Film reviews and more

Month: August 2013

Venice 2013: ‘Child of God’ review

★★★★☆ Hot on the heels of his previous feature-length offering, Cannes select As I Lay Dying, James Franco made his directorial bow on the Venice Lido with last year’s Child of God (2013), a Gothic tale of violence, perversion and madness in the hill country of Tennessee, adapted from American writer Cormac McCarthy’s celebrated third novel. Out now on […]

Venice 2013: ‘Why Don’t You Play in Hell?’ review

★★★★☆ Sion Sono returns to the Lido this year with Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (2013), a deliriously silly homage to cinematic violence. Hiroki Hasegawa plays protagonist Hirata, a young indie filmmaker with big ambitions. He roams the streets with his gang, the ‘Fuck Bombers’, shooting footage of whatever crosses their path – including bleeding Yakuza member Ikegami […]

Venice 2013: ‘The Canyons’ review

★☆☆☆☆ Numerous derelict cinemas litter the opening of Paul Schrader’s now-infamous The Canyons (2013), screening out of competition at this year’s Venice Film Festival; and more may follow this portent omen of things to come. Make no mistake – Schrader’s latest isn’t Basic Instinct 2 bad or even quote-a-long bad, as in the case of cult sensation The Room. […]

Venice 2013: ‘Gerontophilia’ review

★★☆☆☆ Canadian auteur Bruce LaBruce opened the Venice Days sidebar of the Biennale’s 70th incarnation with Gerontophilia (2013), a romantic comedy (of sorts) following 18-year-old Lake (Pierre-Gabriel Lajoie), who finds himself increasingly dissatisfied with his girlfriend and at the same time attracted to older men. In order to further investigate his newfound fetish, Lake gets a job at a […]

Film Review: ‘Bonjour Tristesse’

★★★★☆ This Park Circus rerelease of Otto Preminger’s 1958 classic Bonjour Tristesse, based on the Françoise Saigon novella and starring Deborah Kerr, David Niven and Jean Seberg, feels particularly timely. The frivolity of rich Europeans who party all night, drink champagne for breakfast and swap partners with the changing seasons is laid bare, their pampered existence exposed as ultimately […]

Film Review: ‘Upstream Colour’

★★★★★ Shane Carruth, despite having made just two features, can already be labelled a divisive director. His latest think piece, Upstream Colour (2013), is a complex examination of the mutability of identity. Since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival (where it won the Special Jury Prize), it’s been both lauded and derided – latterly because of a sense […]

Film Review: ‘Big Bad Wolves’

★★★☆☆ Directing duo Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado returned to Film4 FrightFest this year with Big Bad Wolves (2013), their follow-up to the darkly comic Rabies (2011). Once again blurring the lines between horror and political satire, this genre-savvy thriller examines the tenuous dichotomy between good and evil in a case of vengeance. Following a haunting exposition with all […]

Film Review: ‘You’re Next’

★★★☆☆ If A Horrible Way to Die, the hallucinatory 2010 effort from Adam Wingard, was a genre riff on Antonioni’s Red Desert (1965), then his follow-up You’re Next (2013) plays like a horror rendition of Thomas Vinterberg’s Festen (1998) with its squirm-inducing family reunion. A more mainstream work than his previous films, You’re Next is a fun, witty slasher […]

Film Review: ‘Pain & Gain’

★★★☆☆ While numerous big-budget directors have been busy channelling the spirit of Michael Bay in the summer of 2013, the man himself has made his smallest film yet; and it turns out to be one of the strangest blockbusters in years. Pain & Gain (2013) is an open book; how audiences respond to it will depend entirely on how […]

Film Review: ‘The Way, Way Back’

★★★★☆ Cinema loves coming-of-age stories. The examination of how adolescents navigate that period in their lives has and will always make for some excellent stories. After winning an Oscar for penning Alexander Payne’s The Descendants (2011), Nat Faxon and Jim Rash have switched their focus from parents to teens for their directorial debut The Way, Way Back (2013), with […]

Venice 2013: Venezia 70 programme preview

With the rise of the encroaching Toronto, the domestic competition offered by Rome and a hugely successful Cannes this year, the 70th Venice Film Festival – which begins on 28 August – is facing some pretty stiff competition. The lineup, however, is on the face of it relatively low-key, though there are some very interesting possibilities and potential surprises. […]

Venice 2013: ‘Gravity’ preview

Alfonso Cuarón admirers have been waiting patiently for a new feature from the esteemed Mexican filmmaker for seven years now, his last endeavour the positively received dystopian drama Children of Men back in 2006. Near-future sci-fi certainly seems to be Cuarón’s cinematic weapon of choice at present as the first images and a teaser trailer for new 3D film […]