Friday, 20 August 2010

The Refuge - Filmhouse - 15/8/10

I watch a lot of films.

Some people might argue that I watch too many films.

They might be right.

But when I see something as fabulous as "The Refuge" I think to myself; "Fools, with their "lives" and their "relationships" look at me sitting in a dark room with a dozen other people watching French bohemians having a gay old time of it"

"The Refuge" is written and directed by Francois Ozon and tells the story of "Mousse" who awakens from a heroin overdose to find her lover and fellow heroin addict dead and his baby living inside her tummy. She moves to the quiet of the countryside to rid herself of her habbit and to find the solitude she needs to cope with her loss and impending gain. She is soon joined by her lovers gay brother and slowly the two find love with and without each other.

With a genuinely shocking denouement and a briliant central performance from Isabelle Carre as the damaged and, potentially, damaging "Mousse" this is a gem of a film that makes wading through so many other lesser films worthwhile.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Bronco Bullfrog - Filmhouse - 11/8/10

My dad was a mod when mod meant mod.

Fred Perry before it was hijacked by the chav.

Ben Sherman when it was a design classic.

Shrink to fit 501's.

Original US army fish tail parka.

A Vespa.

Mohair suit.

He was a face at The Place.


Not really I suppose but I've flirted with it...hoovering up three button Fred Perry originals, trim-fit Ben Shermans with a pleat, Clarks desert boots and obsessing over Motown, Stax, Atlantic and The Kinks!

"Bronco Bullfrog" is a quasi-documentary look at the fag end of the mod movement...1969, the exact moment when the mods morphed into skinheads in rebellion of the soft, flower-power, psychedelia of the summer of love.

The eponymous "Bronco" is really a bit part player here as the story centres on the adolescent love and lust of Del and Irene (played with incredible warmth and honesty by Del Walker and Anne Gooding). With disapproving parents, dead end jobs and petty crime being the order of the day the two elope...briefly and ultimately find that it really is very difficult to escape the "real" world.

Director Barney Platts-Mills manages to capture the reality of coming of age and also a fascinating moment in British youth subculture...the clothes, the attitudes and the aspirations are all achingly real and despite being over 40 years old it is still relevant and fresh. With a DVD release looming in September this is one to look out for.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Nine Queens - DVD - 9/8/10

It's the Latin American "Sting".

I don't mean it's a self-righteous, pompous, arrogant, hypocritical ponce with a track record of making really awful music...I mean it's a twisty-turny tale of con-men doing what they do best.

Starring Ricardo Darin (who can currently be found in the Oscar winning "The Secret in Their Eyes" which I reviewed in June) as "Marcos"...a low level con artist who takes the incompetent newbie Juan (Gaston Pauls) under his wing after witnessing his botched attempt at pulling a trick on a cashier in an all night garage "Nine Queens" is fast, slick and hugely entertaining all the way through.

The film makes an appearance in a "Best of Latin Cinema" feature in the most recent "Sight and Sound" alongside several more heavyweight contenders like "Amores Perros" and "The Headless Woman" which is testament to director Fabian Bielinsky as he takes control of a script and plot that, in less able hands, could easily not have worked and crafts a terrific thriller that never lets you take your eyes off the screen from start to finish.

Monday, 9 August 2010

There Will Be Blood - DVD - 9/8/10




acting is a very serious business and it requires one to BE ABLE TO CONVEY EMOTION and to totally immerse oneself in the role ONE IS PLAYING TO THE POINT OF ACTUALLY BECOMING THAT PERSON

OK, OK, OK...we get it Daniel.

You are a SERIOUS actor.

You are a really intense guy.

Look how "quirky" you are...mending shoes in an Italian village and being the ultimate method actor.

A lot of people really enjoy Daniel Day Lewis...they think the fact that you can tell he is acting is something to be admired.

It isn't.

The real talent is being able to make people believe that what is happening on screen is real...even if what is happening on screen is outrageous, fanciful and fantastic. Or, if the role is something darker and more real to convince the audience that they are being afforded access to the character, a window into their life and soul.

Day Lewis doesn't do that.

He wants everyone to know that he is acting.

He shouts.

He twitches.

He limps.

He rolls his eyes.

He grows facial hair.

He is irritating.

I had managed to avoid this film for a long time but gave in after being urged to take a look by a friend who really loves it.

That friend is now no longer my friend...I don't have enough room in my life for people who mistake this sort of hysterical, overblown tosh for anything even approximating art or entertainment. I fell asleep after the opening thirty minutes at a point when Day Lewis was roaring about something and woke up with thirty minutes to go with Day Lewis roaring about something else.

Trust me, there are better ways to spend your time and money than this.

Go away Daniel.

Go away.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Sleeping Dogs - DVD - 2/8/10

What's the worst thing you've ever done in the bedroom arena?

Cheated on your girlfriend?

Kissed your boyfriends brother when you were drunk?

Called out another lovers name during an intimate moment?

If you are of a sensitive disposition or easily offended then you need to stop reading now before I reveal what Amy did...


Is the coast clear?

I'm not joking.

If you are someone of sound moral fibre or a religious bent then you don't need to hear any more about this film so stop reading now.


So, now that they have gone...

She gave her pet dog a "special present"...involving her pretty mouth and her canine friends reproductive organs.

Disgusting no?

Well, yes, it matter how you dress it up there isn't any way to make THAT alright.

Amy locks it away in the back of her mind and resolves never to tell anyone...EVER.

When her fiance encourages her to reveal a secret she has never told anyone else her resolve cracks and she tells him what she did. Understandably he is more than a little bit shocked and slowly their relationship unravels until it cannot be saved. Similarly Amy loses contact with her parents after her eavesdropping brother reveals the secret to them. Her indiscretion has cost her dear and she isn't sure that she will ever recover.

Eventually Amy finds someone new to love and when confronted about the secret that destroyed her previous relationship she takes a different approach and is able to secure a safe and healthy relationship for herself.

Director Bobcat Goldthwait takes a premise that, in less able hands, would simply have been the starting point for a "gross out" comedy involving lots of gags about "doggy style" and the like and instead makes a gentle and heartfelt film about honesty, love and fidelity.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Please Give - Filmhouse - 2/8/10


Just brilliant.

A film that made me laugh and cry.

A film that rang true.

A wonderful cast.

A central performance from Catherine Keener that was mesmerising.


Keener plays Kate, the wife of Alex (Oliver Platt) and the mother of Abby (Sarah Steele). Alex and Kate run a bohemian furniture store selling kitch and antique furniture they purchase from the homes of the recently deceased and then sell on at a profit. They have also purchased the apartment next to theirs which is occupied by the terrifically curmudgeonly Andra (Ann Guilbert), a 91 year old housebound misery.

Andras grand-daugthers, the attentive Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) and the much less attentive Mary (Amanda Peet) meet with Kates family over a birthday dinner they throw for Andra and at that point the previously sedate lives of all three parties are thrown into disarray to varying degrees.

Kate finds herself riddled with guilt over her own good fortune and embarks on a series of misguided attempts to volunteer. Alex has a torrid affair with Mary which starts at the beauty salon where she works. Rebecca starts a new relationship. Abby grows obsessed with Mary with potentially devastating results.

Writer/director Nicole Holofcener delivers a beautiful, warm, honest and interesting film that deals with themes of love, obsession, lust, death and growing up; for a "small" film it has big ambitions and it achieves them with seemingly effortless ease. Keener proves, again, that she is an actress with real talent and an ever growing list of quality films behind her. Equally impressive here is Rebecca Hall who is also building up an impressive portfolio of work and is certainly worth keeping an eye on in the future.

Green Zone - DVD - 2/8/10

I missed "Green Zone" when it hit the big screen which was a surprise to me given that it stars Matt Damon and was directed by Paul Greengrass...two men I admire hugely for their abilities in front of and behind the camera.

"Green Zone" is an adult, intelligent and thrilling thriller...everything that people claimed "Inception" was but which it wasn't.

Where Chris Nolan hid behind expensive special effects and a soundtrack that drowned out any dialogue Greengrass has crafted an entirely believable film about the search for WMD in Iraq. With rogue CIA agents, dodgy dossiers, flawed intelligence and sneaky government officials this could have been a documentary about the "true" story of the Bush regimes foreign policy.

Damon again shows himself to be an actor with real chops, delivering a performance that is never anything less than convincing and that allows you to lose yourself in the completely alien surroundings of Iraq and the military. The action sequences are always necessary and never feel tacked on...and all shot in Greengrasses trademark hand-held "shakeycam" style which works perfectly given the plot and surroundings.

A film like "Green Zone" is exactly what the critics always tell us that they want...intelligent and entertaining; yet when given exactly that they ignore it in favour of something turgid and moronic like "Inception". Tragic.