There haven’t been many films in recent years that have been able to match the bullet count or sheer enjoyment factor of Smokin’ Aces, in fact most recent action films have been more Romeo than Rambo. So if you’re an adrenaline junkie in need of a need fix then fear not as the Smokin’ Aces gang are back in the sequel Assassins’ Ball, out on DVD and Blu-ray on 25th January.
With the Judd Apatow machine seemingly neglecting its tri-monthly oil injection, it is a welcome pleasure to see new pretenders stepping up to fill the teen comedy void, albeit with familiar faces providing the laughs. Youth in Revolt, based on the diarised C.D. Payne novels, follows the lovelorn, awkward and unfortunately named Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) as he attempts to change his tame existence by bequeathing his intellectual, emotional and virginal desires upon aloof, holiday fling Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday). Although sharing Nick’s cool-cat tastes in pop culture and overcooked philosophy, Sheeni, an elegant, haughty non-virgin, makes it clear that she lusts after more assertive men.
After emerging from a complex cave system where the events of The Descent took place, a bloodied, bruised and traumatised Sarah Carter (Shauna MacDonald) is taken to hospital in a deep state of shock. Learning of Sarah’s reappearance, the coordinator of the rescue team searching for her and her missing friends, local Sheriff Redmond Vaines, rushes over to the hospital to question her. Insensitive to Sarah’s confused and distressed state, Vaines immediately considers her guilty of deception when she is unable to answer questions regarding the whereabouts of her friends. Concluding her memory need only be jogged in order to uncover the truth, he forces her to re-enter the caves with himself, his partner and the rescue team, oblivious to the horrors that await them.
The Amerian Pie series is back with its seventh entry: American Pie Presents The Book of Love. The franchise has brought many great characters such as the introduction of the Stiffmeister to the legendary Eugene Levy, not to mention the abundance of cheerleading teens. But more than anything, it will be remembered for its un-relentless dedication to flying the flag of gross-out comedy moments and the latest instalment out on DVD from Monday, December 7th doesn’t disappoint in that respect. To celebrate its release we’ve scoured the comedy hall of fame in order to showcase the evolution of the gross out moment from it’s humble fart gag origins through to full blown childbirth glory…
Every year there is always one surprise nomination at the Oscars, it could be said that Frozen River ticked that box on the 2008 shortlist. Written and directed by unknown Courtney Hunt, the film received the nomination for Best Screenplay, and Melissa Leo was also touted as “Best Actress” for her portrayal of struggling mother Ray Eddy. Having received numerous awards yet minimal theatrical success, why did Frozen River disappear without a trace?
Translating the surrealist humour of Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt from a small screen series to a live stage show proves to have its limitations with this new offering from the pair. Promising an insight into the future via the usual blend of the duos stand-up, songs and appearances from their collection of guest characters, a strong start is weakened as the old songs are dished up amid a slapdash series sketches.
Once Ross Noble gets started, there’s no stopping him. His style of spontaneous stand-up sees him hyperactively prancing around the stage while making observations about his audience which take him on all manner of tangents with hardly a pause for breath. This Nobleism show at the Liverpool Empire Theatre was recorded at the height of his sell-out tour of the same name when he became the first stand-up comic to have his show broadcast live via satellite into cinemas across the UK. Coming in at two hours, there’s so much material covered he puts many of his contemporaries to shame.
The master of spontaneous stand-up, Ross Noble, returns with a new show revealing his unique take on the world in his eagerly-awaited DVD Nobleism. Recorded at the height of his sell-out UK tour of the same name at The Liverpool Empire Theatre, this was the moment he became the first stand-up to have his show broadcast live via satellite into cinemas across the UK.
As a classically-trained musician in-tune with contemporary sounds, who better to take us on a journey through the history of the orchestra than Bill Bailey? The former Never Mind the Buzzcocks team captain has always included musical numbers in his acts and for this show recorded at the grandiose Royal Albert Hall in London last year the comedian gets the BBC Concert Orchestra to play. He teaches us about the variations between instruments, the moods they create and the humour that can be found by deconstructing common themes we hear in popular culture in an intriguingly funny show only Bailey could devise.
Soul Power is a verite documentary, entirely composed of footage shot in 1974 at the legendary music festival dubbed “Zaire ‘74” — a 12-hour, three-night long concert held in Kinshasa, Zaire. The pipe dream of musician Hugh Masekela and producer Stewart Levine, this music festival became a reality when they convinced boxing promoter Don King to combine the event with “The Rumble in the Jungle”, the epic fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman (chronicled in the Academy Award winning documentary When We Were Kings).
It shows the experiences and performances of such musical luminaries as James Brown, BB King, Bill Withers, Celia Cruz, Miriam Makeba, among a host of others. At the peak of their talents and the height of their careers, these artists were inspired by this return to their African roots, as well as the enthusiasm of the Zairian audience, to give the performances of their lives. The concert has achieved mythological significance as the definitive Africa(n)-American musical event of the 20th Century.
Giving Michael Mann the story of famed 1930s American bank robber John Dillinger and putting Johnny Depp in the lead role opposite another acting heavywieght in the shape of Christian Bale should have set the screen alight with a Heat-esque masterpiece of cop verses robber. The tommy gun-fuelled heists during Depression Era in the States interlaced with the study of a hardened criminal are prime material for Mann to use to get his top Hollywood stars fired up. Yet Public Enemies falls way short of expectation due to a clumsy narrative and strangely lifeless lead actors meandering through more than two hours of screentime.
Whether wielding a bloodied axe in American Psycho, dropping 63 pounds for The Machinist or putting on over a 100 more to bulk up for Batman Begins, Christian Bale has constantly reigned in glowing reviews for his shape-shifting efforts, marking him as one of the most dedicated, complex and enigmatic leading-men of recent times.
Paul Auster, the critically acclaimed American crime writer has often dabbled in the world of the screenplay. Back in 1996, he even won a handful of awards for his debut effort Smoke. The Inner Life Of Martin Frost, his latest effort, sees a return to the genre after nearly a decade away. The film started life as a potential short back in 1999, with Willem Dafoe and Kate Valk pencilled in as the leads, but after reconsideration, Auster walked away from the project. He resurrected the piece, but not as a screenplay but rather as prose, at the end of his 2002 novel The Book of Illusions. Deciding on a break from novel writing, Auster finally decided to revisit the screenplay and got backing to produce it as a feature, with eventual filming taking place in 2007.
Loneliness and the quest for love are universal problems. They are also often interconnected, a need for someone can often be exaggerated by a feeling of solitude. Blue Eyelids (Parpados azules), the feature film debut of Mexican director and screenwriter Ernesto Contreras follows friendless Marina Farfan (Cecilia Suarez), an attractive but extremely shy 30 something. Marina works for Lulita (Ana Ofelia Murguia) in a uniform shop. Every year, the ailing Lulita celebrates her good fortune, which is apparently thanks to a small red bird, by holding a raffle for her staff. Marina finds herself winning an all inclusive dream beach holiday for two, but has no-one to go with. However, after work she is sat in a coffee shop when a long forgotten school friend Victor Mina (Enrique Arreola) spots her. He recognises her instantly but she has no recollection of him. He too is now mid 30s and alone. The rest as they say is history.
Euthanasia is a contentious issue. The word has its origins in the Greek and could be translated simply as ‘good death’. Goodbye Solo, in its own fashion, deals with the subject area. William (Red West) is 70 years old and has regrets about the way he lives his life. He strikes up a deal with his Senegalese taxi driver Solo (Souleymane Sy Savane), whom he books to take him all the way to Blowing Rock and leave him there. Solo agrees, but not without forcing himself upon the lonely William in the two week build up period.
Sacha Baron Cohen may have won an army of fans in America on the back of his escapades as Kazaksthan reporter Borat, but as an Austrian gay fashion television host makes for a poor follow up. Gone is the innocence, or at least the perceived innocence, that came with a foreign television celebrity trying to understand foreign customs and in its place comes a none-too-subtle character who is just too in-your-face gay to take seriously and as a result Bruno gets fewer laughs despite Sacha Baron Cohen going to greater lengths to shock and put people who normally occupy a lofty position in America in uncomfortable situations they could only have imagined in their nightmares.
Surrealist comic duo Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding are back with a new official website for The Mighty Boosh featuring never seen before content and treats including the opportunity to feature on their forthcoming new live DVD.
Park Circus, the leading distributor of classic and back catalogue
films in cinemas, are turning to the DVD market and their first releases are Marlene and Requiem for Billy The Kid – both out 20th July.
Growing old in a body increasingly unable to do what it once found so easy when youthful and agile is not a problem for Benjamin Button: the older he gets, the younger his body grows. Born a overtly wrinkly baby with cataracts and other degenerative diseases, he is abandoned by his parents on the stairs of care home. There he is raised alongside those who are seeing out the last years of their lives, and Button soon finds he is at odds with the people surrounding him except one young girl who keeps appearing in his life.
After a bit of a dry spell, vampires seem to be back in vogue. Along with a big Hollywood outing in the form of Twilight, we have Let The Right One In from Swedish director Tomas Alfredson. The vampire genre is typically replete with darkness, solitude and an unremitting desire for bloodshed and, although all of these are brought to the table, Alfredson ultimately struggles to define his movie effectively.
Seann William Scott’s on screen persona is known as that young guy whose sense of responsibility is extremely limited and not exactly a role model for children. In Role Models, Sean alongside Paul Rudd as the pair trash their company’s truck, drink on the job, curse in front of children and get naked on a camping trip. Scott, did his own nude scenes and also wore a gigantic Minotaur costume in all the scenes even though his face was not visible. zap! bang! Magazine found out about his role models and how he found working with Hollywood’s most temperamental stars: kids.
You, like me, might roll your eyes at the sight of another comedy of men behaving like teenagers and being bad influences on the next generation. We’ve been spoilt by much of Judd Apatow’s output and there’s always the fear be stuck with too many copycat movies offering little in the way of genuine humour. It’s pleasing, then, that Apatow regular, Paul Rudd, and Superbad’s Christopher Mintz-Plasse follow up their involvement with the successful comedy creator with more zany antics which err the right side of stupid to produce characters who display heart.
Dance, music and video art will collide in a thrilling 360 degree assault on the senses called Underdrome. London’s Roundhouse plays host to a contemporary dance show put together by its artist-in-residence Darren Johnston, a choreographer, performer and sound/video artist whose innovative productions have won him recognition and awards across Europe. His fusion of media and live performance centred on a live mix by Zan Lyons is set to be a highlight of the second May Bank Holiday Weekend.
London attracts thousands every year searching for a better life — but under its surface lies a dark heart of greed and exploitation. Following the death of his father, Adam (Jakub Tolak) leaves his Polish hometown for London, to find his older brother Jan (Przemyslaw Sadowski). He discovers Jan wealthy and powerful and at the core of a ruthless underworld of illegal labourers and unregulated construction projects. Adam soon becomes initiated into the firm, and meets a beautiful Russian girl Anna (Alexis Raben) who, like Adam, has come to find a new life in London. But when a death at the construction site leads to Jan’s arrest, Adam is presented with the ultimate test of his loyalty. Packed with suspense and drama OUTLANDERS is a taut thriller posing the ultimate question — could you choose between love and blood?
One of last year’s most critically acclaimed films, the Golden Globe winning Waltz with Bashir arrives on DVD. Focusing on the Sabra and Shatila massacre of the 1982 Lebanon war, director, narrator and subject, Ari Folman reflects on personal and collective responsibility in the most hallucinatory depiction of warfare since Apocalypse Now.