Thursday, 30 August 2012

5 Hopes for LFF.

Not long now until one of my favourite festivals arrives and with the opening and closing films being announced (Tim Burton's Frankenweenie 3D and Mike Newell's Great Expectations), I thought I'd jot down 5 films that I really hope make the festival schedule come next Wednesday. How likely these picks are is debatable mind you...


(dir: Michael Haneke)

Probably the most likely film on this list to appear at LFF, Haneke's Amour went down a storm at Cannes, where I was lucky enough to see it, and the film took home the prestigious Palme d'Or. This is an extraordinary work of filmic art which I'd love to see again.


Cloud Atlas
(dir: The Wachowski Brothers)

It's playing at TIFF next month and it looks pretty incredible considering I have not a single fucking clue what it's all about. The ensemble cast includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon and many more which is enough to sell the film to me anyway, plus it looks visually breathtaking.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower
(dir: Steven Chbosky)

Again it's premièring at TIFF and has all the qualities for a spot at LFF. TPOBAW looks like a charming and insightful coming-of-age drama for which I am greatly excited for. Many of you may or may not know that I have huge problems with Ezra Miller and I really want him to impress me so hopefully he can do such a thing alongside Emma Watson and the dweeby kid from The Three Musketeers....


The Master
(dir: Paul Thomas Anderson)

Premièring at Venice in a number of days before heading over to TIFF, hit-making auteur PTA's latest is making it's festival rounds and one can only hope it washes up along the Thames. Starring Joaquin "the whole bearded rap thing was just a massive LOL" Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, this has Oscar written all over it and rightly so. The Master looks sensational.


Les Miserables
(dir: Tom Hooper)

Please, please, PLEASE. Tom Hooper of The King's Speech fame is a frequent face at LFF with his films regularly playing the festival and I cannot hope higher that his adaptation of Les Miserables makes the bill. With a sensational cast, staggering set design and sumptuous costume, this looks like the cinematic adaptation the masterful stage show deserves. I cannot bloody wait.

Friday, 24 August 2012

I'd Hire The Expendables...

I've only just got round to seeing The Expendables 2 and let me tell you this - it's great. Utterly ridiculous, total preposterous and unbelievably far-fetched yes, but it's still a wonderful action romp that's filled with spectacular set pieces, fabulous design and frankly hilarious dialogue. The screenplay is basically a series of '80s film gags and puns; simply heaven.

 Stallone dominates as per usual plus Van Damme is a brilliant villain. Norris actually makes a self-referenced joke which drops perfectly and Lundgren looks like he's had a stroke. Oh and Crews is nearly as mental as he is in these Old Spice commercials which are quite frankly the finest things ever crafted by man...

 Anyway, The Expendables 2 is a vast improvement on it's predecessor, for which I still liked very much. Having Simon West direct rather than Stallone means the scale and settings for the film seem grander, more authentic; it looks like a high-budget action film rather than just a giant celebration of '80s muscle and testosterone. Plus all that naff serious stuff is gone (fuck off Mickey Rouke) and the narrative is able to shine through allowing for scenes of loose drama and those of comedy.

 Perhaps the best thing about the movie for me is seeing it after watching the year's worst films within one week. It's strange how two 'comedy' movies couldn't make me smile, laugh or feel entertained yet a group of old bastards shooting the living shit out of anything that doesn't speak English could make me feel so happy. I'm not sure if that's worrying or dementedly reassuring. All I know is that I would hire The Expendables to rid the world of these...

Could you imagine Stallone pummelling, Statham stabbing and Crews blasting this stupid little indie prick to pieces?
I'd sleep easy for eternity. 

'Keith Lemon: The Film'...

...Is about as fun as being repeatedly punched in the face.
Read my full verdict at Filmoria by clicking the poster above.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Tony Scott 1944-2012

He loved that grubby old hat.

May you rest in peace Tony; American and British cinema has lost a true hero today.
My thoughts are with his friends and family at this tragic time.


SHOCK HORROR. I've only just seen Pixar's Brave despite being the studio's biggest fan (I even wrote my university dissertation on Toy Story for goodness sake) but fear not, my verdict is finally here...

 After some pretty mixed reviews and the majority of audiences expecting a lot from the film that follows in Cars 2's rather poorly worn tyre-tracks, it's fair to say Brave has had a pretty tough few weeks in the US and the UK but perhaps the worst thing is that it doesn't warrant any of this.

 Brave is one of the most beautiful, wonderful and compelling animated films I have ever seen. Every single frame screams with detail, emotion and magic; it's a 100 minute work of art that has to be seen to be believed. The movement of Merida's hair, the crashing of water against rocks, the sun-shadows that sparkle in the eye - it's simply incredible in every production area possible.

 The score is perfect, as is the cinematography, the characters are fantastic and the twist is gleefully surprising. It actually angers me to think that some people believe this is 'art'...

...when you can simply pop down to your local multiplex and see this; actual art. Something that has actually taken effort, time, construction and formulating. Something composed with beauty, talent, intelligence and patience. Which image looks better? The above or this...

A scene from Brave - Looking over an ancient castle with Scottish mountains in the background


 This is not just a fanboy praising a film from a studio he loves so dearly, this is actually a message to all those imbeciles who still don't think cinema is artistic. Companies like Pixar and directors like Christopher Nolan are out there with their middle fingers up proving you wrong. Brave is an audacious, rousing and sumptuous movie-going experience and it's quite possibly the best film of 2012 so far. Oh, and the short film before called La Luna is a masterwork. Check out a brief clip below.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

'The Bourne Legacy' Review

Despite what you may have heard, Tony Gilroy's The Bourne Legacy is actually really good; the problem is it really doesn't know what kind of film it actually is.

 Is it a sequel? A prequel? A reboot? Well, it's actually just your standard espionage thriller really just with Jeremy Renner being all super-human. He's snappin' necks and cashin' cheques bitches.

 Perhaps the film's biggest issue is that because it holds the Bourne name, audiences will enter with a level of expectation for action and intelligence, however what they will receive is lots of jargon-laden dialogue and very little action. Now this sounds like I really don't like the movie which couldn't be more incorrect. Despite it's flaws, this is still riveting and engrossing cinema with some staggering set pieces, wonderful cinematography, a brilliant climactic chase sequence and flawless performances; Renner and Rachel Weisz are simply fantastic.

 If you enter it with an open mind, you'll probably enjoy it more. Just don't go in expecting Jason...

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Snow White or No White?

In a shock decision by Universal today, the studio have decided to drop Kristen Stewart from the sequel of Snow White and the Huntsman in light of her recent exposures. The studio are now forwarded a 'spin-off' feature focusing entirely on Chris Hemsworth's Huntsman rather than a straight narrative second feature.

 After reading this, I felt compelled to give my thoughts. Snow White and the Huntsman was and is one of my highlights from 2012; I found it to be thrilling, visually staggering and often frankly chilling. You can read my original review here.

 Anyway, is it just me or does this move by Universal seem a bit of an over-reaction? Granted both Stewart and director Rupert Sanders were wrong to engage in an intimate relationship and surely both should have been wary enough to know that nothing stays under-wraps in Hollywood for long but this is hardly the scandal of the century. All the press had was a picture of them at dinner and sharing a kiss in a park. It's not One Night in Paris or Tulisa getting a mouthful now is it?

 Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that SWATH proved to many doubters that Stewart is actually extremely talented. She carries this film with great presence and persistence, and although recent events would obviously taint her young career and popularity, if this second film goes ahead, I'm sure all audiences will notice a K-Stew sized hole.

 Surely the easier option would be to replace the director rather than the leading lady; Sanders is a new filmmaker who has already buggered up his career by this move anyway and there are plenty of talented directors who would love to get stuck into a film like this. Someone like Sam Raimi whose upcoming prequel Oz: The Great and Powerful looks utterly fantastic or Darren Aronofsky who could pump some serious madness into this twisted fairytale.

 I know Stewart has annoyed her most valued people; her fans, but this just all seems so silly to me. I'd rather Universal completely pull the second film rather than make a Snow White with No White.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

End of Watch looks BAD ASS.

This first trailer was good but now Open Road have released the Red Band trailer for End of Watch and let's just say it's rocketed up my anticipation list. Filmed with HD cameras with a mixture of first-person and hand-held, it looks like a real life video game and that's just awesome. Watch the trailer below.

Monday, 13 August 2012

The Art of the Movie Poster

Sometimes they get it totally right...

...And other times they get it completely wrong.

So, how on earth do advertising companies and studios make sure each poster they put out for whatever potential masterpiece or crap-fest looks golden and sells the picture? Well here's how.


All the best movie posters are simple; they usually consist of a single or core image with minimal text. The image is all the poster needs to sell the movie and that doesn't mean it has to give a single plot point or theme away in the process. Here are some examples of perfect one-sheets:

These posters offer enough to spark intrigue or an idea of the picture without spoiling or amounting too much within the potential spectators mind. Just because they are simple does not make them boring to look at either - the American Beauty one-sheet is one of the most recognisable film images in recent history and one of the best looking posters too.


Overly wordy or quote-smothered posters can detract from the core of the film poster and make it more of an essay than a tantalisation for the eye. Sometimes large amounts of quotes work in a film's favour and they do certainly boost excitement for audiences but a cooler, more direct poster needs to be released and established before a text-heavy version. Keeping film posters précised and to-the-point will only make them more successful and have longevity; after all, if you are to stick one on your wall, you want it to be a sweet picture rather than a list right? Take these two posters for Buried for example:

The simply brilliant and atmospheric teaser.

The quote-smothered and distracting second theatrical poster.

Even if the second option gives you more to look at, it lacks the tension and certainly the intrigue of the former. The teaser poster really hypes up the suspense for the film and by the time the one sheet came out, audiences could really get a taste of the horror the movie presents:

The original one-sheet.


I know this sounds ridiculously obvious but allow me to explain - so many movie posters do not sell themselves because they are unaware of what they actually need to sell. If it's a horror movie, you need to sell the fear whilst if it's a picture built around a star, the poster needs to sell the person. A Brad Pitt film is sold as a Brad Pitt film, not a feature with Brad Pitt, the film is secondary to the star, whilst something like Paranormal Activity is supposedly selling an experience, an atmosphere, so consequently the poster must portray this. Look at some examples of film posters starring Brad Pitt and see if you can see a theme:

In every single poster, Brad's name appears before the title of the film, the co-stars and the director. Even Terrance Malick's The Tree of Life which is as experimental as they come still opts for the technique to sell the star. Now if we look at some posters for horror movies including Paranormal Activity, it's a very different story:

All these posters sell a theme or an idea and in doing so, enlighten the audience with brief nuggets of information. Even a film like Scream 4 which is loaded with stars still opts for a classic image rather than a bogged-down cast poster.

So taking all these things into consideration, here are some of the best posters from 2012 so far...

...And the worst.


Bourne to be Brave? Well, you'd better Take This Waltz then.

This week sees two big cinema releases and one not so big, however please do not let The Bourne Legacy and Brave stamp over your chances of seeing Sarah Polley's beautifully human Take This Waltz

 Michelle Williams has had a rough few years with movie roles; she was a wife to a closet homosexual cowboy, a pill-popping movie star, a wife so close to breaking point it was unbearable, a 19th Century settler with not even a drop of fresh water and now she's Margot; a young married woman whose immediate attraction to her unbeknown neighbour starts to drive a wedge between her home and romantic life whilst playing further havoc with her impossibly timid and paranoid nature.

 Take This Waltz never shies away from home truths and realities - it has a heart vibrantly beating with honesty throughout, a cast who underplay with such subtleties that it's often hard to distinguish reality from fiction and it paints a poetic yet emotionally draining portrait of what it means to be in love and why. Plus the film's startlingly frank and refreshingly exemplary attitudes towards naturalised nudity as well as sexuality is another vital asset in making Polley's second feature film as down-to-earth and understated as the rest of the components.    

 Williams provides one of the finest performances in her pretty brilliant career, whilst Seth Rogen's role of chicken cookbook author and unsuspecting husband Lou is delicately quaint and all the better for it. The supporting cast are equally great, in particular Sarah Silverman who balances great comedic timing with a dense and rich layer of melancholy. 

 I'm ever so glad I stumbled across this little gem and I sincerely hope many of you can find the time to see it. It's one of 2012's best films so don't let it slip through those fingertips. Right, now go and see Jeremy Renner not being Jason Bourne and Kelly MacDonald definitely being a CGI Scot...

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Restore Your Faith in Genre.

Yes, I agree the above chart is both boring and hard to make out. What it indicates is the amount of films made in each genre or category if you will. As the majority of you know, genre is something that defines and collectively presents cinema but it can also be a royal pain and the thorn in a movie's side. All too often pictures are weighed down by their genre restraints or their seeming inability to be anything more than a retread of a past example but fear not, genre isn't all that bad really and here are some movies that truly understand how to use it to it's fullest, most richest effect. 

 Go out and see these films if you haven't already, trust me. Oh and I've tried to pick some different films rather than just all of the obvious, mundane choices...