Archive for January, 2013

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Bullet to the Head (Walter Hill, 2012)

January 31, 2013

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Bullet to the Head marks Walter Hill’s return to feature film directing after a ten year absence. Though dissimilar to career highs like The Warriors or The Driver, Bullet to the Head’s basic set-up of a cop teaming up with someone on the other side of the law, in this case a hitman, puts the director on the familiar ground of his past fare like 48 Hrs. It’s also familiar territory for producer Joel Silver. Ever the fan of mismatched partners in an action comedy context, Silver had original co-star Thomas Jane removed from the film and replaced by Asian-American actor Sung Kang, a regular of the Fast and the Furious series, wanting a “more ‘ethnic’ actor” to appeal to a wider audience. With a replication of past formulas from producer and director, as well as star Sylvester Stallone on leading man duty, Bullet to the Head is a glaring tribute to a certain brand of 1980s thriller, complete with such choice cliché dialogue as “this goes all the way to the White House!” The only problem is that the film is so rarely thrilling at all..

Full review at Sound on Sight

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The Point (Fred Wolf, 1971)

January 31, 2013

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Making a long-awaited debut on Region 2 DVD, this animated TV film from 1971 is based on a much loved concept album by American musician Harry Nilsson. Directed by Academy award winner Fred Wolf, the Nilsson-scored film arrives in a different incarnation from its very first telecast, with a notable guest star replaced by an equally famous voice. Read the rest of this entry ?

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GFF 2013: The Kids are All Right

January 25, 2013

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Taking place in the 11 days preceding the main event, Glasgow Youth Film Festival is an increasingly formidable entity in its own right, and this year’s line-up is no exception. Curated by a passionate programming team of 15-18 year olds, the festival hosts several UK or Scottish premieres of its own, alongside exciting workshops and special events for film fans of all ages.

On the gala front, there’s a special family-catered screening of animation Sammy’s Great Escape (3 Feb), while the opening gala is Disney’s video-game fantasy Wreck-It Ralph (4 Feb), showing in 3D ahead of its UK release later in the month. Closing the festival is the Scottish premiere of The We and the I (13 Feb) from director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), an imaginative portrait of New York teenagers on the last day of school…

Full article at The Skinny’s website

Wolf Children reviewed for Sound on Sight

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Les Misérables (Tom Hooper, 2012)

January 25, 2013

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In attempting to condense its lengthy stage-based source material into a wieldy form for film, Tom Hooper’s still lengthy adaptation of Les Misérables suffers from the cutting of corners. Despite spanning three different time periods and concerning multiple protagonists, the film maintains a breakneck pace, presumably present in most performances of the stage musical, but without the breathing room usually accounted for in film. As a result of the film’s editing, character introductions and emotional beats are hurled at the viewer with little time to form an attachment or process their impact. There’s no vital breathing room between, say, the introduction of the character of Éponine, the reveal of her love for the character of Marius, her sadness regarding Marius’ interest in someone else, and the big musical number in which she sings about loving Marius while he loves someone else. The odd performer, like Anne Hathaway as Fantine, manages to transcend the speedy story methods, but, for the vast majority of the film’s running time, narrative engagement and character investment amount to null with such a steamrolling approach. As presented here, Les Misérables is not a riveting tale with emotional heft, but instead a bludgeoning barrage of broad, bombastic beats, and often intolerably dull. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Impossible (Juan Antonio Bayona, 2012)

January 12, 2013

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Based around the Boxing Day tsunami that struck South East Asia in 2004, The Impossible documents the true story of how one family of five was separated during the chaos, and their unlikely survival despite horrific injuries, presuming the other party may have perished, and being swept miles apart from each other. Juan Antonio Bayona’s Spain-funded film changes the Spanish tourist family of the real events to a British one, with Naomi Watts’ mother, bearing horrific wounds, managing to hold onto her eldest son (Tom Holland) and barely surviving the onslaught of water. Husband Ewan McGregor, meanwhile, battered and with a scratched eye, manages to secure his other two, very young sons near their resort, before setting off to find the remainder of his family.

Based on accounts, the film, nationalities aside, would seem to be an accurate portrayal of this particular family’s experience, though the youngest boys’ isolated conversation with a cameo-ing Geraldine Chaplin, about how some stars burn out before their light reaches us, is one of various mawkish touches amidst the instances of visceral filmmaking. Other such aspects include an overly sentimental score, very cloying in its refusal to not play over almost every scene, and some of the poor dialogue given to young Tom Holland, who tries but often cannot make his declarative dialogue sound at all natural for a teenager…

Full review at Sound on Sight

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Almost Arthouse #10: Les Misérables

January 3, 2013

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I’m a guest on the latest installment of Sound on Sight’s Almost Arthouse podcast, with the episode devoted to Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, though I’m only present for discussion of the former.

Stream the episode here.
Alternatively, you can download the episode or subscribe to the podcast by looking up Almost Arthouse on iTunes.

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The Skinny: 2013’s Coming Attractions

January 3, 2013

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I’ve contributed a few blurbs to The Skinny’s preview of select films coming to UK cinemas in 2013.

See the feature here.