Archive for May, 2015

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Man Up (Ben Palmer, 2015)

May 29, 2015

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British romantic comedy Man Up has an unfortunate title in both evoking an all-too tired phrase and being quite misleading, as it’s not some man-child tale and is virtually all framed from the point of view of a female character. That lead is the bumbling Nancy, played by the charismatic Lake Bell, who finds herself mistaken for a stranger’s blind date at Waterloo Station and, due to a recent motivation to take chances, decides to go along and pretend to be “Jessica”…

Click for the full review for The Skinny

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Cat People (Paul Schrader, 1982)

May 25, 2015

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Made between his milestones American Gigolo and Mishima, Paul Schrader’s Cat People is a blend of the more commercially minded concerns of the former and the stylistically experimental features of the latter. Like The Thing, its Universal stablemate from 1982, Schrader’s film is a very loose remake of a beloved thriller, and one that’s only become more interesting with age…

Click for the full DVD review for The Skinny

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Poltergeist (Gil Kenan, 2015)

May 23, 2015

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As sacrilegious as a Poltergeist remake may seem to some, there are a number of smart creative choices behind 20th Century Fox’s update on the 1982 Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg horror. For one thing, director Gil Kenan has established his own genre skills based around digital trickery, courtesy of his 2006 CGI animation release, Monster House. Secondly, screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire is a Pulitzer Prize winner for his play Rabbit Hole, which he also helped adapt for the screen in 2010, suggesting some flair for domestic turmoil material. Finally, the remake’s leads are Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt; two actors who almost always do good work even in disappointing projects, and the two are reliably strong as the parents in Poltergeist.

So, it’s not like this film was immediately starting off on the wrong foot, and the final result generally doesn’t make too many glaring missteps. The issue is that there’s not a lot of weight to those steps…

Click for the full review for Vague Visages

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Tomorrowland: A World Beyond (Brad Bird, 2015)

May 21, 2015

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With The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, director Brad Bird demonstrated a keen interest in retrofuturism, a creative trend in which futuristic technology is blended with dashes of old-fashioned ‘retro’ styles. As such, Tomorrowland: A World Beyond (his second live-action feature after Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) is right in his wheelhouse, in that it continues that aesthetic interest alongside actively exploring the concept of changing notions of the future…

Click for the full review for The Skinny

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Tokyo Tribe (Sion Sono, 2014)

May 20, 2015

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Bringing “slammin’ beats from the ass-end of hell,”, Sion Sono’s manga adaptation Tokyo Tribe is a hysterical hybrid of The Warriors, Yakuza movies and Escape from New York, spliced with video games Jet Set Radio and Streets of Rage, and a dash of Scott Pilgrim. Also, it’s a candy-coloured rap-battle musical where maybe 15% of the dialogue isn’t sung or grunted to some kind of beat. So in that sense it’s like The Umbrellas of Cherbourg but with added beatboxing, tanks, Clockwork Orange-riffing human furniture and virgin sacrifices to Satan. Fun for all the family…

Click for the full review for The Skinny

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Love at First Fight (Thomas Cailley, 2014)

May 19, 2015

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A multiple award winner at the Director’s Fortnight sidebar of Cannes last year, Les combattants, the charming feature debut of director Thomas Cailley, finally arrives in North America under the name Love at First Fight, an unfortunate pun that does a disservice to a romantic comedy that’s much more interesting than its new title may suggest…

Click for the full review for Vague Visages

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Programme Notes: Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas, 2014)

May 15, 2015

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I was commissioned to write a programme note for Glasgow Film Theatre for their screenings of Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria during May. You can find an online copy of what I produced for them here.