This Week’s Films (25/05/14)

Passion of Joan of Arc

Burning Bright (2010)Burning Bright

Kelly feels her life is unraveling. Her mother’s death has left her as the guardian of her autistic 12-year-old brother, Tom, and she’s just learned her stepfather pilfered her college fund to buy a tiger for his safari park. To make matters worse, a hurricane is cutting a swath of destruction toward her home. But Kelly has something greater to fear than the hurricane’s 120-mile-per-hour winds – the savage tiger has somehow slipped inside her house. Now, trapped inside their boarded-up home, Kelly and Tom must fight for their lives against a deadly man-eater who smells their fear…and wants their flesh.

Verdict: 6/10

The Last AirbenderThe Last Airbender (2010)

Air, Water, Earth, Fire. Four nations tied by destiny when the Fire Nation launches a brutal war against the others. A century has passed with no hope in sight to change the path of this destruction. Caught between combat and courage, Aang (Noah Ringer) discovers he is the lone Avatar with the power to manipulate all four elements.

Verdict: 3/10

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)The Passion of Joan of Arc

With its stunning camerawork and striking compositions, Carl Th. Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc convinced the world that movies could be art. Renée Falconetti gives one of the greatest performances ever recorded on film, as the young maiden who died for God and France. Long thought to have been lost to fire, the original version was miraculously found in perfect condition in 1981-in a Norwegian mental institution. Criterion is proud to present this milestone of silent cinema in a new special edition featuring composer Richard Einhorn’s Voices of Light, an original opera/oratorio inspired by the film.

Verdict: 10/10

Cowboys & AliensCowboys & Aliens (2011)

The Old West.. where a lone cowboy leads an uprising against a terror from beyond our world. 1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don’t welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford). It’s a town that lives in fear. But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he’s been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveler Ella (Olivia Wilde), he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents-townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors-all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.

Verdict: 4/10

Dark Days (2000)Dark Days

DARK DAYS explores the surprisingly domestic subterranean world of a homeless community living in a train tunnel beneath NYC. Through stories heartbreaking and hilarious, tunnel dwellers reveal their reasons for taking refuge and their struggle to survive underground. With a hypnotic soundtrack by legendary DJ Shadow, DARK DAYS is still an enduring classic, ten years after its initial release.

Verdict: 8/10

City of WomenCity of Women (1980)

In this dream-sequence film, renowned Italian director Federico Fellini expounds at length on the nature, complexities, attitudes, and hang-ups of women and how this all relates to men ‘hunting’ sexual conquests. Snaporaz (Marcello Mastroianni) is traveling in a compartment on a train when he lapses into sleep and dreams the ensuing story. He follows a woman off the train and through a field and then loses her. Soon, as a representative of the male sex in general he finds himself in a hotel, among myriad women attending a feminist conference. Surreal episodes take him through a villa with his alter-ego Dr. Katzone (Ettore Manni, who died during filming) and references to his sexual exploits. Reunited with his former wife for a moment, he starts another sequence which reviews his past.

Verdict: 8/10

Doghouse (2009)Doghouse

On the p*ss. On the pull. On the menu…

The latest and most outrageous in a wave of UK comic horror films like Shaun Of The Dead, Doghouse is a raucous, balls-out funny spin on male insecurity over their own masculinity and vengeful women. A group of guys (including Danny Dyer of The Football Factory and Severance and Stephen Graham of Snatch and Public Enemies) head off for a boys weekend to buck up a friend still depressed over a painful divorce. Unfortunately, they end up in an isolated town infected with a bio-weapon that has turned all the women into the man-hating monsters the lads always suspected women were at heart. The guys spend less time bonding and a lot more time fleeing from hairdressers, nurses, schoolgirls and other iconic female figures all looking to snip away with scissors and swords and literally do what the guys have been fearing for years. Deftly satirical, witty and just bloody good fun, Doghouse is the most original battle of the sexes in years.

Verdict: 4/10

10 Things I Hate About You10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

New kid in school Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is smitten with the beautiful Bianca (Larisa Oleynik). The problem is that Bianca isn’t allowed to date unless her surly older sister Kat (Julia Stiles) does. Cameron’s only hope is to enlist the help of Patrick (Heath Ledger), the school troublemaker with a reputation as nasty as Kat’s. This special edition brings back the love-struck high school classmates of ’99 with a treasure trove of never-before-seen footage. Also featuring a retro soundtrack of memorable nineties tunes, 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU is a comedy you can count on.

Verdict: 7/10

Sling Blade (1996)Sling Blade

25 Years after commiting an unthinkable crime, a quiet man named Karl (Thornton) finally returns home. Once there, he’s befriended by a fatherless boy and his mother. But when his newfound peace is shattered by the mother’s abusive boyfriend, Karl is suddenly placed on a collision course with his past! Also starring Robert Duvall, John Ritter and J.T. Walsh, this emotional powerhouse is an unforgettable experience for the eyes and ears as well as the heart.

Verdict: 9/10

Man on the TrainMan on the Train (2002)

Patrice Leconte’s (Girl on the Bridge) MAN ON THE TRAIN tells the touching story of two men from different walks of life as they develop an unexpected friendship and change each other’s view of life at the last possible moment. Milan (Hallyday), a thief, steps off the train in a small town in the French Alps where he plans to rob a local bank. By chance, after he is unable to find a room for the night, he encounters Manesquier (Rochefort), a retired poetry teacher whose sedentary lifestyle bores even himself. Sharing nothing in common except important plans for the weekend – one is to rob a bank and the other is to go in for open-heart surgery – the two men begin talking and soon develop a respect for one another, as well as a secret longing to live the type of lifestyle the other lives. And, as the friendship grows even stronger, each man defies his personality to explore his yearning for the life of the other.

Verdict: 8/10

Erased/The Expatriate (2012)Erased

Aaron Eckhart stars as an ex-CIA agent who discovers he’s been targeted in a deadly international conspiracy. A dangerous game of cat-and-mouse ensues as he tries to uncover the truth.

Verdict: 5/10

A Series of Unfortunate EventsLemony Snicket (2004)

Three wealthy children’s parents are killed in a fire. When they are sent to a distant relative, they find out that he is plotting to kill them and seize their fortune.

Verdict: 7/10

Blood (2012)Blood

When a murder suspect’s interrogation turns violent, two detectives (Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham) must deal with the consequences and the suspicions of a fellow detective (Mark Strong).

Verdict: 6/10

InstinctInstinct (1999)

Don’t miss Academy Award(R)-winners Anthony Hopkins (Best Actor, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, THE INNOCENT) and Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Best Supporting Actor, JERRY MAGUIRE, PEARL HARBOR) in this highly provocative psychological thriller from the hit-making director of PHENOMENON and WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING! In a prison for the criminally insane, deranged anthropologist Ethan Powell (Hopkins) is set to be examined by a bright young psychiatrist, Theo Caulder (Gooding). Driven by ambition and a hunger for the truth, Caulder will eventually risk everything — even put his very life on the line — in a harrowing attempt to understand the bizarre actions of this madman! Also starring Donald Sutherland (A TIME TO KILL, DISCLOSURE) and Maura Tierney (FORCES OF NATURE, LIAR LIAR) in a first-rate cast — Powell and Caulder’s adventure of the mind is a riveting journey of discovery … no matter what the cost!

Verdict: 6/10

Slumming (2006)Slumming

A privileged young prankster with a cruel streak sends an alcoholic poet on a redemptive quest to find his way back home in director Michael Glawogger’s semi-existential road drama. Sebastian (August Diehl) is a well-to-do slacker who has crafted his skill for slumming into something of an art form. Along with his flatmate Alex (Michael Ostrowski), Sebastian frequently arranges meetings with various women in dive bars throughout Vienna, only to photograph them surreptitiously under the table and use the resulting pictures as an endless source of amusement. As his already mean tricks begin to turn outright malicious, Sebastian finds the once-willing Alex growing increasingly uncomfortable with their ‘harmless’ pastime. Kallman (Paulus Manker) is a troubled alcoholic who sells his poems on the street in order to stay inebriated. When Sebastian and Alex discover an unconscious Kallman sleeping off his latest round of drinks on a train station bench, they quickly spirit the clueless drunk into their car and across the Czech border where he is casually dumped without identification in a remote village. Subsequently enamored by restless local teacher Pia (Pia Hierzegger), Sebastian inadvertently revolts the kindly educator by jovially revealing the details of his latest practical joke. As a determined Pia sets out to locate the ailing alcoholic and safely bring him back home, Kallman attempts to recount just how he ended up so far away from Vienna as he navigates a strange and unfamiliar landscape.

Verdict: 7/10

Man UtdManchester United (2000)

Official feature-length film tracing the fortunes of the Manchester United football team during the 1999/2000 season, the season after winning the treble. Includes footage of the training sessions, the World Club Championships in Brazil, and the attempts to retain the European Cup.

Verdict: 5/10

Meeting Evil (2012)Meeting Evil

Samuel L. Jackson and Luke Wilson star in MEETING EVIL, an intense psychological thriller that will bring you face to face with pure terror. Jackson is Richie, a mysterious stranger who shows up at John’s (Wilson) door asking for help with his car. All too soon, the mild-mannered John discovers he has become an unwilling passenger, trapped in a murderous ride through town and deep into the countryside. When Richie decides to pay a visit to John’s wife (Leslie Bibb) and kids, John has no choice but to confront this sadistic and unpredictable killer – But saving his family will ultimately come at a terrible price.

Verdict: 5/10

CropseyCropsey (2009)

Growing up on Staten Island, filmmakers Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio had often heard the legend of Cropsey. For the kids in their neighborhood, Cropsey was the escaped mental patient who lived in the old, abandoned Willowbrook Mental Institution and would come out at night to snatch children off the streets. Later as teenagers, the filmmakers assumed Cropsey was just an urban legend: a cautionary tale used to keep them out of those abandoned buildings. That all changed in the summer of 1987 when 12-year-old Jennifer Schweiger disappeared from their community. 

Now as adults Joshua and Barbara have returned to Staten Island to create Cropsey a feature documentary that delves into the mystery behind Jennifer and four additional missing children. The film also investigates Andre Rand, the real-life boogeyman linked to their disappearances. Embarking on a mysterious journey into the underbelly of their forgotten borough, these filmmakers uncover a reality that is more terrifying than any urban legend.

Verdict: 7/10

Ravenous (1999)Ravenous

Captain John Boyd’s promotion stations him at a fort where a rescued man tells a disturbing tale of cannibalism.

Verdict: 5/10

The Five ObstructionsThe Five Obstructions (2003)

With THE FIVE OBSTRUCTIONS, notoriously mischievous director Lars von Trier performs yet another cinematic experiment. This time around, the Danish prankster tries to outwit his mentor, director Jorgen Leth, forcing him to remake his classic 1967 short, ‘The Perfect Human’, five different times, with a series of increasingly outlandish guidelines. His goal is to break down the abnormally stable Leth, teaching him a valuable life lesson in the process. In the first film, von Trier sends Leth to Cuba and sets his first seemingly insurmountable rule: make a film that consists of shots that are no longer than twelve frames at a time. Miraculously, Leth uses his forced limitations to create a beautiful work, which obviously irks von Trier. Next up, von Trier challenges Leth to return to Bombay – which he calls the ‘most wretched place on Earth’ – in order to confront some demons from his past. Once again, the clever mentor rises to the challenge. Frustrated and sensing defeat, von Trier’s next challenge is deceptively simple: Leth must remake his film with no limitations whatsoever. He travels to Brussels and succeeds once again. After a foray into animation, von Trier creates the final obstruction, a film in which von Trier admits defeat and pays tribute to his mentor. ‘The Five Obstructions’ is a thoughtful, entertaining meditation on the filmmaking process.

Verdict: 8/10

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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