Stuff To Look At

Plenty of movie stuffs this week, including the latest Man of Steel TV spot, Disney’s Big Hero 6, the Coen Brothers’ latest and a Herzog re-release…

Man of Steel

Here is the new Man of Steel TV spot. Although the film looks exciting, the TV spot fails to answer the question everyone is asking; is Gus Gorman in this latest Superman film? Really, that’s what we want to know. Man of Steel, with or without Gus Gorman, is released in UK cinemas on 14th June 2013.

Big Hero 6

Here is the first look at Disney Animation’s Big Hero 6. I want to live in San Fransokyo, it looks amazing! The film is about a robotics prodigy who finds himself in the grips of  criminal plot that threatens the city. Big Hero 6 is due for release in the US on 7th November 2014.

Inside Llewyn Davis

Ethan and Joel Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis is about a young folk singer in 1960s New York. The film stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake. But who knows, the breakout star may be the cat in the first seen in this trailer. Inside Llewyn Davis is due for release in UK cinemas on 24th January 2014.

The World’s End

Edgar Wright’s latest offering is The World’s End, starring past collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The film seems like exactly what one would expect from the trio; comedy and some very strange shenanigans. The World’s End hits UK screens on 19th July 2013.

The Internship

The Internship reunites Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. The comedy is about two advertising salesmen who start an internship at Google. The trailer reminds me of that episode of Friends where Chandler starts an internship at an ad agency and he’s so much older than the rest of the interns. The Internship is out in UK cinemas on 4th July 2013.

About Time

Here is the first trailer for Richard Curtis’ latest film, About Time. The comedy stars Bill Nighy, Rachel McAdams and Domhall Gleeson. I’m getting Groundhog Day vibes from the trailer, although I think the film is going to weigh heavy on the whole consequences theme. About Time is released in UK cinemas on 6th September 2013.

Aguirre, Wrath of God

I wish Werner Herzog was narrating this trailer. Werner Herzog should narrate everything. Anyway, the director’s 1972 film Aguirre, Wrath of God gets a re-release as part of the BFI’s retrospective of Herzog in June. Aguirre, Wrath of God will be screened at the BFI and selected UK venues from 7th June 2013.

Film Review: Shame

Steve McQueen’s Shame is a compelling picture. It is difficult to fault the film; it is an excellent character study.

Brandon has a good job, a great apartment in New York City, and a sex addiction. His desires are insatiable, and spill over into his professional life, although he covers his tracks. When Brandon’s sister turns up unannounced, her presence disrupts the routines he has become so used to…

Shame is wonderfully crafted by McQueen and screenwriter Abi Morgan. All the aspects combine together spectacularly; with the narrative, visuals, sound and performances creating a world of both familiarity and discomfort. In several scenes dialogue is sparse, making the conversations that take place all the more pivotal. Moreover, so much is conveyed by the speech-free scenes themselves.

In exploring the areas of sex addiction and relationship boundaries, Shame confronts some rather controversial issues. These are dealt with in an objective manner; there is no judgement or consternation here. Instead, McQueen’s film is comparable to Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend is carefully dealing with a topic that can be a bit of a taboo for audiences.

Imagery in the film is beautiful. There is a contrast between the sometimes graphic imagery and the beautiful cinematography that depicts it. Music is also used to great affect in the picture. One of the most memorable scenes features Sissy singing at the bar. The vocals, combined with the shots of Michael and Sissy are goose bump-inducing, such is the power of the scene.

Michael Fassbender gives a superlative performance as Brandon. No doubt much of the success of the film is due to his commanding performance. Carey Mulligan is also fantastic as Sissy.

Shame is one of this year’s must-see films. Steve McQueen’s film will stay with you long after the credits roll.

Shame is screening at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2011.

Film Review: Drive

Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive is aesthetically satisfying, absurd, and compelling throughout. In short, Drive is a must-see film.

A Hollywood stunt car driver moonlights as a getaway driver for hire by night. When he moves into a new building, he meets neighbour Irene and her young son Benicio. Initially hoping to form a friendship with the pair, the driver gets into a lot of trouble when he tries to help out the family…

Based on James Sallis’ novel, Hossein Amini’s screenplay is fairly light. More precedence is given to the look and the feel of Drive. The narrative is fairly straightforward, with more emphasis placed on action rather than speech. Notwithstanding, the film offers tension, as well as reflection.

The dialogue in Drive is very restrained. This is not just limited to the protagonist; Irene in particular seems also to say very little. There is a conspicuous attempt to convey only what is necessary through speech. The lack of dialogue allows the action to breathe in some scenes. Moreover, so much is conveyed by the expressions of the characters that speech is not really necessary.

Drive‘s violence is reserved for a select number of scenes rather than being a consistent feature of the film. When is does rear its head, the violence is incredibly graphic. Although it can be shocking, it never feels gratuitous in the same way as a torture-porn film. Instead, the portrayal of violence is in keeping with the style of Refn’s film.

From the film’s opening credits, it is clear that aesthetics are going to be incredibly important. The hot pink typefont suggests a throwback to the 1980s. This is further reinforced by the choice of soundtrack. Songs such as College’s ‘A Real Hero’ are great, and reminiscent of eighties synth music.

The costumes in Drive also feed into this stylistic theme. The attire of the protagonist is incredibly important in depicting his character. The other characters also appear to be dressed in a particular style, not modern but not distinctly from a specific period either. Costume designer Erin Benach has done a terrific job with the vintage-look designs.

Ryan Gosling shows the necessary restraint in his performance. Like his co-star Carey Mulligan as Irene, so much is portrayed through looks and expressions rather than line delivery. Elsewhere, Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman are well cast in their respective roles.

Drive is simply a superb film. Highly recommended viewing.

Drive Trailer

http://www.premierpr-online.co.uk/player/player_480x300.swf?file=http://www.premierpr-online.co.uk/cinema/dr1v4r?user=ppr?a=false

I saw a clip of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive at Empire Big Screen; it looks amazing. I was gutted that not to get into the secret screening of it. The idea to adapt the novel for the big screen originally came from Ryan Gosling, who plays the lead in the film. Carey Mulligan also stars in Drive, which will be released on 23rd September 2011. I cannot wait to see it!

Report: London Film Festival Press Conferences – Week 1

Conviction

The press conference for Conviction was attended by Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver and Betty-Anne Waters. Betty-Anne commented that she was pleased with the movie, and that she thought her late brother Kenny would also be happy with it. She remarked: “It was my brother Kenny who wanted the film more than anything”.

When asked what stood out about the script for the actors, Hilary responded; “For me it was such a beautiful love story between a brother and a sister, one that was so compelling. I don’t actually remember seeing a love story this beautiful in I can’t even remember when. For me, the idea that someone can be so selfless – Betty-Anne is my hero, she’s my real-life hero”.

Betty-Anne praised Sam’s performance in the film, stating; “Sam was my brother on that screen, he really got the different dimensions of Kenny”. Sam lamented on the great crew and supporting actors, nevertheless he affirmed; “Hilary really had to carry this movie, and it takes a special woman to do that. Hilary is a fierce actress, and there’s not a lot of people who can do that”.

Read the I Heart The Talkies review of Conviction

Never Let Me Go

The Never Let Me Go conference was attended by actors Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Isobel Meikle-Small and Ella Purnell, writer Kazuo Ishiguro, director Mark Romanek and screenwriter Alex Garland. Carey remarked that she was a big fan of Ishiguro’s novel before she was approached for the film. The cast and Mark often referred back to the book during the filming process. Carey relayed: “We had a brilliant script, but especially for me I had the whole book narrated by my character – it would have been remiss of me not to refer to it. And also, it’s great to go back to it for ideas… I was with the book most of the time”.

Andrew suggested Kazuo may have got sick of how reverent the cast were to the source material, joking; “We’d bow as he entered a room and he’d get very uncomfortable – and it’s fun to watch”. Mark commented that he had the same “emotional reaction” to the script as he did to the book. He decided to immerse himself in Japanese cinema and ideas of aesthetics, having read in an interview that Kazuo felt influenced by this.

Keira was fascinated by her character Ruth, explaining; “I didn’t like her, and it’s tricky playing people you don’t like”. When writing the story, Kazuo was “interested in something that paralleled the human lifespan”. He stated: “And the question is, what’s most important to human beings when they realise time is running out”.

Read the I Heart The Talkies review of Never Let Me Go

Film Review: Never Let Me Go

An adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, Never Let Me Go is a drama that reaches for a strong emotional resonance, but feels cold at times. Performances are great, but for a film about emotions, the bleakness does not necessarily generate the heart-felt response it should.

Kathy grows up at a boarding school in England, in a world where humans are cloned to provide internal organs for those require them. Never Let Me Go follows the relationship Kathy has with her friends Tommy and Ruth as they grow up, knowing there is a definite and premature expiry date for each of them…

From a science fiction point of view, the dystopian set-up is intriguing in its possibilities. Mark Romanek’s film, however, is unambiguous in its decision to concentrate on the relationship between the protagonists, rather than explore the philosophical and ethical implications of the premise. Never Let Me Go is a film about relationships and the human condition, the dystopian sphere merely facilitates the drama to play out.

Kathy is a tragic protagonist; at times it is easy to empathise with her situation, on other occasions it is difficult to relate to her. The biggest problem with the film is that it is nearly impossible to understand why the trio is so passive in their situation. Although the narrative is concerned with their relationships with each other, the idea of the characters attempting to evade their fate is noticeably absent. The fact that the script doesn’t even consider this serves as a distraction throughout the film.

Instead, Never Let Me Go concerns itself almost entirely with the changing relationship between the three friends. As narrator, we see things from Kathy’s point of view; as a result the actions of Ruth and Tommy can appear ambiguous. In this dystopian world where donors are resigned to their fate, the characters are both entirely human in their behaviour but also unrelatable in their situation. Coupled with this is the inadequacy of the script. The dialogue at times does not convey the significance it should, given the gravity of some of the scenes.

Andrew Garfield and Carey Mulligan give excellent performances as Tommy and Cathy. They are both wholly believable, and carry the film when the script lets it down. Keira Knightley is guilty of overacting in some scenes; the more subtle performances of Mulligan and Garfield certainly outshine hers. Isobel Meikle-Small as the young Cathy is perfectly cast, exhibiting a striking resemblance to her older counterpart.

The film is beautifully shot by director Romanek. The muted colours used in the film work well to generate a setting that is recogniseable yet different with the limited palette. Never Let Me Go is aesthetically pleasing, but lacks the emotional punch to match.

Undoubtedly some viewers will find Never Let Me Go very emotional. In certain parts of the film, tragedy is conveyed acutely. However, this is not sustained, resulting in a film that lacks heart where it is really needed.

Never Let Me Go is being screened at the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival in October 2010.

Film Review: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Admirers of Oliver Stone’s 1987 classic Wall Street were surely intrigued when news of a sequel first broke. Although the film begins well, it loses its way; Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps does not come close to matching the overall quality of its predecessor.

A number of years after he is released from prison, Gordon Gekko is on the book promotion circuit. Jake Moore is going out with Gekko’s estranged daughter Winnie, and attends one of Gekko’s lectures to introduce himself. Jake needs help with his career, so Gekko uses this to enlist the young trader’s help in reuniting him with his daughter…

A sequel to Wall Street seems particularly timely given the economic turmoil of recent years. Given that the film is set in 2008, it would appear that writers Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff aimed to capitalise on the distrust felt towards the finance sector. The film is successful in one regard; with a backdrop of the economic crisis with a company modelled on Lehman Brothers, it easy to follow the parallels. Nevertheless, despite the possibilities offered by this setting, the filmmakers chose to refrain from more hard-hitting commentary to focus on the personal story. In another film this may not have been an issue, but it all feels like it has done before in this sequel.

Jake is much like Bud Fox in the original film. A young up-and-comer, just like Bud, Gekko takes Jake under his wing. Again, Jake is warned against this, but decides to trust in Gekko’s wealth of experience instead. Jake is hotheaded and quite an interesting character to watch, but is just too similar to Bud.

Gordon Gekko is one of the most memorable characters in cinema of the last thirty years. In Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, however, is character flip-flops so many times it really is a betrayal of the persona built by the first film. At certain times his actions become predictable, while at other times they appear irrational in the context.

Michael Douglas is on good form as Gekko; it is just a pity the script does not live up to expectation. Shia LaBeouf gives a decent performance in a role that doesn’t really stretch his capabilities. Carey Mulligan doesn’t shine as Winnie, but in her defense the character is pretty doltish. Josh Brolin meanwhile brings some much needed gravitas as Bretton James.

The visual aesthetic is almost faultless, with some really intriguing cinematography. Likewise, the sound is great, combining the score with a splendid use of well-known tunes. The product placement is a sticking point, however, as the presumably intentional concentration on certain brands is distracting. Stone seemingly wished to make a comment about capitalism, but in this big-budget production there is an air of hypocrisy about it.

An opportunity to bring back a memorable character with hardly a more appropriate backdrop, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps fails to live up to its initial promise. With a better script and a more coherent narrative, the film could have struck gold.