DVD Releases: August 1, 2011

Limitless (Review)

Director: Neil Burger

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Abbie Cornish Continue reading “DVD Releases: August 1, 2011”

Cinema Releases: July 15, 2011

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Director: David Yates

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint

Hobo With A Shotgun

Director: Jason Eisener

Starring: Rutger Hauer, Pasha Ebrahimi and Robb Wells

Cell 211

Director: Daniel Monzón

Starring: Luis Tosar, Alberto Ammann and Antonio Resines

Bobby Fischer Against The World

Director: Liz Garbus

Feature: Top Ten Films Of 2011: January – June

So far, 2011 has been a fantastic year for film. Below, I’ve compiled a list of my ten favourites from the last six months, with a few honourable mentions that just missed out on a place. Finally, I’ve listed some somewhat less honourable mentions that you should probably avoid at all costs.

10. Never Let Me Go (February 2011)

Mark Romanek’s shamefully overlooked adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s momentous novel Never Let Me Go wasn’t exactly the hit Fox Searchlight were banking on, but that didn’t stop it being a beautifully explorative, acted and directed piece of cinema.

9. Animal Kingdom (February 2011)

This Australian crime-thriller rose from the underbelly, picking up momentum thick and fact for its astoundingly honest portrayal of a fully functional crime family. Striking direction, raw performances and compelling source material have made well worth seeking out.

8. Archipelago (March 2011)

Joanna Hogg’s stark look at family turmoil is beautifully captured and carefully paced to provide a deeply resonant and affecting glimpse into the highs and lows of family life and what makes people tick.

7. Heartbeats (May 2011)

Multi-faceted Xavier Dolan follows in the footsteps of acclaimed filmmakers Gus Van Sant, Pedro Almodóvar and Wong Kar Wai to write and direct Heartbeats, a film of true beauty, wisdom and depth beyond its years.

6. Arrietty (June 2011 – EIFF)

Studio Ghibli’s sprightly interpretation of Mary Norton’s acclaimed children’s book The Borrowers is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, under the watchful eye of filmmaker extraordinaire Hayao Miyazaki. Arrietty boasts some truly illustrious animation and a score by French musician Cecile Corbel that made me go weak at the knees.

5. Bridesmaids (June 2011)

Kristen Wiig, well known for her long-standing stint on Saturday Night Live, was launched to stardom with hit comedy Bridesmaids. Directed by Paul Feig, the film features an array of flawless comedic performances, unforgettable gags and the goddess-like figure Rose Bryne.

4. Albatross (June 2011 – EIFF)

Niall McCormick’s British coming-of-age film premiered at the 65th Edinburgh International Film Festival to rave reviews. Written by burgeoning writer Tamzin Refn, Albatross is a fully realised and thought-provoking piece of cinema, chock full of heart, depth and humour to boot. If Jessica Findlay-Brown doesn’t become a star, then there’s something seriously wrong with the world.

3. Black Swan (January 2011)

Granted, this film opened last year in America, but due to different release schedules it was early January before I had a chance to see Natalie Portman give an Academy Award winning performance in Darren Aronofsky’s daringly dark psychological ballet thriller. Hauntingly brilliant.

2. Submarine (March 2011)

Former IT Crowd actor Richard Ayoade made his directorial debut with the mesmerising, outlandish and warm-hearted indie comedy Submarine. The entire cast, not least relative newcomer Craig Roberts, delivered remarkable performances.

1. Blue Valentine (January 2011)

This emotionally crippling insight into one couple’s turbulent relationship shot Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams back into the limelight, and earned them a few dozen award nominations in the process. After years of suffering various unfortunate setbacks, Derek Cianfrance’s passion project came to fruition with such intensity that it was hard to ignore. From the offset I was hooked, so it’d be impossible for Blue Valentine not to be my top film of the year so far.

Films of notable interest: Hobo With A Shotgun, Trust, Project Nim, Attack The Block, Rango, The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adèle Blanc-Sec, Rubber, Pina 3D, Scream 4, Winnie The Pooh, Meek’s Cutoff, X-Men: First Class, The Silent House, 13 Assassins, Perfect Sense, Thor and Cave Of Forgotten Dreams.

Films to think no more of: Mars Needs Moms, Larry Crowne, Ghosted, I Am Number Four, The Rite, Faster, Chalet Girl, Red Riding Hood and Battle: Los Angeles.

Review: Hobo With A Shotgun (2011)

Hobo With A Shotgun is a feature-length adaptation of the highly successful fake trailer made for Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’ Grindhouse, and stars Rutger Hauer, Pasha Ebrahimi, Robb Wells and Molly Dunsworth.

The film centres on a homeless vigilante, Hobo (Hauer), who finds himself trapped in urban chaos. He is surrounded by armed robbers, corrupt cops and even a paedophile Santa. Hobo decides to bring about justice the best way he knows how – with his trusty pump-action shotgun.

Screenwriter John Davies litters the film with throwbacks to 1970′s horror, while conserving a gleeful level of originality and satirical humour into the oft-told one-against-the-world tale. It does wonders to keep viewers on the edge of their seats, and thoroughly entertained throughout. While the premise is a tad sketchy, the scenarios that derive from it – murderous dodgems, a torturous pinata, and the aforementioned unorthodox Santa – certainly aren’t.

Jason Eisener, who opts for practical effects over digital CGI, manages to balance a realistic feel with over-the-top, cartoonish, and incredibly gory violence. He indulges in frenetic cinematography, glorified lighting and a stomping soundtrack to boot, all in keeping with the exploitation genre and the films to which he is paying homage.

The choice to recast Hauer as the Hobo was one of utter genius, and he plays it with effectively straight assurance, keeping the film grounded amidst the hysteria. The supporting cast, a smorgasbord of unknowns and ex-TV stars, helps further to instil and sustain the feel of an authentic exploitation flick – something that previous studios’ efforts have failed to capitalise on.

Dunsworth – a prostitute and Hobo’s unimaginable foil, Abby – stands out amongst the supporting cast. She does tremendously well with a severely underwritten character, providing a brilliant antithesis to Hobo’s ruthlessness. They have a sizzling chemistry on-screen, and a subversive, darkly amusing rapport that feels extremely gratifying.

It’s clear Eisener has an eye for the schlock genre and, by letting his imagination run wild, Hobo With A Shotgun emerges as a sure-to-be perennial, shockingly violent and wonderfully clever yet purposely screwball modern-day vigilante thriller. It’s “bloody” terrific fun.