Friday 30 April 2010

Recommended: The Disappearance Of Alice Creed

Opening the same week as Iron Man 2 — which I have yet to see due to my recent travels — The Disappearance Of Alice Creed could easily get overlooked in all the hype surrounding the superhero sequel. But I urge you to seek Alice Creed out in UK cinemas from today. It's a taut and twisty little thriller that belies its low budget and marks the emergence of a shining new filmmaking talent in writer-director J Blakeson.

Two men (Eddie Marsen and Martin Compston) kidnap Gemma Arterton's eponymous Alice and hold her hostage in an specially prepared room. Then the fun really begins, as a simple kidnapping is slowly undone by a succession of narrative u-turns and character revelations that transforms the power dynamic within the room shifting and builds towards a tense, gripping climax that finally makes some sense of the title.

Blakeson, making his feature debut after several praiseworthy shorts, confidently holds the film together with bold strokes and an assured sense of style — the dialogue-free opening sequence is particularly impressive — making the maximum use of his limited locations and minimal cast, all of whom are terrific.

Missed it

The restored version of The Complete Metropolis had, until earlier this week, been playing for the last few months at Berlin's Film Museum which was right across the street from my hotel during my oh so brief trip to that fair city. Not that I would have actually had time to see it, even if it had been on...

Jonah Hex trailer

Word on this hasn't been too promising, but one can hope. Good cast, though.

Travelling part two

Following my quick jaunt to the States at the beginning of the week, I spent the last couple of days in Berlin, on the set of Roland Emmerich's Anonymous. But now I'm back in the UK, and back posting.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Travelling part one

Fear not, faithful reader, I haven't deserted you. I've just got back from a whistle-stop Stateside trip which took in three states in two days and didn't allow time for posting. Here are a few snaps, though...

Friday 23 April 2010

Inception viral

Inception Dream Researchers ViralAs the net coos over every new image released from Chris Nolan's Inception or each smidgeon of information regarding the film's plot, I imagine Nolan himself having a good old chuckle at the way the web is getting its digital knickers in a twist. Not that I'm immune; I've been following everything released thus far with increasingly baited breath. The latest thing to emerge is this series of interviews with "dream researchers", conducted by Nolan himself, that delves into aspects of REM sleep. I don't know what it has to do with the film, exactly, but I like it.

Thursday 22 April 2010

Directed by Spike Jonze

Those four words always thrill me. And here they relate to his new video for LCD Soundsystem's Drunk Girls. It's very Spike.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

The eyes have it

One of my favourite interviews was Julie Christie who, back then, was still somewhat shy of the media — I'd seen her a few years before, knitting between takes, when I visited the set of Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet but hadn't spoken to her — although she'd agreed to talk to Premiere to promote Alan Rudolph's Afterglow.

It gave me the perfect excuse to rewatch a ton of Christie movies and so by the time I drove to Oxford, where she was starring in a play, to interview her, I had fallen for "Lara" once again. I told Christie straight off that I wasn't going to ask her why she had never married or why she didn't ever have children (two topics that had dominated almost every interview she'd ever given at that point; I know, I'd read them all!). Oh good, she said, and seemed to immediately relax. We spent the next couple of hours sitting on a pub bench, chatting about everything from Darling to Terence Stamp to Warren Beatty to Dr. Zhivago, and much more besides.

I remember her being incredibly smart, witty, and film literate, and she had a wonderfully dry sense of humour. I remember, too, that she stroked my arm a couple of times during the course of our conversation to reiterate a point she was making. It's rare that one gets smitten during an interview, but that was one such occasion.

Dr. Zhivago is out soon on Blu-ray. The above stills come from the dvdbeaver review. It will be an immediate purchase for me.

Tuesday 20 April 2010


After being stranded in Spain since Saturday because of that damn volcano ash business, I finally made it back to the UK yesterday evening, having driven through half of Spain and all of France in two days, safe but completely knackered.

Posting will resume its normal schedule soon, but judging by the disappointing dearth of comments recently, I'm wondering if anybody's still reading...

Monday 12 April 2010

The Resident trailer

I grew up watching Hammer Horror films on TV from a very early age and still have much affection for their output and the brand itself. Which is why I wish the new Hammer owners much luck in relaunching the studio, with The Resident their first feature and their US'set remake of Let The Right One In just around the corner.

Sunday 11 April 2010

Sci-Fi London Festival 2010

Every year the Sci-Fi London Film Festival offers an impressive array of movies and events, and every year I seem to miss it. This year's festival, which runs from April 28-May 3, opens with Vincenzo Natali's Splice, a creature-feature I've been desperate to see since it was announced. Maybe this year I'll break my sci-fi fest duck and check it out. The trailer sure looks creepy...

Friday 9 April 2010

Love this

And here's how they did it.

The House Of The Devil

What makes The House Of The Devil, just out on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK, one of the best horror movies of the last few decades isn't only the film's lovingly retro recreation of 70s and 80s horror cinema, but the lengths its writer-director Ti West (Cabin Fever 2) goes to to eke the suspense out from this simple story of determined, impoverish college student Samantha (Jocelin Donahue, terrific) who agrees to babysit for a creepy couple (Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov) on the night of a lunar eclipse with devilish consequences, spending three-quarters of the film's running time building tension, before finally unleashing a bloody denouement of unrelenting terror. West brings a David Fincher-like precision to this 80s-set homage, using 16mm film stock, zooms rather than dolly shots, as well as period framing and editing techniques. And yet West's future cult classic never feels like a parody. Rather, it's a movie lost in time, now available to scare the bejesus out of you.

Holy Rollers trailer

Thursday 8 April 2010

Further Fringe fun

Those who dismissed Fringe as an X Files rip-off, think again. Following on from last week's "typo" episode, this week's Fringe, entitled Peter, was a delightfully retro affair, set in 1985, which featured a revamped 80s style opening credit sequence and theme music.

During the episode itself, there was this wonderfully geeky in-joke on a cinema marquee in Fringe's alternate universe.

For those, scratching their heads at that one, Eric Stoltz was the original Marty McFly in Back To The Future before the film's executive producer Steven Spielberg apparently decided he wasn't right, and the film wasn't working, and so co-writer/director Robert Zemeckis was forced to scrap weeks of footage and start over again, this time with Michael J. Fox in the lead.

Eric Stoltz & Michael J. Fox Side-By-Side in Back to the Future

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Birdemic: Shock And Terror

While the advent of high-quality, low-cost DV cameras certainly helped democratize filmmaking, putting the possibility of actually making a movie within the reach of almost everyone, and not just those people with loads of money or, in the case of Kevin Smith, comic collections to sell.

The downside to that affordability and accessibility is that the quality threshold has, inevitably, been lowered, and so for every Paranormal Activity, they'll be a dozen crappy-shot-on-DV-home-movies-that-should-have-remained-home-movies.

And yet, the success of the wonderfully titled Birdemic: Shock And Terror, written, directed and financed by "visionary" James Nguyen seems to counter that. The film, which cost just $10,000, has been packing them in in New York, with audiences apparently turning up in droves to witness the sheer awfulness of it all.

The BBC's Tom Brook filed this report. Here's The Guardian's take. And here is the trailer. On the strength of this, Nguyen might well be this generation's Ed Wood.

In awe

Tuesday 6 April 2010

TV heaven

The sixth and final season of Lost has, so far, lived up to my expectations, teasingly offering answers to much debated questions and yet still stubbornly refusing to offer — so far — the ultimate solution to the eternal mystery: what is the island? Season two of True Blood, too, is an improvement on the first which I enjoyed enormously. But, by far the best programme on TV at the moment is Mad Men which, for British viewers, is now well into season three. Superbly written, deftly played, gloriously crafted, brilliantly nuanced, every episode is an unalloyed joy, a journey of discovery for the viewer. At the beginning of each episode I have no idea where I'm headed. But whenever I end up, the ride's always been an extraordinary one.

Sunday 4 April 2010

Who's a winner

There were many reasons why I loved the first episode of Steven Moffat and Matt Smith's take on Doctor Who. And Karen Gillan as the Doctor's feisty new assistant was one of them. Not convinced about the new theme, though.