Saturday, 28 July 2012

First Round Knockout (Out this week - 27/07/12)

The British pre-occupation with sports we won't win has struck again with Danny Boyle's bonkers Olympic Ceremony becoming the unmissable cultural event and, when combined with the second weekend of DKR there's virtually nothing new in cinemas this weekend. Oddly there are 3 Bollywood movies versus 1 from the US and 1 from the UK (there are also a couple of well-regarded remasters and a highly successful documentary or two). That said I have my rules, and in a week of quite dull releases I'm surprisingly selecting the homegrown fare as the top choice. The Runs like a Gay film of the week is The Man Inside.

It goes without saying that The Dark Knight Rises annihilated all competition last weekend with £14.4m (doubling the opening of Nolan's previous Batman movie). To put it into context that's over 6 times the take of second place movie Ice Age: Continental Drift and 374 people saw it for every one who saw the tenth place release Katy Perry: Part of You. I expect it will hang on to the top this weekend too, but Dr Seuss' The Lorax will almost certainly make a brave attempt at knocking it off the top yet is doomed to failure.

The Man Inside

British boxing drama, starring Ashley 'Bashy' Thomas as the boxing prodigy trying to juggle his rise against the gang violence and drug culture at his roots. Unoriginal maybe, but strong supporting performances from Peter Mulland and Michelle Ryan make this option stand out.

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Almost cliched, but there are a few nicely constructed shots in there so you never know.

Carry on Jatta

Even watching the trailer I'm not completely sure how the plot of this Bollywood romance works out, but it's clearly playing it for laughs and who knew that love leads to marriage which leads to confusion?

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Dr Seuss' The Lorax

You would've thought that the critical drubbings that previous Dr Seuss adaptations have received might make the studios nervous about continuing, and yet the incredible popularity of his books does make the idea more palatable. The Lorax took over £200m in the States so clearly it's a gamble worth playing. The environmental message makes it a tougher sell, but the voice cast includes Zac Efron and Danny Devito, the later of whom has been plugging it like mad.

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Kaya Super Kool Hain Hum

Indian comedy about two friends on the road to Goa who both fall in love and into more and more slapstick schemes to prove their worth. Of the three Bollywood releases this has the largest opening, however it probably won't be enough to make that much of an impact nationally.

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Ustad Hotel

Drama about a three generations of hoteliers in India and the Middle East, exploring how expectations can affect our children's choices and how ambition can be small or big but always utterly compelling to those who have them.

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Sunday, 22 July 2012

To what end? (Out this week - 20/07/12)

As I type this I find that words are impossible to describe the collective shock and outrage felt by cinema-goers in the wake of Thursdays horrific incidents in Aurora, Colorado. We obviously don't know James Holmes' motives or influences at this point but hopefully with his arrest a full investigation can be made and we hope to understand, if never able to forgive or forget, his actions. Ultimately to ensure this tragic, meaningless slaughter will never happen again. My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives and the other patrons, injured or otherwise, who survived this horrific ordeal.

The runs like a gay film of the week is, unsurprisingly, The Dark Knight Rises.

July seems to be the easiest month of 2012 in terms of predicting box office performance, so last weekend Ice Age: Continental Drift reasserted itself at the top of the chart with Amazing Spider-Man and Magic Mike (the highest new entry) following close behind. This weekend Bruce and his dark alter ego should smash records and easily dominate the multiplexes.

The Dark Knight Rises

I have already seen Christopher Nolan's third and final instalment in the Batman franchise, and it's surprisingly difficult to maintain the levels of anticipation that I had earlier in the year. Even so the excitometer level is fixed and done well before seeing the picture, so 9 out of 10 is the joint highest for the year. Christian Bale would almost certainly growl at me if I tried to change it retrospectively.

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Read on for Stockholm syndrome, sex games and fisher price musical instruments as well as all of this weeks trailers.

This certainly has all the hallmarks of epic film-making, even in the comic book sphere. Tune in later this week for my review (hopefully).

In Your Hands

Kristen Scott Thomas is such a fantastic performer most of us would pay to see her read the Parisien phonebook. In this French movie from sophomore director Lola Doillon Scott Thomas stars as a gynaecologist kidnapped by a former patient (or relative of lets not try to pretend this is that weird a film) and focusing on the shifting relationship between kidnapper and nappee.

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Lola Versus

Greta Gerwig gets dumped, has sex with a friend as a coping mechanism then does it again, whilst at least one of her conquests feels down as a result of being used. Famously the producer had a big strop following it's US release, blaming white middle class male critics for it's poor reception and attendance, failing to note that female reviewers were equally unimpressed. Debra Winger co-stars.

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Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Rest

Wibbly American movie which takes a really promising sketch concept and somehow stretches it out over 90 minutes with a couple of singer song-writers putting together the bizarre combo of lead guitar and childrens toy musical instruments, which somehow breaks out with unexpected success. Ryan O'Nal and Michael Weston are the "brothers" and Melissa Leo takes a minor role.

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Thattathin Marayathu

Brave Bollywood release trying desperately to find a foothold in a crowded market, although this romance between a hindu and a muslim (can you see the Romeo and Juliet comparisons) is only showing in one Birmingham cinema.

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Interview with a Hitman

Luke Goss, formerly of Bros. has a really odd shaped head. I couldn't help but notice that when watching the trailer for this almost straight to DVD thriller. Goss is the titular assassin trying to eliminate his past, whilst chatting to a reporter about his job. Just look at the trailer and tell me he doesn't have an odd shaped head.

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Sunday, 15 July 2012

Stripper Joe (Out this week - 13/07/12)

There are no superheroes hitting the streets this weekend, although there is still plenty of Spider-man to go round if you haven't caught him yet, so while the world collectively draws it breath ready for the Bane onslaught in a few days we get a collection of foreign language pics (France, India, Spain and Belgium are all in play) as well as a couple of high profile American releases that have waited for their international roll-out. There are a couple of films that I personally want to see, both American (so apologies to the international readership) but neither score particularly high on the anticipation rating, partly because I have had limited expectations in the run-up and partly because I'm almost ashamed of my anticipation. Yes, I'm a dirty mac wearing Channing Tatum fan and the Runs like a Gay Film of the Week is Magic Mike.

To the surprise of absolutely no-one The Amazing Spider-Man was victorious in last weekend's box office statistics, jumping straight in as the 13 biggest seller of the year so far, outperforming the entire run of Battleship or Wrath of the Titans in just a few days. That said I expect it's more front loaded than Avengers Assemble so will likely drop off the top over the next few days as Ice Age 4: Continental Drift finally roles out to all of the UK. Given the animated sequel was at the top of the charts based on just 15% of Uk screens it should easily destroy all opposition. Of the real new entries I expect Magic Mike will probably have the upper hand, seeing it's event night status that served it so well in the States repeated here.

Magic Mike

Loosely based on Channing Tatum's male revue background - he stripped for a few months to make ends meet early in his career - the fact that Steven Soderbergh was interested in directing changes our perspective on the project from titillation to more considered curiousity. Indeed reviews indicate this is a film about strippers but not about stripping - even if there are a lot of abs on display.

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Read on for supply teachers, wayward teens and Armageddon gone wrong, as well as all of trailers fit to watch.

I personally think this trailer tries a little too hard to appeal across the board, and either more flesh or less funny might have worked better.


It's good to see American History X director back from the wilderness after the oft-repeated locked out of the edit story and his last two features still locked up in lawsuits and post production troubles. Here Adrien Brody is the substitute in the starriest high-school in America, complete with some serious screwed up kids and teachers.

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Feted at Cannes 2011 for it's refreshing take on adolescents Bouli Lanners's film follow three teenagers, two of whom are abandoned brothers, on a lugubrious summer of adventures, long slow afternoons and petty crime.

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Little Nicholas

Kids fable, which does make you wonder with this and The Giants out whether there's a plan to lure all the schoolkids just released from term into Arthouse cinemas, about a young boy whose cosy life is turned upside down when his Mum gets pregnant. I'm sure it's a topic a lot of us can relate to.

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Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

If the idea of spending the last few hours before Armageddon in the company of Keira Knightly and Steve Carell sends you into a suicidal funk then it's unlikely that I can say anything to change your mind, but the reviews for this end of days road movie/rom com have been far better than you'd imagine and Melinda Dillon pops up among the comedy cameos.

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Soul of Flies

I do quite like the idea of magical realism, even though I've only seen the fringes with Biutiful and Undertow, so I think I'd probably like the chance to see this Spanish film directed, edited, lensed, written, produced and starring the not so Spanish sounding Jonathan Burley about two brothers meeting each other for the first time at their father's funeral.

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Billa 2

Been there done that Bollywood release about a boy from the slums rising to become a criminal mastermind. I don't know what the state of organised crime is in India, but if all the movies are to be believed I am never going to go there.

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Far more likely to inspire me is that romance, part financed here in the UK, with it's massively over-complicated love rectangle that shames even A Midsummers Night Dream. Although frankly if Bryan Brown doesn't appear in a dodgy shirt I'm going to ask for my money back.

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Electrik Children

Fascinating American indie about a sheltered Mormon girl hearing rock music for the first time (Blondie as it happens) and believing it to be the cause of her unexpected pregnancy. Billy Zane plays her Bible thumping father.

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Morality tale for ex-cons here, with a bank-robber becoming best buddies with his cell mate, only to find out far too late that he's a serial killer who now knows an awful lot about your family and you must break-out in order to stop him. So the heroes a bank-robber. Glad I've straightened that up.

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Reading online synopses for Bollywood movies can be utterly confusing. For instance this is a serious drama about the dangers of alcoholism and one man's struggle to tunr his life around. Now watch the trailer... No, I didn't get it either.

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Tortoise in Love

Somewhat of a curiosity - even if the results are surprisingly good. The residents of sleepy Oxfordshire village Kingston Bagpuize have got together and decided to make a rom-com using the residents and local companies as much as possibly. And it's got a small but significant opening. Could be the future of cinema - the community model. Keep an eye on it's long-term impact as a concept more than the film itself.

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American horror that crept out for one day to avoid a direct to DVD tag. I'm sure the central conceit, that people declared dead in absentia have in fact been abducted by a weird monster, will probably fall apart on closer inspection but the production values look fine.

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Comes a Bright Day

Quite nice trailer for a nice looking British indie which indicates the jewel heist plot is merely hiding a nice romance between Craig Roberts and Imogen Poots. All rather too nice for me thank you.

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Thursday, 12 July 2012

On the trail of the Story (Coming Soon - July 2012)

I didn't see anything this weekend - mainly because I'm not going to travel all the way to London for a foreign language short anthology with decidedly mixed reviews - so I thought why not resurrect my news features. Back before my 2011 hiatus I was regurgitating news on a weekly basis, relaying the lovely readers with the odd casting gossip and production release that nudged my fancy. When I came back it was quietly shelved due to the enormous work involved - however I really miss scanning the web for the latest script options to see what might be coming up in 4 years time so it's back back back. Only now I'll only be doing it once a month and will in essence be waiting for the films that really interest me to go into pre-production on IMDb. So here we are, the first edition of the new monthly column "Coming Soon" dedicated to the best the movies to look forward to.

Skinny and Cat

Luckily we're starting with a headline grabbing return to directorial duties for Barbra Streisand following a 16 year gap since The Mirror has Two Faces was critically mauled. Furthermore it's a significant departure from her previous gigs - not only because she doesn't appear to be the star but also because the film will document the marriage of photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White and novelist Erskine Caldwell (presumably he's skinny, she's cat) between 1939 and 1943.

It's potentially a fascinating piece of modern history, Bourke White (pictured) remains one of the most influential figures in 20th century photography, the only Western journo in Moscow during the German invasion and also known for her Buchenwald pictures she met Caldwell in the mid 30's and collaborated on a number of projects highlighting the socio-economic effects of Dust-bowl Oklahoma.

I don't know what causes the breakdown in their marriage, but given it's two successful, arty and politically active figures in the turbulent 1940's I expect the narrative to be bursting with showy moments for the two leads, Colin Firth and Cate Blanchett and don't be surprised if one or both of them turn up at the Academy in 2015.

Read on for dancing penguins, disgraced politicians and the only news stories that really matter (to me, anyway).

American Bullshit

It's no surprise to see the 2010 blacklist script by Eric Singer making it into production, documenting the infamous FBI sting operation Abscam that took down Senator Harrison Williams (left) and 5 Representatives on corruption charges in the late 1970's radically changed the way America viewed it's politicians and ultimately clarified the way the FBI could handle corruption cases and the entrapment rules they must follow. Using a fake Sheikh (similar to more recent tabloid tactics) vast brides were paid through a holding company to purchase asylum in the US for the undercover agents.

There's a bit of a trend towards wacky Government shenanigans in the 70's that started with The Men who Stare at Goats and continues with Argo later this year so there's a proven audience for this sort of satirical patriotism. David O'Russell will direct with Christian Bale, Amy Adams and possibly Bradley Cooper starring.

Great Wall

I have mentioned Ed Zwick's semi-history of the only man-made object visible from space, so I won't go into it too much. Only to say I am a touch concerned by the early casting of Hanry Cavill and Benjamin Walker, both of whom have points deducted against them for faltering starts to their blockbuster careers - The Immortals and Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter respectively and both are noticeably not Chinese, and whilst I appreciate the addition of Ziyi Zhang to the headlining cast surely the story should focus on the generations of Warriors, Emperor's and Peasant's who were instrumental in the building of the wall.

Murder Mystery

Everyone likes a whodunnit, don't they? Admittedly most of us prefer to relax in front of the TV on a Sunday afternoon rather than head to the cinema but then again how often will you see Charlize Theron as one half of an American couple heading to a isolated European hotel (hopefully as cliched as the picture to the right) only to stumble upon the corpse of another guest. We don't yet know the tone, or the vital husband part of the casting, so there's limited reason for excitement, however if they go for a campy Agatha Christie feel I'm sure I'll be persuaded to see it.

Saving Mr. Banks

In spite of it's reputation as one of the greatest Children's films of all time Australian writer P.L. Travers was extremely reluctant to allow anyone to adapt her Mary Poppins series of books and was notoriously bitter about the final film, feeling it missed the tone of her writing and hating the animated sequences ordering Walt Disney to remove them - you probably know he ignored her request.

This sounds like a delicious blend of two headstrong figures butting heads over a cinematic collaboration so expect audiences and critics to love it. So far Tom Hanks is in to play Disney and Emma Thompson Travers with Colin Farrell as her father. If that sounds odd it's probably worth noting he died when the author was just 8, a demoted banker much like the Mr. Banks character brought to life by David Tomlinson, and no doubt the similarities between the father character in the book and Travers' own life will be highlighted.

Splinter Cell

Mark this down as a project I am vaguely curious about at this stage, but certainly won't be making any promises about actually seeing it. Based on the computer game (left) which in turn was based on an concept by best-selling author Tom Clancy... The game is virtually unique in that it positively encourages stealth and non-lethal tactics, in many ways emulating the blacks ops background that it's hero Sam Fisher possesses. There has never been a successful game to screen adaptation so plenty of healthy scepticism is required but with the right director and cast on board this does have potnetial to be a taut thriller.

Three Nights

Baseball is probably the most filmed sport outside of boxing, probably because it's relatively easy to understand the rules, is instantly connected to the American cultural experience and combines an element of team responsibility and individual attainment, so the sport has played host to a gamut of genre's from inspirational biopic (Pride of the Yankee's) to social realism (Sugar) to classic good vs. evil triumphalism (The Natural). Yet few of these films are actually about Baseball. So who knows if this latest Edward Burns and Billy Bob Thornton starer will actually be about the on-pitch activities in a play-off or about the diverse strategies employed by the coaches. My money's on Ed Burns' side winning either way.

You Belong to Me

Rob Reiner may be more known for his slight sentimental output of the last ten years but it's worth remembering that at one stage his was one of the most reliable directors in Hollywood, bouncing from glorious comedy (The Princess Bride) to iconic coming of age drama (Stand by Me) to disturbing thriller (Misery) with deft professionalism. Hopefully his next project will be a return to form in the later genre as his psychiatrist hero accidently mentions enough of his personal life to send his psychotic patient into a Cape Fear like attack on the good doctor. At the moment it's still to be cast but Reiner has a lot of friends in Hollywood so expect a A-list family unit to boost the ticket sales soon.

The last time Reiner had a unbalanced protagonist there was no scrimping on either the tension or the genuinely terrifying violence - hopefully he'll still have the same nerve.


Saturday, 7 July 2012

More films for your buck (Out this week - 06/07/12)

Portmanteau fans are salivating at their screens this week as not just one but two examples of short film collections hit screens, although frankly if you're not in London your options are less open. The anthology format used to be the preserve of certain kinds of horror movie with Peter Cushing coaxing terrified guests in his haunted mansion to spill their ghosts stories before revealing himself to be the demon about to devour their souls - or something like that. I definitely remember Bernard Cribbins and a man-eating bush in one of Hammer's earlier incarnations. However, in the noughties a trend for serious directors to put together themed shorts - notably 11'09'01 and Paris, Je t'aime - with the aim to experiment in style and promote the short film form. Perhaps I may be backing the wrong horse, the reviews for both have been decidedly mixed, but I'm plumping for relentless infidelity over a sojourn to Cuba so the Runs Like a Gay film of the week is Players.

The UK's box office champion last weekend wasn't included in my run-down of new releases seven days ago. This is because it hasn't actually opened yet. Why, then, is it the top of the chart I hear you ask... Because it has opened. Ice Age: Continental Drift isn't just an unwanted sequel to a fairly forgettable animated franchise, it's also the Schrodinger's Cat of cinema. It is both in cinemas and not in cinemas - and I suppose the animal cast are therefore both alive and not alive at the same time, which may well be a boom to the career of John Leguizamo. Last weekend saw it's release in the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Northern Ireland where the schools have already broken up for their summer holidays. In England and Wales (including the RLAG headquarters in Manchester) it has shown in previews but won't be formerly out until July 13th - which basically means we can see it weekends but not week days. This whole extended opening is a fraudulent way of boosting opening weekend figures if you ask me, but then that's probably a discussion best left for another time. So in effect the scottish pre-teens have propelled Scrat and co to the top of the charts with no help from the rest of us, good for them eh? Setting the fossil-record challenged critters
to one side the biggest new entry was Friends with Kids, so at least I got that right. Meanwhile MIB3 slipped back below Prometheus, the weeks best holdover. No plaudits for guessing this weekend biggest challenger, my spidey sense is telling me the all-new Peter Parker, the amazing Andrew Garfield will swing into the lead, covering the opposition of layers of sticky clue to feast on later. Undoubtedly the people will choose The Amazing Spider-Man.


I've yet to see The Artist (I know, I know) but even so the extraordinary success of a black and white silent French movie is the guiding force that propels me towards this comedy about affairs that sees the direct and star reunite. Based on an idea by Oscar winning actor Jean Dujardin - although to be fair the gallic film is based on the comedic value of sex outside of marriage - the contributions come from Michel Hazanavicius and Frad Cavaye (Pour Elle) among others.

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Read on for arachnid transformations, tasmanian tigers and an illicit trip to the Caribbean as well as all of this weeks releases and trailers.

Too much cutting in a subtitled film can be a dangerous thing, and yet I'm still intrigued. Will have to wait for DVD though - I am not travelling to London for it.

The Amazing Spider-Man

The first trailer was a bit underwhelming, hence the surprisingly low score here, although I confess the marketing got better later on. Of course the real question is not whether it is necessary to reboot a successful series of films less than 10 years after the first run started, but whether this is indicative of Hollywood's laziness and the constant plundering of comic books. Although when original sci-fi properties are as creatively bankrupt as Battleship and John Carter you con't really blame the studios. Andrew Garfield is the eponymous web-slinger, Rhys Ifans his scaly nemesis, Emma Stone provides the love interest and Martin Sheen/Sally Field up the acting quotient in the first of this proposed spider trilogy.

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God Bless America

Comedian and Police Academy alumni Bobcat Goldthwaite continues his run of subversive satires that play with the notions of Americana and the cult of anti-hero's with Joel Murray (brother to Bill) driven to homicidal fury by society's failings, defending his central belief of kindness by gunning down reality TV contestants, talk-show DJs and in-cinema texters. I expect viewers from all sides of the political spectrum will react with outrage and smug satisfaction as the carnage reigns.

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The Hunter

Willem Dafoe spend the majority of this movie's running time stalking the last remaining Tasmanian Tiger, who may even be extinct. Not that you'd know that from the trailer which seems to play up the thriller aspects of the plot. Dafoe's performance, where he stalks through the undergrowth and uncovers all sorts of conspiracies whilst considering the empty recesses of his soul, and the delicious Australia geography virtually worshipped by Robert Humphreys' cinematography should bring in a significant art-house crowd.

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7 Days in Havana

Our second portmanteau is, in many ways, the more curious of the two options with Gasper Noe and - in his directorial debut - Benicio Del Toro amongst the contributers. But the structure of an American student (Josh Hutcherson) smuggling himself to Cuba and absorbing the culture seems slightly contrived - although looking at the trailer I wonder if my plot information is even vaguely correct.

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The Women on the 6th Floor

It's taken a long-time for this French hit comedy (it took $19m in France last February, just outgrossing Thor) to reach the UK. It looks jolly, focussing on the effect of Spanish maids on a stuffy middle class Parisien and his redemption. Carmen Maura is probably the best known of the ensemble.

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Bol Bachchan

There's no doubting the sincerity of this Bollywood comedy, or the title which gets constantly repeated during the trailer. That said there aren't many laughs to be found so I'm not expecting very impressive box office returns.

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Diamond Necklace

The soundtrack to the trailer's more shopping channel than Malayalam action flick so maybe this quietly released Dubai set flick with it's cautionary tale of monetary excess and true love might be worth seeking out.

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Exit Humanity

Sneaking out into cinemas for one day before getting a DVD release is this civil war era zombie film, obviously influenced by the idea, if not the execution, of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. That said I have no idea how they managed to rope Brian Cox in to narrate.

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Strawberry Fields

British Indie which I suspect deserves more than I've given it here but I can't in all honestly get enthused by the trailer and premise of two sisters running away from their past, but not quite escaping from each other.

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And finally, as if dragged in from another dimension, it's

Ice Age: Continental Drift

Being confused about whether to put it in last week or next week I'm splitting the difference. Not that it makes much difference there's no way this animated cash-cow would get my film of the week endorsement. The gang's all here from the last film - literally even side character and minor addition comes back for a line or too for the pay-cheque (hello Simon Pegg) and we also get a love interest for Denis Leary's Diego in the form of sexy sabre-tooth Jennifer Lopez. Not that we should expect too much subtly in this oddly popular franchise, just colourful characters and well crafted back-drops. Ray Romano, John Lequizamo and Queen Latifah also star.

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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Killer Joe

2011. Dir: William Friedkin. Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Gina Gershon and Thomas Haden Church. ●●●●○

I think I'm beginning to see my problem. I get actively turned off by well-adjusted characters, mild middle class dysfunction simply doesn't excite me, I need barely concealed breakdowns and trailer trash histrionics before my pulse is even slightly raised. Needless to say Killer Joe delivers in buckets, from the opening shots we are treated to the desperate machinations of our central family unit, only too aware of the potential complications of inviting in the eponymous devil. From then on I was hooked by the grand guignol - extreme violence, simulated fellatio and all.

Emile Hirsch arrives at a trailer in North Texas, close to the Oklahoma border, drenched he screams into the unit for his sister (Juno Temple) to open the door. Alas his younger sibling, cocooned in her Disney Princess fantasy at the end of the trailer, doesn't budge but Step-mom Gina Gershon, suspiciously underdressed, does so. Unimpressed Hirsch calls his father (Thomas Haden Church) and, after a quick visit to the local strip club, he outlines his plan to hire "Killer Joe", a local detective with a sideline in contract murder, to execute the missing matriarch and claim the insurance money to pay off hi drug debts. It's a lurid and fast-paced opener, that effectively introduces our family unit and establishes their types - desperate Hirsch, pathetic Church, slutty Gershon and (faux?) innocent Temple.

Into this clan of screw-ups and victims walks Matthew McConaughay, and immediately we know this is not the laid back rom-com hero we know and love. Tightly wound yet outwardly laconic, he portrays a suffocating blend of southern gent and malicious snake. It's the kind of tour de force performance that will completely sideswipe his previous fans and certainly makes me even more excited for his upcoming turns in Magic Mike and The Paperboy.

Unable to pay the necessary advance Hirsch offers his sister as a retainer, perhaps a colossal error for the confused waster as he appears to harbour complex psychosexual desires for her - something barely hinted at in the screenplay but clearly present in Hirsch's performance. Joe's first sexual encounter with his temporary possession is appropriately un-nerving, and whilst it may not be the rape some critics are suggesting it's certainly indicative of Joe's power fixation and Temple's apparent desire to be thought of as more innocent than she may be. Temple alternates between accusing and breathily seductive, her line reading of "Your eyes hurt" alone reminds us she's one of the most exciting young British actresses on the screen.

Before long the deed is done, but the aftermath is suitably grotesque as double cross and duplicity is revealed and each character must make a moral choice, and there's certainly nowhere to hide in the final act. A fried chicken take away meal becoming the basis for sexual humiliation, repeated beatings and swift justice.

William Friedkin has adapted from Tracy Letts' play, and where sometimes the staginess of the source material shows, this only seems to exemplify the sleaziness of the situation and necessary claustrophobia. With this and Bug you have to say the duo have created a fantastic working partnership and I can't help but wonder what else in Lett's back-catalogue they could have a go at.

Killer Joe is an uncomfortable watch, but necessarily so, like many familial tragedies before it the audience shudder at the nastiness of the set-up whilst chuckling at the blackest of comedic moments. Superbly involving this is one of my top recommendations of the year so far.