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”

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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.

Cinema Releases: March 18, 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer

Director: Brad Furman

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei and Ryan Phillippe

Submarine

Director: Richard Ayoade

Starring: Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige and Sally Hawkins

Route Irish

Director: Ken Loach

Starring: Stephen Lord, John Bishop and Najwa Nimri

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger

Director: Woody Allen

Starring: Gemma Jones, Pauline Collins and Anthony Hopkins

Anuvahood

Director: Adam Deacon and Daniel Toland

Starring: Adam Deacon, Femi Oyeniran and Jazzie Zonzolo

Benda Bilili!

Director: Renaud Barret and Florent de La Tullaye

Starring: Maria Barli Djongo, Renaud Barret and Cubain Kabeya

Review: Submarine (2011)

Adapted from Joe Dunthorne’s novel, Submarine is a quirky indie-comedy that marks the feature film debut of actor/music video director Richard Ayoade.

Submarine tells the story of Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), a teenager in a small Welsh town with two goals: to lose his virginity and to prevent his mother (Sally Hawkins) from leaving his father (Noah Taylor) for her dance teacher (Paddy Considine).

However, Oliver’s attempts at adult interaction are hampered by a level of self-absorption that’s both witty and poignant in equal measures.

To some, the plot may sound fairly conventional, but Submarine refuses to succumb to common genre clichés to hold our attention. Instead it remains perfectly in tune with Oliver’s swirling, complex imagination, drawing us into his perspective, which in turn allows for an altogether more comprehensive, naturalistic view of his reality.

The script, despite its sometimes obvious lack of major revelations and twists, is packed to the hilts with heart, dry humour and cinematic love. So much so that Oliver’s strong, entertaining and incredibly eccentric story is left to thrive and impact our hearts in distinctive ways.

Ayoade, relishing in the opportunity to show his awareness of cinematic principles, subtly yet magnificently employs freeze frames, slow-motion and tightly framed close ups to accentuate the necessary thematic elements. It’s rare to see a director so in command and assured of film form so early in their career.

By bathing the peripheral scenes in abundant natural light, Ayoade immerses the film in a lustrous, and wholly naturalistic charm.

Alex Turner’s extremely emotive soundtrack punctuates the film in sporadic, beautiful and imaginative ways, heightening the stories overall emotional impact to abundant avail.

The casting is a revelation. Roberts is simply superb as Oliver, turning in a star-making, assured and above his age performance that sees him competently master both comic and dramatic aspects of the narrative. Yasmin Page, who plays Oliver’s love interest, delivers a notably intricate Jordana, portraying her as a thickset yet susceptible teenage girl.

Additionally, in key supporting roles, Taylor and Considine both turn in faultless performances as very opposing, yet equally tormented, middle-aged men. Hawkins, in possibly her most incandescent performance since her breakout in Happy-Go-Lucky, bedazzles as Oliver’s mum, displaying a priceless aura of reticent hysteria that manages to be both humorous and deeply affecting in equal measurements.

From the wonderfully written dialogue, to the astute visual style (reminiscent of Wes Anderson or Noah Baumbach) and the sincerity and winsome nature of the characters, Submarine is a mesmerising, outlandish and warm-hearted indie comedy, produced with such elegance that, if there’s any justice, should thrust Ayoade from relative obscurity to a true, unequivocal visionary.

In simple terms, it’s 97 minutes of absolute joy.

Feature: 30 Most Anticipated Films Of 2011

2011 is shaping up to be a wonderful year for cinema, with a lot of big name and word-class directors offering up new films across a wide range of genres. Here’s the thirty I’m most looking forward to:

1. Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky’s highly acclaimed psychological ballet drama finally hits UK cinemas. This one stars Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel and Winona Ryder.

2. Blue Valentine

Derek Cianfrance’s juxtaposing relationship drama, starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling.

3. Submarine

Richard Ayoyade’s comical coming-of-age directorial debut, starring Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Sally Hawkins and Paddy Considine.

4. Sucker Punch

Zack Snyder’s futuristic action-fantasy film, starring Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone and Vanessa Hudgens as girl’s willing to do anything to survive.

5. Scream 4

Wes Craven returns to the Scream franchise, along with regular actors Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette. New recruits include Emma Roberts, Adam Brody and Hayden Panettiere.

6. Your Highness

David Gordon’s Green hilarious-looking medieval stone comedy, starring James Franco, Danny McBride, Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel.

7. The Skin That I Inhabit

Pedro Almodovar re-teams with Antonio Banderas for terror film The Skin That I Inhabit.

8. Attack The Block

Directed by Joe Cornish, this south London comedy-action film pitches a gang of youths against an alien invasion. Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker and Luke Treadaway star.

9. Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Johnny Depp returns as Jack Sparrow for a fourth installment in the colossal Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise, this time with new faces (Penelope Cruz and a surprise Judi Dench appearance) and a new director (Rob Marshall).

10. Bridesmaids

Judd Apatow produces Paul Weig’s comedy about two women dueling for the perfect wedding, starring Kristen Wigg, Rose Bryne and Jon Hamm.

11. Paul

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg reunite for an ensemble alien road movie. Greg Mottola directs.

12. Melancholia

Lars Von Trier returns with a psychological disaster film, starring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Keifer Sutherland.

13. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2

The final installment in the globally successful Harry Potter franchise, featuring Harry, Ron and Hermoine as they race against time to kill Voldemort.

14. X-Men: First Class

Kick-Ass director returns to the superhero genre with an X-Men prequel showing how Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magnet (Michael Fassbender) met and the first time they discovered their powers.

15. Wuthering Heights

Andrea Arnold follows-up the critical darling Fish Tank with an adaptation of Wuthering Heights, starring Kaya Scodelario, Nichola Burley and Oliver Milburn.

16. Contagion

Steven Soderberg’s film centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease, starring Jude Law, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and Marion Cotillard.

17. The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn

Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson collaborate on a 3D motion capture film based on the comic books created by Belgianartist Georges “Hergé” Remi about an adventurer, Tintin (Jamie Bell), and his white dog Snowy.

18. Fright Night

Craig Gillespie directs a remake of Tom Holland’s 1985 original horror, starring Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, David Tennant and Toni Collette.

19. A Dangerous Method

David Cronenberg’s historical biopic focusing on the turbulent relationship between Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud and Sabina Spielrein, the woman who comes between theme.

20. Cowboys & Aliens

Jon Favreau teams James Bond (Daniel Craig) with Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) for this genre-blurring science-fiction western film.

21. Wanderlust

Producer Judd Apatow teams with Jennifer Aniston for a sexy comedy that could well reignite her struggling career. David Wain directs, with Paul Rudd, Lauren Ambrose and Malin Akerman also starring.

22. Hanna

After the acclaimed Atonement, Joe Wright switches genres with this action-thriller starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana.

23. Route Irish

Ken Loach’s study into the consequences suffered by private security contractors after fighting in the Iraq War opened to lukewarm reviews at Cannes, but features a vigorous performances from Mark Womack.

24. We Need To Talk About Kevin

Lynne Ramsay’s long-awaited return to directing. We Need To Talk About Kevin is an adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s novel of the same name and stars Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly and Ezra Miller.

25. Thor

Marvel’s latest superhero incarnation to hit the big screen, directed by Shakespearean thesp Kenneth Branagh and starring Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston.

26. The Darkest Hour

A new science-fiction film starring Olivia Thirlby and Emile Hirsch as young people caught in an alien invasion. Chris Gorak directs, with Timur Bekmambetov producing.

27. War Horse

Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s acclaimed children’s novel War Horse, starring Peter Mullan, David Thewlis, Emily Watson and Stephen Graham.

28. The Invention Of Hugo Cabret

Martin Scorcese’s first foray into 3D, featuring a cast including Sacha Baron Cohen, Chloe Moretz, Jude Law, Christopher Lee and Ben Kingsley.

29. The Tree Of Life

Terrence Malick’s long-delayed film about the quest to regain the meaning of life, starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain.

30. Sherlock Holmes 2

Guy Ritchie returns to direct a sequel to the 2009 box office success. Sherlock Holmes re-teams Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, with new additions including Noomi Rapace and Stephen Fry.