Archive for June, 2009

Days of Being Wild (A Fei Jing Juen)

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

days-of-being-wildReleased in 1990, Wong Kar-Wai’s Days of Being Wild won numerous awards in Asia and established the Hong Kong film maker as a world player, despite dissapointing box office ratings when it initially came to cinemas. It is also the first film in which the director collaborated with longtime cinematographer Christopher Doyle, whose use of light and shadow, contrasted with a vibrant colour palette, have become the pair’s trademark.

The camera opens on Yuddy, an arrogant, drifting playboy. He is out to woo the shy and apprehensive Su Li Zhen who works nights at the local stadium. Yuddy is relentless, and warns Li Zhen that the moment she gives into his advances – 3pm on June 16th, 1960, to be precise – will be forever graven on her mind. It is a scene of intense, intoxicating romance, which exemplifies the masterful use of intimate shots, heightened sounds and interplay of light and shadow which made Wong his name. The humidity is palpable as the lovers’ sweaty faces glow n the half-light, consumed with a deadly passion that deceives as it overwhelms.

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WALL-E

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

wall-e2It’s 700 years in the future and earth has become a toxic wasteland. Centuries earlier humans were forced to leave the planet and move to outer space, because copious amounts of rubbish created through mass consumerism had made the place uninhabitable. The dusty cityscape shows the remnants of a civilisation: old billboards advertising cola and holidays, an empty bank, an engagement ring sparkling in the gutter.

Looking more closely, we notice that the tall skyscrapers aren’t buildings at all, but giant cubes of waste, compacted and stacked on top of each other. Save a lone cockroach just one thing stirs. This is WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class), a small, rusty robot who diligently trundles through the barren, dusty streets, scooping up rubbish into his belly, compressing it and stacking it. Occasionally he finds small gems among the trash – an old boot, a Rubik cube, a video of the musical Hello, Dolly! which he watches again and again on his ancient VCR. He is fascinated by a scene of a boy and girl holding hands and dancing.

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Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

angusBased on Louise Rennison’s popular series of teen novels, Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging is a Bridget Jones-style coming-of-age comedy which follows a group of 14-year-olds as they attempt to escape the shackles of their snooping parents and move into the more exciting world of boys, bras and parties. Viewers who’ve endured teen gross-out comedies such as American Pie will find this Brit-flick from Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham) refreshingly gentle. There’s no swearing and no mention of drugs, no-one has sex and there are no unwanted pregnancies.

Set in the seaside town of Eastbourne, the story centres around Georgia Nicholson (Georgia Groome) and her circle of giggly, gawkish friends. Her chief aims in life are to secure a fit boyfriend and persuade her parents to throw her the best 15th birthday bash EVER at the local nightclub. Her biggest gripes are her embarrassing, old fashioned parents (Alan Davies and Karen Taylor) and her freakish little sister Libby (Eva Drew), who thinks she’s a cat. When two “sex-gods” called Robbie (Aaron Johnson) and Tom (Sean Bourke) join their school, Georgia and her best friend Jas (Eleanor Tomlinson) are determined to bag them for themselves. Trouble is, the slutty and popular Lindsay (Kimberley Nixon), who wears a padded bra and unbuttons her shirt as low as school uniform rules will allow, has got there first.

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The Wave (Die Welle)

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

welleBased on a real-life incident at a California high school in 1967, Dennis Gansel’s cautionary thriller takes a disturbing look at fascism’s ongoing appeal.

Set in an affluent German town, The Wave sees hip schoolteacher Rainer Wenger tackle the subject of ‘autocracy’ for a school project week by creating his own mini-dictatorship in the classroom. He sets himself up as commander-in-chief with his pupils assuming the role of dedicated followers. Initially sceptical, the teenagers soon embrace the idea enthusiastically, choosing a uniform for the group, giving it a name (The Wave), designing a logo which they later spray-paint all over town, and greeting each other with a secret handshake. By working together they establish new friendships, become more creative and achieve more academically.

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Valkyrie

Monday, June 15th, 2009

valkyrieValkyrie is an old-fashioned espionage thriller based on a large-scale plot within the Nazi ranks to assassinate Hitler. It’s one of those ‘what if’ tales which, had it succeeded, might have completely changed the fate of Europe.

At the centre of the conspiracy is Claus von Stauffenberg, played by Tom Cruise, a one-eyed German officer whose bravery has earned him priceless access to Hitler’s bunker. Unknown to the higher echelons of Hitler’s army, however, von Stauffenberg has despised the F├╝hrer for years. In 1943 he joins a cabal of equally disenchanted officers who plan to topple the Third Reich and recapture their beloved Vaterland.

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Frost/Nixon

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

frost-nixonAdapted from Peter Morgan’s stage play, Frost/Nixon sets itself up as a boxing match between the hulking intellect of America’s most notorious ex-president, four years after the Watergate scandal came to a head, and the “lightweight” talkshow host David Frost, who stakes his whole reputation as well as his entire savings on extracting the confession Nixon never gave.

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The Kite Runner

Monday, June 8th, 2009

kite-runnerSet largely in Afghanistan before the events of 9/11 and spanning the fall of the monarchy, the Soviet invasion and the Taliban regime, The Kite Runner is a compelling story of two boys growing up during these tumultuous times. Adapted from Khaled Hosseini’s bestselling novel about guilt and redemption, the film explores the factions and friendships that exist between different Muslim groups of both moderates and extremists. Its mostly inexperienced cast speak in a mixture of Dari, Pashtu and Urdu as well as English.

The film begins in Kabul before the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, where two young boys from very different backgrounds form a close friendship. Amir (Zekeria Ebrahimi), is the son of a wealthy landowner who loves to write and is cowardly when it comes to fending off bullies; Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada) is a servant in the household of Amir’s father. Though smaller than Amir, slingshot in hand, he is ready to protect him at any moment. The two play together, read together, fly kites together – they are inseparable.

When one day Hassan is brutally attacked by older children in the neighbourhood, Amir’s cowardliness gets the better of him. He watches in horror but does nothing. Wracked with guilt, Amir persuades Hassan to leave his fathers’ service, and spends the rest of his life atoning for his misdemeanour.

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The Edge of Heaven (Auf der anderen Seite)

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

edgeThe Edge of Heaven is a story about people. Ordinary, beautiful, alluring, pitiable people with rough edges. Sometimes they’re also horrible, rude, filthy, unlovable. Which is why it’s also a story about repentance and reconciliation, forgiveness and hope. In it two worlds which by appearances can seem so different, so impenetrable to each other, collide and interweave. It is one of those films of interlocking narrative strands, which still fail to tie up at the end. Or rather, they fail to tie up for the characters, for they lack vital information to which we are privy.

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The Children of Huang Shi

Monday, June 1st, 2009

children-of-huang-shiThe Children of Huang Shi recounts the true story of a British journalist’s rescue of dozens of Chinese orphans in the face of the advancing Japanese.

The British reporter George Hogg (Jonathan Rhys Myers) has been sent to China to report on the 1930s war involving the Japanese invaders and the Nationalist and Communist Chinese. Reckless and inexperienced, he takes hundreds of covert photos of the atrocities for newspapers back home, including a massacre of Chinese civilians. However, the Japanese soon twig that he is not the aid worker he said he was and capture him, along with all of his photos.

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