Archive for the ‘New Releases’ Category

  • Review: RoboCop (2014)

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    RoboCop poster

    Director: Jose Padilha (Elite Squad, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, Bus 174)
    Screenplay: Joshua Zetumer,
    Producers: Marc Abraham, Brad Fischer, Eric Newman
    Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Samuel L. Jackson, Jackie Earle Haley, Michael K. Williams
    MPAA Rating: PG-13
    Running time: 108 min.

    (3/5)


    As with any original property that is beloved by fans the world over, the idea of remaking RoboCop was not one that was going to be met with rapturous applause. But unlike a lot of remakes, especially from the ’80s – that most fondly remembered of entertainment eras – there’s actually nuggets of ideas in there that could very well work as a modern update.

    And that’s where the RoboCop remake at least partially succeeds at what it sets out to do; update this technology-driven high concept to the modern day, or rather almost a decade and a half into the future, when the idea of robotic limbs and Artificial Intelligence is no longer just science fiction.

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  • Review: Blancanieves

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    (4.5/5)

    On paper, the Spanish film Blancanieves seems to piggyback on two recent trends – homage to silent cinema (if this plus The Artist can be considered a trend), and films about Snow White, following two Hollywood takes on the tale. Lest that suggest, however, that Blancanieves is a derivative tail-follower, nothing could be farther from the truth. This is a grand film, with director Pablo Berger showing both a solid knowledge of and a deep love for European cinema of the 1920s.

    Pulling not only from the tale of Snow White, but also from sister fairy tale Cinderella (and even a little from Beauty and the Beast), the film follows young Carmen through her horrid childhood after her matador father is paralyzed in a bullfighting accident and her sinister stepmother (played by Maribel Verdu, of Pan’s Labyrinth) takes over, forcing Carmen to work like a slave and psychologically torturing her at every turn. As the film switches from Cinderella to Snow White for inspiration, the jealous stepmother wants a now-grown Carmen dead, but the young woman escapes, albeit with an amnesia-causing head injury, and falls in with a group of traveling circus dwarves. This eventually leads to Carmen becoming a matador herself.

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  • Review: Trance

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    TranceMovie Poster

    Director: Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later)
    Screenplay: Joe Ahearne, John Hodge
    Producers: Danny Boyle, Christian Colson
    Starring: James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson
    MPAA Rating: R
    Running time: 101 min.

    (4/5)


    Hot off the heels of having the world in the palm of his hand with the Olympic opening ceremony, Danny Boyle delivers his first feature film since the harrowing 127 Hours. Trance is a bewitching puzzle of a thriller that’s off-kilter fun from start to finish, reminding us of Boyle’s amazing ability to surprise his audience.

    James McAvoy plays Simon, a fine art auctioneer who teams up with a gang of criminals in order to steal an expensive painting. However, the robbery doesn’t exactly go to plan, the painting goes missing and Simon apparently can’t remember what happened to it after taking a nasty blow to the head. The leader of the gang (Vincent Cassel) then decides to enlist the help of a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) in order to unlock the memory in Simon’s head of where the painting is located.

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  • William Friedkin’s SORCERER to be Re-released! (Finally)

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    The torturous road travelled by William Friedkin’s 1977 remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s classic Wages of Fear is both obscure and legendary. The film bombed hard upon its original release, and it was a very expensive picture. Since then ownership and rights issues have been snarled in a lot of legal confusion, while a proper aspect ratio version of the film has never been issued in any format. The only way to see this film properly is if you knew someone with a 35mm print. After Friedkin threatened to sue EVERYBODY associated with his film a short while ago, it seems that the powers that be are mounting a re-release (and BluRay) in short order after at 35 year wait.

    It’s all outlined in detail, here.

  • Review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

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    Directors: Tomas Alfredson
    Screenplay: Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughan, John le Carre (novel)
    Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Dencick, Kathy Burke, Stephen Graham.
    Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Robyn Slovo, Alexandra Ferguson.
    Country: UK/France/Germany
    Running Time: 127 min
    Year: 2011
    MPAA Rating: R

    (5/5)

    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy comes with a lot of impressive credentials: it’s based on a best-selling novel by John le Carré, it’s helmed by the director of a successful Swedish vampire movie, a previous mini-series adaptation of the book is fondly remembered (at least by people of a certain generation) and it has one of the best British casts in recent memory. The possibility of utter disappointment looms over it like a cloud. But it thankfully proves that a film with such hype behind it going in can completely deliver.

    Set during the Cold War, Gary Oldman plays ex-MI6 agent George Smiley who is brought out of retirement to help uncover a mole planted by the Russians years ago.

    It’s perhaps understandable the trailers sold the film as a lot more of an all-out thriller than it actually is. The trouble, though, is it might draw in audiences who are expecting something faster paced when in reality this is much slower than you might expect. However, it’s never once dull or boring, taking its time to build a quiet suspense and anticipation which gives it a palpable energy, a fascinating heartbeat.

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  • Review: The Rum Diary

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    Director: Bruce Robinson (Withnail & I, Jennifer 8)
    Producers: Johnny Depp, Christi Dembrowski, Graham King
    Starring: Johnny Depp, Michael Rispoli, Aaron Echkhart, Amber Heard, Giovanni Ribisi, Richard Jenkins.
    MPAA Rating: R
    Running time: 120 min.

    (3/5)

    The work of the late Hunter S. Thompson has been brought to the big-screen a couple of times now with Where the Buffalo Roam and more famously Terry Gilliam’s appropriately bizarre Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Now to add to the pile we have The Rum Diary, from writer/director Bruce Robinson (Withnail & I), a decisively less memorable and infinitely safer film than one would hope for based on the work of such a fantastically unique author.

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  • Review: In Time

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    Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy DVD Cover

    Director: Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, S1m0ne, Lord of War)
    Producers: Andrew Niccol, Marc Abraham, Eric Newman, Debra James
    Starring: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Vincent Kartheiser, Alex Pettyfer, Olivia Wilde, Johnny Galecki.
    MPAA Rating: PG-13
    Running time: 109 min.

    (3/5)

    In Time is one of those movies where the premise is a lot cooler and more interesting than the execution. The idea of a world where time is the currency, where people only live to 25 years old and thereafter work for and spend time (with the government controlling the supply of time to the population) is fascinating. A real hook if ever there was one.

    However, that idea only carries the film so far and by about half way through you can feel that it’s running of steam. It doesn’t really know where to take the idea past a certain point and feels underwritten and almost unfinished in a way.

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  • Review: Contagion

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    (4/5)

    With no prologue, no set-up, we’re thrust into Day Two. Gwyneth Paltrow is visibly fighting a bug; she’s shaky, she’s sniffly, she’s sweating and shivering at the same time. Not how you want to feel while traveling through a busy airport, but this is more than just a personal discomfort. The next few moments track, via a frenetically-scored montage, the movements of every person she’s come into contact with in the past few hours, and all the things they touch. A martini glass left on a bar, a tiny bathroom shared by dozens of airline passengers, a touch of a hand using a railing to swing out of a bus – these innocuous commonplaces all become harbingers of death, each touch hitting us viscerally.

    From there, the film spreads out like the virus, pulling in the CDC and the World Health Organization to investigate this Minnesota woman’s quick demise and the already world-wide spread of the disease through Hong Kong, London, China, Chicago, and more. Every angle gets its moment (and sometimes it seems like little more than a moment), from Matt Damon’s grieving husband and frightened father to Laurence Fishburne’s seasoned CDC coordinator to Kate Winslet’s professional but deeply sympathetic field agent to Marion Cotillard’s WHO investigator to Jude Law’s conspiracy theorist blogger to Gwyneth Paltrow’s unsuspecting viral carrier to Jennifer Ehle’s brilliant scientist, and more. If these sound like types, that’s because they are. The film has so many stories it wants to tell that each one is perhaps understandably underdeveloped, relying on familiar types and star power to give them power.

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  • Review: The Devil’s Double

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    (4/5)

    Dominic Cooper has been more than holding his own in supporting roles for several years now, giving second lead Danny in An Education more depth than you’d initially expect, almost stealing Tamara Drewe from its leads as petulant drummer Ben Sergeant, and filling the shoes of Robert Downey Jr’s grandfather as Howard Stark in Captain America. It’s about time for him to shine in a lead role, and that’s precisely what he does in The Devil’s Double, taking on not just one lead part, but two. The devil of the title is Uday Hussein, fast-living son of Saddam Hussein in the glory days of late 1980s Baghdad, while his double is Latif Yahia, an old school friend whose more than passing resemblance to Uday makes him the perfect person to bring on board as Uday’s double – you know, in case anyone should want to assassinate him or if there’s a public function he doesn’t feel like attending.

    Latif is pulled off the front lines of war with Iran for this, and he’s none too happy about becoming complicit in Uday’s antics, especially as Uday quickly proves himself an essentially amoral, psychotic individual who shifts from winningly charismatic to ripping someone’s guts out with a machete in the blink of an eye. But the Husseins are not accustomed to take no for an answer, and they make Latif an offer he can’t refuse. I don’t use those words lightly, because though it doesn’t aspire to anything like the sweeping grandiosity of The Godfather, in essence, The Devil’s Double is a gangster film, in the style of a family mob movie like The Godfather or Goodfellas – Latif may not want in, but once he’s in, there’s no getting out. At least not without great cost.

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  • Trailer: Julia’s Eyes

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    I managed to catch this Guillermo Del Toro produced Spanish ghost story in Toronto (even briefly running into the big man himself, which was pretty cool.) Directed by Guillem Morales, Julia’s Eyes went on to be the opening night film for the 2010 edition of Sitges, where leading lady Belén Rueda (The Orphanage) turned quite a few heads in a red dress. But enough about these little festival details. The film is being released commercially in the UK by Optimum (May 20th, 2011) releasing and they have issued the first English friendly trailer for the film (no word on this side of the pond yet.) High on atmosphere and virtuoso camera work, maybe a bit low on originality, it is a workman film that yields a good time at the movies considering what often passes for horror or scares out of Hollywoodland. Jandy liked it a bit more than I did.

    Julia, a woman suffering from degenerative sight disease, finds her twin sister Sara, who has already gone blind as a result of the same disease, hanged in the basement of her house. In spite of the fact that everything points to suicide, Julia decides to investigate what she intuitively feels is a murder case, entering a dark world that seems to hide a mysterious presence.

    The trailer (thanks QE!) is tucked under the seat.

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  • Complete Metropolis Blu-ray DELAYED

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    This week’s DVD of the week on the Cinecast would’ve (should’ve) been a no-brainer choice this week. The complete Metropolis was to make it’s first-time appearance on your home television screens as of today. There is a print traveling the country and I for one am pretty stoked to finally see this thing, but it looks like I’ll have to wait just… wait for it… another whole week. The excruciating seven more days Kino is forcing us to wait is due to some sort of coding:

    [Metropolis] was supposed to be locked to region A. However, due to a miscommunication, the first pressing of Kino’s release was not region coded. Kino Video has admitted the error and assured that future pressings will be region-A locked.

    Insert discussion on bullshit region coding here if you must. Whatever. I’m so excited to see Metropolis in its (almost) entirety I can hardly stand it. More than 25 minutes of footage has been reintegrated into Metropolis, from single shots to whole sub-plots and action sequences. The result is a film that’s finally as coherent as its images are iconic. And from what I’ve read, the Blu-ray transfer and ensuing extras are immaculate.

  • Criterion Announces January Blu-ray Titles

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    Looks like I’ll be selling my SD copy of Robinson Crusoe on Mars in the next few weeks in favor of a brand new Blu-ray transfer. Criterion has launched an all out assault on the senses with its January releases. With Hausu and Antichrist available later on this month, Criterion is already knocking down the doors of 2011 in a big way. We’re getting four titles reworked for Blu-ray and two of these will also be released again in SD with brand new transfers, new artwork and even more bonus features. Beyond that, Criterion is announcing two new titles to the collection with James L. Brooks’ Broadcast News (available on both SD and BD) and and a new Eclipse Set, 25: Basil Dearden’s London Underground which includes Sapphire, a dissection of a hate crime; The League of Gentlemen, a deft heist adventure suffused with postwar melancholy; Victim, a landmark gay character study, starring Dirk Bogarde; and All Night Long, a provocative transposition of “Othello” to the swinging London jazz scene.


    You can check out an overview of each title underneath the seats…
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