After the phenomenal success of independent publishing house Pennant Books with its stable of football fan culture, sporting legends and true crime titles regularly topping the best seller lists, the indomitable Cass Pennant has reinvented himself once again by forming Urban Edge Films which releases its debut feature length documentary Casuals this month with Pennant himself at the helm as writer and producer.
As soon as I heard that Robert Redford was directing a film about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln I wanted to see it, more so than the long awaited Steven Spielberg biopic which has been put back yet again; this time until after November 2012′s Presidential elections ostensibly to avoid it becoming “political fodder” but more likely to maximise its Oscar potential for 2013.
As a film about football and, in particular, football hooliganism I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy Cass very much; as a rule it would be the sort of low-budget, grubby British film that I would usually seek to avoid. Thankfully, it isn’t at all what I expected and in no way typical of its genre which is quite fitting as by all accounts Cass Pennant, on whose memoir it is based, has led a remarkable life.
Luc Besson came to prominence as the writer/director responsible for some of the most iconic French films of the Cinema Du Look period including Subway, The Big Blue, Nikita and Leon. His career faltered with the release of The Fifth Element, the overblown and unhinged Sci-Fi saga starring Bruce Willis. Since then his output has been largely hit and miss, concentrating his efforts more as a writer/producer for the action oriented Taxi and Transporter franchises.
With Rango, his first completely animated feature film, co-writer/director Gore Verbinski returns to the anarchic spirit of his movie debut Mousehunt as he follows the existential quest of hapless hero Lars, a chameleon voiced by the ever quixotic Johnny Depp.
The rights to make a film of Mr. Nice were sold to the BBC by Howard Marks when the landmark autobiography of perhaps the most sophisticated drug baron of all time topped the best seller lists in 1996. 15 years later and his vivid memoir has finally been brought to the big screen by the iconic writer/director Bernard Rose (Immortal Beloved) who faithfully captures the rambling, often comic, nature of the original book aided by an outstanding performance from Rhys Ifans in the title role.
It infuriates me that Sucker Punch has been universally demonised in the mainstream press for being the one thing that it clearly isn’t and anyone with a modicum of intelligence will appreciate that this is not a movie that sets out to further objectify or exploit women. Unfortunately such vehement negative press will undoubtedly put a lot of people off seeing it and drawing their own conclusions and this worrying trend in film criticism is tantamount to censorship in my opinion.
The Baader Meinhof Complex attempts to chronicle in its 150 minute running time the entire decade which saw the rise and fall of the Red Army Faction (RAF), Germany’s most notorious terrorist group. The film is produced and co-written by Bernd Eichinger whose Constantin Film company was also responsible for the excellent Downfall the study of Hitler’s final days for which he also furnished the screenplay.
To be honest I wasn’t quite sure what the movie Gainsbourg was going to be like, surprisngly it’s not the straight forward, reverential biopic that I was half expecting. In fact it’s a startling work of originality as it’s the debut feature of Joann Sfar, the renowned graphic artist of the Franco-Belgian comic new wave, as with his notable comic series The Rabbi’s Cat he has worked in his shared Jewish heritage to tell the story of Lucien Ginsburg’s rise to fame, the world would come to know him as the popular singer songwriter and the hugely influential 1960s cultural icon Serge Gainsbourg; played uncannily by Eric Elmosnino.
There is little doubt that Simon Pegg and Nick Frost intended Paul to be an enjoyable romp through the collective memory of all the classic Science Fiction feature films of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas and if nothing else it succeeds in being a heartfelt love letter to the extra-terrestrial, however as an original comedy from the pedigree of Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz it does feel a little underwhelming.