Film Review: The Shining

One of the most complete horror movies gets a re-release in time for Halloween. It is a chance for UK audiences to see the original American version for the first time on the big screen.

Jack Torrance and his family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter. Jack sees it as an ideal time to do some writing whilst acting as caretaker of the hotel. A presence in the hotel appears to be effecting Jack, whilst his son Danny sees frightening visions…

Stanley Kubrick’s adaption of Stephen King’s novel is still as effective as ever. The director excels in generating mood. Kubrick manages to complete immerse the audience in the location. This is what makes The Shining work so well. Isolation is portrayed in the most convincing manner.

The narrative of Kubrick’s film is not overly complex. There are a few different elements at play which generate mystery. Jack’s descent is well paced, taking its time in order to make incidents believable. The Shining functions as a psychological horror, although there are other elements of horror present. Jack’s descent is both compelling and disturbing. The film mixes some tense and jumpy moments with the brooding horror of Jack’s state of mind.

The Shining uses music and sound to great effect. The film features some of the most memorable imagery of 20th century cinema. Graphic depictions are employed sparingly, which heightens the shock value. The long shots of Jack’s car driving towards the hotel work well to convey the isolation of the location.

In a career of numerous highs, Jack Nicholson delivers a stand out performance as Jack Torrance. Nicholson comes across as authentic at all times, even in psychotic moments. Shelley Duvall is also strong as wife Wendy, while Danny Lloyd is at times haunting as his namesake.

An undoubted gem of the horror genre, the re-release of The Shining should attract long time admirers and newcomers alike.

The Shining is screening at the BFI Southbank and venues throughout the country from 2nd November 2012, with special previews on 31st October 2012.

Film Review: How Do You Know

It might seem like an extended commercial for Metrobus, but How Do You Know is actually a romantic comedy. Although the comedy aspect of this pairing is debatable.

Lisa, a member of the US softball team, is an upbeat 31 year old. When she is cut from the team, Lisa ponders her next step. She is dating baseball player Matty, when she meets George, a businessman struggling with his own crisis…

How Do You Know boasts a great cast as well as James L. Brooks at the helm writing and directing, but sadly the film just is not funny. Hopes for any improvement with the humour diminishes as the film continues, leaving only a few jokes that are mildly amusing. How Do You Know is not painfully unfunny; humour, however, is noticeably absent.

The characters in the film are well written, and show more depth than the average rom-com archetypes. Although Matty and George are inevitably polarised, both are depicted as having positive and negative attributes. Although one is favoured over the other, there is no good guy/bad guy scenario.

Perhaps more interesting than the love triangle is the sub-plot concerning George’s legal troubles. This story elucidates George’s relationship with his father, which works far better as drama than it does as comedy. It gives How Do You Know a meatier feel, elevating the film above the category of mere fluff.

How Do You Know has a classical feel to it, despite being a contemporary-set film. Characters often travel by bus, and there isn’t a reliance on modern technology. It seems as if Brooks aimed to create a film in the same vein as Manhattan, with the integral city setting and the narrative that focuses heavily on relationship dilemmas. Unfortunately, How Do You Know falls considerably short of this, thanks to poor pacing and insufficient comedy.

Casting of the film is faultless, How Do You Know features a high calibre of star. Reese Witherspoon is as likeable as ever as Lisa, and Owen Wilson is perfectly cast as fun-loving athlete Matty. Paul Rudd is suitably earnest as George, the most serious character in the film. Jack Nicholson is underused as George’s father Charles.

The romantic elements work fine, but How Do You Know‘s lack of humour is insurmountable. The film’s two-hour running time is really noticeable, on account of the poor direction. Brooks fails to deliver with How Do You Know, despite the promising cast.