Reviews – New Movies Opening September 2nd 2011

Reviews of this weeks new movies including Fright Night, Kill List & More…

FRIGHT NIGHT (USA/15A/105mins)

Directed by Craig Gillespie. Starring Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, Toni Collette, David Tennant, Imogen Potts, Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

THE PLOT: Charley Brewster (Yelchin) lives with his mum (Collette) in an isolated Vegas suburban estate that might as well be called Burtonville, just off Spielberg Way. Moving in next door is Jerry (Farrell), who is unleashing some major DIY on the place. Just why becomes apparent early on to Charley’s geek friend, Ed (Mintz-Plasse), but Charley moves in a different circle now, and doesn’t want to hear about it. Until Ed goes missing. And he finally notices how Jerry looks at his ‘ripe’ girlfriend (Poots)…

THE VERDICT: A remake of Todd Holland’s 1985 outing, Colin Farrell’s slow road to career recovery gets a solid boost here as he puts his old natural born predator charms to fine use as the uncaring, unsharing but downright neighbourly vampire Jerry. Having the director of Lars And The Real Girl behind the camera meant this was always going to be that little bit smarter than your average horror classic remake, and if Fright Night doesn’t quite reinvent any wheels, it does deliver enough spills and wry thrills to make this a juicy night out. RATING: 3/5


Directed by Gavin Wiesen. Starring Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Sasha Spielberg, Rita Wilson, Sam Robards, Alicia Silverstone, Marcus Carl Franklin.

THE PLOT: Disgruntled, disinterested New York teen George (Highmore) is sleepwalking his way through art college whilst playing the heavy-overcoat/disheveled-hair rebel without a cause. Life at home isn’t much better, as stepdad (Robards) seems to be in serious denial about the collapse of his business, which is bleeding mum (Wilson) pretty much dry. The only light on the horizon is cutie loner Sally (Roberts), who becomes an unlikely soul mate to George…

THE VERDICT: You can see the attraction here for the 19-year old Highmore, himself making the difficult transition into adulthood, whilst The Art Of Getting By also gives him the opportunity to pay a tribute of sorts to Holden Caufield, his favourite novel being Catcher In The Rye. It’s hard to imagine Holden having much love for The Art Of Getting By though, Highmore’s George being a somewhat one-note self-hating beatnik teen and Roberts doing her standard almost-dangerous girl-next-door routine. The one shining light is Robards as the drowning stepfather, pretending to go to work each day as he struggles to come up with yet another Plan B. RATING: 2/5


KILL LIST (UK/18/95mins)

Directed by Ben Wheatley. Starring Neil Maskell, MyAnna Buring, Harry Simpson, Michael Smiley, Emma Fryer, Struan Rodger.

THE PLOT: We first meet couple Jay (Maskell) and Shel (Buring) as they engage in a little domestic blitz, their argument more than just the usual money worries. Ex-military and now contract killers, eight months earlier, Jay goofed up a job in Kiev, and when buddy Gal (Smiley) invites his old mucker along to wipe out a threesome for an unknown employer, he smells redemption. Only trouble is, their targets turn increasinly dark (child pornography, anyone?), and Jay follows suit with his killings…

THE VERDICT: Following in the fine British tradition of smart, violent thrillers, and a fitting addition to such relatively recent outings as Gangster No.1 and London To Brighton, Ben Wheatley’s great big leap from television (Ideal, The Wrong Door, Time Trumpet) and a so-so feature debut (Down Terrace) just about lives up to the hype (corporate cocksuckers Total Film gave it the full five stars). It may share a little of Mr. & Mrs Smith’s DNA, but this is no slick magazine shoot. The cast are all ugly enough to kill, and be killed. Which just adds to the increasingly unbearable tension. RATING: 4/5


THE HEDGEHOG (France/Italy/IFI/100mins)

Directed by Mona Achache. Starring Josiane Balasko, Garance Le Guillermic, Togo Igawa, Anne Brochet, Ariane Ascaride, Wladimir Yordanoff.

THE PLOT: We first meet wealthy 11-year old Paloma (Le Guillermic) as she sets up her father’s Hi-8 camera to record her farewell message – in 165 days, on her 12th birthday, it’s goodbye cruel world. Paloma isn’t impressed by her neurotic mother, her disconnected father, or her snide teenage sister. Slowly, she does become impressed though by her Paris apartment block’s janitor, Renee (Balasko) – dowdy, obedient, almost mute, but, Paloma is convinced, packing hidden depths. And, as it turns out, a hidden room. Another person convinved of Renee’s quiet greatness is new resident Kakuro Ozu (Igawa), who shakes the reclusive janitor out of her secretive world when he invites her to dinner…

THE VERDICT: Two protagonists, one a child, one a middle-aged woman – both hiding away from the world, or trying to hide – find in each other a reason to step into the light in this seductively muted tale of intellectual snobbery (you half-expect someone to proclaim, “Well, looks like we got ourselves a reader”). Based on Muriel Barbery’s mildly silly novel The Elegance Of The Hedgehog (which has sold over 1 million copies in France), Achache’s film adaptation is blessed with not only a fine child actor in Garance Le Guillermic but, in the great Josiane Balasko, one of France’s greatest adult actors. RATING: 4/5



Directed by Gillian Wearing. Starring Sam Rumbelow, Asheq Akhtar, Lesley Robinson, Dave Austin, James Baron, Lian Stewart.

THE PLOT: After placing an ad that asked, ‘If you were to play a part in a film, would you be yourself or a fictional character?’, director Wearing pulls together the seven successful Newcastle applicants for a method workshop and a subsequent short that you soon realise is as much about therapy as it is acting. Part Fassbinder, part FAS, we follow five of the seven as they reveal their inner demons – a seemingly unloving father; bullying; abusive stepfather; a planned suicide for August 16th, 2016. There seems to be a madness to the method at first, as the group of strangers indulge in a little primal screaming, but it isn’t long before the tears and the revelations surface…

THE VERDICT: Winner of the Turner Prize in 1997, made a lifetime member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 2003, and given an OBE earlier this year, artist Gillian Wearing here wears her love of Michael Apted’s 7 Up! documentary series firmly on her sleeve here, arguing that in a world where CCTV, reality television and ‘fictionalised’ documentaries make us all into performers, reality and fiction are interchangeable commodities. It’s a natural progression for Wearing – in 1994, Wearing placed an ad in Time Out asking for people to ‘Confess all on video’, in which several volunteers, hidden behind comic masks, fessed up to past crimes or present vices. During the early stages of Self Made, you half expect Chris Morris to come chuckling into the room, but the emotional truths of these everyday people soon have you reeling… RATING: 4/5


Directed by Cameron Crowe. Starring Eddie Vedder, Neil Young, Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, Chris Cornell, Stone Gossard, Jack Irons.

THE PLOT: The way the trailer puts it, ‘Pearl Jam opens the vault’, letting Cameron Crowe raid 20 years of rare and unseen footage…

THE VERDICT: There’s something disappointingly safe and workmanlike about Pearl Jam – which may just explain why they’ve lasted so long. Leading light Vedder may be aiming for Led Zeppelin and good buddy Neil Young, but, in truth, his band might as well be Bon Jovi with goatees. Or Red Hot Chili Peppers without the self-loving. Still, they’re survivors who have managed 20 years without chasing hits singles, so, for that alone, they deserve a pat on the back. And a Cameron Crowe documentary. For some reason, Arts Alliance Media in London didn’t bother with a press screening here. Very rock’n’roll. RATING: N/A

APOLLO 18 (USA/12A/86mins)

Directed by Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego. Starring Lloyd Owen, Warren Christie.

THE PLOT: Using found footage, we look at an officially aborted mission to the moon the US launched in 1974 that actually went ahead – but was kept secret after Major Tom and his chum ran into a little bit of trouble. In the shape of moon inhabitants who don’t like strangers popping out of the sky and sticking flags in their cheese.

THE VERDICT: Hard to tell if this works, given that Dimension Films are releasing the film worldwide without a press screening – which is either a pathetic attempt to make audiences believe what they’re seeing is real, or just another cost-cutting exercise. Dimension boss Bob Weinstein has been shouting that, hey, “We didn’t shoot anything, we found it. Found, baby!” – me does think the former movie mogul doth protest too much. This is clearly another Blair Witch wannabe, and the fact that its release date has been moved six times this year does suggest that this is a turkey of the highest order. RATING: N/A


The second part of the IFI’s Alain Resnais season gets underway this weekend, with L’Amour a mort screening Saturday Sept 3rd at 4.30pm and Melo on Sunday at 4.20pm.

Closing with the French Master’s Wild Grass on Sept 24th and 25th (at 5pm), you can get the full details on