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Anton van Beek  |  Sep 07, 2012  |  0 comments

For all of its narrative flaws – not to mention its annoying title – there’s a lot to like about this assured debut feature from writer-director Sean Durkin. Not least is Elizabeth Olsen’s incredible central performance as a young woman who flees life in an abusive cult to take refuge with her sister.

Anton van Beek  |  Sep 05, 2012  |  0 comments

Roger Vadim’s 1968 star vehicle for then wife Jane Fonda is an extremely odd movie. Based on a French comic book series, Barbarella wastes no time on such niceties as plot or characterisation. Instead, it’s all about a sultry babe playing dress-up and having a series of erotic encounters in outer space. It should, therefore, be absolute rubbish, but the tongue-in-cheek nature of the whole endeavour, coupled with Fonda’s brilliant central performance, lifts Barbarella to a higher plateau. Not necessarily a ‘good’ film in the traditional sense, but still a lot of fun.

Anton van Beek  |  Sep 01, 2012  |  0 comments

Following Pineapple Express and Your Highness, it looks like David Gordon Green’s fascination with updating ‘80s movies for modern audiences has come a cropper at last. An update of Adventures in Babysitting, this tiresome new comedy ditches the simple charm of the original in favour of swearing. Hilarious it ain’t.

Anton van Beek  |  Aug 29, 2012  |  0 comments

Grand. Sweeping. Majestic. Epic. These are the words that have come to define David Lean's captivating 227-minute biography of the enigma that was T.E. Lawrence – a remarkable cinematic achievement of the kind we'll probably never see again. Simply unmissable.

Anton van Beek  |  Aug 27, 2012  |  0 comments

Having tried his hand at everything else, Steven Soderbergh has finally turned his attention to the action genre. Stripped of most modern trappings, Haywire is a curious hybrid, stylistically somewhere between the ‘60s and the present day. Its success is primarily down to leading lady and Mixed Martial Arts fighter Gina Carano – an action star in the making who is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Anton van Beek  |  Aug 24, 2012  |  0 comments

This Blu-ray release of Roman Polanski’s latest film left me shocked. Not by its rather stage-bound story or mannered performances (it’s actually an often funny film), but by the fact that it features an MPEG-2 hi-def encode. I thought those went out of fashion around the same time as Profile 1.1 Blu-ray players. The good news is that this doesn’t seem to impact on the imagery quality to any great degree, with the 2.40:1 visuals well-defined throughout. Less impressive is the flat DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, which is firmly anchored to the front speakers.

Anton van Beek  |  Aug 22, 2012  |  0 comments

Disowned by director Jim Sheridan and stars Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz after being re-edited by producers, it’s hardly a surprise that Dream House is a nightmarish movie. But who knew it would be such a prime piece of car crash cinema? Thanks to its muddled tone, off-kilter performances and breathtakingly inane mid-film twist you just can’t help but keep watching, no matter how grotesque it all seems. A fascinatingly awful film.

Anton van Beek  |  Aug 21, 2012  |  0 comments

This supernatural series has never been afraid to court controversy with its graphic sex and violence. But that’s nothing compared to the fuss generated by the fairy-filled opening to this fourth season. This 'Marmite moment' caused some fans to claim True Blood had finally jumped the shark, but for my money it’s only a minor blip in an otherwise enjoyable saga about rogue witches and amnesiac vampires.

Anton van Beek  |  Aug 17, 2012  |  0 comments

A key film in the development of the romantic-comedy, this 1959 vehicle for Doris Day and Rock Hudson finds them lighting up the screen as an uptight career woman and the carefree playboy she is forced into sharing her telephone line with. While this new restoration does wonders for the film’s vibrant palette, the AVC 2.35:1 1080p encode is let down slightly by DNR (most obviously on the split-screen opticals).

Anton van Beek  |  Aug 15, 2012  |  0 comments

While Hammer only ever made one werewolf flick (1961’s The Curse of the Werewolf), it explored alternate approaches to the same concept in 1964’s The Gorgon and this 1966 movie about a woman cursed to turn into a snake-like creature. Filmed back-to-back with The Plague of the Zombies, it’s far from Hammer’s best. However, like its sibling, The Reptile is well shot and full of interesting subtexts that ensure that it's well worth a watch.

Anton van Beek  |  Aug 14, 2012  |  0 comments

These days it’s practically impossible to pay a visit to the cinema without being confronted by yet another superhero flick. Practically every Hollywood studio is getting in on the act now, with things only likely to get even more crowded now that Avengers Assemble has made about a gazillion dollars at the box office.

Anton van Beek  |  Aug 13, 2012  |  0 comments

These days it seems I can’t spin up a Blu-ray without being confronted by actor Michael Fassbender. It feels like he’s been in at least half of the films released last year. But I’ll keep watching as long as he gives performances like his remarkable central turn in this riveting exploration of sex addition from acclaimed director Steve McQueen.

Anton van Beek  |  Aug 11, 2012  |  0 comments

Invisible aliens. Now there’s a way for a studio to save a big old pile of money. However, when it comes time for the big reveal, your alien beasties better be worth the wait – something that can’t be said of the CG ETs that pop up in this invasion flick. Despite some moderately impressive MVC 2.40:1 stereoscopic visuals (the 'flat' 2D presentation looks pretty spiff too) and very lively DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio, The Darkest Hour is really no better than made-for-TV fodder like Sand Sharks or Camel Spiders. In other words, it’s complete crap.

Anton van Beek  |  Aug 10, 2012  |  0 comments

Now here's a strong contender for my favourite Blu-ray release of the year. Dan O'Bannon's splatterpunk zombie comedy has received a heck of a lot of play over the years in my household on first VHS and then DVD. And this sensational new hi-def release ensures that it will get plenty more in the coming years.

Anton van Beek  |  Aug 10, 2012  |  0 comments

Subversive subject matter. Lengthy takes. A detached approach to its characters. There’s not a single element of this film that doesn’t scream ‘debut movie’. Julia Leigh’s frustrating flick wants to have its cake and eat it, enticing viewers with lingering shots of Emily ‘Sucker Punch’ Browning’s naked body while making vague statements about being complicit in acts of voyeurism. Yawn...