Monthly Archives October 2014

Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler - Jake Gyllenhaal, posterDirector: Dan Gilroy

Writer: Dan Gilroy

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed

Cert: 15

Running time: 117mins

Year: 2014

The lowdown: Jake Gyllenhaal reminds us again he’s one of Hollywood’s finest thesps with this urban horror comedy. Bug-eyed and sunken cheeked, his Louis Bloom is a deliciously dark creation, crawling LA’s nocturnal streets looking for accidents, crimes or any sensational misery he can capture on camera and flog to Rene Russo’s ratings chasing TV news editor. Psycho chills and sledgehammer satire are glazed with a Michael Mann style neo-noir sheen, and even though others films have driven these mean streets before, Nightcrawler is a bewitching, disturbing, laugh-out-loud success.

Nightcrawler - Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, police carK72A6112.CR2

The full verdict: Dan Gilroy’s last credit prior to Nightcraw...

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The Babadook

The Babadook posterDirector: Jennifer Kent

Writer: Jennifer Kent

Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Hayley McElhinney, Barbara West

Cert: 15

Running Time: 93mins

Year: 2014

The lowdown: Check under the bed, in the wardrobe and lock all the doors, the debut of Australian writer/director Jennifer Kent may cause a spate of impromptu late night OCD. Essie Davis is superb as a single mother battling with grief, loneliness, insomnia and the growing realisation that the monster her troubled son fears may not be a work of fiction. A new nightmare is a-knocking. Let him in.

The Babadook - Essie Davies, Daniel Henshall, storybookThe Babadook - Essie Davies, Daniel Henshall

The verdict: In a genre currently rife with sequels, reboots and rip-offs, horror newcomer Jennifer Kent has managed to tap into familiar terrors but create an original experience.

Six years on from a tragic accident, Amelia (Da...

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Brad Pitt and David Ayer Talk Fury

Fury Press Conference - Brad Pitt, David Ayer, Michael Pena, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, John BernthalDepicting the last just war as a hellish landscape of body parts and impossible moral quandaries, Fury is a potent mix of a guys on a mission movie shot with a modern viewpoint. War’s brutalising effects, the atrocities the Nazi regime inflicted upon its own people and heart-in-throat battle sequences are shown with raw immediacy putting you inside the eponymous Sherman as the shells fly.

Closing the 2014 London Film Festival, the film was joined by its director David Ayer, plus cast members Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena, John Bernthal and Logan Lerman. At the film’s press conference they spoke eloquently and informatively about bringing to the screen a memorable portrayal of conflict in the final days of World War 2.

Questions were asked by the moderator and journalists from a...

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Fury (2014)

Fury - posterDirector: David Ayer

Writer: David Ayer

Cast: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, John Bernthal, Michael Pena

Cert: 15

Running time: 135mins

Year: 2014

The lowdown: War may be Hell, but once more makes for blistering cinema. Brad Pitt gives arguably his best performance to date as Sgt. Don “Wardaddy” Collier, leading a seasoned Sherman tank crew deep into Nazi Germany during the last gasps of WW2. But, the arrival of Logan Lerman’s callow Norman forces the men to see how three years of conflict has brutalised them as moral quandaries pile as high as the bodies. Riveting and shocking, with the horror of war painted in bold red strokes. Make tracks to see it.

Fury - Brad Pitt in Sherman tankBrad Pitt;Shia LaBeouf;Logan Lerman;Michael Pena;Jon Bernthal

The full verdict: To ensure we don’t miss the central War is Hell message, Fury opens with a German officer riding a whit...

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The Best Films of the 2014 London Film Festival

The Duke of Burgundy - D'Anna, Knudsen12 days. 50 cinemas. 248 movies and documentaries and 148 shorts from 70 countries. Over 700 guests. Over 160,000 audience turn-out.

But, there can be only one Electric Shadows London Film Festival 2014 Top 10.

Before we get to the all-important list there were some films that may have made the cut if we’d been able to catch them. So, in the spirit of full disclosure we were unable to check out amongst others German Concentration Camp Factual Survey, The Tribe, It Follows, White God, The Town That Dreaded Sundown and Wild.

But, if those films rival what is on the below list, we have some fine viewing ahead of us.

So, without further ado and in reverse order, we have:

10. DEAREST
An unbelievable true story is brought to the screen with sensitivity and storytelling bravura by director Pete...

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Foxcatcher

Foxcatcher posterDirector: Bennett Miller

Writer: E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman

Cast: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Vanessa Redgrave, Sienna Miller

Cert: 15

Running time: 130mins

Year: 2014

 

The lowdown: Intense account of Olympic wrestlers Mark and Dave Schultz and their relationship with bizarre multimillionaire John Du Pont. Ambition, paranoia, delusion and control are Du Pont’s driving impulses and his vast wealth and skewed perception of human interaction set the stage for a particularly dark tale, captured with a clinical eye by Capote director Bennett Miller. Likely to be too remote for some, but the performances by Tatum and Ruffalo as the brothers and Carell as the unsettling Du Pont are faultless.

FOXCATCHERFOXCATCHER

The full verdict: With pun fully intended, Foxcatcher is a movie to wrestle with.

D...

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The Drop

The Drop posterDirector: Michael R. Roskam

Writer: Dennis Lehane

Cast: Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Noomi Rapace, Matthias Schoenaerts, John Ortiz

Cert: 15

Running time: 106mins

Year: 2014

The lowdown: Destined to be remembered as James Gandolfini’s final screen appearance, this crime drama does his talents justice. Tom Hardy takes centre stage playing a good-natured, soulful bartender at Gandolfini’s New York bar. When stick-up men jack a $5,000 drop at the bar intended for Chechen mobsters the two must retrieve it before they experience disappointment Eastern European gangland style. Solid crime thrills from the writer of Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island.

THE DROPThe Drop - Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Rocco

The full verdict: Now quality TV and film crime drama is so ubiquitous, it may be easy to dismiss The Drop as another polished take on crimi...

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Whiplash

Whiplash posterDirector: Damien Chazelle

Writer: Damien Chazelle

Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist

Cert: 15

Running time: 106mins

Year: 2014

 

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The lowdown: When Damien Chazelle’s stunning film crashes to a close, you’ll feel the meaning of its title. A student/teacher film about J.K. Simmons’ tyrannical music instructor pushing promising drummer Miles Teller to impossible extremes, this is an anti-inspirational mentor movie and all the more astounding for it. Music classes filmed with the violence and intensity of boxing matches, Whiplash never lets the tempo drop, while Teller and Simmons devour roles that come along maybe once a career. Oscar Night; be afraid, be very afraid.

Whiplash-6206.cr2Whiplash-5547.cr2

The full verdict: The opening drum roll has the rhythm of an accelerating heartbeat...

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The Duke of Burgundy

The Duke of Burgundy - posterDirector: Peter Strickland

Writer: Peter Strickland

Cast: Sidse Babett Knudsen, Chiara D’Anna

Cert: 18

Running time: 104mins

Year: 2014

 

The lowdown: Peter Strickland follows the five star head rush of Berberian Sound Studio with another daring, intoxicating homage to 70s Euro cinema. Here it’s the work of eroticists such as Jess Franco and Jean Rollin feeding the charged story of two women in a very particular relationship. Uninhibited sexuality, genuine romance and gorgeous style combine to create a breathlessly provocative movie.

The Duke of Burgundy - Knudsen, lipstickThe Duke of Burgundy - D'Anna, Knudsen

The full verdict: Writer/director Peter Strickland’s films may be too outré and cine-literate to reach the casual viewer, but the cult following that has steadily built since 2009’s Katalin Varga guarantees his dark fantasies will continue seeing the l...

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The 58th London Film Festival – So Far…

LFF So Far - DearestFollowing a stellar year will always be tough and 2013’s London Film Festival was one of the best. 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, Blue is the Warmest Colour, Captain Phillips, Saving Mr Banks and Philomena. Could 2014 compete?

So far the answer is yes. This year may be absent the big name big hitters (although lots of love is waiting for The Imitation Game, Mr Turner and The Wild come awards season) and certain movies are notable by their non-appearance: Inherent Vice, The Theory of Everything and Birdman, where art thou? But there’s been a rich diversity of cinema to enjoy.

The power of Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu, about Sharia Law descending upon an African village, was astonishing, with a football sequence that is a perfect depiction of rebellion in the face of absurdity...

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