Monday, 9 April 2012

[545] A Gang Story (Les Lyonnais, 2011) Review

I'm back on the Little White Lies bandwagon! And, true to form, here's me being snarky about French crime flick A Gang Story. Personal achievement in this one? Slipping in the verb 'to mope'.

French crime cinema seems to be enjoying quite a renaissance of late, with a rich vein of gritty and stylish dramas such as A Prophet, Mesrine and Carlos finding success outside of the country’s protectionist cultural borders. In a similar timeframe, writer-director Olivier Marchal has been churning out morally ambiguous, sporadically violent crime flicks that have drawn on his own experience as a cop, peaking with 2004’s César-nominated, Depardieu-starring 36.

Marchal’s new film, A Gang Story, is based on the true story of an infamous stick-up gang that worked the Lyon region in the ’60s and ’70s. In the present day, gang leader Momon Vidal (Gérard Lanvin) seeks a peaceful life in which to grow old, raise a family, and, in his case, develop a tasty combo of bronzed tan and immaculate facial hair. Such peace, however, is disrupted when Serge (Tchéky Karyo), Momon’s unpredictable former colleague, crawls out of the woodwork and brings with him snooping cops, vengeful crooks and long-repressed memories of their youthful capers.

Read the full review here.

Monday, 2 April 2012

[544] This Must Be The Place (2011) Review

Hello, April! I'm starting you with gusto, with a review of This Must Be The Place, which talks more about the Talking Heads song from which it steals its title. Don't you know it's the best song ever?

An aside: I don't like Sean Penn. I'm not sure I've met anyone who does. Does he have fans? Die-hard fans? Creepy fans who mimic his mannerisms? I'd like to meet them, if so.

First up, here’s a musical fact. This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) by The Talking Heads is the best song ever written. Maybe it’s the synth bassline and brittle guitar part, circling around each other in an endless loop. Or maybe it’s David Byrne’s yelping, meandering vocals, bleating non-sequitur-laden platitudes. Whatever it is, whether you’re listening to the lazy groove of the studio version, from their 1983 breakthrough album Speaking In Tongues, or gawping at Byrne dancing with a lamp in the concert movie Stop Making Sense, there’s something utterly beguiling about that tune.

For his first English-language film, Il Divo director Paolo Sorrentino has not only pilfered the song’s title (sans the parentheses), but also brought in Byrne to provide both the soundtrack and a quirky cameo. However, the Talking Heads connection stops there, as the film’s plot focuses on Cheyenne (Sean Penn), a middle-aged rock star who is living out his reclusive later years in an Irish mansion.

Read the full article here.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

[543] Joss Whedon Interview

Joss. Whedon. My latest interview for Den of Geek. Yep, that guy. We talked about a bunch of things, and it was a heck of a lot of fun.

So, now I've interviewed Joss Whedon and Neil Gaiman. Basically, I now need to interview Anne Rice and my 14 year old self will be forever content.

2012 is a big year for Joss Whedon. After years of his creative output being scuppered by studio interference, or cancelled mid-flow, the Buffy, Angel and Firefly creator has his name attached to two upcoming major releases. And, in fact, they’re both out in the UK this month.

In a couple of weeks, we’ll see his super-powered ensemble blockbuster The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble), but first comes the long-delayed horror-comedy film The Cabin In The Woods. Originally written and shot in 2009, with Whedon producing and co-writing with director Drew Goddard, The Cabin In The Woods has had its fair share of production mishaps, including a botched attempt at 3D post-conversion, and an indefinite shelving when film studio MGM filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

Now, it is finally hitting our screens, and, even better, we had the chance to talk with Whedon about horror movies, production woes and Much Ado About Nothing, his micro-budget Shakespearean side-project, which might also see cinematic release this year.

It would be unsporting to give too much away about The Cabin In The Woods, but it’s probably safe to say that it messes about with the conventions of the horror genre. What was the writing process like? It’s a very fun film, was it fun to take the genre apart in the way that you do?

The writing process was ridiculously fun. Drew and I got a bungalow in a hotel in Santa Monica. He had the upstairs, I had the downstairs. We already had ten pages and our outline, and we’d already broken it into three acts. Then we’d wake up in the morning, we’d take an act, go through it very specifically, divvy it up, and we both had to do a minimum of 15 pages a day in order to create a screenplay. And we did not talk about anything else. You get in a writers room, and there’s just a huge amount of anecdotes and dirty jokes and off-topic stuff.

Drew and I literally didn’t speak about anything except the film, and wrote all day. And I’d run upstairs and say, “What about this or that!” and he’s come downstairs and say, “How does this connect with this?” So it was the fastest and most enjoyable thing. We did it in three days. And obviously there’d been a lot of prep, and a lot of polish after, but basically the bulk of the thing just came from our brains.

Read the full article here.