Quick little competition we have for any Pink Floyd fans out there! The chance to win a Roger Waters The Wall poster to celebrate the cinema event release on Tuesday 29th September. RT to win, and book your tickets here http://bit.ly/1NQEaYS.
Roger Waters, co-founder and principal songwriter of Pink Floyd, fuses the epic and the personal in Roger Waters The Wall, a concert film that goes well beyond the stage. Based on the groundbreaking concept album, Roger Waters The Wall could be called a concept film: it’s a state-of-the-art show that dazzles the senses, combined with an intensely personal road trip that deals with the loss Roger has felt throughout his life due to war.
On stage and now on film, Waters has channelled his convictions into his art and his music. With Roger Waters The Wall, Waters – together with his fellow musicians and his creative collaborators – brings audiences an exultant ride of a rock and roll concert, and delivers an unforgettable, deeply emotional experience.
We have 2 posters to give away to 2 lucky winners. All you have to do is re-tweet the follow:
Win a Roger Waters The Wall poster for the cinema release on Tues 29th Sept. RT to win, and book tickets here bit.ly/1NQEaYS
The car is more than just a mode of transport. It’s an aspirational – and inspirational – piece of machinery and has certainly inspired many filmmakers over the years. Often cars become an important part of many famous film and characters – who doesn’t associate Aston Martins with James Bond? Who can forget Minis running up and down steps in Turin during ‘The Italian Job?’.
These four-wheeled stars of the silver screen can leave a big impression – even inspiring some of us to want to learn to drive ourselves when we’re older.
Here are five of the best car films.
The Italian Job (1969)
This ‘comic caper’ film, revolving around a plan to steal a gold shipment in Turin by creating a traffic jam, features iconic Mini Coopers zipping around the Italian city and going up and down stairs and on the tops of buildings. There’s also literally a cliff-hanging ending on board a precariously balanced coach.
Along with Michael Caine, the film had a diverse cast including Benny Hill, Noël Coward, John Le Mesurier and Robert Powell. It was remade in 2003 with the present BMW MINI taking the ‘star car’ role.
Here is a website dedicated to the film.
The French Connection (1971)
Starring Gene Hackman and directed by William Friedkin, who also directed horror classic ‘The Exorcist’, this gritty police drama concerning New York cops trying to intercept a heroin shipment coming from France contains one of the most gripping and memorable car chases in film history.
Friedkin later said the car chase was mostly improvised and shot out of sequence over a five week period. An unplanned collision involving a member of the public’s car was kept in the final film with the person concerned being compensated for the damage.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
Many can describe the car with the brightly coloured wings… even if they’ve never seen the film. Starring Dick Van Dyke, this evocative movie has probably induced a few nightmares thanks to the evil child catcher.
It’s also been made into a hugely successful West End stage production.
A definite ‘car is the star’ film, even though the green Ford Mustang Fastback with its throaty roar had acting heavyweight Steve McQueen behind the wheel.
Not many can describe the plot – McQueen is a cop chasing and tracking…well, someone, but it’s one of those films to simply enjoy watching the Mustang tearing round the streets of San Francisco especially in the spectacular car chase that features.
The Love Bug (1968)
A very sentimental film where the car – a VW Beetle – has a personality of its own. This film is notable for spawning the series of successful ‘Herbie’ films – five of them in all.
More great car films
There are many more car films of note. Animated gems include ‘Cars’ (2006) along with dramatic classics such as ‘Taxi Driver’ (1976) starring Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster, the George Lucas 1973 classic ‘American Graffiti’, and the documentary-like Le Mans (1971) amongst many others. Try this list from the IMDB (International Movie Database) for more car films if you just can’t get enough…
Luke Goss is Conrad Miller, a marine who’s gone AWOL with an important piece of government intel. RZA is the LAPD detective on his trail for some reason. There’s also some Russian intelligence guy and a couple of assassins after him, and his main squeeze Laura Wilder (Heather Roop) is involved too. The 72 part might or might not have been explained. This is the kind of film where Conrad tosses, breaks or otherwise disposes of his phone after every single phone call (and yet people somehow know how to reach him?). This is the kind of film where an asshole at a gas station not only steals change from the tip jar, abuses his girlfriend and is about to drink and drive but is actually wearing a confederate flag shirt so you know he must be bad. This is the kind of film where an assassin pretends to be looking for a dog to overhear some information only to drop the lead on the ground as soon as he hears it. Subtlety is not a priority. It’s actually only a few shades away from being an outright spoof; shame no-one pushed it in that direction, because that would have been a lot more fun to watch.
As it is, this simple premise gets bogged down when Miller tries to book a room at the wrong motel, uncovering and then dismantling a drug and human trafficking operation that’s also somehow related to the afore-mentioned confederate flag attired man. The already thin plot is put on hold for this diversion that not only has no bearing on anything that happens before or afterwards but isn’t enjoyable enough to justify its presence in the film. It’s just padding.
The action is mediocre, long stand-offs leading to hand-to-hand violence where the camera is very shaky in an attempt to get away without any decent fight choreography. Back in the ’90s you could slot in a Jean-Claude Van Damme or similar, give him a few quips and coast on charm. Maybe the modern equivalent would be someone like Dwayne Johnson or Jason Statham. They are always watchable even when they’re tying too hard to be serious. Luke Goss doesn’t have the most exciting screen presence at the best of times, and here he’s given nothing to do except be dour. At the very least we should want the hero to succeed, rather than be totally indifferent as to whether he lives or dies. RZA is visibly bored with the whole thing. It’s strange that, since The Man With The Iron Fists (which he also directed), he’s been popping up every so often in these films without much enthusiasm.
2/10 – Low budget and low on ideas.
The Messenger is Jack (Robert Sheehan), a troubled man who sees ghosts, ghosts that come to him with their unfinished business. When the late Mark (Jack Fox) asks Jack to say goodbye to his wife, it leads to clashes with the police, Jack’s sister Emma (Lily Cole) and lawyer brother-in-law Martin (Alex Wyndham). Superficially, The Messenger has much in common with The Sixth Sense, but rather than a thriller it develops into a sensitive family drama as more of Jack and Emma’s childhood with their mother is revealed. Specifically it’s the ambiguous suggestion that the voices of these ghosts, though tied to visions of them and revealing information that might not be public knowledge, could also be the result of mental illness, schizophrenia, that sets this film apart. Rarely in this type of film are you actually on the fence, sympathetic with the “sceptics” as well as the main character. The result is more tragic than scary. Significantly, the truth of the ghosts is not that important; real or not, they have taken a psychological toll on Jack, and real or not he has to come to terms with what his life has become.
There are hints in the background at a political situation or a conspiracy (Mark was a high-profile journalist who worked in war zones and countries in turmoil), but these are ultimately red herrings. The entire film is on the shoulders of Robert Sheehan, and he carries it well, playing a more mature and weary version of the cynical and sarcastic Nathan Young in Misfits. Here too that sarcasm is a defence mechanism, covering for a genuine emotional vulnerability. He helps these ghosts because he feels he has no choice, even while the results rarely work out well for the living.
A lot of Andrew Kirk’s screenplay is structured around his conversations with a psychiatrist (Joely Richardson), but instead of using them as a crutch for easily delivering exposition in voice-over director David Blair stages them in an interesting way, with her questions often disembodied and Jack responding as he’s walking through fields. The psychiatrist becomes another voice, for much of the film no more or less real than any other. It’s a deliberately disorientating technique, one of several in the film. Sheehan selling it is key to it working as well as it does when, on paper, it really shouldn’t. Not all of the characters are as fully formed, however. His sister drinks, her husband works, and their son is angry at them. The film stumbles a bit with their subplot, the actors coming up against the limits of the weak characterisation in the script. There’s a version of this film where all these elements could come together for a satisfying climax, but that potential isn’t quite realised.
6/10 – Don’t shoot The Messenger – it’s not bad.
Julia, an entry in the much maligned rape-revenge horror subgenre, sees the eponymous nurse (Ashley C. Williams) seeking out a therapist who promises not only psychological healing but physical retribution, partnering her with the hardened and experienced Sadie (Tahyna Tozzi) to take out her attackers. Sadie teaches her to seduce and destroy men, but with one rule – that she doesn’t make it personal. On paper, it’s more of the same, another I Spit on Your Grave. But while there’s plenty of shock value, the most interesting parts of Julia are the long silent stretches where we live with the character, seeing her journey unfold slowly and told entirely visually. Writer-director Matthew A. Brown, as much as he’s taking his cues from exploitation cinema, giallo, and the work of Sion Sono, is subscribing to a bizarre version of a long-take realism and even finds some inspiration from experimental, abstract cinema.
It’s stunningly shot by Bergsteinn Björgúlfsson, full of saturated neon colours and moody dirty yellows and greens. It’s more style than anything else, padding out an admittedly thin plot with plenty of slow motion sequences and flash-forwards and -backs. Sometimes style is enough. Although it starts out almost downright tasteful it doesn’t skimp on the gore and sex either, often combining them in ways uncomfortable enough to make you squirm in your seat. It’s not as gratuitous as it could be, but the sprays of blood we do see and the sounds we do hear make it more visceral in our imagination than any practical effect could.
The lack of story does become very apparent in the third act, when the film goes completely off the rails. Key to this is the psychiatrist character (Jack Noseworthy) who has a reveal that is so bizarre and nonsensical it destroys in a second any suspension of disbelief for this crazy world. Worse, it has no impact on the story or characters, it’s just a distraction added for the sake of a crazy twist and nothing more. It also brings into question the whole operation, with its carefully structured mix of therapy and revenge. Wouldn’t someone notice that the attackers of his patients all turn up dead, horribly murdered? Wouldn’t it have been better, from a story point of view, to have Sadie be independent, offering her help to Julia? Then as Sadie falls for her (yes, that happens), she realises she’s let Julia become sloppy, Julia has started killing on her own, and has to stop her to save them both.
There are also the usual pitfalls – it may be about women murdering rapists but to do so they have to seduce them with sexy outfits and sex, in a way that conveniently also serves as a male fantasy for the audience. There are undertones of a commentary on gender, sexual identity, make-up, male and female sexual aggression, but then there are also the two female leads having sex in a shower. It’s somewhat of an unfair comparison, but American Mary, a superior take on similar material, was directed by two women (the Soska Sisters) who are perhaps more aware of the limits of the genre and how to subvert them.
6/10 – stylish, engaging horror, even if the story doesn’t quite add up
Barely Lethal, in which a teenage assassin Megan Walsh (Hailee Steinfeld) leaves behind her boss and mentor (Samuel L. Jackson) to join high school, is the kind of premise that could be great. It draws from so many successful films – Mean Girls, Grosse Point Blank, Spy Kids, Sky High – but ends up feeling most like the Hit Girl subplot from Kick Ass 2, a modern teenage girl’s high school experience as imagined and written by middle-aged men. For example: a good chunk of the film is given over to a classic love triangle where Megan is torn between the school’s rock star Cash (Toby Sebastian) and the nerdy sidekick Roger (Thomas Mann). Megan persuades Roger to come to a party where he sees her kissing Cash. He’s expressed no romantic interest in her, and she hasn’t in him, but he’s upset and then later she has to apologise to him. Why? It’s either some serious sexism, that two teenagers of the opposite gender can’t be friends, or (more likely) the film’s taking a convenient shortcut, letting our knowledge of high school films fill in the gaps.
Megan’s only experience of high schools has come from movies and TV and there’s potential for some funny dissonance there, a subversion of the genre’s tropes; but because the high school in this film is such a “movie high school”, she fits right in. The same with the spy concept, which is horrific on paper. Samuel L. Jackson’s character takes orphans and trains them their entire life to be good assassins. Yet, in chasing a younger audience perhaps, the actual implications of this dark idea are shied away from. A few awkward class experiences aside, Megan is fairly well-adjusted and has never killed someone. The title isn’t just a cute pun: all the violence is bloodless and there’s no chance anyone will die. What’s more disappointing is that the climax pits all the women against each other, none of them realising that the villain (Jessica Alba) is actually right, that the orphan assassin programme should be stopped.
Hailee Steinfeld though is an excellent actress though, and her charisma manages to squeeze jokes out of the material where there are none. This may not live up to the promise as an actress she showed in True Grit, but there’s still plenty of time. Likewise Thomas Mann, recently in the Sundance break-out hit Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. One of their running jokes is making puns that, coming out of most actors’ mouths, would be painfully cute; here it’s sincere. Samuel L. Jackson is fascinating if only because stardom hasn’t changed his work ethic one bit. Between Avengers films, Tarantino films, the latest Spike Lee joint, he can be regularly seen slumming it in weird B movies. His performance here is maybe half and half. You get the sense that he doesn’t totally understand the non sequiteurs his character spouts, but then again the biggest laugh of the film is his (it involves fake facial hair). MVP of the supporting cast has to be Rob Huebel as Roger’s Dad, who has a higher hit ratio in terms of laughs than the rest of the film.
Barely Lethal is out on the 28th August 2015 in cinemas and on VOD.