60s Classics, New to Our Shelves…

Where Eagles Dare (1968)

Classic WW2 thriller, starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. Commandos must rescue an American general from an alpine fortress.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OpMRRgTseI

Funeral in Berlin (1966)

A spy-thriller. An ex-army corporal serves as a spy for Her Majesty rather than spending time behind bars… Back from the Ipcress File, Harry Palmer has a new assignment in Berlin.

This picture (even though it looks like it’s been drawn on a really hi-tech Etch A Sketch), or the poster above, would’ve made a great DVD cover. But instead, they gave us:

Looks like he’s really nervous about going for a slash. Rubbish.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUeiTaTvgWc

Feature Review: Meek’s Cutoff

Written by Rob Munday

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEmL9at6JT0

Meek’s Cutoff is Kelly Reichardt and Michelle Williams’ follow up to Wendy and Lucy. As with their previous collaboration this is a deceptively simple tale about those who long for a world just out of view.

Meek’s Cutoff is set in 1845 in an America that seems untouched by man. The story focuses on a small community: three women, their husbands, one child and six oxen who hire Stephen Meek to guide them across the Oregon Trail.

Fortunately this is neither your traditional western nor some Little House On The Prairie TV movie. Here we take the female characters’ point of view and what emerges is a picture that seems far more truthful than countless cowboy films.

The characters here emerge slowly and say little yet we care about their fates because of the way we have gently observed them. Often seen in wide shot they are figures in the distance, iconic and unknowable.

The cast is faultless. Much of what they think and feel is conveyed in still expressions. We watch their sun-battered faces and feel the internal conflicts. Despite this, we never feel short-changed.

As Meek’s failures become clear we see how the rest of this miniature community react, how they pull in different directions yet succumb to the hierarchy of the male members. When an unexpected addition to the group arrives it is funny to observe the mix of panic, awe and outright disgust that is aroused in our protagonists, such is their ignorance of a world beyond their own.

 Michelle Williams once again conveys a tough intelligence and drive while (like the rest of the cast) never grandstanding or ‘acting’. These are just people trying to get on.

The relationships are always believable but never cosy. These people are lost and grasping for answers and it always seems like the solution is more to likely come from a female mouth.

Throughout Meek’s Cutoff incidental details are heightened. In the opening scene we quietly watch as the group crosses a river, the women walking through the shoulder-high water carrying their possessions on their heads. This includes a bird in a cage – a beautifully odd image when framed against the epic American landscape.

Early on there is one of the most magnificent dissolves you’ll ever see. A landscape shot plays out and suddenly it seems like cattle are appearing from the clouds. But what appears to be a mirage is merely another wide shot creeping in. The result gives us a stunning glimpse of mankind’s insignificance in this untamed world.

Unusually for a modern film Meek’s Cutoff uses the academy ratio (1.37:1). This is a clear stand against typical Westerns that emphasize the grand American landscape using picture postcard vistas. Instead of worshipping big skies the framing here highlights the terrain. The hard slog of the journey is always put to the fore. We come to understand what is must be like when this trail becomes a trial of endurance and belief. However rather than be worn down by the daily slog the whole journey takes on an almost hallucinogenic haze.

Kelly Reichardt has a knack for taking material that could seem pedestrian and transforming it into vital cinema. She has a keen eye for the essential moment and telling detail that makes characters and situations fizz with life.

Meek’s Cutoff is a mesmerising film that confirms Reichardt as one of today’s major directors.

Director: Kelly Reichardt

Main Cast: Michelle Williams, Shirley Henderson, Bruce Greenwood

Country of origin: USA

Certificate: PG

Running time: 104 minutes

New Releases: 02/04/12

HUGO:

Martin Scorsese, director of Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, Goodfellas, etc,  directs this  cute, cuddly kids film. An adventure epic, full of mystery and magic and much-nominated in the way that films that cost so much often are, Hugo is  set in 1930’s Paris and stars more British actors than most British films. It’s a fun family film that all can enjoy. Or that the kids can enjoy, whilst the rest of us re-watch Taxi Driver just to re-assure ourselves that a nostalgia for past greatness is rarely misplaced. Starring Ben Kingsley (Gandhi), Christopher Lee (Wicker Man) and Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat). Cert. U

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hR-kP-olcpM

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS – CHIPWRECKED:

More squeaky rodents in hats and shades. We were worried the franchise had come to an end. But, no. Phew. Cert. U

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeqYxxD3tF4

THOSE WHO KILL SEASON 1:

Another serial killer is on the loose, but where is Sarah Lund? More importantly, where are her jumpers? With season 3 of The Killing on the way, the Danes have suddenly become synonymous with good  TV. Will this live up to the Killing and Borgen? Cert.15 Danish with English subs.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhOc1PrpBnk

ANOTHER EARTH:

A sci-fi fantasy drama. The Life of Rhoda, a brilliant 17-year-old, collides with that of John and his family with devastating consequences. Meanwhile, it is discovered that there is a duplicate Earth in the solar system with people identical to ourselves living there. Rhoda wonders if her extra-terrestrial twin has made the same mistakes with her life as she has… Starring Brit Marling (Community) and William Mapother (In the Bedroom). Cert. 12

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlPfAYpnpuw

DEEP BLUE SEA:

Not to be confused with the 1999 shark-thriller of the same name, this Deep Blue Sea is based on the 1952 play by Terrence Rattigan, and is directed by Terence Davies (House of Mirth, Of Time and the City). Set in 1950s Britain, it tells the story of the young wife of a high court judge who is caught in a dilemma between her stable yet sterile marriage and her passionate yet reckless affair with a young RAF pilot. Perhaps a few killer fish would liven things up? Starring Rachel Weisz (Constant Gardener) and Tom Hiddleston (Archipelago). Cert. 15

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmphOgeyk70

BLANK CITY:

Documentary detailing the DIY culture of the late 1970s punk rock scene of New York, with particular reference to the independent filmmakers that were emerging from it and revelling in it. Featuring Steve Buscemi, Debbie Harry, Jim Jarmusch etc. Cert. E

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjzRPRBQngo

ID : A :

A Danish thriller (see? they’re everywhere; who knew there were so many Danes before The Killing?) about a woman struggling with amnesia whilst also being pursued by mysterious individuals… Cert. 15.  Danish with English subs.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9Rp6fkCgDQ

SWINGING WITH THE FINKELS:

Suburban couple Mandy Moore (Saved!) and Martin Freeman (soon to be seen as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit) decide to spice up their marriage with a bit of ‘1940s-style dancing’… Also starring Melissa George (A Lonely Place to Die). Cert. 15

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tKycPLM0po

THE ADOPTED:

Actress Melanie (The Concert, Beginners) Laurent’s directorial debut. Two sisters, one of whom was adopted, have an inseparable bond until one falls in love, unbalancing their relationship. When tragedy strikes they must find a new way to live and love.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3k_qftN0-fs

WE HAVE A POPE:

Nanni (The Caiman, Aprile, Dear Diary) Moretti’s latest farce tackles the idea of a reluctant Pope who suffers from anxiety in the face of his responsibilities. Cert. PG

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0GUU4JEXxA

Queen of the Quotables: Great Quotes No.1

“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”

The Utterly Pre-Code Mae West

The first time you see a Mae West film, you’ll probably feel like you’re watching a parody of, well, a Mae West film. Her style was so influential that it has almost passed into kitsch cliché – the rolling eyes, the heavy eye-lids, the pout, the man-hungry look in her eye, the walk that’s half temptress, half arthritic gun-slinger – think Jayne Mansfield meets John Wayne. All her dialogue (often written by West herself) pretty much consists of snappy one-liners. She ran into some trouble when the Hays Code was introduced into Hollywood, when many films fell victim to ruthless censorship, but, of course she worked around that. There’s truly never been anyone else quite like her. Have a look at:

She Done Him Wrong (1933)

My Little Chickadee (1940)

**Mae West Boxset Available To Buy In Store**

Box includes: She Done Him Wrong, My Little Chickadee, Belle of the Nineties, I’m No Angel, Klondike Annie, Heat is On

Bud Cort

Bud Cort is 64 today. If you’re not too sure who he is, he’s the one in Harold and Maude (not playing Maude). If you haven’t seen Harold and Maude, then you haven’t seen anything. Go away. Or, come in and watch Harold and Maude. Your choice.

Bud Cort can also be seen in Life Aquatic as an older man with a baby face, and Pollock, Coyote Ugly and Dogma.

P.S. We love you, even if you haven’t seen Harold and Maude. Unless you have really bad taste in films, then we just stare blankly.

Sunny Day/Guilty Pleasures 3… Sic Transit Gloria Mundi?

The sun is beating through the windows. Annoying, care-free types are strolling up and down the pavement just outside your prison/window, whistling. Freedom whispers in your ear: Fancy a stroll along the river? Fancy a picnic in the park? How about jumping into one of those little row-boats and paddling around in circles on the pond? But you resist the temptation. You smirk knowingly in the face of such weak foolery because you are one of the elite initiates, one of the (no) card-carrying members of the organisation known world-wide only as ‘Video City’. Whilst the mere (card-carrying) mortals that are the uninitiated, prance about thinking the outside world with all its UV rays is the height of sophisticated pleasantry, you, the true cognoscenti of London, have an altogether different agenda. You have a sense of belonging, and with this comes a different joy and different priorities. The sun comes and goes, it cares not for you. But a film… a film is made for you. Forget the park. Forget the pond. There only exists:

Not really. There only exists classic, fast-talking, wise-cracking slapstick. Here are some of the finest:

His Girl Friday (1940)

Unfaithfully Yours (1948)

Stage Door (1937)

The Lady Eve (1941)

Sweet Smell Of Success (1957)

A customer recently wanted a recommendation of something akin to Sweet Smell of Success, the 1957 picture starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. We were a bit stumped, as there really isn’t anything quite like it.

The film centers on the tense relationship between a young press agent, Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis), and an influential columnist, J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster), whose ability to write-up a gossip-filled scandal-yarn can make or break careers. At the heart of their story is J.J.’s younger sister, Susan, of whom J.J. is overly protective and controlling. As J.J. and Sidney wrestle with one another in an attempt to get the upper hand in their game of political power and influence, J.J. attempts to lure Sidney with a promise of success in exchange for breaking up the relationship that Susan has with a man whom he deems inappropriate.

The film is unusual partly for being so verbose, partly for being a classic noir that centers on the jarring relationship between two siblings, partly for its fantastically raw and snappy music – provided by the fabulous Chico Hamilton Quintet, and partly for its incredible location-shots of Broadway with the frenetic energy of the crowd-filled sidewalks and its bizarre scenes shot down alleyways. Perhaps it’s because the director, Alexander Mackendrick, was so anxious during shooting – as a result of all the above, and because Burt Lancaster, who was also one of the producers, had a reputation for being hostile to directors. Perhaps it’s because the cast and crew often had no script to work with so they just had to shoot with only a general sense of where they were going. Whichever it is, and despite what the critics and audiences felt at the time, Sweet Smell of Success is an enduring classic of ’50s cinema. Enjoy.

“I’d hate to take a bite out of you, you’re a cookie full of arsenic.”

Coming Soon – April Releases:

2/4/12:

 Hugo

Deep Blue Sea

We Have A Pope

9/4/12:

Weeds Season 6

16/4/12 :

Titanic (TV)

Dream House

23/4/12:

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Gerhard Richter Painting

30/4/12: 

Mission Impossible 4

Iron Lady

Smells Like Fags and Greasepaint..

Written by Rob Munday

On Tour (2010)
Director: Mathieu Amalric
Main Cast: Miranda Colclasure, Suzanne Ramsey, Mathieu Amalric
On Tour follows a troupe of American burlesque dancers on their journey around France. It is an affectionate and enjoyable film that embraces imperfections in its story of life on the road.
As well as directing Amalric plays a central role as Joachim Zand, the chain-smoking manager of this group. His is a charismatic presence, controlling and yet weak, charming and yet hidden. Joachim is our modern day Cosmo Vittelli, the fractured hero of Jon Cassavetes ‘The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie’. Amalric has clearly been influenced by his fellow actor/director and he treats his characters with a similar compassion with his unflinching gaze.
The contrast between our imagined lives and the lives we actually lead, the displayed and the hidden, escapism and escape, are central to this film.
Burlesque is itself a fantasy, a release from the everyday. It presents   a snapshot of rose-tinted sexuality from a past that never existed. It allows titillation without guilt. But there is a flipside to the personas of Mimi Le Meaux, Dirty Martini and their exotic colleagues. Throughout the film we get glimpses into the dancers home lives and as we focus more on Joachim we see how he too has chosen life on the road and immersion at work over the messiness of the everyday.
On a plot level there is much that is familiar about On Tour. The errant father, abandoned kids, tentative romance, family troubles and power struggles are all conventional elements. However Amalric has a healthy disdain for leading the audience by the hand. Here story elements are often left obscure or underplayed in favour of embracing these characters and their baggage (both physical and emotional).
These are genuine burlesque dancers and it shows. The routines are impressive and inventive and it makes a welcome change to see women of all shapes showing themselves off on film. The theatrics of the stage performances are thankfully absent off stage. Instead the acting hits just the right note of natural playfulness. There is a refreshingly ramshackle feel to observing this odd group of performers set against the provincial seaside towns of France.
The group dynamics are the heart of the film and the only time it falters is when Joachim ventures away. Even in this section there are many nice details but when the group is back as one we get to revel in the full warmth and insight of Amalric’s vision.
Like its protagonists, On Tour drifts restlessly and reveals only fleeting glimpses of the depths beneath. However, what emerges at the end, in a typically loose conclusion, is a film that nourishes and invigorates.
Time to get those nipple tassels out.

New Additions (Old Films We Should Have Had Before, But Didn’t):

HOOP DREAMS (1994):

Considered by many as one of the greatest documentaries ever made, Hoop Dreams  follows the stories of two young men as they come up against racial prejudice and issues of social class in the pursuit of their dream to become professional basketball players.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ph2Y-epihlk

New Releases: 26/03/12

JUSTICE:

An action/thriller starring Mr. Action himself, Nicholas ‘Action’ Cage. Apparently, when someone approaches you to ‘take care of’ the person that nearly killed your nearest and dearest, and all they say they want in return is a vague, utterly undefined ‘favour’ in the future, apparently it’s best to ask for specifics. Otherwise Hollywood producers have to fork out all kinds of money – which they clearly don’t have – to go through the lengthy and tedious process of making an entire film about you and, yes, it will star Mr. Action himself… However, there maybe some consolation in that it will probably also co-star Guy Pearce (LA Confidential) and January Jones (Mad Men), so you may be able to save some face there and show yourself at very select events… So, think twice before you ask for Justice. Directed by Roger Donaldson (Thirteen Days, The Bank Job). Cert. 15

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu0UcoCsV8A

WUTHERING HEIGHTS:

Celebrated director, Andrea Arnold (Red Road, Fish Tank), brings us a new adaptation of Emily Bronte’s romantic tragedy. Because it’s Andrea Arnold, because her previous two features pack a punch that is never quite forgotten, this promises to be something truly special. Expect the violent beauty of the moors to look more rugged, more violent, more achingly beautiful than any adaptation has ever rendered them before. As in Fish Tank, Arnold continues the trend of casting mostly unknown actors in her lead roles – the lovers are played by Kaya Scodelario (Shank, Clash of the Titans) and the totally unknown, James Howson. Will their love be as achingly beautiful and violent as the moors against which they are cast? We shall see… Expect lots of rain and (wet) corsets. Cert. 15

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUWOCd894-Q

HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE:

“Go Get Yourself Loved.” That’s the tag line. Go get yourself loved???!! You’ve lost me.

Sample dialogue:

Guy: “What do you do when you’re not here?”

Girl: “I sing.”

Guy: “Songs?”

Girl: “Yeah, songs. What do you do?”

Guy: “I write.”

Girl: “Words?”

Guy: “Yeah, words.”

And that’s from the trailer. I always thought the best bits are meant to go in the trailer… Yep. Lost. Lost lostlostlostlostnothankyou.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sG3qBqtX50o

THE THING:

For anyone that’s seen other things, but not the Thing, it’s time to see this Thing. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen the Thing – this Thing, that is. Or the other Thing if you haven’t seen that. That’s a good thing, too. Expect something different to the things you’ve seen. Unless you’ve seen the other Thing, in which case expect something similar to the things you’ve seen. But this is a prequel to the other Thing, so even if you haven’t seen anything or any Thing, it doesn’t really matter. That’s the thing, with the Thing. Clever, hey?

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkZjAocmus8

THE AWAKENING

A ghost thriller set against the backdrop of World War I. Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall – Vicky Cristina Barcelona) sets out to expose the sightings of a child ghost by children at a boarding school as a hoax. But chilling events lead her to question her beliefs as, one by one, they begin to unravel. Also starring Dominic West (The Wire). Cert. 15

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5inmkkAOy0

50/50:

A comedy bio-pic starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Mysterious Skin, 500 Days of Summer) and Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express, Knocked Up). 27-year-old Adam discovers he has cancer and only a 50% chance of survival. Together with his hapless best friend, Kyle, and his 24-year-old shrink, he sets out to beat it and to live his life – including looking for romance – as best he can. Directed by Jonathan Levine (The Wackness). Cert. 15

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsEOl7nlXcA

BIG YEAR:

Three actors in search of integrity… Cert. PG

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMiCLWK20Ww

OSLO, AUGUST 31ST

Strong drama following a day in the life of a recovering addict. Anders leaves his rehab centre for the day to attend a job interview and to catch up with old friends. A critically acclaimed portrait of a young man struggling to turn his life around and to not be swallowed up by despair in the face of low-prospects… Cert. 15. Norwegian with English subs.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gz2g0F9yl5o

He Who Would Be 90 : RUSS MEYER

 “Are you girls a bunch of nudists, or just short on clothes?”

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgWoPFX1Sz0

HAPPY WOULD-BE BIRTHDAY, RUSS MEYER…

“King of the Nudies”

For those of you who have yet to experience the hedonistic, go-go-dazzling and sometimes questionable pleasures of  a  Russ Meyer film, now’s the day to indulge. Maker of such classics as Motor Psycho (1965), Wild Gals of the Naked West (1962), Supervixens (1975) and the documentary Mondo Topless (1966), Meyer has left behind him a cult following and a reputation as a sexploitation-film god. Check out Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) and:

The trailer posted below is a great watch in itself… Enjoy.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QoofxBm-IA

New To Our Shelves:

LISZTOMANIA (1975):

” A BERSERK EXERCISE OF DEMENTED GENIUS.”  – Roger Ebert. Doesn’t it sound great? Ken Russell’s mad bio-pic of the rock star of his day, composer Franz Liszt, stars the rock star of his own day, Roger Daltrey, and focuses on the friendship between Liszt and fellow composer Richard Wagner.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWOWLXHAUhc

If You Liked…

If you liked:

 Lord of the Rings

Or:

Rome

Then you’ll probably love HBO’s new TV series – available now, to rent or buy :

Game of Thrones Season One

Based on the best-selling series of fantasy novels, this show has adventure, betrayal, revenge, lust, wolves AND dragons. Lots of sword-play, lots of scheming. Who will win, who will die, who will be Lord of the Iron Throne? Come and see…

Sunny Day/Guilty Pleasures 2…

Look into my eyes. So, it’s sunny again. And the birds are tweeting (and so is everyone else), and there’s not a cloud in the sky, and somewhere an ice-cream is melting down a child’s sweaty little hand and good-looking people in sunglasses are winking at each other, but no-one can tell (not even each other) because they’re wearing sunglasses. And you should be outside frolicking in the fountains or swimming in the clean, clean river. But instead you’re at work. Or at home when you should be at work. When you should be outside. Instead, you are thinking about watching:

Soy Cuba/I Am Cuba (1964)

You are thinking: If I can’t be in the sun, at least I can watch a film set in a sunny (and revolutionary) place. Now, step away from your computer, un-clench your fists and run as fast as you can into the loving arms of Video City. Someone will be glad to help you. Now, breathe out and have a nice (sunny/revolutionary) day.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPIE1A384y4