Review: The Family (2013)

The Family

The Family hails from Nikita and Léon writer, director and producer extraordinaire Luc Besson. But, while it’s decently made and contains an assortment of stout performances from a host of competent actors, it never reaches the heights it so ambitiously aims for, and will undoubtedly leave a sense of utter – and entirely valid – amazement as to how it’s possible for so much to go so drastically wrong when so many talented individuals are involved lingering in the air long after the end credits roll. Continue reading “Review: The Family (2013)”

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Review: A Monster In Paris (2011)

Filmmakers everywhere appear to be feeling nostalgic for the heyday of cinema. Last year alone we were treated to three big cinematic treats revelling in the sumptuousness of the early 20th century: Midnight in Paris, The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc-Sec and Hugo. This year, from French animator and director Bibo Bergeron, comes A Monster In Paris: a pleasingly concocted ode to Paris and early cinema – the work of George Mèliés in particular.

An introverted cinema projectionist, Emile (Jay Harrington), and his pronounced inventer friend, Raoul (Adam Goldberg), find themselves responsible for a monster, Continue reading “Review: A Monster In Paris (2011)”

DVD Releases: August 15, 2011

Source Code (Review)

Director: Duncan Jones

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga Continue reading “DVD Releases: August 15, 2011”

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: The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010)

The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adèle Blanc-Sec marks the return of fanciful writer/director Luc Besson, and is the big screen adaptation of Jacques Tardi’s acclaimed series of comics.

The film centers on Adèle Blanc-Sec (Louise Bourgoin): a young, go-getting journalist who embarks on an adventure to Egypt, and ups up face to face with all sorts of mummies. Meanwhile, in Paris, panic ensues.

Besson’s film is busy and energetic. The action is adventurous, the plot absorbing, the characters vibrant and the humour dark and caustic.

To some, the plot may seem a little implausible and out-of-control, but it’s hard to condemn the film too much when Besson is being so imaginative and impressively daring with the material.

Adèle, unquestionably the most intriguing character, is played with a breezy, almost klutzy charm by Louise Bourgoin. Although a marvellously feisty, cocksure and brilliantly cutting heroine, Bourgoin brings an impressive level of self-assuredness to Adèle that commendably keeps the character – and film – grounded, appealing, and focused on the task at hand.

The supporting cast are equally terrific, including a blustering, lazy cop (Gilles Lellouche); a trigger-happy hunter (Jean-Paul Rouve); and a charming young scientist (Nicolas Giraud). Each approach their frolicsome roles with both assertiveness and playfulness.

Besson rightfully plays the whole thing for laughs, which makes up for the overindulgent supernatural elements and chaotic sub-plots. Rather than attempting to impress with mountains of CGI, he keeps the action and adventure scenes grounded, with a naturalistic and wholly believable feel. That said, when CGI effects are used, they imbue the film with a touch of class and a stylish air.

The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adèle Blanc-Sec is a joyfully intrepid, if slightly overloaded, fantasy adventure, boasting a director at his most imaginative, and a wondrously energetic lead performance.

Cinema Releases: April 22, 2011

Arthur

Director: Jason Winer

Starring: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren and Jennifer Garner

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec

Director: Luc Besson

Starring: Louise Bourgoin, Mathieu Amalric and Gilles Lellouche

How I Ended This Summer

Director: Aleksei Popogrebsky

Starring: Grigory Dobrygin, Sergei Puskepalis and Igor Chernevich

Pina 

Director: Wim Wenders

Starring: Regina Advento, Malou Airaudo and Ruth Amarante

TT3D: Closer To The Edge

Director: Richard De Aragues

Starring: Guy Martin, Ian Hutchinson and John McGuinness