Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Review: Attack of the Werewolves

Attack of the Werewolves (Lobos De Arga) is a Spanish comedy horror written and directed by Juan Martinez Moreno. It is set in a remote village called Arga, where a 100-year-old curse troubles the residents. Our protagonist Tomas (Gorka Otxoa) is an unsuccessful writer who travels from Madrid back to the small village, which he hasn’t visited since he was fifteen. He is the male descendent of the ruthless Marchioness of Marino, his great-grandmother, who forced herself on a gypsy knife thrower and became pregnant with his son. She then destroyed the camp where he lived and killed all of the men, women, and children. The gypsy’s wife put a curse on her, which caused her son to transform into a werewolf.

The villagers of Arga have invited Tomas back to receive an award, and he thinks it will be a good place to do some more writing. At first he is welcomed with open arms, but things aren’t what they seem. The locals want to sacrifice him to lift the century-old curse and rid themselves of the terror that has haunted and hunted them for years. According to the legend, if a male Marino is eaten by the creature exactly 100 years after the curse was inflicted, the village will return to normal. If not, an even worse curse threatens to befall the residents.

Tomas is captured and thrown down into the tunnels beneath the village with his publisher Mario (Secun de la Rosa). Calisto (Carlos Areces), his childhood best friend, searches for them with the help of Tomas’ loyal dog Vito. Tomas discovers the werewolf down in the dark and barely escapes it. The group then have to flee from the villagers while also trying to figure out how to put a stop to the dangerous curse.


Attack of the Werewolves is atmospheric, chilling, and also really funny. There are a number of humorous scenes in the film, like the villagers getting confused about the curses, Tomas trying to get a phone signal, and the group’s unconventional attempts to lift the curse. The comedy horror includes nods to classic werewolf films such as An American Werewolf in London and The Wolf Man, which obviously provided inspiration for Juan Martinez Moreno.

I love werewolves and they don’t get as much focus as other horror monsters such as vampires and zombies. Attack of the Werewolves is the best werewolf movie I’ve seen since the brilliant Dog Soldiers, which is one of my favourite films. It has great physical make-up effects rather than crappy CGI beasties and is very tongue-in-cheek but with an effective Wicker Man-style tone. It also has solid performances from the main cast (including the adorable dog), who play very likeable characters. The film is suspenseful, with a well-structured story, and good-looking locations. It does a great deal with its limited budget and pays homage to legendary genre movies while providing a fresh take on the werewolf film.


[DVD screener provided by flickfeast. Review originally posted here]

Friday, 31 August 2012

Upcoming Releases - September '12

Here is a selection of films due out in UK cinemas next month.


Lawless - 7th September

Crime | Drama | Western
115 mins
18 certificate
Main cast: Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska
Director: John Hillcoat

'Set in Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a bootlegging gang is threatened by a new deputy and other authorities who want a cut of their profits.'

Official site: http://lawless-film.com/

Dredd 3D - 7th September
Action | Sci-Fi | Thriller
95 mins
TBC certificate
Main cast: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirby, Lena Headey, Domhnall Gleeson
Director: Pete Travis

'In a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop teams with a trainee to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO.'

Official site: http://www.dreddthemovie.com/#/en/home



Anna Karenina - 7th September

Drama
130 mins
12A certificate
Main cast: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Johnson, Kelly Macdonald, Matthew Macfadyen, Olivia Williams
Director: Joe Wright

'Set in late-19th-century Russia high-society, the aristocrat Anna Karenina enters into a life-changing affair with the affluent Count Vronsky.'

Official site: http://focusfeatures.com/anna_karenina


The Sweeney - 12th September
Action | Crime | Drama
112 mins
15 certificate
Main cast: Ray Winstone, Ben Drew, Damian Lewis, Hayley Atwell, Steven Mackintosh
Director: Nick Love

'Sometimes you have to act like a criminal to catch a criminal. Ray Winstone and Ben Drew star as part of an elite police unit in the explosive action film The Sweeney, based on the '70s UK TV show.'

Official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheSweeneyMovie


Premium Rush - 14th September

Action | Thriller
91 mins
12A certificate
Main cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Jamie Chung
Director: David Koepp

'In Manhattan, a bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city.'

Official site: http://www.premiumrush.com/


ParaNorman - 14th September
Animation | Adventure | Comedy
93 mins
PG certificate
Main cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Leslie Mann, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Director: Chris Butler, Sam Fell

'A misunderstood boy who can speak with the dead takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse.'

Official site: http://paranorman.com/


To Rome with Love - 14th September

Comedy | Romance
112 mins
12A certificate
Main cast: Woody Allen, Penelope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Judy Davis
Director: Woody Allen

'The lives of some visitors and residents of Rome and the romances, adventures and predicaments they get into.'

Official site: http://sonyclassics.com/toromewithlove/



Savages - 21st September
Crime | Drama | Thriller
131 mins
15 certificate
Main cast: Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta
Director: Oliver Stone

'Pot growers Ben and Chon face off against the Mexican drug cartel who kidnapped their shared girlfriend.'

Official site: http://www.savagesfilm.com/


Looper - 28th September

Action | Sci-Fi
118 mins
15 certificate
Main cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels
Director: Rian Johnson

'In 2072, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to 'close the loop' by transporting back Joe's future self.'

Official site: http://www.loopermovie.com/


The Campaign - 28th September
Comedy
85 mins
15 certificate
Main cast: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott
Director: Jay Roach

'In order to gain influence over their North Carolina district, two CEOs seize an opportunity to oust long-term congressman Cam Brady by putting up a rival candidate. Their man: naive Marty Huggins, director of the local Tourism Center.'

Official site: http://thecampaignmovie.warnerbros.com/



Information obtained from IMDb, http://www.filmdates.co.uk/, and the films' official websites.



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Monday, 20 August 2012

Superhero Splatter Art


Canadian artist Melissa Smith has created a series called 'Splatter Art', which includes comic book and video game characters. Here are some of her works featuring the splattered superheroes Batman, Spider-Man, and The Avengers.


 





[via DesignTAXI]

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Vintage-Style Street Map Features Over 900 Film Titles


UK-based design studio Dorothy has created a map with over 900 film titles as street names, parks, lakes, and other features. Loosely based on the style of a vintage Los Angeles street map, the 'Film Map' features a patch of grass called Jurassic Park, with Lake Placid and The Temple of Doom in it. It also features a large stretch of water called Reservoir Dogs, with Shutter Island and The Island of Dr. Moreau in the middle. An A-Z key at the base of the map lists all of the films featured along with their release dates and directors.





Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Review: Comes a Bright Day

British romantic thriller Comes a Bright Day stars Submarine’s Craig Roberts as Sam Smith, a young bellboy at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in London. When his boss Mr Morgan sends him on an errand, to take a watch belonging to one of the guests to a nearby jewellers to get it adjusted, he pops into the cafĂ© where his best friend Elliot works on the way. There he is introduced to Mary (Imogen Poots) who spots the expensive watch he has decided to slip on and tells him he should stop by ‘Clara’, the exclusive jewellery boutique where she works, which just so happens to be the place his boss told him to visit.


So off he goes to the jewellers, to eye up the sparkling gems and the beautiful assistant Mary. Unfortunately, while he is there two armed robbers, who call each other Cameron (Kevin McKidd) and Clegg (Josef Altin) to hide their real names, burst in. The jewellery shop’s owner Charlie (Timothy Spall) sounds the alarm and the police are soon on their way, but after a shootout during which Clegg is shot in the foot, the criminals retreat back inside. Getting caught up in this jewellery heist-gone-wrong leaves Sam, Mary, and Charlie trapped inside, taken hostage by the psychotic Cameron and his partner-in-crime as they look for a way to escape.

Comes a Bright Day is writer and director Simon Aboud’s feature-length debut. He began his career as a writer for an advertising agency, and does well with this low budget film, which restricts most of its action to just one room. The confined environment is well-used and tensions run high for the criminals and hostages who are all trapped.

The failed robbery attempt at the jewellers isn’t the main focus of the film; it’s more of a backdrop. It provides an opportunity for the main characters to get to know each other, and there are lots of scenes with Sam, Mary, and Charlie talking about their lives and their dreams. Mary tells a touching story about the history of a ruby bracelet, which offers some welcome escapism during the hostage situation.


The film is partly a coming of age story about Sam gaining the confidence to achieve his dream of opening a restaurant with his friend, and partly a love story about a chance encounter with Mary. These tend to push the more thrilling criminal parts to the side, meaning the supporting cast don’t get enough time to shine. Kevin McKidd’s disturbed robber with a stutter is entertaining and intense but underused. The complicated character enjoys listening to Madame Butterfly while slowing sawing through a ceiling panel in the hopes of finding an escape route. But his motivations are never explained and we don’t learn much about him, which is a shame.

Comes a Bright Day tries to juggle lots of elements and genres, leaving some by the wayside slightly while others take centre stage. Ultimately though it is still a very watchable British film with a great cast, and it marks a promising debut from Simon Aboud.


[DVD screener provided by flickfeast. Review originally posted here]

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Thursday, 9 August 2012

Film Festival Posters Provide Recipes for Movies


These posters for the New York International Latino Film Festival (which runs from August 13th-19th) show what you can expect from different movies like chick flicks, spaghetti westerns, and buddy cop movies. The 'movie recipe' illustrations highlight predictable plots and feature the tagline: "Some movies are easy to make. Films are a different story."






Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Review: I Melt With You

Mark Pellington’s drama I Melt With You starts off as a story about a group of male friends enjoying a getaway where they consume copious amounts of alcohol and drugs. However, events take a much darker turn around halfway through the film, when something from the past comes back to haunt them.

 
The four men in their 40s, who all went to college together, reunite for a week-long catch-up in a house overlooking the sea in Big Sur. Each of them is happy to escape their normal lives for a hazy week of drinking and drug-taking, as they are all unhappy, disillusioned, and full of regrets.

Richard (Thomas Jane) is a womaniser and unsuccessful author who has begrudgingly become a high school English teacher. Jonathan (Rob Lowe) is a doctor who writes prescriptions for money and is becoming detached from his son, who calls his new stepfather “Dad”. Ron (Jeremy Piven) is a stock broker who is at the centre of a federal investigation. Tim (Christian McKay) is a man who feels responsible for the recent loss of his loved ones. None of these are really likeable or identifiable characters, and the only positive attribute we see is their close friendship and fondness for each other.

The friends go swimming, driving, fishing, and partying, but mainly they drink and take drugs while moping around and complaining about how awful their lives are. After a few days, these excessive and repetitive festivities make way for much darker events, as a pact they all made when they were younger re-emerges and things get even more out of control. The pact that changes the tone of the film and the subsequent events is a little hard to believe in. Would you really follow through on an agreement you made in college when you were young (and probably drunk and high)? They all take it a bit too seriously instead of just dismissing it.


The film’s best feature is its soundtrack of punk music from the ‘80s. The roaring and pounding tunes from the likes of the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Pixies, Talking Heads, Dead Kennedys, and The Specials, add to the drug-fuelled, hazy atmosphere. They hark back to a time that the four men are pining for and help them to relive their youth, when they were carefree and had fewer troubles.

I Melt With You is a visual assault that is full of angst and excess. Eric Schmidt’s stylish cinematography and the picturesque locations make it a fine-looking film, but at times it feels like an overlong music video. This may have something to do with Mark Pellington’s history directing lots of videos for bands including Pearl Jam, U2, and Foo Fighters. I Melt With You is a treat for the eyes and ears at times and it has a solid cast, but it’s a film of two distinct halves and unfortunately neither of them are particularly impressive story-wise.


[DVD screener provided by flickfeast. Review originally posted here]

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Upcoming Releases - August '12

Here is a selection of films due out in UK cinemas next month.


Ted - 1st August
 
Comedy | Fantasy
106 mins
15 certificate
Main cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Giovanni Ribisi
Director: Seth MacFarlane

'As the result of a childhood wish, John Bennett's teddy bear, Ted, came to life and has been by John's side ever since - a friendship that's tested when Lori, John's girlfriend of four years, wants more from their relationship.'

Official site: http://www.tedisreal.com/



The Flowers of War - 3rd August
Drama | History | War
146 mins
15 certificate
Main cast: Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Xinyi Zhang, Tianyuan Huang
Director: Yimou Zhang

'A Westerner finds refuge with a group of women in a church during Japan's rape of Nanking in 1937. Posing as a priest, he attempts to lead the women to safety.'

Official site: http://www.theflowersofwarthemovie.com/


360 - 10th August

Drama | Romance
110 mins
15 certificate
Main cast: Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, Ben Foster
Director: Fernando Meirelles

'A dramatic thriller that weaves together the stories of an array of people from disparate social backgrounds through their intersecting relationships.

Official site: http://www.magpictures.com/360/



The Bourne Legacy - 13th August
Action | Adventure | Thriller
135 mins
12A certificate
Main cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Joan Allen, Albert Finney
Director: Tony Gilroy

'An expansion of the universe from Robert Ludlum's novels, centered on a new hero whose stakes have been triggered by the events of the previous three films.'

Official site: http://www.thebournelegacy.net/#/home


Brave - 13th August

Animation | Action | Adventure
100 mins
PG certificate
Main cast: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Kevin McKidd, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters
Director: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell

'Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.'

Official site: http://www.disney.co.uk/brave/



The Expendables 2 - 16th August
Action | Adventure
102 mins
TBC certificate
Main cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Liam Hemsworth, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme
Director: Simon West

'Mr. Church reunites the Expendables for what should be an easy paycheck, but when one of their men is murdered on the job, their quest for revenge puts them deep in enemy territory and up against an unexpected threat.'

Official site: http://theexpendables2film.com/


Take This Waltz - 17th August

Comedy | Drama
116 mins
15 certificate
Main cast: Michelle Williams, Seth Rogan, Sarah Silverman, Luke Kirby
Director: Sarah Polley

'A happily married woman falls for the artist who lives across the street.'

Official site: http://www.magpictures.com/takethiswaltz/



The Watch - 24th August
Comedy | Sci-Fi
101 mins
15 certificate
Main cast: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade
Director: Akiva Schaffer

'Suburban dads who form a neighborhood watch group as a way to get out of their day-to-day family routines find themselves defending the Earth from an alien invasion.'

Official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thewatchmovie


Shadow Dancer - 24th August

Drama | Thriller
101 mins
15 certificate
Main cast: Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough, Gillian Anderson, Aiden Gillen, Domhnall Gleeson
Director: James Marsh

'Set in 1990s Belfast, an active member of the IRA becomes an informant for MI5 in order to protect her son's welfare.'





Total Recall - 29th August
Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
118 mins
12A certificate
Main cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy
Director: Len Wiseman

'A factory worker, Douglas Quaid, begins to suspect that he is a spy after a visit to Rekall - a company that provides its clients with implanted fake memories of a life they would like to have led - goes wrong and he finds himself on the run.'

Official site: http://www.welcometorecall.com/



Information obtained from IMDb, http://www.filmdates.co.uk/, and the films' official websites.

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Monday, 23 July 2012

Trailers: Man of Steel, The Campaign, Bachelorette, The Master & The Bourne Legacy


First teaser trailer for Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder and starring Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner and Michael Shannon. Release date: June 14th 2013

New trailer for The Campaign, directed by Jay Roach and starring Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott and Brian Cox. Release date: September 28th

New trailer for Bachelorette, directed by Leslye Headland and starring Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher, Adam Scott and James Marsden. Release date: September 7th

New full-length trailer for The Master, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Laura Dern. Release date: November 9th



New clip from The Bourne Legacy, directed by Tony Gilroy and starring Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Joan Allen and Albert Finney. Release date: August 13th


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Friday, 13 July 2012

Review: The Escapist

The Escapist stars Brian Cox in the lead role of Frank Perry, a convict serving a life sentence in a London prison. Frank keeps his head down and doesn’t cause any trouble. However, he unexpectedly receives the first letter for a very long time, informing him that his daughter is near death after suffering a drug overdose. This bad news makes him realise he needs to see his daughter again to make peace with her, so he decides to break out and devises a plan of escape.

Frank brings a number of the other inmates in on his plan. First he goes to Brodie (Liam Cunningham, who is brilliant as usual) who seems to be his closest friend in prison. Brodie’s knowledge of the underground tunnels comes in handy when planning their escape route. Edgy boxer and former thief Lenny Drake (Joseph Fiennes), new boy Lacey (Dominic Cooper) and Batista (Seu Jorge), who concocts and deals drugs in the prison, are also brought on-board. 


Unfortunately, another convict called Tony (Steven Mackintosh) discovers what they are up to and threatens to tell his brother, the menacing Rizza (Damian Lewis), who rules the prison while the guards look the other way. The group need to find a way to keep Tony quiet if they want to make it out to freedom.

Brian Cox is solid and sympathetic as The Escapist’s emotional core and his fellow inmates are played by a talented supporting cast. The action inside the claustrophobic London prison switches between the events before and during the breakout. The scenes showing the escape set up questions for the viewer to ponder, which are answered throughout the course of the film in the interspersed flashbacks. The rush of the breakout mixes well with the anxious planning stages. The film uses a very effective past-and-present structure and good editing, and it adds a great final plot twist. Benjamin Wallfisch’s excellent score helps to heighten the moments of tension with its intensity and sense of urgency.


The Escapist was directed by Rupert Wyatt, a British talent who followed this debut feature with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Wyatt also co-wrote the film with Daniel Hardy and has said that the structure of the film’s plot was inspired by a well-known short story written in the 19th century: American author Ambrose Bierce’s An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. Frank Perry is shown reading this story and he shows it to Rizza near the end of the film. It is set during the American Civil War and also features an irregular time sequence and a twist ending.

The Escapist is a thrilling and clever prison drama with an innovative plot structure. Add to that a range of interesting characters, an impressive cast and engaging music, and you have a refreshingly enjoyable escape film.

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