Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Stranger Things by Matt Duffer & Ross Duffer

In the age of rebooting past pop culture, many properties are announced years ahead of time and written about endlessly. In film we've seen loads of 80s remakes that have already been forgotten. TV has reignited properties such as 24, Full House, and Gilmore Girls. Most of these reboots, especially in film, are nostalgic cash grabs (occasionally there’s a good one). But opposite of that approach, and a rarity, is another kind of nostalgia that is earnest and in the spirit of Spielberg and Lucas creating Indiana Jones as an ode to the films of their youth.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Disorder by Alice Winocour - Review

Paranoia, suspense and thriller take centre stage in the ambitious French production Disorder, in which director Alice Winocour makes a surprising foray into the well honed genre territory. Featuring Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts (A Little Chaos, Far From The Maddening Crowd, Suite Francaise), the film is a dramatic change of direction from Winocour. Her directorial debut Augustine, a stylish costume historical drama, saw her film being nominated for best foreign film at the 88th Academy Awards in 2013.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Captain Fantastic by Matt Ross

A seventeen year old boy camouflaged in mud kills a deer with a knife and emerging out of the forest are his five siblings who watch their father, Ben (Viggo Mortensen), initiate the seventeen year old, Bo, into manhood.

Ben and his six children live off the land in the Pacific Northwest forest. All six children, from seventeen-year-old Bo to seven-year-old Nai, speak multiple languages and are experts in everything from history to physics. Their daily rituals involve physical conditioning, listening to Bach, studying, hunting, and in the evening they huddle around the fire for an improvised musical jam sesh. In this musical scene without dialogue Ross conveys the emotional cohesion and loyalty they have together. Ben's approach to parenting is rigid in routine but full of compassion and love.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Hunt For The Wilderpeople by Taika Waititi

While this disappointing summer has been filled with studio blockbuster #brands, Taika Waititi invites us into the New Zealand bush for a witty coming of age road trip and a breath of fresh air. His zany and energized sensibility provided laugh after laugh with the excellent What We Do In The Shadows. Wilderpeople is his Moonrise Kingdom, a charming children's tale with a father/son dynamic that has more excitement than most of the summer blockbusters.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Check The Gate Season - The Search for the American Soul in the Right Stuff

Check The Gate is a new season dedicated to presenting films on film that will run at the Prince Charles cinema this summer. It is a collaborative efforts curated by various journalists and film collectives such as our friends at The Badlands Collective. Among the impressive line-up, peppered with rare films and old favourites, the highlight might well be the 70mm presentation of The Right Stuff, probably one of the greatest American films ever made. Our contributor Andy Zachariason tells us why, and it feels fitting to publish it on this 4th of July.

In 1980 the silhouette of a man in a fedora and the crack of a whip signaled a new hero in American cinema and set the stage for the onslaught of 80s popcorn spectacles. Indiana Jones was the child of blockbuster wunderkinds Spielberg/Lucas and brought black and white morality. In 1982 an alien befriended a fatherless young boy and in doing so restored the balance of a nuclear family. In 1985 a teenage boy went back in time to 1955 to repair his parents marriage and restored order to the 1980s. The decade of Reagan era cinema is loaded with tales of returning to a "simpler" time, but there is one film that crystallized that 1950 American spirit and hero better than any other. In 1983 Philip Kaufman's The Right Stuff, based on Tom Wolfe's novel, merged spectacle with decades of American discovery. It was as if the soul of American ingenuity had finally been given the proper scale.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Embrace of the Serpent by Ciro Guerra

The Colombian Amazon, 1909. German ethnologist Théo Von Martius (Jan Bijvoet) enlists shaman Karamakate (Niblio Torres) to help him find the mythical yakruna plant, which he hopes will cure his sickness. In return, Von Martius pledges to deliver Karamakate to the last of his people, the Cohiuano, from whom he has been separated since white Europeans descended to colonise the area. 

Ciro Guerra's film, shot in austere black-and-white, recounts their journey upriver into the heart of the rainforest while simultaneously telling the story of the older Karamakate (Antonio Bolivar) agreeing to take a second explorer, American botanist Evan (Brionne Davis), on the same quest in 1940.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Sundance London 2016

After a hiatus in 2015, The Sundance Film Festival finally made its highly anticipated return to London. The decision was made to move the festival from its original venue at the O2 Centre in North Greenwich to the far more central location of The Picturehouse in Soho. This venue which is barely a year old has already seen huge popularity amongst film fans in and around London.

On paper this should have been a great opportunity for the festival to pick up where it left off, and build on past successes, and in fairness it has somewhat succeeded in doing so. However, despite a great selection of films, it has failed to capture the imagination and for whatever reason some screenings had many unsold tickets left on the day.