Monthly Archives May 2013

Ashes of Time Redux

Ashes of Time quadDirector: Wong Kar-wai

Cast: Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Brigitte Lin, Jacky Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Maggie Cheung, Charlie Yeung

Cert: 15

Running time: 93mins

Year: 1994 / 2008 (redux version)

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The lowdown: Wong Kar-wai’s stunning 1994 film is (in)famous for its troubled gestation. Taking over two years to reach the screen, Wong made his international breakthrough movie, ‘Chungking Express’, as a breather from this when editing spiraled out of control. Assembling a who’s-who of New Wave Hong Kong action cinema, Wong’s meditation on love and loss, memory and chivalry is as majestic in this slightly adjusted Redux as it was back in 1994, and is a colourful, enigmatic and energetic precursor to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero and his own The Grandmaster.

AOT - Leung, horsemen AOT - Leung Ka-fai

The full ver...

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Welcome to the Punch

WTTP_Quad_Art 4Director: Eran Creevy

Cast: James McAvoy, Mark Strong, David Morrissey, Angela Riseborough, Johnny Harris, Peter Mullan

Cert: 15

Running time: 96mins

Year: 2013

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The lowdown: Writer/director/Ridley Scott protégé Eran Creevy follows micro-budgeted winner Shifty with an ambitious crime epic.  James McEvoy and Mark Strong lead a strong British cast and there is plot and gunfights to spare, but what Welcome to the Punch lacks is a ring of authenticity or voice of its own.  Creevy remains an undoubted talent to watch, but will need to bring something fresh to his style if it’s going to replace his substance.

WTTP - McAvoy, glass bulidingWTTP - Strong

The full verdict: The title appears onscreen piece-by-piece, Alien style...

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Dark Skies

DARK-SKIES-Quad-Poster-535x401Director: Scott Stewart

Cast: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, J.K. Simmons, Dakota Goyo, Kaden Rockett

Cert: 15

Running time: 97mins

Year: 2013

The lowdown: Another family-in-peril chiller from the producers of Insidious, Sinister and Paranormal Activity, Dark Skies should disappear into the night as just one more also ran.  But, with Legion and Priest writer/director Scott Stewart punching above his normal weight class, the ambitious plot incorporates economic woes, parental anxiety, and a coming-of-age story into an effective alien abduction tale.  Low-key horror certainly, but one that spins familiar elements into something fresh.

DS - Night standingDS - KR blue

The full verdict: The producers of Dark Skies clearly abide by the Roger Corman school of filmmaking.  Namely, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it...

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All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

AQOTWF posterWelcome to Cinematic Greens

#1 – All Quiet on the Western Front

Accolades:
1929-30 Academy Awards

Best Picture
Best Director

AFI 100 Years… 100 Movies (1998)
Ranked #54

Contemporary review:
(it should) be shown every year until the word War shall have been taken out of the dictionaries. – Variety, 1930


Electric Shadows rating:
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The lowdown: One of the most recognisable movie titles in history is also one of the best war films ever made. An impassioned plea for tolerance and an unflinching view of conflict at its most terrifying, its DNA is present in every war movie since, including Kubrick’s Paths of Glory, Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July and Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan...

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The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Poster - Treasure of the Sierra Madre Welcome to Cinematic Greens

#2 – The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Director: John Huston

Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tom Holt, Alfonso Bedoya, Bruce Bennett

Cert: PG

Running time: 118mins

Year: 1948


Accolades:
1949 Academy Awards

Best Director
Best Screenplay (Adapted)
Best Supporting Actor

AFI 100 Years… 100 Movies (2007)
Ranked #38

AFI 100 Years… 100 Movie Quotes (2005)
No. 36 – “Badges? We ain’t got no badges! We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinking badges!”

Contemporary review:
Treasure of Sierra Madre (Warner) is one of the best things Hollywood has done since it learned to talk – Time, 1948

Electric Shadows rating: medium_5

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre - BogieThe Treasure of the Sierra Madre - Huston

The lowdown: John Huston’s 1948 masterpiece of avarice and moral corruption is a riveting psychological thriller wrapped in...

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What are Cinematic Greens?

936full-metropolis-posterCinematic Greens… they are those films you know you should have watched, but have not yet found the time/summoned the willpower to do so.

They are all those films you’ve spent years bluffing your way through in conversations, typically using time as the ultimate get-out, e.g. “Sure, I’ve seen Metropolis, but years ago, so all I really remember are the bits in that Queen video”.

Cinematic greens are the reason IMdb and Wikipedia exist.  With their extensive plot synopses and trivia pages they provide more than enough ammunition to repel a barrage of questions on how you could possibly think that.

And, as the name suggests, they are the films you know you must consume rather than the films you’d like to.  You know they are good for you...

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The Hangover Part III

Hangover 3 posterDirector: Todd Phillips

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, John Goodman, Justin Bartha, Heather Graham, Melissa McCarthy, Mike Epps

Cert: 15

Running time: 100mins

Year: 2013

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The lowdown: Third time’s unfortunately not the charm as the Wolf Pack returns for one more howl at the moon.  Marginally better than the cynical remake that was Pt II, director Todd Phillips jettisons the “lost night” mysteries of the previous movies for a heist thriller that is big on expensive action set-pieces, low on fun.  The gang all return, joined by alumni from the first two movies and John Goodman adds heavyweight menace as a rival to Ken Jeong’s returning Mr. Chow.  But, it’s time for everyone to pop a couple of aspirin and shake this hangover for good.

THE HANGOVER PART IIITHE HANGOVER PART III

The full verdic...

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Maniac (2012)

MANIAC_QUAD-finalDirector: Franck Khalfoun

Cast: Elijah Wood, Nora Arnezeder, America Olivo

Cert: 18

Running time: 85mins

Year: 2012

The lowdown: Another notorious video nasty gets the big-star treatment, but Franck Khalfoun and Switchblade Romance’s Alexandre Aja’s redo of William Lustig’s 1980 shocker is no pale cash-in.  Shot largely as a point of view movie (Elijah Wood’s point of view no less) tracing the killing spree of a particularly disturbed individual with serious mother-issues, this sets a new bar in what the BBFC will pass uncut.  Imagine the Smack My Bitch Up video with scalpings courtesy of FX maestros Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero, or an ultra-violent episode of Peep Show and you’ll know what to expect.

Maniac - wood mirrorManiac - Anna

The full verdict: Despite being the hero of one of cinema’s greatest f...

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The Grandmaster

poster-the-grandmasterDirector: Wong Kar-wai

Cast: Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Zhang Ziyi, Zhang Jin, Chang Chen, Song Hye-kyo, Wang Qingxiang, Yuen Woo-ping

Cert: TBC

Running time: 125mins

Year: 2012

The lowdown: After a 6-year absence maverick Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai returns to the big screen with a biopic of martial arts master Ip-Man.  Tony Leung Chiu-wai is the stoic kung-fu legend, whose turbulent life included rivalry with competing schools; oppression from occupying Japanese forces and the subsequent Communist Chinese government, and who late in life mentored a young Bruce Lee...

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Side Effects

Side Effects posterDirector: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Chaning Tatum, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Cert: 15

Running time: 106mins

Year: 2013

The lowdown: Impossible to pigeon-hole director Steven Soderbergh follows the low fat latte froth and warmth of hen-party favourite Magic Mike with an altogether more bitter pill in Side Effects.  Opening as a chilling examination of America’s dependency on pharmaceuticals to blow away mental storm clouds, a veer into film noir territory knocks off a few points making it merely a well-done thriller.  Rooney Mara, Jude Law and Chaning Tatum head up this very 21st century drug movie.

Side Effects - Tatum MaraSide Effects - social breakdown

The full verdict: Prior to release director Steven Soderbergh stated Side Effects would be his retirement from feature film directing, although more recent comments have ...

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