Wes Craven (1939-2015): Remembering the twisted genius of the horror maestro

31 Aug

Horror icon Wes Craven died yesterday aged 76

I never liked horror films before I discovered Wes Craven.

When I first started getting seriously into cinema in my early teens, horror films meant torture porn. The two biggest franchises working their way through cinemas were James Wan’s Saw and Eli Roth’s Hostel. Scares were secondary to splatter and intelligence was in short supply. I pretty much discounted an entire genre because there simply wasn’t anything for me.

On a whim, I ended up watching A Nightmare On Elm Street, only passingly aware of its brutal reputation. Over the next two hours, my perception of an entire genre changed. I was terrified and disgusted, but above all else, I was gripped. Freddy Krueger had sunk his claws into me and he wasn’t letting go.

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Review – Southpaw

30 Aug

Poster for 2015 sports drama Southpaw

Genre: Drama
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 24th July 2015
Runtime: 124 minutes
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Kurt Sutter
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Forest Whitaker, Oona Laurence, Naomie Harris, 50 Cent, Miguel Gomez, Rita Ora 
Synopsis: A tragic event causes a boxer to spiral into destruction. He must battle and brawl back to the top to rebuild his life.

 

 

The boxing movie is an enormous part of American cinema, from Raging Bull to Rocky. It’s Jake Gyllenhaal who takes centre stage in the genre’s latest entry, scripted by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter and directed by modern action movie supremo Antoine Fuqua. There’s little chance of it becoming a classic in the way of the two aforementioned movies, but it is a solid addition to one of the great American genres.

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Review – Inside Out

29 Aug

Poster for 2015 animated comedy Inside Out

Genre: Animation
Certificate: U
UK Release Date: 24th July 2015
Runtime: 102 minutes
Director: Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen
Writer: Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Pete Docter
Starring: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Richard Kind, Kaitlyn Dias, Kyle MacLachlan 
Synopsis: When her family moves home, a young girl’s life is turned upside down as the emotions in her head are shaken.

 

 

Once the most fiercely original voice in animated cinema, Pixar have cleaved to their proven successes in recent years, producing sequels and prequels. Given the slight disappointment of 2012’s Brave, you have to go back to 2009 and Up to find the last time the studio really scored on an original film. Appropriately enough, the director of that film, Pete Docter, leads Pixar back to its roots in breath-taking originality with the blisteringly emotional Inside Out.

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Review – True Story

29 Aug

Poster for 2015 crime drama True Story

Genre: Drama
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 17th July 2015
Runtime: 99 minutes
Director: Rupert Goold
Writer: Rupert Goold, David Kajganich
Starring: Jonah Hill, James Franco, Felicity Jones, Robert John Burke
Synopsis: A disgraced newspaper reporter finds himself an interesting new story to work on, when he discovers that an alleged killer used his name as an alias whilst on the run from the police.

 

 

When you think of a film starring both Jonah Hill and James Franco, you’d be forgiven for imagining any number of stoner comedy films the pair have appeared in over the last decade. You’re unlikely to think of a tense, dramatic true crime tale which mostly focuses on two men talking in a blank room. That’s exactly what we’ve got with True Story, which is an absorbing and engrossing film about the nature of truth.

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Bond Reloaded – A look back at Octopussy (1983)

29 Aug

Ahead of the release of SPECTRE this autumn, the Bond Reloaded series takes a weekly look back at each film in the iconic James Bond franchise. This week, Roger Moore dresses as a clown in Octopussy.

Roger Moore went to new levels of ridiculous in Octopussy

After the release of The Spy Who Loved Me, every Bond film was an uncertain project. The contract of lead actor Roger Moore was up, requiring each film to be individually negotiated. Moore was reluctant to return after For Your Eyes Only, leading to a search for a new man to wield the Walther PPK in Octopussy.

However, Eon soon got wind of a rival Bond project set to be released in the same year as Octopussy. Sean Connery had been enticed to star in Never Say Never Again – a remake of Thunderball. With the spectre of this competition on the horizon, Eon were keen to get Moore on board for their latest film.

They managed it, but then they put him in a clown uniform.

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Review – Self/less

28 Aug

Poster for 2015 thriller Self/less

Genre: Thriller
Certificate: 12
UK Release Date: 17th July 2015
Runtime: 117 minutes
Director: Tarsem Singh
Writer: David Pastor, Àlex Pastor
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Natalie Martinez, Matthew Goode, Ben Kingsley, Derek Luke, Victor Garber
Synopsis: A wealthy, dying businessman pays to have his consciousness transferred into a younger body, but discovers it comes with some major baggage.

 

 

When trailers for Self/less started to appear, I was immediately intrigued by its high concept. The notion of the rich being able to move themselves into new bodies to avoid death is incredibly interesting and, coupled with a resurgent Ryan Reynolds in the lead role, spelled success. However, the eventual film is something of a disappointment.

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Review – Ant-Man

28 Aug

Poster for 2015 Marvel superhero movie Ant-Man

Genre: Action
Certificate: 12
UK Release Date: 17th July 2015
Runtime: 117 minutes
Director: Peyton Reed
Writer: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Michael Peña, Judy Greer, Bobby Cannavale
Synopsis: A small-time thief is drafted by scientist Hank Pym to become a superhero with the power to shrink his size and harness the power of ants.

 

With Avengers: Age of Ultron arriving at the very beginning of the summer cinema season, you could be forgiven for having forgotten about Ant-Man. The film, which was a passion project for Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright, had mainly been talked about for its backroom controversies as Wright was replaced in the director’s chair by Peyton Reed. The final result, though, is Marvel’s best film of the year.

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