Monday 11 November 2013

Weekly Round-Up #1

Seeing as I usually watch at least a film every day, it seems a waste not to share my thoughts on the amazing gems I discover - and the awful movies I occasionally have the misfortune of sitting through - so here are the films that have either graced my home cinema or enticed me out to the big screen over the past week:

Lunopolis - 7/10

This sci-fi ‘mockumentary’ set in the present day follows two film-makers who unravel a conspiracy involving a powerful organisation that have colonised the moon, and documents the ensuing events as they become embroiled in a potentially catastrophic plot to alter the course of history. It sounds far-fetched but is genuinely gripping from the outset, and shows that a little imagination can often be far better than a huge budget.

Wild Bill - 7/10

After eight long years in jail, Bill Hayward returns home to find his two estranged sons - aged just 11 & 15 - have been abandoned by their mother and now live by themselves in a rough council block. Forced to care for his sons to avoid social services getting involved, Bill must put his criminal past behind him which proves difficult when he realises the local dealer is using his youngest as  drug mule. Gritty yet heartwarming, Wild Bill is a taut British drama that showcases some exceptional acting and deserves to reach a wider audience.

Love Exposure - 8/10

Shion Sono is fast becoming one of my favourite Japanese directors, his films are bizarre masterpieces that need to be seen to be believed, and Love Exposure is no different. To explain the plot of this four hour epic in a short paragraph would be impossible, but if the idea of strange Japanese film complete with extreme bloody violence, a completely unpredictable storyline and a beautifully orchestrated score sounds good to you, then look no further - you won't be disappointed.

The Devil's Double - 7/10

Featuring an incredible dual performance from Dominic Cooper as the sadistic son of Saddam Hussein and his unfortunate doppleganger, Latif Yahia, The Devil's Double is a gripping thriller that doesn't shy away from the cruel violence that Uday Hussein inflicted on innocent people. Despite the convincing acting, Yahia's backstory isn't compelling enough to gain the audience's full empathy but this is still a solid biographical feature.

Don Jon

Joseph Gordon Levitt's directorial debut certainly impressed, and I will be writing a full review later on this week so make sure you check back to find out my thoughts, but I'm off to another screening beforehand to see if it holds up on a second viewing.  Watch this space.

The Devil's Rock - 5/10

When two Kiwi commandos stumble across an occult Nazi plot to summon demons, all hell breaks loose (well one demon anyway) in this low-budget horror that unfortunately fails to deliver on its initial promise. Set in the Channel Islands on the eve of D-Day, The Devil's Rock is ambitious and fairly original but lacking in any real scares or suspense.

The Amazing Spider-Man - 7/10

Unfairly derided by critics who dismissed this franchise re-boot as unnecessary, I was one of a small minority who didn't enjoy the original Spiderman and far prefer Andrew Garfield to Toby Maguire's Peter Parker. Yes, it's full of clich├ęs and the soundtrack can be overbearing at times (Coldplay - really?!) but this is an action-packed superhero origin film that has a number of impressive set pieces. The silent fight that takes place in the library is a stunning example of how far technology has come in the eleven years since Spider-man first hit the big screen.

Europa Report - 8/10

Not yet available in the UK unless you are willing to import the American Blu-ray, Europa Report is an incredibly engrossing sci-fi which charts the journey of six astronauts heading to Jupiter's fourth largest moon, Europa, to search for signs of life. As is the case with most films set in space, (see Sunshine, Alien Gravity etc...) things do not go as planned and as Europa Report attempts to be - for the most part - scientifically accurate, the horrors of space exploration have never seemed so real.

Schramm: Into the Mind of a Serial Killer - 8/10

 Dark, twisted and utterly depraved, Schramm is not for the easily offended, but those who relish the world of extreme cinema will be impressed by this sickening outing by infamous German director Jorg Buttgereit . Clocking in at just over an hour, those who can stomach the twisted genius on display here will be rewarded with an unforgettable experience as we experience life through the eyes of a seriously messed up serial killer.

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