This Week’s Films (29/06/14)

Harakiri

Real Steel (2011)Real Steel

Enter the not-so-distant future where boxing has gone high-tech — 2000-pound, 8-foot-tall steel robots have taken over the ring. Starring Hugh Jackman as Charlie Kenton, a washed-up fighter turned small-time promoter, REAL STEEL is a riveting, white-knuckle action ride that will leave you cheering. When Charlie hits rock bottom, he reluctantly teams up with his estranged son Max (Dakota Goyo) to build and train a championship contender. As the stakes in the thrill-packed arena are raised, Charlie and Max, against all odds, get one last shot at a comeback. Visually stunning and complete with knockout bonus material, REAL STEEL is a pulse-pounding, inspirational adventure filled with heart and soul.

Verdict: 5/10

Bright FutureBright Future (2003)

Friends Mamoru and Yuji are aimless young men stuck in dead-end jobs in a dreary factory in Tokyo. Mamoru, the more antisocial of the two, is obsessed with his pet project of acclimating a poisonous jellyfish to fresh water by gradually changing the water in its tank. One night, he inexplicably murders his boss’ family and is sentenced to death. Yuji, left to continue the jellyfish experiment, befriends Mamoru’s estranged father, and the two form a bond. But Yuji’s attachment to the jellyfish is even stronger, and problems arise when he accidentally releases the poisonous creature into the canals of Tokyo.

Verdict: 7/10

Harakiri (1962)Harakiri

Following the collapse of his clan, an unemployed samurai (Ran’s Tatsuya Nakadai) arrives at the manor of Lord Iyi, begging to commit ritual suicide on his property. Iyi’s clansmen, believing the desperate ronin is merely angling for a new position, try to force him to eviscerate himself— but they have underestimated his beliefs and his personal brand of honor. Winner of the 1963 Cannes Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize, Harakiri, directed by Masaki Kobayashi (The Human Condition) is a fierce evocation of individual agency in the face of a corrupt and hypocritical system.

Verdict: 10/10

LifeforceLifeforce (1985)

From the director of Poltergeist and co-writer of Alien comes a thrilling sci-fi adventure of explosive action and pulse-pounding suspense. With mind-blowing special effects by Oscar winner John Dykstra, Lifeforce is a sci-fi extravaganza that delivers out-of-this-world excitement. A mission to investigate Halley’s Comet discovers an even more fascinating phenomenon: an alien spacecraft! After a deadly confrontation, the aliens travel to Earth, where their seductive leader (Mathilda May) begins a terrifying campaign to drain the life force of everyone she encounters. Her victims, in turn, continue the cycle, and soon the entire planet is in mortal danger.And when the mission’s sole survivor (Steve Railsback) sets out to destroy her, he comes face to face with the most charming and horrifying being he’s ever known. Will he be able to destroy the lovely vampiress…or will he become yet another victim of her fatal charm?

Verdict: 5/10

Cafe de Flore (2011)Cafe de Flore

In 1960s Paris, a working class woman gives birth to her first child, Laurent a Down Syndrome son. Undaunted she embraces the challenge of raising her beloved offspring as normally as one would any other child. Her husband abandons them both. She bravely brushes this additional hiccup aside as Laurent replaces her spouse as the perfect man of her dreams. As Laurent approaches school age Jacqueline’s aplomb becomes obsessive and cloying. Her increasingly self-destructive attachment to her son is raised to a fever pitch when, at the age of seven, he meets a Down Syndrome girl (Veronique) and experiences his first crush. His sudden desire for independence, and his attraction to Vera, are the catalysts that transform Jacqueline from a loving mother into something resembling a lover scorned. What emerges is a love triangle of potentially tragic proportions.

In 21st century Montreal, a forty year old divorcee, Carole, is trying to restart her life after her divorce, two years earlier, from Antoine, a devastatingly handsome, successful touring DJ. Soul mates who’ve been a couple since the age of fifteen, their divorce is a schism that might prove impossible for either of them to put in the past. Making the transition even more difficult for Carole is the fact that her two daughters, one teen, one tween, are about to gain a stepmother, a stunningly beautiful, heartbreaking blonde, a woman about to ”steal” away the perfect man of her dreams. The young girls are being cruelly pulled in two different directions, Antoine’s father, a recovering alcoholic, seems to side with his ex-daughter-in-law, and Carole is succumbing to fits of depression and potentially dangerous bouts of sleepwalking. What emerges is a love triangle of potentially tragic proportions.

Verdict: 7/10

Chasing MadoffChasing Madoff (2010)

A look at how one investigator spent ten years trying to expose Bernie Madoff’s massive Ponzi scheme that scammed an estimated $18 billion from investors.

Verdict: 6/10

I Served the King of England (2006)I Served the King of England

Humorous wartime film, adapted from the novel by Bohumil Hrabal, following Jan Dite (Ivan Barnev), a waiter fixated on his dream of becoming a hotel owner and millionaire. In 1930s Prague, hotel waiter Jan longs for the life of the rich and famous guests he has to serve. Exploiting every opportunity he can find, especially if it involves a beautiful woman, Jan slowly but surely begins to achieve his heart’s desire. But just when things seem to be working out for the upwardly mobile servant, the Nazi occupation threatens to scupper his best laid plans. Chancing on another route by taking up with Aryan amazon Liz (Julia Jentsch), Jan believes he’s managed to stave off disaster, only for fate to deal him another decisive blow.

Verdict: 8/10

Jimmy HollywoodJimmy Hollywood (1994)

In JIMMY HOLLYWOOD a young Jimmy Alto (Pesci) moves to Hollywood from New Jersey to try to make it as an actor. With circumstances progressing nowhere, an unemployed Jimmy resorts to stealing from his girlfriend when he needs money. When someone breaks into his car and steals his radio, he and his friend William (Slater) begin staking out the neighborhood in hopes of catching the thief. This new operation gives birth to the S.O.S. (Save Our Streets) organization that ultimately gives Jimmy a sudden taste of fame.

Verdict: 5/10

Secret Things (2002)Secret Things

SECRET THINGS is the story of two gorgeous young women who discover the power of sex as a tool to climb the social and professional ladder. Sandrine and Natalie work at a strip club; Natalie performs an erotic act on stage while Sandrine serves drinks. After they both get fired, the two become roommates and Natalie begins training Sandrine in the art of seduction. Erotic lessons on how to pleasure oneself and others, how to seduce and not be seduced, public nudity and the art of the fake orgasm are all part of their plan to take on the world of men. After landing jobs at the bank and “working” their way up the ladder, these femme fatales don’t bargain for the ultimate cruelty and power of their prey. However, the girls soon meet their match in Christophe, the ruthless son of the bank’s president.

Verdict: 6/10

Unhung HeroUnhung Hero (2013)

When Patrick Moote’s girlfriend rejects his marriage proposal at a UCLA basketball game on the jumbotron, it unfortunately goes viral and hits TV networks worldwide. Days after the heartbreaking debacle, she privately reveals why she can t be with him forever: Patrick’s small penis size. “Unhung Hero” follows the real life journey of Patrick as he boldly sets out to expose this extremely personal chapter of his life confronting ex-girlfriends, doctors,anthropologists and even adult film stars. From Witch Doctors in Papua New Guinea to sex museums in Korea, Patrick has a lot of turf to cover on his globe trotting adventure to finally answer the age old question: Does size matter?

Verdict: 6/10

Rabbit Hole (2010)Rabbit Hole

This is the extraordinary story of Becca and Howie. Eight months ago, they had a picture-perfect life with their young son. Now, they are posing as normal in the wake of an enormous loss; blindly looking for footing in a sea of new emotions. This is the remarkably moving journey of a couple finding their way back to love.

Verdict: 7/10

Changing LanesChanging Lanes (2002)

Late for court, an attorney weaves in and out of traffic. In a different lane, a father whose right to see his children rests on getting to court on time. A minor accident will turn these two strangers into beasts.

Verdict: 6/10

Red Lights (2012)Red Lights

Veteran paranormal researchers Dr. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) debunk fraudulent claims of ghost whispering, faith healing and other psychic phenomena by detecting what Matheson calls red lights, the subtle tricks behind every staged supernatural occurrence. But when the legendary blind psychic Simon Silver (Robert De Niro)comes out of retirement after 30 years, his once-fearless adversary Matheson warns Buckley to back off, fearing reprisal from the powerful Silver. Determined to discredit Silver, Buckley and his star student (Elizabeth Olsen) use every tool at their disposal to uncover the truth behind the charismatic, spoon-bending, mind reader. But Buckley is forced to reexamine his own core beliefs as his quest builds to a mind-blowing conclusion in this taut psychological thriller from award-winning writer and director Rodrigo Cortés (Buried).

Verdict: 5/10

The WorldThe World (2004)

An exploration on the impact of urbanization and globalization on a traditional culture.

Verdict: 8/10

Pandorum (2009)Pandorum

In Pandorum, Dennis Quaid (Vantage Point, The Express) and Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma, Alpha Dog) join Cam Gigandet (Never Back Down, Twilight), Cung Le (Tekken, Fighting), newcomer Antje Traue, and director Christian Alvart (Antibodies) to tell the terrifying story of two crew members stranded on a spacecraft who quickly – and horrifically – realize they are not alone. Two astronauts awaken in a hyper-sleep chamber aboard a seemingly abandoned spacecraft. It’s pitch black, they are disoriented, and the only sound is a low rumble and creak from the belly of the ship. They can’t remember anything: Who are they? What is their mission? With Lt. Payton (Quaid) staying behind to guide him via radio transmitter, Cpl. Bower (Foster) ventures deep into the ship and begins to uncover a terrifying reality. Slowly the spacecraft’s shocking, deadly secrets are revealed…and the astronauts find their own survival is more important than they could ever have imagined.

Verdict: 6/10

The German Chainsaw MassacreThe German Chainsaw Massacre (1990)

A bloody and demented blend of Brechtian political satire and Texas Chain Saw Massacre-style horror, this shrieking gore-fest is set during the first hours after German reunification. Fleeing from the East, hapless victims fall prey to a crazed family of human butchers, who introduce them to the pleasures of the Free Market by noisily hacking, bludgeoning and chainsawing them to death. Abrasive, relentless, cruelly funny and enjoyably deranged.

Verdict: 4/10

Black Christmas (1974)Black Christmas

It’s not a lot of fun when you have to spend Christmas Eve stuck in your sorority house. It’s even worse when a bloodthirsty psycho slides down your chimney. It’s Ho, Ho, Horror with Margot Kidder, Olivia Hussey and Keir Dullea in a cult favorite from Bob Clark (“A Christmas Story”). AKA: “Silent Night, Deadly Night,” “Stranger in the House.”

Verdict: 6/10

Dig!Dig! (2004)

Seven years in the making and culled from over 1500 hours of footage, DIG! plunges into the underbelly of rock ‘n’ roll, unearthing an incredible true story of success and self-destruction. Anton A. Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Courtney Taylor of the Dandy Warhols are star-crossed friends and bitter rivals – DIG! is the story of their loves and obsessions, gigs and recordings, arrests and death threats, uppers and downers, and the delicate balance between art and commerce.

Verdict: 8/10

The Tiger of Eschnapur (1959)The Tiger of Eschnapur

After more than two decades of exile in Hollywood, master filmmaker Fritz Lang triumphantly returned to his native Germany to direct the lavish two-part adventure tale The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb from a story he had co-authored almost forty years earlier. With incredible precision, Lang crafts a blend of color, decor, movement and montage that, in the twilight of his career, once again proves him a virtuoso of film form. Previously available in America only as Journey to the Lost City, a 90-minute condensation of the two films, these exotic masterpieces are presented restored and complete for the first time in the U.S. Western architect Harold Berger (Paul Hubschmid), called to India by Chandra, the Maharajah of Eschnapur, falls in love with the beautiful temple dancer Seetha (Debra Paget), although she is promised to the Maharajah. Their betrayal ignites the wrath of a vengeful Chandra, who is fighting his own battle for power with his scheming half-brother, and the lovers are forced to flee into the desert. Featuring breathtaking location photography and cliff-hanging suspense, the first part of Lang’s epic is highlighted by Paget’s erotic temple dance and Hubschmid’s battle to the death with a man-eating tiger.

Verdict: 9/10

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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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