The Man Who Fell To Earth is the third film in the Picturehouse’s Made in Britain season and testament to the Picturehouse it screened a glorious, digitally restored print, which beautifully showed off Roeg’s follow-up to his seminal horror film, Don’t Look Now.
Simon Roger Key
The Exeter Picturehouse is currently screening a selection of classic British films, every Tuesday, as part of its Made in Britain season. It started with Passport to Pimlico, on Tuesday, June 5 and concludes with the Quartermass and The Pit on Tuesday, July 3.
Everybody should have at least one favourite Wes Anderson film. Mine is The Royal Tenenbaums, however, after the terribly self-indulgent The Darjeeling Express and prior to that the good, but underwhelming Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, I must admit, I had become rather jaded with Anderson’s output. His unique adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox was a step in the right direction, but it wasn’t quite the return to form I secretly yearned for. So, is Anderson’s first live action film since 2007, any good? Well, put it like this, Moonrise Kingdom is officially my second favourite, Wes Anderson film. Here’s why…
Mia Hansen-Løve’s third film does at least one very important thing, it reaffirms her as one of her generation’s most competent directors, proving without doubt that the magnificent Father of My Children was no fluke. With my most pretentious shoes on, I strutted down to Dartington Hall’s, Barn Cinema to check out the French director’s newest film.
It’s fair to describe the trailer for Kosmos, as more than a little baffling, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
After last year’s excellent Midnight in Paris comes this documentary on the veteran filmmaker, Woody Allen. Woody Allen: A Documentary is a PBS production made for TV in the US, but released in cinemas in the UK (selected cinemas, naturally). The reviews thus far haven’t been über-enthusiastic, but if you’re fan of Allen’s work, then this should be an enlightening watch.
After Ti West’s last film, the abysmal effort that was Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, it looks as if the genre director has returned to form with The Innkeepers. West is a horror director who understand the importance of character development and unlike the majority of his contemporaries, he refuses to cut straight to the gore – an effect of the “gorno” legacy. This ghost story, about two minimum-wage ghost hunters, should be a slow-burn treat and if you enjoyed West’s, House of the Devil, then is a must-see.
Ti West’s 1980s horror homage House of The Devil (2009) was a spectacular throw back to a time before horror descended into the murky waters of ‘gorno’. Ti West’s slow-burn film appeared from nowhere and was promptly watched by no one. HOTD placed an emphasis upon character development and plotting. Sure it had moments of violence, but most importantly West had crafted a protagonist that we actually cared about and, therefore, we were praying for her survival, instead of gleefully anticipating her gruesome demise, which seems to be the number one trend in contemporary horror films.
Tim Burton and his silver-screen partner Johnny Depp shuffle before us once again with their newest collaboration, Dark Shadows – to entertain us with their niche in ‘quirky’ cinema. However, Burton’s ‘glory days’ during the late-1980s and 1990s are long-gone. The director’s recent films demonstrate a once formidable, artistic-vision, a vision which has become a pale reflection of his most creative period.
The Turin Horse is a fictionalised story concerning a horse and the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Apparently, Nietzsche bared witness to a horse being whipped while travelling in Turin, Italy. The philosopher threw his arms around the animal’s neck to protect it, before tumbling to the ground. Béla Tarr’s film then, asks what happened to the horse? It hardly sounds like a barrel of laughs (unsurprisingly) and the trailer looks pretty sombre, but Tarr’s stark cinematography looks beautiful. Definitely not to be missed, if you’re a fan of Tarr’s work.
Lena Dunham’s feature-length film is a confident debut, it’s about a 20-something who has recently graduated and is unsure of what to do next. After breaking-up with her ‘feminist-conscious boyfriend’, she decides to move back-in with her mother and sister, in New York, while she works ‘stuff’ out.
The only thing bigger than the box office for James Cameron’s Titanic, is the director’s ego – that and the bloated snooze fest which was Avatar. Honestly, the man needs a decent editor, because none of his films have any right to last longer than two hours. But enough about the undersea-adventurer, this weekend I watched the lovingly restored classic A Night to Remember, which was directed by Roy Ward Baker, in 1958, at Pinewood Studios.
Baker’s film – like the book it’s based upon – charts the ultimately doomed, maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic. The film’s sophisticated narrative and plot were woven from actual testimonies from Titanic survivors, including the Titanic’s fourth officer, Joseph Boxhall, who was hired as a technical advisor. The director also secured access to the ship’s original blue-prints, which ensured the film’s grandly designed sets were as accurate as possible.
While the craftsmanship of the film’s sets is still evident, some of the SFXs have dated. If one was inclined, it would be easy to criticise these SFXs, which are reliant upon miniatures. But it’s important to remember that Baker had none of the technical wizardry which Cameron had at his disposable in 1997. However, on the whole, the SFXs hold up rather magnificently, the scenes on the lifeboats which depict the Titanic sinking are particularly iconic and act as a testament to the British film industry during the late 1950s.
Fortunately, Baker’s film isn’t reliant upon tawdry dialogue or risible performances from Kate Winslet or Leonardo DiCaprio. In fact, A Night to Remember understands that its real star is the ship and its mythos itself, and therefore Baker weaves a narrative based upon facts, with multiple characters and strands. Baker does so with relative ease, not once is the narrative muddled or confused. The film’s most natural protagonist is Second Officer Charles Herbert Lightoller, played by Kenneth More, but fortunately he never has to suffer the indignity of a corny, romantic plot device.
The 1958 film looks beautiful being projected and it’s far better to see this on the big screen, rather than re-watching it on DVD or on TV, on a wet bank holiday Monday. It is a film which demonstrates the once majestic British film industry. A Night to Remember might not be the technical marvel that Cameron’s Titanic is, but Roy Ward Baker’s film far surpasses Cameron’s in almost every other way. And let’s not forget, neither does it feature the undead warblings from the Canadian banshee, Celine Dion. Now, surely that alone secures its status as the definitive Titanic film.
This week’s most appealing new release isn’t Men in Black 3D – surprisingly! Instead, this week’s top film is the newest flick from indie-spirited-darling Wes Anderson. But sadly, the Wes Anderson formula is on its way to becoming as tired and generic as a Tim Burton movie.
Moonrise Kingdom concerns the exploits of a young boy and girl who fall in love and decide to run away together. The local community is shocked and turn their town upside down searching for the young love birds. I must admit, I rather enjoyed Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox, but I’ve not truly ‘loved’, any of his films since The Royal Tenenbaums. So here’s hoping this rekindles my love, for all things Wes Anderson. And if not, well, there’s always “The men in black… The men in black…”
This week sees the return of Sacha Baron Cohen, along with his newest creation, General Aladeen in The Dictator.
While the trailer for How I Spent My Summer Vacation showed more promise than Mel Gibson’s recent ventures, it alone was unlikely to catapult the fallen star back to his glory days. How I Spent My Summer Vacation is the work of an exhausted actor, who is fresh out of luck and new ideas, but it’s far from a disaster.
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Jason Segel. I’m not really convinced that he’s contributed anything worthwhile (as of yet) to the world of cinema. I’ve watched the occasional episode of How I Met Your Mother, but he’s not even the best thing in that. So, I was rather surprised by the trailer for his newest comedy, Jeff, Who Lives at Home.
After a record breaking $200 million opening-weekend in the US, it’s clear that despite my pleas and a mini-campaign across various social media platforms, that you, the millions, didn’t “Skip the Avengers” as instructed. In fact, you’ve obviously been attending in your droves. So, what with its sensationally-positive, critical-reception, I stumped up my own cash and begrudgingly stomped off to the nearest screening– while muttering curses under my breath.
Angele et Tony/Angele & Tony is about a beautiful young woman with a troubled past, who moves to a small fishing town in Normandy. There she meets Tony, a local fisherman who finds himself attracted to her, despite disliking her abrupt nature. Against his better judgement, Tony hires Angele as a fishmonger, rents a room to her and teaches her the tricks of his trade. The relationship between Tony and Angele is far from easy, but little by little, Tony and Angele fall in love. A romantic drama, but uniquely French.
Un amour de jeunesse/Goodbye First Love is another French drama and it chronicles a teenager’s first heartbreak. At the age of 15, Camille is a very serious teenager, who falls intensely in love with the cheerful, but carefree, Sullivan – an older boy who has his sights set on backpacking around South America. When Sullivan leaves, Camille is devastated, but over the next eight years Camille will develop into a strong headed woman, with new interests and loves. However, when Sullivan re-enters her life, will she revert back to her defenceless 15-year-old self?
Monsieur Lazhar is based upon the French play, Bachir Lazhar, by Evelyne De la Chenelière. It’s about an Algerian immigrant who is hired to replace an elementary school teacher, who recently died. While his new class comes to terms with its grieving, nobody is aware of their new teacher’s own painful history, nor that Bachir is at risk of deportation at any moment.
Out of these three French films, this is my favourite, the trailer displaying both sensitivity and humour – let’s hope it delivers!
Bir zamanlar Anadolu’da/Once Upon a Time in Anatolia has been called an ‘exhilarating masterpiece’, but after sitting through the close to three-hour film, I can assure you, it was anything but, ‘exhilarating’. A rollercoaster ride is exhilarating; Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is arduous, although not entirely without merit. Here’s my review of the rather slow and ponderous Turkish film.
Into The Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life, focuses upon three murders which occurred in the small, dead-end Texan city of Conroe. In 2001, while under the influence of alcohol and drugs Michael Perry and Jason Burkett murdered housewife Sandra Stotler in her kitchen, while she was baking cookies.
Out this week is the awful-looking Avengers Assemble, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to see that, instead, I reckon either of these is a far better choice.
Let’s get this out of the way, Lockout isn’t a great film, but regardless, it’s still awesome – yep, that’s right, awesome! I would happily unravel my intestines – and with gleeful joy – if it meant a sequel being greenlighted. It’s that damn good!
Kaurismäki’s newest film, Le Havre, is somewhat of an oddball. It’s quirky, although not to the extremes of a Wes Anderson film, and yet it’s filled with masses of melodrama, classical 1950s’ lighting, a pastel colour palette and even the odd baffling indulgence. Le Havre is no doubt, a love letter to Kaurismäki’s La Nouvelle Vague/French New Wave heroes, but will anyone other than corpses or scholars appreciate it?
In Darkness is the Oscar-nominated film based upon the true story of Leopold Socha. Socha, a Polish sewer worker who during WW2, hid a group of Jews for 14 months in the sewers beneath the Nazi-occupied city, Lwow – now known as Lviv – in Ukraine. However, Socha didn’t do this out of the kindness of his heart.
South American cinema is typically loud and in your face, and it has a vibrancy that other cinemas can only dream of. It’s also a cinema with few pretensions, something that would greatly benefit French cinema – zing! But Argentine, Pablo Trapero, is just as renowned (if not more so), for his drama’s subtleties and naturalistic camera work – don’t believe me, just watch Born and Bred/Nacido y criado.
Despite the sinking feeling in my gut, which I get whenever Joss Whedon’s name is mentioned – Buffy the Vampire Slayer being the only exception to this rule – I was quietly optimistic about, The Cabin in the Woods. But when it comes to Whedon, I should have known better. The Cabin in the Woods is rubbish. Drivel. Clap-trap. And even worse, it’s pseudo-intellectual nonsense.