Review: Plaster Caster [2001] - dir. Jessica Villines

PLASTER CASTER, directed by Jessica Villines, is an intimate portrait of legendary artist and groupie, Cynthia Plaster Caster -- famous for plaster casting the penises of rock stars, including, most notoriously, Jimi Hendrix. The film explores how Cynthia developed her unique art form with the help of her mentor Frank Zappa, and follows the ups and downs of casting sessions with a shy guitarist and an extroverted glam rocker goes along for the ride as Cynthia prepares for her first gallery show in New York City.

Featuring candid interviews with "castees" and commentators -- Noel Redding (The Jimi Hendrix Experience), Paul Barker (Ministry), Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys), Pete Shelley (Buzzcocks), and many more.

Review: The History Boys [2006] - dir. Nicholas Hytner

A group of history pupils at a boys’ grammar school in Sheffield pursue a place at Oxford or Cambridge, where they are subjected to contrasting styles of teaching.

Adapted from Alan Bennett’s (THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE) immensely successful play of the same name, THE HISTORY BOYS focuses on the experiences of eight history students at a grammar school in northern England in the mid 1980s as they attempt to get a place at the top two universities in the country; Oxford and Cambridge.

The headmaster of the school is keen to send as many of his pupils to Oxbridge as possible and employs supply teacher Irwin (Stephen Campbell Moore, BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS) to teach them the tricks of trade concerning how to get into Oxford or Cambridge. This style of teaching is contrasted sharply with that of the boys’ eccentric and maverick English teacher Hector (Richard Griffiths, WITHNAIL AND I) and the facts and figures based teaching style of their history teacher Mrs Linnott (Frances De La Tour, HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE).

Article: Cinema - The Next Generation...

As I mentioned before in this blog, I have been severely lacking when it comes to movies and the whole cinema experience over this past 12 months. In fact up until last week my last visit to the cinema was to see Slumdog Millionaire... before it got nominated for the Oscar; may I add... and that experience was less than ideal from a picture quality perspective.

Review: Romanzo Criminale [2005] - dir.Michele Placido

A master criminal has his sights on conquering Rome’s underworld in this exciting gangland saga, spanning more than 25 years of criminal activity in Italy. ROMANZO CRIMINALE follows Libano from hoodlum to kingpin, tracking his rise to power, and the struggles that arise within his gang of ruthless cohorts. However, this isn’t just another variation of the classic gangster film formula, as it becomes evident the gangs activities are intrinsically linked to the darker episodes of the country’s history, with police and governmental corruption, kidnapping plots and even romance broadening the canvas of this epic film.

Take one part Coppola, add a splash of Scorsese, mix liberally with a serving of Tarantino, pour over some crushed, updated Leone and top with a shot of Scarface, and you are some way to understanding where this film sits within the pantheon of crime cinema...

Review: Dial M for Murder [1954] - dir. Alfred Hitchcock

Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) is a former tennis player who married Margot (Grace Kelly) partly for her money. To please his wife, he has given up tennis and now sells sports equipment. Margot once had a relationship with Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings), an American crime scriptwriter, but broke it off when he went back to the U.S. for a year. In time they stopped writing to each other, and when Mark returns to London she tells him that she burned all his letters but one.

Tony and Margot have made their wills, naming each other as beneficiary. For a year, Tony meticulously plans Margot's murder. She has no idea that Tony knows of her love for Mark...

Review: Green Street [2005] - dir. Lexi Alexander

Matt Buckner (Elijah Wood) is a student who travels to London, where he forms an unlikely bond with his sister’s husband's brother, Pete Dunham (Charlie Hunnam), who introduces him to the world of football hooliganism. Violence breaks out at a West Ham game that Matt attends with Pete and Matt's initial trepidation at the violence swelling around him soon turns into a pulse-racing, visceral thrill. Suddenly finding a taste for the hooligan life, Matt joins Pete's "firm," the Green Street Elite, leading to further booze-fuelled confrontations and providing an opportunity for Matt to keep a journal explaining why he's attracted to such a violent pursuit. Surprisingly, Elijah Wood manages to fit perfectly into a role that seems ill-suited to his elfin, wide-eyed looks. Charlie Hunnam--who starred in the television programmes Queer As Folk and Undeclared--neatly complements Wood as the cockney boy who leads him into danger, and together the two actors manage to carve out convincingly violent characters. Thematically similar to The Football Factory, Green Street mixes loud, energetic soundtrack and roaming, trembling camera work to create a disquieting atmosphere in a movie punctuated with scenes of rampant brutality.

Review: Rollerball [2001] - dir. John McTeirnan

It's the year 2005; the new sport of Rollerball is hugely popular in the unstable, ex-Soviet republics of South Asia. Marcus Ridley (LL Cool J) invites NHL-hopeful Jonathan Cross (Chris Klein) to join him playing for the Zhambel Horsemen, in Kazahkstan. The highly paid Marcus and Jonathon are teamed with low-paid locals, who are routinely severely injured in the game, which is an extraordinarily violent extension of roller derby involving motorcycles, a metal ball, and many trappings of World Wrestling Entertainment.

Soon the team's star and the darling of promoter Alexi Petrovich (Jean Reno), Jonathan, is thrilled by the high-octane sport, the hype, the sports cars, and female team mate Aurora (a glowering, scar-faced Rebecca Romijm-Stamos). But gradually Jonathan discovers that the cynical Alexi and his opportunistic assistant Sanjay (Naveen Andrews) will go to any lengths to manipulate the game in order to provide an evermore gory spectacle and improve the game's television ratings. Director John McTiernan's movie is grungy and even more violent than the original 1975 ROLLERBALL. He conveys the visceral nature of the game with sharply edited action sequences and a goosed-up soundtrack, and then he shows the volatile game convulsively spinning out of control and causing social upheaval.