US Box Office: March 9 – 11, 2012

The Lorax maintained its impressive lead at the US box office this weekend, grossing an estimated $39.1M. The animated take on Dr. Seuss beloved children’s novel has earned a tidy $121M in a mere ten days.

Disney’s new fantasy-adventure John Carter landed in second place, pulling in a modest $30.6M. The Andrew Stanton-directed tentpole, featuring the heroic protagonist of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series of novels, divided critics but surpassed analysts expectations. Continue reading “US Box Office: March 9 – 11, 2012”

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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”

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 Silent House (2010)

Claiming to be based on a true story, The Silent House is a daring and captivating new Uruguayan horror film from director Gustavo Hernández.

The film focuses on Laura (Florencia Colucci) and her father, Wilson (Gustavo Alonso), as they move into an empty house in order to renovate it in preparation for its impending sale.

The owner leaves them with only one instruction: don’t go upstairs. However, when they suddenly hear loud banging coming from the upper level, Wilson decides to disobey the order and goes up to see what is going on. Laura is left on her own, waiting for her father to re-emerge.

Supposedly shot in a single take, Hernández uses this relatively unusual technique to his advantage, establishing a sinister, troubling atmosphere from the offset and allowing that to escalate and and expand in an inspired, torrid way as the narrative progresses. However, it comes with its own innate problems. Mistakes, such as the other people on set being glimpsed in reflections, damage the carefully constructed atmosphere and pull you out of the experience.

Nevertheless, bumps, groans and hide-behind-your-pillow shocks, all superbly shot and executed through a darkly lit handheld mini-cam, make The Silent House one hell of a thrill ride, managing to keep the audience engaged and jittery throughout – something that hasn’t been achieved this exquisitely since the original Paranormal Activity invaded our cinemas.

We are given enough of the characters’ background to be able to fully emote and empathise with them, but the actors, Colucci and Alonso, aren’t experienced enough to maintain the level of dedication and skill needed to carry a film of this nature.

That said, The Silent House isn’t a character piece, and shouldn’t be judged too harshly for its lack of character development and shoddy acting.

Admittedly, the paradoxical ineffectiveness of the way the film is shot makes it clear the events that take place are theatrical, and the ending is perhaps a little too ambiguous for its own good, but The Silent House is nothing short of a bold, ingeniously executed and genuinely terrifying tour de force. Seek it out.