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Anton van Beek  |  Aug 01, 2011  |  0 comments

There are not many filmmakers who can say that they beat Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez at their own game. But debut director Jason Eisener is one of them.

Anton van Beek  |  Aug 01, 2011  |  0 comments

Limitless stars Bradley Cooper as failed writer Eddie Mora, whose life is completely turned around when he gets his hands on an experimental drug that boosts his brainpower. Within days he’s not only finished his novel, but also made millions on the stock market and come to the attention of high-powered businessman Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro). Trouble is, the pills are leaving him with gaps in his memory, one of which might connect him to a murder, and if that’s not enough, there’s also a Russian gangster who wants to get his hands on the wonder drug.

Anton van Beek  |  Jul 25, 2011  |  0 comments

There’s a world of difference between an ‘adult cartoon’ and a ‘cartoon for adults’. Director/co-writer Gore Verbinski’s Rango is a superb example of the latter – a cartoon aimed at an adult audience who will understand its in-jokes and satirical approach to the Western genre, but one that can still be enjoyed by folk of all ages. Playing out for large parts like a reworking of Once Upon a Time in the West enacted by anthropomorphised animals, the film stars Johnny Depp as the titular would-be gunslinger, a pampered pet chameleon lost in the wild, whose lies lead to him becoming sheriff of a town called Dirt. 

Anton van Beek  |  Jul 18, 2011  |  0 comments

Unknown may look like another Taken-style action-fest for Liam Neeson (and it was definitely advertised at such), but apart from a quick car chase and a final punch up, it’s actually the kind of conspiracy thriller that both Alfred Hitchcock and Roman Polanski have dabbled with over the years. That’s not to say that Unknown is in any way on a par with The Lady Vanishes or Frantic, but while it lasts it’s an entertaining ride that offers up some solid performances from its leads, stylish direction from Jaume Collet-Serra and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing right up to the final revelations.

Anton van Beek  |  Jul 15, 2011  |  0 comments

The Adjustment Bureau is the latest in a long line of middling Hollywood films to by inspired by the writings of Philip K Dick – in this case a loose adaptation of his 1954 short story The Adjustment Team. Essentially a discussion of the play between free will and destiny masquerading as a sci-fi-infused romantic thriller, the film stars Matt Damon as a promising congressman who falls for Emily Blunt’s carefree dancer. Trouble is, destiny has other plans for the duo, and before long the mysterious agents of the Adjustment Bureau are hot on their tale and trying to keep the pair apart to ensure that everything runs like it should.

Anton van Beek  |  Jul 15, 2011  |  0 comments

Conan the Barbarian may not be particularly faithful to Robert E Howard’s original pulp writing, but this 1982 flick is a rollicking piece of fantasy filmmaking that almost single-handedly made Arnold Schwarzenegger a Hollywood superstar and heralded a renaissance in the swords n sorcery genre. Written by Oliver Stone and directed by John Milius, it’s a suitably bleak and macho piece of filmmaking where men are muscular, women are barely dressed and camels exist only to be punched in the face. In other words, it’s bloody brilliant.

Anton van Beek  |  Jul 11, 2011  |  0 comments

Battle: Los Angeles desperately wants to be the Hurt Locker of alien invasion movies. Unsurprisingly, it isn’t. Despite all of the attempts at cinema vérité-style naturalism on show here (shaky-cams and crash zooms abound) there’s none of the intelligence of Kathryn Bigelow’s film at work here. Instead what we have is a traditional gung-ho action flick that feels more like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - The Movie, only replacing fictional Middle Eastern-types with equally fictional extra-terrestrial invaders. That’s not to say the film isn’t fun. Behind all of the lazy characterisation and obvious plotting lies 116-minutes of enjoyable action and spectacle – just the thing then for those of you who have got bored of spinning ID4 on Blu-ray over and over again.

Anton van Beek  |  Jul 11, 2011  |  0 comments

Ironclad is rather nicely summed up by its director as being ‘best described as a medieval Magnificent Seven or a medieval Seven Samurai'. A fictionalised retelling of the siege of Rochester Castle by King John’s forces in 1215, the film stars Paul Giamatti as the regal despot, with James Purefoy’s Templar knight and Baron Cox’s baron leading a rag-tag group of warriors holding the castle against him. It’s very silly stuff, but filmed with so much gusto and lashings of gore that it’s hard not to get caught up in the action.

Anton van Beek  |  Jul 04, 2011  |  0 comments

Don’t Look Now has often been called one of the best films in the history of British cinema – and with good reason. Adapted from a short story by Daphne du Maurier, director Nic Roeg’s film is more than a mere horror film – although it’s certainly not short on scares – rather it’s a remarkable psychological study of grief centred on a married couple (played by Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie) who lose their daughter in a freak accident. And while the story that unfolds is itself gripping, it’s visual elements and symbols that Roeg brings into play that allows the film to transcend the limitations of genre and become something truly special.

Anton van Beek  |  Jul 04, 2011  |  0 comments

Drive Angry is a very, very silly film. But it’s one that fully embraces its inherent stupidity and is probably the closest we’ve come to a modern version of grindhouse cinema. Indeed, it’s much more in keeping with actual examples of that specific film ghetto than anything Tarantino or Rodriguez for their 2007 double-feature.

Anton van Beek  |  Jun 27, 2011  |  0 comments

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy – Extended Edition delivers exactly what its name implies. It takes three of the biggest films in the history of cinema and restores a huge amount of deleted material to each (running from around half an hour in The Fellowship of the Ring to almost an hour in The Return of the King), making them bigger and better than ever.

Anton van Beek  |  Jun 13, 2011  |  0 comments

Paul sees Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz co-stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost making the trip across the Atlantic for an amiable sci-fi comedy about two geeky Brits on a road-trip around America’s UFO hotspots who bump into a real-life extra-terrestrial (voiced by Seth Rogen).

Anton van Beek  |  Jun 13, 2011  |  0 comments

True Grit represents another notch on the belt for filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, marking a return to the pinnacle of contemporary American filmmakers after the rather sleight Burn After Reading and A Serious Man.

Anton van Beek  |  Jun 10, 2011  |  0 comments

Once Upon a Time in the West isn’t just one of the greatest westerns – it’s one of the greatest films ever made. Working with the backing of a major American studio and scripted by two young Italian film critics who would eventually become respected filmmakers in their own right (Dario Argento and Bernardo Bertolucci), Leone’s film felt like the summation of the many themes he had begun exploring in his Dollars Trilogy. What initially appears to be a simple tale of revenge soon transforms into an operatic contemplation of the myth and legend of the Wild West with a cast to die for, spectacular images you could frame and hang in a gallery and Ennio Morricone’s greatest score. Cinema doesn’t get much better than this.

Anton van Beek  |  Jun 07, 2011  |  0 comments

The Fighter is the latest in a long line of films that shows just how well cinema and boxing go together. Thanks to the ease with which they bring together three of it’s the industry’s favourite themes - human drama, triumph of the underdog and people being hit in the head repeatedly - Hollywood’s history is lined with hymns to professional pugilists (either fictitious or real) in the form of classics like The Champ, Gentleman Jim, Rocky and Raging Bull.

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