"We have been working on a play about morality and we wanted to link it to what was happening in Wall Street. We found this way of tying the two things together": George Clooney summarising the genesis of the idea behind “The Ides of March”, presented yesterday in London as part of the BFI Film Festival.
Mr Clooney, who in this movie is both actor and director, plays the governor of an American State who runs as a democrat for the presidential elections. It is a gripping psychological drama about morality and politics.
Flashing onto the screen in a series of fast-paced frames set against a thumping soundtrack, Contagion is instantly captivating. Beth (Gwyneth Paltrow) is shown on the return leg of a business trip to Hong Kong, feeling increasingly under the weather. Putting it down to jet lag, she thinks nothing of it.
These opening moments are intercepted with similar instances of other people across Hong Kong and London. Sufferers have blurry vision and develop fevers before suddenly dropping down dead. Whatever it is, this is not jet lag.
For a long while, Japanese director Nagisa Oshima's notoriously explicit In the Realm of the Senses (1976) was an infrequently-glimpsed rarity, the snow leopard of the film world. Now, for the first time, it has been passed uncut by the BBFC as it makes its appearance on Blu-ray.
The storyline has the elegant simplicity of all the best erotic tales. Ex-prostitute Sada (Eiko Matsuda) takes a job as a domestic servant, but quickly attracts the roving eye of the master of the house, Kichizo (Tatsuya Fuji.) In a series of increasingly reckless encounters, they explore each other's sexuality, a journey which takes them deep into the world of sado-masochism.
Alexandre Dumas’s literary classic has experienced little joy at the multiplex in recent outings. There was the incredibly bland Disney version back in 1993 starring Kiefer Sutherland and Charlie Sheen (so bland Bryan Adams and Sting were on the soundtrack.... none more bland.) Then of course there was the uninspiring Man in the Iron Mask in 1998 starring Jeremy Irons and Gerard Depardieu. Neither really won over the audiences and both struggled to capture the correct blend of joyous romance and swashbuckling daredevilry that makes the novel so popular. So when it was announced that Paul WS Anderson, he of Resident Evil and Aliens Vs Predators fame, would be helming a new take on the tale there were many who questioned whether he would really be able to breathe new life into the story. Did he manage to prove them all wrong? The answer is a resounding…..sort of.
Last week’s malaise gives way to more quality fare as some heavyweight pictures attempt to make their box office mark this weekend. Steven Soderbergh eschews his indie credibility for a killer virus, Gus Van Sant tackles terminal illness, love and kamikaze ghosts, Tilda Swinton has filial problems and paranormal activity flares up in timely fashion for Halloween.
The BFI London Film Festival gala screening of The Artist was truly a special viewing experience. It may be overstating matters to claim nothing has been seen like it on the silver screen in 70 years, but not by much. Yes, initially set in 1927’s Hollywood, The Artist is a silent, black and white film released in 2011. It is without a doubt novel, but also charming and nostalgic whilst loaded with several clever touches, large and small, that will surely reward repeat viewings.
The silent protagonist is becoming something of an Australian film staple. Last year it was James Frecheville’s passenger in Animal Kingdom. This year we have Lucas Pittaway as Jamie Vlassakis, whom you may remember as one of the men convicted in the Snowtown murders.
As with any anti-coming-of-age movie, Jamie remains passive and quiet throughout the majority of the movie and this shtick is beginning to wear thin. On the flipside, Antipodean cinema is shouting about something larger than just these isolated cases. Their naturalistic crime films reveal a society not afraid to glance disparaging looks at itself and Snowtown is an interesting, if not ground-breaking, addition to the canon. The main problem, and perhaps the only problem, is how Snowtown feels derivative of all the movies that inspired it.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is not an easy watch. It’s grimy, violent and sometimes a bit boring. All of this is to its credit. Based on the alleged deeds of murderer Henry Lee Lucas (although evidence contradicts much of what Lucas claims and he recanted many of his confessions before his death) the film follows Henry (Michael Rooker) as he murders his way through Chicago with his former cellmate Otis (Tom Towles). Initially I was wary of the film.
After staff changes and budget disputes that make The Lone Ranger's greenlight look like a Pirates of the Caribbean sequel greenlight, Warner Bros have finally given the go-ahead on the live action US remake of Akira.
Who could have possibly predicted Liam Neeson would become a legitimate action hero? I know I couldn't and I love it.
Seeing Neeson re-unite with The A-Team's Joe Carnahan (a very talented director with the worst luck) is cause for much enthusiasm, especially when the trailer promises Neeson will punch at least one wolf to death.