Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Samurai (Der Samurai).


The central image of Till Kleinert debut film is an androgynous figure roaming the empty streets of a village in the middle of the night dressed in a wedding dress and holding a samurai sword! It’s an intriguing bloodthirsty fairy tale with a difference. Berlin born Kleinert not only directed Der Samurai (2014) he also wrote the screenplay. Shown at the Leeds International Film Festival it missed a general cinematic release and went straight to DVD in the UK.

This is the second German film I have seen recently involving the return of wolfs across Germanys Eastern borders. The first Wild (2016), which I saw in Berlin in April, was about a young woman who shares her appointment with a wolf and forms a relationship with the animal that crosses the line between love and lust.  
 
Something more in the darkness!

In Kleinert’s movie a wolf wanders the woods on the edge of a small village on the German-Polish border. Jakob (Michel Diercks), a young boyish and unassuming local police officer tries to befriend the animal by leaving raw meat hanging in the trees.  But while in the woods he senses something more in the darkness. When he takes it upon himself to deliver a package to a part derelict house on the edge of the village he comes across a man (Pit Bukowski), who has a wild gaze, a wiry body and shoulder length hair, dressed in what would appear to be a wedding frock. The package contains a Japanese sword with which this stranger intends to wreak havoc on both the village and its inhabitants. He invites Jacob, whose parents are dead and who lives with his aging grandmother, to join him.
 
Jacobs right of passage.
Is there a connection between the wolf and our violent transvestite? We get to witness an erotic dance scene between the two men which in it self forces the viewer to ask if these two men are a different side of the same character and have we been observing a dream sequence or are we meant to be questioning the young police officers sexuality?
 
The androgynous figure of The Samural. 

The movie has what I would describe as symbolic violence as most of it is implied and not actually seen on screen.  That is until the final scene when The Samurai appears naked, his erect penis turned on by the thought of death. A very dark and surreal DVD that was definitely worth liberating from the bargain bin at HMV.  

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Away.

As normal with my visit to Edinburgh to catch some of the movies showing at its 2016 International Film Festival I make a point of supporting films made in the UK. The three British movies I’ve seen this year have two things in common. Firstly they all have one-word titles and secondly and far more importantly all have been disappointing. 

Probable safe to say that director David Blair is best known for his work on TV Series like Accused (2010-2012), The Street (2006-2009) right back the very well received The Lakes in 1997. But his latest feature film I’m afraid is not up to the standard of these or many of the other TV series he has been involved with. First time feature film script writer Roger Hadfield has written a story that to my mind has no real depth and does hold your attention for what seems like a never ending 110 minutes.


Starring Timothy Spall and one of movie rambles favourite actresses Juno Temple as a couple of self-indulgent people who strike up a relationship in the northern coastal resort of Blackpool. Following the death of his wife, Joseph (Spall) heads to the coastal town to commit suicide. Meanwhile Ria (Temple) also travels to Blackpool with a holdall full of drugs that’s she has stolen from her abusive boyfriend Dex (Matt Ryan) to sell to Angie (Susan Lynch) a middle-aged drug dealer who as a ‘thing’ for young addicts. Also in this mix is Ria’s care home buddy Kaz (Hayley Squires). Dex comes after Ria, will he get his drugs back? Does Ria find solace in her relationship with the depressed widower or is she looking for a surrogate father figure? Will Joseph commit suicide? You can answer these questions for yourself when the film gets its UK release on the 7th October 2016.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Hitch Hike (Autostop rosso sangue)


Basically this over acted Italian crime film is about a couple towing a caravan through a desert type location made to look like Northern California, but actually filmed in the mountains of the Gran Sasso around the city of L’Aquila in central Italy, who get taken hostage by a sadistic escapee from an institution for the criminally insane. 
 
Franco Nero.

David Hess.

Walter Mancini (Nero) is a washed-up alcoholic writer traveling with his wife, Eve (Corinne Clery), whom suffers at his hands from abuse and humiliation. But, when they pick up a seemingly stranded motorist named Adam (Hess), their trip takes an unexpected turn for the worse. Adam, a deranged and murderous fugitive, orders them to drive him to Mexico, tying up Walter and torturing him for fun and raping Eve. Pursued by Adam's former partners, from whom he has stolen two million dollars, the trio journey through the desert as each plots their escape from one another.
 
Corinne Clery.

The movie is based on Peter Kane’s novel The Violence and the Fury and is directed by Italian screenwriter and novelist Pasquale Festa Campanile. It stars Franco Nero an actor best known for his role of Django in Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 Spaghetti Western of the same name, the French actress Corinne Clery who had the lead in Story of O in 1975 and American actor David Hess.  The film score also has a spaghetti western connection in that Ennio Morricone wrote the rather attractive score.  A movie that will not be to everyone’s taste with its graphic rape scene and bouts of violence but I thinking given the right frame of mind you may find it a enjoyable diversion.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Bliss.

Rita Osel’s first full length feature film as a director also incorporates her skills as a co writer and producer and one must admire her ambition and courage at tackling a story about modern family emotions that arise when a mother, who because of her looks and easy morals, has had various children by a selection of different men. The story involves just one of these children but ultimately effects all her other siblings.

Tasha Robson (Freya Parks) is 16 years old when she discoveries that the man her mother told her was her father turns out to be a lie. Although Tasha has never liked her 'father' because of his drinking and treatment of her mother Karen (Montserrat Lombard) she had always accepted the fact that this man was authentic. Finding out the truth about her real dad becomes an obsession and when she is told that the man she is looking for was known as The Viking and comes from Norway she raises enough money for a ferry trip leaving her home in South Shields and traveling to Norway on a road trip that compels this 16 year old to grow up.

Filmed in South Shields and in Norway, which looks like an advert for a travelogue, the story was originally based on a play of the same name by the award-winning writer Alex Ferguson. This debut film features some good young talent and the portrayal of Tasha by the then 13-year-old Freya Parks is exceptional and bodes well for her future career. But the problem with the movie is two fold, firstly the film tends to drag when the story reaches Norway and loses some of its momentum, secondly the soundtrack composed by Helene Muddiman who was given a free rein by Osei, is overpowering and at times even drowns out the dialog!


Although promoted as a film with a powerful message I was not convinced if Bliss! (2016) was supposed to be a slice of reality cinema or a fantasy - a story of wishful thinking perhaps? The screening I saw at the 2016 Edinburgh International Film Festival was its World Premiere and the director, who attended the showing, could not give a release date therefore I'm not sure if you will get a chance to decide for yourselves.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Deadpool.


Originally seen on the big screen in the feature film X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009 the wisecracking mercenary Wade Winston Wilson now has his own movie, it again stars Ryan Reynolds reprising his role as the fictional hero Deadpool from the Marvel Comics.
 
Mr Pool.
This is one rare comic book hero that does not take himself seriously and I would suggest that director Tim Miller has targeted the movie at a more adult audience and not just fan boys/girls of a certain age. The humour and sexual action between Wade Wilson and his girlfriend Vanessa (played by Morena Baccarin who is no where near as annoying in this movie as she was as Jessica Brody in Homeland) is quite explicit. Saying that the humour raises this film above many others in this genre is a understatement, not only does Deadpool talk to himself he also talks directly to his audience which succeeds in some strange way in making you closer to the action!
 
Vanessa.
The movie, written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, gives us the background to how a former Special Forces operative who hires himself as a mercenary in modern New York City, hangs about in his best friend’s Weasels (T J Miller) bar and has a series of one night stands   became a ‘superhero’ in the first place - although he admits to being super he’s fond of telling us he's no hero. One of Wilsons one night stands, Vanessa, blossoms into a full-blown romance and he proposes marriage to her. Shortly after she accepts Wilson finds out he has terminal cancer and has a limited time to live. So when he meets an agent from a covert organisation who tells him that he can not only cure his cancer but can also turn him into a regenerative mutant Wade Wilson jumps at the chance – well wouldn’t you? What he does not tell him is that he will be taken to a remote laboratory where he will meet Ajax (London born Ed Skrien best known for his role as Ed in Ill Manors 2012) and Angel Dust (mixed martial arts specialist Gina Carono who you may have seen in 2011's Haywire) both artificially-muted members of the Weapon X program who have regenerative power’s and enhanced strength! Although Wilson does eventually becomes Deadpool it's not without great personnel cost.
 
Ajax.

Angel Dust.


This has got to be the most entertaining Marvel Universe movie since 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy. Some very violent action scenes accompanied by some great one-liners that to some extent dilutes the blood and carnage on the screen. Ryan Reynolds really gets to grips with a role that's already spawned a sequel, Deadpool 2 due to start filming in early 2017 and I would doubt if that's the last time we will see Mr Reynolds version of this red spandex anti superhero. Highly recommended.
Great comic book cover art.