Monthly Archives July 2014

DVD Review: Venus in Fur

Screen shot 2014-07-28 at 22.13.50Directed by Roman Polanski

Starring Mathieu Amalric & Emmanuelle Seigner

Available on DVD & Blu Ray Now

Using my usual approach to watching something new, I avoided nearly every review or write-up of Polanski’s Venus in Fur and wanted to uphold an element of surprise. Once I popped in the DVD and realised that the whole film would be set in the theatre with two characters I was even more intrigued. Being a fan of contained single-setting films such as Robert Altman’s Secret Honour or overlooked seventies drama Inserts I was excited to see how Polanski, similar to his masterful Knife in the Water would deal with the familiar subject matter and limited setting.

When we first meet struggling actress Vanda (Seigner) she embodies a desirable but exhausting energy, in contrast to the anxious but still laid back writer-director Thomas (Amalric). Thomas is screaming in frustration on the phone about all the terrible actresses he has seen that day for the main role in his new play as the ambitious Vanda seeks her way into the theatre. Persistent that she is perfect for the role against Thomas’ wishes, he finally gives in and lets her audition. He realises that she is indeed the actress he is looking for; she knows all the lines by heart and understands everything about the character. Throughout the last minute rehearsals Thomas starts to obsess over Vanda, who may or may not be what she says she is.

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Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Screen shot 2014-07-27 at 18.00.19Directed by James Gunn

Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana & Bradley Cooper

Guardians of the Galaxy is undeniably Marvel’s most risky movie to date for a number of reasons. Since 2008 the Marvel movies have become an unrelenting, almost omnipotent franchise which has started to monopolise the summer blockbuster genre. However, a large amount of the appeal of the previous movies was seeing already popular superheroes finally fight their way onto the big screen. Worryingly for Guardians of the Galaxy, they do not have this type of hype to rely on, being based on a significantly lesser known comic book series. Marvel has even gone so far as to publicly state this is their most daring film. John Carter, Disney’s last foray into the Sci-fi space opera territory, has become known as a renowned failure, so it’s surprising that Marvel’s parent company would want to give it another shot. Add to this the fact that two of its main characters are a talking raccoon and a (not so talkative) tree, and that its leading man, Chris Pratt, is best known as the ‘chubby guy from Parks & Recreation’, this film is certainly the underdog of the Marvel movies. But it is by accepting and cherishing this status that the film succeeds.

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Film Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn]Directed by Matt Reeves

Starring Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke & Toby Kebbell

Back in 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes proved itself a cut above the average summer blockbuster nonsense with a surprisingly poignant tone, well rounded characters and, of course, impressively realistic and expressive effects. It was far from flawless but it had some memorable moments and firmly set the foundations for a franchise to build upon. Three years later in the real world and ten years later in the movie world we arrive at another mouthful of a title Dawn of the Planet of the Apes where our primate protagonist Caesar (Serkis) is the head of a sizable ape family in a world that has been left ravaged by the human race. There’s a small colony of human survivors living in the aftermath of Generic-Apocalyptic-Movie-Disease and when they make contact with Caesar’s hostile brethren tensions arise and all out hellish carnage eventually ensues.

 

 

 

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Film Review: How To Train Your Dragon 2 (Ramsey’s Take)

images Directed by Dean DeBlois

Starring Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler & Kate Blanchett

When the original How To Train Your Dragon first soared into your screens back in 2010 with it’s winning mixture of heart-warming Boy and his Dragon spin on the ‘Lassie’  trope, solid laughs and eye ravishing CG flight sequences it was the surprise hit of the summer.

It told the coming of age tale of Hiccup (voiced by the eternally teenage tones of Jay Baruchel), the nerdy son of the Viking Chieftain, Stoick the Vast (Butler) who ruled over the dragon hating island village of Berk. In 98 minutes Hiccup made a friend in an abandoned dragon called ‘Toothless’, got his blockheaded village to embrace their fire breathing reptile neighbours whilst also evolving from Medieval dork to badass dragon rider and winning his father’s respect It was a very straightforward, villain-free, uplifting fantasy tale – so with that in mind and knowing that the same creative team were back on board I went in with high hopes and was not let down.

 

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Film Review: How To Train Your Dragon 2 (Emma’s Take)

MV5BMzMwMTAwODczN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDk2NDA4MTE@._V1_SX214_AL_Directed by Dean DeBlois

Starring Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler & Cate Blanchett

For anyone who enters How To Train Your Dragon 2 having loved the first film and with concerns that the second instalment is not up to par, trust me…don’t be. This is a darker, meaner beast that than its predecessor, but it still maintains the sweetness and humour that made the first film so charming. Hiccup (Baruchel) now with stubble, struggles with the raising expectations of his father (Butler), battles with dragon hunters as well as meeting a new mysterious dragon rider (Blancett) who he, without knowing, has been searching for his whole life.

 

 

 

 

 

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Film Review: The Hundred Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Screen shot 2014-06-30 at 22.54.13Directed by Felix Herngren
Starring Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, David Wiberg and Alan Ford
Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson) is about to be turn 100.  His retirement home has organised a huge party to celebrate his Birthday. Allan escapes from his room, accidentally takes possession of a ruthless gangster’s millions,  gathers up a group of people just as peculiar as he is who decide to go on a unique journey with him.In a series of flashbacks narrated by a casual Allan we see how he has become this outgoing,  zany character.
Based on the successful Swedish novel by the same name, the initial comparison to Forrest Gump is expected. However, as I sat and watched Allan go on his exciting adventures with a unique, nonchalant outlook on life the more I was reminded of Woody Allen’s under-appreciated classic  ZeligAllen plays  Zelig who, similar to Allan, meets various dictators and notorious historical figures but has a chameleon like attribute where he can perfectly mimic anybody he is around. In this case however, Karlsson has no desire to mimic anybody in order to fit into society. Early on we learn that Allan has a knack for blowing things up due to his infatuation with dynamite. This trait doubles as not only his drawback but talent by both putting him in and getting him out of serious situations. In a strange twist, I felt as though the film almost plays out like an accidental homage to Michael Bay’s approach of filmmaking in a playful manner.

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