Best of 2016, directors, Movies, Reviews

Creatures of the night – Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals

As almost every review has commented, its been seven years since fashionista Tom Ford tried his hand at movies with his debut film 2009’s A Single Man. That movie seemed like a perfect distillation of Ford’s style, a measured, elegant character piece adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel. A Single Man followed a suicidal college professor George Falconer (played by Colin Firth) bereft following the death of his partner Jim over a single day. The film addressed issues of sexuality, and the repression and uncertainty of early sixties American culture. It was not anything if not elegant, meticulous in its period detail and fashions (especially the distinctive glasses worn by Firth). The film met significant acclaim, but there was the suspicion that it was a definitive filmic statement by Ford, a one-off dip in an artistic pool made by a man who could afford to dabble.  Continue reading

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Best of 2016, british film, directors, Movies, Reviews

I, Daniel Blake is a film of devastating emotional impact

You very much know what you are going to get from Ken Loach. He rarely works in genre, unless you consider the Loach picture a genre in itself (the case can be made). Since making Kathy Come Home for the BBC’s Wednesday Play strand in 1966 Loach has spent the ensuing 50 years making socially conscious, usually contemporary dramas with socialist themes. His films take place in working class milieus, and he finds warmth and humour even in the grimmest of subjects. Continue reading

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Genre dreck, horror, Movies, Reviews

If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for no real surprises – Blair Witch review

I’ve only seen 1999’s The Blair Witch Project once, on release in a multiplex in Plymouth with an audience who clearly thought it was rubbish. Normally I’d find this distracting, but despite the evident disdain of my fellow audience members I found the film to be one of the most unpleasant viewing experiences I’d had since seeing Watership Down. I had the last minute of the film in my head for weeks and I wanted it out of there.

In other words, it was a great horror film. Can the new sequel live up to it?

I guess I’ve given that away in the title of this review haven’t I? Still read on please lovely audience. Continue reading

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exploitation, Movies, Reviews

Hidden Gems: Cheap Thrills – a down’n’dirty, cocaine-fuelled, Gonzo version of Indecent Proposal

It’s a constant mystery to me how some quality genre films slip beneath the waves almost unnoticed. Cheap Thrills was one of those, receiving a UK release only barely a handful of screens and becoming just another entry on one of those gloating listicles of films that made only a few hundred quid on their theatrical releases. It possible isn’t helped by not fitting comfortably into genre categories. It’s the kind of film that horror fans might enjoy, but it isn’t a horror film. It’s very funny, but it’s funny in a very cutting way that isn’t comfortable. Once upon a time a film like this might have found its audience at the video rental store. But in these days of declining physical media sales, streaming is primary outlet and if the deals aren’t quite right a film just disappears.

So here is my review of Cheap Thrills – originally written for the now defunct Chris and Phil Presents website – to try and keep the fire burning. Continue reading

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biopics, british film, Movies, Reviews

ONE CHANCE – The unlikely film behind a $4.8 million lawsuit

Director David Frankel is currently suing The Weinstein Company for $4.8 million dollars for fraud over the 2014 US release of his film One Chance. Some directors when faced with a flop and a raft of middling-at-best reviews would see this as a blip on the resume and move on. Frankel however is claiming that The Weinstein Company had promised to release the film on 800 US screens or pay $5 million in damages to Frankel and the film’s producers. In the event TWC released the film on 43 US screens to hit a heady opening US weekend take of $33,405 with a screen average of $777 (figures from http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=onechance.htm). So what about the film behind the story, can it be worth the fuss? I probably don’t need to tell you the answer, but here is my review from 2014 anyway. Continue reading

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Best of 2016, Movies, new releases

Waiting to put on a black shirt – how Brady Corbet’s The Childhood of a Leader is a chilling totalitarian parable

Yesterday (the 18th of August 2016) was not a good day for the European film industry (yes,  until Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered I do still consider the British film industry part of a wider European industry). Dutch sales agent Fortissimo Films and UK based distributor Metrodome shuttered. Both companies had a strong history of supporting international independent filmmakers.

Metrodome straddled the divide between genre and art house fare, they had solid hits releasing films like Donnie Darko and Monster. More recently their acquisitions team had punched well above their weight, securing and releasing a string of significant art house films such as White God, Tangerine, The Falling, and What We Do In The Shadows (to name just my personal favourites.

The loss of both companies is a testament to the alarming shrinking of the independent film sphere, but Metrodome’s hits particularly hard as it removes a key distributor from a UK market now largely saturated with American studio product in which independent films across the spectrum from art house to exploitation increasingly struggle to be seen on a large format screen.

That Metrodome were to have released The Childhood of a Leader in the UK this week, and that it is on of the interesting films of the summer, is just pouring salt in the wound.

Anyway, on to the review… Continue reading

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