Film Reviews,

The Establishing Shot: Week's Roundup 35

Monday, September 12, 2011 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

30 Minutes or Less, Red State, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Perfect Sense, Ralph Fiennes in The Tempest , The Guard - John Michael McDonagh QA, Cashback - Sean Ellis, Angus Hudson & Michael Dixon QA, The Ford Centenary Tour, Shaolin, Cowboys & Aliens, The Devil’s Double, Night and The City, Blood Runs Cold, Atrocious and Cannibal.

I’ve been absolutely flat out and haven’t had much time to blog lately even though I have been doing some really worthy things (partially responsible for my lack of time).

Hopefully my regular In the Mail blog post will become a regular This week’s Roundup at The Establishing Shot - where I cover bits I haven’t been able to blog about properly. Another feature I hope to get up and running in the near future is a The Establishing shot vs. Podcast with Phil Edwards but we are still ironing out some kinks. The following bits didn’t all happen in the past week but this is more of a catch up of the last couple of weeks or so.

30 Minutes or Less
I absolutely loved 30 Minutes or Less and hope to have a fuller review up soon. 30 Minutes or Less has been the most fun film I have seen this year. Director Ruben Fleischer balances fast paced editing, sharp dialogue and hilarious performances to create a brilliant chemistry between the entire cast – making this a must see film. Can Jesse Eisenberg do no wrong?

It is a completely different film but in terms of entertainment value I rate is almost near Lethal Weapon status. Hopefully I'll have The Establishing Shot's a full review will be up this week. Ruben Fleischer's The Gangster Squad has only just started shooting but is already eagerly anticipated by those in the know.

30 Minutes or Less is released this Friday 16 September 2011

30 Minutes or Less
Two fledgling criminals kidnap a pizza delivery guy, strap a bomb to his chest, and inform him that he has mere hours to rob a bank or else...

Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writers: Michael Diliberti (screenplay), Michael Diliberti (story)
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride and Nick Swardson

Red State
Kevin Smith’s latest film Red State is a radical departure from his usual fare. I struggled a bit watching it but feel that politics aside, Red State may be as bold, brilliant and important film as Easy Rider. Some may struggle with it but with Red State Kevin Smith returns to his truly independent maverick film making ways.

It is worth noting that if you are a fan, Kevin Smith and his wife Jen Schwalbach will be recording their regular Plus One Per Diem podcast from the London home of Cult Cinema - the Prince Charles Cinema this Friday 19 September. More info here!

Red State will be released in the UK on Friday 30 September 2011

Red State
Set in Middle America, a group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda.

Director: Kevin Smith
Writer: Kevin Smith
Stars: Michael Parks, Melissa Leo and John Goodman

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
The Establishing Shot’s review of the classy and outstanding Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is over here! Hopefully I’ll have some more insight and treats from the team behind Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy this week like the brilliant Mr. John Hurt among others.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is released in the UK this Friday 16 September 2011

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6's echelons.

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Writers: John le Carré (novel), Peter Straughan (screenplay)
Stars: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy

Perfect Sense
Another rather good film I saw recently was Perfect Sense starring Eva Green and Ewan McGregor. In all honesty I was told some unflattering things about Perfect Sense from its debut at the Edinburgh Film Festival, the upside to this was that it did stick in my mind so when the opportunity came up I thought I was taking a bit of a chance and was rewarded with an original, intelligent and special experience.

I’m unsure if Perfect Sense is modern romance set to the apocalypse or the apocalypse happening around a romance either way it works on both levels. Eva Green’s performance is a pleasure to watch and I have to say that not being a Ewan McGregor fan I was surprised by his engaging and touching performance as well the very obvious chemistry between the two.

I was swept away by their romance and couldn’t help but hope that it all panned out well for them. Of course the added complication to their romance is that the world is beset by a fresh take on the apocalypse as the populaces are beset with a mysterious virus that destroys their senses one at a time with some chilling side effects.

Perfect Sense will be released in the UK on Friday 7 October, 2011

Perfect Sense
A chef and a scientist fall in love as an epidemic begins to rob people of their sensory perceptions.

Director: David Mackenzie
Writer: Kim Fupz Aakeson (screenplay)
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Eva Green and Connie Nielsen

Ralph Fiennes in The Tempest
Yesterday in anticipation of Ralph Fiennes cinematic adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, the Lady & I went along to the Theatre Royal Haymarket to see Shakespeare’s The Tempest starring the man Ralph Fiennes himself.

Despite Prospero’s long soliloquies sometimes not being as accessible to me as his other works - I have always loved The Tempest as it is the most fantastical Shakespeare play, but still includes all Shakespeare’s regular devices as well as some new ones like; betrayal, deposed counts, revenge, illusion, sorcery, disfigured misunderstood creatures, deserted islands, shipwrecks, magical beings, burgeoning romance and an ending that surprises and is worthy of being Shakespeare’s final play.

Also Sir Peter Greenaway’s brilliant 1991 adaptation Prospero’s Books starring Sir John Gielgud is a multimedia extravaganza way ahead of it’s time and raised The Tempest’s to new highs for me.

Trevor Nunn’s production is a feast for the eyes creating engaging scenes as we see a ship being wrecked on a mysterious island and the crew exploring the weird and wonderful landscapes of the island to face their fate at Prospero’s hands. Again Prospero's speeches took it out of me but overall I loved it. The Lady was less impressed though, but in all fairness she is not a stage lover.

I instantly forgot the iconic character that Fiennes carved out for Harry Potter as he very quickly transforms himself into another very distinct and character, but it was Giles Terera as Caliban and his melodic malaise that enthralled me as well as Tom Byam Shaw as the light and airy Ariel and his desire for acceptance and freedom.

The Tempest will be on at the Theatre Royal Haymarket for a strictly limited season running 27 August – 29 October 2011

The Tempest
Trevor Nunn directs Ralph Fiennes in William Shakespeare's The Tempest as the third production of his electrifying season at the Theatre Royal Haymarket
Almost certainly Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest can lay claim to being the first ever work of magic realism.

Marooned and left to die on a remote island, Prospero can command spirits, create apparitions and manipulate the elements. By using his magic, he assembles his enemies to take revenge on them, and in the process awakens in Miranda, his teenage daughter, her first experience of love. The theme of reconciliation gives immense emotional force to Shakespeare’s farewell to the stage.

Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Trevor Nunn
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Chris Andrew Mellon, Michael Benz, Tom Byam Shaw, Jim Creighton, Ian Drysdale, Elisabeth Hopper

The Guard - John Michael McDonagh QA
A little while back I was lucky enough to pop along to The Prince Charles Cinema for a LOVEFiLM preview screening of The Guard and conversation with Director John Michael McDonagh. If you haven’t seen The Guard yet, I highly recommend it, it is darkly brilliant and in my top 10 films for the year.

You can read The Establishing Shot’s review here! In the QA afterwards Director John Michael McDonagh comes across as frank, hilarious and an absolute hoot. I really hope The Guard does very well so we get to see more high quality filmmaking from John Michael McDonagh as soon as possible.

The Guard has been in UK cinemas since Friday 19 August, 2011

The Guard
An unorthodox Irish policeman with a confrontational personality is teamed up with an uptight FBI agent to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring.

Director: John Michael McDonagh
Writer: John Michael McDonagh (screenplay)
Stars: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle and Mark Strong

Cashback - Sean Ellis, Angus Hudson & Michael Dixon QA

Cashback is possibly one of the greatest super power films you have never seen and thanks to Empire Magazine and Tiger Beer’s Undiscoverd Treasure Film Festival I finally got to see this mini masterpiece on the big screen. Sure I have a 7.1 surround sound system and big screen projector (and comfy couch) but seeing it in the comfy seats of The Soho Hotel with a quality projection unit and crisp sound in the same cinema it was screened for the first time back in the day was pretty damn fine.

I am a huge fan of Cashback and could never understand why it wasn’t the next big shouted about from the rooftops rather than appreciated by an esoteric few. So it was a real treat for me to go along to the screening and hear the Cashback team in conversation.

Cashback started off as a Oscar winning short film that became a full length feature from some incredibly talented people. Fashion photographer Sean Ellis applies his masterful eye for aesthetics in combination with genius Cinematographer Angus Hudson to create an original genre bending and absolutely outstanding tale of super powers, break ups and young love. It’s like a modern version of a nostalgic John Cusack 80s/90s film and as I said to Ellis it makes what should be a mundane London setting seem super cool. Cashback’s cast list reads like a who’s who’s of upcoming British talent including; Sean Biggerstaff, Emilia Fox, Michelle Ryan, Michael Dixon and Keeley Hazell.

After the screening Sean Ellis, Angus Hudson & Michael Dixon took part in a QA as well as joined us for some post screening chit chat and I hope to get some bits up from this soon. But in the meantime you can expect:

Sean Ellis’ Philippines based heist film Metro Manila currently in post-production to be released some time later this year. Not scared of a challenge he shot it guerilla style in the Philippines and in the Filipino language. It is based around the relationship between two cash in transit guards that become embroiled in a situation in Manila. It sounds almost Quentin Tarantino – esque (my frame of reference) but Sean Ellis will doubt pull something fresh and original out of his hat that knock the audience for a six.
Head over to Sean’s Facebook page for updates.

Angus Hudson is currently shooting an untitled character based runaway train film in the UK.

Michael Dixon who can currently be seen in Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (The Establishing Shot's review is here!) and will soon be seen on screen in the George Lucasproduced and eagerly anticipated Red Tails.

Cashback is available on DVD
After a painful breakup, Ben develops insomnia. To kill time, he starts working the late night shift at the local supermarket, where his artistic imagination runs wild.

Director: Sean Ellis
Writer: Sean Ellis
Stars: Sean Biggerstaff, Emilia Fox and Michelle Ryan

The Ford Centenary Tour
I was lucky enough to be invited along to Elstree Studios to see 5 iconic Ford cars from film exhibited as part of the part of the Ford UK Centenary Tour. Not only was it a thrill being on the Elstree Studios George Lucas Stage but I got get a close up look at James Bond’s Ford Mondeo from Casino Royale, Jack Regan’s Consul GT (Ford Granada) from The Sweeney, A replica of Dr Who's SIVA Edwardian - Bessie, a replica of the Ford Anglia used in Harry Potter and most impressive of all Lady Penelope's modified Ford Thunderbird Fab1 from Thunderbirds. High quality photos and a blog post will be up shortly.

The Devil’s Double
I struggled with The Devil’s Double. Going in I was unsure if it would be an action film, emotional drama or dark satire. Unfortunately The Devil’s Double is never sure either. It veers from historical character study, propped up by Bond like atmospherics, mashed up with chilling set-ups, deflated by random characterizations, lifted by hysterical character mimicry with segways into propagandist military politics punctuated with gun fire.

Possibly the book written by Latif Yahia the real Devil’s Double goes into some depth into the cultural nuances of the background to the story are lost in translation onto screen. What should be a tour de force of acting from Dominic Cooper in dual roles is weighed down to heavily by the muddy story rollout.

The Devil's Double is in UK cinemas from Wednesday 10 August, 2011

The Devil's Double
A chilling vision of the House of Saddam Hussein comes to life through the eyes of the man who was forced to become the double of Hussein's sadistic son.

Director: Lee Tamahori
Writers: Michael Thomas, Latif Yahia (novel)
Stars: Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier and Raad Rawi

Cowboys & Aliens
I managed to catch Cowboys & Aliens at back at Empire’s Big Screen and as much as I try go into screenings with an open mind - Cowboys & Aliens was the biggest disappointment of the summer for me. Maybe it shouldn’t have as I didn’t really enjoy the comic as it wasn’t really to my taste - I thought that the comic was lacking depth and seemed sparse in terms of story and seemed to shift un-developed characters from set up to set up. The film did adapt that pretty well to film. The disappointment being that I had hoped that Jon Favreau would flesh the story out and give it some depth and create a mythology I would be carried away by. Instead it was all style over substance. The pairing of Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford should have delivered more; unfortunately great acting from both wasn’t enough to fill in the gaping lack of story.

Cowboys & Aliens is in UK cinemas from Wednesday 17 August, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens
A spaceship arrives in Arizona, 1873, to take over the Earth, starting with the Wild West region. A posse of cowboys and natives are all that stand in their way.

Director: Jon Favreau
Writers: Roberto Orci (screenplay), Alex Kurtzman (screenplay)
Stars: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde

Night and the City
Harry Fabian is a London hustler with ambitious plans that never work out. One day, when he encounters the most famous Greco-Roman wrestler in the world, Gregorius, at a London wrestling arena run by his son Kristo, he dreams up a scheme that he thinks will finally be his ticket to financial independence. As Fabian attempts to con everyone around him to get his scheme to work, he of course only ends up conning himself. This is an interesting tale of blind ambition, self-deception, broken dreams, and how a man who always thinks he's ahead of the game ends up tripping himself very badly

Night and the City
Director: Jules Dassin
Writers: Jo Eisinger (screenplay), Gerald Kersh (novel)
Stars: Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney and Googie Withers

In the mail this week:

Blood Runs Cold
The debut feature from director Sonny Laguna, the low-budget Swedish horror flick Blood Runs Cold takes the classic slasher template set down by John Carpenter with “Halloween” and gives it a Scandinavian make-over that chills to the bone.

Laguna’s hugely impressive and truly independent film – amazingly shot for just $5,000 US on a Canon 7D digital SLR using the camera’s movie mode function – not only succeeds in delivering plenty of shocks and gore, it also features a brilliant debut feature performance by newcomer Hanna Oldenberg in the lead role of Winona, a musician whose leisurely working vacation becomes a terrifying fight for survival.

Following a busy year of relative success in the record business, Winona heads back to her tiny hometown in the remote outskirts of Stockholm to stay at a house her manager has rented where she can relax alone and hopefully find the inspiration to write some new songs. As a snowstorm brews and night begins to fall, she manages to find the house but is disappointed to discover it’s not the luxurious retreat she was expecting.

Shortly after settling in, Winona becomes unsettled by the creepy creaking sounds of the old house and decides to head to a bar in town for refreshments and some company. There, she bumps into a former boyfriend and a couple he knows and invites them back to the house for a few drinks. At the end of the night, with everyone either too drunk or too tired to drive home, they decide to crash until morning. But as the four friends prepare to sleep, an unknown presence stirs within the house, one that has been watching and waiting for the right moment to strike.

Release Date: 3 October, 2011

Max (Gob), an agoraphobic golfing enthusiast with a murky past, leads a secluded life in the remote Belgian countryside. While out in the woods practising his swing, he stumbles across an unconscious young woman (Coppejans) covered in dirt and blood and takes her home to clean her up and take care of her. Despite not fully trusting the stranger, whom he decides to call Bianca, Max begins to develop an attraction towards this mysterious beauty.
One evening, when Bianca escapes the house and runs into the woods, Max decides to follow her and is shocked to find her cannibalizing a man while having sex with him. Overcoming his initial revulsion, Max becomes fascinated by Bianca’s deviant behaviour and the two begin a bizarre romantic relationship. But it soon becomes apparent that Max is not the only one with a keen interest in Bianca and her unconventional habits when she is abducted and he once again comes face to face with his own violent past.
Release Date: 26 September, 2011
In the spring of 2010, the Quintanilla family travelled to their old rural family farmhouse near Sitges, Spain for a quiet break together during the Easter holiday. To pass the time and to amuse themselves, teenage siblings Christian and July set about investigating a local urban legend, that of The Girl Of Garraf Woods, relating to a series of hauntings and ghostly goings-on in a wooded labyrinth in a gated property near to their house. The pair decided to document their day-to-day adventures and their findings on video with the intention of posting the footage online at a later date.
Five days later, on 4th April 2010, the bodies of the Quintanilla family were found in the farmhouse, the members having died in extremely mysterious circumstances. In the aftermath, the police identified and reported the existence of 37 hours of recorded material relating to the events leading up to the grisly discovery. Atrocious finally reveals the shocking authentic footage of what really took place during those tragic five days.
Release Date: 16 September, 2011
Atrocious will be available online (iTunes, PlayStation, FilmFlex, LOVEFiLM, BlinkBox and Sky VOD) from 3rd October 2011.
30 Minutes or Less, Red State, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Perfect Sense, Ralph Fiennes in The Tempest , The Guard - John Michael McDonagh QA, Cashback - Sean Ellis, Angus Hudson & Michael Dixon QA, The Ford Centenary Tour, Cowboys & Aliens, The Devil’s Double, Night and The City, Blood Runs Cold, Atrocious and Cannibal.