Talking Films
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Talking Films
Intricate reviews of the best new films and DVDs by an avid movie buff
Curated by James Glynn
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HIDDEN GEM: Caché [Hidden] (2005)

HIDDEN GEM: Caché [Hidden] (2005) | Talking Films | Scoop.it
James Glynn's insight:

Unnerving psychological thriller that succeeds in actively engaging the audience.

 

Michael Haneke's creepy, at times shocking, 2005 thriller demonstrates the Austrian director's ability to create an atmosphere that unsettle his audience through the sheer power of suggestion. The director of provocative art house flicks like 'Funny Games' and last year's Palm D'or winner 'Amour', Haneke is not one to shy away from controversial topics in his films, but in 'Hidden' he approaches a relatively familiar subject from a unique angle. Set in an opulent Parisien suburb the film centres on Georges and Anne Laurent, (played by Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche respectively), who find themselves caught up in a menacing web of intrigue when they begin to receive annonymous recorded videos surveying the outside of their home. Unaided by the police, Georges, a successful literary TV critic, and his wife become increasingly paranoid and begin to fear for the life of their teenage son as the videos, accompanied by some disturbing children's drawings, start to arrive more regularly and become alarmingly more personal. After a tape surveying the house he grew up in arrives, Georges begins to suspect that the perpetrator may be someone from his past and seeks out to find Majid, an Algerian immigrant once close to his family whom he wronged as a child. However, Georges' reacquaintence with Majid only proves to open up past wounds and with his family's fearful ordeal only escalating, his obsession against his former childhood friend begins to grows resulting in a harrowing reailty for he and his family.

 

 

Brilliantly tense with an eerie, foreboding atmosphere throughout, 'Hidden' is a perfectly restrained thriller that leaves much to the audience's imagination. Employing an uncomplicated premise and without resorting to clichéd plot twists or scenes of explicit violence, Haneke manages to conceive a supremely sinister psychological chiller in a highly voyeuristic fashion that is both engaging and unsettling in equal measure. Understated performances from Auteuil and Binoche as the terrorised bourgeois couple add to the film's dramatic tension, but it's the obtrusive air of menace, together with some disturbing imagery and invasive camera work that really succeed in creating this brilliantly atmospheric, intensely cerebral thriller that has a daunting effect on the audience long after the credits role. 

 

VERDICT 4 out of 5

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NEW RELEASE The Place Beyond The Pines

NEW RELEASE The Place Beyond The Pines | Talking Films | Scoop.it
James Glynn's insight:

"If you ride like lightning, you're going to crash like thunder..."

 

The story of a motorcycle bank robber, a lowly cop and their respective sons in later life, 'The Place Beyond The Pines' is director Derek Cianfrance's highly anticipated yet overly ambitious follow-up to 2010's low budget gem 'Blue Valentine'. The film reunites Cianfrance with leading man Ryan Gosling in the silent tough-guy role we're familiar with seeing him in lately. He plays Luke, a drifter with a dark past who makes a living by touring as part of a daredevil motorbike act with a travelling carnival. On his return to the town of Schenectady, New York, he re-encounters Romina (Eva Mendes) an old flame from his last visit. Soon discovering that Romina's young son is in fact his own, Luke decides to play the responsible dad and stays in town, eventually acquiring a low-key job after a chance meeting with small-time mechanic Robin (Ben Mendelsohn). However, struggling for money to support his newly acquired family and unable to turn his back on his dark past, Luke is soon goaded into robbing banks for a living, a dangerous profession that ends up attracting the attentions of local rookie cop Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), another isolated individual having difficulty coming to terms with the corrupt nature of his precinct. With these two charachters on a collission course, their opposing stories begin to unfold in a convoluted web of violence, deceit and betrayal with devastating consequences for not just themselves, but also the lives of their children several years later. 

 

Essentially incorporating three films into one, 'The Place Beyond The Pines' is certainly not a film that can be accused of lacking in ambition but unfortunately is not one that quite lives up to its billing. Engrossing, atmospheric and with a great early premise, the film suffers from a change of pace and structure half-way through that ultimately sets the audience up for a less than impressive conclusion. The fact that 'Pines' is set over a 15 year time frame contradicts the high octane nature of the superb opening act where we follow Gosling's charachter Luke's journey towards self-destruction. The thrilling intensity created in the film's first hour is eroded significantly however with the onset of Avery Cross's story, which seems far more commonplace and far less engaging, and to an even further extent with the film's final act which see's an unlikely reunion between the two principal charachter's respective sons. In fact, the longer the story drags on the less original and believable it becomes, and at 140 minutes duration, you would be forgiven for losing interest by the film's end. Still, credit must be given to the director for what was, in effect, a very bold approach in his attempt to tell a story that transcends time with some very powerful themes like family, fatherhood, and a man's path in life. Ryan Gosling once again does a great job as the mysterious Luke, a role much-likened to his superstar turn in 2011's Drive, while there is solid support from the likes of Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta and Ben Mendelsohn. Gritty and absorbing throughout, 'The Place Beyond The Pines' is certainly worth a look, even just for it's terrific opening third, but overall is just not quite the film it could have been. 

 

3.5 out of 5

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HIDDEN GEM Goodbye Solo (2008)

HIDDEN GEM Goodbye Solo (2008) | Talking Films | Scoop.it
James Glynn's insight:

 

Simple yet impactful independent drama contrasting two men's very different American stories.

 

A thoughful, original picture of humanity, director Ramin Bahrani's 2008 film 'Goodbye Solo' portrays the relationship of two very different charachters each pursuing a very different path in a rapidly changing America. Set in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the film's plot centres around Solo, a larger than life Senegalese taxi driver, working hard to support his young family while simulatenously training to become a flight attendant. An eternal optimist with a highly gregarious nature, Solo has no idea what he's getting himself into when he encounters his latest customer William, a conservative old timer with a tragic, untold back story. After accepting the troubled old man's $1000  advance fare to Blowing Rock peak in two weeks time, Solo comes to realise that William's trip is only intended to be one-way, a notion that unsettles him deeply. After offering William his mobile number and diverting any subsequent taxi rank calls to himself, Solo latches on to the old man in the hope that he can inspire and reassure him through friendship and moral responsibility, ultimately dissauding him in his plan to end his own life. Despite his numerous interventions however, Solo begins to realise that his efforts are doomed to failure as details of William's tragic backstory begin to unfold and his determination to the deed grows stronger with every day.

 

As charming, and unexpectedly funny as it is consciously poignant, 'Goodbye Solo' is a thought-provoking portrait of modern America seen through two polar opposite view points. Avoiding the pitfalls of both mainstream Hollywood mellow drama and common independent cinema ultra-despondency, Bahrani manages to keep the audience engaged and entertained whilst rasing some very ponderous questions about relationships, and of humanity in general. The low budget filming and commitment to a select few, grimy set locations, gives the film an authentic feel while the interplay between the instantly likeable, effervescent charachter of Solo and the morose yet sympathetic, William, played by Souleymane Sy Savane and Red West respectively, brings what is ultimately a very sad story to life. Expertly filmed and sincerely acted throughout, 'Goodbye Solo' is a subtle, yet highly compassionate tale, examining the harsh realities of depression and abandonement in a morally-eroding society that is both an emotionally enduring and highly commendable watch.

 

4.5 out of 5

 

 

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NEW RELEASE Rhino Season

NEW RELEASE Rhino Season | Talking Films | Scoop.it
James Glynn's insight:

A beautifully-shot parable of one of the victims of the fall-out of the Iranian Revolution and the family left unknown to him.

 

Presented by one Martin Scorsese, Rhino Season tells the story of 70s era Kurdish-Iranian poet Sahel, focusing in and around his 30 year post-revolution imprisonment for anti-regime political writings, and its subesequent effects following his eventual release. Married to the beautiful daughter of a National Guard Colonel, and enjoying a celebrity-status in pre-Islamic Revolution Iran, Sahel eventually falls foul of the newly imposed regime, and in particular, of a former family driver, now a high rank revolutionary, who is infatuated with his wife. After 30 years of physical and emotional torture in his cell, Sahel emerges an almost empty shell of a man, whose own family believe that he has long since perished within the cruel prison walls several years previously. Noticeably striken and despondent, Sahel nonetheless goes in search of his beloved wife Mina, who herself was imprisoned for 10 years as an accomplice, in a quest that leads him to her new home on the outskirts of Istanbul. However, in his search for a woman lost to him so many years previously who firmly believes he is dead, Sahel must re-live some painful memories, and come to terms with the fact that the horrors of their imprisonment have changed both their lives forever. 

 

With some stunning cinematography and at times masterful direction from Iran film-maker Bahman Ghobadi, in his first feature since fleeing Iran in 2009, Rhino Season is a tough, emotional watch but one that resides with the viewer long after its ambiguous conclusion. Highly unconventional in form, following a non-linear narrative interlaced with a combination of stream of consciousness sequences and the frequent oranation of poetic quotes, the film can be as meandering as it is though-provoking, but remains fascinating in its own right. In a dialogue-light script, some powerfully expressive performances from the actors are paramount and the cast certainly don't disappoint in their understated yet impassioned approaches. Veteran Iranian actor Behrouz Vossoughi stands out with a profoundly disconsolate performance in the lead role, while Italian star Monica Bellucci, as Sahel's long-suffering wife Mina, and Turkish actor Yilmaz Erdogan add strong support. An immensely brave film that is artiscally poignant throughout, Rhino Season, may frustrate and confuse certain audiences at times with its ambitious aesthetic and heavy subject matter, but is nevertheless a mesmerising cinematic experience that comes highly recommended.

 

Recommendation 4.5 out of 5

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NEW RELEASE Zero Dark Thirty

NEW RELEASE Zero Dark Thirty | Talking Films | Scoop.it
James Glynn's insight:

"Can I be honest with you? I am bad fucking news. I'm not your friend. I'm not gonna help you. I'm gonna break you. Any questions?"

 

The Greatest Manhunt in History. One of the many taglines that's been attached to Kathryn Bigelow's controversial, oscar-nominated thriller based around the search and discovery of the world's most wanted man, Usama bin Laden. Prior to its release, the film had been accused of being politically partisan during an election year, whilst the film makers had been queried about improper acces to classified information, and criticised for documenting US intelligence's apparent use of torture to acquire vital information. In spite of all this though, the film is actually rather good.  


Zero Dark Thirty, the title itself being military jargon for half past midnight, sees Bigelow returning to familiar territory, following her 2008 oscar winner The Hurt Locker, once again taking on a delicate subject centering around post-9/11 American conflicts. The film follows events over a ten year period starting from the September 11th attacks and leading up to the eventual termination of UBL (as he's referred to in the film) following a classified military assault on his compound in Pakistan. Taking on the lead role is one of the industry's fresh faces of last year, Jessica Chastain. She plays CIA operative Maya, the woman accredited with eventually distinguishing Bin Laden's whereabouts, as we track her career from its early days following the 9/11 attacks, to its zenith as the chief instigator of Operation Geronimo in May 2011. As we chart her actions over the years, done to a backdrop of events unfolding amidst the action on screen, we delve ever further into Maya's obsession and determination to see the job through, whilst fighting her way through ever unwinding lines of red tape. 


At just over 150 minutes in length, ZDT could very well tail off in a messy tangent, especially given the speculative subject material, but in all credit to Bigelow that's not the case here as we are treated to an edgy, suspensful drama that is well-paced and engrossing throughout. As demonstrated in her earlier films, Bigelow is a master of gritty film making, with her use of identifiably scant cinematogrophy and lighting, techniques she has once again employed to create one of her most compelling movies to date. Overall, the subject matter is tackled well, largely resisting any forays into melodrama, with the film's sombre tone reflected in its dark, claustrophobic atmosphere. Chastain does a good job in the lead role, as a strong, ambitious female charachter who is never very far from edge, whilst a strong supporting ensemble including Jason Clarke, Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler, Joel Edgerton, and James Gandolfini, compliment her well. The plot, although complex and somewhat elongated, remains focused and engaging throughout, containing plenty of instances of high dramatic tension, whilst the final shoot-out, shot partly in night vision to generate an almost computer game look, results in being one of the most brilliantly tense stake-out scenes in recent movie history. 


Certainly one of the superior films on the oscar list this year, ZDG will probably not take home the awards it deserves, partly due its controversial billing, but you have to give to Bigelow for expertly dramatising a topical and very familiar story into a gripping, modern thriller. Just like the Hurt Locker before it, Zero Dark Thrity should be regarded as essential viewing within the post 9/11 genre, and just like it's predeccessor, is a film that resonates of a director in fine form.


4 out of 5

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HIDDEN GEM The Killing (1956)

HIDDEN GEM The Killing (1956) | Talking Films | Scoop.it
James Glynn's insight:

"You'd be killing a horse - that's not first degree murder, in fact it's not murder at all, in fact I don't know what it is."

 

No, I'm not referring to the hit Danish TV show, but rather to one of Stanley Kubrick's earliest, and most influential films. First released back in 1956, this classic film noir, which Tarantino once quoted to have been the main inspiration for his 1992 flick Reservoir Dogs, tells the story of a a carefully planned heist at a major racetrack on the busiest day of the year. Nobody talks and nobody gets hurt. 

 

In typical early Kubrick fashion, the movie was made on shoestring budget with a largely, unknown cast fronted by Sterling Hayden, of 'Asphalt Jungle' fame who, of course, later went on to star in 'The Godfather'. He plays career criminal Johnny Clay, the chief organiser of the heist, deemed to be his last big score before settling down to retirement with his partner Fay (Coleen Gray). After assembling his necessary team of accomplices, including weedy betting teller George Peatty, as well as a corrupt cop, a track bartender, an ex-con sharp shooter, and a professional wrestler, Clay sets the wheels in motion for a sensational $2 million burglary. With a carefully thought out plan expected to work like clockwork and executed to perfection by the protagonists involved, nothing can possibly go wrong. That is until, Peatty's conniving wife Sherry, and her lover Val, become aware of their plans.

 

The film plays out in an unnamed urban setting to the classic three-act narrative structure, identified with the genre, and is a slow burning classic that builds on dramatic tension throughout. The presence of a running narration throughout purposefully adds to the intrigue, as does the theatrical music score, whilst the lack of budget evidently contributes to what is a raw, highly gritty look on camera, much in the same fashion as Hitchcock's 'Psycho'. The stoic performances of the cast together with an astute script containing some delicious hard-boiled dialogue, make The Killing a highly gripping and compelling watch. Hayden is convincing as always as the veteran criminal who noticeably enjoys the thrill of the chase but remains restrained, whilst there are also notable performances from both Elisha Cook Jr, as down on his luck bookie George Peatty, and Marie Windsor, as his devious, smart-mouthed wife Sherry.  The directing, is highly indicative of Kubrick's early work with his use of acute camera angles, panoramic views, intense close-ups and distinctive lighting all helping to create a tense, foreboding atmosphere throughout. 

 

An unheralded masterpiece by a then budding cinematic genius, The Killing remains an intense, engaging spectacle from its incredulous opening to its memorable conclusion. A masterclass in modern storytelling and the film that unquestionably announced the arrival of the man who went on to become one of the most inspiring and importune film makers of the modern era.

4.5 out of 5

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NEW RELEASE Mud

NEW RELEASE Mud | Talking Films | Scoop.it
James Glynn's insight:

"It's a hell of a thing..."

Matthew McConaughey continues his fine career transformation in one of the best coming-of-age films in years.

 

Well received since its recent screening at Cannes, 'Mud' is an honest, yet highly engaging parable of crime, passion, and adulthood, fantastically crafted by up and coming Indie-director Jeff Nichols. Part coming-of-age adventure, part crime thriller, the film is notable in it's exploration of a wide range of themes and emotions without ever wandering off the beaten path. Mud follows the travails of young teenager Ellis and his friend Neckbone (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland respectively) who one day make a chance encounter with a mysterious drifter while exploring an isolated island on the banks of the Mississippi. Living destitute out of a 'tree-boat', the charismatic, yet potentially dangerous vagrant (McConaughey), introduced only as 'Mud', convinces the boys to return to him with some food, stating that he cannot leave the island as he is awaiting his girlfriend's arrival. Eventually appealing to his inquisitive nature, Ellis, who too feels alone in the world with the imminent separation of his parents, agrees to help Mud, who in turn begins to relay the stroy of how he ended up a fugitive in-hiding on the island. Identifying with his isolation and inspired by his tale of love and devotion for his girlfriend Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), Ellis reluctantly becomes more and more involved with Mud to the point where his own life becomes increasingly in danger as his new friend's dark past begins to come back to haunt him.

 

Blending the innocent, audacious charm of 'Huckleberry Finn' and 'Stand By Me' with the menacing atmosphere of early Terence Malick and Coen Brothers films, 'Mud' is a film that takes its audience on a riveting journey of discovery and sinister intrigue, and one that poses numerous questions about growing up in the rural American Deep South. Backing up his impressive career trajectory since his dark turn in last year's 'Killer Joe', Matthew McConaughey is once again in fine form as the film's enigmatic eponymous lead charachter, a role it seems he was born to play. Accentuating his Southern charm while subsequently maintaining the unnerving facade of a charachter that's never quite all he seems, McConaughey has never been better, ably assisted by the presence of the young Tye Sheridan as the endearingly naive, yet highly virtuous Ellis, as well as a solid supporting cast including Sam Sheppard, Reese Witherspoon, and Michael Shannon. The film's splendid cinematography brings the alluring, picturesque setting of the Mississippi to life while the presence of an abundant array of intriguingly authentic charachters lends real substance to the story while also indicating an evidently personal touch from the director. A subtle tale of morality, friendship and development that engages it's audience throughout with some exciting plot lines and action sequences, while remaining true to it's coming-of-age principles, 'Mud' is a film that effortlessley makes the transition between childhood allegory and gripping revenge thriller and is one that will undoubtedly soon come to be heralded as one of the stand-out successes of the genre. 

 

VERDICT: 4.5 OUT OF 5

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NEW RELEASE Beyond The Hills

NEW RELEASE Beyond The Hills | Talking Films | Scoop.it
James Glynn's insight:

Dramatic, atmospheric and highly unsettling, new Romanian picture 'Beyond The Hills' is an intense critique of the moral fabric of a society caught in between times.

 

Romanian arthouse director Cristian Mungiu, who's previous credits include 2007's critically acclaimed '4 Months, 3 Weeks, and Two Days', returns with another poignant social portayal of domestic issues in his homeland. Losely based around a 2005 report of an apparent exoricsm carried out in the North East of the country, the film follows the plight of Alina, a troubled woman in her mid-twenties who has returned from Germany to be reunited with her best friend Voichita who she finds is now a member of an archaic Orthodox Monastery. Relentlessly devoted to her friend since their time together in the local orphanage and wishing for the two of them to escape to a new life together, Alina is dismayed to find that Voichita's loyalty lies only to the Monastery and its ultra-conservative head Father. Following numerous unsuccessful efforts to sway Voichita's decision, not to mention remaining at constant loggerheads with the head Father, Alina grows increasingly distressed to the point that she begins to lash out at those around her. Fearful that she will cause herself or others grevious harm, the nuns of the Convent bind Alina and take her to the local hospital, who subsequently discard her after being unable to deduce her mental position. Back at the Monastery Alina's behaviour begins to worsen after being further rebuffed by Voichita, to the point that the staff begin to believe she may be possesed. What ensues is the capture and imprisonment of the the troubled youth followed by a draconian exorcism within the chapel, an act that will result in devastating consequences for all involved.

 

Beautifully shot and superbly acted, 'Beyond The Hills' is a chilling portrayal of a conservative society's failure to protect its weaker members and a condemnation of a pious fear of the unknown. Offering some disturbing insights into antiquated religious attitudes as well as to the abrupt bureucracy present in some of Romania's most prominent institutions, Mungiu takes an unusual premise and successfully paints a vivid portrait of an almost forgotten way of life. At 155 minutes in length the film could be criticised for being somewhat drawn out with the plot seeming laboured at times, but there remains enough dramatic tension between the charatchers throughout to remain intensely compelling for its duration. A supremely important, at times provocative human drama examing some complex moral and sociological issues, 'Beyond The Hills' is an engrossing, highly accomplished film that rests very uneasy with the viewer.

 

4 out of 5

 

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NEW RELEASE Call Girl

NEW RELEASE Call Girl | Talking Films | Scoop.it
James Glynn's insight:

Another Swedish crime thriller with a political context. Except this time, its based on a real-life story.

 

Director Michael Marcimain's absorbing, major film debut is inspired by the events of the so-called 'brothel harness', a 1970's Swedish political scandal involving high-ranking government officials and their links to major prostitution rings at the time. 'Call Girl' tells the story of 14-year old Iris, a rebellious, emotionally neglected girl living in a Stockholm foster home, and her subsequent descent into prostitution following an encounter with well-established 'Madam', Dagmar Glams, a notorious yet maternal brothel runner. A naive and impressionable youth, Iris, together with her friend Sonja, are coaxed into an upmarket prostitution circuit, enticed by the promises of money and a highly groomed, extravagant lifestyle unfamiliar to them both. With the story of Iris' deepening plunge into the sex trade playing out, meanwhile a vice team of police, fronted by agent John Sandberg, are running an investigation into a number of top members of government, including the Minister for defence, and their links to Dagmar's exclusive prostitution racket. As the conspiracy runs deeper, Sandberg and his team begin to realise what they've got themselves into, placing both themselves, and the lives of the unfortunate young sex workers, into serious jeopardy.



Both stylish and sombre in equal measure, 'Call Girl' is a film that scrutinises the effects of an unbridaled, unaccomodating teenage upbringing, and one that rigouously questions the moral fibre of modern society. Marcimain, who was the second unit director on last year's highly regarded 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy', does an excellent job in recreating a dark atmosphere of paranoia in a less than glamorous 70's era setting, aided by some ashen cinematography and a tense electronic underscore. At 140 minutes long the director could be accused of dragging out the storyline, but altogether the film is largely well-paced and engrossing throughout. Whereas the roles of Iris and Sandberg are slightly laking in motivtation and could have been further developed, charachters like the deceptive, uncompromising Madam Dagmar, played with ingenious intent by Pernilla August, stand out amidst a clever, well-written script. Highly recommended for fans of moody, atmospheric thrillers like 'Drive' or 'Girl with the Dragon Tatoo', 'Call Girl' is certainly worth catching upon its full release, and may even go down as one of the seminal films in the political thriller genre.


4 out of 5

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NEW RELEASE Wreck it Ralph

NEW RELEASE Wreck it Ralph | Talking Films | Scoop.it
James Glynn's insight:

"It's hard to love your job, when no one else seems to like you for doing it..."

 

Entertaining, original, and lots of fun, Disney's new animation 'Wreck it Ralph' shows just what the power of nostalgia can do. The story centres around the eponymous central charachter Ralph and his search for meaning outside his own habitual existence as the villain of popular arcade game 'Fix-It Felix'. Despite playing a video 'Bad Guy' for the 30 years his game has been in action, Ralph bemoans playing the role as he is increasingly overdhadowed by the game's hero Felix, as well as continually shunted by the other charachters in the game. Ralph eventually decides to play the hero himself, a decision which inadvertently leads him into hopping from game to game across the video arcade community, in search of the medal he feels will win him the respect he deserves. However, we discover that Ralph's decision, although unknown to him, could have dire consequences for both the charachters of his own game and for those of 'Sugar Rush', the female racing game he mistakenly enters.

 

Full of colourful charachters and delightful references to the hey day of video arcade games, 'Wreck it Ralph' is both charming and adventurous in equal measure. Although presented with a somewhat limited plot,  Disney have once again managed to create an entirely original film that is accessible to both child and adult audiences alike with this endearing picture. Much like in their previous films WALL-E and Up, Disney have tackled the topic of isolation and disillusionment with one's existence as demonstrated by the lonely portayal of their gentle giant protagonist Ralph, amiably voiced by John C. Reilly. His determination to win the hearts and minds of his fellow avatars plays nicely against the colourful backdrop of the arcade universe, whilst the burgeoning relationship between himself and Vanelope, a young girl he encounters with similar aspirations to his own, gives added substance to the story. As is typical with Disney films, there are enough laughs throughout to conflict with the underlying emotional story, while the interplay between the vibrant charachters and the switching of narratives as we encounter the various computer game worlds is suitably delightful. Visually impressive and highly creative, although maybe not quite up with Pixar's finest, 'Wreck-it Ralph' is a highly enjoyable, spirited piece of cinema that comes highly recommended for audiences of all ages.

 

4 out of 5

 

 

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NEW RELEASE False Trail (Jagarna 2)

NEW RELEASE False Trail (Jagarna 2) | Talking Films | Scoop.it
James Glynn's insight:

With the popularity of the Scandinavian crime thriller at an all time high, you can't really blame the makers of 'False Trail', or Jagarna 2 as it's known in Sweden, for testing the waters with another release. However, the latest offering from director Kjell Sundvall, despite being marketed as an independet entity, is actually the long awaited sequel to his 1996 drama 'The Hunters', aka Jagarna. Like its predecessor, 'False Trail' is set in a similarly remote town in the Swedish Norrland (northern-most part of the country) and concerns a crime committed in the midst of the annual hunting season. Reprising his role as Stockholm detective Erik, original Wallander Rolf Lassgard, returns to the town he left behind 15 years previously, to investigate the case of a missing girl somewhere in the area. Noticeably haunted by his past, as is shown through brief flash backs from the first film, Erik finds matters further complicated by the presence of imperious local cop Torsten, played by Fargo's Peter Stormare, who just happens to be the step-father of his nephew Peter. Once the police recover the body of the young girl in question, Torsten's determination to convict a local thug of the murder becomes apparent, so much so that Erik begins to in turn suspect him, particularly as his own brutal disposition begins to reveal itself. Laden with guilt over the death of his brother, Peter's father Leif, 15 years previously, Erik takes it on himself to bring Thorstan to justice, a difficult task to carry out within a small town run on fear. 


Much in the same mould as the'96 film, 'False Trail' is a violent, action-packed thriller which builds on the tensions within a small town community to good effect. Again we see the protagonist compromised by his personal feelings towards his family as well as the reluctance of the scared town's folk to provide any assistance in his investigation. Although faster paced, and slightly more gripping than its prequel, 'False Trail' lacks the authenticity, and dark, over-all more distrubing , atmosphere of the original film, whilst the personal relationships between the charachters are a lot less evident this time around. The story is a highly familiar one, only made more complex when placed in context of the original, but Sundvall's sparse, atmospheric direction,along with presence of enough twists and turns in the plot, still make it a highly engaging and entertaining watch. Well choreographed, interestingly themed, and solidly acted, with Stormare's despicable turn as ruthless cop Torsten a particular highlight, 'False Trail' is certainly a worthy watch, and is a film that will justifiably hold it's own within the genre and ensure, at least for now, that our fascination with the Scandinavian detective continues.


3.5 out of 5

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