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Under the Skin: *****

under-the-skinRun Time: 108mins         Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: A beautiful mysterious  woman (Johansson) drifts across Scotland, seeking men for dark encounters, before questioning the purpose of her existence.

 

Odd, disturbing, bizarre, captivating, experimental and totally hypnotic. Jonathan Glazer’s long anticipated adaptation of Michael Faber’s novel is a unique piece of filmmaking and is unlike anything that has been seen in the past few years.

 

Johansson is bewitching in the lead role which is completely improvised. Her performance entails wearing a black wig and red lipstick, while driving a van rigged with hidden cameras in which she approaches real members of the public. It has hard to think of an actress of her calibre and appearance that would approach a role and project like this.

 

The narrative focuses only on the point of view from this outsider, which makes the viewer feel like their the alien as we find it hard to understand what compels this creature to do what she does. It is only when she starts to question her existence and her own sense of humanity that we start to understand this complex individual.

 

Glazer appears to be heavily influenced by The Man Who Fell to Earth, not only in imagery but also in the whole composition with high pictured string siren like sounds and pale toned colourisation.

 

Anyone expecting a Hollywood science fiction thriller will be disappointed. The film is an amazing piece of filmmaking that will make the audience think and decipher for a long time to come, which makes this a rewarding unmissable masterpiece.
 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Sarah’s Room: ****

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Run Time: 94mins                  Cert: N/A
 

Synopsis: When Joe (O’Brien) returns home after being away, he finds that his wife (Colquhoun) has taken in a mysterious lodger( Stanbridge). Is this stranger playing tricks on him or is he slowly going mad.

 

After spending over 10 years in the camera department on movies such as Cloud Atlas, World War & Under the Skin, Grant McPhee makes a giant leap into making his directing debut. Originally entitled ‘To Here Knows When’ this psychedelic ambient drama was filmed over five days at the cost of £4,000.

 

The first thing to notice in this remarkable film is the stunning cinematography. With blinding flashes and quick cuts, the film has a classic 70’s feel to each frame. In fact the piece has the look that is reminiscent of Donald Cammell, Dario Argento and Nice Roeg.

 

The performances of the stellar cast bring extra life to the film. After a fantastic turn in the horror Outcast Hannah Stanbridge shows that she is one of Scotland’s unique talents. Not to be outdone both newcomers Patrick O’Brien gives a powerful and sympathetic performance as Joe, while Colquhoun gives an emotional and compelling performance as his wife who is stuck in the middle of both sides of the situation.

 

The narrative of the story is complex and has many elements going on within the story. None of which are ever fully explained or revealed to the audience. Sadly this is where the film is letdown. While many movies from the 70’s followed this rule, they at least detailed one of story strands. There is nothing wrong with making a narrative ambiguous, but it just takes too many turns making the journey far too confusing to an audience.

 

Overall McPhee’s debut is a stunning piece of filmmaking, with memorable performances. It is hard to believe that a film of this calibre was made with such a small budget and in such a short amount of time. Everyone involved in this production should be incredibly proud of their achievements.

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Non-stop *

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Run Time: 110 mins         Cert: 12A

 

Synopsis: During a Transatlantic flight, an air marshal (Neeson) is taunted by an unknown terrorist who is threatening to kill passengers on the plane.

 

Liam Neeson returns with yet another terrible turgid thriller, after the dire Taken and Unknown movies.

 

As in those previous films, the actor grunts and squints by yelling in his instantly recognisable Irish brogue. Neeson has become the John Wayne of action films using the set up and plot with the same limited acting range. It is hard to believe that 20 years ago this is the same person that made the classic cult flick Darkman and the unforgettable  Schindler’s list. He is not the only one to blame for this the whole cast phone in their performances including an underused high profile performers including House of Cards Corey Stoll, Boogie nights Julianne Moore and even recent Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o from 12 Years A Slave.

 

The direction is sloppy and the whole pace of the piece is grossly mishandled by director Jaume Collet-Serra, who showed such promise with the chiller Orphan. The script is full of plot holes and involves mostly Neeson typing away at his pager, which becomes incredible tedious as anyone would expect. Even worse gives away the whole whodunnit plot with in the first 10 minutes the film. Not even that but the actual twist in the plot does not make any sense.

 

Lazy, boring and frustrating will make most audiences feel like they have encountered jet lag for 110 minutes.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

 

Newsreel (W/e 23rd February 2014)

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Infamous cinematographer Roger Deakins will not be returning for James Bond 24.

 

Ride Along sequel on the way.

 

Avatar sequels to be shot in 4K.

 

A Good Day to Die Hard’s Jai Courtney will play Kyle Reese in the Terminator reboot.

 

The Fantastic Four reboot is to star Michael B Jordan, Jamie Bell, Kate Mara and Miles Teller.

 

Meryl Streep is to play Emmeline Pankhurst in the drama Suffragette.

 

Will Smith is set to star in an adaptation of Marcus Sakey’s sci-fi/superhero novel Brilliance.

 

The Expendibles 3 director Patrick Hughes, is in talks to helm The Raid, a big screen English language remake.

 

Marvel Studios has started looking for a director for Doctor Strange including Mark Andrews, Jonathan Levine, Nikolaj Arcel & Dean Israelite.

 

The Lego Movie 2 is set to be released on May 26, 2017.

 

The Man From U.N.C.L.E movie set for January 16, 2015 release.

 

The Lego Movie continues to build on success as it keeps the top spot of the U.S. Box-office.

Newsreel (W/e 16th February 2014)

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Channing Tatum is working on the script for Magic Mike 2.

 

Star Wars Episode VII will reportedly shoot for May to September.

 

Chris Pratt & Danny McBride are rumoured for the Knight Rider movie.

 

Darren Aronofsky has won a battle against Paramount over the final cut of Noah.

 

John Singleton is set to direct the long in-development Tupac Shakur biopic.

 

Michael Keaton has confirmed that he is in talks with director Tim Burton about returning for Beetlejuice 2.

 

The Best Film at the BAFTAS is awarded to 12 Years A Slave.

 

The Lego Movie blocks the competition at the. U.S. Box-office.

 

R.I.P. Shirley Temple.

Newsreel (W/e 9th February 2014)

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Pamela Anderson & Mike Tyson are in talks to star in Werner Herzog’s adaptation of DBC Pierre’s prize-winning novel, Vernon God Little.

 

Tom Hardy is in talks to star in the Whitey Bulger biopic, Black Mass with Johnny Depp.

 

Walt Disney Pictures is developing a live-action/CG adaptation of the classic animated series, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers.

 

Jesse Eisenberg is set to star as Lex Luthor & Jeremy Irons will play Alfred in the Zack Snyder untitled Superman/Batman movie.

 

Liam Neeson to reteam with Martin Scorsese for Silence.

 

Chris Pratt has confirmed that he will star in Jurassic World.

 

Bruce Willis & M. Night Shyamalan are to reunite for Labor Of Love. Let’s hope this renews their careers.

 

The Lego Movie builds it’s way to the top spot at the top spot at the U.S. Box-office.

 

R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman

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Inside Llewyn Davis *****

 

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Run Time: 105 mins                  Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: Joel and Ethan Coen’s latest film follows a week in the life of 1960s folk musician Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac). 

 

The film begins in February 1961 when folk musician Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is drifting from place to place following the death of his music partner. Over the next week, the audience follows the character as he attempts to gain recognition.

 

The story has a number of twists and remains interesting throughout. Oscar Isaac gives an entertaining and believable performance and remains likeable despite his increasing frustration and anger. The ginger cat proves to be a good accessory on his journey and provides both entertainment and comedy.

 

With her dark hair and aggressive nature, Carey Mulligan’s performance is much darker than her previous roles but works well. Justin Timberlake is pleasant to watch as her mild mannered and unsuspecting partner Jim, while John Goodman threatens to steal the show as obnoxious ageing musician Roland.

 

Isaac, Timberlake and Mulligan all sing live during the movie and perform to a high standard in that respect. The music is reminiscent of the 1960s folk scene and adds realism to the story.

 

The film’s abrupt ending doesn’t conclude anything and leaves the viewer with more questions than answers. Despite this, a well written story and top performances make “Inside Llewyn Davis” a masterpiece that is not to be missed.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

August: Osage County ***

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Run Time: 120 mins                      Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: Following the death of Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard), his family gather at the house he shares with his wife Violet (Meryl Streep) in rural Oklahoma. 

 

The movie begins when ageing alcoholic poet Beverly Weston (Shepard) hires a young native American woman named Johnna (Misty Upham) to look after his drug addicted wife Violet (Meryl Streep). He disappears soon after and is later found dead, prompting his family’s return to attend his funeral and provide support for his wife.

 

The initial 30 minutes are long, drawn out and could easily have been cut. The film then becomes more interesting as we explore the relationships between the family members. Julia Roberts gives a great performance as eldest daughter Barbara, a woman clearly at the end of her tether with those around her. Middle daughter Karen (Juliette Lewis) is self-centred and irritating while Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) is likeable but flat.

 

While not Oscar worthy, Streep’s performance is entertaining and hilariously over the top. Violet shows the harsh realities of addiction and her brutal honesty fuels the story by providing comedy and scenes of intense conflict.

 

In terms of the male cast members, Charles (Chris Cooper) and Little Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch) have a good father-son dynamic that is enjoyable to watch, while Ewan McGregor gives a decidedly average performance that portrays the cliched “mid life crisis” and sports a poor American accent.

 

Despite the writer’s attempts at adding twists to the story, none of the characters’ revelations are likely to surprise the audience and the ending is disappointing.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

American Hustle: *****

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Run Time: 138mins
Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: In 1978 two con artists Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Adams) cut a deal with FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper) to help him catch other offenders in return clemency. However, Irving’s loose-cannon wife Rosalyn (Lawrence) threatens to derail the plan.

 

The movie is loosely based upon an FBI operation called Abscam. In 1978, where they recruited a convicted con artist, Melvin Weinberg assist them in their pursuit of two stolen paintings. Through continued collaboration with the art and insurance fraud expert, the organization’s operation evolved into an investigation of political corruption. To pull off the operation, Weinberg created a fake company, “Abdul Enterprises,” funded by two wealthy Arab sheiks. The term “Arab scam” became “Abscam.”

 

David O’Russell has decided to rename the characters in this true life event. So Melvin Weinberg becomes Christian Bale’s Irving Rosenfeld. Similar in tone to Goodfellas and Wag The Dog. Rosenfeld narrates the crazy story with a resentful and self obsessed point of view.

In fact all the characters in this story appear to be obsessed with themselves some way or another. DiMaso (Cooper) only worries about his career, Rosalyn (Lawrence) worries about her lifestyle, Sydney worries about being herself and Carmine worries about his image. Only DiMaso’s boss (the fantastic Louis CK) appears to be more grounded and less worried himself.

 

The film is clearly influenced by the works of Martin Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson especially by Goodfellas and Boogie Nights with the sweeping camerawork and funky soundtracks.

 

The performances are spectacular with Bale, Cooper and Adams all playing off each other with exquisite comic timing. In particular Lawrence cements her current can-do-no-wrong status in an extraordinary scene, just shows she is no passing fancy and is hilarious in a comical scene, which uses McCartney’s classic Live and Let Die to great effect.

 

The pace is slow to start, however given time is a wonderful enthralling piece of filmmaking at it’s best. After the disastrous I Heart Huckabees, O’Russell has regained his status as one of the best independent directors of his generation.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan