Friday, 22 July 2011

The Violent Kind

Director: Mitchell Altieri & Phil Flores
Cast: Cory Knauf, Taylor Cole, Bret Roberts

Troubled Cody, a second-generation member of a violent and notorious Nor-Cal biker gang, rides out with his friends to a party deep within the redwood forest.

At the end of the wild evening, Cody’s ex-girlfriend Michelle is discovered wandering aimlessly, covered in blood, screaming and convulsing as if possessed by something unworldly.

Desperately trying to summon help, Cody’s plans are ruined by the arrival of another malicious gang, seemingly from the 1950’s, who show up “looking for a few kicks…the violent kind.””

However, this ominous Rockabilly gang are not there to pick a fight. They want what’s growing inside of Michelle – something evil and powerful – and they will stop at nothing to get it.

THE VIOLENT KIND mixes the savage artistry of horror, science-fiction and drama to tell a story that will leave you shocked, bemused and exhilarated well after the credits roll.

Theatrical release date: 22nd July 2011 DVD Release date: 25th July 2011

Running Time: 87 Minutes DVD RRP: £15.99 / Cert: 18

Distributor: Metrodome
Venue: Key Cities

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Life in a Day, an ode to our humanity

24th July 2010


A snapshot, an ode to all of us, to our diversity on this planet of ours, to our laughter, our cries, our everyday rituals, out poverty, our riches, our hopes, our pets, our activities, our desires, our loves, our fears, even our toilets, Life in a Day was shot in a day by hundred of ordinary people, many requested through YouTube, others having been given cameras to record their lives on that day.

An emotionally engaging film, Life in a Day is structured along themes and visual lines, with entwined narratives giving it a sense of order and continuity. It has not only the support of YouTube, but also of Ridley Scott.

“People responded by submitting more than 80,000 videos representing over 4,500 hours of deeply personal, powerful films. Contributions poured in from 197 countries from Australia to Zambia, Peru to Ukraine, UK to Japan, from the heart of bustling cities to the furthest and most remote reaches of the earth. Many of the entries were submitted via YouTube whilst a number came from cameras that were handed out by contacts in the developing world.'' LIFE IN A DAY brings together the most compelling footage, combining 331 clips into a 95-minute film”.

A contemporary version of those photographic books published in the 70s and 80s: Life in a day in the live of (insert name of a city). In its formal composition, the film also reminds me of Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi (music by Philip Glass), a kind of a visual, musical and, above all, human symphony.

The score, by Harry Gregson-Williams and Matthew Herbert is absolutely beautiful. My kudos goes to the editor, Joe Walker: to have put all these hundreds of clips into a coherent whole is no mean task.

I went into the cinema fearing I was going to be bored, I was not. I laughed, I cried but, most of the time, I sat there, completely mesmerized. I cannot really described it any more, it has to be seen.

Director: Kevin McDonald and... hundreds of others.

Distributed by Scott Free.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Falling autumn leaves...

Autumn leaves slowly falling on a deserted path; graves, trees silently contemplating a solitary figure, Anna Schmidt (Allida Valli), as she walks towards the camera, towards the man waiting on the side, Holly Martins (Joseph cotton) who nonchalantly lays back on a cart, after having been dropped by Major Calloway (Trevor Howard) from the funeral of Harry Lime (Orson Welles). Anna walks past the man, who does no longer exist. With her out of the frame, Holly Martin lights a cigarette.

Autumn leaves still falling, slowly, slowly...

One of the saddest scenes of cinema, that, the closing one from Carol Reed's “The Third Man” (1949), undoubtedly one of the masterpieces of all times.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

INTERN – “Kiss my ass!”

“Give me coffee, kiss my ass!”

In this 2000 comedy, Jocelyn Bennet (Dominique Swain) is the new intern of a high fashion New York based magazine, in direct competition with Vogue. This is an important observation to make, as the plot also evolves around that competition, apart from the inevitable love triangle between Jocelyn, an English down to earth aristocrat, and a supermodel... So far, so yawn yawn.

Whilst I accept that my knowledge of the world of high fashion publishing is not very high, I have the clear impression that Intern is full of clichés regarding it – the bitching, the claws out to get at the top, etc. Obviously, Jocelyn finally manages to get herself into the staff from her position of overworked not-paid-at-all rug for the magazine bitches to clean their shoes, after having learn to find her way through the snobbery and back stabbing (another cliché?).

However, buried in the film there is an spirited defence of the role and value of fashion magazines for teenage girls living in the middle of nowhere, imparting their lives with a bit of glamour missing elsewhere.

While I was not that impressed by the acting, specially that of Dominique Swain playing the ingénue, a chrysalis metamorphosing into a poisonous bee when poked, dreaming of the catwalk, I was fascinated by the cameo appearances of Diane Von Fürstenberg, André Leon Talley and Gwynet Paltrow.

Entertaining for a while, forgettable.

INTERN (Cert. TBC) will be available to buy on DVD in the UK on 25th July 2011, RRP £12.99.
Distributed in the UK by Network Releasing

“Between hilarious stories of icons and egos, a love triangle blossoms between the witty, well-read Jocelyn, art director Paul, and his babe – the Supermodel of the moment, Resin. In a world where endless legs are currency and stylists weep at runway shows, can a smart, pretty girl get the guy over the swimsuit goddess?”

Director: Michael Lange
Writers: Caroline Doyle, Jill Kopelman
Cast: Dominique Swain, Ben Pullen, Peggy Lipton, David Deblinger, Joan Rivers, Kathy Griffin, Billy Porter, Anna Levine, Paulina Porizkova

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Trust: disappointing yet worth watching

Trust, the story of a 14 year old trusting girl, Annie (Liana Liberato), groomed online by “Charlie” (Tristan Peach), a serial child-rapist, is disappointing, although well intentioned. Like filming by numbers.

However, the strength of the film lies in the different readings of what happened from hers to her father's (Clive Owen) reading, and her slow realization of how she was duped into sex. Her trust is then shattered, the resulting emotional scars threaten to tear the family apart. Another saving grace of Trust was the rather open ended finale, as it is likely that the perpetrator will escape scotch free (in spite of a trap set up by the FBI), although there was a kind of emotional closure not only for Annie, but also for the whole family.

The acting is quite good, particularly the nuanced interpretation of Annie Cameron by Liana Liberato, although in part I felt some of the performances were a bit over the top. I also felt that Trust was too long, it would have enormously benefited by a tighter editing. Not too subtle product placement was annoying.

The 15 certificate closes it to younger girls, who really should be the target audience for this too long didactic film, as the issue of internet grooming is worth raising, even now (the film is placed on Obama's America).

Trust is out on UK cinemas now.

Director: David Schwimmer
Cast: Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, Liana Liberato
Distributor: Lionsgate UK

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Of Gods and Men To stay? To flee?

These were the stark options facing the Trappist monks in 1996 at their monastery in Tibhirine, in the Atlas Mountains, during the Algerian civil war. Many of them having lived in harmony in the midst of a Muslim community since the end of WW2, living from the produce of the land and trading with the locals, their peaceful way of life is abruptly disrupted by the brutal intrusion of the external world, in the shape of the murderous activities of an extremist Islamic organisation, having beheaded a group of Croatian construction workers nearby. The rebels are soon followed by an army as brutal as them, offering their protection to the monks, which they refuse on the ground that they cannot accept the help of a government that they regard as corrupt.

The monks debate the options open to them as the conflict escalates, between their personal safety and their moral duties to the local community. It is Christmas Eve when a group of fundamentalist intrude in their ceremonies, demanding medicines and a doctor. The abbot, Father Christian (Lambert Wilson), refuses their demands; but cites the Koran as a proof of their goodwill. Ali Fayattia (Farid Larbi), the rebels' leader, grants the monastery his protection in a show of respect for their integrity, an act that attracts the unwelcome attention and harassment of a hostile army onto the monastery. When Fayattia is killed, that protection vanishes, and most of the monks are kidnapped in the middle of the night, we see them marching in the snow haze up the cold mountain, before we learn of their fate.

Of Gods and Men is a fine example of the tradition of cinéma vérité, almost in the footsteps of Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers, the cinematography brilliantly conveying both the serenity of their mountainous location and their peaceful daily life routines, working on the land, preparing jars of honey to sell or barter in the local market, attending the needs and curing the diseases of the local population, participating in their rituals, yet capturing the unnerving presence of the military as the civil conflict escalates, fatally involving them. Father Christian's attempts to cast a fine line between the fundamentalist and the army for them to continue living in the midst of the community, to which they feel a moral duty to serve, had come to an end.

Xavier Beauvois casts a dissecting eye on the resulting brutality of the civil war, a consequence of the participants' humanity being put on hold for the sake of either holding, or gaining power, of their ideologies, as Father Christian brilliantly muses in his final spiritual testament.

The DVD contains interviews to relatives of the monks, and a background to both the conflict and the monks presence in Algeria.

Of Gods and Men DVD is on sale in Britain.

Director: Xavier Beauvois
Writers: Xavier Beauvois (adaptation) (dialogue), Etienne Comar (scenario)
Cast: Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale, Olivier Rabourdin

Distributed by Artificial Eye

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Kimberly: girl meets... err...4 boys

Kimberly is not a masterpiece, but not every film should be one. There is space for those movies which fill a space in our lives and in our emotions for a while. Kimberly, a well crafted story about a woman, an unexpected baby, and four would be fathers, handsomely fills it.

A romantic comedy on the usual line of girl meets boy and... something is wrong here. This paragraph should say: girl meets... four boys, and she doesn't know who is the father of the baby. “So, what's to do?” is the conundrum the quintet is embroiled. The solution? The baby ends up with four dads, after a few ups and downs, as usual in this genre. However, smiles and laughs continuously crossed my face, and a few tears too.

Four young men row on the River Delaware. However, their enthusiasm is not reflected in their skills, their constant defeats in sporting events and unwise bets ends up with embarrassing situations, until, one day, they meet Kimberly (Gabrielle Anwar), the daughter of an English champion rower. She coaches them, resulting in the team winning a race; and they coach her, resulting in a baby. Their own lives gets also sorted out. A tale of relationships that are becoming less and less unusual these days. Old Philadelphia and the river comes out particularly well, the boat race scene being particularly of their place.

It is good to see Gabrielle Anwar having made a career, whom I first saw as a teenage actress in Summer's Lease and Press gang.

A thoroughly enjoyable film.

The DVD (also containing the trailer and the usual set up options) is out for sale in Great Britain now.

Director: Frederic Golchan
Writers: Frederic Golchan (screenplay), Guy de Maupassant (short story "Mouche")
Cast: Veronica Alicino, Gabrielle Anwar, Willow Anwar, Patty Duke, Molly Ringwald
USA 1999

Kimberly (Cert Tbc) is a Network Releasing title
Running Time: 102 minutes
No.of Discs: 1
RRP: £12.99
Screen Ratio: 1.78:1
Cat No: 7953484

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The Round Up: crude propaganda

Quite simply, Rose Bosch's The Round Up is no more than crude Zionist propaganda, using, and abusing, the fate of the Parisian Jewish men, women and children who were rounded up by Pétain's collaborationist government in occupied France during 1942, to be exterminated in Hitler's gas chambers.

Rose Bosch throws into it all the clichés already in vogue in Holocaust films, by now an industry in itself, such as the tear felt reunion of survivors after the war, the separation and partying of families, the hopelessness of their situation, the young lives cut short, the good French people, the bad French people, etc. Nothing new or special here. Just scriptwriter's tricks. They may be based in witnesses accounts, but still, tricks in the manner that Bosch dealt with them.

The Round Up has, however, one redeeming feature: the depiction of Jewish society in the French capital in 1942, which we have not seen much before in the big screen, when Paris had become a kind of refuge for all those Jewish families escaping from occupied Poland, mainly. The acting is also quite good, particularly from the kids.

I am really surprised that a good actor such as Jean Reno is taking part in such a crude film. It is a shame, actually, as it has some redeeming elements, such as the acting and the portrayal of the period. The cynic in me cannot stop wondering if its release was timed to counteract moves in the United Nations to establish a Palestinian state. If anti-Semitism has increased in France, and elsewhere in Europe, the reasons for this phenomena are partly a backlash against the actions of successive Israeli governments, bent in “purifying” Israel.

Other film-makers have dealt when the fate of the Jewish people in occupied Europe in a much more sensitive, and effective, way. The names of Spielberg and Kie?lowsky spring to my mind. Bosch is not one of them. If anything, this film has made a disservice to the history of the Jewish people in occupied France.

The Round Up has gone straight as a serious contender into my list of the worst films of 2011.

Director: Rose Bosch
Cast: Jean Reno, Mélanie Laurent, Gad Elmaleh, Raphaëlle Agogué, Hugo Leverdez, Joseph Weismann

Distributor: Revolver Entertainment