Wednesday, 29 July 2015
Tuesday, 28 July 2015
Less a horror movie than a dark drama about bullying, The Gift is a solid freak-out starring Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall and actor turned promising writer-director Joel Edgerton. Danny Huston, Matthew Goode and Joe Cole do what they can with the waterlogged script of the underwater thriller Pressure. And Ian Ziering and Tara Reid are back for another silly romp in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No, which sees the budget increase but not the filmmakers' skills. At least they keep finding new ways to make us laugh.
Tuesday, 21 July 2015
The centrepiece of the exhibition is a stunning Lego cinema (right), built using more than 25,000 bricks. It's astonishingly detailed, from the art deco exterior, bustling lobby, detailed snack bar, projection booth and 200-seat cinema with a working screen on which visitors can watch trailers, shorts and even The Lego Movie. It's also populated with hundreds of lego people, including wizards, rock stars and pirates.
Filling just two rooms, the exhibition isn't huge, and is a nice respite while walking the mobbed streets of London over the summer months. It reminds us of favourite films and those we're looking forward to, and fans of the art of poster design will enjoy spotting this year's trends and innovations. (Robert Zemeckis' The Walk certainly breaks some rules - just looking at the poster can induce vertigo!)
State of the Art Cinema is at the Coningsby Gallery, 30 Tottenham Street W1T (Goodge Street) 21 July to 7 August, and then moves to the Strand Gallery, 30 John Adam Street WC2N (Charing Cross) 11-28 August. MORE DETAILS >
Monday, 20 July 2015
Other big-name films this week included the Ryan Reynolds thriller Self/Less, which starts well but opts to ignore its themes in lieu of a contrived action-thriller plot. And Michael Douglas hunts Jeremy Irvine in the New Mexico desert in Beyond the Reach, which is utterly preposterous but has its moments thanks to the actors and the landscapes.
A bit further afield, we had the indie mob drama 10 Cent Pistol, which is sharply made but waits too long before it lets the audience into the story; the clever, jaw-dropping reality TV romp Shooting the Warwicks, which is one of the blackest comedies you'll ever see; the floaty-whiny indie drama Buttercup Bill, which spends so much time being achingly cool that it forgets to properly tell its story; and the well-made eye-opening doc Bolshoi Babylon, which digs into the controversial workings of the world's top ballet theatre.
Sunday, 19 July 2015
Tuesday, 14 July 2015
Further afield, we had the Aussie animation Maya the Bee, a charming and energetic little adventure; the found-footage horror The Gallows, which should really put an end to the genre with its utter lack of originality; and the riotous 1980s slasher movie spoof Dude Bro Party Massacre III, which manages to maintain the joke perfectly right to the very end. And there were also two docs that both rely far too heavily on talking heads: Misery Loves Comedy is an intriguing all-star exploration of the life of a stand-up, while Looking for Love explores romance in London's Afro-Caribbean community with insight and lots of personality.
Friday, 10 July 2015
Wednesday, 8 July 2015
The British Film Institute launched its latest initiative Britain on Film on Tuesday with a powerfully personal presentation exploring a range of film footage shot since the dawn of cinema: home movies, newsreels, amateur productions and some fictional films. This includes the first known home movie ever shot (in 1902 Bognor Regis). When it's complete, more than 10,000 films will be available digitally through the BFI's online streaming service. Some 2,500 went online this week.
In the clips shown at the press launch, I was especially surprised to see scenes shot in four places I have called home in Britain over the past 23 years. There's a hilarious sequence shot in Bradford, in which an aspiring mogul attempts to shoot a Bollywood epic just outside Ilkley. In Ayot St Lawrence, Hertfordshire, the playwright George Bernard Shaw has a rather surreal afternoon with Danny Kaye in 1951. There's a pet show at Alexandra Palace, proving that scenes of cute kittens didn't start with YouTube. And the morning's event concluded with a live performance from musical duo Public Service Broadcasting, using edited clips from the 1940 doc London Can Take It!, showing the city's resilience in the face of German bombs. This was especially poignant as the launch event was held on the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 terrorist attacks.
In the UK, visitors to the Britain on Film section of the BFI website (specifically: player.bfi.org.uk/britain-on-film) can click on a map to find footage from all over England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Being brand new, the site is a bit glitchy at the moment (I couldn't locate any of the clips mentioned above), but is sure to become smoother and easier to use over the coming months.
Tuesday, 7 July 2015
There were also two very different documentaries: The Salt of the Earth is the stunning story of photographer Sebastao Salgado, who changed the world (and himself) with his daring, potent photos of humanity and nature, while The Nightmare is a gimmicky doc about sleep paralysis told as a horror freak-out without any expert commentary. There was also the inventive British indie thriller 51 Degrees North shows considerable promise, even if the found-footage structure leaves it somewhat fragmented. And the American indie Angels With Tethered Wings felt rather thrown together with jarringly contradictory tones in each plot thread, amateurish direction and a cast that can't keep up.
Monday, 6 July 2015
Wednesday, 1 July 2015
I also caught up with last week's release Minions, the Despicable Me prequel that's surprisingly low-key and charming rather than the usual sharp-edged digitally slick action mayhem. And I watched the 10 shorts that Peccadillo has collected for Boys on Film 13: Trick & Treat - another terrific collection of mini-epics dealing with various aspects of sexuality.
Coming up this week: Saoirse Ronan and Domhnall Gleeson in Brooklyn, the doc-style horror film The Nightmare, the doc Misery Loves Comedy and a few more. Thankfully, with a heatwave in London, it's refreshing to take a break in an air-conditioned screening room!