Monday 4 April 2016

The Forbidden Room and Midnight Special: Your Week In Film (April 4-10)

Midnight Special is this week's big new cinema release

Apologies for the lack of new reviews on the blog of late. Unfortunately, time is tighter than ever for me at the moment; not only are the kids off school for their spring break but I'm currently working on three graphic novel projects (two as writer, one as editor). Something approaching normal service should resume in a couple of weeks. Oh, and to update a previous column, there's still no sign of Krampus on Netflix UK. It's out on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD on April 25, if that's any help. Anyway, onwards and upwards...

TV, Radio, DVD, Blu-ray, VOD and cinema picks for the next seven days...

Monday 4th: The Forbidden Room (DVD, Blu-ray and VOD) is such a strange piece of work that it's easy to slip into hyperbole just trying to describe it. You know the kind of thing: 'So weird it makes Eraserhead look like Ride Along 2' or 'Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain is Get Hard by comparison'. Thing is, Guy Maddin (My Winnipeg) and Evan Johnson's film is every bit as challenging and surreal as such descriptions suggest. It is also a great deal of fun. There's no point me trying to outline the plot because it's all over the place, unlikely to prove much of a selling point, and probably irrelevant. No, The Forbidden Room's allure is all in its style and execution. In the film's more than two-hour running time, a series of roughly linked vignettes play out, all of which are one-part art installation, one-part B-movie pastiche. It goes off at ridiculous tangents, there are cameos from the likes of Charlotte Rampling, Udo Kier and Ariane Labed, and will frequently leave you scratching your head and/or smiling benignly at the sheer lunatic chutzpah of the thing. It's entirely possible you'll hate every minute but I'm not sure I've ever seen anything quite like it. 

The Forbidden Room: A real head scratcher (trailer)

Sunset Song (DVD, Blu-ray and VOD) is a film I missed at the cinema in the chaos of a busy pre-Christmas and have been looking forward to catching up with ever since. Directed by Terence Davies (Distant Voices, Still Lives), it's an adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon's novel about the impact of World War I on a rural Scottish family. It stars Agyness Deyn, a revelation in last year's criminally under-appreciated ElectricityElsewhere, Arrow Video continues its series dedicated to the work of German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder with The Marriage of Maria Braun and The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (both Blu-ray). Both discs feature brand new 4K restorations of the films. Also from Arrow, Pam Grier and Margaret Markov star in women-in-prison exploitation flick Black Mama, White Mama (Blu-Ray). Like the company's other Grier reissues, it comes with a ton of extras and a 1080p HD presentation of the film.

Tuesday 5th: Some good stuff on today - take your pick from Terry Gilliam's still-marvellous Brazil (23:45, Film4), whip-smart Neil Simon comedy California Suite (18:55, Movie Mix), and Sidney Lumet heist classic Dog Day Afternoon (12:40, Sky Select). Al Pacino has rarely been better.

Pacino is electrifying in Dog Day Afternoon (trailer)

Wednesday 6th: Future Shock! The Story Of 2000AD (23:25, Film 4) is a must-see for any self-respecting fan of the 'Galaxy's Greatest Comic', which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Not only did the British weekly give the world Judge Dredd but a whole host of other influential stories and characters into the bargain. Paul Goodwin's documentary provides a refreshingly warts and all account of the publication's highs and lows, and talks to its original editor Pat Mills, as well as Neil Gaiman, Karl Urban (Dredd himself), and Lauren Beukes. From today, Netflix UK has Woody Allen comedy Match Point, vampire remake Let Me In, and Alejandro González Iñárritu's 21 Grams.

Future Shock! It's 40 years not-out for 2000AD (trailer)

Thursday 7th: MUBI are showing Peter Bogdanovich’s coming-of-age classic The Last Picture Show from today, while Amazon Prime Video debuts Steven Soderbergh's industrial espionage comedy The Informant! Francine Stock talks to director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, Rust & Bone) on The Film Programme (16:00, BBC Radio 4) about his Palme D'Or-winning movie Dheepan, which finally opens in British cinemas tomorrow.

Friday 8th: Hitting your local multiplex today is Midnight Special, a Spielbergian slice of sci-fi from Mud director Jeff Nichols. The always excellent Michael Shannon (99 Homes) goes on the run with his eight-year-old son (Jaeden Lieberher) when the boy manifests extraordinary powers. Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton, Sam Shepard and Adam Driver complete an impressive cast. I'm also keen to check out Tom Geens' intriguing Couple In A Hole (in cinemas and on VOD), about a Scottish husband and wife who abandon their middle class existence to live in a cave in the French Pyrenees. Paul Higgins - who you may remember as the appalling Jamie from The Thick Of It - stars. Sanjeev Bhaskar and Robbie Collin sit in for the regular hosts on Kermode And Mayo's Film Review (14:00, BBC Radio 5 Live). Emily Blunt - talking about The Huntsman: Winter's War - is their special guest.

Midnight Special: A Spielbergian slice of sci-fi (trailer)

A husband and wife go wild in Couple In A Hole (trailer)

Saturday 9th:
John McClane, Hans Gruber, Nakatomi Plaza, "Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.", "Yippee Ki Yay, Motherfucker". Yes, it's face-punching, bone-crunching action masterpiece Die Hard (22:00, Channel 4), starring Bruce Willis and the late, great Alan Rickman. Has there ever been a better hero/villain pairing in cinema history? Elsewhere, there's more action, this time of the four-wheeled variety, in The Fast And The Furious (21:25, ITV), while Rowan Atkinson does the bumbling spy thing in Johnny English Reborn (20:00, ITV), and Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee star in 1959 horror flick The Mummy (Midnight, BBC2).

Bruce Willis kicks terrorist bottom in Die Hard (trailer)

Sunday 10th: I definitely won't be watching family fantasy Bridge To Terabithia (14:30, Channel 4) because I don't want my children to see me sobbing like an idiot. Based on Katherine Paterson's children's novel, it is very good though. In a lighter vein, Mike Myers is Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery (20:00, Comedy Central), and there's a choice of Kill Bills. Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Volume 1 is showing on Sky Atlantic at 22:00, with the director's Kill Bill Volume 2 scheduled on Syfy at the same time. 

Bridge To Terabithia will tear out your heart
and stomp on it (trailer)

The Last 5 Films I saw
1. Victoria (2015)Sebastian Schipper's crime thriller sees a naive young Madrid girl led into criminality on the mean streets of Berlin. Filmed in one long take, it really is something special and one of my favourites of the year so far.
2. Welcome To Leith (2015): Chilling documentary about neo-Nazis trying to take over a small American town and the locals who team up to send them packing.
3. The End Of The Tour (2015)Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg are both terrific in this sharp drama about David Foster Wallace, the acclaimed but troubled author of Infinite Jest.
4. The Club (2015): Bleak Chilean drama about a safe house for disgraced Catholic priests. Director Pablo Larrain doesn't pull his punches. 
5. Iona (2015): Ruth Negga (World War Z) is the best thing about this beautifully shot but ever-so-slightly dull melodrama set on the titular island. 

Laia Costa turns criminal in the excellent Victoria (trailer)

UK box office top 10
1. Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice R
2. Zootropolis R
3. Kung Fu Panda 3
4. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
5. 10 Cloverfield Lane
6. London Has Fallen
7. The Boy
8. The Divergent Series: Allegiant
9. High-Rise R
10. Deadpool R

R = Recommended

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