Review: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Vampire’s bite. It’s what they do. It’s a cornerstone upon which every vampire story has been based. Beyond this, of course, every vampire film has its own spin on the mythology, dealing with different aspects of society – whether it’s post-Imperial guilt, worries of disease, sex or any number of things. It’s an act of penetration, of crossing boundaries, particularly the most basis of boundaries; life and death.

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Pop-up Screenings return to Stratford

We’ve run our outdoor screenings every year since I started working  at SuA Picturehouse, and they have always been a lot of fun. My highlights so far have been JAWS the first year, and (of course) JURASSIC PARK last year.

This year there are six films to choose from, and quite a variety of choice! Tickets can be booked online.

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Trailer: Tokyo Tribe

Eureka! Entertainment have unveiled a brand new poster and trailer for Tokyo Tribe, Sion Sono’s “battle rap musical”.

It looks like being a lot of fun. I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest fan of this genre of music (or musicals in general) but it looks like there’s enough crazy in the film to make up for this. Sion Sono has proved a Director that can layer up images and meaning, which I hope will provide plenty of depth along with the entertainment.

Here’s the poster…

Tokyo Tribe Poster

You can read my reviews of Sion Sono’s Love Exposure and Himizu too, if you wish…

Review: Godzilla

Godzilla-Teaser-Poster-2I’m sure I remember reading somewhere that Godzilla has appeared in more films than any other character. This could be true (1) and perhaps this is why he casts a bigger shadow over cinema than any other film monster.

Like many others, I grew up with the classic Japanese films, and I adored them as a child, and still do as an adult – although I am shocked that I can’t buy them here in the UK. That love for the character, and the fact that the film is directed by Gareth Edwards, who impressed me a great deal with MONSTERS (2) led me to be very excited. Throw in some wonderful posters and moody, apocalyptic trailers and I was ready for something special.

How did it fare against my level of expectation?

Well, I must admit to an initial level of disappointment, followed by a fortnight of increasing respect and enjoyment. I certainly didn’t hate the film, and I was unfair to expect as much as I did, and now I think of it as a brave and clever way of creating the world for this creature to exist in, and for further adventures that can be both fresh and modern, but also fit within the existing structure of the Godzilla films. Certainly there are echoes of the original film – which is a dark tale, with a strong anti-nuclear message. The genius here is to create a mythology that also allows for the camp (and exciting) monster fights of the later films, too. Well played, very well played.

That said, the main story is not hugely original, and I can’t help but feel that the least interesting character (Ford Brody, played with occasional emotion by Aaron Taylor-Johnson) gets the most screen time, while stronger characters (everyone else) get sidelined.

But, c’mon, who watches a Godzilla film for the human characters? Happily, I can report that Godzilla is, in fact, Godzilla, which is where the previous American remake failed most abysmally. In looks, mannerism, and destructive ability, this is the King of the Monsters that we all know and love.

We have to wait for the big action, as an awful lot is denied us early in the film. We see the destruction and hopelessness of the human survivors, but little of the monster fights. A brave move, and one that initially disappointed, but now I feel was correct and adds weight to the disaster unfolding, and a better pay off at the end.

The effects are pretty top-notch, and some of the shots are simply stunning. Edwards has a good eye, without a doubt.

The music is great, but I am annoyed by the lack of Godzilla march. I think it may have been cleverly woven in, but that’s just not good enough. It is like a Bond film without the Bond theme. Just not on.

Overall, Godzilla is a film worthy of attention, and certainly requiring a big screen experience. Despite the unoriginal story-line the characters take, it is a different kind of film than most monster flicks, and should be approached with a different frame of mind.

(1) Except perhaps James Bond or Sherlock Holmes.
(2) If you’ve missed it, it is well worth buying and comes with my recommendation.

What’s on: Outside Screenings at Stratford-upon-Avon

That’s right – the Picturehouse outside screenings return to Stratford-upon-Avon Arts festival for a second year running, and it’s a very exciting line-up this year!

The films will begin at around 9.00, depending on the sun, and there will be music, snacks and a bar on site from 8.00. Fancy dress is of course encouraged!
Remember to bring blankets and something comfy to sit on. There will be a marquee in case of rain.

Saturday 24 May: GHOSTBUSTERS
Sunday 25 May: DIRTY DANCING
Friday 30 May: JURASSIC PARK
Saturday 31 May: LABYRINTH – join us from 7.00 for a Masquerade Ball!
Sunday 1 June: SOME LIKE IT HOT

Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I love this alternate poster!
I love this alternate poster!
Shall we begin with the previous film? I didn’t enjoy it all that much. In fact, it’s probably my least favourite of all Marvel films. It felt unbalanced, and more like the opening paragraph of AVENGERS ASSEMBLE than anything else. However, Joss Whedon gave old Captain America an injection of personality in his mega-movie, and I was far more willing to give THE WINTER SOLDIER a go. Throw into the mix mainly favourable reviews, and a chance to finish March’s Scarlett Johansson trio (along with HER and UNDER THE SKIN) and yes, I was ready for this.

The story is darker in tone than some of the other instalments. Having said that, it feels like most Marvel films since AVENGERS ASSEMBLE have bee darker – a suitable response to alien invasion, for sure. Where IRON MAN 3 took a look a very personal soul-searching story, and THOR 2 was about opening up some old wounds, THE WINTER SOLDIER is taking a look at duty and responsibility in this new age; using corruption in the SHIELD organisation as the excuse to do this. Can we trust our superiors? Can we trust each other? Interesting questions both in this new Marvel phase and, of course, in the real world that we, unfortunately, find ourselves. (No superheroes here, alas!)

This lack of trust cleverly cuts away many characters, and leaves us with an unusual intimate feeling as our heroes – Captain America and Black Widow are set against everyone else in order to untangle the truth. Where many films lose their way in the middle story, I enjoyed it with this film more that I would expect; perhaps because they truly did feel cut off, and also due to the performances from Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson who manage to bring some depth to super-hero soul-searching that must have been difficult. These are not, after all, the most complex characters.

Winter_soldierThe action sometimes left me feeling underwhelmed, with the exception of their initial altercation with The Winter Soldier himself, which had a good panicky feel about it, and our heroes were given a proper beating without it seeming like they were being ‘weakened’ in any way to increase the threat.

I enjoyed the film, largely due to the pairing of our Captain and Black Widow, and it was nice to see Nick Fury do a little more than look knowledgeable and mysterious. It moves along at a fair pace, and has an appropriately sinister tone at parts. Not my favourite Marvel film, but a strong instalment and definitely worth seeing on the big screen.

Review: Tokyo Fist

Shin’ya Tsukamoto is one of my favourite Directors. From the insane, frenetic TETSUO through to the dark (and superb) KOTOKO I love pretty much everything I have seen of his.

This release from Third Window Films gave me an opportunity to watch TOKYO FIST for the first time, and a real treat it is. A story of betrayal, revenge and love, with sex and violence being the centre of the entire affair. It all begins with Tsuda (Played by Tsukamoto) running into an old friend, now a boxer, who becomes a little too close to Tsuda’s love, Hizuru.

TOKYO FIST could have been a simple tale of two men fighting over a woman. This, however, is a Tsukamoto film. There are plot twists to come, yes, but more than that – his films are about the characters, and their deep, dark feelings. Guilt, desire, sex and violence all brought out and on show both through the actions of the characters, and the language of the film.

Tokyo Fist blu-ray-webInstantly visually arresting, TOKYO FIST has an intense style; the state of mind of our characters is often shown to us through framing, editing, colour and light. It is all very controlled, and I think beautiful; even when the scene may be very hard to watch. So different to any other film-maker, the style feels almost like another world, as if we’re watching Oz or Wonderland. The feeling I have is that the story is happening almost parallel to our world, and we are witnessing through a fracture into which we could all fall at any time.

Interesting, tough, dark… it is a great film and I highly recommend seeing it with this warning; If it doesn’t work for you, then you will hate it. However, it is a gamble worth taking because if it does work for you, then Shin’ya Tsukamoto’s films are incredibly rewarding, emotionally bruising and, frankly, amazing.