Here is what to watch on Shudder this Bank Holiday weekend, featuring The Dead Zone, Let The Right One In, and In The Night…
What to Watch on Shudder: The Dead Zone
The combination of David Cronenberg and Stephen King will surely delight horror fans. Whilst The Dead Zone fits more succinctly into the thriller category than the horror, the film nevertheless has enough to offer those looking for the supernatural. After waking up from a coma, accident victim Johnny discovers he has a psychic ability. Starring Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, and Martin Sheen, the 1983 film still feels resonant today. Cronenberg mixes supernatural activity with a tense drama. As the film builds to its conclusion, the themes feel both universal (asking viewers would they do the same if given Johnny’s ability) and politically contemporary. The Dead Zone does not trade on jump scares. Instead, it opts for an unsettling tone that lingers.
What to Watch on Shudder: Let The Right One In
2008 Swedish vampire film Let The Right One In has become part of the vampire movie canon for good reason. The horror-drama is about a young boy who befriends his neighbour Eli, although she cannot come out to play during the day. The film is about an endearing friendship, albeit one played out through the instrument of vampirism. Director Thomas Alfredson’s film was given an American remake in the form of Let Me In. Those who have not seen the original should rectify this, however, as it is the superior film.
What to Watch on Shudder: In The Night
This 2015 short is a tense little number. Directed by Joshua Erkman, In The Night is about a new mortuary worker asking his more veteran colleague about his strangest experience on the job. The short film is expertly paced, with tension building steadily to its climax. In The Night almost feels like a prelude to a feature-length film, and it a great showcase for writer-director Erkman.
To find out more and to sign up to Shudder, visit https://www.shudder.com.
Plenty in this week’s preview of upcoming films, including the Nine Lives trailer, a Deadpool clip, Zoolander 2 and more…
Nine Lives Trailer
Talking animal film alert! A cat is at the centre of the film in the Nine Lives trailer. The film tells the story of a billionaire businessman who finds himself trapped in the body of the family cat. Starring Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner and Christopher Walken, Nine Lives is set for release later this year.
What is clear from the fantastic marketing for the film is that Deadpool is not for children. This clip falls in line with what has been revealed. Deadpool looks as if it will be a heady mix of comedy and action. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, and Gina Careno, Deadpool hits UK screens on 10th February 2016.
Zoolander 2 Commercial
Here is a spoof commercial for Zoolander 2. The clip offers us a insight into Kristen Wiig’s character Alexanya Atoz. The film certainly continues the theme of parodying the fashion industry. Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell reprise their roles in Zoolander 2, which opens in UK cinemas on 12th February 2016.
The Secret Life of Pets Poster and Trailer
Here is a poster for one of the most anticipated films of the summer (in my eyes at least). The Secret Life of Pets answers one of lives quintessential questions; what do pets do whilst their humans are at work? With the voices of Louis C.K., Kevin Hart and Eric Stonestreet, The Secret Life of Pets will be released on 24th June 2016.
Disorder focuses on a secret service soldier who takes a private job protecting a wealthy family. Matthias Schoenaerts stars as the soldier, and Diane Kruger as the wife of the wealthy businessman. Disorder will receive its UK premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival on 21st February, and will be released in cinemas on 25th March 2016.
Eddie The Eagle Trailer
Eddie The Eagle tells the story of Michael Edwards and his determination to become Britain’s first Olympic ski jumper. The film stars Taron Egerton in the title role, and Hugh Jackman as Eddie’s coach. Directed by Dexter Fletcher, Eddie The Eagle is out in UK cinemas on 1st April 2016.
The songs are certainly memorable in the film adaptation of the musical Jersey Boys. It is a shame that other aspects of the film pale in comparison.
Frankie Valli is a teenager with a big voice growing up in Jersey. Along with his friends, Frankie dreams of making it big. As success comes within reach, The Four Seasons still have some obstacles to overcome…
The premise of Jersey Boys is decent, but this is let down by the execution of the narrative. The elements for a rags to riches tale are present; talented individuals, shady pasts and a meteoric rise to fame. Yet the film lacks the emotion that would really engage the audience. Moreover, early scenes of dodgy dealings and gangsters in New Jersey are clinical rather than gritty. It feels as if the film is not trying to be authentic in the protagonists background, but neither is it effective in generating a reaction in its audience.
The film has some moments of drama, but emotional scenes are not successfully conveyed. Instead, the pace of Jersey Boys makes the film feel much longer than it actual run time. Some scenes could have easily been trimmed or omitted with no depreciation of the central narrative.
Although Jersey Boys concentrates primarily on Frankie Valli, other members of the group have their own strands. These gel together well enough. Nevertheless, there are some aspects, particularly in the latter half of the film that are not fleshed out properly. As a result, they appear superfluous.
Clint Eastwood’s direction shows none of the sharpness of some of his previous films. Jersey Boys suffers from the same issues of his previous two films in being overlong with a cumbersome narrative execution. John Lloyd Young is fine as Frankie, although does not look like a teenager in the least in earlier scenes. Vincent Piazza is more convincing as Tommy, whilst Christopher Walken is underused in a poorly written role. The ageing make up in the penultimate scene are laughable.
Clint Eastwood foray into musicals is unfortunately unsuccessful. This will probably not put off die-hard fans of Jersey Boys, but the film will have little pull beyond this audience.
Yaron Zilberman’s A Late Quartet is a competent drama which boasts excellent performances.
Peter, the cellist in a successful classical string quartet, decides to retire after twenty-five years. The revelation of Peter’s illness and wishes prove to be a catalyst for the remaining three members. Resentment and desires spring to the surface, threatening to destroy the quartet…
In A Late Quartet, Peter’s announcement really does open the threshold for a myriad of other issues. Director Yaron Zilberman gives adequate time to both developing characters and moving the plot along. A Late Quartet is engaging throughout. The script is well crafted, with some great dialogue.
The narrative progresses at a good pace. Given the themes that A Late Quartet encompasses, the film does not quite pack the emotional punch one may expect. However, this may be symbolic of the action at hand. Like the quartet’s playing, emotion is measured and disciplined. It actually makes for a better film that it does not become awash with sentimentality. There is drama and heightened emotions, but A Late Quartet never descends into all-out tears.
The film has a polished look that enhances its setting of the Manhattan classical music scene. There appears to be a theme with the camera work. The restricted shots seem to mirror what is said about Parkinson’s Disease in a particular scene. The wide shots at the film’s climax indicate a shift. Zilberman appears to have been very deliberate in these choices, and it is a style that pays off.
Christopher Walken delivers a great performance as Peter. Catherine Keener is also strong as Juliette, while Philip Seymour Hoffman is superb as ever as Robert. Imogen Poots feels miscast as Alexandra, giving a slightly grating performance.
A Late Quartet is a solid drama which shows enviable restraint in spite of its themes.
A Late Quartet is out in cinemas and available on demand with Sky Store and Curzon Home Cinema from Friday 5th April 2013.
Some trailers, some posters and details on the End of Watch tweet-along…
End of Watch Tweet-Along
To celebrate the release of End of Watch on DVD and Blu-Ray on Monday 18th March 2013, a tweet-along event has been organised. Those who buy copies of the film are invited to take part on Twitter, starting the film at 8pm GMT, using the hashtag #WatchYourSix. I have know idea what this refers to (I haven’t seen End of Watch yet) so don’t spoil it for me!
The Place Beyond The Pines
Oh look, here’s a poster for upcoming crime drama The Place Beyond The Pines. I have heard good things about this film, so I am really looking forward to it. Starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes, The Place Beyond The Pines hits UK screens on 12th April 2013.
A Late Quartet
I have seen A Late Quartet and I can report it is a good film (review to follow). With an enviable cast which includes Christopher Walken and Philip Seymour Hoffman, A Late Quartet is a drama about the lives of a string quartet. The film is released in cinemas on 5th April 2013.
The Hangover Part III
For the third and final instalment of The Hangover series, the gang return to where it all started – Las Vegas. I really enjoyed the first film but was not a big fan of the second, so I am hoping this third film will be a return to form. The Hangover Part III is out in UK cinemas on 24th May 2013.
Papadopoulos and Sons
Papadopoulos and Sons is a British comedy drama about two brothers re-opening the fish and chip shop they ran in their youth. This film stars Stephen Dillane and his son Frank Dillane as father and son. Papadopoulos and Sons has a limited UK cinema release from 5th April 2013.
Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths is a lot of fun. The fantastic script and stellar cast make it a most enjoyable watch.
Screenwriter Martin is struggling to write his next script. His friend Billy offers to help, pitching him a story about a psychopath. Trouble ensues when Martin gets tangled up in Billy’s dog-napping sideline…
Seven Psychopaths is almost a film within a film. The script writing is a great device as it allows for plenty of humorous asides about filmmaking. The film flits between scenes of Martin’s film and the actual happenings in Martin’s life. This is executed in a natural manner, with neither reality appearing as usurping the other.
The film itself boasts a great screenplay. It is populated by interesting characters. McDonagh, who wrote and directed, both subverts and promotes stereotypical characters. The different stories in Seven Psychopaths entwine successfully. There is a good balance between dialogue-heavy scenes and those ripe with violence. The script is great, with numerous amusing lines.
The art direction and cinematography makes the most of the settings. Los Angeles has a polished look; there is a real light and vibrancy to the images of the city. The choice of music used in Seven Psychopaths is great as it excels in generating mood.
Seven Psychopaths offers great performances from its high profile cast. Sam Rockwell steals the show as oddball Billy. Christopher Walken is also great as Hans, while Colin Farrell is an appropriate straight man to the cast of colourful characters.
Seven Psychopaths is a most suitable follow up to McDonagh’s In Bruges. The film should satisfy its audience.
Seven Psychopaths is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2012.
Dark Horse a comedy drama that is only partially successful. Todd Solondz’s film has its moments, but feels unsatisfactory by the time the ending arrives.
Abe is a thirty-something toy collector who works for his father’s company. When he meets Miranda at a wedding, he decides to pursue her, despite her initial reluctance. A relationship forms between Abe and Miranda, who is living back with her parents after a break up, but there is trouble ahead…
Dark Horse is an interesting film, but one that loses its way. The humour works well, and is an anecdote to the more sombre aspects of the film. Nonetheless, with the uncertainty over the film’s narrator, Dark Horse blurs the line between reality and fantasy. This has been done exceptionally well in films, but it just doesn’t work in Solondz’s latest effort. The switching of realities grows tiresome, and is likely to leave viewers unsatisfied with the film.
Part of the issue is that the characters are not easy to identify with. Lacking the impulse to empathise with the central character entails feelings of apathy towards the character’s fate. Although complex or unlikeable characters can make great protagonists, Abe lacks anything that would really absorb the viewer’s attention. Miranda has the same problem, although she is a little more interesting.
Dark Horse boasts a great cast, but performances are not sufficient to save the film. Christopher Walken and Mia Farrow have little opportunity to shine in their rigid roles. Dark Horse boasts a great opening scene and some good moments, but it is all downhill from there.
Dark Horse is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2011.