Archive | June, 2012

The Woman in Black (2012) or livewithfilm wants more boo for its buck…

28 Jun

Should children’s films be scary? Coming from a blog that has, in the past, expressed its admiration for italian-giallo-splatter-punk, the answer should be relatively simple to deduce. As a mere sprog, it took livewithfilm multiple sittings to get through the first ten minutes of The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), while Gremlins (1984) left this youthful film-fan gibbering with tears. What fun! Livewithfilm will stand by the claim that it is a true thrill to experience a scare and that it is an injustice to provide children with a ‘cotton-wool’ version of this art form. The world can be grim and film can actively reflect and evaluate this for people of all ages. Saying that, a call recently came in to a Mark Kermode radio show that sought advice as to whether a six year old would enjoy Jaws (1975). Too far methinks.

Young lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) leaves his motherless-son for a week of work in a distant village. Tasked with collating the paperwork of recently emptied Eel Marsh House, Kipps faces resentment from the locals when his role comes to light. Fearing the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman, the community assert that his coming will bring about the deaths of many village children.

Having sat through a truly terrifying production of The Woman in Black on the West End, livewithfilm was excited that this ghoulish story had been bought to celluloid by the masterful Hammer studio. Unfortunately James Watkins’ film seems to have been hamstrung by both an overzealous trailer and a recent abundance of masterful haunted house movies. Strikingly similar to The Orphanage (2007), The Woman in Black occasionally chose to employ sadly hackneyed scare tactics that undermined its effective creation of atmosphere. Simultaneously, the most effective and original shocks had all been seen before, repeated ad infinitum in over-seen pre-film adverts. Nevertheless, the film packs two notable moments of goosebumpery and repeatedly provides neat chills rather than downright scares. Given that The Others (2001) is the same certificate and remains utterly petrifying, perhaps a trick has been missed by The Woman in Black. Still, great to see a return of Hammer with this Jane Eyre rehash (‘madwoman in the attic’ theory anyone?).

Livewithfilm’s allegiances are torn this evening for tonight’s Euro 2012 match:Germany and F.W. Murnau orItaly and Dario Argento?! At leastSpain and Pedro Almodovar are through to the final…

Prometheus (2012) or livewithfilm succumbs to the lure of the really big screen…

18 Jun

Will IMAX become the successor of now-waning 3D gimmickry? What remains a far more intriguing question is why we are continuously searching for that forever out of reach ‘further level of depth’ each new technology has promised. A good narrative is enthralling enough. Far from some traditionalist intent on the retention of old methods, livewithfilm simply remains sceptical about each ‘next-big-thing’ the film industry forces upon us. 3D always struck livewithfilm as simply a tool to get people off of their sofas and away from their DVDs and IMAX needs to prove that it is above this. At least it holds enough of a draw to force livewithfilm to book its viewing of Prometheus months in advance…

(No spoilers here!) A few years after Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover a series of cave paintings that allude to mankind’s creation, they are travelling through space to discover what they think are the ‘architects’ of humanity. Accompanied by a crew of scientists and private funders, the explorers discover an abandoned spacecraft that hides a dark secret. (What did I say?)

Expectations were high for this prequel/non-prequel of Alien (1979), which remains a certified livewithfilm classic. Promising answers to all of the questions posed by Scott’s spooky original was perhaps Prometheus’ downfall. Every act deems itself tremendously philosophical, each image is crammed with ‘important’ meanings that those outside of the editing suite will be unable to decipher. Prometheus sadly takes itself very seriously when, in reality, its proclamations of profundity reduce it to silliness. Livewithfilm will not give away any spoilers, but safe to say, the ultimate ‘spoiler’ was the film itself. There are some undoubtedly arresting sequences, the caesarean scene remaining a master-class in claustrophobia that stayed burnt onto the livewithfilm retinas for some time. But such moments couldn’t obscure the disappointing idiocy that burst from the screen.

The Raid (2012) or livewithfilm takes his eye off the ball only to receive a fist to the chops…

14 Jun

The Euro’s doesn’t lend itself to off the cuff film reviewing. Nevertheless, with Irelandtaking a good drubbing in the background, livewithfilm feels duty bound to return to the much maligned blog. It is rather fitting that today’s film choice sees an unrelenting assault of breathtaking brutality. Unfortunately for the sake of this strained sporting comparison, none of The Raid’s furious cast were dressed in Spanish red or Irish green. However, quite a few were soaked in crimson by the final credits.

Bidding his heavily pregnant wife farewell, SWAT policeman Rama (Iko Uwais) travels with his team towards the heart ofJakarta. Their mission: to take a thirty story apartment block floor by floor and rid the city of its most violent crime boss. Once their number begins to fall, the team must battle their way out, facing increasingly brutal opponents.

A refreshingly simple plot allows The Raid to remain an unrelentingly exhilarating action film. While simple twists serve to remind the audience that a plot remains somewhere beneath the bruises, martial arts action remains the film’s most arresting element. Testing the brain cells through trauma rather than contemplation, The Raid uses fluid camera work to capture some of the most brutal on-screen violence livewithfilm has witnessed. Surprising choreography and flair demonstrate the musical rhythm Welsh director Gareth Evans lent to The Raid’s combat sequences; the director constructs a superb action film but The Raid truly belongs to choreographers Uwais and Yaya Ruhian. Boasting the first mid-film round of applause from the audience that livewithfilm has witnessed, The Raid is a visceral, groan-inducing stunner.