Saturday, 7 April 2012

Movie Preview: The Divide

Ok, hands up if you thought Michael Biehn should have a much bigger career? It's not that he's been out of work, (he's appeared in 86 productions, after all) but I just thought of him as a bigger actor than he has become. Like most genre fans, I first saw him in an unforgettable performance in The Terminator. He was totally believable as the love struck time warrior, Kyle Reese. His delivery of the lines below, alone were energetic and spot on. He could have overracted this part but he kept it on track.

"Listen and understand. That terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with, it can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear, and it absolutely will not stop. Ever. Until you are dead."

I next saw Biehn in the James Cameron action blockbuster Aliens. Here he played the sympathetic Colonial Marine, Dwayne Hicks. Once again, Biehn's gritty charisma showed on screen and he was a likeable character.

Biehn was hired by James Cameron once again, in the underwater drama The Abyss, with Biehn playing against recent type and playing Lt Hiram Coffey. Whilst Coffey wasn't a bad guy in the traditional sense, he wasn't the hero that we'd see Bien play in Terminator and Aliens. Both Navy Seals and K2 should have been bigger films than they were. Navy Seals had promise but the overall delivery left a lot to be desired, whereas K2 was a good film that not enough people saw. Biehn would be mercilessly cut out of the Theatrical Cut of Terminator 2 which was a shame as there was a tender link to the original from the scene.

It was from 1992 onwards when Biehn seemed to disappear from the kind of blockbuster movies that I thought he belonged in. He played a memorable parts in Tombstone and Michael Bay's The Rock but then tended to appear in more low budget movies and kept very bust doing TV shows like the entertaining The Magnificent Seven.

I next saw Biehn in the fun Rodriguez segment of the Grindhouse movie Planet Terror.

After showing he has prowess behind the camera as well as in front, by directing The Victim, the Biehn is back in what looks like an intriguing post-apocalyptic movie:

The Divide

Director: Xavier (Frontiers, Hitman) Gans

Starring: Michael Biehn, Lauren German, Rosanna Arquette, Milo Ventimiglia, Courtney B Vance, Aston Holmes

As an onslaught of nuclear missiles from an unknown assailant falls on New York City, a small group of tenants and the caretaker of an apartment building manage to find refuge in the building’s bunker-like basement. But as the days and nights slowly tick by, their sanctuary starts to resemble something more akin to a living hell. Adding further terror to the situation, the shelter is unexpectedly attacked by mysterious armed assailants wearing hazmat suits, their motives unknown but their merciless method of assault all too clear. This new threat forces the trapped victims to unite against a common enemy but it is a unity that proves to be short-lived.
With little chance of rescue and only unspeakable horrors and almost certain death awaiting them on the outside, the survivors slowly begin to descend into madness as food and water supplies dwindle, tensions flare and self-preservation becomes the only option. The ensuing power struggle leads to physical, psychological and sexual torment among the group as each member loses touch with his and her humanity. Despite this, one individual holds on to the hope of some form of salvation beyond the thick concrete walls of what may soon become nothing more than a tomb.

 You wouldn't want to get caught underground with this lot!

 The Divide is in cinemas from 20th April 2012 before hitting home entertainment on 14th May 2012. A review is coming soon.

 Creepy experiments on people, or a revolutionary way of giving up smoking?

 Something's got her spooked. Maybe it was getting kicked off Hawaii Five-O
 Too little sleep or is something viral going around. Maybe it's Micheal's cigarette smoke. See below:
Boy, does that man like a big fat stogie!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

DVD Preview: Il Boom

Directed by Vittorio de Sica

Starring Alberto Sordi, Gianna-Maria Canale and Ettore Geri

Out To Own On DVD
 April 23rd, 2012


IL BOOM is a hilarious, one of a kind, bittersweet Italian comedy from groundbreaking director Vittorio De Sica (Bicycle Thieves, Umberto D), set during the Italian economic miracle which transformed the country in the span of a decade, from the late 50s to the onset of the 70s.

Giovanni (ALBERTO SORDI from The Best of Enemies) lives far beyond his means to provide for his wife’s worldly needs (GIANNA MARIA CANALE from I Vampiri). Nearly insolvent and terribly worried at the idea of losing his wife, he thinks of committing suicide when an ad gives him hope again: a rich man is offering a life changing amount of money to anyone able to give him one of his eyes.

The film will also screen at this year’s Italian Film Festival in Scotland. Dates are as follows:
-        GFT: April 18
-        Edinburgh Filmhouse: April 24

Extras: None

DVD Tech specs: Cert: PG / Feature Running Time: 85 min approx. / Region 2 / Feature Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 / Black & White / Audio: Mono 2.0 / English language / Cat No: OPTD2362 / RRP: £15.99

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

At The Cinema: Samsara

Samsara is the sensational follow-up to the multi- award-winning Baraka – from acclaimed film-makers Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson

Arrow Films announce their plan to release SAMSARA across cinema screens in the UK and Ireland on 7th September 2012. SAMSARA is the next cinematic masterpiece since the filmmakers’ cult success with BARAKA and CHRONOS.  Director and Cinematographer Ron Fricke and Producer Mark Magidson join forces again to bring us another unforgettable cinematic experience. Using the finest in cutting edge cinematography, SAMSARA develops the themes of interconnection and transcendence - illuminating links between humanity and the rest of nature and showing how our life cycle mirrors the rhythms of the planet, on an epic scale.

Filmed over a four-year period in twenty-five countries across five continents, SAMSARA transports us via stunning Panavision Super 70 cinematography to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders. By dispensing with dialogue and descriptive text, SAMSARA subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary. It encourages our own interpretations, inspired by breathtaking images that infuse the ancient with the modern and set against a mesmerizing musical score featuring the work of Lisa Gerrard, Michael Stearns and Marcello De Francisci.

Premiering at the Toronto Film Festival 2011 to great success and awarded Best Documentary at this year's Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012, SAMSARA will be screened in the highest definition 4K digital projection across the UK and Ireland from 7th September. A series of events to celebrate the follow up to the cult classic BARAKA will be announced in the lead up to SAMSARA’s release. 

Alex Agran, Director of Arrow Films said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be releasing this epic film by Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson in the UK and Ireland. Samsara is a true prestige title for us to release and it’s an honour to bring such sensational cutting edge cinema to the UK audience, and we are sure that Samsara will blow audiences away in the same way Baraka did on release in 1992. We have some very exciting plans to celebrate the release of Samsara and a 20th Anniversary release of Baraka that will mark these films as the most talked about films of 2012.”

Mark Magidson, Producer of Samsara stated "We are thrilled to have the support of Arrow Films for the UK/Eire release of Samsara.  After close to 5 years in production it's great to have a partner that brings a depth of understanding and a high level of enthusiasm to this special film."

For further information please visit:

At The Cinema: Transit

Just out of prison, Nate needs to regain his family’s trust and takes them on a road trip. His plans take a turn for the worst when a group of criminals covertly stash four million dollars from a deadly bank heist in his car; with the aim of collecting it once through a police roadblock up ahead. Nate’s family complete their unknown task and speed off down the highway; but the criminals need their money, and will stop at
nothing to reclaim it.

TRANSIT is a high-octane, explosive action thriller from legendary action producer Joel Silver (Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, The Matrix) and After Dark Films, starring Jim Caviezel (The Thin Red Line, Passion of the Christ), James Frain (Tron: Legacy, True Blood), Elisabeth Rohm (Abduction, Heroes), Diora Baird (30 Days of Night, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning), Harold Perrineau (Lost, The Matrix Reloaded) and is directed by Antonio Negret (Seconds Apart).

 TRANSIT will be released by G2 PICTURES in cinemas on 20th April 2012


DVD Review: Murder By Decree

Directed By: Bob Clark

Starring: Christopher Plummer, James Mason, David Hemmings, Donald Sutherland

There has been a huge resurgence of interest in Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation, attributed largely to the success of BBC’s excellent Sherlock and the Guy Ritchie movies. Of course, fans have kept the detective alive through many projects but the mainstream public had not taken notice since Jeremy Brett starred in his last Holmes episode. 
The side effect of this success has been the focus of companies looking to see what product they can release. In this case, the above average British/Canadian 1979 production of Murder By Decree is a movie worthy of attention by old and new Holmes fans and has been re-released by Studiocanal. 

Jack the Ripper has been used as the definitive bad guy in many fictional productions; notably in Time After Time where Malcolm McDowell's H.J. Wells goes up against the killer, and in From Hell with Johnny Depp playing Inspector Abbeline struggling to defeat him. When Murder By Decree came along it was obviously part of the Rippermania that came about in the 70s, that saw a spate of art obsessed with the conspiratorial undertones associated with the killer and his potential links to privilege and position. 

Like Cumberbatch and Freeman, Downey Jnr and Law, Plumber and Mason play Holmes and Watson like a bickering married couple. Their friendship is well established and gives forth a banter that is entertaining. I also like the fact that Watson is not a bumbling character, so famously interpreted as such after the Rathbone movies. Plummer is a fine Holmes and Mason underplays Watson more than most characters to the point that I wondered if the makers of Sherlock wanted to follow Mason’s lead. Had Plumber and Mason filmed more Holmes and Watson stories, I feel that they would have been held in as high esteem as some of their more modern counterparts. 
The supporting cast is excellent too, especially Genevieve Bujold. Sadly, the same can’t be said for David Hemmings who seems out of place.

Unlike some productions of Sherlock Holmes, this movie feels more in tune with the modern retellings despite the dated nature of the movie's production. The literature and history of the time blend well with full use of the film’s modest budget (at £4 million) being made.
The cinematography and camerawork is still effective. The mis-en-scene is at times amusing if only because of Hollywood 's perpetual idea that London was constantly shrouded in fog. Nevertheless, along with the POV shots of the killer, Bob Clark's direction is atmospheric and lively. Incidentally, Bob Clark's Black Christmas was potentially the first slasher film to put forward a distinctive style of direction, something that John Carpenter's Halloween got credit for. 

The score underpins the scenes very well and adds to the creepy atmosphere just when it needs to and yet lightens at the appropriate moments. 

My only gripe, and it's not a new gripe, is that the re-release is devoid of extras that have been previously been available, such as the Bob Clark commentary. This is an own goal in my opinion and begs the question as to who this release is aimed at? It certainly suggests the casual viewer wooed to the release through the BBC show and current movies. For a standard definition disc, it still looks good. 

I still recommend this release as it's essential to both hardcore Holmes fans and casual viewers alike. The movie deserves classic status and with this release might finally reach more viewers. It’s a great pity that should the movie become justifiably more popular that Bob Clark isn’t around to see it.

Score: 8/10

The movie is out on DVD right now but you could win a copy by sending an email to: by 20th April 2012.

A winner will be selected at random. Good luck!