Out Now – 28th June 2013

The Despicable End

Despicable Me 2
I did not see the original film so have no real idea what is going on here. Apparently someone called Gru helps to defeat a new super criminal. Gru is a man… let’s move on.

This Is the End
Meta-comedy in which actors play themselves as aliens invade and the world comes to an end. Expect a cameo from Emma Watson as she slowly invades all films out this summer… well… two of them.

Stand Up Guys
I thought this film would be about stand-up comedians and that the title was a slightly painful pun. In reality the film is about a pair of “stickup men” so the title is still a pun, just not one that works in the slightest sense.

Jason Statham runs around London with a gun. Let’s not lie to each other and pretend that we need to know anything else before we decide whether or not we want to see this one.

Comedy! Crime! Romance! Bollywood!

The East
The writer/director and writer/actor combo of Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling return with a thriller about an investigator infiltrating an activist group, their follow-up to Sound of My Voice. Ellen Page stars and that doesn’t happen nearly often enough for my taste.

Renoir (limited release)
Frenchy drama about impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, his son Jean and a pretty young lady who brings with her “nudity, moderate sex and one use of strong language.”

The Act of Killing (limited release)
“A documentary that challenges former Indonesian death squad leaders to re-enact their real-life mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.” Oh. My. Criminy.

Stories We Tell (limited release)
Sarah Polley directs a documentary exploring the lies told and stories spun within her own family. One day I will make a film about how my parents cruelly lied to me about Santa and the Tooth Fairy.

I Want Your Love (limited release)
Drama about gay relationships among a group of San Francisco friends. Contains real sex. Like porn but in the form of an art house film so it’s all OK.

Night of Silence (limited release)
Arty film about the wedding night of a couple involved in an arranged marriage with a large age gap. To make peace between their families they must consummate the union and have the sheets to prove it. I am convinced that this film is well made but unlikely to appeal to the majority.

The Battle of the Sexes (limited release)
Tennis documentary #1. Looking at the 1973 match between retired men’s champ Bobby Riggs and the current (at the time) women’s Wimbledon winner Billie Jean King.

Venus And Serena (limited release)
Tennis documentary #2. Looking at one year (2011) in the lives of the tennis-playing siblings.

Tobias Tobbell – Interview

Tobias Tobbell

Last week I sat down with up and coming writer/director Tobias Tobbell to talk about his new feature Confine a home invasion thriller starring Daisy Lowe in her first major acting role. We covered everything from how he got started in filmmaking to what his favourite carb is (be sure to read to the end, the quick-fire round gets interesting). We talked for a good long time and it has been incredibly painful for me to cut down our chat into something shorter than a dissertation. Tobias was incredibly friendly, humoured my most bizarre questions, and when speaking to him you could tell this was a man with filmmaking in his blood whose career I will be watching with interest.

Before we get stuck in I should say that Confine is released in UK cinemas and on DVD and Video on Demand on 1st July and will be reviewed by Stephen shortly. On with the interview:

On his beginnings as a filmmaker:

“I got stuck into writing long stories when I was really young, as in pre-teen, and then started making some short films with friends when I was sort of thirteen/fourteen. But I loved film and started writing films when I was sixteen and they were pretty shoddy, pretty rough around the edges but then I got involved in the drama group at University. As a drama society they did a lot of new writing and so I just started writing for all the plays I could possibly think of.”

On producing:

“I have always written and directed when I can and that is what I call myself. But it’s hard to make money if that is all you are doing given that there are hundreds and thousands of other writers and even directors out there all trying to get ahead. I wouldn’t say in terms of what I do producing isn’t something I enjoy doing it’s just something I am pleased I know how to do because to get a project off the ground you need to understand how a film is packaged, how you present it to financiers, sales agents, and distributors.”
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Night of Silence – Film Review

Night of Silence

In Turkey a couple settle in for their wedding night rituals. The groom is an ageing man who has been weathered by the years and his bride is a young girl who can barely speak from fear. Their union is not one of love but has been dictated by their families in order to end an ancient blood feud between their clans. The couple have one simple task, before daybreak they must present the soiled sheets of their marital bed as proof that they have consummated their nuptials.

That is the plot in its entirety as over its agonising running time of just over ninety minutes Night of Silence takes place in real-time as we are stuck with the couple on their wedding night from the moment they are left alone together until morning comes and their union must be sealed for the sake of peace.

Night of Silence 1

Their time spent together is filled with stilted conversation, the rearranging of items in the room, and endless postponing of the act they both fear. The tension created was almost too painful as I found myself terrified that any moment the young girl on-screen would be forced to become intimate with what seemed like a brute of a man. Somehow as they talked more and more I found myself sympathising for the man too. It became clear that this was not a fate he would have chosen for himself and that he had as much sympathy for his young bride as I did.

What started as a film about a defenceless young virgin trapped in a room with a drunk predator became a film about two people equally scared and trapped by circumstance. In its own slow methodical way Night of Silence was a well acted and carefully crafted character study that wouldn’t be out of place in the theatre.

Night of Silence 2

I do hesitate to recommend this film however as beautiful as it may be Night of Silence is so slowly paced it is almost unbearable. There was a need for such a slow pace with a drama relying on increasing tension and the slow reveal of characters but ultimately it became uncomfortable and dangerously close to boring. If you have the patience to admire the simply artistry of film-making and acting then Night of Silence is for you otherwise I’d recommend seeking out a film with a little more to offer.

Hipster Guide to Summer Cinema – July Edition


And we’re back with the second part of our Hipster Guide to Summer Cinema. If you want to avoid superheroes and romantic comedies and need help seeking out the films that won’t damage your hipster credentials then this is the guide for you as we look ahead to July.

5th July 2013The Bling Ring

Not only is this the painfully cool, and genuinely brilliant, Sofia Coppola’s fifth film as writer and director, it is also Emma Watson’s first “grown-up” role since Harry Potter, which most hipsters grew up reading and so struggle to raise their usual level of scorn for. What’s more the film takes a stance against the materialistic world of celebrities and the manner in which they are simultaneously put on a pedestal while highlighting their every flaw. Scoff at pop culture while indulging in it, what does a hipster do better?


A Field in England

Ben Wheatley has carved a niche for himself in making low budget, brutally violent, searingly funny, and outlandishly truthful British films as he brought us gangsters, hitmen, and serial killers. Now with his latest film set during the English Civil War he breaks all the rules and releases it simultaneously in cinemas, on DVD, and on Video on Demand. A historical film with a most modern distribution method. What’s not to love?

12th July 2013

Monsters University

Much as hipsters grew up reading Harry Potter they were still children when Monsters, Inc. first came out in 2001. Besides, Pixar is a film studio that somehow transcends all segments of society as children and adults, hipsters and chavs all laugh and cry together as the animated pixels tell stories on-screen. For me Monsters, Inc. was my first ever DVD, one which I had to take to a friend’s house to watch, so this prequel will be warmly welcomed into the Pixar oeuvre.

We Steal Secrets The Story of Wikileaks

WikiLeaks is a fascinating organisation that strives to reveal the secrets of the world for the good of its citizens. It’s founder Julian Assange is similarly intriguing with his sex scandals and slightly creepy air and the fact that he has spoken out against this documentary, which covers two decades of his crusade, makes the film all the more intriguing.

19th July 2013The World's End

From the early days of Spaced the combined efforts of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg have inspired an intense cult following. As my movie maths has shown Simon Pegg is not so good when Edgar is not around so fans will have been sitting patiently through Star Trek, waiting for this momentous day and the release of the third and final instalment in their genre bending Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy. This time around a pub crawl becomes a fight for humanity’s survival.

Breathe In

Two years ago Drake Doremus came from nowhere and brought us the beautifully shot, impressively improvised, and ultimately frustrating drama about a doomed long distance relationship. More importantly Doremus brought us 90 minutes of almost non-stop Felicity Jones, something he is repeating in his second feature; an improvised drama about an exchange student who falls for the father of her host family.

The rest of July is much less inspiring with films like The Wolverine and The Smurfs 2 coming out and scaring the hipsters away. If only Darren Aronofsky had followed through and directed The Wolverine, it might have qualified.

A Poem of Mild Concern


A few weeks back I came across The Poetry Takeaway who offer to write custom poems for free to anyone brave enough to approach their stall. When I say “came across” I mean I deliberately went out on a hunt for their stall because the idea of someone writing me a poem simultaneously intrigued me and promised to stroke my ego a little. I was assigned poet chef Dan Simpson to whom I gave my Mild Concern business card (yes I have business cards!) and the brief of writing a film related poem with the title “Mild Concern”. An hour later he had written the below:

A twentieth century drumroll please
cast pearls before the asteroid theme
roar into opening credits
fade from black to silver screen.

A mouse moves across a desk
a finger is depressed
machines carry out their orders
a loading screen is refreshed.

There’s something slightly worrying
like a secret and wild slow burn
the atmosphere is lightly anxious
this is a case for Mild Concern.

Oh yes, we have our own official poem. Take that other film blogs!

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Out Now – 21st June 2013

Before World War Z

A Haunted House
For some reason some of the team behind the early Scary Movie films have decided to start a new horror movie parody franchise. For any Scary Movie purists this is like the original band getting back together and going on tour.

World War Z
A flaw ridden and troubled film about a global zombie epidemic and the one Brad Pitt who can save us all. Stephen would like you to be kind of excited for this film. Give it a go, just for him.

Spike Island
Because the cinema wants nothing more these days than to make me feel ignorant about The Stone Roses we have a drama set in the nineties about an indie band travelling the see The Stone Roses in Spike Island.

Dwayne “No Longer The Rock” Johnson plays father-with-an-unassuming-name John Matthews who is forced to go undercover for the DEA when his son is set up in a drug deal. I’m pretty sure it is standard practise to hire the parents of criminals to investigate crime. Completely normal. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Before Midnight (limited release)
Fancy almost two hours of pure chatty romance? Has the sun risen on Before Sunrise? Has the sun set on Before Sunset? You’re in luck as Hawke and Delphy are back to be slightly pretentious all over again.

The Seasoning House (limited release)
The house in the title refers to a place where young girls are prostituted to the military. Lovely. An orphaned deaf-mute cares for the girls and scuttles around in the walls before presumably killing everyone in the classic “you rape me and I will literally kill you” revenge thriller tradition.

Like Someone in Love (limited release)
“In Tokyo, a young prostitute develops an unexpected connection with a widower over a period of two days.” Ah good, it’s about time we had another unlikely friendship film. It’s been a while.

I Am Breathing (limited release)
Documentary covering the last few months of the life of Neil Platt, a young father suffering from motor neurone disease.

Black Rock (limited release)
A girly weekend away turns into a horrific fight for survival because that’s just what happens when women are left alone together for too long. Am I right guys? You know I’m right.

Shun Li and the Poet (limited release)
“A study of the friendship between a Chinese woman and a fisherman who came to Italy from Yugoslavia many years ago, who live in a small city-island in the Veneto lagoon.”

Hipster Guide to Summer Cinema – June Edition

Hipster Cinema

Summer is a bit of a minefield at cinema. It’s the season when the studios feel the need to spend as much money as possible to tempt you out of the (alleged) sunshine and into the dark cool of the multiplex. As such there is often a glut of flashy blockbusters with little of worth underneath their lens flare and glamour. In response, I introduce you to our three-part guide to the Summer’s films; a tour of what you can watch without the need for 3D glasses or complete suspension of your disbelief. This is our (slightly behind schedule) Hipster Guide to Summer Cinema.

7th June 2013Behind the Candelabra

Normally the names Matt Damon and Michael Douglas are associated with more mainstream films but here they are at their very best in a film that was almost destined for the small screen only. In America, land of the free and the sexually repressed, this story of Liberace’s secret gay love affair was just too gay to ever make it to the cinema and aired on cable television instead. Subversive credibility aside this film is hilarious, touching, and not afraid to show you Damon in a thong. The perfect alternative to After Earth in which Will Smith drags his son kicking and screaming into the bland sci-fi genre.

14th June 2013Much Ado About Nothing

Hipsters love their pop culture with a retro twist and what is more retro than Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Shakespeare, that’s who! In Much Ado the two collide as Buffy‘s creator brings his take on the bard complete with a cast of Whedon alumni, filmed at his own house, and in black and white. This film has hipster cred running all through it and allows you to be a fan of Joss Whedon without going too mainstream or dirtying your hands with anything superhero related.

Man of Steel

On first seeing the trailer for this latest Superman reboot it looked like Zack Snyder might have made the first properly alternative superhero film. The trailer was filled with close-ups of grass, dilapidated buildings, and washing blowing on the line. It was grimy and it looked great; very Andrea Arnold. Sadly the reviews have revealed this to all be a ruse and what we actually have is an effects and set-piece-heavy juggernaut more reminiscent of 300 and Sucker Punch than Wuthering Heights. Why did I ever think it would be otherwise?

21st June 2013Before Midnight

Before Sunrise and Before Sunset get a much-anticipated sequel. I almost wish they had called this instalment Before Sunstroke but then that might have been a case of putting a naming convention ahead of respecting your film. The Before trilogy must be the most hipster three-piece there is. Each film focusses on the same couple as they talk, talk, kiss, and talk. It is endlessly romantic, a film that puts character first, and pretty much contains everything you won’t find in World War Z.

28th June 2013The East

Former indie darling Ellen Page teams up with up-and-coming indie darling Brit Marling for a film about a group of activists who attack major organisations. Down with The Man! Throw in an official Sundance selection badge and we’re in hipsters’ paradise.

This is The End

The end of the world is an important topic in cinema nowadays and with the rise of the HeKniSciFi sub-genre there is room for greater variety in the Hollywood disaster movie. In This is the End a boat load of familiar faces struggle to survive an alien invasion while partying at James Franco’s house. Everyone, including our very own Emma Watson, plays a parody of themselves and most seem to end up being brutally killed in the ensuing chaos. It is meta-humour at its most juvenile but looks incredibly funny. The fact that this may well be another time when James Franco mixes up his art with his mainstream makes this the disaster movie for the hipster community now that Another Earth and Melancholia have had their day in the cataclysmic sun.

Mama – DVD Review


Once upon a time a father killed his wife and drove his car off the road with his two young daughters inside. The two young girls survive the crash, and a further attempt on their lives by their father, and live in the all too familiar cabin in the woods for five years before they are discovered by an incredibly inefficient search party. In the intervening years the girls have been cared for by a mysterious apparition they call Mama and have become feral in the manner that it more familiar in teenage boys than prepubescent girls. The girls move in with their uncle, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister to you and me), and his girlfriend, Jessica Chastain in unconvincing goth garb, and try to settle into regular life while Mama pays them visits and generally gets up in everyone’s business.

As a horror called “Bloody scary” by The Sun, “A superior supernatural shocker” by the Daily Express, and with Guillermo del Toro producing and “presenting” the film I was expecting the film leave me petrified. I am notoriously susceptible to horror films and have screamed my way through the weakest of scares but Mama did nothing for me. It elicits more yawns than screams and I was falling asleep towards the end. I realise I am prone to napping when films get too long but with a running time of just 100 minutes I should have been able to remain conscious throughout. I don’t mean to besmirch the good name of The Sun and the Daily Express but either their comments were taken out of context or they have a lower fear threshold than even me.

Mama 2

There are a few good creepy moments: The girls do some good creepy crawling and scuttling before they regain their ability to walk on two feet and there is a scene in which a flashbulb is used as a form of self-defence which reminded me of the only good moment in Apollo 18 which should otherwise be avoided at all costs. Mama herself is not an inherently scary figure. Her long reaching arms reminded me in a distraction fashion of an old Dead Ringers impression of Andrew Marr and a lot of the time the family seemed to be haunted more by persistent damp than a benevolent spirit.

The ending was briefly a pleasant surprise before becoming slightly ridiculous; a brief glimmer of hope amongst a dark and dreary mess. I didn’t care about any of the characters so even if the film had managed to properly scare me I wouldn’t have actually been worried for their safety. Coster-Waldau came across as an ignorant fool while Chastain seemingly forgot how to act and it was hard to believe that she is currently at the peak of her Oscar nominated career. As for Guillermo del Toro… I once saw his name as a mark of quality but now it is as redundant as a foreword by Stephen Fry – every book has one and the quality is far from consistent.

Mama 1

Mama is available to buy on both DVD and Blu-ray from today. The DVD version of the film has no extras to speak of whereas the Blu-ray features a commentary, various featurettes, and the original short film. I’d say this would be a reason to go for the Blu-ray but honestly you’d be better off buying Pan’s Labyrinth instead as it is both better and cheaper.

One best left as a last resort watch. Writer/director Andrés Muschietti has a lot to learn.

Out Now – 14th June 2013

Superman in February

Man of Steel
Zack Snyder has a varied collection of films in his past but it can never be denied that he approaches each film with a unique approach and uncompromising vision. Today we get his vision of Superman and he’s taken Kal-El in a decidedly gritty direction.

Summer in February
English period drama in which Dan Stevens, he of golden locks and steely blue eyes from Downton, and Dominic Cooper, he of… Mamma Mia, vie for the affections of Emily Browning, she of “brave” nudity in Sleeping Beauty.

Stuck in Love
This is a comedy drama about an author and his family as they have various romantic plots over the course of a year. The synopsis ends with the line “There are no rewrites in life, only second chances.” Cringe.

Tina Fey is an admissions officer who has trouble letting anyone in. DEEP! Also the son she secretly put up for adoption applies to her college and she falls in love with Paul Rudd. The acoustic guitar playing throughout the trailer tells me this will be a heart-warming comedy.

Much Ado About Nothing (limited release)
Joss Whedon takes a break from all that assembling of Avengers and makes the low budget black and white Shakespeare film we know he’s always wanted to. With his own home as the set and his bezzie mates as the cast this is Whedon’s most personal work to date.

Paradise: Love (limited release)
A 50-year-old Austrian mother goes looking for love amongst the beach boys of Kenya who sell their bodies for money. The first part of a trilogy of Paradise films.

Fukrey (limited release)
Punjabi version of the typical teen comedy.