Review: Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim PosterWhen Guillermo del Toro makes a film, I pay attention. He’s one of my favourite directors, and PAN’S LABYRINTH is certainly in the running to be my all-time favourite film. (Note 1)

When a new monster movie is released, I pay attention. I’ve grown up watching GODZILLA, THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS and most other ‘kaiju’ films. I love them. I love the cheesy dialogue, and the big fight scenes. I appreciate the good effects, and enjoy the bad effects equally. Seriously, this is one of my favourite genres.

So, you can imagine my excitement and horrendous fear at going in to watch PACIFIC RIM.

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Review: Love Exposure

Making its way to Blu-ray, thanks to Third Window Films, and released today, Love Exposure is a 2008 release directed by Sion Sono and is probably unlike anything you’ve seen before.

The film opens with a scene of a young boy – Yu – and his mother, who is terminally ill and praying. His mother asks only that Yu finds his ‘Maria’, his one true love. Young Yu promises to do this.

Years later, Yu (Takahiro Nishijima) is a normal seventeen year old boy living with his father, who has become a priest. After his father breaks up with another woman and has his heart broken, things begin to go wrong. His father demands that Yu goes to confession on a daily basis, and is not happy until his son confesses to sins. Yu, being a young normal seventeen year old, has little to confess to. For a while he has to ‘squeeze out sins’, but this is not adequate. So, in an attempt to bond with his father, he begins to purposefully sin. Eventually, he perfects the art of ‘peek-a-panty’ photos, which has him branded as a pervert. This proves enough to truly enrage his father.

“All perverts were created equal”

Throughout this, there is a constant countdown to ‘the miracle’, which happens almost exactly half way through the film. This is the moment that Yu meets his ‘Maria’, Yoko (Hikari Mitsushima). They fall in love instantly. The only problem is that Yu is dressed as a woman called Miss Scorpion at the time, and is completely unrecognisable.

“Jesus I approve of you as the only cool man besides Kurt Cobain”

The third strand in the film, and the one that holds most sway over the second half of the film is the story of Koike (Sakura Ando) who has been manipulating events and characters in order to bring the family into her ‘Zero Church’ cult.

Love Exposure is asking questions of love, sex and passion. There is an analysis of faith and sin, religion and identity. There is more than a touch of disillusioned and abandoned youth (which Sono would go on to look at even more in Himuzu). Gender, sexuality, broken families, parenthood also get tackled with. There is a lot going on here.

The Zero Church have their own agenda. And a bird.

The film plays across several genres, and goes from comedy to thriller and back again. There are jokes about erections mixed in with much darker scenes. It looks great throughout, with clever lighting and some interesting shots. The soundtrack is fantastic, with use of pop and rock as well as classical pieces. These reflect characters as well as enhancing the mood or drama of scenes.

Love Exposure may not be for everyone, but for such a long film (four hours) it remains quick moving and entertaining, as well as managing to cover so many themes. I admit that at first I was worried some of the visual metaphors were far too obvious, but the film builds themes so quickly that things merge and mix like colour on an artist’s pallet, creating something entirely new. Definitely worth investing some time with.

Extra features:
One hour long ‘making of’ feature
Thirty-minute interview with Sion Sono
Deleted and extended scenes

Note: I saw the DVD version, not the Blu-ray.

Review: King of Devil’s Island

King of Devil’s Island is essentially a prison movie, starring the wonderful Stellen Skarsgard as the Governor. However, due to some great touches to the script and performances the film manages to rise above so many others in this genre.

The build of tension is superbly done, and it is beautifully shot throughout.

I really, really liked it. I wrote a full review of King of Devil’s Island for Cinetalk.

Terracotta #HK15 Festival Rundown

It’s not long until Terracotta’s Hong Kong 15 festival is underway, celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of Hong Kong being handed back to China. This, of course, makes me feel a little old (Was it really fifteen years ago?).

Below is a list of the films playing, in date order and with the start times. I hope to be attending a few, so expect reviews for TomJupiter and Cinetalk to follow at some point.

The festival is taking place at the Odeon, Covent Garden from 3-14 July. I’m particularly excited to see A Simple Life, as I have been informed by someone I greatly respect that it is one of the best films she saw last year!

Click on the film titles for more info and trailers on the official site, and you can book tickets here.

Monday 2 July, 7.00

Tuesday 3 July, 6.15

Wednesday 4 July, 6.15

Thursday 5 July, 6.15

Friday 6 July, 7.15

Saturday 7 July, 2.15

Saturday 7 July, 6.15

Saturday 7 July, 8.45

Sunday 8 July, 2.15

Monday 9 July, 6.15

Tuesday 10 July, 6.15

Wednesday 11 July, 6.15

Thursday 12 July, 6.15

Friday 13 July, 8.45

Saturday 14 July, 6.30

Chernobyl Diaries and Kosmos

A couple of reviews have gone up over at Cinetalk.

Chernobyl Diaries, a horror in which a group of young holidaymakers find more than they bargained for in the ruins around Chernobyl.

Kosmos, in which a strange figure turns up at a small town, possibly with the power to heal.

Sci-Fi London (part one)

Some reviews…

I spent three days enjoying some great science-fiction and fantasy films at the festival. It was great fun, and I met some lovely people.

The first of my reviews have been published at Cinetalk.

I also saw the fantastic doc BEING ELMO, which I reviewed too. It’s being distributed by Dogwoof, who are working with the Gate Cinema on a great season of docs this May.

Terracotta Film Festival 2012

The festival kicks-off today – and it’s where I’ll be living pretty much all this weekend. There’s a great selection of films, and some Q&A’s and other exciting bits and bobs thrown in. You can see the full programme, but my personal highlights are:

An EPIC WWII film. I caught an early screening, and a review will follow this post!



Which is a very dark response to the 2011 tsunami. I reviewed the film for CINETALK.

Loco Film Festival: Discovery Screening

London’s Comedy Film Festival

This was the first year of the Loco festival, but there was a really strong line-up of films and events. Alas, due to work commitments, I could only make it to one night of the festival – the Discovery Screening – in which a brand new short and feature are presented to an audience. And may I say, the future of UK comedy looks bright!

All Consuming Love (Man In A Cat)

A short film from Dice Productions which is, as all good shorts ought to be, properly weird. A woman believes that she has mice, so buys a cat. Inside the cat’s hollow, squishy head lives a tiny man in a jumper. Such a wonderful little existence is created. The animation and voice acting is great, and it’s very funny indeed. Check out the trailer below. Seeing this did raise the question of how difficult it is for short films to be seen in a proper cinematic environment, though, which is a real shame.

Black Pond

The Thompsons are a couple that have been together for many years, but have reached a point of simply existing. There is no joy in their marriage any longer, and most of their life is being lived through their daughters who have moved out. Whilst out walking the dog, Boy, Tom Thompson (Chris Langham) meets Blake (Colin Hurley). Blake seems a little simple, or innocent, but pleasant enough, so goes back for tea. This small act goes on to change the lives of all involved, and results in a death and a divorce.
The outcome is given away early, but it is the details and the character development that provide the interest. The relationships between the Thompsons and their friends are realistic to watch and the is the main strength of the film. The only character which doesn’t work quite as well is Eric Sacks (Simon Amstell). His scenes felt very different from the rest of the film, and the character much less real, which jarred with the family.

Chris Langham and Colin Hurley really stood out for me, with Langham managing to squeeze every drop of humour from his role.

Although being shown at a comedy festival, there are no jokes in BLACK POND. It is, however, extremely funny. The humour comes mainly from the characters and their relationships, and is very dark in places.

Highly recommended.