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Shoot 'Em Up
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A common misconception about this film seems to be that it ever had any intention of taking itself seriously, a myth soon dispelled upon viewing.
The three leads (Owen, Giamatti and Belluchi) have all established themselves in more serious fare, and so it's hardly starvation for work that has them packing out what has cunningly disguised itself as a low rent actioner.
The genius of Shoot em Up however, is that it is a low rent actioner, an homage of it's source material, and it does exactly what it says on the tin.
It begs, borrows and steals from the best; from it's 80's one-liners to it's Woo style gun fights, and delivers a bullet choked cliche in a funny, punchy, fast paced tongue in cheek revival of all your favorite things coined from mindless gun-toting action flicks!!
Tarantino explored similar territory with the grindhouse genre to critical acclaim, but lacking the sharper realisation of his material, Davis delivers a big, dumb slice of smoking barrell pie, with an excelsior cast who clearly love what they're doing.
If you like you action slightly more cerebral, then avoid this outing like the plague. But for those genre enthusiasts who harken back to ye olde days of Arnie, Brucie, Sly and the heavy two gun influences of Chow Yun fats's early work, then this is a blistering trip down nostalgia lane, that will leave you tingling with glee, as all that you loved most from an ephimerail era is condensed into an hour 30 of joyous gun packed mayhem.
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In exploration of the impossible courtship and catalystic manipulations of an elderly hedonistic actor and a young untamed woman, Venus charts new territories in film-making and invites great humour into what could easily have been a bleak and dramaturgic affair.
As commented on by the actors themselves, roles for septugenerians of such rich reward are few and far between, and so it is with evident ebullience that these characters are fleshed out by a wealth of experience and a sheer gravitas virtually unequalled in the trade.
O'Toole gives a performance steeped in humility and the magnanimous talent's in his supporting cast of Leslie Philips and Vanessa Redgrave is shimmering gold dust.
Interactions between the two old sparring partners (O'Toole and Philips) are so natural as to be excerpts from life itself, and Redgrave convey's in her few scenes such depth and soulfulness that it's hard not to feel moved to tears.
The firebrand; Jodie Whittaker is hideously seductive, an unflinching potrayal of contemporary youth. Both hostile, manipulative but naive and ultimately obsequious, Whittaker provides the perfect balance to O'Toole's aging letchery with a louche ability to control it.
The dark undertone is however, perfectly complimented with a flair for comedy that plays on the delapidated protagonist's with a dry wit that runs parallel, and the script highlights such tender human frailty, desire and heartbreak that it's effect lingers long after the credits have passed.
Having made his mark long since, O'Toole shares with us this poignant, touching, lascivious, yet beautiful performance, introspective some might wonder, an ephimeral evensong and reminder that brilliance is not confined to youth, the best is often yet to come.
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De Botton's wisdom and sagacity comes instilled with such warmth, humour and genuinity, that despite his short-comings among his more serious contemporaries, he is by far the most accessible, helpful and relevant to both those interested in philosophy at a lay level and the erudite fancying a light read.
Status Anxiety, much like The Consolations of Philosophy takes all ranges of examples from all fields of humanity weaving a humerous history lesson with a clear message, that we are not alone in our thankless toil, and in fact with the right thinking, can be the architects of our own emancipation from the stresses that structure our lives.
On the whole De Botton treats us to a delightful journey of a read, in a witty, wise and wonderful look at our problems and how with the right thinking we can solve them.
An utter joy to read.
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Frightening, visceral, relevant and unflinching in both it's honesty and scope, Gray contest's our humanist view's and derails our arguments for progression in an unyielding juggernaught of elucidation.
This is an unapologetic work of debunking, namely the myth that is humanity, and the lies that comfort us in the way that we are, the way that we live and the future that lies in store for us, Straw Dogs is an uncomfortable read akin to a forced look in the mirror, giving acknowledgement to exactly what looks back, warts and all.
Gray is perhaps one of the most important and unequivocally one of the most contentious modern thinkers, and with this hard lined deconstruction of our most deeply embedded fallacies, he proves himself a cutting force of enlightenment in his book that will demand scrutiny of your thought, and alter said landscape henceforth.
Revolutionary phliosophical thought begins here.
30 Days Of Night: Special Edition (2 Discs)
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The 90's reinvention of the vampire as an affluent social butterfly, equal parts romanticist, killer and lagubrious muser of a lonely eternity, owes much to 80's catalyst's Catherine Bigelow's Near Dark, Anne Rice's series of novels and Dave Goyer's revolutionary Blade.
30 Day's helmer David Slade however (eneterprising on Steve Niles Genius graphic novel of the same name) takes the neo nosferatu a step backwards in a more Schrekian direction, which in a lesser directors hands could have spelt b-movie implosion, but in Slades, knicks a fresh vein of horror, and siphons running black.
Stark whites, blacks and red's set the tone for the snowblinded township in what proves a visually atmospheric piece rather than an outright descent into terror.
The subcuntaneous dread that seeps through the viewer as the awful tension builds is testament to Slades skillful direction and inventive use of angled shots to bottle fear, uncorking when least expected.
This helps in glazing over what is at worst mediocre acting from the core cast of survivors (Hartnett and Co.) along with the frequent plot flux and the shortcomings the time-skips create via large periods of days left unaccounted.
Its the Vampires however, that sell the piece. Untamed, fierce and guttural in tongue, these night fiends are pure scene stealers, unleashing uncensored decapitations and fountains of gore. Dissolute. void of post mortal contemplations, they have no scruples about their desire to kill unabashedly, revelling in death, as pale faced, charcoal eye'd, angular creatures of childrens nightmares.
In his rebuffal of the modern vampire myth, Slade may have created a contemporary horror classic, in this soot black miasma of uncomfortable viewing and thorny death, that even with it's flaws re-sets the bar for the horror genre.
Quite literally a masterclass in chill
Constantine (2 Disc Edition)
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Vertigo comic's have charted the discomforting exploits of noisome con magus John Constantine for over the past decade.
A combination of rich deep cynicism, mixed with black magic and the wry dose of costic humour, HellBlazer was the quintissential british voice amongst a sea of Americana, so it is with some reservation that fans see the antagonistic anit-hero relocated to L.A., no mere jaunt from the seedy locales of old London town.
It is with much kudos to Francis Lawrence that he makes it work, not only in a main-stream HollyWood location, but with a mainstream HollyWood actor.
Keanu Reeve's to his credit, is effortlessly jaded and bitter as the luciferous Constantine, and the down-beat atmosphere lingers like hex in the air, noxious, dark and very much in keeping with it's literary roots.
The plot is thick with gum-shoe staples, juxtaposed with supernatural overtones and macabre religious hexeri. A mix of thrills, action and intrigue, the jump between worlds harkens towards the Dante esque, the true nature of the beast slowly unravels with Constantines sleuthery.
Scraping the bleak surface of an already grimy underbelly Constantine hits all the right notes as a supernatural play on old school pulp, where the devil you know isn't always better than the devil you don't.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
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I wanted to write a review of this, but sadly was beaten to the punch by Mobius up there. With that in mind he nailed it with his review anyway, so basically, what he said (x 2)
Tideland: Special Edition (2 Discs)
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As is evident from Gilliam's lenghty repetoire, he is a director of the senses, whether it be the dizzying discombobulation of time travel, the blurred hallucinogens of drugs, the blinding wonder of the fantastical, and so the list goes on.
Tideland offers a unique perspective however, in that of a child, Gilliams inner, he tells us. And while the similarities with Lewis Carol are bluntly outlined with blatant reference, the nightmarish reality absorbed by the main protagonists childlike naevity are far beyond the comfort zone of Carol's Edwardian mythos.
Strong performances from Jodelle Ferland as Jeliza-Rose and her more seasoned support, accenuate what is already uncomfotable viewing, as while the world of Jeliza-Rose is magical and eschews vibrance from the real world melancholy, it's difficult to acclimatise your mind-set beyond that of a cynical adult, compelled to keep watching in stark horror of the situation.
While Gilliam's trademark visual flair helps us view Jeliza's imagined world and elevates this film beyond the main, it's the grimmest of hill-billy fairy tales, delivering revulsion wrapped in candy-floss wonderment as if it might soften the blow.
Disturbing, degenerate, but relentlessly engaging, Tideland will leave you shaken and conscious of a world where innocence isn't lost and horror is not what you think.
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With JK Rowling wallowing in loot at the height of Potter fever, it was with perfect timing that Eoin Colfer unleashed his antidote in the form of Machiavellian pre teen villain, nefarious anti-hero and fairy malefactor Artemis Fowl!!
Introducing an altogether more ambiguous character into the teen pool of fantasy novella, Colfer crafts a protagonist of such dark charisma and cunning that despite his criminally philanthropic intentions, you can't help rooting for him (and indeed his deadly efficient body guard; Butler).
Where Potter succeeds in pedestrianisings wizardry, Fowl vends similar for fairies with the mythological leprechan, (in fact an abreviation of Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance Unit), the technologically superior guardians of the fairy realm, and the arch rivals to Fowl's attempt's to cash in on their enchanted technology.
What could have been a stereotypical play on Irish lore swiftly establishes itself as an altogether different animal. Part action thriller, part fantasy drama, with all the tech maguffins of sci-fi, it pulsates like a teenage Die Hard, with an eye for detail and an appetite for destruction.
With Fairy Swat teams, battling trolls, caniving dwarves and a criminal legacy compressed into a teenage mastermind, Artemis Fowl composes possibly one of the most entertaining teen novels in recent years, with arguably the most interesting, unlikely and morally questionable cast of infectious rogues.
While other franchises may find themselves ebbing towards a kind of sinister, Fowl's dark heart beats from page 1 and pounds at a pace in this punchy, devious, rib tickling slice of action fantastic.
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Serenity is literally the little film that could. Spawned from the cult sci-fi series Fire Fly, it was director Joss Wedon's will and fan support alone that got this movie in the air, and knowing what hinged on it's success, it went all out. And delivered!
The crew of much loved rogues return with a larger budget and the grandiose scope of an entire second season compressed into two hours of sci-fi masterclass.
Despite plot ends left hanging from the tv series, Serenity sets off at a rollicking pace and character's are soon re-established for those ingnorant of their former incarnation, and the major malefactor is surreptitiously introduced in a fantastically clinical Chiwetel Ejiofor.
The film however, belongs to the ever sly Nathan Fillion and his rag tag crew, who instill the sort of heart that could only come from a real love of the characters and the universe they inhabit.
Despite various threads left wanting, the mystery behind Summer Glau's nymph is finally unveiled in magnificent martial arts showcasing and a voyage to the heart of Darkness in Reaver territory yields possibly one of the best coups to ever grace celluloid!
Wedon's pulled out all the stops to impress non-fans while appeasing the faithful, and while there isn't time to flesh out what should have been a 2nd season, Serenity still manages to grip us from the opening reel and doesn't let up til the credits roll.
Serenity is perhaps the best sci-fi to come of the 21st century, with action, storyt-telling and effects that on it's budget shames it's flashier competitiors, and perhaps serves as a lesson to Lucas on just how it should have been done.