Previews: Dark River Poster, Oceans 8, More!

Plenty in this pre-Christmas preview of coming events, including the new Dark River poster, Gringo, Oceans 8, and more…

Dark River Poster

Here is the new Dark River poster. The drama is about fraught relationship between a brother and a sister. Directed by Clio Bernard, the film stars Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley, and Sean Bean. Dark River will be released in UK cinemas on 23rd February 2018.

Gringo Trailer

Gringo is a dark comedy about a businessman who finds himself at the mercy of colleagues and local drug lords in Mexico. The film features an all-star cast that includes David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, and Amanda Seyfried. Gringo is directed by Nash Edgerton (brother of Joel), and is set for release on UK screens on 9th March 2018.

Oceans 8 Trailer

Here is the first trailer for Oceans 8. The film features the same big heist set-up as its predecessors, albeit with a brand new cast. Sandra Bullock leads the star-studded cast, and is joined by Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, and Anne Hathaway. Oceans 8 is scheduled for release in June 2018.

Isle of Dogs Poster

Here is the newest poster for Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs. The stop-motion animated film is about a boy who travels to an island of dogs to find his dog, Spots. The enviable voice cast includes Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Ken Watanabe, and Greta Gerwig. Isle of Dogs will be released in UK cinemas on 30th March 2017.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Trailer

The sequel to the hit 2008 film Mamma Mia! gets a belated sequel. The film is part sequel and part prequel as it focuses on current activity and well as telling the story of Donna when she was younger. Lily James plays the young Donna, and the cast of the original reprise their roles, including Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, and Colin Firth. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again will be released on 20th July 2018.

Film Review: Gravity

Gravity

Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity is part awe-inspiring, part terrifying, and wholly absorbing cinema.

Dr Ryan Stone is a medical engineer on her first mission in space. When an accident occurs, Ryan and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski are left adrift in space…

Gravity is completely captivating. The film progresses at a good pace. It has peaks of action as well as periods to absorb the protagonist’s reaction to said events.

To a certain extent, Gravity takes on the mantel of Alien’s ‘In space no one can hear you scream’. Instead of otherworldly activity, the premise is a realistic one. Cuarón proposes a horrifying incident, then explores a personal reaction to such an event.

Gravity works because it is about emotions and response. The vast majority of viewers cannot relate to the actual situation presented, but will fully empathise with the response to being in such a life-threatening incident. Despite the setting, Gravity is about human experience.

Despite the premise of the film and the tension that this creates, Gravity provides wonderment in its setting. There is much to admire visually. It is easy to see the attraction of space exploration. In spite of the danger, the film retains this sense of awe.

The special effects in Gravity are flawless. There is not one shot that dies not look completely authentic. Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography  is marvellous. The 3D is one of the best uses of the format in live action film.

Sandra Bullock is believable as Ryan; her sense of apprehension is palpable. George Clooney provides good support as Matt.

Gravity offers spectacle, but also delivers in terms of tension, emotion and entertainment. A must see film.

Gravity is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2013.

London Film Festival 2013 – Preview of Coming Attractions

Tickets for the BFI London Film Festival 2013 go on sale today. There is a veritable cinematic feast on offer, with 235 feature films and 134 short films from 57 different countries. Here are the films I am hoping to catch…

Gravity

Gravity looks terrifying. Children of Men director Alfonso Cuarón’s latest film serves up a horrifying but intriguing proposition. Sandra Bullock stars as a medical engineer on her first mission in space.

La Belle et la Bête

Jean Cocteau’s 1946 classic La Belle et la Bête has been digitally restored to 4K to mark the 50th anniversary of the director’s death. It is a rare chance to see Cocteau’s version of Beauty and the Beast on the big screen.

12 Years a Slave

Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave has been getting rave reviews at Venice, so expectations are high. Chiwetel Ejiofor is an accomplished violinist living as a free man in New York who is conned into joining a travelling show then brutally abducted and sold as a slave. With Oscar buzz, this is one to see.

Talking Dog for Sale, 10 Euros

I am sold on the title alone. Talking Dog for Sale, 10 Euros is a short by Louis Martin-Soucy. It is being screened at the London Film Festival 2013 as part of The Best Medicine series of comedic short films. It is only eight minutes long, but I am hoping that is eight minutes of talking dog action.

The BFI London Festival 2013 runs from 9th – 20th October. More information is available here.

Film Review: The Heat

The Heat

Female buddy cop movie The Heat fails to work due to the lack of laughs.  And without the humour, there is little else to keep viewers entertained.

Uptight FBI agent Sarah Ashburn has an eye on a big promotion. In order to obtain it, she needs to track down an elusive drug lord in Boston. There she must work with antagonistic Boston cop Shannon Mullins if she wishes to solve the case…

After the success of Bridesmaids, director Paul Feig reunites with Melissa McCarthy for another female-centric comedy. Although the combination sounds promising, the reality does not quite match up to it.

The problem with The Heat is fundamentally the lack of humour. Certain scenes or comments that are set up to generate humour fall flat. There is a deficit of decent jokes in the script. The ones that do work are not enough to sustain the near two-hour running time.

Without a solid comedic strand, what is left is the crime story and the relationship between Ashburn and Mullins. The case that the film focuses on is really just functions as a vehicle to throw the two protagonists together. There is little of interest in the actual case.

The friendship between Ashburn and Mullins in The Heat lacks a spark. Both are rather unlikeable to begin with. The relationship does develop, but even this is not engaging. This is not because the protagonists are women, but simply due to the fact that they are not funny or endearing enough for viewers to care about their fate.

Performances by the main cast are fine. Sandra Bullock reprises the kind  of role viewers have seen her in before, but she does this suitably well. The soundtrack is one of The Heat‘s plus points.

Although the initial premise is fine, The Heat really needs to go back to the drawing board with its script. Beverly Hills Cop is a fantastic example of a cop movie that offers comedy and action in equal spades. The Heat is no Beverly Hills Cop.

Stuff To Look At

Posters galore this week! Disney’s animated short Get a Horse gets a screening, a trailer for Meet The Millers, a clip from The Heat and more…

Get a Horse

©Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Mickey Mouse is back! Well, kind of. On Tuesday 11th June 2013 Disney unveil the never-before seen animated short Get a Horse. The hand-drawn short features Mickey Mouse and the voice of Walt Disney. It is being screened at Annecy Animation Festival in France, no word yet on if Get a Horse will become available widely.

The Heat

Sandra Bullock’s character has some uncomfortable questions to answer in this clip from upcoming buddy cop movie The Heat. Also starring Melissa McCarthy, the film is director Paul Feig’s follow up to Bridesmaids. The Heat is released in UK cinemas on 31st July 2013.

Planes

Planes

Here is the latest poster for Planes, the upcoming animated feature from Disney. The trailer for the film can be viewed here. Planes is being advertised as from ‘above the world of Cars‘, and the parallels between the films are clear. Planes hits UK cinemas on 16th August 2013.

We’re The Millers

We’re The Millers reunites Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston in a new comedy. Jennifer Aniston is certainly ageing well. We’re The Millers, which also stars Emma Roberts and Will Poulter, is released in the UK on 23rd August 2013.

The World’s End

The World's End Poster

Here is one of the newly-released character poster for The World’s End. The film reunites director Edgar Wright with stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The film also stars Martin Freeman and Rosamund Pike. The World’s End hits UK screens on 19th July 2013.

Stuff To Look At

A feast of trailers and images. A feast for the eyes, I say. Whether it is horror, Disney animation, or crime thriller, there is something here for everyone…

Monsters University

I want to go to Monsters University! Human universities are so boring in comparison. A prequel to Monsters Inc., Monsters University tells the story of how Sully and Mike met as students. The film will be released in UK cinemas on 12th July 2013.

Oz The Great and Powerful

Oz The Great and PowerfulLook at this monkey! Surely he is reason alone for seeing Oz The Great and Powerful? Given that the film is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, it seems unlikely that hot slice Toto will appear. Not to fear, we have Finley in his little uniform to beguile us. Oz The Great and Powerful is released on 8th March 2013.

Identity Thief

Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy star in Identify Thief. When Sandy tracks down Diana, the woman who has stolen his identity, hijinks ensue when he tries to bring her to justice. Identity Thief is out in UK cinemas on 22nd March 2013.

Olympus Has Fallen

Well this all looks rather tense. Training Day director Antoine Fuqua brings together Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart and Angela Bassett in action thriller Olympus Has Fallen. The film hits UK screens on 19th April 2013.

Mama

A TV spot for Mama was on the other night when a friend (who shall remain nameless) could not bear to watch it. Guillermo del Toro is the executive producer of supernatural horror Mama, which stars Jessica Chastain. Mama is released on 22nd February 2013.

Side Effects

Steven Soderbergh reunites with Jude Law and Channing Tatum for thriller Side Effects. Also staring Rooney Mara and Catherine Zeta-Jones, the film is about a depressed patient who is prescribed the latest medication by her psychiatrist. Side Effects is out on 8th March 2013.

The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger

Here be the latest poster for The Lone Ranger. I am not quite sure why Johnny Depp has a bird on his head; I am hoping that this will be explained in the film. The Lone Ranger will hit UK cinemas on 9th August 2013.

Evil Dead

When I first saw a trailer for Evil Dead, initially I didn’t realise it was a remake of the 1981 film. Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell act as producers for this new version, so at least it gets their seal of approval. The trailer above is rather graphic, so brace yourself if you are squeamish. Evil Dead is released on 19th April 2013.

Jack the Giant Slayer

Jack the Giant Slayer

This is the latest poster for Warner Brothers’ Jack the Giant Slayer. Jack and the Beanstalk is not one of those fairy tales that has had a plethora of film adaptations, so it will be interesting to see what is done with it. Released in 3D, Jack the Giant Slayer hits UK screens on 22nd March 2013.

Dark Skies

Another horror! When the Sandman is mentioned, it is unlikely that things are going to go well. Dark Skies is giving me shades of The Birds. However, the trailer indicates more supernatural activity than this. Dark Skies is released in the UK on 5th April 2013.

The Paperboy

Having already been released in America, a certain scene in The Paperboy has been discussed a lot. I won’t spoil it, for those of you who don’t know what I am talking about. Nicole Kidman heads a stellar cast in thriller The Paperboy. The film hits UK screens on 15th March 2013.

The Heat

Sandra Bullock plays a FBI agent and Melissa McCarthy a Boston cop. This old couple comedy comes from Paul Feig, director of Bridesmaids. The Heat is released in UK cinemas on 5th April 2013.

Film Review: The Blind Side

Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for her performance as Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side. After watching this film, the other nominees must have felt they had been robbed. Whilst there is nothing deficient in Bullock’s performance, there is nothing remarkable either.

The Blind Side is based on the real life story of the Tuohys, a white, middle class, republican family from Memphis who take in a poor black homeless teenager. With the help of Leigh Anne in particular, Michael Oher goes on to become a member of the family, and eventually wins a college football scholarship.

The main problem with The Blind Side is that it is so schmaltzy, it’s saccharine. A feel-good movie, there is nothing but positive portrayals of all the main characters. There does not seem to be any unease whatsoever by any of the family at the unusual situation, but perhaps in real life there wasn’t. More significantly, the film lacks the element of threat or danger that things might not turn out as planned; the happily ever after is guaranteed from the off.

Furthermore, there is little resistance to the Tuohy’s plans for Michael. Save for a few comments from a redneck, and some bigoted remarks from some of Leigh Anne’s friends, there is a distinct lack of struggle for the family. This absence of hardship is interspersed with what is intended to be witty observations about the situation, with Sean Tuohy commenting: “Who would’ve thought we’d have a black son before we met a democrat”.

The Blind Side is not a terrible film. However, it lacks the gravitas of more serious silver screen drama. Whilst the narrative is positive and uplifting, it is more at home with “true-life story” style of made-for-television films.