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Filmstalker Films for June 2011

Diary.jpgSome good films this month and there's a nice selection to be had too, it's not just your usual Hollywood stuff. Mind you it opens with a big Hollywood film and ends with one too, but at the same time neither are what you might expect from their titles, one goes back and looks like it will have fresh surprises up its sleeve while the other is reinventing itself to a degree.

So while I'm in Canada and enjoying myself with the F1 Grand Prix and a well deserved break, partake of some of the films that I recommend for this month and let me know what you end up watching, and enjoying or hating. Meanwhile you might see the odd review popping up if I find the time.

You can follow my journey on Twitter, it begins on Monday the 6th, and when I get back normal service will be resumed, for now enjoy, I think I might just catch Super 8 over the water.

X-Men: First Class
The excitement for this film has undergone as somewhat rollercoaster ride. Originally hearing that Matthew Vaughn was directing and that he and Jane Goldman were writing people were excited, then came the news of where the story was headed and the first photos of the costumes and there was a big of a drop in the excitement levels, however with the release of the trailers excitement levels are at a peak. This looks like it could be one of the best X-Men films as it travels back to the start of the relationship between Professor X and Magneto, when they were just men, friends, and had great ideals for mutants and the world. Everything was about to change.

Last Night
I feel shades of Closer (Filmstalker review) with this film and that's all good for that was a really enjoyable film with great performances from all involved, and that's what Last Night seems to be promising. The film comes from writer and director Massy Tadjedin and stars Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes and Guillaume Canet. A couple are separated for one night and during which are both offered temptations. The husband leaves for a conference with a work colleague who just happens to be very attractive and shares a spark of attraction, meanwhile the wife accidentally meets up with an ex with whom there are still some unexplored feelings. A strong cast and an interesting line-up that could spend some time closely examining the characters. No frills, just writing and acting.

I was gutted to miss the press screening of this that happened in Scotland the other week, but as I'll be desperate to see it. I am a huge fan of Formula 1 and Ayton Senna was one of the biggest talents of the sport, if not the best, and his death was tragic and untimely. This documentary examines the man's life and more importantly his passion and desire for racing. From all those involved with the sport and those that know him and raced with him there have been positive comments about the film and how it portrays the greatest talent in Formula 1. Don't get distracted though, this isn't just for racing fans and it promises to be a powerful and personal documentary.

The Flaw
David Sington directed the amazing In the Shadow of the Moon (Filmstalker review) and has tackled another epic story, one that might just be beyond any film-makers grasp, the examination of the causes of the American financial collapse interviewing people that were involved and experts from around the world. It's an epic story to tackle, and one that could be seen as a much harder story to tell than that of the astronauts from the Apollo missions, however Sington could well do it and the trailers do look very interesting.

Henry's Crime
I'm not a huge Keanu Reeves fan but there are some other names in this film that attract attention, Vera Farmiga, James Caan, Bill Duke, Judy Greer, Fisher Stevens, names that do raise interest and then there's the story. A man is sent to prison for robbing a bank, the irony is he never did rob it and now he's out and his life is ruined he decides that he's going to commit the crime that he's already served time for. Sounds like it could be fun and from what I've seen in the footage Reeves looks quite good.

Point Blank (À bout portant) (Filmstalker review)
This is one of the films I saw at the Glasgow Film Festival this year and it was one of the better. Fred Cavayé co-wrote and directed Anything For Her, or Pour Elle which recently became The Next Three Days (Filmstalker review) in Hollywood, and that was a strong thriller that really did engage. Point Blank does the same and while there are a few moments of Hollywood creeping in, for the most part it's a great example of a thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat without having to pile on over the top action sequences. Definitely worth watching I'd say.

Green Lantern
So it's another superhero film and it's one that not a lot of people will have heard of, will they I wonder confuse it with the recent Green Hornet? I hope not for it's looking like Green Lantern is going to be a big one. There's big effects, a big storyline, big scale, big names and a big director who is usually more comfortable tackling the bigger more serious action and thriller films. While the prospect of Ryan Reynolds might just make you think this is going to be much lighter fare the trailers haven't been giving that impression. This could be another good superhero film, give it a go even if you haven't heard of the character before.

Soul Surfer
I have no idea who Bethany Hamilton is until I started hearing about this film, and while the film sounds like it could end up being a little too moralistic, it's true and incredibly hard to believe. A teenage girl loses her arm in a shark attack while surfing, and manages to find the courage to return to surfing. AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt star with Sean McNamara who directed and co-wrote along with a list of writers who all adapted it from the book which Bethany Hamilton herself co-wrote. It's going to be a strong and emotional story and very different from the films around it.

The Beaver
Mel Gibson. Yes, get over it. He's a cracking actor and an even better director, but here he's in the hands of an equally strong director and talent, Jodie Foster. He stars as a man whose life is falling apart around him and he's struggling to get on top of it and to survive the next day. Then he finds the Beaver, a glove puppet through which he projects his inner voice and through it he manages to say the things he's too scared to say or just can't face. Through it he begins to get his life back piece by piece, but he still has to win back his family and his wife. It seems a highly personal story, and one that might have a lot to say about Mr Gibson himself. The trailers already look interesting, but it's Gibson who is stealing the show and still manages to grab your attention with every moment he's there. Not just that but it seems to be brimming with emotion. I'm so keen to see this.

Bad Teacher
I don't know. Some of the footage ticks the boxes, other footage looks funny, but it's the idea of Cameron Diaz playing such a nasty character that has me interested, not in the blokey way, but in the "that's really against type" kind of way. She looks like she's having fun playing the role and Justin Timberlake alongside her looks like he's going to bring the straight man to her dark comedic character, I just wonder if it's going to turn into the standard American rude comedy or if it will bring something new and funny to it.

The Messenger
This film has taken a little time to make its way to a release in the UK, having first been seen at festivals in 2009 it's only now getting a UK release, and it is the very end of the release schedule. The story sees Ben Foster playing a soldier whose job it is, alongside the character of Woody Harrelson, to deliver the bad news to families of recently killed soldiers. He does just that with one young wife and soon finds himself involved emotionally with her and struggling with the feelings he's having and the ethical dilemma he faces. Foster and Harrelson together sound like an interesting line-up and with the writer turned director Oren Moverman at the front it could turn out to be an emotive film to break from the Hollywood run.

French comedy. Yes I know you might think I'm mad but Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu are leading in this film that sees a trophy wife taking the reigns as the breadwinner of the family and running the family business while her husband is unable to. Meanwhile she bumps into her old love and her new found lease for life running the company makes for a lot of comedy, flirting and romance. With these two huge stars at the fore how could you not want to see this? Oh yes, you might not like films in foreign languages and subtitles, perhaps you'd want some big Hollywood director to remake it? Sod off and go and watch this!

Stake Land
Zombieland II? Well that's really what it sounds like, although this one has vampires and looks a lot darker with less comedy, and really all that sounds good. The story sees America a wasteland after social, political and economic collapse when a vampire epidemic then took over. A man escorts a teenage boy to the hopeful safety of Canada where humanity is trying to set-up a new safe zone. Perhaps more The Road meets Zombieland? Still the trailers i've seen have been looking rather fun.

No, it's not the Hollywood remake, this is the original and it's getting a re-release, so look for it in your local independent cinema. I'm not completely sure of what this new release has, but a few reports say that there has been a large amount spent on the remastering and digitising of the film to make it look and sound wonderful, perfect for the large digital screens these days, the problem will be if it's allowed to be screened in any! Akira is a classic animé film and really does pack some wonderful ideas together with amazing effects, while I think it does go a little over the top in parts, it still is a fantastic film to watch, especially in a big screen with multiple speakers.

Life in a Day
Kevin MacDonald has directed this documentary, so really he's edited and produced it, alongside producer Ridley Scott. Their idea was to get people around the world to film their day, the same day around the world, and they would pull together the most amazing, moving and average moments of them all to show what life is like in one day across the planet Earth, like a film time capsule of one day alone. It certainly will be moving, how easy will it be to connect with the stories of real people? Of proposals, marriages, births and deaths? Of people like us living our lives? Will it be engaging throughout though?

I was furious that the Glasgow Film Festival showed this film without any subtitles causing the audience to leave, and the film stopped. We were offered something else to watch and a refund, but after heading across from Edinburgh and having to head back, it was just too late, and I missed a film I had really wanted to see. I've heard great things about Incendies but just not had the chance to see it yet, however based on the things I've heard and read from the people I trust, I'd say it's well worth seeing when it's released. The story is adapted from an acclaimed play and tells the story of a brother and sister who, at the bequest of their mother, have been sent off to trace their roots in the Middle East.

Countdown to Zero
I've seen this amazing documentary, and it really is a powerful documentary that you really should go and see. It looks at the place of nuclear arms in our world, how the world built them up, reduced them, and how easy it would be for terrorists to get their hands on an old one and create the ultimate weapon. That's where the documentary opens and is perhaps the most frightening part of the film, backed as it is by some very believable and knowledgeable people. It has some powerful commentary which is edited together really well and you will end up shaken up slightly and very absorbed. By the end of the film you'll see the answer as plain as day, as well as understanding the dangers. Delivering a strong message this is another documentary that is a must see.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Well what is there to say? This wouldn't be on my list if I hadn't seen the trailers and they'd delivered something more akin to the size of the Transformers as well as something darker and much more serious. This Transformers looks like it has some serious balls and a wicked bite, there's no parading round a small garden trying not to step on the flowers, here the Transformers mean business. Oh and I won't be seeing it in 3D and still it will look spectacular, but will it deliver more than the previous? I'm hoping so.



I hit up X-Men First Class yesterday. Have to say, it was a great flick. Explains alot of the backstory, and uses the fact that its set during the Cuban Missile Crisis era to good effect.

McAvoy and Fassbender chuck in a couple of great performances, and the surrounding characters do as well, so it gels together like a group flick should.

Pacing was a little off in parts, but its a fab summer blockbuster.

Oh, and don't bother waiting until after the titles, theres nothing!


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