Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sep 30th  
The Giver* (12A)            
(Odeon Colchester)

(US/South Africa 2014)

In a controlled society of the future, a youngster is given the responsibility to learn wisdom and knowledge of the world's troubled past, but uses it to rebel.
Reminiscent of Logan's Run and many other futuristic dramas, and like most of them, the society itself looks superficial and doesn't convince, but some of the images of the past are moving and powerful, the graduation of colour into the bland futuristic world is clever, and the veteran stars lend weight to what would otherwise be just another teenage fantasy franchise.

Written by: Michael Mitnick, Rober B. Weide, from the novel by Lois Lory.
Producers: Nikki Silver, Jeff Bridges, Neil Koenigsberg.
Director: Phillip Noyce.
Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Odeya Rush, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Alexander Skarsgaard, Cameron Monaghan, Taylor Swift.
Photography: Ross Emery.
Music: Marco Beltrami.
Production Design: Ed Verraux.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sep 22nd     
My House in Umbria**             

(US/GB/Ita 2003)

A romantic novelist survives a terrorist bomb on a train and invites the other lucky survivors to her house in Italy to help come to terms with their loss.
Beautiful locations are the mainstay of this touching drama (reminiscent of Enchanted April), commendably trying to mix in the unsentimental element, although it doesn't quite succeed as the pivotal bomb explosion comes across as a little false.

Written by: Hugh Whitemore, from the novel by William Trevor.
Producers: Ann Wingate, Marco Valerio, Pugini.
Director: Richard Loncraine.
Starring: Maggie Smith, Ronnie Barker, Chris Cooper, Timothy Spall, Giancarlo Giannini, Emmy Clarke, Benno Furmann.
Photography: Marco Pontecorvo.
Music: Claudio Capponi.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sep 13th   
The Shawshank Redemption** (15)  
(Plaza Stockport)

(US 1994)

In 1946 an innocent man is sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, but 20 years later uses his resourcefulness to find a way out.
Much admired by Internet followers, this absorbing if clich├ęd prison drama - like most of its kind - feels like rather a long time inside the cinema as well as in prison (although in the case of this particular cinema rather a lovely one), but compels for the first hour before some of the mechanics of the plot set in, although the manner of the resolution is ingenuous.

Written and Directed by: Frank Darabont, from the story "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" by Stephen King.
Producer: Niki Marvin.
Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, Clancy Brown, William Sadler, James Whitmore, Gil Bellows.
Photography: Roger Deakins.
Music: Thomas Newman.
Editing: Richard Francis-Bruce.

Variety article

Preceded by:
The Pink Panther in
Prefabricated Pink*
(US 1967. 6m.; w: Jim Ryan; p: David H. DePatie, Friz Freleng; d: Hawley Pratt.)

Tom and Jerry in
The Milky Waif**
(US 1946. 7m.; d: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera; p: Fred Quimby.)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sep 12th  
The Wizard of Oz***
(Odeon Printworks Manchester)              

US 1939. MGM. 101m. Technicolor/sepia. IMAX 3-D

Farm girl Dorothy runs away from home but gets caught up in a storm which transports her to the magical land of Oz where she overcomes a wicked witch with the help of her four friends.
The quintessential cinema pantomime, competently transferred into Imax 3D, but still just as good and just as memorable in whatever format. The Munchkins are a bit of a bore, but are quickly over with after the first few reels, the villainous witch is truly terrifying, and the general performances (especially the 17-year old Garland enchantingly convincing as a little girl) and the sporadically charming songs makes this a classic of everlasting endurance which overcomes the sluggishness. Due credit must also be given to the charmingly underplayed sepia bookends as well.

Written by: Noel Langlety, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allen Woolf, from the story by L. Frank Baum.
Producer: Mervyn Le Roy.
Director: Victor Fleming (and Richard Thorpe, King Vidor, George Cukor).
Starring: Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Margaret Hamilton, Frank Morgan, Bille Burke, Clara Blandick, Charley Grapewin.
Music: Harold Arlen.
Lyrics: E.Y. Harburg.
Photography: Harold Rosson.
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons.

+ previously made as a 1921 silent featuring Oliver Hardy as the Tin Man. See also Oz: Great and Powerful

Monday, September 08, 2014

Sep 8th  
The Crucible*       

(US 1996)                      

In the 17th century village of Salem, Massachusetts, one local girl's vengeful fantasies lead to mass hysteria and several accusations of witchcraft.
Miller's notable play with its allusions to the McCarthy era rather belatedly comes to the screen, an overwrought historical melodrama which cannot help being so, the opening out of the play somehow emphasising this even more with some similarly overcooked performances, but still with elements of quality about it and a powerful finale.

Written by: Arthur Miller, from his play.
Producers: Robert A. Miller, David V.Picker.
Director: Nicholas Hytner.
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Winona Ryder, Paul Scofield, Joan Allen, Bruce Davison, Jeffrey Jones, Rob Campbell, Peter Vaughan, Karran Graves, Charlayne Woodard.
Photography: Andrew Dunn.
Music: George Fenton.
Production Design: Lilly Kilvert.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Sep 2nd  
Autumn Sonata**     

(Swe/Fra/WG 1978)                      

After a recent bereavement, an illustrious concert pianist visits her eldest daughter, but uncovers some home truths in the process.
Quintessential Bergman angst, featuring his glamorous namesake Ingrid (in what proved to be her last cinema film) in an uncomfortably familiar role to herself (neglectful mother who pursues her star career.) Absorbing and introspective as ever, but mesmeric in its performances.

Written and Directed: Ingmar Bergman.
Starring: Ingrid Bergman, Liv Ullman, Halvar Bjork, Lena Nyman, Gunnar Bjornstrand.
Photography: Sven Nykvist.
Music: Chopin, and others.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Aug 20th   
The Spirit*                                                           

(US 2008)              

Adventures in Central City of a phantom-like ex-cop against his nemesis, a mad surgeon named The Octopus.
Stylized live action comic book from one noted graphic novelist adapting the work of another, in an identical style to Sin City, but slightly more digestible as entertainment - although fans of the genre were generally disappointed.

Written and Directed by: Frank Miller, based on the comic book by Will Eisner.
Producers: Deborah Del Prete, Gigi Pritzer, Michael E. Uslan.
Starring: Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson (over the top as the villain), Eva Mendes, Scarlette Johansson, Sarah Paulson, Dan Lauria, Paz Vega.
Photography: Bill Pope.
Music: David Newman.
Visual Effects Supervisor: Stu Maschwitz.