Archive for April, 2013

Witches in the Air

Trance

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Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting director Danny Boyle returns to his Shallow Grave roots in the seductive and hypnotic sexual thriller Trance, revolving around an art heist of a 1798 Francisco Goya painting, Witches in the Air valued at 27 million pounds from a London auction house. Trance teems up Vincent Cassel (Black Swan) with James McAvoy (The Last King of Scotland) and Rosario Dawson (Sin City) in a frenetic edge of the seat thriller about hypnosis, artistic obsessions, addictions and violence set in a 21st century contemporary London.

McAvoy plays a seemingly harmless Londoner Simon who while working at an auction house in London manages to save the expensive Goya painting during an audacious robbery from European gangster Franck played by Cassel and his band of ruthless thieves only to suffer a head trauma, not remembering where the original painting was hidden. Soon Simon threatened by Franck approaches a Harley Street hypnotist Dr Elizabeth Lamb, played with a sultry detachment by Rosario Dawson in one of her best roles yet. Trance is shot in brilliantly sharp Danny Boyle style with colour filters, wide angle shots and a pulsating musical score as the film follows the dangerous ménage a trios between Elizabeth, Simon and Franck as they all attempt to outwit each other with some serious violence and raunchy sex to spice up the narrative in a superbly visceral and intelligent thriller about art heists and what lengths people will go to in order to locate the original highly priced stolen work of art in this case the 18th century Spanish painting Witches in the Air.

No work of art is worth more than a human life

Trance centres on the premise that no work of art is worth more than a human life. Boyle who incidentally made this film, while directing the opening of the London 2012 Summer Olympics is clearly in his element in this tightly knit provocative tale of three bizarre characters who are sociopathic in their compulsion at all costs to find the original painting whilst throwing in revenge, amnesia and  some gory murder all to the seductive sound of Dawson’s entrancing voice.

Trance is fast paced, twisted, violent and superbly shot and will definitely leave viewers gasping at the end as their allegiance is switched and the plot takes a wonderfully unexpected turn in the sophisticated world of art heists. With loads of violence and nudity, Trance is not for sensitive viewers, making the Christopher Walken 2009 comedy The Maiden Heist look like child’s play.

Temple of the Infinite Gods

Oblivion

 oblivion_ver3

The undeniable truth about Tom Cruise Sci-Fi movies is that he doesn’t really star in a bad film. Like the success of  the riveting 2002 Steven Spielberg film Minority Report, Oblivion is a glossy 21st century version of 2001 a Space Odyssey with gorgeous cinematography by Claudio Miranda (who won an Oscar for Life of Pi) and a very tantalizingly post-modern narrative involving Jack Harper played by Cruise and his effective team member Victoria played by Andrea Riseborough (W/E) who live in a post apocalyptic earth high above the carnage in a swish pent house resembling Bespin Cloud City from The Empire Strikes Back and whose job in 2077 is to look after huge hydroelectric plants which are converting the earth’s ocean energy to be used towards the future colonization of one of Saturn’s more inhabitable moons as Earth is no longer entirely livable.

Oblivion through some stunning production designs sets up a seemingly post apocalyptic planet in which scavengers have invaded and attacked the moon causing much havoc with the world and the tidal systems, and once where there were cities lies a wasteland. Except that Jack Harper whose memory has been wiped clean of the apocalypse has flashbacks of a meeting with a mysterious woman, Julia subtly underplayed by Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace), at the base of the Empire State Building sixty years earlier back in 2017, pre-apocalyptic New York City. Themes of liberty and the eternal struggle of the human spirit against insurmountable odds is beautifully explored in Oblivion and as the film progresses, one gets the feeling that this is a three act Scientology inspired opera on the Infinity of Space.

As Jack and Victoria report to a distant projected screened image of Sally, their supervisor, played with a Southern drawl by Melissa Leo on the orbiting space station Tet, one gets the sense of something sinister occurring much like the omniscient spaceship computer Hal 9000 in Stanley Kubrick’s groundbreaking 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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Without giving away too much of the plot twists, and in Oblivion there are many, Tron Legacy director Joseph Kosinski’s existential version of the Odyssey is superb to watch and whilst the film is evenly paced, the last act of the film, in which many narrative threads are elegantly woven together, Oblivion clearly appears as a cinematic pastiche of all successful Sci-Fi films from the last four decades from Star Wars to The Matrix trilogy to the Mad Max movies.

Not as tightly woven as Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, Oblivion is a gorgeously slick odyssey to the Temple of the Infinite Gods namely in outer space with a huge amount of twists and certainly shows that Cruise at the age of nearly 51 still has what it takes to carry such an inventive and intriguing science fiction cinematic fantasy. Oblivion is worth watching especially for serious Sci-Fi fans! Also stars Morgan Freeman  as the mysterious Beech sporting a huge cigar in a sadly underwritten cameo and Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who plays Sykes also familiar as Jamie Lannister in the hit HBO series Game of Thrones.

2007 Berlin Film Festival

2007 Berlin International Film Festival Winners

 BIFF 2007

The Berlin International Film Festival known as the Berlinale takes places annually in February and is regarded
as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

Winners of the four main prizes at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival were as follows: –

Tuyas_Marriage

Golden Bear (Best Film) – Tuya’s Marriage (Tuya de hun shi) directed by Wang Quan’an

Beaufort poster

Silver Bear (Best Director) – Joseph Cedar for Beaufort

The Other ElOtro

Best Actor – Julio ChávezThe Other (El Otro)

yella

Best Actress – Nina HossYella

2006 Berlin Film Festival

2006 Berlin International Film Festival Winners

BIFF 2006

The Berlin International Film Festival known as the Berlinale takes places annually in February and is regarded
as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

Winners of the four main prizes at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival were as follows: –

Grbavica_film

Golden Bear (Best Film) Grbavica directed by Jasmila Žbanić

Road_to_guantanamo poster

Silver Bear (Best Director) shared between Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross for The Road To Guantanamo

Atomisedfilmposter

Best Actor – Moritz BleibtreuElementarteilchen (Atomised/The Elementary Particles)

Requiemposter

Best Actress – Sandra HüllerRequiem

2005 Berlin Film Festival

2005 Berlin International Film Festival Winners

 2005 BIFF

The Berlin International Film Festival known as the Berlinale takes places annually in February and is regarded
as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

Winners of the four main prizes at the 2005 Berlin Film Festival were as follows: –

U-Carmen_e-Khayelitsha_film

Golden Bear (Best Picture) – U-Carmen eKhayelitsha directed by Mark Dornford-May

SophieScholl

Silver Bear (Best Director) – Marc Rothemund for Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage (Sophie Scholl, the Final Days)

thumbsucker

Best Actor – Lou Taylor Pucci – Thumbsucker

Best Actress – Julia Jentsch for Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage (Sophie Scholl, the Final Days)

 

A Psychotic Risk

Hitchcock

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In a similar vein that Simon Curtis’s film My Week with Marilyn  depicted the events surrounding the filming of the Monroe and Olivier 1957 picture The Prince and the Showgirl, Sacha Gervasi’s brilliant film Hitchcock traces the making of Psycho, one of the most pivotal horror films ever made by the legendary director Alfred Hitchcock.

Academy Award winners Anthony Hopkins with lots of prosthetic makeup brings the corpulent Alfred Hitchcock to cinematic life, along with Helen Mirren as his brilliant, sharp-witted wife Alma Reville. Hitchcock centres on how the director and Alma embark on making one of the most shocking films of the time, Psycho.

Hitchcock opens with the 1959 premiere of North by Northwest and the legendary director is restless for a departure from the thriller genre, searching for a more captivating project. Soon Hitchcock reads the 1959 novel Psycho by Robert Bloch based on a documented case of a Wisconsin serial killer and grave robber Ed Gein (played by Michael Wincott in Hitchcock) who terrorized the mid-West in the late 1950’s cutting up female corpses in a farmhouse in a serious attempt to deal with his mother issues http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psycho_%281960_film%29.

Alfred Hitchcock is naturally drawn to such a macabre and brutal story and plans to make a shocking film version.

Without the financial backing of Paramount Studios, Hitchcock and Reville put up their own money to finance the picture and the casting begins… Scarlett Johansson (Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Black Dahlia) returns to form as the voluptuous actress Janet Leigh and James D’Arcy (W/E) plays Anthony Perkins along with Jessica Biel (Easy Virtue) as the more conventional actress Vera Miles. Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man) is Hitchcock’s faithful agent Lew Wasserman and what follows is a fascinating film about the turmoil of making Psycho, but really focusing on the unique collaborative and at times difficult relationship between Alfred Hitchcock and his brisk, intelligent wife Alma Reville superbly played by Mirren.

Reville collaborated with Hitchcock on many of his films, often rewriting the final scenes of some of his films and was a solid supporter of all his trademark direction. Hopkins is wonderful as Hitchcock who plays the portly director subtly balancing caricature and genius, whilst also revealing his flaws as a sixty year old man who fraught with jealous and suspicion makes one of the most shocking films of his career.

psycho

For cinema enthusiasts, Hitchcock whilst skilfully depicting all the stages of film making  from conceptualization and casting, to editing and distribution is a delight as it shows in stylish detail how Psycho despite  all the obstacles ranging from the censorship board to the limited distribution was eventually completed. At the heart of the production was the wonderfully brisk collaboration between Hitchcock and Alma who had to insure that their personal investment in Psycho produced a spine chilling cinematic achievement, one that the audiences would never forget.

A lot of the success of Psycho (1960) was in how the film was edited as Hitchcock returned to a form of American minimalism whilst exploring the murky world of psycho-sexual obsessions from voyeurism to suppression, resulting in absolute rage and brutal murder. The infamous shower scene at the Bates Motel in which Janet Leigh is stabbed by Anthony Perkins is wonderfully recreated and in the editing suite is cut viciously to a horrific musical score after Hitchcock shot the scene from seven different camera angles and not to mention actually physically frightening Leigh himself just to capture the shock factor.

The best line in the film is when Hitchcock is talking to a neurotic screenwriter Joseph Stefano and asks him why he goes to daily psychoanalysis and the answer is

“Oh, the usual reasons: Sex, Rage, My Mother!”

Essentially Hitchcock is a intelligent drama with an edgy script almost comically depicting  how one of the most legendary film directors of that era changed the face of cinema forever with the help of his  quick-witted sophisticated wife Alma Reville. The first time onscreen pairing of Hopkins and Mirren is superb as they portray the intelligent and complex power couple and ably assisted with a great supporting cast, along with Danny Huston as a charming screenwriter Whitfield Cook and Toni Colette as Hitchcock’s loyal secretary Peggy Robertson making Hitchcock a must see for all serious film lovers . Disturbing, quirky and definitely recommended viewing, Hitchcock is a must!

2004 Berlin Film Festival

2004 Berlin International Film Festival Winners

2004_BIFF

The Berlin International Film Festival known as the Berlinale takes places annually in February and is regarded
as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

Winners of the four main prizes at the 2004 Berlin Film Festival were as follows: –

Head on Gegen_die_Wand_(2004)

Golden Bear (Best Picture) – Head On directed by Fatih Akn

samaria

Silver Bear (Best Director) –  Kim Ki-duk for Samaria

lost_embrace_ver2

Best Act0r – Daniel Hendler – Lost Embrace

Best Actress – shared between:

monster

Charlize Theron – Monster

&

maria_full_of_grace

Catalino Sandino Moreno – Maria Full of Grace

2003 Berlin Film Festival

2003 Berlin International Film Festival Winners

The Berlin International Film Festival known as the Berlinale takes places annually in February and is regarded as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

2003 BIFF

Winners of the four main prizes at the 2003 Berlin Film Festival were as follows: –

Golden Bear (Best Picture) – In this World directed by Michael Winterbottom

blind_shaft

Silver Bear (Best Director) – Li Yang  for Blind Shaft

confessions_of_a_dangerous_mind

Best Actor – Sam Rockwell – Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

The hours

Best Actress (prize was shared) – Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep & Julianne Moore – The Hours

2002 Berlin Film Festival

2002 Berlin International Film Festival Winners

The Berlin International Film Festival known as the Berlinale takes places annually in February and is regarded
as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

2002 BIFF

Winners of the four main prizes at the 2000 Berlin Film Festival were as follows: –

Golden Bear (Best Picture) was shared between: –

spirited_away

Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi) directed by Hayao Miyazaki

&

bloody_sunday

Bloody Sunday directed by Paul Greengrass

Silver Bear (Best Director) – Otar Iosseliani for Lundi Matin (Monday Morning)

Safe_Conduct_film_poster

Best Actor – Jacques Gamblin for Laissez-passer (Safe Conduct)

monsters_ball_ver1

Best Actress – Halle Berry – Monsters Ball

2001 Berlin Film Festival

2001 Berlin International Film Festival Winners

The Berlin International Film Festival known as the Berlinale takes places annually in February and is regarded
as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

2001 BIFF

Winners of the four main prizes at the 2001 Berlin Film Festival were as follows: –

intimacy 2

Golden Bear (Best Film) – Intimacy directed by Patrice Cheraeu

Silver Bear (Best Director) – Lin Cheng-sheng for Betelnut Beauty

traffic

Best Actor – Benicio del Toro – Traffic

Intimacy

Best Actress – Kerry Fox – Intimacy

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