Showing posts with label soda pictures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label soda pictures. Show all posts

19 May 2017

I AM NOT MADAME BOVARY: IN CINEMAS MAY 26TH. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

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9 January 2015

DVD Review - Night Moves (2013)

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Genre:
Thriller, Drama
Distributor:
Soda Pictures
Rating: 15
DVD/BD Release Date:
12th January 2015 (UK)
Running Time:
112 Minutes
Director:
Kelly Reichardt
Cast:
Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard, Alia Shawkat
Extras:
Interviews With Kelly Reichardt, Jesse Eisenberg, Short Film Trailer
Buy:Night Moves [DVD]

Night Moves, directed by Kelly Reichardt, is not a conventional thriller, yet it remains compelling because of its character-driven, slowly-unfolding nightmare. What stood out most for me in this film was the characterisation and acting; each character was written and casted perfectly.

The film follows Josh (Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network), Dena (Dakota Fanning, Twilight Saga: New Moon) and Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard, Garden State), three eco-activists who blow up a dam that they believe is harming the environment. However, their protest with good intent quickly becomes a dangerous misfortune. After they blow up the dam, and return to their ordinary lives, everything carries on as normal, making the situation eerily real – there are no high-octane police chases or fight scenes – these genre standards are replaced with increasing paranoia, guilt and numbness.

Eisenberg’s character is a subdued version of the actor’s typically awkward film roles, perfectly portraying a temperamental and troubled eco-terrorist. As the film progresses, and the suspense builds, he becomes more and more erratic and threatening, executed outstandingly by the actor. Dakota Fanning provides incredible support, as an edgy and unreadable college dropout, whilst still retaining a young innocence. Sarsgaard’s character, an ex-marine, appears light-hearted at first, with a calmer approach to the act of eco-terrorism. However, the actor’s performance becomes more chilling as Horman slowly becomes desensitised after the event.

The character relationships are subtle and implied rather than thrown in your face, with the first hour, seemingly, dedicated to character development – learning about their backgrounds and personalities which influence their roles in the second hour’s conflict. A key scene shows a wide shot with all three activists sitting in the car they used to escape from the imminent explosion. Each character’s face is extremely telling as they wait for the sudden eruption of their plan coming together. These character building scenes, at first, can seem slightly un-engaging however, they are integral for the ensuing tension.

The accompanying music, composed by Jeff Grace (composer for the Lord of the Rings trilogy), is quiet and subdued, consisting mainly of piano and pan-pipes, but is still eerie and, at times, unsettling as the onscreen action can become very tense. It becomes clear that the label of ‘thriller’ is not because of anything particularly action-packed and grand, but rather because of the guilt eating away at the protagonists, until they all become extremely fearful and unconfident in a unique way.

This is not a film for someone expecting to be immediately gripped and thrilled, as it sometimes lacks the ability to engage, however, Reichardt’s portrayal of three people made victim to their own psychological decay stays with its audience long after watching.

Night Moves is available on DVD from 12th January.

★★★ 1/2
Jenn Spiers



17 December 2014

The Critically Acclaimed Harry McQueen's Hinterland To Get February UK Release

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Critically acclaimed directorial debut Hinterland from Award-winning Actor/Director Harry Macqueen will be released in UK cinemas and On Demand from 27th February 2015. Nominated for Best UK Feature at Raindance Film Festival 2014, the film will open at Curzon Cinemas and will be simultaneously available on Curzon Home Cinema from 27th February through Soda Pictures, before touring UK cinemas.

Shot in 13 days in February and March 2013 in London and Cornwall and set over one February weekend, Hinterland is an original and visually stunning British road-trip and a tender and honest exploration of love and change.

Hinterland follows two old friends who escape the city for a trip of nostalgia, love and new beginnings. When Harvey (Harry Macqueen) hears that his old friend Lola (musician Lori Campbell) has been forced to return home after years abroad he arranges to take her away for a weekend to the seaside cottage where they spent so much of their youth. What follows is a touching and beautiful story of an old friendship rekindled within a new context. Hinterland is a poetic journey of self-discovery and heartbreak in contemporary Britain.

Hinterland stars Harry Macqueen (Me and Orson Welles, Eastenders) as ‘Harvey’ and introduces musician Lori Campbell as ‘Lola’ in her acting debut. Lori is a fulltime musician with her first album as a singer/songwriter recently released in 2014.

Harry Macqueen said: “I am interested in telling intimate, personal stories that focus on character and relationships but that have a broader resonance be it social, moral or political. I admire filmmakers that allow their cameras to be passive observers and that give the actors the freedom to perform organically.

Perhaps due to my background as an actor I am also a great believer in the use of structured improvisation and the creation of the scripted dialogue as a collaborative process. With HINTERLAND I wanted to explore the themes of love and re-connection. How people and situations change and the impact this can have on them and those around them. The film also deals with people in a period of personal flux within the context of a country itself unsure of its direction.”

If you missed the trailer, you can check out Hinterland trailer below...

5 October 2014

Jarmusch Collection Blu-ray Review - Down By Law (1986)

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Genre:
Drama, Comedy
Distributor:
Soda Pictures
BD Release Date:
6th October 2014 (UK)
Rating: 18
Director:
Jim Jarmusch
Cast:
Tom Waits, John Lurie, Roberto Benigni
Buy:Jim Jarmusch Box Set [Blu-ray]

Down by Law was Jim Jarmusch’s third film, his best and most popular. It was also recently re-released in the UK cinemas. Jarmusch’s most ambitious film to date, it marked the beginning of a long collaboration with the cinematographer Robby Müller. It’s an absurdist noir black comedy and remains the only film Jarmusch has used “American money” in it’s funding.

The story concerns three different men who are unknown to each other until they are thrown into jail together in New Orleans. Zack (Tom Waits) is a disk jockey, Jack (John Lurie) is a smalltime pimp, and both are innocent of the crimes they are imprisoned for. Their cellmate is Bob (Roberto Benigni), an Italian tourist who is imprisoned for manslaughter. They eventually hatch a plan to escape and end up in the swamps of the New Orleans Bayou.

Tom Waits, who was almost always a bit player, gets a co-lead here and you really get to see how good actor he can be. John Lurie is great as well and it’s a shame he hasn’t done much acting work since the 80s except some work on the TV show OZ, although this is partly down to illness. Benigni, however, steals the film: he gets all the biggest laughs, his character constantly misunderstands his cellmates to hilarious effect.

Robby Müller, one of the world’s best directors of photography from the 1970s to the early 2000s, shot Down By Law. He hasn’t shot a film in over 10 years, but his influence it still felt around the world. Down by Law contains some of Müller’s best work, the scenes in the Bayou are absolutely beautiful. The nearest comparison would be some of the scenes in Tarkovsky’s first film Ivan’s Childhood. He would end up working with Jarmusch on all his features up to and including Ghost Dog, with the exception of Night on Earth.

Almost 30 years after its release, Down By Law remains a high water mark of Independent cinema, and also of Jim Jarmusch’s career. It’s a surreal farcical trip and even on second and third viewings it still works its strange charm on you. It’s also full of great performances and a great soundtrack supplied by Tom Waits and John Lurie.

The film’s transfer onto Blu-Ray, from what I gather, comes from the same masters as the Criterion Blu-Ray. It looks the best I’ve ever seen, it’s crystal clear throughout but regains the right amount of film grain. The disc features a series of phone calls Jarmusch made to the cast for the original Criterion DVD which are funny and insightful regarding the film and their relationship.

★★★★★
Ian Schultz

Jarmusch Colection Blu-ray Review - Stranger Than Paradise (1984)

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Genre:
Comedy, Drama
Distributor:
Soda Pictures
BD Release Date:
6th October 2014 (UK)
Rating: 18
Director:
Jim Jarmusch
Cast:
John Lurie, Eszter Balint,Richard Edison
Buy:Jim Jarmusch Box Set [Blu-ray]

Stranger Than Paradise was the film that made Jim Jarmusch’s name, and became one of the first films to come out of Independent film boom of the 80s and 90s. It also has the feel of a first film despite it being Jarmusch’s second feature length film: it’s the first one that is quintessential Jarmusch. It has the characters who are hipper than hip, which are still prevalent in his work—for example in his latest film, Only Lovers Left Alive.

It is a master class in minimalist storytelling, not unlike the minimalism one of Jarmusch’s heroes, Robert Bresson, employed in his work. It’s the story of the New York hipster Wllie (John Lurie) whose Hungarian cousin Eva (Eszter Balint) is visiting but is forced to stay at his place after their Aunt Lotte lands in the hospital. Initially he makes it clear he doesn’t want her to stay, but gradually he starts to enjoy her company. After 10 days she leaves for Cleveland, and the film picks up a year later when Willie and his friend Eddie (Richard Edson) decided to pay Eva a visit.

The film’s performances are naturalistic partly due to all the cast basically playing versions of themselves. Tom DiCillo, who would later be a noted director in his own right with films like Johnny Suede and Living in Oblivion, did the cinematography. It’s shot on leftover film stock, which was supplied by Wim Wenders. Wenders became a friend of Jim Jarmusch’s after watching Permanent Vacation.

The film, despite its obvious limitations and the 30 years that have passed since its release, still is as fresh and exciting when it first came out. It has aged perfectly; it’s a snapshot of a time but at the same time remains timeless, which might be down to the use of black and white. It broke the perceived notion of the independent film as inaccessible artsy crap and made it possible to be entertaining and funny outside the big studio system. It was one of the first micro-budget films that would be a box-office success, something that would be the norm a decade later. It also wound up winning numerous awards, including the Camera D’or at 1984 Cannes film festival.

The film has been restored for this Blu-Ray release and looks as good as the film could possibly ever look due to it’s budget. It includes a silent short “making of,” which was shot by Jim Jarmusch’s brother Tom. It also includes the trailers for Stranger Than Paradise along with trailers for Jarmusch’s other films.

★★★★★
Ian Schultz

Jarmusch Collection Blu-ray Review - Permanent Vacation (1980)

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Genre;
Drama
Distributor:
Soda Pictures
BD Release Date:
6th October 2014 (UK)
Rating: 18
Director:
Jim Jarmusch
Cast:
Chris Parker, Leila Gastil, John Lurie,
Buy:Jim Jarmusch Box Set [Blu-ray]

Permanent Vacation is the debut film by Jim Jarmusch. It was made on a shoestring budget of around $15,000 after he dropped out of film school in New York City. It’s a fascinating film, if somewhat pretentious and amateurish: I’m sure Jarmusch himself wouldn’t disagree, and that’s part of its charm.

The film has the loosest “plot” of any of Jarmusch’s films, which is saying something. It’s about a New York New Waver called Allie (Chris Parker) who wanders aimlessly around the barren landscapes of late 70s New York City. He meets a series of random strange individuals though his travels and ponders his place in the world.

Permanent Vacation is a prime example of No Wave filmmaking. No Wave was a movement in the arts that came out of the New York punk scene, it’s most associated with music but it included different forms of visual art including filmmaking. It was a partly a response to the commercialization of punk and the labelling of more pop-orientated punk bands as “New Wave.” The music became increasingly more experimental, incorporating influences from Free Jazz and Avant-Garde music; Jarmusch himself was in the band The Del-Byzanteens, who are quite good.

The most surprising thing about Permanent Vacation, however, is how fully formed Jarmusch really is at such an early stage. It’s full of references to literature, music and film. There is whole scene dedicated to the protagonist reading excerpts from Comte de Lautréamont’s Maldoror and in pure nihilistic fashion, he tells a friend he can have the book because he has no more use for it. He also goes to see a Nicholas Ray film and the concession girl is reading a copy of J.G. Ballard’s Crash. It has similarities to Bresson’s The Devil, Probably so much so that he picked that as the film to play along side it once at a retrospective. It is also full of the extremely deadpan humour that runs though all of Jarmusch’s films.

It’s flawed but it has enough charm, and the short running time makes it an intriguing watch. It’s great to see the development of one of directors who would become a leading light in the American Independent world of the 1980s and 1990s and who continues to be relevant to this day.

It has been restored onto Blu-Ray, but obviously it still looks rough around its edges due to the film’s budget. It also includes a fantastic documentary on Jim Jarmusch made for German TV around the time of the release of his next film, Stranger Than Paradise.

★★★1/2
Ian Schultz