Navigation

Topline

26 January 2015

DVD Review - Sunflower (I girasoli, 1970)


Genre:
Drama, World Cinema
Distributor:
Argent Films
BD Release Date:
2th January 2015
Rating: 15
Director:
Vottorio De Sica
Cast:
Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Lyudmila Saveleva
Buy:Sunflower DVD

Directed by Vittorio De Sica, Sunflower (or ‘I Girasoli’ in Italian), tells the story of a woman’s search to find her husband after war has split them apart.

A beautifully melancholy theme written by Henry Mancini plays during the title sequence showing a field of sunflowers. The theme is also played during scenes of anguish and sadness, making what appears to be a long shot of a beautiful field of flowers actually foreshadow something darker. The films then shows an angry and distressed Sophia Loren (playing the role of Giovanna) demanding to know if her husband (Antonio, played by Marcello Mastrioanni) is still alive as he is fighting in the war.

It then cuts to flashbacks of their relationship before the war, which began as a way of granting Antonio 12 days of freedom before being enrolled to fight in World War II. Both characters are funny and witty, and within minutes, are married. The couple become so engulfed in their freedom together before Antonio’s conscription, that they don’t even know the date or time. The two actors do a great job of portraying a very genuine love, as they tease each other, cook together and spend an inordinate time in bed.

When Antonio is finally sent into Russia, there are some very powerful war scenes, with a red flag flying in the foreground of shots of soldiers jumping from planes and charging towards their enemies on horses. The red flag symbolises the patriotism of war, but its bright blood-red colour has undertones of danger and evil. To show the severity of the conditions on the Russian Front, the red flag is later taken away, and the icy white of the snow surrounding the men becomes the focal point. You are almost made to forget, at this point, that this is a love story, as the score becomes harsher, and a number of men (including our protagonist Antonio) are shown freezing, lying on the floor, left by their fellow soldiers – a beautifully haunting scene directed by De Sica.

When Giovanna finally discovers Antonio’s new life in Russia, a lot has changed, which forces Giovanna to mature. It’s as if the film’s focus shifts from a love story, to Giovanna’s emancipation, giving the film a completely new meaning.

Although not as highly regarded as some of De Sica’s other films (such as Bicycle Thieves or Umberto D.), Sunflower is a classic – a tale of love and war which still holds a lot of relevance today. This was probably the reason for its re-mastering, to introduce it to a new audience, and to remind people of its antiwar themes and Sophia Loren’s beautiful, complex performance.

Sunflower’s 35mm print has been fully restored by Cinecitta as part of the ‘100 Films worth Saving’ Project. The DVD includes re-inserted footage making it the most complete version ever, as well as an hour-long documentary entitled ‘Sophia: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow’.

Jenn Spiers

26 January 2015

Sundance 2015 Review - The Witch (2015)


Genre:
Horror
Distributor:
A24
Rating: TBC
Venue:
Suncance 2015
Director:
Rober Eggers
Cast:
Kate Dickie, Julian Richings, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson

Robert Eggers debut feature as writer/director, The Witch, is the kind of abstract horror feature that can either flounder in monotony or champion a kind of folk-tale methodology rarely seen.

Announcing itself ‘A New England Folk Tale’ the feature goes on to tell the story of a colonial family who, upon exile from plantation life, take up residence on the edge of a New England forest, to live the Godly life. Tensions climb and emotions blaze after the youngest of the family disappears from the would-be idyllic farm, eyes fall on and from there…it doesn’t get much better.

Eggers has carefully built an incredibly uncomfortable piece of film that effortlessly strolls through horror drama with the skill and acute control of an intimate theatre production. Carefully chosen iconography from the history of witchcraft, along with a kind of infectious condemnation borrowed from The Crucible, keeps the atmosphere grim as Hell. Select images, sporadically introduced, induce an air of panic and mystery in the viewer, planting us in the position of horrified onlooker. Dark caves, bloody apples, towering trees of charcoal black, dark and degrading monstrous doings. It’s a treasure trove of Gothic imagery.

Jarin Blaschke’s palette of miserable greys does much of the films work, ensuring that whenever dull sticky reds appear, they make you feel nauseous. Every shot is loaded, every performance pitch-perfect. Particularly Kate Dickie and Ralph Ineson who threaten to steal the show at every turn with a chemistry as tangible as the atmosphere itself. Seriously, Dickie is fantastic as the puritanical grieving mother, delivering a matronly performance that parallels her fantastic work in For Those in Peril, whilst Ineson’s overbearing turn becomes bolder and bolder with every scene that passes.

Incredibly evocative filmmaking, dark, mystic, horrifying, stunning, The Witch is a feature all by itself. Dickie and Ineson impress with towering performances, Egger promises a talent to look out for, and Blaschke just about instigates a nervous breakdown with intense visual control. And that’s without mentioning the invasively boisterous score.

★★★★★
Scott Clark

26 January 2015

Sundance 2015 Review - It Follows (2015)


Genre:
Horror
Distributor:
Icon Film Distribution
Release Date:
27th February 2015 (UK Cinema)
20,21st February 2015 (Glasgow Film Festival)
Rating: 15
Director:
David Robert Mitchell
Cast:
Maika Monroe, Caitlin Burt, Heather Fairbanks, Keir Gilchrist

Aside from its prologue, which introduces the threat and what it does, David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows presents a hazy kind of teenage dream. A beautiful girl, Jay (an unforgettable turn from Maika Monroe), goes on a date with a typically attractive uncharacteristically nice older guy, obviously things take a sharp U-turn into nightmare grounds, and the dream falls apart.

I feel no reserve in calling this one of the most accomplished and terrifying horror films of recent years because it keeps its distance from numerous genre pitfalls and goes to great lengths to insight an odd alien reality. A Lynch-like suburbia, drafted in long serene shots, is kept ominous by shouts behind closed doors. Michael Gioulakis’ Crewdson-inspired visuals are an absolute delight, keeping the shots wide and roomy, dark and haunting, where the threat can literally burst in from any angle at any time. Characters are rendered miniscule in the face of, not only the monster, but the world they live in. Boundaries are questioned and solace can only be found by fleeing to the outer city; a decrepit, nightmare, version of the film’s starting point.

Disaster peace’s stellar soundtrack manages to avoid post-Drive boredom by mixing up the retro synth with some frankly brain melting 2-bit beats. It’s a wise move, and stops the film from falling too far into nostalgia, sure there’s Halloween inspirations on screen and sound, but not so blatant they pop the bubble. Like Halloween Mitchell keeps adults out of the picture -for the most part- and lets his band of likeable adolescents run around dealing with their own scary problems, the effect is fantastic, achieving a kind of idyllic world of sleepovers and dates.
But I shit you not, this is one scary movie.

A supernatural threat that follows, locking onto you until it destroys you, taking the guise of loved ones, strangers, naked or clothed, is utterly crushing. There’s a good word, It Follows spins past scary and straight up introduces an idea that just crushes you with its implications. Escape, persuasion, even fighting, are all off the cards. Run or die, that’s it.

The film does lose its way at points, the group of friends are likeable, but hardly substantial characters. Mitchell also deflates his rather lofty threat when he lets it get into close contact with its victims. Perhaps the promise of death and destruction, is far more frightening than the act of seeing it done. It’s in this very way that the film’s finale stutters also, having the group attempt to fight back in a way that makes no sense considering earlier encounters. It’s this final retaliation that threatens to ditch the film amongst lesser features by being predictable in its desire for a big set-piece.

Even after a questionable finale, Mitchell’s essay on sex and youth is pretty perfect horror viewing, and features the most chilling scene I’ve been subjected to in many years. More so than The Babadook, It Follows could perhaps decree a new age in horror cinema. Perhaps.

★★★★
Scott Clark

26 January 2015

Sundance 2015 Review - What Happened Miss Simone? (2015)



Genre:
Music, Documentary
Venue:
Sundance 2015
Rating:NC
Director:
Liz Garbus

Nina Simone is one of those people who requires no introduction, but after viewing Liz Garbus’ stellar documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?, you might be surprised how little you knew about the outspoken songstress.

First and foremost, this is a film about love and music, specifically Simone’s love for music which seemed to go beyond just love and graduate to a fiercely symbiotic relation. Thus What Happened is also about the heartbreak and trauma Simone underwent when those things were perverted in every aspect of her life.

After an enigmatic opening which sees Simone take to the stage, stare near-violently into space then abruptly, and mysteriously introduce herself, Garbus zips back to contextualize the singer’s ominous cynicism. By any respects Simone led a fascinating life, from her humble upbringing flourished a prodigal talent in classic piano, through a fierce marriage, rocket to fame, family woes, embracing a political lifestyle, friendships with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, falling in with black radicals, collapse of her mental state, fleeing the USA, absorbing and reflecting all the shit she ever put up with, but eventual rescue by friends, and success in later life. This is a riveting documentary about a truly remarkable woman.

Simone was overwhelmingly alone. Hers was the gift of insight, understanding and this - along with other disturbances in her life- drove her to the edge. Garbus understands this implicitly, giving us unprecedented and never-before-seen access to, not just Simone’s career, process, and personal life, but arguably her very soul. Her manic depression, self-harm, and bipolar behaviour, are presented as part and parcel of her anguish towards a world torn apart by racism and greed. Yet, Garbus is wise to keep Simone’s radical, violence-inciting, behaviours at arm’s length, even when the context of the story argues them an act of desperation.

When asked in her later years about the civil rights movement she replies ‘there is no civil rights movement…they are all gone’. I wonder what she would have said about the last 12 months of American history, how she would have reacted to the continuing age of distress. If we can’t know what Simone thinks, we can at least deduce Garbus’ feelings in this bold and fascinating historical cross-section that seems preposterously well-timed.

Endearingly composed of unseen footage, personal letters and diaries, archive interviews, and intimate conversations with Simone’s colleagues and friends, What Happened, Miss Simone? Is a fantastic piece of work. Perhaps a little flashy, you can’t really blame Garbus for a little overdramatic sound editing and dramatic flareflair…she is writing about Nina Simone after all.

★★★★
Scott Clark

26 January 2015

Win Ragnarok - The Viking Apocalypse On DVD


To celebrate the release of Ragnarok The Viking Apocalypse, the fast-paced throwback to the kind of old-school Spielberg action we all grew up on - coming to DVD 2nd February 2015 - we have a copy to giveaway courtesy of Studiocanal.

Think the Goonies meets Jurassic Park, or Indiana Jones with a Lord Of The Rings twist.

Fast-paced, gripping but most of all fun, Ragnarok is ridiculously entertaining. And, as a bonus extra, it’ll help Marvel fans swot up on viking mythology ahead of Thor: Ragnarok. So, exciting AND educational, what more could movie fans want?

“Ragnarok is the closest you're going to get to a new Steven Spielberg movie in the manner of Jurassic Park or Raiders of the Lost Ark” Sound on Sight

Available to order on Amazon today: http://amzn.to/1tDgPgv

Archaeologist Sigurd Svendsen has for years been obsessed with the Oseberg Viking ship. The only inscription found on the ship is the enigmatic ‘man knows little’ written in runes. Sigurd is sure that the Oseberg ship contains the answer to the mystery of Ragnarok, the end of days in Norse mythology. When his friend Allan finds similar runes on a stone from the north of Norway, Sigurd becomes convinced that the runes are in fact a treasure map. Together they mount an expedition group and their adventure leads to “No man’s Land” between Norway and Russia, which has been deserted for decades. Here Sigurd learns the true meaning of the runes – a secret more terrifying than he could possibly imagine.



To Win a copy of Ragnarok The Viking Apocalypse, please answer the following question...

Q.Name the 'Viking'Film directed By Nicholas Winding Refn starring a near dialogue free Mads Mikklesen?




Deadline is Sunday 8th February 2015 (23:59pm),If you haven’t done already Like us and stay with us at our Facebook page (if you are already liking us just share this post on twitter and facebook). Must be 13  or older to enter.

1.The competition is not opened to employees, family, friends of The Peoples Movies, Arrow Films .13 years or older to enter 3.Failure to include any information required to enter could result in your entry been void.  4.automated entries are not allowed and will be disqualified, which could result you been banned, DO NOT INCLUDE telephone numbers as for security reason your entry will be deleted.5.If you are friend or like us at facebook for every competition you enter you get double entry, but you must stay friend/like us all the time,or future entries maybe considered one entry if you are liking us share the post on facebook and re-tweet the post.6.The Peoples Movies, Cinehouse takes no responsibility for delayed, lost, stolen prizes 7.Prizes may take from days to a few months for delivery which is out of our control so please do not complain 8.The winning entries will be picked at random and contacted by email for postal details and will be announced via facebook, sometimes we are unable to confirm winners. Uk & Irish entries only

UK Competitions and Prize Draws at UKwins
Loquax Competitions
Free Competitions
ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions

26 January 2015

Blu-ray Review - Bad Timing (1980)





Genre:
Psychological Drama
Distributor:
Network
Release Date:
26th January 2015
Rating: 18
Director:
Nicolas Roeg
Cast: Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell, Harvey Keitel
Buy: Blu-ray - Bad Timing

Bad Timing is a film that marks the end of an extraordinary run of films by director Nicolas Roeg. He made his name being a cinematographer in the 1960s but through a series of films such as Performance, Walkabout, Don’t Look Now, and The Man Who Fell to Earth he became quite arguably the finest British director of the 1970s. The 1980s would become an extremely difficult time for Roeg, but Bad Timing is there among his best.

Art Garfunkel plays the extremely creepy psychoanalyst (but is there really a different kind?) Alex Linden, who is having a very complicated but passion love affair with Milena Flaherty (Theresa Russell) in Vienna. Milena has overdosed in an apparent suicide attempt and a local detective is trying to piece together what happened. The audience also tries to piece it together, as they discover the relationship between Alex and Milena though non-linear flashbacks. Alex is a suspect in some form of foul play and he is forced to come to terms with his motives.

The casting of Art Garfunkel is fascinating; Roeg is a master of getting strong performances out of musicians like David Bowie and Mick Jagger. Garfunkel certainly has an air of a creepy intellectual, which was what Roeg wanted - he was his first and only choice for the role. He also has a strange off-kilter smugness that is reminiscent of Jesse Eisenberg. Garfunkel only did a handful of films and it’s a shame cause he certainly had some ability as an actor.

This was the first major role of Theresa Russell and she brings a rare intensity to her portrayal of the troubled Milena. She would marry and divorce Nicolas Roeg and star in much of his work from Bad Timing onwards. Harvey Keitel also co-stars as the inspector on the case, and despite not even attempting to do an Austrian accent, it is strong early role of his that is not from a Martin Scorsese film.

Overall, Bad Timing is a fascinating, fractured psychosexual thriller which two strong leads. The cinematography by Anthony Richmond is quite gorgeous, it’s a shame he shoots terrible comedies now. The film was extremely controversial on release, with some branding it’s sexual content ‘tasteless’, however it has become a minor classic in the rich career of Nicolas Roeg. The disc contains an interview with Jeremy Thomas, one of the few film producers who continuously takes risks, along with the trailers and deleted scenes.

★★★★
Ian Schultz

24 January 2015

Win Where The Devil Hides On DVD Starring Jenifer Carpenter, Colm Meany, Rufus Sewell



To celebrate the release of Where The Devil Hides, the eerie and atmospheric possession chiller - Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.
coming to DVD 26th Jan. 2015 - we have a copy on to giveaway courtesy of

Like recent super-cool indie sleeper-hit The Sacrament, Where The Devil Hides revolves around a religious cult. Unlike that film, Where The Devil Hides’ cast features some of cinema’s most iconic actors - Colm Meaney, Rufus Sewell and Jennifer Carpenter, all turn-in career-best performances.

Available to order on Amazon today: http://amzn.to/1DOHqRW

When six baby girls are born on the sixth night of the sixth month, it spells doom for a religious cult who have prophesied that one of them will be the devil. Elder Beacon (Colm Meaney) resolves to kill the infants, but is stopped by one baby’s father, Jacob (Rufus Sewell). 18 years later, on the eve of the prophecy’s completion, someone starts killing the girls, one-by-one.


To win Where The Devil Hides on DVD please answer the following Question...

Q.What connects Jennifer Carpenter with [REC] films?



Deadline is Sunday 8th February 2015 (23:59pm),If you haven’t done already Like us and stay with us at our Facebook page (if you are already liking us just share this post on twitter and facebook). Must be 15  or older to enter.

1.The competition is not opened to employees, family, friends of The Peoples Movies, Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment .15 years or older to enter 3.Failure to include any information required to enter could result in your entry been void.  4.automated entries are not allowed and will be disqualified, which could result you been banned, DO NOT INCLUDE telephone numbers as for security reason your entry will be deleted.5.If you are friend or like us at facebook for every competition you enter you get double entry, but you must stay friend/like us all the time,or future entries maybe considered one entry if you are liking us share the post on facebook and re-tweet the post.6.The Peoples Movies, Cinehouse takes no responsibility for delayed, lost, stolen prizes 7.Prizes may take from days to a few months for delivery which is out of our control so please do not complain 8.The winning entries will be picked at random and contacted by email for postal details and will be announced via facebook, sometimes we are unable to confirm winners. Uk & Irish entries only

UK Competitions and Prize Draws at UKwins
Loquax Competitions
Free Competitions
ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions

23 January 2015

Blu-ray Review - The Last Seduction (1994)




Genre
Neo-noir
Distributor:
Network
Release Date:
26th January 2015
Rating: 18
Director:
John Dahl
Cast:Linda Fiorentino, Bill Pullman, Peter Berg
Buy: Blu-ray The Last Seduction


It seems that since the release of The Last Seduction the film has kind of been forgotten in the history of neo-noir. It is also sometimes called an erotic thriller, but it has too much of an air of classiness to really be lumped in with those. The press release for this blu-ray calls it both, but it’s quite clearly a neo-noir in tone and story telling, and it’s not very erotic.

Linda Fiorentino gives her finest screen performance as the manipulative bitch Bridget Gregory. She steals drug money and goes on the run from her husband Clay (Bill Pullman) after he makes a killing on a deal on pharmaceutical cocaine. She hides out in Beston, New Jersey on her way to Chicago and meets a guy called Mike who has a dark secret of his own. They start an affair, but of course Bridget has ulterior motives than some romance with some local. The film concludes with one of the best twist endings of all-time.

It was directed by John Dahl who previously made the noir western Red Rock West starring Nicolas Cage. Dahl (who is not related to Roald) would go on to direct films like Rounders and The Great Raid and a lot of television. The film has a low budget 90s look, which is what the film is, but Dahl’s cinematographer really pulls out all his stops with the lighting and the look as much as the budget allows. Alongside Quentin Tarantino’s early films (it came out the same year as Pulp Fiction) it really brought a revival to the noir imagery and themes.

Bill Pullman plays the husband and he really has a knack for playing noir characters, which I think is partly down to the fact he look like he could have been in a film from the 50s. He deserves more meaty parts like this or Lost Highway than the ones he usually gets. Linda Fiorentino's performance has gone down in the history books as one of the best depictions of the classic femme fatale, but she takes it to such bitchy heights it’s a marvel to see what she did with the character. She was shamefully denied an Oscar nomination because the film was shown on TV before it had a theatrical release. Peter Berg is also extremely good as Mike the local she starts her affair with. It also features an early role for Dean Norris who would later be in Breaking Bad, for which John Dahl actually directed an episode.

The disc is fairly heavy with features, including the longer director’s cut in standard definition, and has a director’s commentary for that cut. The disc also includes a nice sized documentary on the film, behind the scenes footage, and the trailer. The final feature is the John Dahl directed episode of Fallen Angels, a totally forgotten anthology TV show. They were often based on classic stories by the great pulp authors like Jim Thompson, Raymond Chandler etc. They were directed by then young directors who would become well known such as Steven Soderbergh and Alfonso CuarĂ³n, and even megastar actors like Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks directed episodes. If you like the episode included I would recommend tracking down the budget dvds of the second season, they are retitled to the even cheesier title, Perfect Crimes and are currently, little over a pound a piece on Amazon.

Overall The Last Seduction is a film that should be revisited so one can marvel at how solid a director can nail down the noir style decades after that era has died. It may not be as impressive as Chinatown or some of David Lynch’s work but it definitely deserves to go down in history as one of the finest examples. The new blu-ray is by far the best release Network has down in a while and hopefully more people discover this extremely twisted but vastly entertaining modern classic.

★★★★1/2
Ian Schultz

Hi there! It looks like you're using Internet Explorer. CinehouseUK isn't quite operational on this browser at the moment. We suggest using either Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari or Opera to see the site as it was intended.

Alternatively, you can view this blog using Blogger's swish new Views feature.