Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Trailer & Concept Art

We’ve sat on a bit of Rise of the Planet of the Apes material for a while now and the latest international trailer seems like as good an excuse as any to share it with you.

What excites me about the new trailer is that it is the first glimpse at the more human side to the story, not just raging chimps but a son trying to cure his father (hello John Lithgow!). Who can argue against that? Then again you also have Tom Felton being evil for no good reason, probably just pissed that the Potter franchise is almost over.

Now look at all the seriously gorgeous concept art of Apes gone ape: Continue reading

The Blog Who Lived

We did it! For the most part we managed to stay awake through all the first four Harry Potter films at the BFI IMAX Harry Potter All-Nighter.

The night was a whirlwind of emotions thanks to varying film quality and intense sleep deprivation. It’s great to see the films back to back and really appreciate how much so many aspects of the films improve over time. The IMAX screen made the films that bit more epic and immense and the free coffee in the intervals became a vital lifeline.

We took plenty of increasingly confused notes and will be fully quantifying the seven films next Monday along with a full review of the experience. What we can say in the meantime is that it was a great night and we’re looking forward to finishing off the franchise so far on Saturday night.

Tickets are still available for the first four films on Friday and slightly less available for the remaining three on Saturday. If nothing else, it’s the cheapest hotel you’ll find in London.

Wish Us Luck

As this post goes live we’re about to embark on a four film journey that will take us from 10pm tonight to 9:30 tomorrow morning. We’ll be going from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in the comfort of the BFI IMAX.

This all seemed like a good idea considering our love for Mr Potter and for trying out different cinemas (I’ve never even been to an IMAX) but will we be able to stay awake throughout?

See you on the other side for our refreshed opinions of the four films and some sleep deprived drivel.

Out Now – 17th June 2011

Plenty to be apathetic about this week. Beavers, lanterns and teachers galore! Fair warning, I’m feeling particularly cynical today.

The Messenger
Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson are a pair of soldiers tasked with informing the families of soldiers who have died in Iraq. Plot comes in the form of Foster getting all involved with a widow. Angst to the max.

Green Lantern
With a lame sounding oath, Ryan Reynolds brings us a mostly CGI performance as some superhero we don’t really get this side of the Atlantic. There’s a point when it’s not enough to have a superhero in your film. Bored now.

Bad Teacher
Cameron Diaz is a bad teacher. Could easily call this Bad Actress and be done with it. TAKE THAT DIAZ!

The Beaver
Jodie Foster makes a huge mistake in casting the world’s most hated actor as the lead in an already tricky to sell film. We’re supposed to find heart in this film about a man talking in a cockney accent through a hand puppet, but from the reviews this seems unlikely.

Life in a Day
On 24th July 2010 people all over the world filmed their day so that Kevin Macdonald could edit it into a film. Bound to be pretty incoherent but probably pretty moving too. Why not?

Potiche (limited release)
Frenchy comedy starring Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu that has been ruined by an Orange advert. Why not broaden your cinematic pallet? Green Lantern can wait.

Stake Land (limited release)
A horror with some positive buzz for a change, as America falls to a vampire epidemic our young hero must make it to safety in Canada.

Putty Hill (limited release)
“A young man’s untimely death unites a fractured family and their community through shared memory and loss.” A release limited mostly to the ICA should tell you all you need to know. Expect lingering wide shots and a gratingly slow pace.

Swinging with the Finkels (limited release)
British comedy with an eclectic global cast explores the world of swinging. Martin Freeman may be on a career high but this film is not the reason why.

The Round Up (limited release)
Set in 1942 this international film calls itself a faithful retelling of the 1942 “Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup”. Perhaps a good pairing for The Beaver in an anti-Semite double bill?

Born to Be Wild (limited release)
Only at the IMAX this 40 minute documentary is… about animals?

Senna – Review

I’m not too sure what Manish Pandey and Asif Kapadia did in directing this documentary on the life and death of Ayrton Senna, as the real work was surely done by editors Chris King and Gregers Sall. Senna is a feature-length documentary with no talking heads or reconstructions, instead made up entirely of existing footage. Luckily Ayrton Senna was filmed extensively and from hundreds of angles so the editors had plenty to work with.

The finished film truly is a masterpiece of editing, the story of Senna comes together so well as to make it seem as though his was filmed with this documentary in mind. Senna goes from an enthusiastic young driver to a man jaded by the politics of racing and his feud with Alain Prost bring a good through line to the piece.

The proof in Senna‘s pudding is that it managed to draw me in, someone who has no interest in Formula 1 and I’m hardly the only one. Senna is more than a film about racing, it is a film about one man living his dream and it ultimately disappointing and later killing him. The death of Ayrton is not glorified or replayed and the funeral is a particularly moving piece of cinema.

Senna is not perfect, it is 16 minutes too long and is guilty of idolising its subject a little too much, balance and objectivity are not in abundance. Regardless, this is a rare treat of a documentary and will be enjoyed by a Formula 1 fan and their disinterested date alike.

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) – Review

With all the hubbub about the Human Centipede 2 being banned by the BBFC we thought it would be apt to go back and watch the first film. How apt? At least a 12.

In The Human Centipede (First Sequence) Dieter Laser is a successful surgeon, fed up with separating conjoined twins and on the lookout for subjects to join together instead. The film has three basic sections (much like the centipede); at the front we have Laser capturing his victims courtesy of date rape drugs and hammy acting. The middle section, apparently feeling the most pain, is Laser explaining and then carrying out the procedure in a pretty tame manner. The third, slightly infected section is the centipede trying to escape and two identical police officers coming round to see what’s afoot.

Focussing on the gore factor Human Centipede is actually pretty tame. Yes, the entire concept is absolutely revolting but the “medically accurate surgery” and the resulting physical mutilations are mostly left to your imagination. The majority of the Saw franchise have much more graphic sequences of human injury, torture and gore. A scene in which the front of the centipede first needs to go to the toilet is possibly the vilest thing I’ve seen and yet it’s all down to facial expressions and my mind filling in the rest.

As a basic horror film The Human Centipede isn’t particularly stellar either. Even though you know the horrors that wait for Laser’s victims you don’t exactly fear for them. This is down to weak acting on the victims’ parts and overly strong acting from Laser. Nothing says evil better than a man with strong facial features, a vague European accent and a fitted surgeon’s gown.

Tom Six, writer and director, had a unique and vile idea for a horror but it doesn’t go much beyond that. The direction is nothing to write home to your directing-obsessed parents about and the script can’t have taken longer than a few rainy afternoons. Only watch if you are a cult horror completist or just feel the need to know what everyone else is talking about. Don’t watch to scare the crap out of yourself, The Strangers can do that with much less fuss.

Out Now – 14th June 2011

There’s no real need to cover this film, but once I found a review it felt cruel to not share it with you.

Got to Run (limited release)
I’ll leave this to Peter Bradshaw from the Guardian. “It is allegedly the story of a lingerie salesperson who abandons this demeaning job to pursue her true passion for running, in any number of picturesque beauty spots in the British Isles. The script is gobsmackingly dire. The leading player speaks her lines as if she’s taken a kilogram of Xanax intravenously. The sound quality in many scenes is so ropey I suspected the microphone had been immersed in a bubbling coffee percolator. The long, redundant establishing shots of various regional cities were so boring I almost lost the will to live. The pacing of the film is uncompromisingly leaden and unvarying. Run? It moves like a sedated tortoise.”

10 Years of Wittertainment

Roughly one year ago I discovered the joys of having podcasts to listen to while on frequent and lengthy trips on public transport. Searching for a film podcast to join me on the London Underground I came across Wittertainment or Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews, to give the show its actual title.

This month the show is celebrating its ten years of existence, ten years of becoming the BBC radio’s flagship film show and of Mark Kermode’s rants and Simon Mayo’s Kermode wrangling. I may not always agree with their reviews but it’s always fun to listen to, despite Kermode’s often irritating impressions.

To celebrate their ten years on the air the BBC has a series of special shows on 5 Live, all of which are available as podcasts. The first included a live recording at Mark Kermode’s childhood cinema and a clip show fronted by Hugh Bonneville, but what is really exciting is the show that aired last Friday.

On Friday Mark and Simon were joined by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in Salford (far too far away) to perform classic film scores including Star Trek, Taxi Driver, The Godfather and Raiders of the Lost Ark. How can you not give that a listen? Truly nerdy fans can even listen to an hour-long show in which they chose the list of songs for the show along with Andrew Collins, Paloma Faith, Richard Wigley and Robert Ziegler.

In summary Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews is a brilliant, if poorly titled, show and we just wanted to say happy tenth birthday.

You can listen to any of the special shows or just subscribe to their podcast here.