Saturday, 27 September 2014

Freeview film of the day : saturday 27th of September

Margin Call (2011 102 min.) [BBC2 10.30pm]
Freeview premiere

Drama starring Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany and Jeremy Irons. When risk management expert Eric Dale is laid off from a top investment bank, he passes information to junior analyst Peter Sullivan that indicates financial disaster is looming. The next 36 hours will prove crucial for the survival of the bank and the executives who run it.

The financial crash of 2008 (the bank at the heart of this story is a lightly disguised Lehman Brothers) is, at the same time, an obvious gift and a problem to film makers.

There's the attraction of impending doom, a race against time and huge amounts of money on the plus side but on the downside there's the esoteric and mysterious language of the investment banking world and the need to attempt to explain the very obtuse world which they inhabit without filling the screentime with yards of exposition.

Talented writer/director JC Chandor attempts to solve the problem by humanising the men at the centre of the story and adding personal dramas which mirror those of their professional world.

It's a very assured first big budget film for the director and the world he creates is believable - most of the action takes place at night lit by the dim flicker of computer monitors and subdued office lighting.

It's lacking a little in depth and seems to pull it's punches when it comes to the moral aspect of what the characters are doing ; however, it's an entertaining watch even if it's almost immediately forgettable afterwards.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Freeview film of the day : friday 19th of September

The Troll Hunter (2010 99min.) [Ch4 12.10am saturday &+1]

Horror thriller starring Otto Jespersen. Present-day Norway: a student film crew sets out to investigate who's responsible for a series of bear killings. But when they track down Hans, the grizzled loner who they believe to be the culprit, they discover he's actually hunting creatures that belong in the realm of local folklore.

Oh! How much fun is this film? – the whole thing is predicated on the idea that trolls are real and that they aren’t small grumpy types who live under bridges but enormous tree pulling-up monsters that roam the forests inside the Arctic circle.

The Norweigan government is involved in an enormous cover-up in order to prevent the world discovering the exsistence of these beats and employ a squad of troll hunters to keep them from coming into contact with the population.

Hans the Troll Hunter is a wonderfully downbeat character, the Scooby Gang he falls in with are perfectly written and the CGI monsters are very well realised.

Terrific, daft, thrilling and funny.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Freeview film of the day : tuesday 9th ofSeptember

Night Of The Demon (aka Curse Of The Demon) (1957 91min.) [Film4 12.50am wednesday &+1]

Horror based on the story by MR James, starring Dana Andrews. American psychologist John Holden remains sceptical of the work of sinister occultist Dr Karswell, until his own life is threatened.

Director Jacques Tourneur, who made several classic psychological thrillers for Hollywood in the 1940's (including the brilliant Cat People) was brought to England to handle this adaptation of the MR James story Casting the Runes.

Dana Andrews plays the rational scientist who tangles with a reclusive mystic (superbly played by Niall MacGinnis). The film is an exercise in creating tension and atmosphere from the story, rather than stringing together a series of shocks.

In fact, Tourneur fought hard against the studio's insistence on showing the monster at the climax of the film (and lost) ; however the compromise makes for a genuinely thrilling ending to a superbly constructed and delivered example of film making on a limited budget.

Terrific cast, locations, sets and superb direction combine to deliver a classic of British fifties cinema.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Freeview film of the day : sunday 7th of September

Chico & Rita (2010 89min.) [BBC4 10.30pm]
Freeview premiere

Animated 1940s-set romantic musical about a philandering Havana jazz pianist and his talented singer girlfriend who travel the world to crack the big time.

Gorgeous to look at and with a cracking soundtrack of post-war jazz and Cuban rhythms the film is let down slightly by lapses in the screenplay and some less than state of the art animation (especially when the characters are required to express emotion).

However, it's packed with good things, moves along at a storming pace and is a riot of colour and sound.

Recommended with the proviso that it's an adult film and despite being an animated love story there are scenes which mean it's not suitable for all the family!
(It was released in the UK with a 15 certificate)