

★★★☆☆ Based on Craig Davidson’s short story collection of the same name, Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone (De rouille et d’os, 2012) is a tender, yet visceral piece about the nature of being human. Starring Marion Cotillard as young amputee Stéphanie, and Matthias Schoenaerts as troubled single father Ali, Audiard’s latest may boast incredibly moving performances, but never quite […]

DVD Review: ‘Frankenweenie’

★★★★☆ It’s always a somewhat curative thing to see Tim Burton return to the roots of his filmmaking career. Graduating from CalArts amongst a generation of animators who would push on to spearhead ventures such as Lucasfilm and Pixar, he first came up with the idea for 2012’s Frankenweenie all the way back in 1984. Then, it was a […]

Blu-ray Review: ‘City of Women’

★★★☆☆ From its initial shot of a train hurtling along a rural track and entering a pitch-black tunnel, Federico Fellini’s City of Women (La città delle donne, 1980) screams sex from the very beginning. This frank, highly personal dissection of feminism in 1980s Italy succeeds the master director’s echoing his more succinct and potent previous work. Yet, it seems […]

DVD Review: ‘The Claire Denis Collection’

★★★★★ Although she consciously rejects the notion of recurring themes and imagery found within the linearity of her career, The Claire Denis Collection – which groups together a handful of the French writer-director’s finest works – highlights and explores how she actively imbues her cinema with an autobiographical edge. Dealing with topics stemming from the dichotomy between colonial and […]

Blu-ray Review: ‘From Beyond’

★★★★☆ After the success of their first H. P. Lovecraft adaptation, the team behind 1985 cult classic Re-Animator turned their attention to another of the writer’s terrifying tales. This time, the source was to be a (very) short story about a obsessive scientist that would become a science fiction horror film of the same name, From Beyond (1986). Packed […]

DVD Review: ‘McCullin’

★★★★☆ Don McCullin entered the public consciousness with his memorable photo of a North London gang, standing defiantly amidst a dilapidated building. That was his very first published photograph, displayed by The Observer in 1958, and is where the aptly-titled documentary, McCullin (2012), jumps off. Directed by David and Jacqui Morris, this is no mere exercise in eulogy by […]

DVD Review: ‘On the Road’

★★☆☆☆ Following the success of Walter Salles and Jose Rivera’s last collaboration, 2004 Guevara biopic The Motorcycle Diaries, the duo set about tackling Jack Kerouac’s apparently ‘unfilmable’, revered Beat Generation bible On the Road. Starring Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart, as well as a plethora of recognisable supporting cameos, Salles’ elegantly-shot adaptation captures the beauty of the […]