The Week In Screenings Part XXIX

Tuesday, October 11 2011
The Week In Screenings Part XXIX

Our regular screening correspondent Alex Kidd has had a busy week, taking in everything from glitzy premieres at Westfield shopping centre and blockbusters at the IMAX, to some far lower budget festival choices. Here’s his report on his past seven days at the movies…

Monday and I’m off out for a double-bill of two very different horror films. Firstly I headed down to catch another film at the Raindance Film Festival which was taking place all week. Tonight’s film was In The Dark Half, an intriguing British drama with supernatural overtones from first time feature director Alastair Siddons. Marie has grown up on the outskirts of Bristol, close to the countryside and loves to go running any chance she gets. Her home life is strained as her father never seems to be present and her mother always seems to being doing strange things to the house. The sudden death of their next door neighbours’ young son causes events to become even more strained and unusual as Marie tries to understand just what’s happening around her. It’s a fantastic looking film that works wonders with its very limited budget; it was produced by sa cheme to help first time directors get a feature made.

Straight after that finished I headed up to Islington for the monthly Cigarette Burns Cinema night at the Mucky Pup bar, tonight’s theme was 70s TV Movies. I got there in time to catch the end of the first feature The House That Wouldn’t Die and then caught the entire second film, the 1972 classic Gargoyles starring Cornel Wild, Bernie Casey and a very young Scott Glenn. What a fantastic film this is, I’ve not seen it for many years but I’ve always had a huge soft spot for the TV horror movies form the 1970’s which had to jettison the gore and replace that with story, scares and lots of atmosphere, I’ve seen so many of these and always love them. Here a professor and his daughter stumble across a newly hatched group of evil Gargoyles, who resurface every 500 years in order to try and usurp mankind as the dominant species on Earth. It’s down to the prof, the local law enforcement and a group of bikers to stop them. Classic stuff and so much fun watching with a crowd who really enjoy these films as well.

Next up this week was the premiere of the latest version of The Three Musketeers, this time director Paul W.S. Anderson was bringing a new look and style to the classic tale and he was also bringing his 3D cameras with him. The premiere was taking place at the Westfield Shopping Centre, I’d not been there before and it’s a huge place and I was really impressed with the new Vue cinema they have there, huge screens and very steep stadium seating. The film itself follows the traditional story with D’Artagnan falling in with the Musketeers and a mission to help the Queen, but Anderson brings a modern eye to the proceedings and beefs up the action, which is where the 3D is good as it always forces action directors to slow things down, so your eyes can absorb the 3D picture. Also the very strong cast bring a lot to the film, especially the Musketeers themselves, Matthew MacFadyen, Luke Evans and Ray Stevenson who all seem to be having a ball throwing themselves around and fighting everyone in sight.

This was turning out to be a very busy week and things weren’t letting up as the next film was Real Steel at the BFI IMAX. I never miss a chance to see watch a film at the IMAX, even when it’s not an IMAX film itself as the screen is huge and sound can be deafening so it’s always worth going there. I wasn’t sure if I was looking forward to Real Steel, the trailer looked OK, but didn’t really capture me but Hugh Jackman is always fun to watch and luckily the film turns out to be a real blast from start to finish. Set slightly in the future, we’re in a world where robots have taken over from regular humans as the boxing stars of the day. Mankind can’t get enough of seeing two robots duke it out in the ring and Charlie Kenton (Jackman) is trying to keep his head above water in the murky world of small time Robot boxing. When he suddenly finds himself with custody of his long unseen teenage son, he spies a way to make some easy money and takes the kid on the road with him, thinking he can dump him later on, but as you can imagine the two slowly start to bond as they train their underdog robot in the fine art of fighting. Yes it’s clichéd but there’s something magical here that just works, Jackman is on superb form and his transformation from idiot to father is so well done, the kid himself has character and brains, the robots and some of the best CGI I’ve seen, it’s hard to tell when they’re real objects or computer generated. Real Steel really is a hugely fun film that stands toe-to-toe with any of the summer blockbusters we had this year, it’s really a fantastic fun watch.

Saturday afternoon and it’s time to hit the Prince Charles Cinema courtesy of Network Releasing for a screening of their upcoming release The Wild Hunt, a Canadian horror/thriller based around the world of live action role playing. Erik is so desperate to win back his girlfriend that he decides to follow her to the live action role playing weekend that she’s headed off to, where his brother is also a Viking lord. Over the course of the weekend things start to fall apart as one team of players start to lose the boundary between make believe and reality and things start to get very bloody indeed. This is quite a remarkable film, funny and chilling at times, it’s also a great look at the world of role playing and everything that goes with it.

My final film of the week was at the Sci-Fi London Octoberfest, their midyear mini-festival, this time taking place in Camden and featuring three days of all the best that current Sc-Fi cinema has to offer. I’d actually seen a lot of the films playing already so I was only attending one film this time around: Another Earth. This indie sci-fi drama sets its moving story against the backdrop of the appearance of a second mirror image Earth in our solar system. On the night that Earth 2 appears a young woman crashed her car into a stationary vehicle, killing the wife and child in the crash. Several years later she crosses paths with the husband who survived the crash, not revealing her identity she poses as a cleaner in his home and the two slowly become friends, but with the terrible weight of her actions on her mind the truth will come out sooner rather than later. It’s a moving story that does an interesting job of mixing sci-fi with drama and the perfect sort of film to watch at a festival.

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