Trailer: Suffragette

“I‘ve worked there part-time since I was 7, full-time since I was 12.”

Sarah Gavron’s Sufragette, is set in the early 20th century film about the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement in the UK, stars Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham Carter and Natalie Press. Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson are on hand to represent the types of male authority at the time.

In 1912 England, women were forced underground to pursue a dangerous agenda with an increasingly brutal State. In other words, the film is a document on being a working filmmaker in Hollywood these days. The trailer even ends with Ms. Streep solemnly intoning, “Never give up, Never surrender.”

Suffragette opens in UK cinemas on October 30, 2015. The trailer is below:

Trailer: The Black Sea

What to make of the career of Scottish director Kevin MacDonald? He started out his career making documentaries until mountaineering doc Touching The Void became of of the highest grossing docs ever made. He went on to try his hand at Oscar Bait (The Last King of Scotland), Hollywood star vehicles (State of Play), Sword and Sandals epics (The Eagle) and Young Adult fiction (How I Live Now), all to mixed success.

Here MacDonald tries his hands at the sweaty submarine thriller, mixing elements of treasure hunting adventure and the horrors of men. It looks like solid entertainment somewhere in the middle ground, pop genre cinema with high production values, but not squashed by CGI. I am not entirely sure if Jude Law is miscast or daring as a rogue submarine captain who pulls together a misfit crew of Brits and Russians to go after a sunken Nazi treasure in the depths of the Black Sea. Greed and desperation over shares of the spoils turn the already fragile crew on one another in the cramped environment.
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TIFF 2012: Berberian Sound Studio Review

There is a key to unlocking Peter Strickland’s dense and puzzling Berberian Sound Studio. A line of dialogue that comes from the director of the film within the film. A slip of the tongue. In movies about sound, or more specifically about processing sound, there are no slips of the tongue. Everything you hear is important, and everything you see is misleading. We put too much faith in what we see, oft times, and not enough faith in the other senses. Films like Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation, and and now this one, force us to listen to the process, wallow in it, even if we do not necessarily know what we are listening for.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Let us rewind.

Quiet and Introverted sound engineer Guilderoy, played by the chameleon and consummate character actor Tobey Jones, travels out of his comfort zone doing sound design for nature documentaries in Surrey, England, into the seething passions of the eponymous rundown Italian studio, to do the complete sound mix for a Giallo film: dialogue dubbing, foley, music. The movie has a curious title, Equestrian Vortex, which may mean that Guilderoy is on this foreign assignment by a complete misunderstand of the films content – It could have been a documentary on horses. Instead it is about the murdering of a sect of witches and their beyond the grave revenge. The clash of cultures that goes beyond the simple language barrier upon his arrival or the fact that the film has severe misogynist undertones and extreme violence which is alien and unsettling to the english engineer. The ladies of the film show up to do a lot of screaming, and the local sound engineer, Francesco, spends his time bullying and berating them: “You co-operate and you do not question!” The environment is toxic, and Guilderoy seems instantly mired there by virtue of his own English politeness.

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DVD Review: King Arthur and Medieval Britain

King Arthur and Medieval Britain DVD Cover

Running Time: 300 min
MPAA Rating: NR

I’m a romantic at heart, obvious by my passion for happy endings where the girl and the boy of her dreams end up together, and I’m certain it all started with an early introduction to King Arthur and his queen Lady Guinevere. Over the years I’ve come to realise that my idea of Arthur, Guinevere and the Knights of the Round Table are more myth than reality, stories and ideals popularized by early writers which then permeated through society and helped shape ideas of chivalry and courtly romance, but it’s a myth that still fascinates me and thousands of others who spend their time uncovering the history behind the myth.

For decades historians have been studying Arthur, looking for clues of the myth in our history and the results have yielded some fascinating bits of information. When it was announced that the History Channel would be releasing King Arthur and Medieval Britain, I knew I had to see what they had to offer and it’s a mixed bag.

Rather than a five part miniseries exploring Arthur, the set is a collection of five episodes, ranging from sixty to ninety minutes, taken from History Channel archives. There is no new material here but rather a collection of episodes on a similar subject packaged together and the result, though somewhat disappointing at first, does eventually surface as an interesting collection of historical material. The first three episodes “Quest for King Arthur,” “King Arthur: His Life and Legends” and “Ancient Mysteries: Camelot” are all excellent on their own but seen back to back, it’s clear that they all cover very similar material and in some instances, even using the same sources and though the episodes have aired years apart, together they seems a bit redundant.
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Everyone Loved “The King’s Speech” – Especially Britain

About a month ago I told everyone I know to mark David Fincher’s The Social Network on their Oscar ballot right now. It was a lock. It’s over. Guaranteed. While I will be sticking with that pick, it’s looking more and more like a closer race than I thought. The King’s Speech has been eating up audiences and the buzz is pretty much at its peak. On top of that, it nabbed 7 BAFTA’s last night (winning half of their 12 nominations) which just keeps the freight train a truckin’. Having said that, Fincher did get the win for Best Director and Best Screenplay, so I think there’s still a chance his film will get Best Picture come Oscar day.

Other than that, nothing here all that surprising or hard to predict. Another ho-hum Oscar season in which just about everything is either a lock or a 1 in 2 chance of winning. So just like last year, it seems there are really only two horses in this race. Who will cross the finish line first?

BAFTA Winners:

Best Film
The King’s Speech

Outstanding British Film
The King’s Speech

David Fincher – The Social Network

Outstanding Debut By A British Writer, Director Or Producer
Chris Morris – Four Lions

Leading Actor
Colin Firth – The King’s Speech

Leading Actress
Natalie Portman – Black Swan

Supporting Actor
Geoffrey Rush – The King’s Speech

Supporting Actress
Helena Bonham Carter – The King’s Speech

Original Screenplay
The King’s Speech – David Seidler

Adapted Screenplay
The Social Network – Aaron Sorkin

Film Not In The English Language
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Animated Film
Toy Story 3

Original Music
The King’s Speech – Alexandre Desplat

True Grit – Roger Deakins

The Social Network – Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter

Production Design
Inception – Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, Doug Mowa

Costume Design
Alice in Wonderland – Colleen Atwood

Inception – Richard King, Lora Hirschberg, Gary A Rizzo, Ed Novick

Special Visual Effects
Inception – Corbould, Franklin, Lockley, Bebb

Make Up & Hair
Alice in Wonderland – Valli O’Reilly, Paul Gooch

Short Animation
The Eagleman Stag – Michael Pleas

Short Film
Until the River Runs Red – Paul Wright, Poss Kondeatis

Orange Wednesdays Rising Award
Tom Hardy


Toronto After Dark: Centurion Review

Director: Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Doomsday)
Writer: Neil Marshall
Producers: Christian Colson, Robert Jones
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko, David Morrissey, Dimitri Leonidas, Noel Clarke
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 97 min.

Toronto After Dark

Every Neil Marshall film seems to follow roughly the same formula: a small band of unlikelys, often led by a strong female character, must battle against the evil odds to stay alive. While many might take such a repetitive structure as a criticism, I actually find it to be a strength as long as it’s done in new or interesting ways each time. That isn’t to say that Centurion does anything all that new or inventive but Marshall seems to excel at making things fresh and fun with each of his outings with a great flair for style, gorgeous scenery and exciting action sequences (i.e. cool kills).

Essentially nothing more than an on-foot chase movie, a small band of Roman Soldiers struggle desperately to get in front of enemy lines while being mercilessly hunted by a barbaric group of warriors from Northern England known as the Picts. Angry for crimes against their people, The Picts have sworn revenge and death to the Roman Soldiers and have sent out their bravest and most ruthless hunter/tracker (Olga Kurylenko) to bring back their heads. A race across the gorgeous country side ensues with harsh environments, wild animals, unknown strangers and each others’ pride or lust for power almost making the savage hunters the least of their worries.

What you’re in for in terms of visual style is exemplified immediately with some fantastic, sweeping opening credits that really open up the frame and give a sense of the environment we’ll be spending most of the story with. As a huge fan of Christophe Gans’ Brotherhood of the Wolf, almost exclusively for the visual environment and aesthetics, Centurion comes really close to bringing that style back as Marshall makes sure to take full advantage of his location with just amazing set up shots of the English countryside and its various and changing weather patterns. Quite honestly, these shots alone were enough to make me love the film… but there was so much more.
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Marshall’s Pict Makes an Appearance

Centurion Movie StillI love a great sword and sandal epic. I also love Neil Marshall so the combination of the two should have me giddy with excitement yet, after the release of the first still from a new production mixing the two doesn’t have me jumping with joy.

Centurion, written and directed by Marshall, tells the story of the Ninth Legion of the Roman Empire and their epic battle with the Picts. The film stars Dominic West, Michael Fassbender and Bond girl Olga Kurylenko as a Pict warrior woman.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Marshall can handle the material (his period segment in Doomsday (our review) is proof enough) but I’m not sure Kurylenko can pull off the warrior woman bit. Sure, she may look the part but I’m not convinced she has the ferocity to carry it off well and don’t be bringing up Keira Knightley in Fuqua’s King Arthur as proof that a Pict doesn’t need to be fierce – Knightley pulls off the role nicely thank you very much.

It’s too early to tell how this will turn out but Marshall’s track record is solid and though I’m not a fan of Kurylenko, Michael Fassbender has more than enough talent to carry the production. I can’t wait to see more photos and a trailer for the project which is schedule for release in July. I’m hopeful that it will not only surprise but also impress.