Annie | Film review – Irrepressibly cute Quvenzhané Wallis fails to save clod-hopping musical remake

Annie-Rose-Byrne-Quvenzhané-Wallis

Quvenzhané Wallis is irrepressibly cute as the mop-top kid who melts the heart of a tycoon and belts out the showstopping ‘Tomorrow’ in this contemporary take on Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin’s classic Broadway musical – but almost everything going on around her in Annie is irredeemably crass.

Cameron Diaz mugs away manically as Annie’s mean carer Ms Hannigan (Annie is now a foster kid, not the lil’ orphan of the original Depression-era story), and Jamie Foxx looks pained as the phobic telecom tycoon, Will Stacks, who takes the girl under his wing – and into his spiffy penthouse pad – as a publicity stunt (he’s campaigning to become New York’s mayor). Playing Stacks’ tightly wound assistant, Grace, Rose Byrne emerges with her dignity intact, which can’t be said for Bobby Cannavale’s slimy PR expert, the story’s chief villain.

But it’s director Will Gluck, not the actors, who is really responsible for the film’s failings. Along with co-writer Aline Brosh McKenna, he hits all the wrong notes, mucking up the songs with his clod-hopping direction and choppy editing. He has no sense of rhythm, delivering one relentlessly perky montage after another without making any of the tunes stick – the old ones have had their lyrics re-jigged; the new ones are blandly unmemorable. And when the movie reaches its flat-footed finale, the viewers’ heartstrings remain unplucked.

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Certificate PG. Runtime 118 mins. Director Will Gluck.

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Lee Marvin: Point Blank | The definitive portrait of the Hollywood heavyweight

Lee Marvin: Point Blank

Lee Marvin: Point Blank is the first truly authoritative account of the iconic actor’s life to go beyond the sensational, moralising books that have appeared before. Written by Dwayne Epstein and topping The New York Times and Wall Street Journal’s bestseller lists, this acclaimed biography offers an intimate appreciation of the Hollywood heavyweight.

Lee Marvin: Point Blank

On screen, Marvin (1924-1987) was best known for his tough guy action man roles in such classic movies as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Dirty Dozen and The Big Red One, but except for many sensational tabloid reports on his boozing, brawling and broads very little is known of the complicated figure’s personal life, in particular the harrowing combat he witnessed in the Pacific during World War Two and the post-traumatic depression that blighted his life and fuelled his rage and alcoholism.

Now, with the support of family members, friends and colleagues, Epstein masterfully reconstructs Marvin’s complicated life to reveal the man behind the macho legend. Its a read that’s hard to put down once you start.

Lee Marvin: Point Blank is by Schaffner Press Inc (US) and released in the UK through Gazelle Books

LINKS
http://www.pointblankbook.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dwayne-Epstein-Author-of-Lee-Marvin-Point-Blank/537186586299746
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gazelle-Book-Services/106198765427

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Rabid Dogs (1974) | The legendary lost Italian crime thriller gets a definitive restoration in HD

Rabid Dogs (1974)

One sweltering Friday morning, the Ajaccio street gang make off with the wages of a pharmaceutical company. When their driver is shot dead and their car runs out of petrol, they take hostage a man on his way to hospital with his sick son in the back seat and a woman out shopping. The gang then head out of the city…

Rabid Dogs (1974)
Mario Bava is one of those film directors who really can turn his unique talents to any genre: horror, sci-fi, psychological thriller, fantasy. And his 1974 crime thriller Rabid Dogs (aka Cani Arrabbiati), is one that I have always wanted to see, but never got around to, mainly because Bava never got to finish it (the producer went bankrupt and the footage impounded), and the releases that came out after his death in 1980 were never his intended vision. Now, Bava’s psycho-drama has been given the Arrow makeover, and they should be commended for undertaking this once lost cinematic gem. It’s the best thing they have done, to date.

Rabid Dogs (1974)

Arrow’s restoration is a re-master of Bava’s intended version of the film, featuring composer Stelvio Cipriani‘s original retro score. The special features include both the Blu-ray and DVD presentation of Rabid Dogs and Kidnapped (a re-edited, re-scored version completed by Bava’s son, Lamberto) with new English subtitles. Also included is the 2007 documentary, End of the Road: Making Rabid Dogs and Kidnapped, an interview with Umberto Lenzi, and the alternate Semaforo Rosso title sequence.

For more on the film, check out Pete’s full review (click here)

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(*) Quote from Stephen Thrower’s Fear by Noonlight [great title btw] article in the collector’s booklet
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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For | DVD review – Miller & Rodriguez put the graphic into graphic novel

Sin City: A Dame to Kill for - Josh Brolin

Once again putting the graphic into graphic novel, writer Frank Miller and director Robert Rodriguez return to the lurid world of 2005’s Sin City for another set of startlingly gory, brazenly depraved tales drawn from Miller’s comic-book series featuring hard-boiled heroes, seductive dames and psychotic villains.

In Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, some faces are the same: Mickey Rourke’s hulking ex-con Marv, Jessica Alba’s haunted stripper Nancy, Rosario Dawson’s Amazonian hooker Gail, and Powers Booth’s corrupt Senator Roark. Some are new, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s brash young gambler Johnny, and Eva Green’s siren-like femme fatale Ava, her beauty and duplicity ensnaring Josh Brolin’s private eye and every other man she encounters.

Second time around, the film’s much-imitated, highly stylised look doesn’t make the same impact and its brash pulp-noir sensibility feels a bit jaded, but many of the images still dazzle and the cast is perfect.

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Certificate 18. Runtime 102 mins. Director Robert Rodriguez.

Released on DVD, Blu-ray, Digital Download and On-Demand by Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

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The Face of Love | Film review – Bening & Harris save fanciful melodrama from tipping over the edge

The-Face-of-Love-Annette-Bening

Grief-stricken widow Annette Bening stumbles upon the exact double of her dead husband (Ed Harris) and inveigles her way into his life without telling him why she is drawn to him. Predictably, things get extremely messy in The Face of Love when he starts falling in love with her. Bening’s borderline crazy behaviour strains our credulity and sympathy to the limit, but she and Harris pour so much genuine emotion into their roles in this Vertigo-like romantic melodrama that they just about carry the film’s fanciful premise. A further poignant touch is supplied by the haunting presence of the late Robin Williams who pops up in a sympathetic supporting role.

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Certificate 12A. Runtime 90 mins. Director Arie Posin.

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The Incredible Melting Man (1977) | The cult sci-fi crash lands onto Blu-ray

Incredible Melting Man (1977) Astronaut Steve West (Alex Rebar), a man barely alive after a disastrous space mission to the rings of Saturn has become exposed to a mysterious organism, which has taken possession of his flesh, and is now turning him into a goopy flesh-eating ghoul. Escaping from his hospital bed, Steve embarks on a murderous rampage of the local countryside. Can concerned scientist Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning) and dim-witted sheriff Neil Blake (Michael Alldredge) stop the melting human time bomb before the body count rises?

THE LOWDOWN
Director William ‘Bill’ Sachs originally envisioned his 1977 sci-fi The Incredible Melting Man as a comic book spoof called The Ghoul from Outer Space. He may have lost that fight, but his grisly humour is still very much evident; a turkey leg mistaken for a decapitated limb is a standout, as are the closing scenes in which Steve’s liquefied remains gets unceremoniously shoveled into a rubbish bin.

The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

Taking its cues from the 1950s classics The Quatermass Experiment, The First Man Into Space (the crusty blood sucking creature scared the hell out of me as a child) and The Hideous Sun Demon, and with clear nods to James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) and George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968), Sachs’ sci-fi is a silly popcorn treat that well deserves its reputation as a cult classic thanks to its riotous dialogue and comedic performances (especially Myron Healey as the General). But the real hero here is make up legend Rick Baker whose blood, pus and mucous dripping effects are simply amazing (they look even better on Blu-ray). The film also served as a launch pad for emerging SFX talents like Greg Cannom and Rob Bottin.

incredible melting man portrait

THE UK BLU-RAY RELEASE
Arrow’s High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature is transferred from original film elements in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with mono 2.0 sound (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray). The High Definition master was produced by MGM and made available for this release via Hollywood Classics.

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TheHorrorShow.TV launches new subscription service in the UK

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UK horror fans can now enjoy a wide variety of horror films, from cult favourites to new releases, via VOD platform TheHorrorShow.TV‘s new subscription service.

Since its launch in 2013, TheHorrorShow.TV has been offering VOD on a growing catalogue of British, US and international horror films, now reaching 230. The new subscription service offers many of its most popular films for an introductory price of £2.99 per month (normal price £4.99).

‘We’re delighted that many of our distribution partners have cemented their partnership with us on this exciting new venture, an “all you can eat” model which will run alongside our existing pay as you go service,’ says David Hughes, co-founder and curator of TheHorrorShow.TV.

‘The initial offering is modest,’ adds Hughes’ partner Jack Bowyer, ‘but we’ll be adding to it on an almost daily basis as new deals are signed. We wanted to give early adopters, as well as our existing customer base, the chance to come aboard as quickly as possible.’

For more information, check out the website: http://www.TheHorrorShow.TV

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Filmed in Supermarionation | The definitive look at Gerry Anderson’s iconic 1960s TV puppet series

Filmed in Supermarionation

This documentary, directed and produced by Stephen La Rivière, is the definitive look at how Gerry and Sylvia Anderson pioneered what was to become their trademark in filmmaking using marionettes – Supermarionation, and celebrates the creative team behind the shows that have become TV and film history – from Supercar and Stingray to Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet. This is a must-see/must have for Thunderbirds aficionados and Fandersons everywhere!

Filmed in Supermarionation

Thunderbirds‘ Lady Penelope and her loyal chauffeur Parker guide us through the history of the Anderson’s iconic small and big screen adventures, incorporating a wealth of new interviews (led by the Andersons’ son Jamie) with the studio’s original puppeteers, artists and craftsmen and previously unseen archive footage.  For more information (click here).

Filmed in Supermarionation is available on DVD and in a Limited Edition Box Set from Network Distributing

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Vincent Price in Six Gothic Tales | A peek inside Arrow’s Special Edition Blu-ray box-set

Vincent Price in Six Gothic TalesOUT TODAY! Arrow’s limited edition box-set, Vincent Price in Six Gothic Tales, not only contains HD Blu-ray presentations of all six features directed by King of the B’s Roger Corman, but also a wealth of new and archives commentaries, interviews and featurettes for each classic horror. Plus, some stunning newly commissioned illustrations. If you’d like to take a look inside the box-set, then just follow this link (click here).

Vincent Price in Six Gothic Tales is available on Blu-ray from Arrow from Monday 8 December 2014

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The Quiller Memorandum (1966) | Harold Pinter-scripted 60s spy thriller starring George Segal

quiller-memorandum-theSYNOPSIS
Following the deaths of two top Allied agents, the unorthodox Quiller (George Segal), who lives by his wits and on his nerves, is tasked to unmask a neo-Nazi organisation operating somewhere inside Berlin. Sentenced to death by the menacing Oktober (Max von Sydow), Reichsfuhrer of the new Nazis, he finds himself on the run and trapped in a web of intrigue, lies and deceit…

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THE LOWDOWN
To this compelling 1960s espionage thriller, directed by Michael Anderson in the former West Berlin, celebrated playwright Harold Pinter (adapting the 1965 Adam Hall/Elleston Trevor novel) cleverly gave his characters identities of their own by the use of mocking and menacing words. This and John Barry’s hauntingly atmospheric score helps to raise the already tense proceedings to a high level of suspense.

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Alec Guinness as spy boss Pol gets all of Pinter’s most sardonic lines, while George Segal gives a bravura turn as the dogged Quiller battling von Sydow’s aristocratic neo-Nazi. The impressive supporting cast includes George Sanders and Robert Flemyng as Quiller’s gentlemen’s club-residing superiors, while Austrian actress Senta Berger provides the contintental glamour. Matt Manro, who’d scored hits with Born Free and From Russia With Love, sings the theme tune, Wednesday’s Child.

THE UK BLU-RAY RELEASE
The Network Distributing Blu-ray release, part of The British Film collection, features the film in a high definition transfer made from original film elements in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio.

SPECIAL FEATURES
(In HD except where indicated)
• Contemporary interviews recorded on location in Berlin with George Segal, Alec Guinness, Senta Berger, Max von Sydow, director Michael Anderson and producer Ivan Foxwell (SD)
• Original theatrical trailer
• Textless material
• Four image galleries, including extensive promotional and behind-the-scenes shots
• Promotional material PDFs

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