Archive for April, 2015

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Far from the Madding Crowd (Thomas Vinterberg, 2015)

April 28, 2015

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At first glance, an adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 1874 Brit-lit classic Far from the Madding Crowd might seem like a strange career choice for director Thomas Vinterberg, he of former Dogme 95 leanings. Upon closer examination, however, his handsomely-mounted follow-up to 2012’s The Hunt shares many thematic similarities with that film, as well as his 1998 break-through Festen. All three concern people’s standings in their insular communities upended by chaotic circumstances, a few all too predetermined but most of them unpredictable twists of cruel fate…

Click for the full review for Vague Visages

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Harlock Space Pirate (Shinji Aramaki, 2013)

April 27, 2015

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A new animated take on a classic manga property, Harlock Space Pirate sees an immortal spaceship captain roam a colonised galaxy, against the backdrop of a sinister governing body having declared mankind’s home on Earth now uninhabitable. The plot, as it unravels, bears some considerable similarities to Joss Whedon’s film Serenity at times (and wholesale lifts a couple of visual cues from one of Serenity’s set-pieces), but with a far less endearing band of heroes or compelling villain…

Click for the full review for The Skinny

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Sordid Cinema #95: ‘It Follows’

April 25, 2015

It-Follows

I’m on the latest episode of the Sordid Cinema podcast, discussing, with Ricky D and Simon Howell, David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows.

Stream the episode here.
Alternatively, you can download the episode or subscribe to the podcast by looking up Sound On Sight/Sordid Cinema on iTunes.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron (Joss Whedon, 2015)

April 22, 2015

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In Avengers: Age of Ultron, James Spader voices the eponymous villain, an entity of artificial intelligence that can inhabit seemingly any mechanical host around the world that it sees fit; break one body and you’ll just find him in an ever bigger one. Ultron is the superhero film embodiment of the ghost in the machine. Age of Ultron’s writer-director Joss Whedon, meanwhile, is the human in the too-often homogeneous Marvel machine, packing his second Avengers film with wit, pathos (as a result of characters’ palpable emotional vulnerability), and some actual thematic thrust regarding the concepts of invincibility, the transient state of human existence, and America’s knack for trying to prevent conflicts that haven’t even started with methods that doom people anyway. The symphony of destruction works because this blockbuster behemoth has an actual soul…

Click for the full review for The Skinny

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Force Majeure (Ruben Östlund, 2014)

April 10, 2015

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A Swedish family are on a ski holiday in the French Alps. Everything seems to be going great for Tomas (Kuhnke), Ebba (Kongsli) and their two kids. That is, until one fateful day when an avalanche strikes during lunch. The mountainside restaurant seems to be right in its path, and everyone around them is screaming at the terror about to unfold. Except, as his previous film (tricksy race relations drama Play) proved, things in writer-director Ruben Östlund’s films never go down the route you might presume…

Click for the full review for The Skinny

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While We’re Young (Noah Baumbach, 2014)

April 1, 2015

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“For the first time, I didn’t feel like a child imitating an adult.” With While We’re Young, writer-director Noah Baumbach bridges the gap between his recent portraits of middle-aged malaise (Greenberg) and twenty-something troubles (Frances Ha)…

Click for the full review for The Skinny

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Altman (Ron Mann, 2014)

April 1, 2015

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The career-portrait documentary is a tricky beast to pull off. A director will be inclined to do the artist’s body of work complete justice while also offering a fresh look at the individual behind the curtain. With cooperation from its subject’s widow, Ron Mann’s Altman, a bio-doc about one of America’s greatest filmmakers, succeeds somewhat on the latter front, thanks to various home movies and rare behind-the-scenes and interview footage.

It is with Robert Altman’s actual films that the documentary flounders…

Click for the full review for The Skinny