25th Oct2015

Big Eden (DVD)

by timbaros

Grace comforts HenryThe award-winning gay romance film Big Eden is celebrating it’s 15th anniversary by being re-released on VOD and Blu-Ray.

It’s a film that takes us back to the simpler times; pre 9/11, a time when the hardest thing one had to most worry about was being single in a large city.
Henry Hart (Arye Gross), a very successful NYC painter, and eternally single, finds out that his grandfather, who lives alone back home in Big Eden, Montana, has had a heart attack. So foregoing a big opening for his latest artwork, and much to the behest of his very pregnant assistant Mary (Veanne Cox), Henry jumps on a plane to be with his grandfather Sam Hart (George Coe).

Going back home, to a state with beautiful lakes and mountains, brings back lots of memories for Henry. First of all, it’s where he met his first love Dean (Tim DeKay), a man who ended up leaving town and getting married. It’s taken a while for Henry to forget about him, including years of therapy. Back home is also where lots of his old friends still live, including Grace Cornwell (Oscar-winning actress Louise Fletcher), now a schoolteacher who was the one who informed Henry of his grandfather’s condition. Henry goes back home to a place that accepts his sexual orientation, times have changed and so has the community. Local busy body Widow Thayer (a very funny Nan Martin) makes it her job to nose into other people’s business and arranges teas for local people to ‘meet.’ Once she sees Henry back in town she arranges a tea lunch for Henry with the local single women, but when she realizes he’s gay, she arranges a tea lunch with the local gay men. But it’s not any of these men that Henry is interested in. He’s back in town specifically to take care of his grandfather and is not interested in dating any of them. But soon enough he finds out that the very good looking Dean has moved back to town with his two sons. Seeing Dean again brings back memories from the past, and also questions as to why they never got together. Meanwhile, Widow Thayer has volunteered to cook dinner for both Henry and Sam as Henry claims that, being a New Yorker, he simply doesn’t know how to cook. So for the first few nights Thayer makes and brings over dinner, but it’s local store owner Pike Dexter (Eric Schweig) who volunteers to take over the cooking duties. He buys recipe books to make the most delicious meals, meals that he delivers to the Harts but always saying that they come from Widow Thayer. When Pike delivers the dinner, he quickly leaves, never staying to join Henry and Sam when asked to. Pike is something of an enigma in town, he’s quiet, reserved, but at the same time tall and strong. Pike seems to be hiding something, is it something about Henry’s homosexuality perhaps? Henry stays on in Big Eden as his grandfather continues to improve, he appears to be in no rush to get back to New York. Will Henry decide to stay in Big Eden permanently and leave the big city behind? Do Henry and Dean finally hook up? Why is Pike to mysterious? And what does Widow Thayer have up her sleeve next?

Director and writer Thomas Bezucha crafts a beautiful romantic film with characters who could be from anyone’s hometown. The actors are all wonderful in their roles. And it’s a credit to Bezucha and his team that the setting is perfect. Every last detail is thought of and captured on film, and certain shots are set up perfectly, from the beautiful landscapes to the items in the local grocery story. Plus the country and western soundtrack gives the film a perfect flavor. It’s a must that you watch ‘Big Eden’ as it takes us back to a simpler time. It’s one of the most romantic gay films of all time, and proving that yes, you can always go back home again.

‘Big Eden has won numerous Audience Awards at several film festivals and in 2001 was named Best Fiction Feature at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and Best American Independent Feature Film plus Best Film at the Cleveland International Film Festival.

‘Big Eden’ is available for the first time on Blu-Ray, new HD version for VOD, which includes new bonus materials

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25th Oct2015

The New Girlfriend (DVD)

by timbaros

images-368Francois Ozon is back with a film that follows the same winning formula of his previous films – quirky, sweet, funny and dramatic, and a bit off the wall.

In The New Girlfriend, we get best friends Laura (Insild Le Besco) and Claire (Anais Bemoustier). They grew up together, went to school together, and basically shared their lives together. Laura was the first to get married, to David (Romain Duris), and the first to have a baby. Claire eventually got married, to the very handsome Gilles (Raphael Personnaz). They both remained very very close after their marriages, but unfortunately Laura gets very sick. Claire makes a promise to Laura that she will look after her baby and David in case things take a turn for the worse. They do, as Laura passes away.

So Claire owns up to her promise, and a few days after the funeral she decides to go to David’s house to check up on him and the baby as she’s not heard from him. She enters the house via an unlocked front door and discovers David dressed as a woman! So in typical Ozon fashion, the plot takes a turn for the wacky as Claire accepts, and even encourages David to dress up as a woman, naming him Virginia, and even accompanying him on his first trip outside the house dressed as a woman. It’s a different type of relationship that develops between Claire and David. It’s a relationship not just between a man and a woman, but between two women. Their relationship takes a turn for the emotional and the sexual, and Claire is torn as to what to do. She has to make a decision, stay with Gilles, or start a new life with David and the baby.

Ozon, at the age of 47, has given us many memorable films, including 2012’s In The House and 2002’s 8 Women. His films are different, not mainstream, and he tend to include LGBT characters in them. And they almost always include twists to the storyline that are unexpected but provide for full entertainment. The New Girlfriend’s plot doesn’t stray far from this. It’s a film that, while relatively simple, engages us with characters who are interesting and a plot that is very different. And the actors, like in any other Ozon film, are in top form. Duris is superb and perfect as David/Virginia. He looks good as a man but perhaps even better dressed as a woman. Demoustier is perfect as Claire – the woman torn between feelings for her husband yet fascinated by this new ‘person’ in her life. And Personnaz is very good as Claire’s husband – he doesn’t have much to do, but he’s very good at it. The New Girlfriend is a fun movie that you will thoroughly enjoy.

The New Girlfriend is now available to buy on DVD.

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01st Oct2015

Little Accidents (DVD)

by timbaros

19GRRGFlKkS2pNcyA3cQD6IXb-N9S_l67UkVHCRR-jIThere are no little accidents in the new film of the same name.

‘Little Accidents’ is a quiet film about a small American mining town. Surrounded by beautiful green valleys and deep, dark forests, it’s also a town of the haves and have-nots. It’s also the scene of a huge accident that took place – ten miners died in the local mine, and only one survived – Amos Jenkins (a very subtle performance by Boyd Holbrook). He was injured in the accident, and is still very much traumatised. Meanwhile, 12-year old Owen Briggs (Jacob Lofland) lost his father in the accident. He’s a gentle boy, happiest when he is with his little brother who has Down’s Syndrome, while his mom (an unrecognizable Chloe Sevigny) tries to pick up the pieces and tries to return to a normal life without her husband. The other boys in town make fun of Owen, in part because of his little brother, and because they are just mean. One of the boys, JT Doyle (Travis Tope) happens to be the son of coal mine supervisor Bill Doyle (Josh Lucas) who may or may not be responsible for the coal mine accident. Amos brings JT and his friends beer from his refrigerator in an effort to fit in with them. It leads to disaster – JT falls on a rock and hits his head and dies, and Amos hides the body.

Bill Doyle, the coal mine supervisor, is married to Diana Doyle (Elizabeth Banks). They don’t have a strong marriage, he’s cold, doesn’t tell her much about the coal mine accident, and neglects here, while she spends her day at home whiling away the hours. When their son JT doesn’t come home, and is still missing after a few days, their marriage actually worsens and the tension between them is palpable.

A chance meeting of Amos Jenkins and Diana Doyle in front of a general store leads Diana to fall into his arms. Amos is a gentle soul, wrecked from the accident yet good looking and humble. Meanwhile Owen is feeling guilty, so he starts helping Diana with her gardening.

But there are little mysteries to these accidents; will Amos testify against his employers confirming that they knew about the dangers of the coal mine? Will Owen confess to killing JT? And will Amos and Diana’s relationship continue?

‘Little Accidents’, written and directed by Sara Colangelo, is a quiet, subtle movie about a small community’s attempt to deal with accidents that affect them all directly or indirectly. Holbrook is excellent at Amos – deciding whether to do the right thing. Banks as Bill’s wife and Amos’ lover has her best role in years. You can feel her pain, loss, and her need to find comfort elsewhere. Lofland (previously seen in ‘Mud’) carries the movie. He’s young and innocent and deeply affected by his father’s death yet is hiding a terrible secret. And Colangelo’s brilliant pacing of the film makes it a compelling film to watch.

‘Little Accidents’ is now available on DVD + VOD

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30th Sep2015

Wasp (DVD)

by timbaros

Still5A gay couple and a jilted woman spend a weekend together in a house in Provence. It’s a triangle that becomes messy, in the new film ‘Wasp.’

Olivier (Simon Haycock) and James (Hugo Bolton) have been together for a year. Caroline (Elly Condron), a college friend of James, has just been dumped by her French boyfriend of 3 years. So James invites Caroline to spend the week with him and Olivier in a house that belongs to Olivier’s family. It’s a beautiful house, typical French Chateau, with an outdoor pool, a trampoline in the backyard, and amazing views of the valley. Olivier is a privileged man; he’s 30, handsome, has a great job, and comes from a well-off family. And he’s got a younger goodlooking trophy boyfriend in James. He also used to sleep with woman.

So the tension, not just sexual but all sorts, builds up as the week progresses. Caroline hears Olivier and James having sex upstairs, yet she’s vulnerable and feels a bit left out.

Olivier starts noticing Caroline more and more. He steals glances at her from across the pool, and Caroline notices. She plays it up, teases Olivier, until James realizes what is happening right in front of him. And the relationship between all three of them may never be the same again.

Director/Writer Phillippe Audi-Dor makes an auspicious debut film. His style of long shots of various places and objects (wasps being one of them) brings out the beauty of the locale, as well as helps to build up and sustain tension between the three characters. Audi-Dor begin filming ‘Wasps’ just four months after graduating from film school, and what an impressive debut it is. And while the films winds down with a very melodramatic ending, ‘Wasps’ is an impressive filmmaking debut with a just as impressive cast.

‘Wasp’ is now available on DVD.

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27th Sep2015

Tracers and AWOL-72 (DVD)

by timbaros

PYH0mwrrDqLRtdkIdTqmIIyUNOm7R5ISQkkhjObrLnk,ArC4S8WDmGbqRdc7XjJeoDDcUSK_cBKHEYtkZUVByrgTwo action-packed films arrive on DVD with great action but very little on plot and acting

Tracers

Twilight co-star Taylor Lautner stars in ‘Tracers,’ a film about Parkouring – the art of being able to do leaps and bounds with physical prowess.

Cam (Lautner) appears to be lost in life. His mother has passed away and his father, who left him a car – which is his only remaining family possession, left only to never come back. Cam makes a living as a bike messenger. He’s also in debt to a local Chinese gang to the tune of $15,000 – money he borrowed to help his sick mother before she passed away, now the gang wants it’s money back or else.

While on his messenger job, Nikki (Marie Avgeropoulos) falls on him, literally. She’s parkouring (also known as tracing). She feels guilty about causing him to wreck his bike so she buys him a new one. Cam is intrigued, and attracted, to her, and he locates her, and sees that she belongs to a crew of parkours. Cam, who lives with a local woman and her son and is struggling to pay his rent, joins the parkour crew in the hopes of making enough money to pay off his loan and to give his landlady his rent that is in arrears. But the crew don’t do parkouring for fun, they actually use their skill to pull off bank heists. Cam shows them that he’s able to keep up with them, and they accept him like one of their own. But Cam and Nikki start falling for each other, even though she lives with the crew’s leader Miller (Adam Rayner). This causes lots of conflict within the group, and it comes to a boil when a dangerous jewel heist puts Cam in a position that could cost him his life.

‘Tracers’ premise, parkouring, is an interesting one. The actors jump off buildings, hop from car to car, run at a quick pace, and can virtually do anything physical. Lautner, Avgeropoulos, and Rayner more than ably do their jobs. The plot is interesting, and the movie short enough to not lose your interest (94 minutes). ‘Tracers’ takes place in New York City and shots of the skyline is one of the highlights of the film. The tagline for ‘Traders’ is ‘Run for your life.’ The actors sure do run for their lives, and you might be a little bit exhausted after watching them parkouring and may realize how out of shape you are compared to them.

‘Tracers’ is now available on DVD.

AWOL-72

Luke Goss plays a double agent who has something the Russians want in the new film AWOL-72.

It’s a computer chip that Conrad Miller (Goss) stole while he was in the U.S. Marines. Now, he’s gone AWOL (Absent without leave) with the chip and he’s got 48 hours to get it into the hands of the Russians. But things get in the way of his mission. His girlfriend Sam (Brooke Newton) is pregnant, he’s got Detective Adams (RZA) of the Los Angeles Police Department looking for him, and the military is especially keen to get their hands on him. But on the way to meet his brother to get new passports so that he and Sam can leave the country, he beats up a man at a gas station who is badly mistreating the woman he is with. Later that evening, Miller stops at a motel to sleep for the night, but the woman at the counter, whose badly bruised, tells him that the motel is full up. However, there are no cars in the parking lot, and Miller sees several women with gags around their mouth in the room behind the front desk. And the next moment Miller is hit in the face with the end of a gun and passes out.

Miller has accidentally stumbled on to a human trafficking ring. And, coincidentally, the man he beat up at the gas station is the brother of the man who owns the hotel. Miller has to use his wits to get out of the situation, and to hold on to a Bank of Maldives bank card that might hold a huge amount of money. Meanwhile Sam has packed up their house to hopefully meet Miller at their rendezvous point. But she’s got someone on her tail, a man who may or may not be linked to the military, the police, or the Russians. Will Miller get out of the situation that he’s in? Will Sam actually get to be reunited with Miller so they can go off into the sunset together? Will the Russians get what they want?

AWOL-72 is not a thinking man’s movie. It’s not even actually a movie. At 82 minutes, it plays more like an episode of a second rate crime drama television show, with the acting to match. Goss is trying to play the Jason Statham part – good looking action man who beats up all comers, but Goss is no Statham. And AWOL-72 is no film. Luckily it’s on DVD and online, and it won’t cost you too much time to watch. The soundtrack, however, is much better than the movie. Songs by KC Bandz litter the soundtrack, with the excellent song ‘Stop Playing’ played over the closing credits.

AWOL-72 on DVD + VOD 21st September 2015

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05th Sep2015

Rosewater (DVD)

by timbaros


RW_00624sIranian-born London journalist Maziar Bahari appeared in a skit on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show discussing spies. It was a skit that, a week later, would end in Bahari’s arrest by the Iranian authorities. His story is told in the new film Rosewater.

Bahari (played by Gael Garcia Bernal), was in Iran covering the 2009 election when he was interviewed by The Daily Show’s Jason Jones (who was dressed up as a spy). The interview, which took place in Tehran, was in The Daily Show’s comedic style of acerbic wit. In it Jones and Bahari discussed spies in Iran, and unfortunately the interview was seen by the Iranian authorities. Bahari was later arrested and imprisoned for 118 days, between June and October 2009.

Stewart, who has never written or directed a motion picture before (he wrote and directed Rosewater), has hosted The Daily Show since 1999. Stewart has written books, produced other television shows, and has hosted the Grammy and Academy Awards. But what made him want to venture into unchartered territory to write and direct his first motion picture? Perhaps he was feeling very guilty about Bahari’s arrest and imprisonment. Whatever the reason, Rosewater is a very good debut into the film world for Stewart.

In the beginning of Rosewater, we see Bahari in his London home being very affectionate to his pregnant wife Paola (Claire Foy). As a journalist, he’s about to go to Tehran to cover Iran’s 2009 election. He’s sent there by Newsweek, and since he is part Iranian, it’s a natural choice for him to go. On a fluke, he’s interviewed by The Daily Show, which leads to the drastic consequences. A week later, at his family’s home, he is arrested and sent to a Tehran prison where he is interrogated non-stop by a man who doesn’t give his name, but the movie calls him Rosewater (played by Kim Bodnia) because, according to the real Bahari, he smelled of Rosewater. Bahari is interrogated daily, Rosewater wants to know names of spies as he (and the government) is convinced that Bahari is not who he says he is – a journalist. So the film Rosewater focuses mostly on Bahari’s imprisonment, where he’s blindfolded, tortured, threatened with execution, and ordered to confess to being a spy on television. It’s disturbing to see Bahari getting beaten up – it’s almost a sure thing that he will never make it out of the Iranian prison system. But after 118 days, he is released, and he heads back to London to be with his wife and new baby. It’s, however, an anti-climactic ending as we are robbed of any emotional released-from-prison scenes – it’s just Bahari out of prison and on a plane back to London.

Garcia Bernal is a perfect choice to portray Bahari. Even though he is Mexican, he looks a bit Iranian – so the story is totally believable. It’s a role that most actors would’ve loved to play, but Garcia runs with it. But it’s not Garcia’s movie, it’s Stewart’s movie. He took 12 weeks off from The Daily Show to shoot the film, and it’s an impressive debut. Rosewater is dramatic, taut, well written and directed. And though the ending is a bit of a letdown (perhaps this is how Bahari wanted his release to be portrayed – quietly – as he still has family members who live in Tehran). But that’s a minor quibble for a film that tells a real life nightmare of a story of what one journalist went through when he was just doing his job.

New From: £5.26 GBP In Stock
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05th Sep2015

Phoenix (DVD)

by timbaros

PHOENIX-Photo1c-JohnnyRonald_Zehrfeld-NellyNina_Hoss_Foto_Christian_Schulz_cSchramm_Film-1Phoenix is a brutal story of a disfigured ex-concentration camp survivor who attempts to fit back into society, and to find out who betrayed her.

Nina Hoss is Nelly, a singer, is a 30-ish year old Jewish woman with willowy hair, slender body, and pale white skin. Nelly survived the horrors at Auschwitz, where she was shot in the face and disfigured beyond recognition. She is put into the care of surgeons who attempt to repair her face, though they tell her that she will never look like her previous self. Nelly, along with Lena, an employee of a Jewish agency and Nelly’s friend from pre-war days, helps her to settle back into society, and back into life, with the goal of leaving Germany and settling in a new land created specifically for the Jews, called Palestine. But Nelly wants to look for her husband, who she hears has survived the war. She’s told that he is alive and well and working at a carabet club called Phoenix.

So Nelly goes out, trepidly, and finds him working in the club, and she calls out to him by his name, Johnny, however, he tells her that his name is Johanne (played by Ronald Zehrfeld). He doesn’t recognize Nelly, even though she was his wife. But ironically he asks her to pretend to be his wife so that he can get access to her family’s fortune, as they all had perished in the camps, and he thinks Nelly did so as well. So Nelly goes along with his plan, where he makes her dress like Nelly, act like Nelly, and he even has her practice her handwriting to be just like Nelly’s. All he wants is her inheritance, and he’s willing to give her some money for her assistance. However, Nelly still’s not too sure if he was the one who gave her up to the Nazis, so she continues to go along with his plan to find out. It’s clear that Johannes has no idea Nelly is his wife and that he’s just in love with getting the inheritance. Nell eventually learns that him, and assorted other friends, had betrayed her during the war, gave her up to the Nazi’s, who eventually sent her to Auschwitz. Nelly then decides that no, she’s doesn’t want to go back to Johannes but that she will go along with his plan until the very end. And it’s at the very end of Phoenix that we really understand the true horrors of what Nelly went through, not just at Auschwitz but by her husband and friends betrayal.

Phoenix is based on an essay by Harun Karocki called ‘Return from the Ashes.’ Director and writer Christian Petzold has turned this essay into a remarkable film, that whilst may not be based on an actual person, might have happened to real life concentration camp survivors, what they endured in the camps, and their return to their communities. Hoss is perfect as Nelly. Her eyes appear to be hollow, we can only imagine what she’s been through, and what she is going through. The rest of the cast is very good, as is the production values of the film. At a short 98 minutes, Phoenix, in German with English subtitles, is a timely film to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. It’s haunting and memorable.



Phoenix (DVD)

Director: Christian Petzold
Starring: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Nina Kunzendorf, Michael Maertens, Imogen Kogge

Germany released, PAL/Region 0 DVD: LANGUAGES: German ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), German ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( Subtitles ), German ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (2.35:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Booklet, Commentary, Interactive Menu, Making Of, Scene Access, Special Edition, Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: June, 1945. Badly injured, her face destroyed, Auschwitz survivor Nelly returns to her hometown, Berlin. She is accompanied by Lene, an employee of a Jewish agency and Nelly's friend from the pre-war days. Having barely recovered from facial surgery, Nelly ignores Lene's warnings and sets out to find her husband, Johnny - the love of her life who, by refusing to abandon their marriage, protected her from Nazi persecution for so long. Nelly's family has been murdered in the Holocaust. Johnny is convinced that his wife, too, is dead. When Nelly finally tracks him down, he recognizes nothing but an unnerving resemblance and doesn't believe it could really be her. Hoping to secure her family's inheritance, Johnny suggests to Nelly that she take on the identity of his late wife. Nelly agrees: She becomes her own imposter. She wants to know whether Johnny loved her - and whether he betrayed her. Nelly wants her old life back. SCREENED/AWARDED AT: San Sebastian International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, ...Phoenix (2014)
New From: £12.93 GBP In Stock
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30th Aug2015

Monsters: Dark Continent (DVD)

by timbaros

Monsters - Dark Continent out 31 Aug_1

The highly successful 2010 film ‘Monsters’ saw the arrival of giant tentacled monsters to Earth. It’s sequel ‘Monsters: Dark Continent’ has five army men in a Middle East war zone who are attempting to deal with an insurgency, and dealing with these monsters as well. It’s explosive and shattering.

The monsters have now spread worldwide, and in the middle east a new war has begun, and at the same time there has been an increase of monsters in that region – which is called the Infected Zone. The army has brought in many new recruits to deal with both the insurgency and to help kill the monster population. Four of the recruits, all from Detroit, Michigan, and all best friends, are given a special mission: to rescue soldiers who have been lost in the Infected Zone. It’s the men’s first tour of duty, and for Michael (Sam Keeley), Frankie (Joe Dempsie), Inkelaar (Kyle Soller), and Williams (Parker Sawyers), they must also deal with the monsters while at the same time battling the enemy. They are all excited, yet extremely nervous to be part of this mission, especially Williams as he has become a new father. Their assignment gets all the more intense when they meet their commanding office Frater (Johnny Harris), a veteran of nine tours and a hard core military man, who is estranged from his family. Michael is the most impressionable, and youngest of the bunch, he’s totally stunned and shocked when he sees the monsters for the first time from the helicopter him and his crew arrive on. It’s a stunning sight, seeing those monsters while the army’s fighter planes dropping bombs on them.

They men are these for a mission, to search for some soldiers who have gone missing. So thus begins their journey into the unknown, fearful not just of the enemy, but also of the monsters. They encounter IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices), which kill a couple of the men, while seriously injuring Williams. But their journey has just begun, not all of them survive. They must put up with sniper fire, being captured and interrogated, escaping and enduring long and brutal journeys in the desert where they encounter dead bodies in a school bus, and at the same time staying way clear of the monsters. The monsters, huge, with very large tentacled hands and face, are a scary backdrop to a film that makes it clear that fighting a war in enemy territory is scary enough.

Monsters - Dark Continent out 31 Aug_5

Tom Green, making his directorial debut (he previously had directed episodes of the television programme Misfits, which starred Keeley), and Executive Producer Gareth Edwards (who wrote and directed the first ‘Monsters’ film) have created a film that is both scary and stunning. War is brutal enough, but they expose us to the deadly silence of not just the enemy but also of the monsters. As soldiers who must carry on, all the actors are brilliant. Harris as commanding officer Frater is brilliant – he truly wants to go back home to be reunited with his father but he’s a staunch army man who must complete his mission. Keeley as Michael is the film’s heart and soul – he’s being exposed to the world and this is it: his innocence is being taken away from him, he goes from being a young man to a hardened soldier. From the dessert landscape to the deserted villages, from the lush scenery and sunsets to the terrifying appearance of the monsters, ‘Monsters: Dark Continent’ is a sight to behold. And the music, by Neil Davidge, adds an acute tenseness to the film. ‘Monster: Dark Continent’ is bone-chillingly scary and beautiful at the same time.

MONSTERS: DARK CONTINENT is available on DVD, Blu-ray & Steelbook on 31st August


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30th Aug2015

The Phoenix Incident (DVD)

by timbaros

_2039406-smallOn March 13th, 1997 four men disappeared near Phoenix, Arizona, the same night that strange, unidentified and unexplained lights were seen hovering around the area. The newly released ‘The Phoenix Incident’ tries to explain the connection.

Mitch Adams, Glenn Lauder, Ryan Stone, and Jacob Reynolds had been drinking and off-roading in the Estrella Mountains just outside Phoenix, Arizona on that night. They were young and carefree and doing what men their age do, hanging out and having a good time. But unbeknownst to them a phenomenon would take place that night – the largest UFO sightings ever in the Western Hemisphere. Known as The Phoenix Lights, lights of varying sizes were reported by thousands of people in Arizona on that same evening. Witnesses claimed to have seen huge V-shaped objects in the sky, moving at rapid speed, and at times appearing and disappearing. The U.S. Air Force claimed that the lights were flares dropped by one of their aircraft during training exercises. But what about the four missing men and the coincidence of them disappearing on the same night? This is the question that ‘The Phoenix Incident’ tries to answer.

Walton Samuel Gayson, a 38-year old man who was living in a compound in the Estrella mountains, confessed that he encountered the men in his compound on that night. Gayson (played by Michael Adamthwaite in reenactments in the film), who was a Vietnam veteran who served 3 tours of duty, claimed that the men were abducted by aliens. Bone fragments discovered the next day by a local hiker led police to Gayson, who was taken into police custody. However, soon after he was taken into federal custody. But did Gayson really kill the men? ‘The Phoenix Incident’ leads us to believe that the men were indeed killed by aliens, that Gayson was a strong alien believer, and that the U.S. Government were involved in a cover up. Actual footage in the beginning of the film shows that since 1997 U.S. soldiers have begun fighting a covert war against forces of Unknown Origin, and that military sources believe these invasions, 57 incidents in total, is in retaliation for the Phoenix Incident. In 2011, a U.S. Air Force official came forward with a classified account of the March 13, 1997 attacks, basically saying that the four men were killed by aliens and that the U.S. Government is involved in a cover up. ‘The Phoenix Incident uses whistleblower testimony, recovered military footage, and eyewitness accounts to explore the U.S. military’s alleged engagement of aliens that night.

PHOENIX_INCIDENT_DVD_2D

It’s hard to believe what is actual fact and what is actual fiction in this film, because at the end of it we are told that ‘many characters are composites or inventions,’ and that ‘a number of incidents depicted in the film are fictional.’ What might be fictional in this film is that one of the four men happen to carry around with him a video camera which records their whole evening. This ploy does work to great effect in this film, but one has to take a step back and realize that the scenes using the video camera are purely re-enactments. Some actual footage in the movie does take it to a documentary level, and the actors who portray the missing men are all very good, but it’s a film to take with a grain of salt. Unfortunately for the families of the missing men, there was not enough physical evidence for the remains found in the desert to be conclusive. So the four men are still classified as missing, and there are no answers as what might’ve happened to them.

Signature Entertainment presents The Phoenix Incident on Digital Download August 31st and on DVD 7th September, 2015


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15th Aug2015

I am Chris Farley (DVD)

by timbaros

img028American Comedian Chris Farley was only 33 when he died of a cocaine and morphine overdose a few days before Christmas in Chicago in 1997.
The new documentary ‘I am Chris Farley’ tells his rapid ascent to stardom and his even quicker descent to a life of alcohol and drugs, and eventually to an early death.

‘I am Chris Farley’s’ was made in conjunction with the estate of Chris Farley, so the producers had access to all of the relevant people in Chris’s life, including his family, friends, and fellow comedians and television co-stars. From his days as an unknown comic at Chicago’s Second City Theatre (where lots of famous comics got their start), from where he was plucked to be on the popular NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL) for five seasons, to eventually following the path of former SNL’ers to star in movies. Chris’s brother Kevin Farley (who is also a producer of the film, and is also a comedian) reminisces about his brother Chris during his stand up comedy act. Kevin then talks about their lives growing up in Madison, Wisconsin, where they had a normal life, with a father who gave his boys a lot of freedom. Kevin talks about Chris’s life in high school and college and laughs about the way in which Chris would throw himself to the ground and do pushups to impress women. While Chris did graduate from college and worked for a time for his father at the Scotch Oil Company in Madison, he didn’t get his professional start in comedy until he joined Ark Improv Theatre in Madison. It was clear then that Chris was the stand out star, footage from his shows display a comedic style that surpassed his costars. Even when he went on to be part of Chicago’s Second City Theatre, his on stage presence was larger than life. But it wasn’t until he got to SNL that he was able to display his true comedic talent, with the aid of professional comedy writers in an intense weekly live television show setting. Farley was a member during one of SNL’s peak times, and his fellow cast members included Adam Sandler, Mike Myers and David Spade. Not only did Chris outshine and outperform his fellow cast members, he was the one who provided the huge laughs on the show, whether in his role as ‘motivational speaker,’ to a skit where he auditions for Chippendales alongside host Patrick Swayze (in which Farley takes off his top to reveal a huge belly), to any role that he was given, Chris was truly the funny man. But according to the people who knew him, he was also a softee, a very sincere guy who would take a liking to everyone, and everyone would take a liking to him. SNL creator and Executive Producer Lorne Michaels talks, at length, about how he mentored Chris in his early days of being on the show. Myers talks about the times they spent together on the set and how Chris was the nicest and most sincere guy there. But it’s David Spade who brings the best of the memories of Chris in the film – they both started at SNL at the same time, so they shared the incredible feeling of being first-timers on the historic television show. Spade mentions many funny moments he and Farley shared together on the set, including the many times when Chris would walk into his shower at work, stark naked (with his penis tucked in) and proceed to give Spade a huge hug – Spade says this was just the kind of man Chris was. Spade and Farley would eventually break out of television and into films. And after they were released from their SNL contracts in 1995, they made the films “Tommy Boy” and “Black Sheep”, both critically panned but made lots of money. But in between these films, Farley’s personal life was not as shiny as his professional life. Drug and alcohol problems led him to rehab an astonishing 17 times. Michaels was instrumental in trying to help Farley overcome his habit, but it was a demon that Farley was unable to kick, which led to his premature death where he was found on a linoleum floor in his apartment in Chicago. Eerily enough, John Belushi, another overweight comedian who got his start at SNL and became a huge movie star (Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers), also died at the age of 33, of a cocaine and heroin overdose, in 1982.

‘I am Chris Farley’ is a best of Chris Farley documentary that shows the best of his professional work. We are also treated to his spot on the David Letterman Show where he bounds onto the stage, making sure you knew he was in the room, his hair all over his face, clenching his fists, and then in true Chris Farley fashion, falling over backwards in his chair. While the documentary doesn’t really explain why Farley got involved in alcohol and drugs in the first place (perhaps no one knew), it’s a very good tribute to a celebrity who died way before his expiry date. “There’s a category of people who I’ve worked with who are infuriatingly talented’ – Michaels says – “and Farley was one of them.”

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19th Jul2015

Elephant Song (DVD)

by timbaros

000211 Michael-1At only 26 years old, French Canadian Xavier Dolan already has five films under his directorial belt, all of which have been well received and critically acclaimed. In addition, he’s acted in 12 films, including the just released Elephant Song.

In 2009, Dolan directed, produced, starred and wrote J’ai tué ma mére (I Killed My Mother), a semi-autobiographical story about him as a young gay man at odds with his mother, and wrote the script when he was at the tender age of 17. It won 3 awards at the Cannes Film Festival. The next year he wrote, directed, produced and starred (again) in Les Amours Imaginaires (Heartbeats), a story about three close friends who are involved in a love triangle. In 2012 Dolan continued his string of emotional and heartfelt films by writing and directing Laurence Anyways. At 168 minutes, it was an ambitious project for the young director to do, it was about the struggle of a straight man who, over the course of ten years, transitions from male to female, and how it affects the relationship with his lover (with amazing performances by Melvil Poupajd and Suzanne Clément). Laurence Anyways won many awards, including two Cannes Film Festival Awards (the Queer Palm Award and Best Actress for Clément). Lawrence Anyways was also nominated for ten Canadian Screen Awards (winning two), and more importantly, at the Toronto International Film Festival it won Best Canadian Feature film. Not bad for a local boy.

2013 is when Dolan wore multiple hats in a film. In Tom á la Ferme (Tom at the Farm), Dolan, who wrote, produced, directed and starred, plays Tom, a young man who works in an advertising agency and travels to the Canadian countryside for the funeral of his 25 year old boyfriend. The problem is that the grieving mother did not know that her son was gay, so she accepts Tom as his friend in the hopes that he can tell her all about her dead son’s life. Meanwhile, the deceased’s brother, 30 year old Francis (an amazing Pierre-Yves Cardinal), knew that his brother gay but could never really accept it. Conflict, anguish, thought provoking moments, anger, love, and acceptance follow. More acclaim followed Dolan when Mommy was released in 2015. It stars French Canadian actress Anne Dorval who is a widowed mother overwhelmed by her teenage son (Antoine Olivier Pilon – a relevation) and his attention deficit disorder. Dolan wrote, produced and directed Mommy, and it won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and won nine Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Motion Picture.

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In the newly released Elephant Song, Dolan, who co-stars along with Bruce Greenwood and Catherine Keneer, plays Michael, a pychologically unwell young man in a mental institution who may or may not have had something to do with the disappearance of his psychiatrist. So it’s up to Greenwood’s Dr. Greene to interview Michael to try to get to the bottom of his colleague’s disappearance. During the interrogation, Michael plays mind games with Dr. Greene, alluding to the fact that he knows where his pyschiatrist is, but is not quite yet ready to tell. Michael is clearly a very disturbed young man, his very famous opera singer mother all but ignored him, and the one time he spent with his father was when he took him elephant hunting, with the boy Michael crying over his father’s killing of an elephant. And Michael alludes to a sexual relationship that he is having with his psychiatrist, so it’s up to Dr. Greene to take what Michael is saying with a grain of salt. Even the head nurse, Susan Peterson (Keneer), warns Dr. Greene to keep his distance from Michael. It’s a film that at it’s centerpiece is Dolan, who is perfect as Michael, very goodlooking yet very mischevious, you don’t know whether you want to hug him or to run away from him. And the film revisits the themes of homosexuality and the lack of acceptance so common in Dolan’s films.

What’s next for Dolan besides conquering the world? He just finished shooting ‘It’s Only the End of the World,’ about a young man who returns home after 12 years to announce his impending death to his family. It stars Marion Cotillard and Vincent Cassel. Dolan will also be shooting his first film in the United States, to be titled The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, in 2016. It’s a fictional story about an actor who is famous for playing a Marvel-style superhero whose life and career are turned upside-down when his private correspondence with an 11-year-old fan is exposed and made to look indecent by a villainous gossip columnist. This one stars Hollywood heavyweights Kit Harrington, Jessica Chastain, and Susan Sarandon. If his previous films are anything to go by, these new films (and his future films) will be eagerly anticipated and will be must sees.

ELEPHANT SONG is released in the UK 1st July.
It is available exclusively through Alarm Pictures on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Blinkbox.

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19th Jul2015

Mommy (DVD)

by timbaros

ADorval_AOPilon1-1Wonderkind Director Xavier Dolan’s films all have some sort of a mother theme. His latest film, Mommy, is no exception.

It’s a craft full and clever told story, told in Dolan style (slow motions and all), about a frustrated mother of a son who has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The mother, Diane, is played by French Canadian actress Anne Dorval, in a tour de force performance. The son, Steve, is played by 17-year old French Canadian Antoine Olivier Pilon, who also gives a tour de force performance.

Steve’s father died when he was very young, and he’s been a handul for Diane, so much so that she had put him in a institution for most of his life. But one day he’s tossed out of a state facility for setting a fire, so she has to take him out and to their new home. Steve is young, is playful, looks very innocent, and acts much much younger than the age he actually is. He can be sweet, charming, adorable, with the face of an angel, but then suddenly he can become angry and very volatile, and Diane has no choice but to put up with his behaviour. One day he presents to her a necklace with the word ‘mommy’ on it, she accuses him of stealing it – he turns from a gift-giving young man to a furniture smashing very angry young man, enough so that Diane has to hide in a closet to escape from him. It’s not easy for her, taking care of him while trying to make ends meet on a meager salary.

Eventually Steve and Diane befriend their neighbor Kyla from across the street, (Suzanne Clement – who was superb in Dolan’s 2012 film Lawrence Anyways). Kyla is very shy, even mute at times, due to some vague personal trauma. When she initially meets Steve and Diane she stutters very bad. But over time, all three of them get along very well and grow closer and closer to each other. Diane leaves Steve in the care of Kyla at times and Steve becomes a gentle soul when’s he with Kyla – her reserved quietness in a way calms Steve. Kyla even tutors him. But Steve still has episodes where he erupts and threatens to cause harm not only to Diane but to Kyla as well. And over time Diane simply cannot take care of Steve for the rest of his life so she has to make a decision that will affect all three of them to the very core of their relationship.

Writer and Director Dolan shot this film in a tightened 1:1 aspect ratio (meaning the screen is the size of a large square postage stamp) giving the film a real close, tight and claustrophobic feeling, used very effectively when Steve goes on one of his rants. Dolan delivers yet another very good film that is in French with English subtitles. Dolan, at the tender age of 25, has an impressive list of films under his belt, and Mommy joins the ranks of them, having won the Jury Prize last year in Cannes as well as having won nine Canadian Screen Awards. Dolan has a knack for getting great performances from his actors, and in Dorval he’s given her a role that is her best performance yet. Pilon is a real find, he’s a young boy in a man’s body and he sure can act. And Clement is quiet yet peaceful and demure in her role. Mommy is a triumph not just for Dolan but for entire cast and crew, and for French Canadian filmmaking. Dolan has said that there is just one subject he knows more about than any other, one that unconditionally inspires him, and that he loves above all, that subject would be his mother. Dolan’s next film – called The Death and Life of John F. Donovan -stars Jessica Chastain, Kit Harrington, and Oscar winner Susan Sarandon, and is about an American movie star whose correspondence with an 11-year old is exposed and will have repercussions for his career.

Mommy is raw and breathtaking, and a must see.

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12th Jul2015

Suite Francaise (DVD)

by timbaros

images-345In the early 1940’s a young woman wrote a novel about the romance between a young French Jewish woman and a German soldier. The writings were found 50 years later and was then published as a very successful book. Now Suite Francaise is a movie.

In the German occupied French town of Bussy during World War II, each house was expected to house a German soldier. Lucille Angellier (played by Michelle Williams) lives in a large house with her mother-in-law Madame Angellier (Kristin Scott Thomas) and their housekeeper. Of course the locals aren’t happy about this, they’re downright scared. It gets even more serious when soldier Bruno van Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts) is placed in the Angellier household in their upstairs room. Lucille’s husband is off fighting in the war and it’s been a long time since there has been any news about him. Lucille continues to receive conflicting reports as to whether he is on the battlefield or in a camp. Meanwhile, one of Madame Angelliers tenants is extremely jealous that the German soldier who is staying with them has started making advances on his wife.

Back at the Angellier home, Lucille slowly starts to have feelings for Bruno, especially after she discovers he, like her, loves to play the piano. Slowly they fall in love with each other, it’s of course a forbidden love, but they can’t hold back the feelings they have for each other. Things come to a blow when the tenant kills the German soldier and goes on the run (hiding in Lucille’s home), and the German Commander holds the towns’ Viscount responsible, and if not found in a few days, the Viscount will be killed. It’s up to the brave Lucille to ask for Bruno’s help, and in turn they risk not just their relationship but their lives as well.

What could’ve been a beautifully-told film from an amazing novel is turned, by director Saul Dibb, into a less than believable romance movie that seems to be missing the sum of it’s parts. Lucille and Bruno’s relationship starts all too quick, it feels like some scenes have been edited out for time, leaving gaps in the story. Some of the characters actions are left unexplained, and the ending is not as dramatic and emotional as it should be. American Williams looks every bit like a young French woman falling in love and Schoenaerts looks every bit a German soldier falling in love, and they have great on screen chemistry. Meanwhile Scott Thomas never fails to impress. Costumes, art direction, sound, music, cinematography and all the supporting actors are all top notch. But Suite Francaise is not as good as one would’ve hoped in light of the the fascinating background to the book. In 1942 Irène Némirovsky had finished writing two novels when she was arrested and eventually was murdered at Auschwitz. The notebook containing the two novels was eventually read by her daughters in 1998 and went on to become a best selling book in 2004.

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19th Jun2015

Dior and I (DVD)

by timbaros

Dior_and_I_Dogwoof_Documentary_Still_1_800_450_85In April 2012 Raf Simons was hired as the creative director of Christian Dior. He then had eight weeks to put together the 2012 spring collection. Dior and I captures the ups, and downs, of this very short time period.

Simons was known for his menswear collections, and for putting his own personal stamp on fashion label Jil Sander, so it sent shockwaves through the fashion industry when he was appointed as the new creative director of one of the most iconic of French fashion brands – Christian Dior. And Simons had big shoes to follow, not just in name but in scandal and reputation. He was replacing John Galliano, who was fired for making anti-semitic remarks in a Paris bar. Also, Simons didn’t at the time speak fluent French, he is from Belgium, but Dior owner Bernard Arnault and fellow LMVH (Dior’s parent company) executives wanted to move away from the Galliano years and inject new blood into their iconic brand, so they hired Simons. So this 90 minute documentary takes us from Simons’ first days at work, meeting the mostly French staff while having someone translate his speech into French, to working closely with two of the most important women in the company – the ‘premieres’ – Florence Chehet and Monique Bailly – the women who are in charge of the staff, which include the seamstresses, basically the people who make the dresses what they are and what they become. Simons also brings in his assistant of over ten years – Pieter Mulier – who does speak French and gets on better with the staff, and premieres, then Simons does.

Dior and I takes us through the taut and stressful short time period in which Simons has to put together a collection. As anyone in the fashion world knows, 8 weeks is not enough time to get a whole collection ready, from ideas to drawing up designs to getting the dresses actually made to getting them ready for the runway (it usually takes six months). Simons insists that some of the dresses he wants to make be identical to paintings from one of his favorite painters. He also asks the dedicated seamstresses to remove beads from the front of one gown, even when it takes them all night to do so. It’s this drama, of Simons and his team having to produce a haute couture collection, intermingled with 68 years of historic Dior footage, that has earned Dior and I the great reviews that it has received. And at the end, we are treated to footage of the fashion show, which takes place in an old empty house where Simons has the walls covered in flowers in front of a star studded crowd including Donatella Versace, Selma Hayek, Sharon Stone, and more emotionally, his parents. And the dresses, wow, they are simply stunning. Dior and I is also stunning. It will give the viewer an understanding of what it takes to make a collection and how the whole process works, and more importantly, the vision of one man and his large team who made it happen. Dior and I is now available on DVD – and it is highly recommended viewing.

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