Friday, 28 June 2013

Interview with Director Zal Batmanglij

Zal Batmanglij and his writing partner, Brit Marling, look to be promising filmmakers on the indie circuit. Zal and Brit’s debut was the wonderfully challenging and original Sound of My Voice, directed by Zal and starring Brit as a cult leader who claims to have traveled back in time. It is a great film, one that made my top 10 of 2012 – check it out if you haven’t seen it yet. Their new film is The East, a political thriller which sees Brit infiltrate an anarchist group, with a cast including Ellen Page, Alexander Skarsgård and Patricia Clarkson. Zal and I spoke about what inspired his past two films, his and Brit’s creative process and if the studios have been knocking on his door yet.

My Zal Batmanglij interview on Cinema Sauce.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Interview with Actress Jan Broberg

On Next Projection, I got the chance to interview Jan Broberg from Maniac (review here) who divulges information about the film but also her traumatic childhood which saw her kidnapped twice as a child. It's a disturbing tale which she's found a silver lining from; an inspiring take on how optimism is much better than pessimism.

My Jan Broberg interview on Next Projection.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Maniac Review

Remakes always get a bad name but that’s because of terrible remakes, sequels that aren’t quite sure what they really are – like Texas Chainsaw 3D that spewed out into cinemas in January. This, however, is proof that not all remakes have to be bad or unwelcome. It even proves that remakes can even surpass the original. Don’t get ready to look away or not read because this is a beacon of hope to all remakes out there. This is not a simple horror. It works amazingly well as that genre but it also has dramatic elements which make you feel for the character. It is a pretty touching, heartbreaking film about human relationships that this man cannot forge. It’s horror with heart – not a physical heart pulled out either. It’s an original remake which is more original than its source material. Odd, right?

My full Maniac review on Next Projection.

Much Ado About Nothing Review

Shakespeare‘s film adaptations can easily land into lecture territory instead of entertainment territory, focusing on the bard’s magical language and dramatics but not focusing on the fact they are meant to be enjoyed. Joss Whedon has lent his talents to adapting Billy’s words in his back garden on his twelve days off from The Avengers but that’s like a fact. It’s added pleasure to the film, knowing that he and his friends gather regularly in his house, in his garden and sometimes perform readings of Shakespeare for fun. This is where this film came from – back garden readings brought to life by the push of his wife, Kai Cole. Now we set foot into the life of Joss Whedon with him, through the play and in black and white to enjoy the magic of adaptation.

My Much Ado About Nothing review on Cinema Sauce.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Interview with Andrés and Barbara Muschietti

Andrés and Barbara Muschietti, the sibling duo behind Mama, generously gave up a bit of their time to which was stretched a lot longer as they happily chatted about their first feature. They were comfortable and happy to speak about their movie in great detail as you’ll see below. They also promised extras on the DVD and Blu-ray which is out today in the UK. All of these extra scenes were cut to help pace it but you will discover that they reveal more about all the characters involved – including the ghostly villain, Mama.

Andrés and Barbara are so comfortable with each other that Andrés interjects in Spanish to tell his sister that she was using a verbal crutch too often to which she laughs and explains in English for me. It was a great dynamic, a free one that hopefully comes across. A dynamic filmmaking duo embarking on their journey thanks to their little short Mamá after it gained the attention of some chap going by the name of Guillermo del Toro. Read on and enjoy two people conversing openly about their film, filmmaking and Guillermo del Toro’s glasses.

The full Andrés and Barbara Muschietti interview is now up on Cinema Sauce

Friday, 14 June 2013

Man of Steel Review

Superman is a superhero that is usually too perfect ability wise to really find enjoyable. His powers are almost immortal but his usual weakness is kryptonite which can be predictable. The threat of kryptonite has been exhausted which is why it's such a blessing not to have it in sight for this film. David S. Goyer and co. have looked to humanise the alien Kal-El (Henry Cavill) in thinking about how he does he fly and many other aspects of Superman that have been previously overlooked. Unfortunately they don't answer how he shaves. It's a great morality tale but extrapolated to a grand scale. It may be huge but there's an essence of intimacy, there's character development and an ever present search for identity. Questions that humans want the answers to too.

We're back at the origin of Superman, that's true but the details are slightly different - as is the way. He's a MAN of steel first before he's Superman. It's not an S on his chest either. There are changes to the usual adaptations that have previously been on screen but none of the character modifications made in Superman Returns. His morals are apparent throughout; being a shining light of goodness, being the ray of hope for humanity and Krypton. That's where we follow him from his birth on his home planet as Kal-El, to his progression as outsider Clark Kent, to his eventual destiny of heroic Superman. It's done before, of course, but the key to it is in the details. Refreshing the summer blockbusters by not trying to surprise or shock with a twisty narrative but focusing more on the character and ideals has worked well.

People instantly said that everything that works will see Christopher Nolan complimented and its shortcomings being Zack Snyder's fault but here it's definitely Zack's film. His traditional love of slo-mo is ditched but his visual flair and eye for CGI is still there. There's a definite personality in his work and the way he has allowed the film to be designed is a great imagining of everything iconic about the man. His suit, Zod's suit, the planet Krypton, their technology; it's all been reinvented, reimagined, redesigned. Its cinematography is sometimes jaw-dropping perfect, blending Malickian camerawork with the scale of blockbusters. Unfortunately the camera zooms of mockumentaries or the Duplass brothers are misplaced which draw you out of the picture when you begin to notice them.

After the disappointing outing of Superman Returns which people will always return to when thinking about this, it needed to undo the damage done by not only focusing on moralising Clark but on creating suspenseful, fulfilling action sequences. Thankfully the action junkie director as delivered it with such ferocity and velocity that becomes quite exhaustive in the third act. There's a willingness for it to end on first viewing but when watching again and knowing what to expect, there will be a true appreciation of action set pieces that are thrilling and rewarding. Action in blockbusters is rarely as rewarding as this where the music, sound design and visuals match up so brilliantly to bring to the emotional peak you need. There are moments of questioning if Superman can not only win but rescue everyone that needs rescuing.

It's immensely human with many an emotional, intimate scene which has more intensity than some of the action pieces - do not take that as a slight to the action sequences. Many a scene between adopted father and son are so real, so profound and so powerful that it may be a little hard to hold that lump in your throat down. Bringing a real punch to the stomach in wonderful moments. There's a tear in our hero who has two homes, two families but ultimately one decision.  Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) is exactly the father figure needed to help Clark become Superman. Moments between this father and son create the emotional nuance to mellow it out and make you feel. Plenty more of these would've been greatly welcomed.

Writing wise, this film feels revolutionary thanks to characters having more than a single dimension or an arc that doesn't clunk from one side to the other. There is a female protagonist and a female antagonist who aren't useless, who don't scream, who aren't flimsy or damsels in distress. They are people, capable people. Lois Lane (Amy Adams) has a nice character introduction but doesn't fall into the trap of being held captive by the villains for Superman to rescue her. In the final act, she has stuff to do and doesn't shy away from it nor clumsily cause more chaos than cessation of violence. Her protagonist isn't the better written woman. Villainous sidekick Faora-Ul (Antje Traue) is the scariest, most vicious, violent, vindictive vision of a vixen that has stomped, torn, crushed, slaughtered her way through the monotony of the 2013th blockbuster woman.

Of course a hero is only as good as his villain but with Michael Shannon taking up the reins of General Zod means this film is tremendous. Shannon shouts his lines with such an intensity that one can begin to fear that he's right outside the cinema screen waiting to crush humanity to rebuild his beloved Krypton. He, again, isn't a one-dimensional character who isn't as villainous as you might expect. They've brought humanity to Superman but they've brought it to the genetically engineered Zod too. He is doing what he does for a reason, for his purpose, for his soul - as J.J. Abrams said "every villain thinks he's a hero" and that's the exact description of Zod's incarnation here. Terrifying but his reasons are understandable. He's the way he is because he was created that way. Crafted to be ruthless to promote the healthy continuation of his home planet. Zod's introduction to Earth is great horror territory, being perfectly filmed in that genre to really finalise how frightening the character he is with every echo of his words harrowing to the bone.

The film lives and dies on whether or not Henry Cavill can embody the caped crusader. He really does. He may even be the standout performer of the entire ensemble which is a huge compliment to a man who is opposite Michael Shannon. Henry Cavill has managed to make Superman his own but also be the Superman you expect and want. Everything he is, is the way Superman should be. He is wise, compassionate, kind and selfless who can rise above challenges for the greater good. Humanity needs him as he is the inspiration to be good, to promote the patience that is sorely lacked lately. As the cape goes on he embodies the iconic character instantly. He IS Superman.
People might be disappointed by its lack of humour or wit but this serious Superman incarnation is the perfect way for DC to counteract Marvel's monopolising humour. Superman and Batman are serious characters with serious problems, themes, ideas and villains which bring a gravitas to its realism and sincerity. Where this Man Of Steel may vary from other comical incarnations and its 21st century predecessor, it's everything that it should be, befitting the time of its creation. Zack Snyder has created a nail-biting, heart-stopping, throat-lumping mashup of heart and power that's truly welcome in cinema's austerity of earnestness and real gravity. Power is back with Superman, which is duly delivered in an exhaustive, draining crescendo of action packed with intimacy. Captivating, gripping and relevant; a do-over of all do-overs that has divided but duly provided. 


My full Man of Steel review is now up on Cinema Sauce

Interview with Actor Alexis Denisof

Angel and Buffy fans rejoice as below we have an interview with Wesley Wyndham-Price/Alexis Denisof who talks to us about his latest Joss Whedon collaboration, Much Ado About Nothing. The film spawned in the brief holiday between shooting and post-production of The Avengers which Alexis also had a small part in but you’ll have your work cut out to spot him in that, unfortunately. He spoke about working with his favourite director and great friend Joss Whedon, Shakespeare and being able to exorcise his demons whilst avoiding a slap to the face. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

My full Alexis Denisof interview is up on Cinema Sauce

Monday, 10 June 2013

Interview with Actress Pollyanna McIntosh

Problems in being a university student in the small seaside town of Aberystwyth become apparent when invited to the set of new British thriller White Settlers, situated somewhere deep in some woods that can’t be revealed. The film stars cult horror icon Pollyanna McIntosh (The Woman, Exam) and world famous model/actor Lee Williams (The Tudors, Teachers) pitching the modern urbanites’ dream – starting a simple life in the country – against the possibility of a very different, horrific reality. This tagline alone made this such an exciting prospect that I unfortunately couldn’t attend and am still kicking myself today about. Instead, the cast and crew are still wondrously helpful and welcomed a quick chat with me and Pollyanna McIntosh as well as a few other members of cast and crew in the future. This first interview provided me much appreciated insight into this indie production that’s running tirelessly but smoothly on the rough grounds of a forest and its suspenseful dark ride.

My full Pollyanna McIntosh interview is now up on Cinema Sauce

Sunday, 9 June 2013

A Hijacking Review

Somali pirates board a Danish ship demanding a ransom for the boat and the heads on board. This encapsulates the board meetings and the hostage situation by intricately crafting both stories on and off the ship. Condensing months of mission into a tight, poignant 99 minutes that mars the viewer witnessing grim proceedings. While Tobias Lindholm may be more experienced at script-writing, his first solo directorial piece – his other, R, with Michael Noer – is one that wrings the tension out of the sweat covered captives. Never has a language barrier been – fit with no subtitles to confuse us like the hostages – so terrifying when there’s misunderstanding and AK-47s in the mix.

My full A Hijacking review is up on Next Projection as a part of ongoing series covering TIFF Romania's coverage which is here.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Interview with Director Ed Gass-Donnelly

With the sleeper hit The Last Exorcism in 2010, the studios decided to capitalise on its success and release a successor with Ashley Bell confronting the ever-present possession again. This time round the Canadian director Ed Gass-Donnelly stepped behind the camera and fit into the director’s chair for The Last Exorcism Part II. The original film was a found footage shockumentary about the last exorcism of priest Cotton Marcus (brilliantly played by Patrick Fabian) who hasn’t returned, obviously. The focus now shits to Ashley Bell and the seduction of the dark that is ultimately a choice for her now. Ed Gass-Donnelly generously donated his time to share his insight of the film, it’s potential for a closing trilogy and how, although the title may say ‘last’, there’s no need to get all pedantic. Do read on as he provides some intriguing answers and talks like an AK-47 rattling off a full clip as he demonstrates sheer devotion to everything film related and then some.

The full Ed Gass-Donnelly interview is up on Cinema Sauce.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Top 10 Movies Ruined By Their Sequels

 With The Hangover Part III having made an unwelcoming splash onto the big screen, we took the time to reflect on other sequels that have ruined films and their enigma.
Sequels that leave such a bitter taste on your tongue that you start spitting at the original film you liked. We’ve all experienced this disappointment, when films go that step too far and take everything with it.
It’s now become a commonality for sequels to be expected and that’s become a deciding factor when investing in films.
Let’s look at ten sequels that ruined the original movie. There are probably plenty more or disagree with some choices so feel free to get involved below.

My full Top 10 Movies Ruined By Their Sequels is up on HeyUGuys.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

I Give It a Year DVD Review

British romantic comedies usually suffer from the Hugh Grant problem – either by having him in it, being himself, or having someone play his character. Thankfully, I Give it a Year doesn’t commit this as that would just make it insufferable. Instead Dan Mazer has sculpted a script which manages to pack standard schmoltzy humour with some Borat and Bruno inspired comedy edginess that serves a refreshing surprise. Romantic comedies suffer insufferably from the problematic clichés that are inescapable. Some of the regularities have been replenished and replaced but it’ll never shake off the boring predictability of an obvious arc. It’s hardly romantic, sometimes tragic but it’s thankfully comedic.

The full I Give It a Year Review is up on Cinema Sauce.