Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Monday, 31 October 2011

Film Review: Contagion

Coughs and sneezes spread diseases, and also make a very decent thriller

Director: Steven Soderburgh
Screenwriter: Scott Z. Burns
Cast: Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jennifer Ehle & Marion Cotillard
A virulent and highly deadly virus spreads across the globe after an initial breakout in South East Asia. As mortality rates rise and rise and chaos takes hold on the streets, the US Centre of Disease Control and the World Health Organisation struggle to find a cure.
Running Time: 106m 15s
Certificate: 12A - Contains moderate physical and psychological threat and brief medical gore

One of the messages of Contagion is that public hysteria is as dangerous as a vicious, international virus. Funny then that it’s being released in cold and flu season, as this quietly unnerving film will never let you look at coughs and sneezes in the same way ever again.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Review: Tyrannosaur

Considine's debut serves up a gruelling watch but a worthwhile one

Director & Screenwriter: Paddy Considine
Cast: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman & Eddie Marsan
A widower who is violent, unemployed and running out of money and a Christian woman who is suffering from terrible abuse from her husband form an unlikely friendship.
Running Time: 92m 21s
Certificate: 18 - Contains very strong language and a scene of sexual violence

Paddy Considine is one of those ever-reliable performers. With a wide array of parts in films ranging from the black revenge thriller, Dead Man’s Shoes, to the Hollywood blockbuster, The Bourne Ultimatum, to the Pegg and Frost police comedy, Hot Fuzz, Considine has turned his hand to every kind of role and has always had found success. Now, he has started to show us that he is equally unflappable as a director.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Human Centipede Banning Saga has been a Farce

Film takes 32 cuts to receive 18 certificate, and whips up its publicity in the process

There is something hugely appropriate that the premise of The Human Centipede involves people excreting and eating shit. I say this not as a criticism of the film as I have never stoked up the courage to watch the film. I say this as a comment on the ridiculous media posing which has accompanied the upcoming release of the second film, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence). The film’s makers have been churning out excrement, and now we’re being asked whether or not we’d like to eat it.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Review: Terra Nova

Time-travel, Dinosaurs and Stephen Lang: this Sci-Fi Dream Team Should be Great Fun

On first showing, Terra Nova is the Harlem Globetrotters of sci-fi. Take a dash of Blade Runner for starters followed by a smidgeon of Stargate and a whole load of Avatar (there’s even Stephen Lang), mixed with Jurassic Park plus a little bit of Lost, and you have Terra Nova.

The set-up is that by the 22nd Century, Earth has been utterly choked, but a rip in time has appeared providing a portal to a different time stream, 85 million years in the past. In short, mankind is going to the time of the dinosaurs to build a perfect new society, and we follow a family who are joining this brave new world.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Juror's Film Festival: 12 Angry Men (d. Sidney Lumet, 1957)

There was, of course, no more perfect ending to a fortnight of jury service than watching 12 Angry Men. It is very rightly held to be one of the greatest films ever made: a supreme example of subtle acting and direction working together to bring a tight and compelling script to the screen for an almost flawless 90 minutes.

It’s a celebration of the nature of the justice system in a modern democracy. The plot concerns a murder trial which seems open and shut, but one juror (Henry Fonda), isn’t sure that they can convict. He is facing an 11 to 1 majority, but he slowly decimates the certainty of the case and exposes reasonable doubt at every turn.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Juror's Film Festival: One of our Dinosaurs is Missing (d. Robert Stevenson, 1975)

Favourites really can be very odd. A favourite film can be forged by a moment in time as much as they can be by the greatness of the film. For instance, Sink the Bismarck will always hold a very special place in my heart because, as boys, my brother and I watched it endlessly, delighting in aspects of it which, now, we must admit are in fact a bit lacking.

So it was that I was encouraged to watch One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing with a friend who adored it. She had fallen in love with it as a child, and the film has a great pedigree. Directed by Robert Stevenson, the maker of such family favourites as Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Love Bug and the absolutely classic Mary Poppins, it has all of the feel of those classics: a great British cast (Peter Ustinov, Derek Nimmo and Helen Hayes are the leads), that peasouper London setting and a positively madcap plot.