Monday, 27 June 2016

Freeview films of the day : monday 27th of June

Hanna (2011 106min.) [Film4 11.20pm &+1]

Action thriller starring Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana and Saoirse Ronan. Teenager Hanna has never left her home in the Finnish wilderness and has spent years in isolation being trained to be the perfect assassin by her ex-CIA father Erik. But Erik has unfinished business with the Agency and so he leaves Hanna, who is soon forced to put her skills into practice to elude the murderous attentions of a ruthless intelligence officer.

The absurdly talented Saoirse Ronan leads the cast in director Joe Wright's spirited attempt to mix together the conventions of the conspiracy thriller and the surrealism of European fairy tales.

A very strong supporting cast (Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett , Olivia Williams, Tom Hollander and Jason Flemyng) add depth and weight in the acting department and the visual style is suitably dreamlike and off-kilter to match the oddly twisted storyline.

Distinctly odd but also enjoyable.

A Story Of Children And Film (2013 105min) [Film4 1.30am tuesday &+1]

Mark Cousins' documentary exploring the connections between childhood and cinema, examining a wide range of movies for and about children from around the world and exploring the ways in which childhood experiences are depicted in different cultures and the responses of youngsters to the cinematic experience.

It's bright, enthusiastic, charming and entertaining : the clips that Cousins' uses to illustrate his points are well chosen and fascinating.

A real treat for the cinephile and a great starting point for younger viewers wanting to explore cinema from outside the UK/USA mainstream axis.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Freeview film of the day : friday 10th of June

Animal Kingdom (2009 108min.) [Film4 1.30am saturday &+1]

Australian crime drama starring Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Guy Pearce and James Frecheville. After his mother dies of an overdose, young Joshua Cody takes up his grandmother's offer of a home. But he must also gain the acceptance of his three career-criminal uncles, who are under investigation by the local police.

Australian writer/director David Michôd's feature debut is a terrific piece of film making with a gritty but realistic central story that spins off in any number of directions and includes at least three "oh no!" moments of genuine shock.

Packed with great performances, but special mention for Jacki Weaver who received an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of the mater familias to this trio of hard-bitten, brutal but fading would-be gangsters.

It's a remarkable film that is highly recommened to everyone, but especially to those who found Chopper (to which this film has a stylistic resemblance) to be a gripping and taut piece of cinema back in 2000.

A really, really well made crime drama.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Freeview film of the day : thursday 9th of June

Perrier's Bounty (2009 84min.) [Film4 2.15am friday &+1]

Crime caper starring Cillian Murphy, Jim Broadbent and Brendan Gleeson. Hapless Dubliner Michael is pursued by local mobsters after failing to pay a debt and being implicated in a gangland murder. He goes on the run with his pretty neighbour and his dad, but things quickly become even more complicated.

A Dublin based In Bruges that's lighter in tone and less emotionally charged than that superior film. It works well enough and Cillian Murphy and Jodie Whittaker both give quiet, toned-down performances of merit.

Perfectly watchable but lacks a certain something that would have made it more gripping.
Terrible title as well.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Freeview film of the day : wednesday 8th of June

Oblivion (2013 119min.) [Film4 9.00pm &+1]

Sci-fi action adventure starring Tom Cruise. In the year 2077, Jack Harper works as a drone repairman on an Earth left abandoned and devastated after a war with aliens. With only a few weeks before his mission is due to end, Jack's concept of reality comes crashing down after he rescues a stranger (Olga Kurylenko) from a downed spacecraft.

Cruise is a solid and dependable leading man and adds some weight to this rather flimsy sci-fi adventure.
Although the plot is paper thin there's still plenty here to enjoy : Olga Kurylenko is terrific in support of Cruise and Morgan Freeman turns up and does what he does so well.

There's some well realised CG effects and director Joseph Kosinski keeps the action moving along at a nice speed.

There's nothing new or too thrilling here (and the ending is a terrible cop-out) but it's an entertaining watch and certainly has far more plus points than negatives.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Freeview film of the day : tuesday 7th of June

The Last Picture Show (1971 114min.) [Film4 1.05am wednesday & +1]

Drama starring Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd.
1951: Sonny Crawford and his pal Duane Jackson are teenagers growing up in a small Texas town, dividing their time between local girls, the pool hall and most importantly, the neighbourhood cinema. The movie palace is about to close, the last picture show signalling the end of an era, a loss of innocence.

Writer/director Peter Bogdanovich came from the same Californian film school/university background as his contemporaries George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppolla and John Millius.
His early work suggested that he had the talent and vision to surpass all of them and yet he managed to throw away all of his early promise and spend two decades lost to the mainstream before slowly beginning to claw his way back in the early years of this century.

After making a huge impression with his debut feature, the stunning low budget thriller Targets (1968) Paramount Pictures were happy to give him a larger budget and a cast of emerging actors to make an adaptation of Larry McMurty's semi-autobiographical best selling novel.

The film he turned in is a beautifully constructed work shot in luminous black and white and with eye catching performances by all of his young cast (in addition to the three leads look out for Ben Johnson, Eileen Brennan, Ellen Burstyn, Cloris Leachman, Clu Gulager, Randy Quaid and John Hillerman.)

The commercial and critical success of the film (eight Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Direction) led to more big budget, big grossing mainstream hits (What's Up Doc with Barbara Streisand and Paper Moon (1973).

But The Last Picture Show is probably his best and most personal work of the time and it's a film which deserves re-viewing and re-evaluation as it has much to offer.

(If you want to read about the bad decisions and self-destructive behaviour of Bogdanovich and his wife Polly Pratt that led to his decline to the point where he had to take bit-part acting jobs on the likes of The Sopranos to stay afloat they feature very heavily in the central section of Julia Phillips' cause celebre Hollywood insider expose You'll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again).