DVD Releases: August 22, 2011

Scream 4 (Review)

Director: Wes Craven

Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette Continue reading “DVD Releases: August 22, 2011”

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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.

UK Box Office: April 29 – May 1, 2011

1. Thor – £5,449,300

2. Fast Five – £2,609,244

3. Insidious – £1,441,292

4. Rio – £801,102

5. Arthur – £682,187

6. Scream 4 – £396,190

7. Hop – £314,829

8. Beastly – £210,974

9. Source Code – £196,978

10. Red Riding Hood – £169,325

UK Box Office: April 22 – 24, 2011

1. Fast Five – £5,332,096

2. Rio – £886,669

3. Arthur – £764,468

4. Scream 4 – £730,963

5. Beastly – £553,069

6. Hop – £466,676

7. Red Riding Hood – £345,421

8. Source Code – £331,988

9. TT3D: Closer To The Edge – £312,998

10. Limitless – £282,879

US Box Office: April 22 – 24, 2011

1. Rio – $26.8M

2. Tyler Perry’s Medea’s Big Happy Family – $25.7M

3. Water For Elephants – $17.5M

4. Hop – $12.4M

5. Scream 4 – $7.1M

6. African Cats – $6.4M

7. Soul Surfer – $5.6M

8. Insidious – $5.3M

9. Hanna – $5.2M

10. Source Code – $5M

UK Box Office: April 15 – 17, 2011

1. Scream 4 – £2,061,885

2. Rio – £1,695,927

3. Your Highness – £926,338

4. Red Riding Hood – £842,398

5. Hop – £788,809

6. Source Code – £674,202

7. Limitless – £603,963

8. Winnie The Pooh – £159,369

9. Sucker Punch – £144,612

10. Little White Lies – £125,273

US Box Office: April 15 – 17, 2011

1. Rio – $40M

2. Scream 4 – $19.2M

3. Hop – $11.1M

4. Hanna – $7.3M

5. Soul Surfer – $7.2M

6. Arthur – $6.9M

7. Insidious – $6.8M

8. Source Code – $6.3M

9. The Conspirator – $3.9M

10. Your Highness – $3.8M

Review: Scream 4 (2011)

Directed by Wes Craven, Scream 4 is the fourth instalment in the popular slasher franchise, and comes eleven years after the pallid Scream 3 hit our screens.

The film centers on Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), who returns to Woodsboro on the last stop of her book tour. There she reconnects with Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale (Courteney Cox), as well as her younger cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and Aunt Kate (Mary McDonnell).

Unfortunately, Sidney’s appearance also brings about the return of Ghostface, putting Sidney, Gale, and Dewey, along with Jill, her friends, and the whole town of Woodsboro in grave danger.

Taking details from the original, Scream 4 presents itself as a horror reboot, and presents a twisted new set of rules. It calls out all the shoddy horror remakes and leaves them in its grisly wake, even taking time to be (genuinely) tech savvy and fit in a comical dose of social commentary.

Original screenwriter Kevin Williamson infuses his script with clever swipes at 21st century horror, nifty one-liners and genuinely surprising, very well executed twists.

The horror beats in the script make for a triumphant return. It truly feels as though Williamson has upped his game, especially with regard to the flaws in Scream 3 which occurred in his absence. He has returned to the original film’s ideas, and delivers a much more realistic and contemporary horror film – once again instilling fear and nervousness into the audience’s minds.

Wes Craven’s direction is snappy, coherent and naturalistic. Instead of relying on heavy camera tricks like many recent horror directors, he shoots his film in a very raw fashion – as if making a real effort to produce a much more natural horror within his viewers.

The gore has been increased to counteract any feeling of over-familiarity with the franchise, and the deaths have become increasingly inventive. Special regard goes to the hall-of-mirrors style opening, which takes the well worn opening sequence formula and turns it on its head.

It’s a joy to see the new cast gel so well with the returning trio – who, after eleven years, re-inhabit their respective roles exquisitely, making it feel as if no time at all has passed between films and the characters have been living on in peace.

All the newbies are up to the task and fully invest in their roles no matter the screen time, providing plenty of entertainment and witty one-liners. Of them, Roberts, Hayden Panettiere and Alison Brie are the most impressive, each moulding their personalities into fleshed out, humorous and believable characters.

Scream 4 is an undeniably sharp, well-crafted and suitably gory improvement on its weak predecessor, and a sprightly addition to the much-loved slasher franchise. Please, Craven, can we have some more?

Cinema Releases: April 15, 2011

Scream 4

Director: Wes Craven

Starring: Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox

Red Riding Hood

Director: Catherine Hardwicke

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Lukas Haas and Gary Oldman

Winnie The Pooh

Director: Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall

Starring: Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson and John Cleese

Little White Lies

Director: Guillaume Canet

Starring: François Cluzet, Marion Cotillard and Benoît Magimel

Meek’s Cutoff

Director: Kelly Reichardt

Starring: Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood and Paul Dano

The Last Picture Show

Director: Peter Bogdanovich

Starring: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd

TV Spot: Scream 4

Director – Wes Craven

Starring – Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette and Emma Roberts