Apr 30, 2011

Review: Source Code

The official SXSW poster for the film by Olly Moss.
Director: Duncan Jones
Release Date: 5 May 
Runtime: 93 mins 
It's all fine and Fanta if you want to put 'FROM THE DIRECTOR OF MOON' on all of the promotional material for a film; this draws in your movie geeks, so that's one market covered.  What probably isn't okay is sticking this label on the film when it becomes a fake proclamation that this will be another Moon. The budget is way higher, the writer (Ben Ripley) is not also the director and Source Code does not exude any of the eerie strangeness that Moon had so much of. 
Fact is, Source Code errs strongly towards the traditional, Hollywood thriller. A clear tracking shot of a crisp autumn day in Chicago opens the film and leads us through the city and across landscapes until we meet the train crossing a bridge and our hero, Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal), who's just woken up disoriented and doesn't know where or who he is. Jakey spends the first few minutes on the train talking to fellow passenger Christina (Michelle Monaghan) and trying to figure out how he came to be there: before the train blows up, kabluey!

Captain Stevens wakes up in a visualisation tank in an unspecified military facility and is told he's on a mission: he's being sent into the 'source code' to locate the bomber and stop another, larger, foreshadowed attack. The source code is a program, composed from the last eight minutes of memory before people meet their maker: in this case, one of the passengers from the train that morning, Sean Fentress (Frederick de Grandpre). Colter is Sean, Sean is now Colter. Writer Ripley then faffs out approximately 60 seconds of explantaion on quantum physics which no-one can really understand (but that's okay, right, because the audience figures they shouldn't understand it?). 
The eight-minute cycle repeats as Captain Stevens picks up more clues each time and tests the inner and outer limits of the source code, as well as himself. Colter's commander, Captain Goodwin (the ever-strong Vera Farmiga) attempts to guide him with a sense of compassion not normally associated with a member of high-up government operations, doing the film enormous credit. As we are within the thriller genre, the major twist does turn up eventually. However, the inadequate lack of tension built up until that moment, due to the fact that Gyllenhaal takes being blown up every eight minutes pretty calmly while in the source code, means that the twist kind of just yo-yos back and says 'So what?' in a voice not dissimilar to the Governator's. 
While the humanising elements of the film (Colter's remorse at not talking to his Dad enough and his desire to save passenger Christina) add bonus points, they don't heighten the experience enough to make it much more than a fairly standard, yet entertaining thriller. 

Apr 21, 2011

Midnight in Paris: Poster & Trailer

Poster from the Official Site.
Curse you, Woody Allen. Just when we thought you'd lost us forever with Whatever Works (confining Larry David in a number of contrived situations with Evan Rachel Wood didn't work, by the way), you do this. A poster for your next movie involving many, many things we like: midnight (but mainly the promise of moonlit cinematography), Paris, a partial replication of Van Gogh's The Starry Night in the background. 

The trailer below shows a fidgety Owen Wilson, roaming the streets of Paris after midnight and cloaked in mystery following an antisocial bout of disagreement with his lady friend (McAdams). Intriguing and full of Allen's dry, speculative wit, Midnight in Paris opens the Festival de Cannes this year, May 2011.

Review: Brighton Rock

Sam Riley and Andrea Riseborough, awash in Brighton Rock.
Whether you celebrate Easter as a religious holiday or you're simply longing for a five day break, there is one fact you can rely on: you'll need some solid movie recommendations for the long weekend. 

To that end, check out our review of Brighton Rock over at The Brag.

Apr 16, 2011

American Gods Going to HBO

Remember when we told you rights had been sold to Neil Gaiman's American Gods and he was being a little fuzzy on the details? Well, according to Deadline, American Gods will not be a feature film, but a HBO series. Could we really have hoped for anything better? Those that know the novel will know that it's a hefty tome, laden not only detail but really complex ideas and characters that deserve to breathe on the screen beyond a potential 2.5 hour film. Robert Richardson (foresaid award-winning cinematographer of Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, Shutter Island, and soon to be Hugo Cabret fame) and Gaiman will write the pilot for HBO and Tom Hanks (>insert confused face here<) and Gary Goetzman of Playtone are bringing it to HBO for development. 

Now all someone needs to do is convince local cinemas to run special sessions when it goes to air, thus giving fans exactly what they want: a big screen experience and a longer exposure to Shadow & co. Let the petitioning commence.

Apr 15, 2011

Review: Scream 4

Emma Roberts looking spooked in Scream 4.
Director: Wes Craven
Release Date: 14 April 2011
Runtime: 111 mins

The Scream films are, by and large, a credit to Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson (we'd excise Scream 3 from our memory if it weren't so forgettable). One of the only horror films in recent years to incorporate equal portions of humour and gore, Scream set the bar for smart, entertaining horror with whip smart writing, cultural references, and a hip young cast.

Scream 4 represents an absolute return to form, with the most important original cast members reappearing: Sidney (an older, yet more vulnerable Neve Campbell), Dewey (David Arquette), and Gail (Courtney Cox) as well as a batch of fresh blood. Emma Roberts steps in as Jill (Sidney's cousin), Hayden Panettiere as her friend Kirby, and Rory Culkin (yep, same family - those lips don't lie).

Sidney returns on the anniversary of the murders to do publicity for her new book, Out of Darkness. Someone's pretty ticked off about Sid showing her freckled face in this neck of Woodsboro again and promptly turns the terror up to eleven. Everyone's a potential victim and a potential suspect, but serious props have to be handed to the writers for creating real tension and mystery—the red herrings planted in this ensemble are played so masterfully, you'll find it intriguingly difficult to guess who the killer is.

The comments on the genre and the fact that the actual movie takes a decent seven minutes to start due to the movie within a movie within a movie and the killer cameos (hint: the word we uttered upon seeing who was cameoing has two syllables and ends in an -eeehhhhhhh) really just take this to a cut above. Scream 4 will keep you on the edge of your seat, giggling intermitently, until the very last.

What's your favourite scary movie?


Apr 13, 2011

Review: How I Ended This Summer

Photo from the Official Movie Website
Hola, comrades! Our review of Russian thriller How I Ended This Summer is now up at The Brag. Head on over and take a look.

Apr 5, 2011

Come on, Bret, you're Famous Now

Bret McKenzie. Photo copyright Indigo_Jones
In an exclusive update from Showblitz (Variety), word on the street is Bret McKenzie (pronounced 'Briit'), one half of the famed TV duo in Flight of the Conchords, will star as Rivendell elf Lindir in The Hobbit.

This seems like a bizarre casting choice at the outset, but we've no doubt the young actor has more than 'Foux Da Fa Fa' floating around in that talented brain of his. The Hobbit is currently in production in New Zealand.