Sunday, 5 August 2012

The Dark Night Sets (Out this week - 03/08/12)

After last weeks appallingly uninspiring cinematic choices it's good to be back to double figures of releases, with a fair mix of genre's styles and nationality I think we can probably guarantee something for everyone. And if not I believe The Dark Knight Rises is still out in multiplexes. At the top end of the table there are four films with generally positive reviews to choose from, but giving the timing of the release I have to say one of these has the edge. All the Batman fans out there take note that there's an alternative Christian Bale performance to catch up with, starring as a drifting mortician caught up in the Rape of Nanking, and one of the first of a new wave of US/Chinese collaborations the Runs like a Gay Film of the Week is Flowers of War.

Last weekend The Dark Knight Rises fell a predictable 49% in revenue yet was still taking more than every other release in the top ten combined. The Lorax may not have performed as well as producers would have liked, but it still took second place in the charts, although that's third when adjusted for previews. All this means there's plenty of scope for a new film to out-perform expectations. Now with it's limited art-house release strategy Bale has no chance of knocking himself off the top of the box office so the best contender is probably Seth McFarlane's Ted. Defying the odds in America earlier this year it opened very well and is the highest grossing R-rated comedy of the year and "Family Guy" is surprisingly popular on this side of the Atlantic. It's going to be a very close race, but I think The Dark Knight Rises dropped further than expected last weekend because of the Olympics opening ceremony and this week we'll see a much more sedate decline with Ted taking a comfortable Silver.

Flowers of War

Yimou Zhang visionary action films Hero and The House of the Flying Daggers introduced him to the world as a meticulous, operatic director with a gorgeous eye - every frame from those two hits could be displayed as a example of screen craft at it's best - but this film about the rape of Nanking marks a new stage in his career, both in terms of the gritty modern content and the eye to the international market with Christian Bale in the lead. Serendipitous release date for Yimou, who directed the Beijing Olympic opening ceremony that they said could never be topped.

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Read on for aging maids, talking teddies and a cult with one foot in the future. As well as all of this weeks trailers.

One thing we know from this trailer, Yimou Zhang hasn't lost his touch for finding beauty in conflict.

A Simple Life

At the other end of the scale for Chinese cinema, the clue being in the title, is this low-key examination of selfless acts showing the shifting relationship between a successful film-maker - Andy Lau - and his elderly Amah and former nanny - Deannie Yip. Exploring contemporary attitudes to the elderly and the debt we owe our forebears it deserves a much bigger audience than it's art-house release will generate.

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As a boy Mark Wahlberg has all his wishes come true when his Teddy comes spectacularly to life. Thirty years later the full consequences become clear as foul-mouthed, womanising Ted holds back Mark in his relationship with Mila Kunis, his job and his life generally. Essentially 90 plus minutes of watching a child's toy drink, swear and have sex it's clearly not looking for an Oscar, but there's plenty of chuckles to be had in the trailer and MacFarlane's fans will eat it up.

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Sound of my Voice

The ascendancy of Brit Marling continues with this strange haunting American indie about a couple investigating a bizarre cult, led by a woman claiming to have time travelled back to the present. I hear great things about the movie, especially it's open ended conclusion and simple believable script.

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

The last two wimpy kid movies have been popular thanks to the established kids books with their dedicated fans. That said the cast are clearly not getting younger so you have to wonder if the younger potential audience will still identify with the leads.

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Jism 2

Take your mind out of the gutter, jism is the Hindi word for body. That said Sunny Leone's debut lead performance is hitting plenty of headlines thanks to her past as a porn actress and the films themes which hint at woman being masters of their own sexuality, something many traditional Bollywood audiences shy away from. It'll be interesting to see if this is the third Indian movie to hit the top ten in as may weeks.

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Leave it on the Floor

I feel like I should want to be more excited by this trailer, a gloriously camp concoction of the African American New York scene, dance competitions and stunning bodies, but honestly the cliches just keep coming so I'm not sure it's for me. I do hope it finds an audience though, it's cotton-candy design and fierce cast deserve that.

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Multi-genre Tamil release without an IMDb page - honestly it's like they don't want anyone to see it - but the inclusion of scenes filmed in my home city of Bath do make me a little homesick and act as something close to a recommendation.

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The Reverend

There are two British horror movies taking in a select few cinemas before their inevitable trip to DVD bargain bins this weekend. Of the two this has the most notable cast with Rutger Hauer showing up to remind us he'll do anything for money in this Vampiric updating of Job. The production values like quite good too.

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Truth or Dare

But The Reverend looks like Shakespeare compared to this tosh about five friends going to a party only to find it's been set up by a psychopath interested in finding out what happened to his brother and torturing a few screamy teens on the way. Yawn.

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