Monday, 20 August 2012

Review: The Monk

Dominik Moll’s The Monk, a French language version of Matthew Lewis’s classic gothic novel set in the 17th century, is a chilling supernatural tale full of striking imagery and significant symbolism. Starring Vincent Cassel (La Haine, Black Swan) as a respected Capuchin monk, the film follows his gradual descent into sin and examines the concepts of punishment, evil, and the Devil Himself...

Head over to Movie Farm for the rest of the review...

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Prometheus Sequel Given the Go Ahead

I'm on holiday from my day job for the next two weeks, and intend on spending much of this time getting done with some serious writing, both fictional and film-related (although not nearly as much time as I plan on spending in the garden with a Hendricks and tonic in my hand).

I'll be going to Birmingham for a few days next week, and during that time I intend to visit the famous Electric Cinema, apparently the UK's oldest working cinema (probably for a repeat viewing of TDKR). According to well founded rumour, it also has a fully functioning Absinthe fountain; I imagine this to be pretty much the same as a water fountain, only greener. Expect a full account, with pictures, upon my return.

Meanwhile, here's a short piece I wrote for Movie Farm about the possibility of a sequel to Prometheus (it looks like it's gonna happen, folks...).

Director Ridley Scott is reportedly preparing a sequel to his blockbusting sci-fi almost-prequel Prometheus which was released in June 2012. This news comes after Prometheus, which was budgeted at $130m, has grossed $303m worldwide, and still has plenty of room for growth. We take a look at what a Prometheus sequel could mean…

We know what you’re thinking. Four original films (all with different directors), two franchise-melding spin-offs in the shape of the Alien Vs Predator fiasco (also with different directors), and one mega-confusing, open-ended, ‘not-a-prequel’ prequel directed by the same man who directed the very first of the original films. Just when we thought the Alien plot couldn’t possibly get any thicker than it already is, Scott (in conjunction with 20th Century Fox) decides to smack us with a sequel to the ‘not-a-prequel’ prequel. Confused? We know we are...

For the rest of the article, head over to Movie Farm 

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Hopes were sky high for The Dark Knight Rises, the final film in Christopher Nolan's gritty, modern Batman series. Like a Resurrection Man dragging a rotting corpse from the putrid earth, Nolan has pulled the Batman franchise (which we all thought had suffocated under a quagmire of hammy lines and Technicolor tights) back into the shadowy half-light of the cinema screen. Unlike the Resurrection Men, who sold the corpses they acquired to doctors for study and dissection, Nolan has not passed Batman on to a reel of film critics for summary examination and eventual re-burying; he has re-fashioned it, and re-told it, bringing the phoenix out from the ashes in the way that only he could.

Eight years on from the untimely deaths of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), the incarceration of the Joker (Heath Ledger), and the disappearance of the Batman (who has been falsely charged with the murder of Harvey Dent) the city of Gotham would appear to be picking itself up and moving on with its life. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has ensconced himself in his mansion, and spends most of his time in a dressing gown, making his way up and down the lonely hallways with the aid of a walking stick. Trouble soon rears its ugly head in the form of Bane, yet another masked man on a mission; he wants to break Gotham down to its component parts and institute a kind of anarchic martial law. With the help of the city's hottest new jewellery thief, Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), Batman flaps his way out of the shadows and back onto the mean streets.

While The Dark Knight was certainly a game-changer, The Dark Knight Rises manages to continue the intensity of its predecessor while upping the emotion. TDKR is a pretty heart-rending film, and never crosses over into mawkishness. The Dark Knight had the explosive death of Rachel Dawes; TDKR has the tragic image of a broken Batman, and the tear-jerking ultimatum offered to Bruce Wayne by his butler and life-long friend Alfred (Michael Caine). Nolan's Batman is one of the very few super-hero franchises that actually succeeds in creating true emotional involvement in the viewer.

This series has never been about focusing in on Batman; one of the greatest strengths of these three films has been excellent ensemble casting. In TDKR, the familiar faces of Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman (as Commissioner Jim Gordon) and Morgan Freeman (as Lucius Fox) are joined by Anne Hathaway, who seems to slot perfectly into the sardonic yet heartfelt role of Catwoman, and Nolan favourites Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (both of whom also starred in Nolan's 2010 film Inception). Tom Hardy plays Bane with a mocking, superior humour which complements the character's extreme strength and political fervour, and manages to emote surprisingly well considering that half his face is encased in what appears to be a metal fist, but it's Joseph Gordon-Levitt who almost steals the show.

Many of us will remember Gordon-Levitt from his stint as Tommy Solomon on the '90s TV show Third Rock From the Sun; like Tom Hardy, in recent years his career has taken off in a big way. In TDKR, he plays John Blake, a plucky young police officer who catches the attention of Jim Gordon and begins to take up his mantle, liaising and bonding with the difficult Batman. Blake is far from being just your generic 'good guy'; he's a great guy. He's a capable lawman who has overcome a difficult childhood (and who is still heavily involved with the home for orphan boys where he grew up). He's clever, funny and tough, but Gordon-Levitt plays him with an acute sense of humanity; his shock at killing two of Bane's men is palpable. Expect even bigger things from this actor in the future.

The film's special effects are spectacular in the literal sense of the word; the mini fighter jet known simply as 'the Bat' is certainly handy for ripping through the night air, and disaster scenes such as the collapsing football field are brilliant in their harrowing reality. Hans Zimmer returns for the soundtrack, his familiar roaring orchestral hooks the perfect backing to the story.

When compared to The Dark Knight, as it inevitably will be (over and over again), The Dark Knight Rises seems to end the trilogy with a whimper rather than a bang. This is not a bad thing; while the second film was more concentrated on the terrifying spree headed up by the Joker (an almost unbelievably good performance from Heath Ledger which many believe played some part in his early demise) the third brings the main focus back onto the internal struggle. To quote Naomi Barnwell's great review over on Movie Farm: 'What do we do when we fall? We rise.'

The Dark Knight Rises is (obviously) a KINOLENS Film of the Moment, and is on general release in the UK.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

What the Dickens? Magazine

Just a quick post to clue you into a great online magazine called What the Dickens? It started up in 2011, and is ostensibly a literary/writers magazine, but is really more about creativity in general - writing, art, theatre, film, and so on. At the moment it's only available online for free (or on Kindle for 99p), but the editors are working very hard to get something on tangible paper by the end of the year.

I was contacted by Editor/creator/writer Victoria Bantock a few weeks ago about writing a literature/film based article for the 5th issue, which is out today and is titled 'The Sunflower Edition'. It's packed full of great stuff (including an interview with Miriam Margolyse) and you can have a read through it for free here (I'm on page 87 with a piece about The Hunger Games).

What the Dickens? Magazine also welcomes submissions, so if you'd like to get involved take a look at the Submissions Page.

In other news, I went to see The Dark Knight Rises yesterday - but I'm not going to give away what I thought of it just yet, as when I get a spare hour I'm planning to review it, right here on KINOLENS.