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Early Man (2018)
Cinema & football, coming together, beautifully.
27 January 2018
A fine combination of British humour and what others' may call the Beautiful Game, that is also commonly known as football, that is Early Man. Its all done by stop-motion technology, this genre is not as ancient as the subject matter seen within Early Man, with such titles worth searching out being the first use of this technique as "The Humpty Dumpty Circus" (1897) and such as "The Lost World" (1925), "King Kong" (1933) to "Jason and the Argonauts" (1963) and in more updated times, "James and the Giant Peach" (1996) the "Wallace and Gromit" franchise and "Chicken Run" (2000) amongst many others' having used this same principle of filmmaking.

Early Man tells the story of the bygone age of stone and the crossover of, and advancement of man, with the induction of bronze, an age that first made is appearance around 2300BC within Europe, and how these differing cultural backgrounds competed against one another in order to survive. Like, very much in a fashion, "Escape to Victory" (1981) an oppressive regime forces, albeit here, a weaker, inexperienced and totally inept rag-tag of village idiots to a game of football, with the spoils favorably on the side of the oppressors.

It is all fun and games and contains more than a wiff of tounge-in-cheek banter toward this English phenomenon, and to an extent a nod to, allegedly, the greed that may be the Premier League? Early Man is a fine example of how this genre of stop-motion works on the big screen, this is, all being said, an Aardman Animations (with, too, the French Studio Channel company) production. This is simply top-class film making and with titles under its belt as "Flushed Away" (2006), "Arthur Christmas" (2011), "Shaun the Sheep Movie" (2015) et al Early Man will only add to its canon.

There is a real feel of Englishness here, with its English cast as Timothy Spall, Richard Ayoade, Maisie Williams, Tom Hiddleston, Eddie Redmayne and Johnny Vegas leading a top-end lineup that needs no substitute's. What is interesting, also, is the films, almost, fictitious location, with the centre of adventure being placed in and around Manchester, the home of the world's richest, to date, football club; Manchester United.

Early Man is a fine, family, fun film that will certainly be beneficial to both film and, or, sport fans alike, of all ages, it has a mixed-bag of humour that will more than entertain and enlighten and, too, certainly does not take the Beautiful Game too seriously. Done not to a distasteful manner but with coming onto the pitch with eyes wide open and the occasional football parody does not hurt both film and sport, but only joins them together in harmonious rapture.
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Downsizing (2017)
Ignorance is no excuse.
24 January 2018
Downsizing is more of a film that centres on and around the concept of less-is-more, but a film that shows us that the pysical size is totally irrelevant to the fact that it is how much, as human beings, we are prepared to put into the world that we share.

From the onset we are told that if we were to downsize not only would prosperity and happiness become an instant trait that would deliver direct economical and social benefits it would, in turn, save the world from implosion via the effects of global warming, pollution, overpopulation and indulgence. More to the point, the narrative here is a parallel universe that is simply a carbon copy of the larger world that some have chosen to readily except, and some to escape. The creation of downsizing, originally, was souly for the intention to benefit the planet and in turn to save the human race from its impending, and inevitable, doom. Human nature is never too far away.

What is interesting here is that we quickly see that no matter what lies upon the new tiny surface we are still prone to social etiquette, a class system of rich & poor, haves and have-nots and with it a shallow and cold society that carries an air of material indifference rather than a union of a new Brotherhood and new world order. The dream is rather fleeting to those here who have to cook, clean and toil to survive in this decadent world. We see the hard-sell and in the background the hard reality of those who truly live it, truly experience it.

This is very much a film that is pointing us in the direction of salvation, if we choose to take it, if we choose to see it; a warning shot over the bow, but still a choice. Wisdom over ignorance. Passion over apathy. Responsibility over indifference.

Downsizing works on many levels, what with its message of the dying planet, its humanitarian slant and the unenlightened populace, all done with a serious, but dark comidec manner. But, the overall picture, the overall blame and the overall consequence has always been down to how we see and participate not only with the planet in which we cohabit but, too, and just as importantly, each other, as a human race.
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Suicide Squad (2016)
A soul nearly condemned to death.
14 August 2016
What can we say about the latest summer blockbuster of 2016 that is Suicide Squad? Alternatively, more to the point, what positive observations can be said of this extremely hyped and over-sold movie? Well, not a lot apparently.

This is not a writers' concern here, meaning that what we see here on Screen from this particular genre is to be expected, and it really is not too heavy to digest nor is it surprising and innovative. No, what we have here is a visual bombastic overload; too over-produced and too much going-on to make any smooth and even sensibility. The whole escapade begs too many questions as to point out that the graphics, in part also, the visual narrative and its projection, are simply too messy that, in turn, only deprives the viewer from any pleasure it tries to convey. This then, sadly, turns the final feel and mood of the whole experience into a what-could-have-been to shame-about-that and resets the tone from hyped monster to nothing more than a Dirty Dozen retrospective with migraine inducing illustration.

The premise is a simple affair that really does not hold too much weight for character development and only gives us a skimming of background development to just keep the level of interest in motion, typical of this genre. The overuse of Rock and Pop tracks are poorly placed and badly timed to the point of distraction and is extremely irrelevant in areas that really do not hold contention. Where this may have been an interesting guise, at least, and in some part it just pulls it off. Overall there is soundtrack saturation to only bug and bore the viewer insofar that it seems that this tact not only tries to explain the narrative further it seems, at worst, to patronise the viewer as to make them seem incapable as to fully understand the narrative without an extra source.

On the positive, there are some moments that are worthy of merit, and this is seeing Mr. Smith enter this genre, and making a good show too boot, there seems to be a close level playing field with egos that does not tarnish this project. With the Poster Girl for this movie is the eye-catching Margot Robbie that add both glamour and humour to set the mood and the spine-chilling Viola Davis that brings a grimly posture to the proceedings which each carries the film onward and upward.

It is not a too bad a movie, and it really will be seen once more, but what does let it down is that the graphics', and soundtrack, within certain areas, are trying too hard, too quickly and too vigorously.
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Cult Status?
17 March 2014
Somehow, after seeing The Zero Theorem I have a little niggle that this particular Terry Gilliam film will not reach the status of Cult Movie.

Mr. Gilliam filmmaking meritocracy has given us plenty to pick our brains'. His pedigree has surpassed the test of time and continued to thrive on their own individuality. As a visual-auteur, Mr. Gilliam has made what can be best described as cult films, take your pick, but, with the passing of time, I really do think that his latest edition to his repertoire may have, not by spite, simply slipped away into the abyss of standardisation.

This final instalment simply seems to be lacking in high-end originality, such is the irony to his auteur status here, The Zero Theorem does contain some fine points that delve, while not too deeply, into the human soul, the rest, the visuals, are your typical default Gilliam traits. What depth that is here is undercut by the Gilliam symbols.

We look into the life of one man who is disillusioned to the point of fear and apathy and with his want of the answer to the ultimate question; he dips into loneliness, depression and frustration. What makes the narrative more painful, that is for Qohen Leth not the viewer, is that the answers are, and have always been, staring right in front of him all along, and wisdom rather than knowledge added with the correct amount of strength and courage is all what is needed to have the ultimate question answered.

A nice little film whose mission is to fill the (Qohen Leth) heart with confidence and relinquish personal demons. Quaintly passable but as a standalone film it feels all too trite and with great sadness this edition to the Mr. Gilliam camp may be his weakest link which in hindsight may also be lacking in strength and courage to warrant it as a cult classic.
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RoboCop (2014)
Turns itself into crashed, banged and walloped.
7 February 2014
Personally, I was really disappointed by this movie, it seemed to fail to have what I would call courage & conviction to play its part in the myth that is Robocop. While having a setting of more than just a theme of Cops & Robbers, it delves into the world of corporate business that has a hold on the whole shebang. This is a lightweight contention that has a simple story of family, corruption, science and revenge; all-well-and-good, but it still lacks any grit that constitutes this type of genre. The lack of any no-holds-barred grown-up action lets it down that in turn makes this more of a Saturday Matinée than a Midnight Movie. This was an experience without spirit, and at times predictable filmmaking, you simply saw what was coming next albeit in the script department, no originality and far too bland to warrant any real crash-bang-wallop.

What, too, lets this film seem more than tedious is its touch of extreme narcissistic values on its repetitive characteristic that it has to perpetually tell the viewer that there is only one Nation and that within this one nation, and its one peoples', there is the only one alternative to this new, futuristic Brave New World. Its stance here quickly becomes sour and reaches the point of obnoxiousness that never recedes. This is more than reflective psychology but a dim look into an attitude that conveys a world of narrow vision and one-dimensional traits.

The character's are too clichéd, too stereotyped; bland and, once more, one-dimensional, while Mr. Oldman and Mr. Keaton do do their jobs finely but add no real depth to the score, the remainder are too easily forgot. The use of Samuel L. Jackson's Pat Novak, can, at best, be described as a wasted exercise; this go-between is an unnecessary attempt to project this films narrative further. This not only fails at its job, but also could well have diluted the films mainstay. Whilst the action sequences' and effects' are slightly passable it, while not too surprising and exciting, is barely holding the whole piece together, it slips quietly under the radar, only popping its narrative head up more than often to remind its viewer who, exactly, is its target audience. To conclude it is a weak project that could have being firing on all cylinders but instead tends to backfire due to the lack of any real want for the film to finish first at the finish line.
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Only the Royal Box was empty.
2 February 2013
This gig sold-out within an hour of tickets going on sale at the venues box-office (November 14th) and it being, too, the first time the Coliseum had held a concert of this type. This culture clash did have its differences, particularly between the hippie type Rock audience and the Opera Houses' rather well-to-do traditional staff and their policies of etiquette.

The shot footage, here, was originally intended to be used for a forthcoming film entitled "Tommy" but the quality of the footage was deemed too poor and, in the end, the "Tommy" project was postponed (what footage was used can be seen in the 1979 film "The Kids Are Alright"). With such a show of this era, the era of Townshend wearing his white boiler suit and Daltrey's tassel's and flowing locks, this was the period when the band were at its tightest, its heaviest and its most energetic, with pure dynamism and control, your average Who gig would average from two to three hours. The night they played this 2500 seater was no different, this set spanned two and a half hour's. We see the Who performing "Tommy" (this being the first time the rock opera had been filmed) some seven months after the album had been released, and this performance here, as part of their tour of 1969.

Using several 16mm cameras (three in the stalls, pit and on stage) and due to the dark and grainy cinematography within the film for the fact that the lighting was set-up primarily for the theatre and not Rock music, some of the concert was unable to be captured, the music and soundtrack were recorded on a two-track recorder. With each camera only capable of holding twelve minutes of film does give the whole visual experience some sense of amateurish feel, to the point of it looking like a poorly directed bootleg. This all adds to the flavour of the times and gives the impression of a raw and rough & ready deliverance with what can seem like poor editing and irritating screen-jumps that comes with this mixed bag of rock, opera, theatre and stage.

Within the combination of poor visual quality, iffy edits and dodgy seque's, this really is a spectacular event that only rises the temperature the further the show drives along. Where this film lacks in visual expertise it certainly makes up for the fact that this, still, elaborate and dexterous rock n' roll performance and in its own unique way is highly individualistic simply because of the trappings of its settings. This may be your standard late sixties Who concert but this, too, is a film that stands out from the norm. Yes, we have four individuals strutting their collective stuff, but we also have a tremendous attribute to the virtues of Rock music and even if this piece had been sitting in the vaults for thirty-eight years, ironically, age has not withered and rotted away the energy of the performance nor has it eroded the attitude of its major components.
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It's all been a terrible mistake and misunderstanding.
28 January 2013
By the time Adolf Hitler (b. 1889) had written Mein Kampf (My Struggle) he had already surmised that at least half of Germany's problems during World War 1 were due to the lack of vision and skill to use and project propaganda, to give it its political tag, enlightenment. This, the method of control of the mind, body and soul to enhance its people to complete dominance, oppression and obedience of the Will through fear, hatred, paranoia, to the point of xenophobia. Hitler had learned his lesson with extreme interest and with the onslaught of his uprising to the days of his decline he had used the medium of the moment; film.

Dr. (Paul) Joseph Goebbels (b. 1897), Hitler's appointed minister for Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, had total control over all mediums, and film and cinema were to be his greatest ally. (Worthy of note here is the David Welch book "Propaganda and the German Cinema; 1933-1945" that delves into the mind and machine that is both Goebbels and his highly controlled medium which analyses major German propaganda film and documentaries of that era).

Here, with reel one, with A Film Unfinished, we see the birth of an idea that bears fruition but is never completed; the title of this film, within this documentary that is being examined is, simply, called The Ghetto. With no dialogue, no sound but simply a moment caught in time, it is, on first viewing, an account of life within the Ghetto of Warsaw: good, bad or indifferent. It is with this in mind that we are given an account of several interwoven worlds; we are shown the rich, the poor, the destitute and those with, seemingly, influence all congesting in one tiny mass of land, three square miles, committing to weddings, parties, funerals, a circumcision and life, all 400,000.

What A Film Unfinished tries to dispel here is the fact that with the finding of a second reel, later, the whole process before now looks very much tainted and dubious, Ms. Yael Hersonski has uncovered a conspiracy of fear and total obedience within the Warsaw Ghetto, conducted by the Nazi propaganda machine. Breaking the myth that what we have witnessed beforehand has been nothing more than a fabricated, constructed and manipulated tool to express how the Nazi regime and in particular, the Jewish community here, were living life happily, freely and independently.

This valid point of photo manipulation begs the question "What can we believe?", if this second reel had never been found would we still, with extreme caution perhaps, take the whole scenario for granted? What Ms. Hersonski has done is to discharge the myth of life, not so much as in the Ghetto, but the Nazis' point of view of life within its streets, with the account of first hand witnesses' and to have, too, an account from one of the Nazi camera crew. All making their point very well, an elaborate hoax.

What cannot be covered up with lies here is the squalor, deprivation and hunger that conflicts with the affluent rich that coincide with this open prison, this, just may have been the image that the Nazi propaganda machine wanted to project, a polar opposite of a community living side-by-side. To steer both resentment and disgust for these people by portraying them as weak and at the same time a selfish race.

The scene in which children caught with food under their clothing and forced to empty their pockets, seeing the food spill out onto the street, is both heartbreaking and at the same time untrustworthy, again, one has to be careful in judging what we see, as we have now become aware that not all we see is accountably factual. This is the power of the medium of film and this, too, ironically, is the power of Ms. Hersonski work here. Raising questions that need to be asked, has the documentary film ever been so poorly placed, so exposed to the point of questionable doubt. Can we truly believe in what we are seeing, even with today's medium playing its role in contemporary societies? There is only one possible simple answer, one possible simple solution, trust not in what you see on the screen but trust more in what one has to say, to hear and to experience. This is where the true documentary lies.
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Miners (1976)
One grain of sand in the realms of time.
27 January 2013
What makes this National Coal Board (NCB) film so wonderful is the way in which it portrays Britain's proud and industrious industry some two years after their initial national strike, by the National Union of Mineworkers' (NUM) against the NCB, for better pay conditions. These actions brought Britain to its knees with a three-day week, power shortages and ultimately bringing down the Tory (Conservative) government.

Miners, directed by Peter Pickering, goes deep into the mines and the homes of those living in Bagworth, Leicestershire and is an account of life within this mining community and more particularly, the way-of-life deep within the collieries themselves. We are, too, invited into the living rooms of the women who also live this life and who bear testimonies, apprehensions and concern of their men who day-in-day-out work in these extremely poor conditions.

Told in voiceovers by the miners' themselves as the film journeys with them into the dark abyss of cages, pit-helmets, machines and coalface. We are given first hand accounts of the vast experience, for example, of how and why the mining environment would, and does, transcends life rather than it being oppressed in factories with the comradeship of the mining community. This is more than an insight; this is an education on pure British, blue-collar working class life, as dirty as the job may be this documentary is a refreshing look into a bygone age of 1970s Britain.

By the time, this nostalgic timepiece had been shot and the years had gone by, it was then the decade of Privatisation and the 1980s. The Conservative government, spearheaded by Margaret Thatcher, had sold, and closed, most, if not all, of the mines, another major strike had come and gone (1984-85) and this time it was to be the miners' who would lose, and with pits closing and miners losing their jobs, the epicentre of communities crumbled from within the homes themselves.

There are no more working mines left in the British Isle's and what there is are now only disused mines, working museums, empty lots, parking spaces, homes or shopping centres etc. The once "from generation to generation" mentality, as depicted within this film, had now wholly evaporated and that is the real, sadly, the only, purpose of this tiny snippet of English culture, to highlight a once thriving industry that held strong believes and with its working colliery was also the backbone of this thriving, living community.

Inside the realms of the English kitchen sink genre two films that revolve around the lives of the British mining community, that are worth a mention here, are Brassed Off (1996) and Billy Elliot (2000), two very different films but one central axis and, also, the tongue-in-cheek parody of the then Alternative comedy set that was The Comic Strip Presents…with their own special brand of humour and irony and their personal interpretation, of the 1984-5 strike, that is called …The Strike (1988). This is why Miners is such a valuable archive, of an era of pride, prosperity and optimism, there is no tone of malice or bitterness here; these are men who want to work and are proud to work on these coalfaces. This is more than an invitation to an inside look at an English workers' environment, this is, too, a wonderful and reflective monument of a golden age that does this culture proud whose, now, epitaph has been written in the sands of time.
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The Hunt (I) (2012)
This could be the scoop you'd want to die for.
25 January 2013
The survivalist horror film genre, the concept of humans hunting other humans, for whatever purpose, never strays onto the path of uniformity. While the undercurrent motive remains largely very similar, it is a well presented and interesting genre. Classics such as Turkey Shoot (1982), The Running Man (1987), Hard Target (1993) and the greats' that are Battle Royale (2000), Predators (2010) and Hunger Games (2012) do show that there is variation, imagination and interest in this particular genre.

Director, writer and editor Thomas Szczepanski has tipped his toe within this genre pool and has given a slightly surprising attempt at human confliction. Alex, a small-time reporter is under pressure to find that big scoop and with the sleazy backdrop of porn shops and strippers comes across an extremely secretive and brutal sport of where those who can afford to pay can afford to play, play that game of cat & mouse. Where the result is death and the rule of the game is there are no rules.

What makes this particular venture interesting is the way in which the unfortunate subjects' are enrolled into this elite den of depravity; kidnapped by feature-less white masked wearing thugs in monochrome outfits. Then after finding themselves tied & gagged with tongues cut out, and forced to, literally, run for their live, with each carrying their own purse of value, whoever slays the rabbit will venture in its worth.

This bears more than a feeling of foreboding; it actually accentuates the power of the situation that this reporter has naively placed himself. The whole experiment toward this genre does a fine job in building a steady rapport with Alex and empathising to his plight with the horrors with which he bears witness.

Being a French production, we should at least feel that we are in for a bloody treat while the production values are cheap and the location settings sparse. Whilst not comparing this expedition to the likes of other French Masters' as Martyrs (2008), La Horde (2009) and La Meute (2010), for example, but The Hunt does have its own values in shock, repulsion and bloodstained sequences to match the biggest of budgets. What also propels this feature further is the musical score by Fabio Poujouly, which really drives the action and sickening predicaments to another level and gels the fear and butchery together.

An independent venture, The Hunt is not a bad attempt, and too, not a poor one either, with seemingly restrictive finances it does do what it can in that it repels and disgusts, and thus, too, by doing its utmost to entertain becomes another drop in the ocean of the survivalist horror film genre.
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Airborne (2012)
A good level-entry and a well-cooked appetiser for this genre.
18 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Seeing Mark Hamill in the film Sushi Girl (2012) it was time to see just how well he had adapted outside the realms of the Star Wars franchise and into the wider circles of movie-making. Airborne, does, as first, seem a real low-budget turkey, while the settings and cast are somewhat minimal in stature the whole project here comes over as a well-executed and entertaining movie. While the character development may be a little thin on the ground, but there are a varied type and style of character here to give a broad outlet of play, it is the guessing-game and red herrings and plot diversions and masking what is really going on under the surface that keeps this film on tender hooks. This is throwing the hot potato around, not enough to confuse, but just enough to make distractions and assumptions, playing, and coxing the viewer into believing what they see is what they get. In addition, a very good musical score projects the tension and atmosphere to its relevant level that gives a good result all round.

A group of characters' embark on a plane journey, from England to the USA, in some very poor weather conditions, and that's just the start of their troubles, as there are just as worrying concerns inside this metal-bird as evil takes control, in both its spiritual form and the physical. So continues the passing of claustrophobic paranoia and mystic legends that entwine to bring an exciting adventure in the sky.

The plot itself is quite sufficient to keep the ball rolling, even if its weakest points are all too obvious. With the likes of Alan Ford (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels - 1998), Billy Murray ("The Bill", Stalker - 2010), Andrew Shim (Dead Man's Shoes - 2004, This Is England - 2006), Julian Glover (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - 1989, The Halloween Kid - 2011 short) and Mr. Hamill, pushing it along with their respective personalities and charisma. It all makes up for a fun and rather exciting bout of tension and claustrophobic action. The resulting effort by writer Paul Chronnell (b.1968) and director Dominic Burns (b.1983) have created an impressive little number here and while no turkey this film does hold its own and can feather its bed in accountability for this particular genre.
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Family themed frolics in fantasy land.
10 February 2012
Very roughly based on the great fantasy adventure writer Jules Vernes' (1828-1905) work, we have a contemporary setting of a family torn by absent fathers, missing grandfathers and wannabe step dads and growing pains of teenage angst. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is your average film with its average plot that not only consists of one young, and rather rude and insolent, adolescent who insists that travelling around the world in search of his missing grandfather and the Island of mystery without parental guidance and consent is quite the norm.

In contrast to this, we have Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the stepfather, Hank, who is trying to break down barriers and connect with his stepson Sean (Josh Hutcherson) who is more than determined, and preoccupied, to finding his mystery prize. Mr. Johnson plays the role with little ado but can be, too, charismatic and hold a strong screen presence which holds the whole thing together.

The use of Michael Caine as Alexander is a strange one though; it is never really explained as to why Sean's grandfather has an English accent as apposed to the American accents from the rest of the family. In the end, Mr. Caine does a good job as old adventurous gramps and the cocky side to his nature soon becomes apparent when Hank turns up and the war-of-words between these two alpha males soon changes its tone to mutual respect and camaraderie. It is very much the male-bonding type movie here, all differences are soon quashed, and the true adventure begins.

Luis Guzmán (The Hard Way, 1991, Traffic, 2000, Mystery Men, 1999) as both Gabato and comic relief and his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens; Sucker Punch, 2011) as love interest and eye-candy fit in perfectly to the proceedings. We see Mr. Guzmán with the best lines, which defuse the tension between the two adults and their family rivalries, not to mention the horrors of the Island itself. Curiously enough, though, Luis Guzmán is nowhere to be seen in the films publicity shot, in particular, concerning the main headliners' running across the lizard eggs and being chased by said lizard.

The negative aspects of this film can be seen in its actual narrative, in the way that it is simply too short a story, the concept here is superb but a long way off the mark from its true roots. The sad thing here is that as soon as the adventure begins, as they enter the island, and meet old gramps, they are thrown into turmoil and the holiday is over, they are looking for an escape route. No true adventure and no time left to explore the island proper, where the real adventure, no doubt, begins. This, literally, non-stop episode feels flat and is the weakest link in the chain, too bad that they, and the viewer, could not have seen more of this mysterious island and seen more of an adventure.

There are films out there that are more inclined to be honest to the novels own narrative and maybe a try of Mark Sheppard's (2110), Cy Endfield (1961) and Russell Mulcahy's TV movie of 2005 interpretation of the Jules Vernes 1874 novel may seem fitting. Brad Peyton's version is okay, in as such that this is more directed as a family adventure and this is its heartbeat that rings throughout and no bad thing either, rather than the adult theme the original dictates. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island does not raise-the-bar but in the ladder of evolution may only just be starting to climb itself out of the primeval bog of Jules Verne's classic fantasy adventures.
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Imaginative and surreal dark comedy from space; cult classic worthy.
17 January 2012
This late 1980s cult movie is reminiscent of the 1950s B-movie sci-fi genre with films such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and The Blob (1958), Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a marvellous updated version of the time when this genre thrived on the fear of alien invasion, usually Martian, and small town, usually American, paranoia of the unknown.

The unknown here being the films main source of thrills and entertainment, clowns from outer space, coming to earth to use humans as food. It is not only the films main narrative here that enthrals, but also the way in which these extremely evil and unsettling looking clowns go about their business. Killer Klowns is a tree-way-split, as we have the invading clowns and the battling teenagers who are, too, at odds with the Cove Crescent local Law enforcement such as the charismatic John Vernon (1932 - 2005) (Dirty Harry, 1971 & Animal House, 1978) who plays the rough, cynical and generation-gapped cop Moonie who shines with pure style, determination and personality.

We also see the clowns artillery that is, of course, circus based, all those nice and pleasant circus toy's and attractions that have become associated with fun and games are turned around and used as deadly weapons of war, all unnerving as we see each unwitting victim drawn into the trap that has so treacherously been sprung. Killer Klowns is not only a horror science fiction tale but also an entertaining comedy that bring freshness to this genre, albeit, too, the killer clowns persona and imaginative and bizarre surroundings that perpetuate the feel of certain dread and foreboding. Clowns are cute, cuddly, funny and romantic; these Klowns are quite the reverse and are not too proud to show it. The biggest personality,though, within this film has to be the ultra-strange flying saucer, in the guise of a large circus Big Top, and the labyrinth of deathly corridors and monster, literally, surprises. It's all so confusing and bewildering to the eye and is more than an integral part of the films proceedings. Along with its eerie electronic soundtrack, and the way that it can turn it itself around from its black comedy tones and delve into the world of the surreal that never leaves the creepy atmosphere of the superb soundtrack of the 1950s science fiction B-movie; superlative, imaginative and worthy of this franchise's respect.
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A 3D fiasco with a 1D experience.
16 January 2012
With only the option to seeing this film in 3-dimension, The Darkest Hour, here, should have its name extended to the darkest eighty-nine minutes, this movie, pushing the gimmick of 3D as its, seemingly but not, only interesting niche, this film, as a whole, simply does not push and open boundaries in, ironically, any way other than the films main theme would have you believe.

Its agonising cinema having to sit through a wafer-thin plot. Weak and shallow at best, and with elusive characters that are quickly dismissed as quickly as they arrive, no feeling of empathy here but a shiver of apathy and less than mediocre sensationalism that this genre should at least bring with it. The golden age of sci-fi has firmly turned to rust and eroded completely with contemporary filmmaking, even to the point pushing for the happy ending between the Olivia Thirlby's Natalie and her finally finding that her mother is alive and well; sentimental mush that showed no guts or bravery to be worthy of an honest science fiction movie. With these one-dimensional beings that live in this 3-dimensional world, it is all too easy watching and never raises-the-bar to any level of contention, passive cinema is what we have here.

While an interesting concept, invisible invading creatures come to earth killing all they encounter to steal the worlds minerals, enhancing the films narrative to a degree of depth and dread would have steadfast the excitement levels to a higher plain. The Darkest Hour misses the mark completely and turns itself into a edifice of dull repertoire that has the charisma and style of a dead light bulb.
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Dead Snow (2009)
Mildly warm humour set against a frosty bite of horror.
10 January 2012
More than just a simple zombie movie Dead Snow is a zombie film with personality. Several friends take to the mountains near the town of Øksfjord, Norway, (coincidently its English translation is Axefjord) and shack-up in the wilderness of back-of-beyond to enjoy a little R & R together. Their peace is soon interrupted by a mysterious old man, warning them of a local curse that during the German occupation of the local area that these Nazi invaders were brutal and harsh in their methods of control. Telling of the legend of the villager's revolt and driving them up into the cold, dark mountains where they perished, that is until rumour of their return in the form of zombies, evil Nazi zombies.

Dead Snow is a surprisingly fun and at the same time horrific film, that takes the zombie genre and places itself into its own unique style of wit and gore. While not completely independent from the typical zombie and victim outlay, for the characters here, they are pretty much one- dimensional and it is all too easy to feel indifferent toward them, as they make no connection on screen other than toward their own reflection. This too, adds to a weak plot that is being held together only by its wit and substantial special effects team.

We see some great effects here and fantastic Nazi Schutzstaffel costumes with greater Nazi zombie make-up applied, here we too see these Nazi soldier zombies, led by the evil Colonel Herzog, walking and running in the snow, fighting as if the war had never been lost; nasty, vengeful and athletic dead. This makes for a great atmosphere that both the living and the dead are on an equal-par and it is just about anybodies game of survival. Ripping and tearing each other apart, literally. This is the twist that holds its viewer as these Nazi zombies are vigorously obedient to their beloved Third Reich and too can leap out of bushes and clamber up trees, its all good stuff and with its humour, and historical connotations, altogether, Dead Snow makes up for an avalanche of horror that buries its dead with full horror tradition.
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Brutal Relax (2010)
Wish you were here.
8 November 2011
Shorts, albeit fifteen minutes in length as in this case, simply do not come better as this, if combined comedy and horror is your cup-of-tea. Mr. Olivares has been given Doctor's orders to take a well earned holiday, after what seems like a detox of high anxiety and stress, and to relax, meet new people, sunbath, take pictures and above all avoid all manner of stress.

It is not only José Ma. Angorrilla, who plays the tense Mr. Olivares, and his Mexican "handle-bar" moustache, that takes hold of the limelight here but the way in which we see him taking his own style of relaxation; plopping into a wet, muddy pit and immersing himself in its qualities, totally, at the amusement of the other holidaymakers.

The cause of Mr. Olivarez's condition is never bought to light, just his cure, but the completely bizarre and hilarious, and extremely shocking, way in how poor Mr. Olivares deals with this stream-pressure release will make Tom Savini look like a choir boy on a Sunday outing. It all comes to the boil as Mr. Olivares is quietly listening to his Walkman (portable audio cassette player) and the beach is invaded from what can only be described as creatures-from-the-deep, human in form but demonic in both appearance and nature, they then proceed to mutilate, brutalise and kill all those on the tiny enclosed, pebbled beach. That is until Mr. Olivares's portable audio cassette player packs-in and his stress levels bring themselves to the boil once more, resulting in pure mayhem and madness in a battle sequence that will have you squirming with hilarious reaction. It is a battle that has the best special effects and make-up that will stand proudly next to any recent, or past, epic zombie movie.

While only a smattering of dialogue at the very beginning, "Brutal Relax" shows itself in the guise of the Silent comedies, the language of its highly explicit visuals and stupendously funny antics are all that are needed to tell this story of violent conflict and of how Mr. Olivares copes with his stress levels. Showing at the Leeds International Film Festival (November 2011) it had a healthy response and is really best seen on the Big Screen with many like mined people to appreciate the full force of the grotesque and the dark humour. It'll make you laugh, it'll make you squirm and after this, you're going to need a good, long holiday to get over it.
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Hanna (2011)
Same old same old, with a difference.
14 May 2011
I thought this movie had a lot of promise to begin with and the concept of a young girl holding her own in the fields of battle looked, again, promising, and the beautiful and charming cinematography gave the film and its look a distinct charm of individuality.

Act one seemed to be heading off in at least one direction, that was until she had smuggled herself onto the Spanish mainland and from this moment onward the film falls flat and turns itself into a standard, mediocre, but still, at times, beautifully shot movie.

The mood and texture of this film, the second act, is a decaying inner urban city feel and look but the weakest point here is its drive and direction of exactly where we, as an audience, and the films narrative are heading. The second act follows this young child into the unknown and it is here that the film falters in so much as its narrative is then turned into one, long continuous drama of chase, hunt and hunted.

While its soundtrack does its best to emphasise the girls surroundings, see Children of Men (2006) to get the exact feel here too, it is only let down by is perpetual scenario of this go nowhere plot. The first act only brings you up to be unexpectedly dropped down to earth again, with a bang of disappointment and predictability, to the point of unclosed predictions leading to too many unanswered questions. This all feels rather weak and lacking in any depth and form to carry the next scene along.

Saoirse Ronan shines and plays the girl who knows life's knowledge and too knows nothing of life's experience is the only true individual here while the rest of her companions are given clichéd roles that, sadly, toward the end give off a clichéd setting and conclusion. The characters are exciting, are menacing and deadly, the settings and locations are interesting and brooding and the soundtrack has that urban feel about it, giving the film its edge, but, this young child, Hanna, is only let down by the long and open road of closed-off writing and an unchallenging second act. It is all too unfair for this young victim of deadly pursuits and it feels, toward its end, all too familiar.
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Its well funny and well horrifying, ya get me.
14 May 2011
Fire and brimstone arrive in the concrete jungle of inner city South London in the guise of some extremely ferocious and fearsome space monsters and London bad-boys', when their mums' allow. This truly funny and dark movie concentrates on the small band of street bruvs' who are unwittingly thrown into the deep end of an alien invasion and are bound together to save the neighbourhood, the tower block, which they call home.

With a street view of urban language and culture, Attack the Block has the script of, both director and writer, Joe Cornish doing a job well done. Working the funny bone with its one-liners in fearful circumstances that both perpetuate the scenario of the setting of alien beast versus human courage bringing the house down with its vitality and energy and too terrifies you all at the same time.

Well shot and tightly paced, this is action and sci-fi meets dark comedy bringing these young adults, more children than young adults to be fair, into the foray of battle with an immense sense of loyalty and pride, not only for their district but also toward each other. Yeah, they are just kids who still have to be "…in by Ten…" and they are all, at heart, nice and polite boys, when you get to know them. Unlike the black, furry, eye-less and luminesce teethed aliens; crawling their way up and chomping their way to the top of the tower block, a very nice and somewhat original touch and it really does work well.

It is a decently made movie and for the director's debut, it is a good start, as a movie it can, I think, stand on its own two feet. While not on the same par as Noel Clarke's (Kidulthood, 2006) intelligent writing, concerning London youth culture, this, by Mr. Cornish, is most certainly not dumbing-down either, with its different approach to the Yoouth culture of Great Britain and its intertwining sci-fi horror and black comedy Attack the Block is a highly individual film that will gain respect and notoriety in time, init?
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Piranha 3D (2010)
Popping-out for a bite to eat?
12 May 2011
Piranha, shot in 2D then transferred into the 3D format also, isn't that bad a movie, while never going to blow the lid off the summer blockbuster market, it speaks volumes in the style of the old and traditional likes of the Seventies exploitation, creature feature B-movie horror genre.

This snappy tale of a mixture of the hedonistic and the macabre is essentially a black comedy, and when the party is in full swing has plenty of bite and appetite for the grotesque. With a cast here that are certainly not going to propel this feature into the depths of A-list notability, but with Ms. Shue and Ving Rhames as leads, it, too, is not going to be a flat and shallow experience, throwing in the likes of Richard Dreyfuss and Christopher Lloyd too gives the film a little street-credit too.

Lake Victoria's annual spring party by some 50,000 young revellers' is about to turn into a feeding frenzy with prehistoric hunger-pains. Released from their two million year long sleep, with deadly consequence, thousands upon thousands of flesh-eating piranha are set lose into Lake Victoria. It's a feeding ground of blood, screams and boobs.

Overall, it is a decent popcorn matinée movie that should not be taken too seriously, Piranha can be a tense and horrific sight, with extreme prosthetic makeup to deepen the experience of baited-breath and razor teeth chaos. Both 2D and 3D do the trick as does its CGI, showing us that Alexandre Aja can deliver, in places, a true nasty, creature feature and with an added zest of humour and parody has brought the Seventies, like these little nippers, kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.
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Fruition that lingers in the mind, ripe and ready to be picked.
30 March 2011
The state of war throughout the ages, and in particular the propaganda machine, basically, has never changed, all that has advanced in the time-line of war is its progress in its way to annihilate and its tools to "educate" its people. Here, we have an extremely modern example of the propaganda machine working at full throttle with Battle: Los Angeles.

United States Marines are the bastion of freedom and courage over the odds concerning an alien invasion that threatens not only the existence of the human race but the American way, her freedoms and liberties. This overpowering message conveys itself like the old-time propaganda films of World War 2 such as The Lion Has Wings (1939) and Went the Day Well? (1942), both projecting biased nationalistic-further and pride to boost a populace morale and compliance to its underlined message. We see, too, a similar stance, coming into fruition, with writer Christopher Bertolini and director Jonathan Liebesman's work here, with a strong foothold on the consciousness of the times and a direction of contemporary patriotism that takes the old rules and places them in a new setting.

Its well-choreographed battle sequences' dictates a simple repetitive run throughout the film of tight close-armed combat action and great CGI, bringing together an interesting stance on the war genre. The premise, too, is not a deep and complex scenario but if close-armed combat is your thing then Battle: Los Angeles will not disappoint, this will, no doubt, make it into the video gaming world and, again, prove that war, too, sells in the domestic market.

It is just a shame that the internal body of this main-feature has to bend its rhetoric to such an extent that it pushes away any chance for a glasnost mentality than is allowed. It's too right-wing at heart, perusing beyond the boundaries of their limits of pure entertainment to playing the mind games of the subconscious to propagate a stirring within, sowing the seed of influence and blind reverence that only deepens as each ticking minute passes. Sadly, this is the films strong point and also its weakest, depending on which bare facts suit's the viewer best, its almost Fifth Column material at worst and an impressive war movie at best. Which side of the fence would you place it?
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More than medium rare, it's also well done.
8 February 2011
Here we experience being on the road with Iron Maiden with a day-in-the-life perspective from the World Piece Tour of 1983 and its San Antonio, Texas leg. This is a tiny, albeit fifteen minutes in length, look into the regime of the perpetual life on the road: travel, sound check, interview, show. Here we see the band sound checking to the tunes of "Wrathchild" while the business of getting-ready by the road crew around them is a great visual of the daily proceeds of the rock n' roll routine.

Taking time off and sightseeing at the Alamo, signing autographs and giving interviews, we hear what Iron Maiden are to their audience with Steve Harris and Bruce Dickinson explaining how Maiden, and Metal, pushed its way through Punk by sticking to its principle and ethos. Intercut amongst the interview as it is broken-up in stages to the band performing live to three tracks "Flight of Icarus", "22 Acacia Avenue" and "Iron Maiden", while still reflecting life on the road.

'ello Texas is a small jewel in the vast crown of wealth that can be found on the subject of this British band. Adding it to the "Iron Maiden: Life After Death" (2008) DVD package as an added Extra is a great way to see not just this exceedingly rare footage but to also see the band in full flight from the gruelling nine month world tour that was the World Slavery Tour. If anyone should count themselves interested in the history, legacy and voyage that has been Iron Maiden then adding 'ello Texas to ones curriculum vitae will do them no harm.
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Slaves to the power of Maiden.
7 February 2011
Iron Maiden's World Slavery Tour had seen the band performing in 193 counties in just under a year (August, 1984 - July, 1985), from being the first band to take a full production into Europe's Eastern Bloc to performing in front of some 300,000 in the first Rock in Rio (January 1985) then to 1,000,000 North American heavy metal fans alone.

As the tour hit its eighth month it was now time to film this epic production, coming off the back of the mighty 1984 "Powerslave" album with its Egyptian themes and backdrops and powerful lengthy tracks as "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" to the shorter rock n' roll numbers of "Aces High" and "2 Minutes to Midnight". It's all good stuff, with live tracks taken from their, then, current studio works' "Iron Maiden" (1980), The Number of the Beast" (1982), "Piece of Mind" (1983) we hear their traditional key changes and power cords, twin lead guitars to historical and intriguing lyrics and the heavy, rhythmic bass line from its founding member Steve Harris.

Originally released as a 1985 double live vinyl album, side four being the London's Hammersmith shows, the first three being the US' Long Beach Arena concerts. This vinyl album alone is worth searching for, in its vinyl capacity, to appreciate its artwork, done by Derek Riggs, its booklet with photo after photo of the bands world tour and general all-out detailed output put into this vinyl package, an excellent production indeed.

Accompanying this double live album was the 1985 VHS release and it has now been updated and re-released in 2008, with two audio options; the original PCM Stereo soundtrack and an updated 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound version. To be fair, while the 5.1 is best suited to, now, modern technologies' the format to play here is most definitely its original format, the updated soundtrack sounds too sterile, too superimposed and clean.

This 2008 package is a treasure trove of Maiden memorabilia. Added is the now rare full-length footage of "Iron Maiden: Behind the Iron Curtain", a documentary of their visit to the Eastern Bloc and a exceptional glimpse into the now defunct Communist Europe when the Cold War was still very much in place and when a heavy metal band blew down the walls of segregation. With this, we also see an interesting short (15 minutes) of Maiden performing and being interviewed, at the Alamo no less, in San Antonio, Texas from their World Piece Tour of 1983 and a full one hours documentary "History of Iron Maiden part 2" (2008) as well as highlights from their visit to "Rock in Rio - 1985" and more.

"Iron Maiden: Life After Death" (2008) with all is glory of the 1985 Long Beach show plus its added extras is a must for lovers of the heavy metal genre and its spearheading band Iron Maiden, a great show and a very well thought-out package that fails to disappoint, this too, is also the Iron Maiden trademark.
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Hawkwind: The Right Stuff.
4 February 2011
"Hawkwind: The Solstice at Stonehenge 1984" is only a short documented glimpse into what was then a festival of standing and creditability amongst the New Age hippies of the nineteen-seventies and the nineteen-eighties. A Free Festival for those, not only New Age hippies too, most certainly on the fringes of English society in this, then, new Capitalist, consumerist, privatised brave-new-world of Right Wing Thatcherite control.

One has to remember the times of 1980s Britain, as Margret Thatchers' Tory (Conservative) Government took hold and tightened its grip on the Unions, selling-off England's heritage, closing industries and giving mass unemployment to its youth, being young in early '80s Britain was not a happy time for Thatcher's children. To best punctuate these extremely bleak times Alan Bleasdale's 1982 television series "Boys from the Blackstuff" is worth the mention here.

The 1984 festival had the likes of Roy Harper, Hawkwind, Here & Now and The Enid to keep the cosmic blues away in the escapism of the free festival spirit. Hawkwind were the band of the people, the underground antiheroes of conformity, mediocrity and blandness.

Forming within the shadow of the first Glastonbury Festival, Hawkwind has had many, many, many line-up changes but remains ever the child of Dave Brock to wean and nurture in his own manner. A band that delivers a space rock, psychedelic rock, hard rock, protopunk style of music, perfect for the festival circuit and the obvious choice, once more, for the twelve solstice at Stonehenge, performing as the sun sank then rose above the Stones as 60,000 red-eyed revellers' transcended into the nights sky and morning mist.

This wonderful and fantastic archive footage of Nik Turner, Dave Brock et al performing the now classic's "Uncle Sams On Mars", "Sonic Attack", "The Right Stuff", "Ghost Dance" etc is more than enough to highlight the importance of this band, its music and its relevance. With great riffs, bass lines, cosmic lyrics and surreal visuals form Nik Turner "Hawkwind: The Solstice at Stonehenge 1984" is a rare find with footage, too, of Nik Turner with this band that is nothing more than mesmerising, a strong flagship of an era of pure undiluted charismatic individuality.

With summer night dancers' and fire breathers' to perpetuate the ambiance of tranquillity on stage mixed with high octane rock and excessive highs, this Pagan ritual space dance is a true must for those who care for freedoms and individuality. Seen in two parts, the bands first appearance being 10pm until midnight, they then reappeared to perform once more at 5am until 7am. With this "second act" we see the sun rise over the Stones and the, yet again, surreal character that is Nik Turner and the hypnotic saxophone improvisation that with the dance ritual, once more, succeeds in setting in stone Hawkwind's festival reputation as nothing more than momentous.

Within the next year, the festival was no more, and 1985 saw State Police tactics blocking any vehicles into the area and in turn gave way to what was to be known as "The Battle of the Beanfield". An Olde English ancient charter, too, was snuffed out, as if there had been a free festival on the grounds during 1985 then there would have been a free festival on the grounds for eternity.

While not a professionally shot film, it does give its best to portray these heady times and the bookends of shots of the festival goers and the ripples of tents, toilet queues to the burnt-out heroin dealer's car is all part-and-parcel of this sixty minute time capsule. "Hawkwind: The Solstice at Stonehenge 1984" is a visual document, the last of the days of independence and self-reliance, and the start of tipping the void into the mass media conformity into the late eighties and beyond but also of a past that was somehow more open and carefree.
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Its Metal and its Heavy.
29 January 2011
Though an "unauthorised" use of the name Iron Maiden, Maiden playing no part what-so-ever with this production, it is still very much an in-depth, authentic and articulate account of the birth of a new music phenomenon that was to spearhead and explode throughout the world into the blue-collar, sub-culture that is Heavy Metal.

Told by those who have fond memories of those early days of this music genre; Neal Kay (Metal DJ) to music journalists' Malcolm Dome, Jerry Ewing and Geoff Barton to Joel McIver and Garry Bushell. Also included are band members from Diamond Head, Girlschool, Tygers of Pan Tang, Samson, Praying Mantis, ex-members of Iron Maiden Paul Di'Anno and Dennis Stratton all giving a retrospective of a time when British music, once more, conquered the world.

With interesting conjunctions of clips and pictures from bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath to Motörhead and AC/DC to Earth Wind & Fire and Stevie Wonder, and many more, to help project the narrative into the mystery of just exactly when did Heavy Metal become apparent.

Fighting its way through the spit and hate of Punk Rock the Rock genre had re-emerged itself into this new, fresh and youthful music genre; Heavy Metal. The philosophy shown here is to outline the music connections, which these up and coming bands had embraced, and which, in turn, then forms its own musical style that was to become the NWOBHM. There too would be winners and losers with the emergence of this new wave of long-haired head-bangers'. At the top of its game, and the DVD's main example? Iron Maiden.

The demographic of Heavy Metal is best placed within the book "Heavy Metal: The Music And Its Culture", an extremely in-depth look into its entire cultural ethos, by Deena Weinstein PhD. To accompany this film, also, one may wish to see the official "Iron Maiden: Behind the Iron Curtain" (1985) and "Iron Maiden: 12 Wasted Years" (1987) DVD's to fully understand the reasoning as to why this package has used the name that is Iron Maiden, it's a fitting example of Metal and its power, aesthetic and hold. The 1983 "The Comic Strip Presents...: Bad News Tour" and its younger sibling "The Comic Strip Presents...: More Bad News" of 1988 is a wonderful satire and parody of this genre and is truly worth a look into the perspective of the Heavy Metal band.

"Iron Maiden and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal" is a very intriguing insight into this era of what was coming out of England during the nineteen seventies and to withhold its ground up until the demise of is popularity with mainstream media outlets of the nineteen eighties. A very thought provoking and historical document that rightly holds its ground in the annals of this loud and proud genre that is still Heavy and still Metal.
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Black Swan (2010)
The swansong never stops playing.
21 January 2011
Black Swan not only centres on the concept of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's (1840 - 1893) ballet Swan Lake, but it too revolves around the work and life of its lead ballerina Nina Sayers and the commitment that she has to endure to bring this production to life. Such is the extreme physical and mental preparations for this role that the lead role, as both Odette and Odile, has to convince both audience and herself that she is literally, in all respects, the part, this magical mystical creature, inevitably metamorphosing into a realm of fantasy and horror.

The insurmountable pressure here can only have adverse effects on those not strong willed enough to withstand its all-consuming glory. Black Swan is not just a film about an Old Russian folk's tale nor is it only about the role of its leading lady; this film measures the true understanding and meaning of what is to be the lead in the most prestigious ballet; Swan Lake.

Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain-2006, The Wrestler-2008) has given us an insight into the mind that is tormented between the two roles of both white and black queens and her struggle to fully understand the line between reality and illusion. It is a parallel of these dual roles and the division of her mind, which must be controlled, as to shine and to remain sane, remain one.

This world of tension and paranoia is beautifully shot and timed to a tee, the claustrophobic, imploding mind's journey here is, too, bittersweet, what with the charming and seductive cinematography it leads itself to a tone and fashion liken to J-horror with a Hitchcock bent, all adding to the flavour of both beauty and bestiality. It is also the films major gift, the stupendous acting of its leading lady Natalie Portman, magnificently delicate and brittle, which personifies her declining into plight and anguish. We see her every contorted expression that feeds her insecurities, fears and anxieties, such a tender fragile spirit on the spiral into the abyss of pure perfection. With perfection, too, comes rejection, and we see a paradox in terms of Ms. Sayers and her inauguration into this highly demanding role and the now retired Swan Queen Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) who shows a mental instability on a different path that leads to her self harming. With or without the role of Swan Queen, she still claims her victims; the swansong is sung and there is no more. It is a perpetual cycle of love and hate, have and have not, life and death, black or white.

This is the major theme of Black Swan, finding ones new inner self and transcending this inner being and the consequences that can lend itself to, it is a topic of, together, self-doubt and self discovery and using the dual roles that is Swan Lake's Queen's is a fitting metaphor for Nina Sayers conflicting personality.

It is a schism that runs although this film, suffering for its art. It is not a pleasant experience to have to witness this transformation, it is a fitting example of a world of dedication, such as the training and sacrifice in which this world of ballerinas' must partake, to become more than the best, more than excellent, to be pure perfection.
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Where East meets West and join forces to unite with passion in music, denim and leather.
17 December 2010
Tearing down the wall of segregation Iron Maiden: Behind the Iron Curtain is both concert footage and historical document conjoining Iron Maiden's journey into the closed world of the Communist Bloc that highlights the crossing of the line of conformist West into the rebellious East of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslavakia and Yugoslavia during August of 1984.

A reminiscence of times long gone, for both Eastern Europe, and Iron Maiden and their World Slavery Tour of August 1984 to July 1985. It is a tour in an oppressive regime that brings the East's heavy-metal subculture out and proudly head banging to tracks such as 2 Minutes to Midnight, The Trooper, The Number of the Beast and Aces High, amongst others. The only query here is that there is a difference in the soundtrack of the original release (which was only some thirty minutes long) and this extended footage, which is somewhat polished, and re-worked, but not all tracks have had this audio makeover. Note the lead singer's late reproach to the microphone to the beginning of Number of the Beast but his voice just beats him to it.

With a wonderful nostalgic and reflective feel of a world far removed from the present, with band interviews and fans' thoughts and reactions to this British heavy-metal band and the rebellious soundtrack to the phenomenon that is life behind the Iron Curtain the heavy metal demographic are always the same either side of the curtain; male, white and blue-collar. East or West, this image of denim and leather clad, longhaired head bangers are stout believers' in their music and way of life. Even more so is this prominent in this politically, socially and culturally starved environment.

We're on the road with this band and seeing a short glimpse of this Rock n' Roll life style, even to the point where the band end up playing, unannounced, at a Polish wedding, too, we see the view from the tour-bus window of the towns, cities, streets and its people that were the 1980's Cold War (1947–1991) casualties'. This is truly a remarkable, if somewhat short, footage of a continents bygone age.

If you're into Maiden or the history of the Cold War's Eastern Bloc, or both, then this tiny film here will certainly enlighten you to both worlds and have you transfixed of what has been and the vast differences' that that come about. Behind the Iron Curtain is a fitting exposé of two histories combined, in a timeless film that still to this day loses none of its potential to entertain and educate.
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