Saturday, 19 August 2017

Alone in Berlin: DVD Review

Alone in Berlin: DVD Review

The pen tries to be mightier than the sword in this war film that looks at the quiet more passive side of resistance.

In 1940s Berlin, Gleeson and Thompson are Anna and Otto Quangel, whose German lives are irrevocably changed when they receive word their son has been killed in combat.
The working class family is, obviously, shattered and Otto decides to take action, losing faith in the Fuhrer and the war which has robbed them of so much.

So, picking out postcards and lacing them with anti-propaganda messages, Otto starts leaving them in prominent parts of Berlin, hoping to instil a sense of revolution in the downtrodden working classes.

While he manages to persuade his wife to join the cause, the campaign gets the notice of the German authorities who dispatch an inspector (the ever reliable Daniel Bruhl) to try and quash the seeds of rebellion before they gain any light.

Alone in Berlin is blessed with a pair of quiet and unassuming leads that skirt around the prestige edges of the film.
But it lacks a palpable sense of tension to really ramp things up as former actor Perez guides the film through its workmanlike touches.

There is power in some of the language used within, and there's certainly a degree of thoughtfulness which has gone into the script and its debate and discussion over the wearying costs of war.

And despite the work of Bruhl, the film never really ignites in perhaps the way you'd expect as it moves from one sequence to the next. A forlorn Thompson, a harried looking Gleeson, great shots of period detail which are evocative - the elements are all there, ready for the lighting, but it never quite catches.

Alone in Berlin's sedentary pace is staved off by some of the lush orchestral score which passes through the film and gives it the feeling of something simmering.

It's perhaps more noteable for its philosophical edges - Gleeson asks "What more can a man donate other than his child?" to the war effort, and the pangs of loss are certainly felt.

Alone in Berlin's power lies more in the resistance of words, and the seeds of revolution rather than playing out the direct consequences of those actions. And, as a result, the film feels rather muted in its execution.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Annabelle: Creation: Film Review

Annabelle: Creation: Film Review

Cast: Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto, Stephanie Sigman, Lulu Wilson, Talitha Bateman, That bloody creepy doll
Director: David Sandberg

There's just something inherently creepy about dolls.
Annabelle: Creation: Film Review

Ask Chucky, and now ask Annabelle, the doll given life in the first Conjuring movie and unleashed into a prequel here by the director of the muchly impressive jump-fest Lights Out.

This prequel concentrates on the birth of Annabelle and on that front, it's rather tame.
Opening with Anthony LaPaglia's dollmaker Samuel Mullins sitting among doll body parts in a shed in the 1940s, like a bizarre kindly serial killer cum Gepetto, the doll is made and placed in a box with little to no fuss.

A little while later, during an innocent moment, Mullins and his wife (Miranda Otto) lose their daughter to tragedy and retreat in their isolated home to grieve.
Jumping a few years later, the Mullins open up their home to a busload of orphan girls and their guardian Sister (played by Spectre's Stephanie Sigman), giving them a place to grow up.

One, a polio-riddled kid called Janice (played with equal parts warmth and equal parts terror by Talitha Bateman) is an outsider from the group. In an homage to Rear Window, her life gets worse when she stumbles into a locked room and meets the doll...
Annabelle: Creation: Film Review

Annabelle: Creation gets great truck from its creepy atmospherics, orchestrated to perfection by Sandberg, who delivers long drawn-out shots of freaky looking corridors, swamped in darkness and with ominous touches clearly present.

Smartly, Sandberg realises the ultimate reveal of the demon is a bit of a waste of time, and wisely confines his scares to moments within the house, long-drawn out scenes and lingering camera shots which simply focus on the expressionless eyes of the totally menacing doll.

Great manipulations of the use of sound also helps Annabelle: Creation achieve a spooky and sinister soundscape, even when things get silly around the protagonists. And while the idea of innocent children being repeatedly menaced isn't exactly new territory, Sandberg gets good mileage out of retreading familiar ground and making it appear fresh.

LaPaglia gives great mournful edges as the bereaved Mullins, Otto is slightly wasted; but the star of the film is 11 year old actress Lulu Wilson, who impresses mightily as Janice's lifelong orphan BFF with an assured turn that cements the extremely solid work she did in Ouija: Origin of Evil.
Annabelle: Creation: Film Review

Even when the story becomes cliched and lapses into the trademark horror tropes of people doing intensely dumb things, Annabelle Creation works a suspenseful and smartly executed horror which never loses sight of what it wants to achieve.

Deeping the Creepy Conjuring Cinematic Universe, Annabelle Creation is a thoroughly solid chiller that rarely resorts to cheap tricks to frighten its audience but delivers exactly what they'd want and expect from a film of its ilk.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Trip to Spain: Film Review

The Trip to Spain: Film Review

Cast: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon
Director: Michael Winterbottom

Returning for a third helping that's more Quixote than quixotic, The Trip To Spain just about manages to stay on the right side of not being irritating.

The Trip to Spain: Film Review  

Once again culled from the six part TV UK series, which aired on satellite rather than free-to-air broadcasting, and spun off from the first Trip which aired in 2010,  the film follows an exaggerated version of Steve and Rob as they travel around Spain, taking in restaurants and trying to one-up each other along the way.

This time with Coogan hitting 50 and Brydon struggling with two young kids, there's very much a feeling of desperation in the air as the duo head round the sumptuously shot Spanish countryside. With Winterbottom's sweeping scenic vistas providing the eye-watering backdrop, it's down to the relationship between the two to provide the meat in this meal - and they certainly don't disappoint.

There's a definite feeling of ennui between the pair given their collective point in their lives.

The Trip to Spain: Film Review
Coogan is teetering on irrelevance in many ways, looking to still capitalise on the Oscar success of Philomena by injecting it into every conversation much to Brydon's annoyance; and Brydon's continual pushing of his impressions as every point borders on irritating in the extreme, a reminder that not all travelling partners are welcome.

With Don Quixote and Sancho Panza figuring into proceedings, there's a feeling that you're never quite sure why these two are friends anymore, and both play their roles well, with Coogan's irritability and frustrations being perhaps the saddest of the two. Struggling with past feelings, current career worries and future loneliness, Coogan's exasperation is palpable, and while there are moments that you feel he's being unnecessarily dismissive to Brydon, there's the fact this examination of a close friendship cuts to the quick where it needs to.

Granted, there's the obligatory Michael Caine moments, but it's the scenes where the duo are trying to out-impersonate Mick Jagger and the competitiveness between them over Roger Moore when they're joined by two women for a meal that speak the loudest to what Winterbottom's showcasing here. It may be a Tourettes of impressions at times but what it demonstrates is that niggling pushing and pulling between friends as well as showcasing of insecurities that come later in life to some. Less men behaving badly, more men behaving sadly, the midlife existential crisis has never been so scathing and fascinating to view.
The Trip to Spain: Film Review

Shorn of the excesses and stultifying rhythms of the TV version, the tighter film, with its more caustic edges and very funny moments proves that it's still a trip worth taking. Just.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Win a double pass to see Terminator 2 3D

Win a double pass to see Terminator 2 3D

He said he'd be back and now he is!

It has been 10 years since the events of the Terminator. Sarah Connor's ordeal is only just beginning as she struggles to protect her son John, the future leader of the human resistance against the machines, from a new Terminator, send back in time to eliminate John Connor while he's still a child.

Sarah and John don't have to face this terrifying threat alone however. The human resistance have managed to send them an ally, a warrior from the future ordered to protect John Connor at any cost.

The battle for tomorrow has begun...

The film’s in cinemas on August 24 for one week only , so grab your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle and get to the cinemas!

To win a double pass, all you have to do is enter simply email your details to this  address: or CLICK HERE NOW!

Include your name and address and title your email ARNIE!
Competition closes August 24th

Good luck!

The Eagle Huntress: DVD Review

The Eagle Huntress: DVD Review

Blasting as much female empowerment as it's allowed and with a closing track from Sia with the refrain You Can Do Anything, The Eagle Huntress comes dangerously closing to over-egging its cinematic pudding.

But thankfully, the simplicity of execution for this story helps it soar as highly into the skies as one of the titular birds the cameras are following.

It's the story of 13-year-old nomadic Mongolian Aisholpan, who's determined to smash centuries of patriarchy and tradition that dictates women can't be eagle huntresses, as it's the sole domain and right of the men.

However, Aisholpan is a falconry prodigy and despite her always smiling, red-faced exterior, she's determined to ensure she follows her heart and dream.

Thankfully, with a tremendously supportive father, the pair set out across the remote Altai Mountains to achieve their goal. First, it entails Aisholpan getting her own bird, then taking part in the eagle festival and finally off out into the wintry plains to hunt.

Through the traditional coming-of-age tale that unfolds, director Otto Bell's managed to craft something that looks spectacular and cries out to be seen on the biggest screen possible.
Mountain vistas and the barrenness of the world inhabited by Aisholpan and her father make for eye-popping visuals.

There's more to this simple tale though than just pigtails and pluck.

The chubby faced Aisholpan embodies a spirit that's facilitated to shine on the screen, and it's easy to see why the likes of Morgan Spurlock and Star Wars' Daisy Ridley are involved with this tale - it screams empowerment as its simple MO.

There's little in-depth interviewing of the family, Bell's camera is simply there to capture the moments and transpose them to Western worlds unaware of a life lived. There's little intimacy, but Bell hilariously and simultaneously decries the decades-old detractors, determined to dwindle Aisholpan's flame. Showing scenes of her school friends engaged and excited by the prospect of her break-out adds elements to the innocent 13-year-old's journey but doesn't deify it; this is a kid who not once loses her charm and sweetness as the path to destiny is trod.

Blessed with beautiful cutaways, and literal eagle eye views, The Eagle Huntress is hypnotizing in its simplicity, but what shines through is not what you'd expect.

For in among the traditional coming of age triumphs as Aisholpan innocently decimates the decades-old way of doing things, emerges as tender a portrait of a father- daughter relationship as has ever been committed to celluloid. Bell's eye for the more intimate moments between the two speaks more to the familial bond, than it does to the bird or the tension of competition.

And while you could level claims of the film lacking bite in parts, the lingering image of a father and daughter trekking on horseback together, along with brief moments of Aisholpan's father's fears speak more loudly than any eagle's cry ever could or do. 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Win a double pass to see American Made

Win a double pass to see American Made

In Universal Pictures’ American Made, Tom Cruise reunites with his Edge of Tomorrow director, Doug Liman, in this international escapade based on the outrageous (and real) exploits of Barry Seal, a hustler and pilot unexpectedly recruited by the CIA to run one of the biggest covert operations in U.S. history.

American Made is produced by Imagine Entertainment’s Academy Award ® -winning producer Brian Grazer (A Beautiful Mind), Cross Creek Pictures’ Brian Oliver (Black Swan) and Tyler Thompson (Everest), Quadrant Pictures’ Doug Davison (The Departed), and Kim Roth (Inside Man).

American Made releases in New Zealand August 24, 2017.

To win a double pass, all you have to do is enter simply email your details to this  address: or CLICK HERE NOW!

Include your name and address and title your email CRUISE!
Competition closes August 28th

Good luck!

Win a double pass to see An Inconvenient Sequel

Win a double pass to see An Inconvenient Sequel

A decade after AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH brought climate change into the heart of popular culture, comes the riveting and rousing follow-up that shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution.

Vice President Al Gore continues his tireless fight traveling around the world training an army of climate champions and influencing international climate policy.

Cameras follow him behind the scenes – in moments both private and public, funny and poignant -- as he pursues the inspirational idea that while the stakes have never been higher, the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion.

An Inconvenient Sequel releases August 24, 2017

To win a double pass all you have to do is enter simply email your details to this  address: or CLICK HERE NOW!

Include your name and address and title your email GORE!
Competition closes August 28th

Good luck!