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Behind the Candelabra (2013)
This is the bizarre, complicated and, above all, wonderful world of Liberace
"I'm surprised that these people like something this gay," says Matt Damon's wide-eyed, country boy Scott Thorson as he watches Liberace for the first time.
We share in his bafflement when he is told that the adoring audience don't have the slightest inkling of his sexuality.
This is the bizarre, complicated and, above all, wonderful world of Liberace.
Behind the Candelabra was released as a television movie through HBO in America but comes to us on the big screen and isn't the biggest possible screen just what Liberace would have wanted? Michael Douglas gives an incredible performance as the flamboyant pianist and revels in the wigs, rings, diamonds and furs that make up his stage show.
Eschewing the standard biopic route, the film tells the story of Liberace's relationship with Thorson who became his chauffeur, lover and even, the film alleges, almost became his adopted son... www.ravechild.co.uk
Beware of Mr. Baker (2012)
Beware of Mr. Baker is a fascinating, humorous and at times fairly moving piece about one of rock and jazz's greatest drumming ancestors, Ginger Baker.
Beware of Mr. Baker is a fascinating, humorous and at times fairly moving piece about one of rock and jazz's greatest drumming ancestors, Ginger Baker. From the truly unholy amount of multi-decade long substance abuse, this is a man who should be long dead, and yet here he still is, able to tell his story when he feels like it. Baker goes down as a largely unsympathetic man that no one feels the need to speak politely of, nor does he expect or want them to. Beware of Mr. Baker is a fascinating film mostly because of the sheer amount of people director Jay Bulger manages to track down to speak about Baker...
Sleepwalk with Me (2012)
Jumping through a second story window because you think there is a missile trained on your location? Welcome to the life of Matt Pandamiglio
When does sleep walking stop being funny? Fighting a non-existent jackal in the middle of the night is all good fun.
Jumping through a second story window because you think there is a missile trained on your location? Welcome to the life of Matt Pandamiglio, a fledgling stand-up comedian trying to figure out his career, his relationship and his future.
Perhaps it's little wonder that he's struggling with sleep.
Pandamiglio is a thinly veiled alter ego for writer, director and star Mike Birbiglia who has adapted his real life experience for stage, print and now screen.
Independently financed, the film has been impressing audiences at film festivals the world over and is now available to British audiences as a download or to watch online from the official website.
My interest in Birbiglia stemmed from seeing a spark of Woody Allen in his work, so perhaps it's fitting that Sleepwalk With Me is very much his Annie Hall.
The confessional, autobiographical tale is told in New York conversations from Manhattan sidewalks and brownstones.
This is also a love story turned on its head, full of introspection and truthful portrayals of that very particular anxiety felt by ... www.ravechild.co.uk
The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
A significant improvement though still not the great film that we all seem to be waiting for from Cianfrance
The new Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) flick has been acquiring much buzz and anticipation and it's easy to see why with the Gos at the helm.
Full disclosure, I found Blue Valentine muddled and largely unsympathetic, and I'm still on the fence about whether Ryan Gosling is actually an actor or just a piece of eye-candy.
Anyway, my interest certainly piqued at this new feature, and it was a significant improvement though still not the great film that we all seem to be waiting for from Cianfrance.
Much like Blue Valentine, this focuses on the class system of the state of his native New York, and there are some breathtaking moments and scenery to be had, akin to the master Terence Malick.
Without going into spoilers, this film is at its best in its structure.
This almost becomes its own undoing when it lingers just a little too long in certain scenes (one thing I did like Blue Valentine for) and begins to drag particularly in the final third act but it's refreshing to see a young director take a chance within the triptych form... www.ravechild.co.uk
To the Wonder (2012)
More of an art installation than a film with some faux-documentary mixed in
To The Wonder is a visually and aurally stunning experience but this outweighs narrative and emotional engagement, leaving it a bit cold where it tries to be all-encompassing warm.
More of an art installation than a film (if it was cut down to half an hour it would be perfect) with some faux-documentary mixed in.
It's difficult to really say how people are acting in this film, because the lack of action or dialogue delivered in the piece is enough to really judge how it's performers are "acting".
No conversations or shot lasts any longer then they need to, so we pick up just enough to know what's happening, but it's also emotionally alienating because the viewer can never connect to these characters.
Ben Affleck looks barely there; not apparently able to share in Malick's vision of the emotionally sterile lead actor, instead just doing nothing and looking like he's wondered into the wrong film set.
Whereas Olga Kurylenko and Rachel McAdams both return strong performances as alternate choices and women, you can't help but feel frustrated as Affleck, the camera, audience sit and watch them try their best efforts to be human and lovers with hopes and dreams which this film (through Affleck) largely diffuses.
Javier Bardem however is perhaps more interesting, seemingly... www.ravechild.co.uk
O Som ao Redor (2012)
If Filho and his unique brand of realism is the future of Brazilian cinema, then it's in very capable hands
When the third wave of Cinema Novo was brought to an abrupt end, the quality of cinematic output coming from Brazil stagnated quite considerably.
It wasn't really until the films Central Station and City of God surfaced (the latter of which gaining significant critical acclaim) that Brazilian cinema was once again seen as a powerhouse in independent and avant film-making.
Much like the aforementioned films, the themes of class and social attitude have pervaded the fabric of the modern Brazilian film, which has become increasingly acute in these perceptions and engaging in the issues of a country which, although rapidly growing and progressing, still faces basic problems of a social landscape that is far from the ideal.
The opening images of the film displays real life footage of slavery in Brazil, of the sugar-mills, where the origins of Brazilian society are thought to have come from.
The images are immediately effecting, and provide an historical and cultural backdrop upon which the film can build over, depicting a new Brazilian society that has not altogether eloped and emancipated itself from the old, allowing there to be a passageway for the viewer to see the intrinsic connection between past and present.
Neighbouring Sounds then drops us into the centre of a middle-class suburban housing residency, it's modern, clean and diverse; a seeming flagship for a prospering Brazil.
Beyond the haven of white walls and swimming pools lies the expansive vista that displays the city of Recife, with its high... www.ravechild.co.uk
Cloud Atlas (2012)
It's hard to even begin saying what is wrong with Cloud Atlas because there is so much inherently wrong with it
So then, where to begin with this? Cloud Atlas, the new Tom Tykwer/Wachowski's film adapted from David Mitchell's massively successful novel of the same name; an ambitious, time-traveling epic narrative on fate and history.
Many suggested on hearing of this film's production that it couldn't be done, and to cut to the chase (something the film could learn from) it turns out it can't.
How a near three-hour film can be so rushed and unfocused that it seems to properly adapt this it would need to be a TV series, except LOST has already been and gone and people had a lot more patience with that.
As much of an open-mind that I tried to keep with Cloud Atlas, I felt my resistance to it being slowly worn down as we switched from one exotic time zone and location to another with no real purpose or abandon, hackneyed meaning forced upon me followed by terribly base humor and unnecessary ultra-violence.
It's hard to even begin saying what is wrong with Cloud Atlas because there is so much inherently wrong with it, it's a fairly overwhelming task; much more consuming then actually attempting to watch the thing.
It would perhaps be best to start with the few positives I can find in it... www.ravechild.co.uk
John Dies at the End (2012)
John Dies At The End is a post-modernist, demented devil spawn of a film vomited sporadically upon an unsuspecting screen
The title tells us that John dies at the end he does die, at some point I'm quite sure, was it at the start, middle or end, I'm not sure.
I don't even know when the film begins, or if in fact it ever does.
John Dies At The End is a post-modernist, demented devil spawn of a film vomited sporadically upon an unsuspecting screen.
It follows two unlikely drug fuelled "heroes" David Wong and John Cheese as they embark on a time shifting journey to save the destruction of the world, or at least that's what I think I gathered was happening.
The plot (or lack of) is not really what director Coscarelli concentrates his attention on, instead opting to go for shock and style over any actual substance.
The dialogue sometimes meanders into pseudo-intellectual ramblings and post-Matrix consciousness but never really goes deeper than the two slacker protagonists allow it to.
Instead, I was more impressed with the exciting visuals that are thrown in our face.
Demons, shadow monsters, ghost hands and absurd hallucinations are regular guests in the nonsensical world that we are exposed to, so much so that we completely suspend any sort of real expectations and surrender to the lunacy of the film... www.ravechild.co.uk
The Look of Love (2013)
Coogan brings his chameleonship to the role of Paul Raymond
Michael Winterbottom understands how to get the best from Steve Coogan.
This, his fourth feature film working with Coogan, has him utilising both the well cultured comedic timing of Coogan and his remarkable ability to evoke sympathy from characters that would otherwise be seen as deplorable.
Coogan this time brings his chameleonship to the role of Paul Raymond, a pioneer in the British adult magazine industry.
A hedonist by nature, Raymond seemingly has everything you would expect from leading such a lifestyle; the admiration of young women, expensive cars, an excessive wealth, which has bought him half the properties in Soho and all the drugs that a party hard club owner in the 70s could desire.
Winterbottom seems obsessed with the 70s, having previously made 24 Hour Party People (also starring Coogan) a film set in the tail end of the decade charting the rising profile of the Manchester music scene...
NO does a great deal to make the words and discourse behind an election sound very exciting
NO is the story of the advertising campaign surrounding the 1988 referendum that was supposed to "elect" General Pinochet to another eight years of dictatorship in Chile, win or lose.
Pinochet's government were an arrogant bunch; 15 years of dictatorship will do that to you, to the point that the election was largely seen as a farcical exercise merely to validate his rule.
So, the fact that this election campaign won a seemingly un-winnable election and validate real democracy in that it began the end of Pinochet's rule is still a pretty incredible turn of events.
The film itself tells the story of Rene Saavedra (Gael García Bernal) an in demand advertiser with a troubled home life who spearheads the NO campaign by putting a positive, consumerist spin on it with plenty of humour to be had... www.ravechild.co.uk