Saturday, 28 October 2017

Freeview film of the day : saturday 28th of August

Animal Kingdom (2009 108min.) [Ch4 1.10am BST sunday &+1]

Australian crime drama starring Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Mike from Neighbours 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.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Freeview film of the day : friday 27th of October

Pitch Perfect (2012 107min.) [E4 9.00pm &+1]

A new student finds herself a social outcast during her first year of college, but soon acquires a new circle of friends in a band of misfits with a shared talent for singing. She joins their a cappella group and leads them to compete in the campus music competitions.
Comedy, starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Elizabeth Banks.

Light hearted (but not lightweight) campus set big sister to the Glee TV series. High paced and bursting with energy; the story may not amount to much and the plot takes a fairly straight line from A to C but it's all done with such wit and performed with charm and verve that it's difficult not to get swept along.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Freeview film of the day : friday 20th of October

One-Armed Swordsman (1967 109mins.) [Film4 1.40am saturday &+1]

A man has his life saved by a farmer's daughter, who shows him a secret manual that enables him to seek revenge on the jealous classmates who chopped off his arm, as well as the people who killed his father. Martial arts action drama, starring Jimmy Wang and Lisa Chiao Chiao. In Mandarin.

Cracking example of the martial arts films that Hong Kong's Shaw Brothers studio (and many others) were producing at the rate of dozens per year throughout the sixties and seventies.

Shanghai-born Wang Yu was the genre superstar up until the arrival of Bruce Lee - and this is one of his very best films.
Highly recommended to those who like this sort of thing.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Freeview film of the day : saturday 14th October

The Hunger Games (2012 136mins.) [Film4 6.15pm &+1]

A totalitarian future-America holds an annual nationally televised event in which two children from each of its regions fight to the death until only one remains. A teenage girl takes her younger sister's place in the games and must pit her wits against the deadly combat skills of her rivals. Sci-fi adventure based on Suzanne Collins' novel, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks.

The quite alarming drop-off in quality as the Hunger Games film series developed seems to have resulted in people forgetting quite how good this first film is.

It's a fairly straightforward book-to-screen adaptation and therefore has some of the same faults as the source material (overly familiar sci-fi themes, the rather unsubtle social satire etc.) but director Gary Ross does a terrific job of keeping the action moving forward in an interesting and stylish way.

The design of the film is also terrific - the rendering of the world where the action takes place is really well done and the set and costume design are both excellent.

And then there's the star making turn by Jennifer Lawrence as the film's resourceful and strong hero Katniss Everdeen : it's a very fine piece of acting indeed and sits comfortably in a cast filled with some great character actors - Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks and woody Harrelson are especially good.

Thrilling, exciting, sad, sweet and tender it's a film that, while aimed at a specific audience, works just as well for those without any knowledge of the books.