Blu-Ray Review: The Boy and the Beast

Director: Mamoru Hosoda
Screenplay: Mamoru Hosoda
Starring: Aoi Miyazaki, Shôta Sometani, Kôji Yakusho
Country: Japan
Running Time: 119 min
Year: 2015
BBFC Certificate: 12


Mamoru Hosoda is a writer and director making a good name for himself in the anime world. After some TV work and a couple of films from TV franchises, he turned heads with The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and two of his subsequent films, Summer Wars and Wolf Children, which were all critical and commercial successes (in Japan at least). His latest film, The Boy and the Beast, is no different, attracting mainly positive reviews and becoming the second highest grossing release of 2015 in Japan. Being an anime fan and having enjoyed The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars quite a lot (I haven’t seen Wolf Children), it didn’t take much convincing for me to take up an offer of reviewing the film.

The Boy and the Beast sees a young boy, Ren (Aoi Miyazaki), become a runaway, living on the streets of Tokyo after his mother dies and his father (who had previously divorced his mother) doesn’t come forward to look after him. Whilst living rough, Ren bumps into Kumatetsu (Kôji Yakusho), a warrior beast who is looking for a pupil to train. Kumatetsu lives in a secret realm of the beasts, where he is in contention to become the new Lord, as the current Lord is due to leave this world and become a God. Kumatetsu is pig-headed and arrogant though, doing everything alone, and a worthy Lord must be a teacher with an heir as well as a mighty warrior.

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Blu-Ray Review: Mindhorn

Director: Sean Foley
Screenplay: Julian Barratt, Simon Farnaby
Starring: Julian Barratt, Simon Farnaby, Essie Davis, Andrea Riseborough, Steve Coogan, Russell Tovey, Richard McCabe
Country: UK
Running Time: 89 min
Year: 2016
BBFC Certificate: 15


For some reason I don’t watch many new comedies these days (other than animated family films I watch with my kids). I’m not sure why, I love a good comedy. I think it’s because I don’t go out to the cinema as much as I used to, so when I do it’s restricted to big visual spectacles or critically lauded films. The films I choose to review tend to be acclaimed classics or dark and violent cult films too, so my film watching habits of late tend to be rather serious. So, it was a breath of fresh air to be offered a copy of Mindhorn to review. I’m a fan of much of the work of Baby Cow Productions, the company who produced it, and a collection of their regular troop of British comics were involved, including Steve Coogan as well as the writers/stars Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby. Most of the talent are better known for their TV work, and it can be difficult to make the transition to the big screen, but Coogan and Baby Cow’s recent upgrade of their Alan Partridge character to feature length worked pretty well so I was willing to give this a chance.

Mindhorn sees Barratt play Richard Thorncroft, an actor who found fame playing a detective called Bruce Mindhorn on a cheesy 80s cop show set on the Isle of Man. The film is set in the modern day though, and we learn that Thorncroft blew it all after the show fizzled out, hitting the bottle and badmouthing his colleagues when he believed he’d got a shot in Hollywood. Now he’s doing adverts for compression stockings and girdles, and is deluded in thinking people still recognise him from his heyday. A chance to be back in the public eye appears though when a serial killer who calls himself ‘The Kestrel’ leaves a message for the police saying he’s only willing to deal with detective Bruce Mindhorn. Thorncroft is called up to help deal with the situation and he grabs the opportunity to get his face on TV once again. The case brings him to the Isle of Man though, where the past comes back to haunt him. Most notably his ex-girlfriend Patricia DeVille (Effie Davies) still lives there with her husband, Thorncroft’s former stuntman, Clive Parnevik (Farnaby) and her daughter, who Thorncroft believes is his. Whilst dredging up the past, the murder case takes a few twists and turns, which throws Thorncroft into some real life danger.

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Friday One Sheet: Minimalism and Text

Here is one way to stand out in a crowd. Take the imagery right out of the poster and go almost entirely with text. Looking like a paperback novel from the 1960s, the key art for Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, Lady Bird only graphic elements are a small crow on a white cross and a series of warm colour bars along the sides. It’s bold in its own way for avoiding the usual faces of the stars of the film (Saoirse Ronan has a particular striking visage). I doubt you will ever see this as a trend – note the missing credit block, which makes this more of a teaser poster than the ‘real thing.’ Nevertheless, I applaud the restraint and taste here. It works.

After the Credits Episode 216: September Preview

He’s baaaaaaaaack!

The crew is back together again!

Colleen, Dale (Letterboxd) and I (Letterboxd) finally managed to align our schedules so that we could all get together to check out what’s coming in September. I just wish there was more to get excited about.

Thankfully, festival season is just around the corner which, hopefully, means, we’ll have more to be excited about as we beging the descent into awards season.

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Trailer: 78/52


Alexander O. Phillipe’s compulsively watchable documentary on the 3 minute show sequence from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is finally getting a commercial release from IFC. And here they have cut a wonderful ‘talking heads’ sans talking heads trailer using the re-staging moments from the film. It pulls you in. And as all the critics quotes (curiously mostly nerd sites over more prestigious outlets) say, it is indeed an excellent examination of cinemas most famous murder. 78 Shots, 52 cuts, aka 78/52 comes to theatres and VOD on Oct. 13, 2017.

Tobe Hooper: 1943 – 2017

Tobe Hooper, probably best known for helming one of the most renowned and influential horror films of all time, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, has died of natural causes at the age of 74.

Because of it’s rather realistic vision and deranged sensibilities, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a high water mark in horror cinema and one of the most profitable independent films of the 1970s. It put Hooper’s name on the map and he worked in television and film for nearly the next forty years. “Salem’s Lot” and Poltergeist to name just a couple of the more popular titles.

The director’s passing will have a lot of fans of the horror genre mourning today as Hooper was a true hero (and likewise fan as well) of the genre. Survived by two sons, he will be missed and well remembered by many.

Friday One Sheet: Orange ‘n Teal

As key art goes, this latest poster for Blade Runner 2029 is about as assembly line as one can get. I only post it here to beat the dead horse of Orange and Teal one final time. For years since the Digital Intermediate became standard in the editing/post-production process, action film directors and producers (ahem, Michael Bay, Joel Silver) have been colour grading their films towards orange skin tones and blue tints, because science (SCIENCE!) says we like it. But we also get tired of it, and it has been falling out of favour (with a few exceptions) since Die Hard 5’s overkill use of it.

This phenomena has worked its way into posters as well, because Photoshop is pretty easy, but I’ve never seen it as prevalent as this one, which literally puts the orange on one half, and the teal on the other. Now this kind of syncs with the art-design of images and scenes we have seen in the movie. Roger Deakins is not really behind the curve here, rather he is actively moving between entire scenes of warm orange, cold blue, and steely grey, much the same way he used Yellow and Blue filters as a guide to where Emily Blunt’s character’s awareness/control was in Sicario. It is more just putting the same two halves (I suspect) of the movie onto one kind of standard one sheet.

Clear as mud? Righto.

Trailer: Blade Runner 2029 – The ACTION Picture


 

The latest advert for Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to cult classic science-fiction-noir Blade Runner, is made for television. With that in mind, I never expected the tradition and history of this film to result in a generic shoot-em-up action picture, but hey, that is how one gets butts in seats. Of course, the trailer also gives more glimpses of the wonder post-urban world that cinematographer Roger Deakins and producer Ridley Scott magnificently deliver.

The internet is ‘freaking out’ and telling people not to watch this, as they embed it in the very-same ‘warning article.’ I am less caring about Spoilers, and more curious as to if this film will indeed be an action picture, and not an atmospheric, thoughtful science fiction film. Knowing Villeneuve (who recently made the nearly-gun-and-explosion-free Arrival, which brimmed with thoughtful sci-fi concepts and sophisticated film grammar, I am expecting the latter in spite of this bit of marketing.

 

Trailer: Five Fingers For Marseilles


 

The Western is alive and kicking. Having been adapted to Southern Europe in the 1960s with a flood gate of Italian and Spanish ‘Spaghetti’ entries, and more recently to northern Europe with 2005’s Belgian Vincent Cassel vehicle, Blueberry, and also this year, Let The Corpses Tan. Australia and New Zealand (The Proposition, Red Hill and Slow West) have gotten into the mix in the 21st century, as has Asia (South Korea’s Kimchi-Western The Good The Bad And The Weird, and the recent Japanese remake of Oscar winner, Unforgiven). Now it is time for the classic American genre to drop its saddle bags in Africa.

Near the colonial town of Marseilles in the rugged Eastern Cape of South Africa, a group of rebellious friends dubbed the Five Fingers use well-placed eggs and slingshots to drive off the oppressive police force. But when the cops seize quick-tempered Tau’s childhood love, Lerato, he goes from throwing eggs to shooting bullets. Scared of capture or worse, Tau flees, returning 20 years later to a town, and friends, transformed by the violence caused that day. With the crooked cops now replaced by a caustic gang, Tau must marshal what remains of the Fingers to once again defend their home.

South Africa’s Five Fingers for Marseilles is burning up with style and intensity. If I were attending TIFF this year (sadly, I am not) it would be high on my list of things to see. The trailer is below.

 

Cinecast Episode 495 – Ocean’s 7-11

Soderbergh makes his triumphant(?) return to the Cinema with an all-star cast of this generation’s hottest stars. Kurt and Andrew and from Matt Gamble all take slightly different stances on 2017’s heist film (and fourth to use John Denver rather pronminently), Logan Lucky. Possibly more of a conversation starter is the upcoming Dave Bautista actioner, written by our friend Nick Dimici, Bushwick; which the boys were lucky enough to catch an early screening of. If your genre of choice is a “editless,” neighborhood rebellion movie with militia men and Brooklyn-ites battling it out, you’re gonna have a hard time finding something better this year. We round it out with some Bava, Ron Howard, Nolan and some batshit insanity from Marlon Brando, et. al. in Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau. We do have about sixty seconds of Game of Thrones talk in there somewhere as well as a look to the weeks ahead with various films coming down the pike.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

We’re now available on Google Play!

 

 
 

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Blu-Ray Review: The Reckoning

Director: Jack Gold
Screenplay: John McGrath
Based on a Play by: Patrick Hall
Starring: Nicol Williamson, Ann Bell, Lilita De Barros, Tom Kempinski
Country: UK
Running Time: 111 min
Year: 1970
BBFC Certificate: 12


Another of Indicator’s obscure British film re-releases this month (which also include The Deadly Affair, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg and The National Health), is Jack Gold’s The Reckoning. As with the other titles, I hadn’t heard of this before, but it caught my eye due to some positive reviews knocking around and the press citing it as being similar and of equal standard to Get Carter (the original, not the God-awful Sylvester Stallone remake of course).

Like Get Carter, The Reckoning sees its protagonist travel up north from London to find a loved one murdered. This time around it’s Liverpool that Michael Marler (Nicol Williamson) travels to, as his father is dead. The doctors declare it a straight forward heart attack, but a friend of his father tells Michael he was attacked by some anglo-saxon teddy boys the day before, which caused his death. Unlike Carter however, Michael is no gangster out for revenge. He’s a businessman who moved down south from his Liverpool home and never looked back. He’s brutal in his approach to his line of work though and his working class Irish heritage requires him to deal with those responsible for his father’s death, as the police aren’t interested. So Michael spends much of the film tormented as to what to do about the situation. Meanwhile he finds being back home rejuvenating after feeling suffocated and bored with his high flying but superficial existence in the capital. In particular, he’s fed up of his cold-hearted wife Rosemary (Ann Bell) and the battle for a promotion in the company he works for. The trip up north seems to provide him the impetus to do something about this though.

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