Film 4 Summer Screen at Somerset House – Line-Up

Movies under the moonlight. A nestled architecture house in the bustling metropolis of the capital. Film fans strewed upon blankets and pillows with their friends. Picnics, wine, and music in hot anticipation of the evenings celluloid activities. Premieres, classics, and double bills in the midsummer evenings and heated nights. Why, it almost sounds like a dream.

Well, it isn’t a dream movie fans as Film 4 Summer Screen at Somerset House has released their brand new programme and it’s so very good. The enchanting thriller Sunset Boulevard, last year’s best movie Ex Machina, 10 Things I Hate About You, a secret Kubrick Film, Jackie Brown, 10 Things I Hate About You, and more will delight scores of movie buffs and happy film fantastic this season. As well as this, they’ll have the premieres of Things to Come and Captain Fantastic!  Trainspotting 2 will also get a 20th anniversary screening with sneak footage of it’s sequel T2!

Trust us, you don’t want to miss the event of the summer!
Here is the full list of events!

4 August: Things to Come (UK premiere)

5 August: Bram Stoker’s Dracula

6 August: Ex_Machina RoboCop

7 August: Sunset Boulevard

8 August: 10 Things I Hate About You

9 August: Walkabout

10 August: Julieta (UK premiere)

11 August: Kubrick Film (winner of ‘Best of 10’ vote)

12 August: Jackie Brown

13 August: Galaxy Quest The Final Girls

14 August: Funny Face

15 August: Trainspotting

16 August: Girlhood

17 August: Captain Fantastic (UK premiere)


A Whole Lotta Spiel-berg: Duel (1971) – Review

Is it fair to say that Steven Spielberg is the most famous film director of all time? I mean, you could argue Hitchcock, but Spielberg is a guy that people who don’t even watch films regularly know. Say the term “film director”, he’s the first name that usually pops up. He’s used in all sorts of jokes about films, and frequently set as the bar for good film making (“You’re not Steven Spielberg”). He is a man that has made an undeniable impact on cinema as we know it, as whilst he may be considered a stock choice for best director of all time (Or one of them, at least), there’s a reason why stock choices are stock choices: They’re fucking good. I’ve become fascinated with the man recently.

Since this year sees a new release of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the release of his new film The BFG in cinemas this July, AND the BFI are celebrating his films with a whole Spielberg season, I thought it would be a great time to revisit the man’s entire body of work, from his first film Duel to his Oscar-winning latest Bridge of Spies, and take a look at the evolution of one of the most passionate men in cinema.

Duel (1971) tells the story of business man David Mann (Dennis Weaver), who is driving to a meeting on a long, empty stretch of road when he suddenly finds himself being chased off the road by a hulking gasoline truck. It’s part chase movie, part monster movie, and the monster movie aspect is handled really well. We never see the driver’s face, nor does he have a name or even a motivation for what he does – He’s just this looming, evil presence that constantly has our hero on edge. It’s definitely a ‘first’ film; there is so much about it that is so unrefined, and so many Spielberg-esque features that would go on to develop as he made more films, such as tracking shots.

For a first go at it, it really is quite decent; it’s very inventive and very lovingly crafted. Straight off the bat, Spielberg was trying his best to make a damn great movie and it didn’t pay off in spades, but the effort is so clearly there. Dennis Weaver gives a pretty damn good performance, especially in the bar scenes in which his paranoia boils and it’s without a doubt the most engrossing moment of the film. The score is great too; the film is full of heavy music that ups the tension and adds real fear to the chase sequences.

Where this film fails is it’s ability to hold interest, and that’s largely due to the length. It’s not even a long film; the original TV cut is 76 minutes long, and the version released to cinemas was 89 minutes, but it’s still too long. After a while, it does kind of feel like you’re watching the same chase sequence over and over again, and whilst they try to interject some character development in between these scenes, it really adds nothing to the film. In fact, the film would arguably be better without any character development. Yes, the bar scene is the best scene in the film, however, this might have played out better as a short film; cut out anything to do with David’s wife and kids, or him in the bar, or absolutely anything, and shred it down to maybe 30-40 minutes at most. See, the character development is unnecessary because it doesn’t really make him any more or less likable as a character. It doesn’t really add any stakes (Apart from him dying and his family being ruined obviously, but the thought of that never really occurs during the film), and we know he’s not strictly a bad guy, so if this film just consisted of one extended car chase, it would be great. The truck is already handled perfectly, and let’s face it, we’re going to immediately side with the seemingly innocent guy who being chased down by that monster of a vehicle, so combine that and JUST that with the excellent camera work and great score, it’d be quite an exciting short.

As far as directorial debuts and TV movies go, Duel is just fine, but it feels like there was a missed opportunity by making it feature length. It’s not fair to say it’s boring, but it definitely could’ve been handled in a more exciting way. Still, it goes to show just how far Spielberg has come. That’s one down, join us next time where we’ll be looking at his second film, another road movie called The Sugarland Express.

DUEL IS ON 1st and 10th JUNE 

Hired to Kill (1990) – DVD and Blu-Ray Review

There are some films that that have a premise that just seems to boggle the mind. Hired to Kill is the epitome of these films.

The film was released in 1990 and featured Brian Thompson as Frank Ryan (no known relation to Jack Ryan of the Tom Clancy books, but a similar background nonetheless) who is hired by an inconspicuous man working for a shady arm of the American Government (represented by George Kennedy) to locate and rescue the leader of a rebel militia in the exotic country of Cypra, by posing as a world famous fashion designer and infiltrating the militaristic regime with his group of stunningly beautiful female models/mercenaries.

Being a product of the (very) early 90’s, the film shows all the hallmarks of a cheap 80’s B-movie, so much so that you can almost hear the scriptwriter’s desk straining beneath the weight of the “Big Book of 1980’s Action Film Tropes and Clichés.” Everything you could want or need is in here: Muscular male protagonist with hints at an army past? Check! Scantily clad females who parade around in less fabric than a thread-bare G-string? Indeed! Casual misogyny and mildly homophobic comments that would make a modern audience feel slightly uncomfortable? You bet your sweet ass there is sugar tits!

Some (but definitely not all!) of these stereotypes would have been acceptable if the actors had been given a script that didn’t sound so incredibly clunky and talk almost exclusively in pseudo-menacing Bond-esque one liners, each one trying to outdo the last. One could almost argue that it is a masterpiece in how not to write a script, if you could forgive many of the sexist comments and general stoic brooding that ensues from the actors.

Whilst the script is abysmal, and the actors don’t really seem completely into it, there is a very talented cast within the film. Oliver Reed (he of Gladiator and The Three Musketeers fame) plays Dictator Michael Bartos, the film’s antagonist, and José Ferrer (Lawrence of Arabia) is the imprisoned revolutionary leader. Both play their parts admirably, albeit with Reed suffering a mild case of “Bad Accent Syndrome” from time to time. On the other side of the gender scale are the lovely ladies, seemingly picked (for the most part) for their looks rather than their acting talent. They appear in the film predominantly as eye-candy, and, with the exception of Barbara Niven and Jordana Capra, don’t really perform all that well.

Finally, we must arrive at the staple point of all action films, the final dramatic, explosion-filled shootout. Once again, there is plenty left to be desired within this scene; it steadily becomes harder and harder to ascertain which side is shooting at whom and the repeatedly over the top shooting feats of the protagonists become almost strained to the point of no return.

Hired to Kill is a film that attempts to find some form of refuge in audacity, yet ultimately fails at every turn due to a combination of terrible scripting, lacklustre acting and a yearning desire to be the new Rambo. I’m sure this film will skirt the borders of many people’s “so bad, it’s good” lists, but it doesn’t really deserve the recognition, although it may almost be worth a watch, just to appreciate how truly terrible it is.


Fever – Brand New Trailer!

Kids who kill are a terrifying phenomenon that has been explored in moviedom for a very long time. The idea that innocence had never appeared for folk who went straight into murder is perplexing.

The issue is explored in this French thriller Fever.

Based on the Leopold and Loeb true-life crime, the film revolves around two young students who kill a woman they just met. However, because they had no motive, they seemingly get away with the crime. But morally? Morally they start to suffer the consequences in different dramatic ways.

Fever is set to look at the intricacies of murderous folk and how incidences can unravel them. The stunning trailer is gifted with a reserved nature that makes the plot a little bit more chilling. Directed by Raphael Neal, this could be a superb thriller.


Finding Dory – Brand New Trailer!

There is an abundance of sequels out there at the moment. Certainly, 2016 doesn’t feel at all original: We’re trapped in an endless sea of reboots and remakes. It’s tiring. But one plucky blue fish is telling us to Just Keep Swimming in her own film!

Finding Dory revolves around the opulent blue yet forgetful fish who befriended the titular character and his Dad Marlon in the last outing. However, prone to bouts of amnesia, Dory is determined to find out more about her past.. Can she find her family?

Look, it’s Pixar, there is nothing that this animated studio can do wrong so we’re highly excited for this film. Though it may be a sequel, and the studio struggles with sequels beyond the Toy Story lore, Finding Dory looks to be as enchanting as the first!


The Conjuring 2 – Brand New Featurette!

Ghosts. Are they real? Do supernatural occurrences actually, you know, occur? Or are they just figments of our imagination?

Though horror movies explore it in an over-enhanced way, they still tickle the “what if?” side of our terror and plague us whenever we hear a strange sound. The Conjuring 2 returns to freak us out all over again.

Heading over to England for their next film, the story of Ed and Lorraine Warren looks at the infamous Enfield Haunting. The ghostly plague saw a British family and their young daughter seemingly taken by a poltergeist. Welp.

The latest spirit based romp does look to have some scary moments in it. Plus Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are so stellar together that this could be genuinely brilliant. The featurettes also explore the terrifying truth behind the Enfield Haunting!