David Fincher is, undoubtedly, one of the greatest filmmakers alive at the moment. Ever since his first masterpiece, Seven, he has been churning out good film after good film, winning favour with critics and the public alike. It is also evident, however, that he is a director obsessed with the darker things in life, and a good majority of his films explore themes of death, obsession and more death (two of his films are about a serial killer; most of them have death of some sort in there). All in all, then, The Social Network is different from everything we’ve seen from the man so far. And it is truly brilliant.
“It appears to be normal,” intones Wilford Brimley gravely, as he dissects the hideously twisted and monstrous corpse of an unidentified creature, observing it has a complete set of internal organs. As if on cue, we cut to the cadaver’s face: a horrific tableau of pain, horror and terror. The fact that it seems to be fusing with an additional head next to it should alert those nearby to the imminent threat.
Status update: The Social Network is one of the best films of the year. But to reduce the film to the glib terms of the website whose origins it dramatises is to undermine its importance.
Sex, Leins & Videotape #56. Paignton film critic Tom Leins puts this week’s top DVD titles through their paces!
Francis Ford Coppola’s work-rate has declined in recent years, with the Oscar-winning director indicating that -after a long and illustrious career -he struggles for inspiration, going as far as to say that he had started to question his desire to be a filmmaker. Tetro (Soda Pictures) -dubbed his most personal film yet -is his cinematic response.
Funny Games for the ASBO generation? Film critic Tom Leins takes a closer look at Cherry Tree Lane -the new movie from former Devon resident Paul Andrew Williams.
Paul Andrew Williams surged to prominence with his disturbingly good directorial debut London to Brighton back in 2006. The unanimous praise that greeted his caustic underworld thriller was richly deserved, and the success seemed even sweeter for local film fans when it was revealed that Williams had roots in South Devon, and the movie was actually scripted at his family’s Teignmouth home. After exploring uneven new ground with his cartoonish follow-up movie The Cottage, Williams has returned to his stark, low-budget roots with Cherry Tree Lane, a harrowing home invasion movie that pulls few punches in its aggressive treatment of a middle-class couple tormented by nihilistic juvenile delinquents.
With The Dark Knight making such considerable bank and uniting opinionated fans and critics alike, Christopher Nolan was essentially handed the keys to the kingdom by Warner Bros. With them in hand and his new-found experience working on big blockbuster pictures, he decided to set about filming one of his own scripts. One that was 10 years in the making -Inception -a highly ambitious walk through the ‘architecture of the mind’. And in doing this, he might just have saved the summer of 2010.
1987’s Predator spawned a multi-million dollar franchise and a gluttony of terrible ideas, two of which made their way to the big screen in Aliens Vs. Predator and its wholly awful sequel. The original Predator, despite a mixed critical reception at the time of release is remembered fondly by most and frequently finds its way onto ‘top 50 action movie’ lists across the internet, written by journalists and bloggers alike -and, if we’re counting, two of its stars also went on to become US governors in Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura. There’s still hope for Carl Weathers yet.
Sex, Leins & Videotape #45. Paignton film critic Tom Leins investigates this week’s strangest DVD releases
George A Romero’s critical stock may fall every time he releases an underwhelming new ‘Dead’ movie, but the zombie movie veteran was once one of horror’s boldest, most compelling talents -a notion that Martin â€“ The Immortal Edition (Arrow) is very keen to re-address.
Following on from the runaway success that Kidulthood achieved, actor-writer-director Noel Clarke would have been forgiven if his sophomore effort had turned out to be less than stellar. Instead, he built upon all the things that Kidulthood brought to the table. Choosing this time to direct as well, Clarke followed up with Adulthood, giving us a look at the characters of Kidulthood a few years down the line.
Twenty-six years ago, a stripy jumper wearing child killer entered the world of pop culture thanks to Wes Craven’s 1984 slasher A Nightmare On Elm Street. The film gave a feature debut to Johnny Depp and the franchise it spawned would earn Robert Englund cult status amongst horror movie fans for his portrayal of Freddy Krueger. Seven sequels and $350m in box office takings later and it was inevitable that Hollywood would seek to reboot things.
2008’s Iron Man, directed by Jon Favreau, was full of fantastic performances, wit-infused dialogue and CGI-laden action sequences. It took its place on the throne as possibly the greatest superhero movie ever, only to be displaced a couple of months later by Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
The last few years have seen a number of high concept films released which attempt to merge the romantic comedy and action genres. And not just romantic comedy, but marital comedy in particular. The results range from poor (Mr & Mrs Smith) to genuinely offensive (The Bounty Hunter). One by one they come careering down a conveyor belt of awful, lashed together by the spiteful Hollywood machine. Shamefully, people gobble it up, and that’s where Date Night comes along.
Whip It is the directorial debut of Hollywood’s former rom com go-to girl, Drew Barrymore. Written by Shauna Cross and based on her novel Derby Girl, there’s clearly a feminist agenda woven throughout, but it’s never crammed down our throats like some critics would have you believe. The ‘girl power on roller-skates’ deal takes a sort-of backseat to the rest of the film which deals with a fraying mother-daughter relationship and the problems with coming of age in Nowheresville, USA.
CGI doesn’t make up for the wooden script or performances says Cornwall reviewer Stuart McColl on Clash of the Titans
1981’s Clash Of The Titans had a mystical charm to it, largely due to Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion animation. Here, Louis Leterrier’s (The Incredible Hulk, Transporter 2) remake forgoes the charm for large-scale special effects and a plot that takes itself a little too seriously.
Cornwall reviewer Stuart McColl goes vigilante with the stylised, boisterous and energetic Kick-Ass
Adapted from a Mark Millar comic book by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman (of Stardust and Jonathan Ross’ wife fame), Kick-Ass tells the story of Dave Lizewski, your average American high-school kid, who dreams of doing what nobody else through history has done before -donning a costume and fighting crime -not for accolades or pay, but because it’s the right thing to do.
Cornwall reviewer Stuart McColl takes on Green Zone, Paul Greengrass’s foray into an action investigation of the Iraq War.
Paul Greengrass’s Green Zone is an Iraq War film that differs from other, more recent attempts, instead choosing to focus on the politics and the ambiguities surrounding the war rather than the effects of the conflict on its participants. The opening scenes are quick to back this up, intense in feel they create a deeply impending atmosphere.
Cornwall reviewer Stuart McColl takes a trip to Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, and finds things are not all they seem in the paranoia-inducing film
It’s 1954 and US Marshals Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are dispatched to Shutter Island, home to Ashecliffe hospital for the criminally insane. Their goal is to investigate the disappearance of child murderer Rachel Solando, who has managed to apparently ‘vanish’ from out of her cell.
Devon filmmaker Ashley Thorpe has forged a solid reputation with his sinister succession of short films based on notorious local legends. His latest offering is The Hairy Hands, a vivid, hyper-stylized horror flick that packs an improbable number of chills into its admirably brisk 11 minute run-time.
Devon filmmaker Robin Whenary reviews A Prophet, which added the BAFTA for Best Foreign Language Film to its shelf of awards. It’s at The Barn Cinema, Dartington until Thursday, February 25
The title refers to the main character, Malik El Djebena, a 19-year-old man of North African origin, arriving in a French prison to start a six-year term. Without allies, he finds himself forced by Cesar, the aged leader of the Corsican faction, to murder a new Muslim prisoner who is due to be transferred to testify against the mob.
Devon filmmaker Robin Whenary reviews the masterful Still Walking at The Barn Cinema, Dartington runs until Thursday, February 11
This masterful film unfolds over 24 hours, as the middle class Yokoyama family gather at the family home in the leafy suburbs, for an annual reunion to mark the accidental death of the eldest son 15 years ago.
Sex, Leins & Videotape #20. Paignton film critic Tom Leins risks life and limb to bring you another helping of DVD mayhem!
If the cold winter nights are starting to get you down, and you fancy a dose of something exotic, why not seek out A Perfect Getaway (Momentum) ? This enjoyably daft thriller – from writer-turned director David Twohy (Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick) -follows the exploits of Cliff (Steve Zahn) and Cydney (Milla Jovovich) a pleasant but dull couple who are on honeymoon in Hawaii.
Dartington’s Barn Cinema showcases its performance and state-of-the-art digital film projection facilities on Thursday, November 12, with a one-off opportunity to experience a special film and music collaboration.
In Tera Toma, the new film by Josh Gaunt and Syndrome Pictures, which premieres at 8pm today (Tuesday, September 15) at the Exeter Phoenix, you get the feeling that madness is a daily occurrence.
Holy cow – now this looks like a movie! Yes, the extended redband teaser gubbins for Scott Stewart’s Legion has hit the interweb, and it rocks.
The story sees God sending a legion of avenging angels to Earth to bring about the Apocalypse – imagine him shaking a big celestial Etch-A-Sketch…
We’ve just been watching Quentin Tarantino introducing Death Proof on Sky Movies. What can we say – there’s not much on telly tonight.
We were anticipating the usual anodyne ‘this is my film – hope you enjoy it’ kinda crap, but this was actually fairly interesting.
Quentin didn’t really bother getting into the specifics of Death Proof (‘It’s not for the chicken to speak of his own soup’) – instead he took the opportunity to name his favourite 20 movies released since 1992 (the year he became a director).
Given that we were expecting him to come up with a buncha outre choices, we were pretty surprised at how many films on the list we had seen (all of them, we think). Perhaps he doesn’t have time to watch the more obscure efforts anymore – if indeed he ever did.
Anyhoo, we’ve typed them into a list for you – dunno why but we thought you might have something to say. What would you add? What would you remove?
The roundup sounds about right to us, but we always baulk at any attempt to put together a ‘pantheon of greatest movies’. The Godfather might be the ‘best’ film ever released, but Die Hard is the movie we’ve seen the most. So go figure.
(And yes, we do realise that Die Hard is technically flawless, shot by one of the world’s greatest ever action directors with one of the world’s best DoPs and a star-making turn from a hugely charismatic lead – we were just trying to make a point.)
Click through to see Tarantino’s list.