our film reviews: from armchair viewing to the festival front row

30 April 2007

[Reel-Comments] film sense-orship

Too young to see the film you star in because of the BBFC rating? Then make sure you get it shown in Bristol (a la Shane Meadow's This is England).

At last, an authority showing some sense over film censorship - and adjusting the certification to a 15. If only this had happened for Sweet Sixteen as well. Sadly, it's too late now.

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[Reel-Comments] Top 50 religious films...

Fat Roland prompted me to mention this here to those that might not have seen it: The Church Times’ 50 top religious films.

And no, The Passion of The Christ is not number one (but it does make it to 9 somehow). And how did The Sound of Music make it to 17?...

Of course, I’m going to argue that their premise is flawed (we’re all po-mo now, right?). Picking the “top religious” films creates a false divide between the scared and the secular. We’re not, after all, watching these movies in church – they’re being made (often in Hollywood) for cinema audiences. They acknowledge this – “A film might promote values that viewers would want to share passionately, but contain no explicit reference to faith or creed. Its plot might be read as an allegory that invites comparisons with religious themes, but only to some of its viewers.” For me, it’s not a good enough reading of the times – people do have spiritual experiences in the cinema and these top 50 films are largely not the ones that would provoke this reaction (think Matrix, think Truman Show).

Hardly any of their long list even touch the popular approach to the subject – Liar, Liar and Bruce Almighty might be two to mention here. Plus, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (breaking the “rules”) made it in because it’s “metaphorical nature was clear enough.” And yet, a film that is a metaphor for something else other than religious life/ values/ etc but has overtly religious content made it in as well (ref: The Crucible – McCarthyism/ religious persecution).

My other snarl would be towards this quote in particular: “…surprisingly for an era often categorised as greedy and secular, the 1980s produced 14 of our films.” But it’s common knowledge that Hollywood is a (cinematic) decade behind the times, isn’t it? This reflects the fact that writing, pitching, producing and marketing a film often takes about that long. Thus the releases of these “80s” flicks are a glance back to the 70s – the fall out from and reaction to the Vietnam war, the end of flower power, the rise of environmentalism, feminism and so on. It’s the films of the early 90s we should be wary of – hence only five making the list (all post-1994 – The Apostle, The Crucible, Priest, Afterlife, Prince of Egypt).

Nuff griping… you can see the list for yourself here.

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[Reel-Previews] "15 minutes" - this sunday

15 Minutes (18)

The final in our Heroes and Villains series (and the last in this run of films…)
This Sunday, 6th May
Doors: 6.30pm Film starts: 7pm prompt
VENUE CHANGE ** please note that we've moved venues (contact for location details) **
If you want to explore the film's themes and issues: Post-film discussion: 9.15pm onwards Evening ends: no later than 10pm
Feel free to bring your own food, drinks and snacks.

13 April 2007

[Reel-Reviews] Sunshine (3 stars)

Having been offered a preview ticket for this at the Cornerhouse, with a post-screening Q&A with Danny Boyle, Benedict Wong, and Dr Brian Cox, it would be churlish to pan Sunshine. In truth, there's not a lot to pan - it's generally a well-paced, philosophical, beautiful film, depicting the flight of a space crew to reignite the dying sun with a huge nuclear payload.

The film reflects on our reliance on and obsession with this tame but fiery beast, and for the majority of it, it's a slow-burn philosophical sci-fi that addresses a wide-variety of ethical and scientific issues, whilst borrowing from every other high-sci-fi of the last 30 years (2001, Alien, Solaris, etc).

Sadly in the third act, I felt that the plot fell prey a bit to an unnecessary twist - one that turned this into a thriller (even a slasher) rather than allowing us to complete the journey at the earlier, more-lesiurely-but-no-less-tense pace. Ah - and I could have done without the last scene but hey, I'll just mentally scrub it...

That aside, the soundtrack was stunning, and the visuals of the sun itself, gorgeous. It's had some very mixed reviews (panned on Newsnight Review, four-starred by the Observer, Guardian, Empire...) but go see the light (or dark?) for yourself.

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