38th annual Saturn Awards nominees for SFFH films and TVComments Off
The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror Films has announced the nominees for its 38th annual Saturn Awards. Leading contenders in film include Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Hugo, The Adjustment Bureau and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. TV nominations include Doctor Who, Torchwood: Miracle Day, Being Human and American Horror Story. The winners will be announced on 20 June 2012.
In additon to the Saturn Awards, filmmaker Martin Scorsese will receive The George Pal Memorial Award in recognition of his career achievements.
Full story HERE
|Grimm Up North winter film screeningsComments Off|
In Time. Film ReviewComments Off
Starring Justin Timberlake, Cillian Murphy and Amanda Seyfried. Written & Directed by Andrew Niccol
20th Century Fox / 109 mins runtime
Reviewed by Catherine Mann
In a future where humans stop aging at 25, and time is used as currency, your life is literally shortened or lengthened according to your wealth. The rich can have thousands or even millions of years stored up, making them effectively immortal (as long as they don’t die accidentally), whereas the poor must survive day to day and regularly run out of time. Will Salas saves a rich man who is slumming it in theDaytonghetto, and is rewarded with a century and a disturbing look at the true nature of his world. With his new found wealth Will heads to New Greenwich, home of the super rich and nearly immortal. There he meets dissatisfied, suffocated rich girl Sylvia Weis and together they take on the injustices of the system.
One of the most successful parts of In Time was the world-building. The contrast between the rich and the poor are pronounced and wonderfully convey the central concept. It’s clear that the visuals were very carefully thought through, and the nuances in costume and set design are excellent. The poor are quick and colourful, theirs is a world full of danger, but also excitement and pleasure and visual interest. TheDayton ghetto is run down and shabby, but there’s always something to look at. By contrast the luxury of New Greenwich is very staid and reserved and sombre. Everything is slow and careful and luxurious, the people here have (almost) all the time in the world. Their surroundings are finely crafted, built to last, but lack embellishment. On Will’s first visit there he sticks out like a sore thumb, as a waitress points out he does everything too quickly to be a local. The ultra-modern, efficient precinct of the timekeepers provides yet another, briefly-glimpsed contrast. It is there, almost behind-the-scenes, that order reigns and the system is kept working for both the demure rich and the vibrant poor.
The film has plenty of good performances, but the characters work with varying levels of success. There are only young actors in this film – which must have been very attractive to studio bosses – and you can tell a particularly good performance by the ability of the actor to convey great age despite their physical youth. Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried play the leads and don’t have to worry about conveying age as their characters are as young as they look. We are meant to like Will Salas, and see things from his viewpoint, but he’s so similar to other action film leads that I didn’t feel much affection for him. Will is straightforward, brave and noble, but not very smart. His motivations are incredibly generic; he loves his mum (and given what kind of film this is, that’s bad news for her), and has a dead father he never really knew but looks up to all the same. He is told a secret – albeit a blindingly obvious one – about how the world works and he sets out to take on the rich, without any kind of plan. Then again given the world he lives in it makes sense that Will isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. He’s literally not had the time to stop and think about the world and his place in it, and he’s never had to think long-term. Will is a character who perfectly fits the film; he’s well-intentioned and dynamic, but not as intelligent as he should be.
Sylvia Weis is a great example of the kind of role female characters should have in films, though sadly she’s not particularly engaging as a person. It’s nice to see a leading lady whose actions and motivations drive the plot along as much as those of her male counterpart. Will never has to rescue Sylvia, she makes decisions for herself, and quickly learns to live a completely new life. Though I think it would make a little more sense if she’d learned that five inch heels are not the best footwear for running. Niggles aside, Sylvia quickly becomes Will’s equal in both their relationship and the film, and it’s easy to understand why she does what she does. In many ways she’s much braver than him, because she gives up so much more than he does. It’s a shame I didn’t feel more fondness for her, but then again I felt roughly the same about Will, so I suppose that’s fair too.
The supporting cast turned in some fine performances. Cillian Murphy, as committed as ever, plays Raymond Leon a very determined and incorruptible cop. Initially portrayed as a villain, he is one of the few characters who’s shown in a morally ambiguous light. He represents the forces of order, upholding and protecting the system flawed though it may be. The other standout performance was fresh-faced actor Vincent Kartheiser who plays the super rich Phillipe Weis. He managed to perform with all the gravitas, pomp and arrogance of a very old, very rich businessman. I enjoyed his performance, even though he was lumbered with some of the most awkward lines of exposition in the entire film. Phillipe Weis is a fat cat who lives off the suffering of others. He is the embodiment of the system, but he is also a human being and the actor did what he could to express this, despite the limitations of the part he was given.
I’ve mentioned the setting and character, but what I haven’t mentioned is the most important part of this film, the plot. You can tell fairly early on that the plot is the main consideration because it railroads everything else. Characters regularly do very stupid things, because the plot demands it. The premise, which is carefully introduced using a voiceover then beautifully expressed through the visuals, is warped and stretched so that the next event in the story can happen. In Time advertises itself as a high-concept film, and it probably would be if it weren’t much more concerned with being an exciting action film. It just about works whilst you are watching, but when you think about it for a moment it’s nonsensical and various plot points are indicative of lazy plotting. When Will travels from the ghetto he must stop and pay tolls of weeks, months, and years at a series of carefully controlled checkpoints that provide access to zones with greater wealth. Yet when driving out of New Greenwich with a hostage he is back in the ghetto without single problem. The crime spree that is the focus of the second half of the film just seems to happen without planning or difficulty, leaving you wondering why everyone doesn’t take up bank robbing.
Writer and Director Andrew Niccol also wrote and directed the excellent high-concept film Gattaca. There are a variety of superficial similarities between the two films; both set in a strict class-based future world, a man born into disadvantage gets the opportunity to enter the world of his social superiors and challenge the injustice of the system. However that’s really where the similarities end. Gattaca stuck firmly to its premise and the suspense and action flowed from the central character’s motivation. Whereas In Time is a high-concept idea that has been warped to fit a Hollywood action plotline. One of the biggest disappointments is that so much could have been done with a premise that ties currency directly to mortality. It’s an idea that’s ripe for exploration in the current climate of financial crises. In Time does little to explore the complex moral and social issues raised by the premise and instead gives us a fast paced, action film. The action and suspense work very well, but it really feels like a missed opportunity that the film didn’t aspire to anything meaningful.
Troll Hunter. Film ReviewComments Off
Momentum Pictures / DVD & Blu Ray
Norwegian w/English subs – English audio available / 99 mins runtime
Reviewed by Phil Lunt
Troll Hunter is a rather excellent documentary on the role of the troll hunter in modern day Norway. Put together using footage from a group of missing college students you’ll learn about the different types of troll, such as the Ringlefinch, Tosserlad and Mountain Kings, how to keep them at bay, that three billy-goats on a bridge really do attract trolls and how their territories are controlled by the Troll Security Service…
Obviously, there are a few genre clichés there but I’ll admit to having a bit of a soft spot for “found footage” films, even stuff like The Blair Witch Project and The Last Broadcast but don’t write me off because of that. They are released onto a public with the full knowledge that they are works of fiction but at their core they spark the imagination in different ways to other films or media. They can be the kernel or embryo of ongoing, modern day, fairy tales and Troll Hunter is no different.
Troll Hunter does a very good job of taking an existing “allegedly” fantasy creature – in this case trolls, surprisingly enough – and brings it into the present with the back-story of a trio of college film-makers on the hunt for a rogue bear hunter. Obviously, and even the DVD cover blows the mystique a little, they find a lot more than they bargained for.
Luckily, the film gets over the clichéd “What’s hunting us through the trees? Let’s run like idiots!” relatively early on in the film and opens up into much more than I expected as the story develops and you learn about the life of a disgruntled troll hunter and of the trolls that lurk in modern day Norway. It has humour and tension in almost equal measures and Otto Jesperson holds everything together well as Hans the troll hunter whilst Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck and Tomas Alf Larsen, playing the student film makers, were spot on in their roles and despite being the “screamy teens with no real clue what they’re up against”, weren’t overly annoying, either, which in this type of film is very good!
The effects are good for a low budget film and only falter a couple of times. The trolls might appear a tad cartoony for some yet are still menacing. The backdrop of the Norwegian countryside is amazing, though, and adds to the fairy tale aura that the film creates.
There’s also a pretty cool scientific explanation for why trolls turn to stone and explode in sunlight as well as obligatory troll-fart humour! The DVD is also chock full of extras and includes an English dubbed version as well as the original Norwegian with subtitles. Overall I was impressed with this rather excellent “mockumentary” and highly recommend it.
UK actors secure Star Trek rolesComments Off
Sherlock actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Noel Clarke, who played companion Mickey in Doctor Who, are reportedly set to appear in the next Star Trek film. The follow-up to the 2009 film in the franchise will again be directed by JJ Abrams and is expected to be released in 2013.
Read the full BBC story HERE
Star Wars light sabre fight scene choreographer dies aged 89(1)
Bob Anderson, a former Olympic fencer who staged swordfights for films including the original Star Wars trilogy and Lord of the Rings, died on New Year’s Day at the age of 89. He doubled as Darth Vader during light saber fight scenes in both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, as well as choreographing sword fights in many other films. His most recent film work was on The Hobbit.
Born in Hampshire in 1922, Anderson served in the Royal Marines during World War II and represented the UK in fencing at the 1952 Olympics and the 1950 and 1953 World Championships.
Read the full news story HERE
Photo (c) Walt Disney Pictures
Director Nicholas Roeg to receive Film Critics’ Circle awardComments Off
Innovative British film director Nicholas Roeg is to be awarded with the London Film Critics’ Circle’s highest accolade for his contribution to film-making. The director will receive the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence at a ceremony in London in January. He is best known for films such as Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell to Earth and The Witches.
Full story on the BBC’s website HERE
Doctor Who feature film in developmentComments Off
Read the full BBC story HERE
Horror film Unhappy Birthday released to DVDComments Off
Peccadillo Pictures have released the arthouse horror Unhappy Birthday to DVD. Directed by Mark Harriott and Mike Matthews, the film is described as “a refreshingly queer take on the classic British horror film and inspired by cult classics such as The Wicker Man and Hammer House of Horror, Unhappy Birthday has a playfully retro vibe, a healthy irreverence and a deliciously deviant heart.”
“A surprise birthday party becomes a living nightmare for city-dwelling couple Sadie and Rick and their friend Jonny. They are invited to visit the remote tidal island of Amen by Corinne, an enigmatic local who hopefully holds the answers to long-buried family secrets. Amen is populated by a historically close-knit community who discourage strangers from visiting. So why have these three outsiders really been allowed on to the island? Despite the bucolic nature of the island the trio have a growing sense of unease, but they find themselves trapped by the tide and at the mercy of the islanders. As the horror of their situation unfolds, these visitors will wish they’d never been born! ”
For details please see the website
Course on The Cinema of Stephen KingComments Off
Writing East Midlands is promoting a five week course on The Cinema of Stephen King at Broadway, Nottingham, starting on Monday 14 November 2011. The course takes place on consecutive Monday evenings from 7:00 – 8:30 pm.
“Since the 1970’s, Stephen King has become a name synonymous with horror and he has carved out a niche as one of the world’s most terrifying authors. Beyond the success of his many bestselling titles, King’s work has been translated to film many times, including many iconic titles in the last thirty-five years. Looking at well-known movies such as The Shining, Misery, The Shawkshank Redemption and The Green Mile, as well as lesser-known classics, this course explores the work of a master of storytelling in horror and beyond.”
Cost for the course £35 (£25 concessions) from www.broadway.org.uk or Broadway Box Office on 0115 9526 611