Posts Tagged ‘ Cameo Picture House ’

PERSONAL SHOPPER

Personal Shopper

Kriten Stewart gives an outstanding performance in this understated film directed by Oliver Assaya. That is not to say that the film is not flawed in certain respects- in fact the central premise of s supernatural ghost story is unconvincing and the potentially the film’s weakest link- but Stewart’s all engrossing habitation of her character Maureen is never anything less than compelling.
Maureen works as a personal shopper for a celebrity named Kyra- it is never clear exactly what she is famous for- and harbours frustration and resentment at her role as she feels it is unsatisfactory; although it pays well it prevents her from doing what she really wants. A major reason for her staying in this job however is the fact it is based in Paris which is where her twin brother recently died and she believes that by staying there he will try and contact her from the afterlife in a pact they made before his death.
This all becomes secondary however when her life takes an unexpected turn when she becomes a central figure in her boss’s brutal murder and when she becomes embroiled in text message game of cat and mouse with what initially seems like an insignificant character.
The film maintains an underground art-house feel to it although it is similar to this year’s Oscar winner ‘Moonlight’ in that at its conclusion it raises more questions than it answers and this is a relief as the tired formula of a conclusive ending- as demanded by most mainstream films- was always something I found frustrating and a little predictable. By not providing any finite answers Assaya allows the characters and their situations to linger in your mind and imagination some time after the film’s credits have rolled.
As stated before this film is really a tour de force for Stewart and her performance but it is still an intriguing work which captures the uncertainty and stifling nature of its central character’s life. If the ghost story part is unconvincing it is probably just that ghost stories in general are.

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ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS:THE MOVIE

Absolutely Fabulous:The Movie
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It was with more than a slight feeling of trepidation that I approached this film; a spin-off of a much loved television show which captured and parodied a particular zeitgeist in PR and fashion in the early to mid nineties. The central characters Edina (Eddie) Monsoon and Patsy Stone- respectively Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley- became an instant success and legendary comedy figures with every pair of girlfriends who had ever shared a glass of cheap fizz believing they were one of the two and adapting to their roles accordingly.
The series began to pall in the late nineties and the spark failed to re-ignite as comeback series after comeback series failed to generate the same laughs or capture the current climate as successfully as the original runs did; the less said about the 2012 Olympic themed one-off ‘special’ the better.
However, as if to make sure that a dead horse has been properly flogged, Saunders was persuaded that what the world really needed was a full length movie version of a show which peaked over twenty years ago. Thus we find ourselves with Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie and with the country on the brink of chaos after the recent Brexit result it would seem that a bit of comedy is just what we need to cheer up what is quite a miserable time.
Or at least that is the theory!
The film is based around the premise that Eddie’s PR firm, which at best was a nebulous concept anyway, is in dire straits and needs some serious attention or at least one decent client. As if on cue it transpires that Kate Moss is seeking new PR and therefore Eddie sets about pursuing this dream client but inadvertently ends up pushing the supermodel off a balcony and into The Thames, where everyone assumes she drowns.
Eddie quickly finds herself accused of her murder- the only thing that really gets murdered in this film is the Scottish accent left in the incapable and culpable hands of Lulu- and an international hate figure, which combined with her business and financial woes, forces her into fleeing the country conspiring with faithful cohort Patsy who believes she is still such a catch that she can attract a rich playboy who will fund their lives in the champagne lifestyle they feel (self) entitled to.
Around this juncture the whole movie degenerates even further into predictable farce and there is even a ‘Some Like It Hot’ styled plotline you see coming a mile off.
I am not sure quite why Saunders chose to make this film as it is clearly way past its peak and although she and Lumley are as brilliant as ever in their roles there is a feeling they are sleepwalking their way through them; they even on occasion throw out a few greatest hits moments. The thing is, due to re-runs and box sets, these are not as funny as they should be as familiarity alongside predictability are the curse of any comedy.
The roll call of celebrities doesn’t help matters – the aforementioned Lulu, Emma Bunton, Lily Cole, Christopher Biggins, Jon Hamm, Stella McCartney, Jean Paul Gaultier and a particularly wooden Kate Moss who clearly doesn’t have a career as an actress lying ahead of her.
Eventually the best thing I can say about this film is that it was mercifully short- apparently the editing suite did the bulk of the work in trying to salvage anything remotely watchable. If anything the whole concept felt dated and irrelevant –surely even Eddie and Patsy in a desperate bid to remain current would now drink Prosecco rather than insisting on Bolly- and the laughs were the thinnest thing in the movie. A much better option would be to open a bottle of fizz, get a few friends round and watch a box-set or an early series on Netflix. With the weather outside you are more in need of a brolly than Bolly anyway!

MACBETH

Macbeth
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Swirling mist, damp drizzle, carnage all around and tortuous circumstances do not only describe the setting scene of Justin Kurzel’s impressive interpretation of William Shakespeare’s iconic play Macbeth but also the miserable October weather of the day I chose to go and see it, which assisted the ambience somewhat,
Starring Michael Fassbender, who seems perfectly at home in the title role, as the man who would be King of Scotland if only there weren’t a few human impediments that needed to be removed before he can assume the position he believes is rightfully his. Marion Cotillard ably assists him as Lady Macbeth his ruthlessly ambitious wife who initially puts these ideas of grandiosity into his head and supports him on his quest toward his supposed rightful destiny though later has a crisis of confidence as his rise continues and his reign of terror and barbarity continues.
Both actors are excellent in their roles although the medium of cinema necessitates a different approach to- as well as some tinkering with- the text which will no doubt infuriate purists of the Bard who believe that every line should be exact. Occasionally this more understated approach results in a struggle to hear what Fassbender is saying as his nuanced delivery gets a little lost but generally it is not a problem.
Cotillard, in comparison, carries a weight of expression in her eyes so that sometimes they say more than the dialogue ever could. She is exceptional throughout and the perfect foil to Fassbender’s Macbeth.
The impressive supporting cast includes David Thewlis, Sean Harris, Paddy Considine, Elizabeth Debicki and Jack Reynor As for the all important Scottish accents they are impressive enough but whenever a true Scot appears in a lesser role then their authenticity is thrown into question a little. This however is unimportant and minor quibbling but still noticeable in an amusing way.
The Scottish scenery however manages to almost upstage them all in its splendid isolated beauty. Some amazing cinematography lends it a fiery glow or windswept chill as befits each scene and contributes to the drama immeasurably; it emerges as the most regal figure of all.
Kurzel has delivered an extremely impressive adaptation of this Shakespeare tale which should no doubt satisfy the purists whilst attracting a new audience also. Cotillard and Fassbender more than adequately fill their roles but is the Scottish landscape-even with its drizzle, rain and swirling mist- which emerges as the true star.

BLADE RUNNER-THE FINAL CUT

Blade Runner-The Final Cut
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Losing the voiceover and happy ending of 1982’s original release and correcting the flawed corrections of The Director’s Cut of 1992, it would seem that this is the definitive version of Ridley Scott’s dystopian sci-fi classic based on Philip K. Dick’s ‘Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep?’ that surely everyone must be satisfied with. Totally absorbing, compelling and immersive it certainly doesn’t feel as if it could be improved upon and Scott himself has stated that this version from 2007 captures his vision of a near future environment where squalid darkness is set off against the blinding neon and technology of corporate success.
Set in a Los Angeles shrouded in perpetual darkness and constant rain- in contrast to its constant sunshine and happy demeanour reputation- and a world where replicants function as slaves in colonies in place of humans yet mirroring and expanding on human emotions. Led by Roy-a career defining performance from Rutger Hauer- a coup is staged on the Nexus 6 colony and three escapees find themselves hunted by the professional assassin Deckard , a Blade Runner whose job is to retire -execute- disobedient and insubordinate replicants who try to infiltrate the world and pass themselves off as human.
Played by Harrison Ford in an almost robotically chilling manner, Deckard himself displays characteristics of a replicant. His romantic entanglement with the beautiful Rachel, also a replicant, confirms his sympathies with these androids that similarly to humans have a limited life expectancy and selective memories; the main difference being that the replicants memories are selected for them by others whilst humans tend to choose their own.
The film essentially belongs to Hauer who gives a commanding performance and his ‘I have seen things you people wouldn’t believe’ rain drenched soliloquy which is almost Shakespearian in both its ambition and execution at the films climactic moment is a classic in its own right although Ford, Sean Young and Darryl Hannah are all also on outstanding form.
The soundtrack by Vangelis consisting of of haunted vocals, wailing saxophones and eerie synths is one of the few soundtrack/score albums which can stand alone as a classic in its own right even if you haven’t seen the film. Not that I recommend anyone doesn’t see this film however and not that I recommend anyone doesn’t see this film on the big screen and experience the gritty atmospherics which immerse you in a futuristic world of grim and frightening realities which seem even more plausible now than they did in 1982. Some films are made to be seen on the big screen and no amount of re-runs or DVD/ Blu Ray boxsets can ever capture the universe this film lets you inhabit for its duration.

KURT COBAIN: MONTAGE OF HECK

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
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Approached in 2007 by Kurt Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, Brett Morgen was offered a veritable treasure trove of material for this biopic of possibly one of the last great rock stars to galvanise a generation. Intimate, revealing, tender, sad and with no gloss plied onto the squalid and desperate lifestyle of its protagonist it is a step away from the usual portrait of a rock star; the fame and glamour more usually associated with such depictions seems a distant and unwelcome interloper.
Even at the height of his career with hundreds of thousands in a state of worship at events such as 1993’s Reading Festival the euphoria of the crowd is tempered with the melancholy of its attentions, who entered the stage on a wheelchair dressed in a hospital gown. Already viewing stardom as a sickness things deteriorated pretty swiftly after this moment which many others would have seen as an ultimate triumph but somehow he saw as a loss of control.
It transpires that the alienation Cobain felt when fame set its sights on him was nothing new. As a child hyperactivity and an unwillingness to be welded into shape by the pliers of either peers or parents was apparent, matters only worsened when the latter decided to divorce. Deeply affected by this the teenage Cobain was shunted around from relative to relative- grandparents, uncles and aunts were all drafted in to try and help ground him in some security and exert some influence over his errant ways- thus setting a pattern of nomadic rootlessness which stayed with him throughout his brief life.
Fixating on his music both his songwriting and guitar playing instilled him with the feelings other things in his life failed to deliver. Working incessantly on these he achieved small time recognition but his reputation grew and prior to the release of ‘ Nevermind’ in 1991 his mother on hearing the master tapes of the soon to be released global phenomenon warned him he had better shape up as fame was bound to come knocking and his fragile state was in no way ready for it.
And what a phenomenon ‘Nevermind’ was!
With success came access to the hard drugs he had already experimented with and also at this juncture came his great love, Courtney Love.
Opinions are always divided as to whether Love was as destructive an element as the drugs themselves but Cobain was on a destructive path anyway and she may merely have been a companion on his fatalistic route. Certainly the footage of them together prior to and post their daughter, Frances, being born show a couple completely at ease with each other and they do seem happy even if in hindsight it is happiness tinged with sadness and destruction.
Certainly the supposed glamour of a rock stars existence seems to be very absent and replaced with a squalor and desperation which belied their status as the world’s numero uno rock and roll couple. This was no Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg holding court at the palatial and opulent Nellecote on the French Riviera but instead could be a high rise on any council estate. There is not a shred of glamour on display and this does a lot to debunk the notion of any cache of heroism or cool anyone might attach to heroin or addiction of any kind.
When the end came for Cobain it was both surprising and expected. The clues were all there in the notebooks and artworks Love provided Morgen with. They reveal a mind and soul very much in torment and in April 1994 he joined that pantheon of rock and roll greats- Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison- who also departed at the age of 27. Like those stars of a previous generation it felt like a great talent had been wasted and like most of them it felt like he still had so much more to give.

STILL LIFE

Still Life
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Starring Eddie Marsan as John May, a council worker who deals with tracking down families, friends or acquaintances of people who have dies lonely deaths so that they may receive a decent burial and send off, moves along at its own downbeat pace without ever becoming pedestrian. Uberto Passolini manages to convey something of the mundane atmosphere of his protagonists lonely existence and to this end he does a highly effective job.
What the film focuses on as a central point though is loneliness and how modern life, society and the breakdown of traditional structures all have a knock on effect. I suppose your relationship with this film will hinge on your own viewpoints as to whether the breakdown of traditional values is a good or bad thing but one thing that becomes clearer and clearer throughout is that loneliness is not exclusive to people who live on their own.
There is also a slight lilting humour acting as a constant undercurrent throughout the duration of this film and it is a wry smile to yourself type of humour as opposed to any laugh out loud type moments. In this it is effective in letting the viewer sit back and consider what has been said and just how poignant it actually is.
Not a film for the adrenaline junkies however but Still Life ambles along unobtrusively enough and makes its points highly efficiently. In this it succeeds where maybe bigger and bolder films don’t.

HONEYMOON

Honeymoon
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A classic example of throwing every cliché in the book at a psychological horror film: attractive newly weds, house in the country, dark woodlands, flashing mysterious lights, weird neighbours with secrets to hide and secrets from the past. At times I was unable to work out whether it was being played for laughs and there were certainly several laugh out loud moments but as they came at what were supposedly climactic moments I am unsure how intentional they actually were.
Starring Harry Treadaway and Rose Leslie –who are both excellent at capturing the supposed annoying smugness of their almost caricatured characters- as newly weds Paul and Bea who have decided to use the latter’s family hideaway in the middle of nowhere as their honeymoon retreat. Of course the idyllic surroundings immediately suggest ominous happenings and sure enough at an early encounter with neighbours Will and Annie it is clear that something is amiss. Matters are complicated by the fact Will was Bea’s childhood sweetheart and it is clear that even this brief encounter unsettles her though we are never told why.
Shortly after this brief meeting Paul awakes in the night to find Bea missing from bed and after a frantic search in the woods finds her naked, disorientated and in an obvious state of distress. Attempting to explain this situation away as merely sleepwalking it becomes clear however that something more sinister has actually occurred through radical changes in her personality and she becomes almost unrecognisable; even to herself as she has to keep writing notes to remind her who she is.
Directed by Leigh Janiak Honeymoon never establishes enough of its own identity to stand out from others in this genre. As said before it has several laugh out loud moments but suspicions linger that it is a serious attempt at psychological horror which misses the mark somewhat. Ultimately it is not a wholly unsatisfying film-there are some successful elements here not least the performances- but it is a totally unconvincing one.