Description: Ted mixes live action and CG-animation to bring to life this laugh-out-loud-funny tale of man whose life is being ruined by his childhood teddy bear. And this is no ordinary teddy. While the young John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is delighted when his favourite toy is magically brought to life, by adulthood, his furry friend has turned into a bit of a drag. Outspoken, lecherous and a bit of a liability, he’s basically an even blokier version of John himself. And when John’s girlfriend Lori wants him to get serious and ditch Ted, John’s got some very hard thinking to do.Buy Vue Cinema tickets online for Ted and watch the film trailer below.
A Simple Life
Friday August 3
It’s a gentle, flawlessly observed picture, moving but never sentimental, about getting old, fulfilling familial duties, killing time and being killed by time. The cramped nursing home where she lives is a grim place but not Dickensian, and there is humour but never at anyone’s expense. The dressed-down director, for instance, is mistaken by a movie company secretary for an air-conditioning repairman. Later in a cafe he’s taken for a taxi driver. “No,” he says, “I’m an air-conditioning engineer.”
Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
Eames The Architect & The Painter
Widely admired for his prolific and varied design work, ranging from architecture to his celebrated chairs, American designer Charles Eames had a profound influence on industrial design in the 20th century. This striking documentary takes a detailed look at Eames, whilst also acknowledging the far-reaching impact his artist wife Ray had on his life and work. Drawing on a wealth of archive material and new interviews with colleagues, friends and experts, the film sheds a fascinating light on the professional and personal lives of this iconic couple, while placing both of them in the wider context of their changing times.
Contains one use of strong language.
Sound of My Voice curzoncinemas
We’re delighted to host an exclusive Soho screening of Zal Batmangjli’s acclaimed drama, co-written with star Brit Marling (who also co-wrote and starred in Another Earth), who plays the head of a cult claiming to have returned to the present from 2054. Two documentary filmmakers join the cult, hoping to expose its fraudulent leader, but following a series of brainwashing exercises, find themselves under the sway of their charismatic host. Marling’s stunning performance dominates this engaging and taut drama.
London – The Modern Babylon
London – The Modern Babylon is legendary director Julien Temple’s epic time-travelling voyage to the heart of his hometown.
From musicians, writers and artists to dangerous thinkers, political radicals and above all ordinary people, this is the story of London’s immigrants, its bohemians and how together they changed the city forever. Reaching back to London at the start of the 20th century, the story unfolds through film archive and the voices of Londoners past and present, powered by the popular music across the century. It ends now, as London prepares to welcome the world to the 2012 Olympics.
FROM THE MULTI-AWARD-WINNING DIRECTOR OF HERO STARRING ACADEMY AWARD WINNER® CHRISTIAN BALE (The Dark Knight Rises/The Fighter).
It is 1937 and as Japanese troops and tanks flood the city of Nanking, the fate of its citizens falls on the resolve of a handful of local soldiers and an unlikely hero, John Miller (Christian Bale). But can sheer will, ingenuity and unimaginable bravery be enough to beat such incredible odds?
Explosive, deeply moving and visually stunning – The Flowers of War is an action packed war epic with a budget greater than Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List combined.
Truth Or Dare
cannot find it in any cinema at the moment I will post any update when they become available
Set against the backdrop of a high school football season, Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin’s documentary Undefeated, the Academy Award® winner for Best Documentary Feature, is an intimate chronicle of three underprivileged student-athletes from inner-city Memphis and the volunteer coach trying to help them beat the odds on and off the field. Founded in 1899, Manassas High School in North Memphis has never seen its football team, the Tigers, win a playoff game. In recent decades, the last-place Tigers had gone so far as to sell its regular season games to rival schools looking to chalk up an easy win. That began to change in 2004, when Bill Courtney, former high school football coach turned businessman, volunteered to lend a hand. When Courtney arrived, the Tigers were accustomed to timeworn equipment and a sorry patch of lawn as a practice field. Focusing on nurturing emotional as well as physical strength, Courtney has helped the Tigers find their footing and their confidence.
Wednesday 8th August
Friday August 10
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Ai Weiwei is China’s most famous international artist, and its most outspoken domestic critic.
Against a backdrop of strict censorship and an unresponsive legal system, Ai expresses himself and organizes people through art and social media. In response, Chinese authorities have shut down his blog, beat him up, bulldozed his newly built studio, and held him in secret detention. AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY is the inside story of a dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics.
First-time director Alison Klayman gained unprecedented access to Ai while working as a journalist in China. Her detailed portrait provides a nuanced exploration of contemporary China and one of its most compelling public figures.
The Forgiveness of Blood Curzon Soho
The new film from the director of Maria Full of Grace is a story of family feuds and the honour of a bloodline. Nik is a normal 17-year-old in the last year of high school ready to embark on his first romance and the opening of his own cafe after graduation. But then a local land dispute results in his father being accused of murder, Nik and the male members of his family are forced under house arrest. Nik’s sister Rudina has to leave school to take over the family business and whilst she flourishes with her new found responsibility, Nik’s resentment at his enforced isolation causes him to try and end the feud even though it may cost him his life.
At a plastic Christmas tree factory in Norway, three dangerous ex-cons and their supervisor win 1.7 million kroner on the pools.
As trust and friendship quickly dissolve, guns are loaded, knives are sharpened, and the division of the money begins
Step Up 4: Miami Heat
Miami forms the vibrant backdrop for some amazing routines in the latest stunning 3D ‘Step Up’ film.
When Emily (Kathryn McCormick) arrives in Miami, she has big dreams of becoming a professional dancer. She soon falls in love with Sean (Ryan Guzman), leader of a street dance crew called The Mob. They specialise in elaborate and creative flashmobs. But then a wealthy businessman announces plans to develop the Mob’s historic neighbourhood. If successful, his scheme would displace thousands of people from their homes. Their only hope is for Emily to join forces with Sean, turning performance into protest. But in fighting for the greater good, they run the risk of losing their individual dreams. The ‘Step Up’ movies always bring us talented rising stars, and this one is no exception. Well-known model Ryan Guzman makes his acting debut as Sean. Talented Kathryn McCormick was discovered on the hit television series ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’
The Dinosaur Project
And the world thought that dinosaurs were extinct? Brace yourself for a chilling ride through the depths of the Congo jungle as a film crew discovers (to their peril) that the 65-million-year-old species is more than alive! The most exciting dinosaur action movie since Jurassic Park!African fishermen find an orange backpack floating gently on the water. They are astonished to discover a waterproof container inside, full of videotapes. Flash back to London and the announcement by crypto-zoologist Jonathan Marchant of his expedition to find Mokele Mbembe, a legendary dinosaur rumored to inhabit the Congo River.As Jonathan’s team boards a chopper to take them into the jungle, they are accompanied by their mysterious and beautiful local guide, Amara; a TV documentary crew equipped with state-of-the-art camera technology; and a stowaway looking for adventure: Jonathan’s rebellious but multi-talented teenage son, Luke. After an attack by flying reptiles, the helicopter crashes near a deserted village, and all the team’s links to the outside world go down. They are on their own. Or are they?
See it EXCLUSIVELY at EMPIRE CINEMAS from Friday 10th August
I Against I
In I Against I, two men have 12 hours to kill each other in this exciting game of cat and mouse, however a twisted force is manipulating this simple game and time is running out
In the Dark Half
15-year old Marie and 6-year old Sean are neighbours. Whilst Sean goes on hunting trips with his father Filthy, a secret den on the hill has become Marie’s refuge from a world she is finding increasingly difficult to cope with. One night, while Marie is babysitting for Filthy, Sean suddenly dies in her care. As Filthy’s grief threatens to overwhelm him, Marie becomes aware of another presence. It follows her from the hill into the city and it won’t leave her alone. It wants something from her. Is it the spirit of Sean? Or her unresolved past creeping into her present and distorting her perception of reality?
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
New score commissioned by Network Releasing in partnership with the BFI.
A BFI Release
Now painstakingly restored and boasting a new score by Nitin Sawhney, this classic ‘tale of the London fog’ has long been recognised, not least by its director, as ‘the first true Hitchcock movie’
Inspired by a play and novel about Jack the Ripper, Hitchcock’s second feature and first suspense film anticipated his interest in erroneous accusations and his increasingly expert play with point-of-view. After a remarkably dynamic first 15 minutes beginning with a blonde’s murder and charting the responses of police, press and public, the story proper starts with the emergence from the fetid city fog of a mysterious stranger (Novello) keen to rent a room in the home of golden-haired fashion model Daisy. Despite her detective boyfriend’s objections, Daisy takes to the handsome newcomer, to the consternation of her mother who’s troubled by her tenant’s nocturnal outings… Skilfully staged set-pieces, moody compositions and lighting (revealing the profound influence of German Expressionism) and a brief cameo show a young director revelling in a rapidly developing medium. – Geoff Andrew
Monday August 13
Brave sees the Disney/Pixar team behind the likes of Wall.E and Up take on the Scotland of legend. Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is not your regular Highland princess: she is an expert at archery and very brave into the bargain, if sometimes a little too daring. Reaching beyond what is normally expected of princesses, she manages to unleash a curse that will blight the whole nation and the only thing that can stop it is her. Brave explores whether she muster the courage and pull together the skills necessary to avert disaster and beat a very beastly beast.
The Bourne Legacy
The Bourne Legacy is the latest installment in the world-beating action series but with a twist: Bourne is not in it! Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is on one of the Department of Defence’s programmes, being medicated to enhance him physically and mentally. When, as part of a cover-up, the decision is taken to eliminate all operatives, Cross dodges the bullet (and bombs) but is assumed to be dead. Teaming up with Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), who has also escaped assassination, they go on the run for medication and for their lives. The Bourne Legacy ramps up the thrills we have come to expect from the Bourne series
Thursday August 16
The Expendables II
The Expendables 2 sees the return of this most impressive cast for another highly-explosive adventure. When Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) regroups guns for hire, The Expendables, everyone thinks the mission is going to be a bit of a walk in the park. But when one of them is murdered by a rival mercenary while carrying it out, the mood changes and the team are now not only desperate to disarm a deadly weapon but are on the hunt for revenge. The cast is completed by Arnold Schwartzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren
Friday August 17
Take This Waltz
Take This Waltz is an intelligent and very moving love story about forbidden love and what it is that makes people happy. When Margot (Michelle Williams) sits next to Daniel (Luke Hogan) on a plane home, there’s an instant familiarity between them. Sharing a cab home, they find out they are neighbours and Daniel finds out that Margot is married. Despite being very happy with her husband Lou (Seth Rogan), Margot finds the young artist who lives across the road almost impossible to resist. Take This Waltz is about the dilemma of genuinely loving more than one person.
Anne is a kitchen hand who receives a spiritual awakening of sorts when she helps rescue a pigeon that’s become trapped in her attic space.
The Wedding Video
The Wedding Video brings together an all-star British cast and the brains behind Calendar Girls in a comedy that does for weddings what Spinal Tap did for rock. When Raif (Rufus Hound) returns from overseas to be best man to his brother Tim (Robert Webb), he’s amazed to find him marrying into some serious money and some seriously snobby attitudes. Planning to film the wedding preparations as a gift to the happy couple, what Raif ends up capturing in The Wedding Video is a behind-the-scenes diary of perhaps the most hilariously OTT wedding of all time.
Wednesday August 22
The Three Stooges
The Three Stooges is the latest nut-job of a movie from the directors of There’s Something About Mary and Shallow Hal. Three orphans are left on the doorstep of a convent, where they are cared for and eventually given jobs as maintenance men, but when the orphanage is threatened with closure they spring into action to try and save it. But being eccentric – to say the very least – it’s not long before they are embroiled in not only a murder plot but in a reality TV show (with Jersey Shore’s Snookie!) The Three Stooges is a mad-cap caper of sight-jokes and truly crazy carryings-on.
Friday August 24
F for Fake
He may be chiefly remembered as the most talented man ever to step behind a camera (whatever the voters in Sight & Sound’s recent poll might say), but Orson Welles always claimed his purest love was magic. Not in the ‘Harry Potter’ sense – Welles’s favoured form was misdirection, sleight of hand, a craft he associated closely with cinema, and which found its fullest expression in his final completed film, a gloriously sly and slippery ‘documentary’. Ostensibly, it’s a portrait of two notorious fakers – art forger Elmyr de Hory and his biographer (and publisher of an allegedly fictional memoir by Howard Hughes), Clifford Irving. But, like most of his great works, ‘F for Fake’ is really about Welles himself: the consummate raconteur, enthusiast, genius, friend, lover and self-confessed ‘fake’. For all its nods, winks and witty asides, it’s a richly personal work, picking over the questions every creative artist must eventually ask: Am I ‘for real’? Does it matter? And what is all this work worth, anyway?
You couldn’t make this stuff up – and no one would buy it as fiction. But as a documentary, it’s a different matter. In June of 1994, the Barclay family of San Antonio, Texas, were distraught when their 13-year-old son Nicholas went missing. Days and months passed with no news, until the phone rang three years later. The Spanish police had picked up a young person cowering in a phone booth. He said he was Nicholas Barclay.
Older sister Carey made the trip to Spain to bring her brother back to Texas and, once there, discovered an anxious figure, traumatised by kidnapping and sexual abuse. And the Nicholas who the family welcomed back was not the same person who’d left home. How on earth could his mother and siblings not realise they were now sharing their lives with an imposter? In fact, the person they had taken in was Frédéric Bourdin, a 23-year-old French-Algerian man with a troubled past and history of manipulative behaviour.
The title of this enterprising true-life puzzler by British first-timer Bart Layton is a giveaway. But it’s also an indication that this spoiler doesn’t answer all the questions. For that, Layton allows the participants to tell it their way, piecing together interviews with the family, Bourdin, US embassy officials, the FBI, and a shit-stirring private eye called Charlie Parker.
Who to believe? Were the Barclays foolishly gullible or hiding a darker secret? How could the authorities allow things to get as far as they did? There are more than two sides to the story, and as we try to gauge its exact dimensions, Layton daringly adds another layer of storytelling manipulation, visualising elements of the individual testimonies in blatantly stylised form and drawing on the language of film noir. Usually in docs, we rely on reconstructions to mark out a sort of truth. Here the images reflect the questionable perspectives of each teller. Can we trust the words? Or the pictures? Or neither?
Some might find this degree of uncertainty almost dizzying. Others might wonder if the hall-of-mirrors approach takes us away from the tragedy of the lost child. It’s possible, though, to have sympathy with both those points yet still find ‘The Imposter’ startling, provocative, witty and affecting, squaring such seemingly conflicting responses with the overriding recognition that the truth is far more slippery than we’d care to admit. The result is as smart as it is confident, worthy of comparison to such documentary big-hitters as ‘The Thin Blue Line’ and ‘Waltz with Bashir’, and quite a surprise coming from a Brit with no background in features. See it and be truly beguiled
Keith Lemon: The Film
The barrel-scraping dash to bring TV comedy to the big screen sours considerably with this crude, unfunny film starring mahogany tanned, mulletted, mouth-breathing Keith Lemon, alter-ego of comedian Leigh Francis (‘Celebrity Juice’, ‘Bo’ Selecta!’). The back-of-the-fag packet script sees failed businessman Keith catapulted into an instant fortune after sticking the picture of a lemon on the back of a mobile (like Apple, geddit?). There are 13 year-old boys (you’d hope) who’d squirm at how puerile this is: erection gags, penis enlargement jokes, plus some titty titters to stop it getting too phallic. The constellation of C-listers making cameos (Gary Barlow, Peter Andre, Jedward and a couple of lesser Spice Girls) makes the Olympic closing ceremony look like a meeting a of Pulitzer winners. Career lows all round, then? Except possibly for Kelly Brook, who’s had her fair share – here, as Keith’s new girlfriend, she fellates an asparagus tip.
If Wes Anderson made French kids’ films, they would presumably look something like this adaptation of the ‘Petit Nicolas’ books created by René Goscinny (best known for ‘Astérix’) in 1959. Director Laurent Tirard and his team have furnished their 1960s doll’s house world to retro perfection: from knobbly-kneed little boys in short trousers and knitted tank tops right down to shag-pile rugs.Ten-year-old Nicolas (Maxime Godart) is in a bit of jam. Convinced that his parents are having a baby, he concludes – with a child’s perfect misunderstanding of the consequences – that they will abandon him in the woods. Resorting to desperate measures, he ropes his chums into a plan to make himself indispensable at home. Nicolas is essentially a better-behaved, less mischievous ‘Just William’. He’s charming and adorable to parents, yes – but you’ve got to wonder if kids will find this mummy’s boy a bit wimpy. Also, this is subtitled rather than dubbed into English, so it won’t work for little ones.
Director James Marsh came to prominence with documentaries and he brings a grounded, unpolished sense of reality to this atmospheric Belfast drama set in the early ’90s (where everything looks so tatty it might as well be the ’50s). The acting is impeccable, led by Andrea Riseborough (‘Brighton Rock’) as a single mum from a hardline IRA family dead set against the looming political settlement. It’s engrossing, but not quite the first-rate thriller Marsh made with 2008’s ‘Man on Wire’ about the high-wire artist Philippe Petit.
The script is adapted by ITV political editor Tom Bradby (a correspondent in Northern Ireland during the peace process) from his own 1998 novel. In a gripping early scene, Collette (Riseborough) is caught trying to plant a bomb on the London Underground. During interrogation, MI5 agent Mac (Clive Owen) gives her a choice: turn informer or go to prison for 20 years and forget about seeing your son growing up. Collette accepts and goes back to Belfast where her brothers (Aidan Gillen and Domhnall Gleeson, both brilliant) are planning to murder a RUC police officer.
The detail is chillingly effective. On the morning of the assassination, as the gang members load their guns, one of their mothers fusses around them pouring tea (‘I have coffee if yous’ want’). Collette’s smooth return arouses the suspicions of the IRA’s paranoid internal security thug (David Wilmot). She also plays a cat-and-mouse game with Mac. Sphinx-like, Riseborough keeps us guessing to the end as to where Collette’s true allegiance lies. And while it’s hard to grumble about such a smart, intelligent drama after a summer of big bangs, its slow pace at times feels sluggish.
Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi
American superstore Costco gets an iffy amount of brand exposure in this marginally amusing alien-invasion comedy: it provides employment for Ben Stiller’s milquetoast hero and houses a climactic, explosives-heavy showdown between man and extraterrestrial. It’s an apt enough association for a film packaged as pure product, aiming to snare the combined markets for loudmouth comics, sci-fi action and, er, Richard Ayoade – who, however seemingly misplaced, is the freshest thing here.
When a colleague is gruesomely murdered by a slime-trailing killer, Stiller forms a neighbourhood watch force, though fellow members Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Ayoade are more interested in bromantic boozing than keeping the peace. As is the film: the intrusion of a somewhat mangy-looking Third Kind doesn’t distract the script from its strict agenda of dick jokes and casual xenophobia. (Aliens, Latinos and Brits are on an equal footing here.) The laughs are as cheap and cheerful as the effects, but the film’s dim laddishness is troubling: Hill’s sociopathic NRA poster boy is ‘too awesome for the police’, apparently, though he seems a greater danger than the aliens.
Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie
Cult comedy figures Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim of the US TV series ‘Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!’ have an alleged following – but it’s hard to believe they’ll pick up more fans on the back of this terrible spin-off. The initial idea is okay, as Hollywood spoofs go: Tim and Eric are given a billion dollars to make a movie and they squander it with outrageous purchases. But the rest of the story, in which the pair take over a derelict mall and try to reverse its fortunes, is shockingly awful. No doubt the intent is to shock with gags about recycled toilet paper, feverishly ill vagrants and treatments that involve being bathed in excrement, but to what end? The jokes are overplayed with relish by the writer-director-stars but you get the feeling they’ll be the only ones laughing, and that includes the mystifying appearances from respected comedy actors Will Ferrell, John C Reilly and even the slightly newer-on-the-block Zach Galifianakis, who looks like an old pro next to these guys. Various articles describe Tim and Eric’s style as ‘avant garde’ but we remain unconvinced.
Wednesday August 29
The first question, of course, is: Why? Why take a film that has barely aged a day since its release in 1990 and subject it to the CGI remake treatment? The second, equally pressing, question is: Who? What director worth his stripes would even attempt such a folly, and who could he persuade to be in it?
To be fair, ‘Total Recall’ isn’t the unmitigated disaster many had predicted. Its future world is nicely detailed, if deeply derivative (rain, neon, Chinese people on bikes), the action sequences occasionally spark, and the central conceit of an economically and socially divided Earth linked by a lift passing through the planet’s core is interesting enough to almost – almost – begin to justify the project.
But the positives end there. As Doug Quaid, the seemingly ordinary Joe who finds out he’s really a double-agent super spy, Colin Farrell manages to be even less convincing than Arnold Schwarzenegger. The women in his life, especially Kate Beckinsale in the badass Sharon Stone role, are beyond dull, while poor Bill Nighy is relegated to a few portentous lines before being unceremoniously knocked off.
But the real culprit here is director Len Wiseman. There’s no denying his eye for a surprising angle and an unusual location – there’s a chase sequence set in and around a series of thundering cuboid elevators that could have been truly special. But the editing is so confusing and the action so logic- and consequence-free that it swiftly becomes almost unwatchable. The big showcase finale, as Bryan Cranston leads his robot troops into battle, is crushingly tedious: lights flash, explosions blare, everyone yells and it’s nigh-on impossible to tell what’s going on. ‘Total Recall’ is Hollywood at its worst: pointless, witless, and so very unnecessary.
Friday August 31
Set a few hours before the original ‘[Rec]’ (2007), Paco Plaza’s prequel to the two films he and Jaume Balagueró co-directed is an uneven solo effort that mostly plays its gruesome zombie mayhem for laughs. The wedding of Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martin) turns into a deadly affair when the groom’s uncle plunges off a balcony, bites a chunk out of a fellow guest’s face and turns their post-nuptial celebrations into The Reception from Hell.
A Few Best Men
Studio script readers seemingly require three in-trays on their desks these days: one for superhero movies, one for wedding comedies, and one for everything else. Lukewarm on the heels of ‘The Wedding Video’ comes this entry from the bottom end of the middle pile. Stephan Elliott’s Down Under farce makes no secret of its debt to ‘The Hangover’, aiming to extend that film’s laddish colonisation of a genre once seen as a secure chick-flick stronghold. With its most extravagant gags revolving around sheep in drag and Olivia Newton-John on coke, however, the infrequently uproarious results are more of an acquired taste.
When mild-mannered Londoner David (Xavier Samuel) proposes to wealthy Aussie Mia (Laura Brent) after a whirlwind holiday romance, his best friends back home – obnoxious player Tom (a game Kris Marshall, liberated from those ghastly BT ads), socially awkward Graham (Kevin Bishop and lovelorn depressive Luke (Tim Draxl) – sceptically agree to act as groomsmen at the lavish outback nuptials. The bumbling Brits almost immediately run afoul of Mia’s pushy politico dad (Jonathan Biggins) and prissy mum (Newton-John, having by far the most fun here), and that’s before they begin lowering the tone with drunken car accidents, scorned drug dealers and gimp masks.Frivolous stuff, but there’s a sour edge to the silliness, with far more gay panic colouring the jokes than you’d expect from the director of ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.’ The presence of ‘Bridesmaids’ star Rebel Wilson, meanwhile, only serves to underline how much sharper (and smuttier) that particular wed-com was: ladies, the floor is still yours.
Berberian Sound Studio
How do you measure success in cinema? ‘Berberian Sound Studio’ is a stylistically ambitious, morally radical, thematically complex work. There are scenes, sensations and (especially) sounds here that feel altogether new, strange and exciting. So if the film doesn’t quite scale the lofty peaks that writer-director Peter Strickland has set his sights on, it’s easy to forgive. It’s always better to aim high and fall short.
Toby Jones hits a career best as Gilderoy, an English sound recordist who, in the early 1970s, arrives at an Italian recording studio to work on the Foley track of a groundbreaking new horror picture. A buttoned-down mother’s boy who works in his garden shed, Gilderoy is unprepared for the graphic scenes of torture he’s forced to witness. The intensity of the project, coupled with a deep longing for home, begins to play havoc with his mental state.‘Berberian Sound Studio’ is, at heart, a cine-literate horror film, despite its complete lack of on-screen violence. Strickland uses his set-up as a way to explore horror and the effect it can have on a sensitive soul, with particular focus on the sudden explosion of graphic images in the ’70s. His conclusions may be oblique, but his methods – using sound effects and dialogue to create moments of discomfort – are remarkable.
Cockneys vs Zombies
Horror movies such as ‘Lesbian Vampire Killers’ or ‘Strippers vs Werewolves’ seldom live up (or down?) to their killer titles. But from the moment a pair of workmen crack open a seventeenth-century plague pit and unleash the undead, Matthias Hoene’s lairy, gory zombie comedy delivers:?the tasty geezers and feisty girls fighting back against the flesh-eaters are funny and likeable, while the pacy action is awash with claret.
The pensioners at the Bow Bells Rest Home are under threat, initially from council jobsworths determined to shut down their retirement gaff, and subsequently from the zombie hordes who’d like to devour their wrinkly flesh. When 80-year-old Ray Macguire’s grandsons Andy and Terry (Harry Treadaway and Rasmus Hardiker) and their cousin Katy (Michelle Ryan) get wind of the Bow Bells zombie siege they shift their attention from a botched Robin Hood-style bank robbery to a rescue mission. Things get really messy as the youngsters team up with the oldies – who are now armed to the dentures with improvised weaponry and illegal fire power.
‘Severance’ scribe James Moran’s character-driven script slips in some side-swipes at the predatory gentrification of the old folks’ East End manor, while director Hoene skilfully blends gruesome horror and deliriously silly humour. As cantankerous old soldier Ray, ‘Lock Stock’ veteran Alan Ford delivers his sweary dialogue with feeling, and the scene in which Richard Briers’s dozy, doddery Hamish is pursued by shuffling, slow-motion zombies is an instant classic. This Zimmer-zomcom is as subtle as a brick in the gob, but it’s also a laugh riot.
In 1947 when the maps of India and Pakistan were being drawn, an oversight ensured that the village of Paglapur didn’t find a place in either country. The village had the distinction of housing the largest mental asylum in the region and in the melee that ensued during partition, the asylum inmates broke loose, drove away the villagers and established their own republic in Paglapur. And that’s how it stayed for the next 60 years! While the world outside changed, Paglapur remained isolated, with no electricity, television or sanity! Now, decades after the world forgot this village, a NASA scientist of Indian origin, Raj and his beautiful wife, Manali find themselves on the road to Paglapur. Raj is working on a top secret project for creating a device to communicate with aliens. So why is he in a village whose colourful inhabitants include a man who speaks in gibberish, another who thinks he is a lamp post and everyone else who think Mahatma Gandhi is still around, fighting for independence? And more importantly, what are they going to do that will soon turn the universe’s spotlight on this forgotten village?
Ron Fricke photographed ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ in 1982, directed ‘Baraka’ ten years later, and now takes us on another wordless global journey in ‘Samsara’ – its title derived from a Sanskrit word suggesting the endless cycle of life, death and rebirth. Anyone who’s seen either of those previous films will, however, note the endless recycling of similar images and juxtapositions here, as Fricke’s camera circles the planet in search of pompous spectacle. Clearly, he’s a gifted cinematographer, since the shots of temple dancers, sand-blasted landscapes and teeming metropolitan chaos are often astonishing in their palpable texture and eye-boggling detail. The results, however, amount to little more than a giant flick-book of ‘wow’ moments, because Fricke’s fall-back position, where slow/ancient/natural is good and fast/modern/synthetic is bad, amounts to formulaic eco-preachiness unlikely to sway hearts and minds. Almost three decades on from ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ and we’re still stuck on speeded-up Tokyo commuters cut to twiddly music? Fricke’s film reminds us there’s an inspiring world out there, but his approach is badly in need of creative rebirth.
The Myth of the American Sleepover
It’s the last hurrah of summer as teenagers in a Michigan suburb hit the streets looking for love in David Robert Mitchell’s sweetly earnest debut – think of it as flying ant night for kids, with more complicated mating rituals. Structurally this is a little like ‘American Graffiti’ or ‘Superbad’: a night in the life of four kids. And there’s a lot to like here – not least disarmingly natural performances from the mostly non-professional actors.
Best of all is Amanda Bauer as Claudia, a 14-year-old with an unnerving sense of herself. She kisses another girl’s boyfriend (all’s fair; the girl went with her boy). Rob (Marlon Morton), meanwhile, is looking for a girl he spotted in a supermarket. None of which is hugely original. But its tender observations (among them: that the sweetest moment of your teenage years might be as simple as kissing a girl’s hand) and portrait of fading innocence, are gently winning.
Filmed under the misspelled working title ‘The Dibbuk Box’, Ole Bornedal’s bog standard horror movie has just one unique selling point: the religion involved is not Catholicism but Judaism, so the inevitable exorcism is performed not by a priest but by Hasidic rabbi Tzadok (played by Jewish reggae singer Matisyahu). Otherwise, genre fans attracted by Sam Raimi’s producer credit will be treated to something even duller and more conventional than ‘Drag Me To Hell’.
A suburban family already torn apart by divorce is almost rent asunder when, unable to decipher the ominous Hebrew inscription on a carved wooden box bought at a yard sale, 10-year-old Emily (Natasha Calis) opens it, unleashing a host-seeking demon. Emily’s parents, teenage sister and school teachers are bemused and alarmed by her increasingly erratic and violent behaviour.
It all plays out just the way you’d expect, and no possession movie cliché is left unused, as sibilant demonic whisperings and exploding light bulbs give way to bodily contortions and husky-voiced ejaculations. An anodyne MRI scan stands in for the distressing arteriogram in ‘The Exorcist’, but the film was cut to scrape a PG-13 rating in the States, so everything is toned down for a teen audience.
It may present itself as the Polish Goodfellas, but Yuma lacks the conviction of its inspiration.
Set after the fall of communism across central and Eastern Europe, it sees poverty-stricken, baby-faced Zyga (Jakub Gierszal) – like Justin Bieber playing the Milky Bar Kid – rise as a gangster at the birth of Polish capitalism.
There are flashes of greatness, with co-writer/director Piotr Mularuk touching upon, but never fully exploring, the grim desperation of the post-communist vacuum.
Overall, however, it’s let down by muddled plotting, a weak script and a lead that lacks the depth needed to sell this story of moral collapse. Shame.
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