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A Quiet Place - DVD Review

A Quiet Place

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

IN cinema form, John Krasinski’s directorial debut A Quiet Place offered the near-perfect horror experience for the way in which it invited audiences to sit in a dark room and remain as quiet as possible for the duration of its tense 87-minute running time.

Yet it’s a credit to the film as a whole that the central sound gimmick does not undermine the experience of watching it on smaller screens [as this does remain]. Rather, it’s still a highly effective and highly involving horror film that works on a number of levels.

For sure, the fear factor is still there. A Quiet Place is genuinely tense. A darkened living room, and the confines of a sofa, offer little in the way of respite. But Krasinski – who co-wrote the screenplay with Scott Beck and Bryan Woods – has also taken care to inject a humanity into the story that is so often missing from a lot of genre pieces.

Put simply, you care. And that’s because aside from being a horror film, A Quiet Place also exists as an examination of grief, guilt and parental struggle; of trying to do right by your children at all times, no matter how big or small the odds. It pulls you in and refuses to let go on that front.

The story itself finds Krasinski and real-life wife Emily Blunt playing Lee and Evelyn, the father and mother of a family of five trying to live their lives in silence after mysterious creatures descend upon Earth and hunt by sound. If they hear you, they hunt you.

An opening act sets the scene brilliantly, within the confines of a supermarket, as the family forage for food and medicine to take back to their base camp on a farm. But then tragedy strikes. One of their member is killed.

The storyline then jumps forward as the family continue to co-exist with the monsters. But Evelyn is now pregnant, Lee continues to struggle with the dual responsibilities of both protecting his brood and empowering his children to take over should he not survive.

His eldest daughter, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), wants more responsibility while wrestling with her own guilt about the death of her brother, while Marcus (Noah Jupe) struggles with notions of having to grow up and be brave. Needless to say, it’s only a matter of time before the family’s quiet existence is threatened by events that spiral beyond their control.

Given that A Quiet Place is first, and foremost, a horror movie, it’s to be expected that things become increasingly tense and violent the longer the action lasts. Family members get split up, Evelyn inevitably goes into labour and the beasts appear at regular intervals to raise the stakes.

And while not everything concerning the monsters’ behaviour makes complete sense (some of their deployment seems more convenience based than the self-imposed rules of the screenplay suggest), they do terrify and make you jump in all the right places. In some regards, Krasinski’s film is favourably comparable to the likes of Ridley Scott’s original Alien or the very best elements of shows like The Walking Dead.

It’s very much an old fashioned approach to scaring audiences, and all the more effective for it. You may well lose count of the amount of times you find yourself holding your breath, desperately trying not to make your own sound.

But the film wouldn’t stay with you half as much as it does without the emotional element. And by giving his cast the chance to explore those aforementioned notions of grief, guilt and parenting, Krasinski draws terrific performances that really make you care about whether they live or die.

Without exception, everyone excels… often relying on emoting than speaking. The script is sparse, to say the least. But such is the quality of the performances, you’ll feel every disappointment, rejoice in every victory and maybe even shed a tear when things go really, really bad.

A Quiet Place is an exceptional horror film. And it’s one that will undoubtedly be held up as a classic of its era.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 87mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: August 13, 2018

Win Bagdad Café on DVD

Baghdad Cafe

Preview by Jack Foley

To mark its 30th anniversary, the charmingly eccentric indie comedy Bagdad Café arrives on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download on August 13, 2018.

Boasting stunning 4K restoration quality, complete with brand new extras, this delightful German classic is available to pre-order now

Under the supervision of legendary cult director Percy Adlon (Rosalee Goes Shopping, Salmonberries), the award-winning, international Box Office success Bagdad Café celebrates the possibilities of a uniquely harmonious sense of community.

Driving through the Mojave Desert somewhere between Las Vegas and Disneyland, Jasmin (Marianne Sägebrecht) strikes out on her own following a row with her husband.

Trudging down the highway, she catches the attention of Brenda (CCH Pounder), the irascible proprietor of the Bagdad Café. So begins a hilarious and touching account of these two women of different cultures, joined together in the middle of desolation in an oasis of friendship.

Also featuring Academy Award® winner Jack Palance (City Slickers, Shane) Bagdad Café is a timely reminder that cultures can clash and combine in a positive and playful way.

An absolute ‘must-own’ for fans of indie cinema, the Oscar-nominated film inspired a hit TV series starring Whoopi Goldberg and is now firmly considered a cult favourite.

Win Bagdad Café on DVD

To celebrate the release of Bagdad Café on DVD on Monday, August 13, 2018, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 2 copies. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs Bagdad Café?

Simply send the answer to Bagdad Café competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Ready Player One - DVD Review

Ready Player One

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

GIVEN how influential the films of Steven Spielberg have been on countless contemporary filmmakers, it’s somewhat odd to find the master director now gleefully referencing others for his latest blockbuster offering.

But then Ready Player One is something of an oddity. At times absurdly enjoyable, it’s not without disappointments and there is some confusion over who it’s aimed at. The result is a film that dazzles as much as it perplexes.

Based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel of the same name, which has been co-adapted by Cline himself with Zak Penn, the film is set in 2045 as American society is struggling to exist in a new reality defined by having survived drought and bandwidth riots.

The majority of citizens are leading a slum-like existence and seek solace in a computer game world known as the ‘OASIS’, in which they can change gender and appearance and take part in a game that invites them to discover three keys that could give them the power to control this virtual reality alternative world.

Primary among these players is underprivileged teenager Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), whose devotion to late game designer James Halliday (Mark Rylance) unables him to unlock the clues and get further into the world than any other ‘gunter’ has gone before.

Helping him overcome the various challenges that Halliday places before them are a team of rebel players led by Samantha/Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), while standing in their path – and hoping to win the game for its own ruthless ends – is a global corporation led by their unscrupulous CEO Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn). Needless to say, the future of mankind rests upon who wins.

Given the wealth of plot and characters in Cline’s source novel, it’s hardly surprising to find that the film version of Ready Player One demands that you pay attention, particularly as Spielberg works hard to ensure that his film doesn’t ever become too bogged down with exposition at the expense of action.

Rather, he hits the ground running and employs voice-overs to fill audiences in, while simultaneously dazzling them with the worlds he has created, the references he wants to include, and the action he has made a career out of excelling in.

And it’s in the visual department that the film really excels. Early on, a race involving the DeLoran from Back To The Future is an eye-popping delight that is overloaded with blink-and-you-might-miss-it pop culture references, which range from King Kong and the T-Rex from Spielberg’s own Jurassic Park to vehicles such as the Batmobile from the cult TV series.

A mid-film sequence that pays fun – and occasionally terrifying – homage to a Stanley Kubrick horror classic is also great, showcasing Spielberg’s long-held ability to excite and scare in equal measure.

But as brilliantly conceived and executed as this sequence is, it does beg the wider question of just who the movie plays best to. While clearly aiming at the kids’ market with a 12A certificate (some of which is certificate-stretching), a fair few of the ’80s references, not to mention the horror ones, are likely to fly over the younger audiences’ heads. For a film that relies so heavily on them, it feels like a strange mix.

Spielberg could be anticipating a surge back towards the films he’s nodding to (from The Breakfast Club to The Iron Giant) but that’s a gamble.

Ready Player One

Similarly, some of the more games-based material is just plan nerdy and may be a turn-off – something that Spielberg himself has clearly anticipated by making the need to live in [and enjoy] the real world one of the film’s key messages. Those that do already may well embrace such ideology, but the gamers will doubtless carry on searching for the next cool virtual experience.

It’s another of Ready Player One‘s shortcomings, however, that Spielberg opts for the upbeat and hopeful rather than really taking time to explore and tread the waters of some of the more complex issues the book itself raised. The film very much exists to entertain and is largely devoid of the layering inherent in his more serious work.

The characters, too, are fairly basic in that they are either heroes or villains. As such, their arcs are fairly basic, which in turn deprives the film of any worthwhile emotional investment. Sheridan therefore struggles to make his Wade Watts that charismatic… the film is screaming out for a leading man as roguish and/or flamboyant as Indiana Jones or the central trio from Jaws.

Conversely, Cooke does a lot more with her Samantha, providing a more kick-ass alternative to Watts, who is genuinely worth rooting for. But while certainly striking a notable blow for the feminist movement, there are still elements of her character that feel lazy or derisory (she does strip down to a vest, for instance).

Mendelsohn’s villain is suitably pantomime but – again – lacks depth or nuance. He, like the film as a whole, would have benefited from being more challenging. While Rylance feels curiously muted as Halliday, struggling to convince as a computer nerd in the Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg vein.

If the above criticisms sound overly harsh for a film that wears its popcorn sensibilities so unashamedly on its sleeve, then they also contribute to the third act’s struggle to engage as much as it should. Rather, the inevitable big battle climax feels mostly work-manlike, with a sense of inevitability attached. There’s very little that’s innovative or not seen before in some superhero movie, or Lord of the Rings-style battle. For a filmmaker of Spielberg’s stature, that’s also disappointing.

That Ready Player One works as well as it does is down to Spielberg’s knack for knowing how to crowd-please on a massive scale. There are plenty of moments where the film feels alive with invention (even in the way that it references pop culture) and it has a boundless energy befitting the likes of past works such as Raiders of the Lost Ark (in its problem-solving, dodging the traps elements), or Minority Report and AI: Artificial Intelligence in the way that it envisages a believable future.

For all of its many flaws, Ready Player One is hugely entertaining without ever coming close to the masterpiece status of Spielberg’s earliest and genre-defining work.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 2hrs 20mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: August 6, 2018

Win Von Ryan's Express on Blu-ray

Von Ryan's Express

Preview by Jack Foley

To celebrate the release of Von Ryan’s Express – available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD Dual Format from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on August 13, 2018 – we are giving away a copy!

Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard star in this classic war drama directed by Mark Robson. When US pilot Colonel Joseph Ryan (Sinatra) is shot down and placed in a German prisoner of war camp, he is more concerned with his own survival than escape.

The top-ranking officer in the camp, he is initially reviled by his fellow British and American prisoners, who nickname him Von Ryan.

However, Ryan eventually comes to lead them in a daring escape attempt, taking over from the commanding British officer (Howard), and the escapees face many hazards as they commandeer a train to make their way across Italy, closely followed by the Nazis.

The Premium Collection – revered films across all genres, celebrated in a Premium package set containing the film on Blu-ray, DVD and a Digital Copy – gives fans a must own version that allows them to watch however they choose. Each release also includes a collectible slipcase and 4 collectible art cards featuring the films key art.

Order today

Win Von Ryan’s Express on Blu-ray

To celebrate the release of Von Ryan’s Express on Blu-ray for the first time on Monday, August 13, 2018, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win a copy. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs Frank Sinatra in Von Ryan’s Express?

Simply send the answer to Von Ryan’s Express competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Win 1984 on Blu-ray

1984

Preview by Jack Foley

To celebrate the release of 1984 – available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD Dual Format from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on August 13, 2018 – we are giving away a copy!

In a holocaustic future world, perpetually at war, where failure to conform is the ultimate crime, Winston Smith (John Hurt) rewrites history books and finds himself dreaming of escape from the all-seeing eyes of the Authorities. He embarks on a passionate (and illegal) affair with a young woman (Suzanna Hamilton) but they are soon caught and Smith undergoes a nightmarish brainwashing at the hands of the chief inquisitor O’Brien (Richard Burton).

The Premium Collection – revered films across all genres, celebrated in a Premium package set containing the film on Blu-ray, DVD and a Digital Copy – gives fans a must own version that allows them to watch however they choose. Each release also includes a collectible slipcase and 4 collectible art cards featuring the films key art.

Order today

Win 1984 on Blu-ray

To celebrate the release of 1984 on Blu-ray for the first time on Monday, August 13, 2018, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win a copy. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who plays the chief inquisitor in 1984?

Simply send the answer to 1984 competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Win a Fanged Up Quad poster

Fanged Up

Preview by Jack Foley

To celebrate the release of Fanged Up – out now on DVD & Digital Download – we have a quad poster to giveaway.

Daniel O’Reilly, best known for his “Dapper Laughs” persona, fights for his life in a thrilling yet fun horror comedy bursting with British blood and banter alike.

When self-styled absolute lad Jimmy Ragsdale (Daniel O’Reilly) makes a pass at his boss’ wife, the ensuing brawl seals the deal on a night he’ll never forget – locked in the halls of a hellish prison! Jimmy will have more on his plate than just tough Russian cellmate Victor (Stu Bennett), however.

When the wardens unleash their true vampyric colours, the inmates find themselves caught in a bloody battle that is sure to prove just how “hard” Jimmy really is.

Order today

DVD l iTunes

Win a Fanged Up Quad poster

To celebrate the release of Fanged Up on DVD and digital download now, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win a quad poster. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who does Daniel O’Reilly play in Fanged Up?

Simply send the answer to Fanged Up competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Win Maya The Bee: The Honey Games on DVD

Maya The Bee: The Honey Games

Preview by Jack Foley

MAYA is an ambitious little bee, but sometimes her determination can get her into sticky situations.

Maya The Bee: The Honey Games is the uplifting and sweet story of how friendship, tolerance and perseverance can be the most important virtues of all, available on DVD and Digital HD from 30th July 2018, courtesy of Signature Entertainment.

When an overenthusiastic Maya accidentally embarrasses the Empress of thriving hive Buzztropolis, she is forced to unite with a team of misfit bugs and compete in the iconic Honey Games. The stakes couldn’t be higher; if Maya loses, her hive on Poppy Meadow will be depleted of all its honey.

In order to save the fate of her hive, Maya must call on her friendship with a cohort of clumsy, loveable and trustworthy bugs in the face of her biggest ever challenge. As the comrades venture on their epic journey, they realise it takes more than a plucky attitude to be a champion and they must listen to friends and foes alike to guide them to victory.

Following the buzz of the first film, Maya The Bee: The Honey Games brings back beloved characters from the previous film and the popular children’s novel, as well as introducing a variety of new insect friends.

From Directors Noel Cleary and Sergio Delfino (Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit: A Close Shave), Co-Director Alexs Stadermann and Scriptwriter Fin Edquist, Maya The Bee: The Honey Games is a fun-filled adventure that is sure to be a family favourite.

Maya The Bee: The Honey Games is produced by Studio 100 Media in coproduction with Australian company Studio B Animation, in association with Flying Bark Productions.

Win Maya The Bee: The Honey Games on DVD

To celebrate the release of Maya The Bee: The Honey Games on DVD on Monday, July 30, 2018, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 3 copies. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who wrote the script for Maya The Bee: The Honey Games?

Simply send the answer to Maya The Bee: The Honey Games competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Pacific Rim: Uprising - DVD Review

Pacific Rim: Uprising

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

IF GUILLERMO del Toro’s Pacific Rim turned out to be one of the most disappointing blockbusters of 2013, then Steven S. DeKnight’s belated follow-up has to qualify as that rare cinematic anomaly: a sequel that betters the original.

Co-produced by del Toro and leading man John Boyega (aka Finn from the new Star Wars movies), the film does what it says on the label – robots smashing monsters – but it does so with considerable visual panache and a grand-standing central performance from Boyega himself.

If that doesn’t equate to much more than disposable popcorn fun, then perhaps that’s no bad thing given how well it delivers on the mayhem… because let’s face it, no one wants another bloated robot movie in the style of the last two Transformers movies.

Set 10 years after the end of the Kaiju War, Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), son of the late hero Stacker (Idris Elba), is a former Jaeger pilot now making a living selling stolen tech and very much living in his father’s shadow.

But when his latest arrest lands him back in the Jaegar pilot programme under the joint command of Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) and former co-pilot Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood), together with young scavenger Amara (Cailee Spaeny), he must find a way to battle past his demons in order to be ready to face a new threat from both a rogue Jaegar and the possibly returning Kaiju monsters.

Pacific Rim: Uprising actually marks something of a labour of love for Boyega, who invested part of his Star Wars money into producing this latest instalment, in the hope of possibly kick-starting a new franchise.

Yet while the appeal of a faltering sci-fi series might not be that obvious to anyone who saw and lamented the shortcomings of Pacific Rim, Boyega seems to have identified some of what went wrong (too many night battles, too much Charlie Day, an overly bland leading man in Charlie Hunnam, etc) and worked hard to try and correct it.

Pacific Rim: Uprising

Hence, Uprising benefits from plenty of daylight action and a central character, in Jake, that oozes charisma and easy screen appeal. Boyega is a confident leading man: brash, cocksure and funny; yet capable of delivering rage and insecurity during the one or two big acting moments the screenplay allows. He’s a hugely endearing presence to be around.

Eastwood, for his part, seems content to channel his dad and could even be nodding to his ‘Gunny’ in Heartbreak Ridge given the gruff qualities of his engaging performance, while Spaeny makes for a suitably plucky, kick-ass heroine.

Yes, Charlie Day is back but his screen-time is limited (and it’s a good decision to make him more shady), while co-nerd Rob Kazinsky is also reigned in somewhat from previously.

Knight instead places most of the film’s emphasis on the action set pieces, which deliver all the eye-candy carnage you’d expect from a movie that finds its central premise built around robots fighting each other and monsters.

Buildings get levelled with increasing regularity, there’s kick-ass weaponry flying from every metal orifice, and the visuals are so well executed that you can actually see what’s going on. And most of the carnage is genuinely spectacular, particularly an early rumble in Sydney, Australia, that manages to throw audiences a bit of a loop, and a climactic tussle in Japan, in the shadow of Mount Fuji.

Pacific Rim: Uprising is a film that’s fully aware of its limitations but one that’s happy to work within the confines of them and even utilise them to its strengths. As a result, it’s a much more enjoyable ride than anyone might dared to have hoped. Boyega can be proud, even if a franchise still seems like a stretch.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 1hr 51mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: July 30, 2018

Journeyman - DVD Review

Journeyman

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

PADDY Considine’s second film as director is a heartfelt boxing movie that shies away from genre convention. You could almost call it an anti-boxing movie, albeit one that retains a deep respect for the sport.

A cautionary tale about the injury risks inherent in the sport, this opens with the type of boxing ring drama that would end most films and focuses on the repercussions of getting injured in the sport.

As such, it’s a different kind of triumph against the odds tale, as Considine’s world middleweight boxing champion Matty Burton successfully [but painfully] defends his title against arrogant, trash-talking challenger Andre ‘The Future’ Bryte (Anthony Welsh), only to collapse at home from a head injury afterwards and be faced with an even bigger fight on his hands to get back to some form of mental and physical normality.

The exact nature of Burton’s injury is never fully detailed. But we know that it impairs his mind, his speech, his strength and his whole sense of being. It poses potentially disastrous repercussions for his family: wife Emma (Jodie Whittaker) and very young daughter Mia.

Indeed, the middle section of the film, as Burton finds himself at odds with himself, rate among the most powerful the drama has to offer, as his family slowly disintegrates around him, along with his own self-esteem.

It’s here that Considine excels as both actor and director, selflessly allowing co-star Whittaker plenty of moments to shine. The film is very much a two-hander during these moments, as Matty’s struggles are juxtaposed with Emma’s. She wants to do the best she can for him, only to face rebuke (both verbal and sometimes physical).

Indeed, as Matty’s decline worsens, so too does even his relationship with his daughter, culminating in an almost unbearably tense situation that proves a tipping point for the family as a whole.

Thereafter, the film focuses more on Matty’s rebuilding, together with the help of his friends, and former training team (played by Tony Pitts and Paul Popplewell), as he puts the pieces of his life back together.

If some of this can be melodramatic, then Considine’s film earns the right to be for the authenticity the director has sough to create along the way. This feels real, both in terms of the physical environment he creates and the emotional journey he takes his characters on.

Admittedly, the film itself could have been a little more probing in its analysis of the dangers of boxing and, perhaps, the lack of support offered to those unlucky enough to suffer severe traumatic injury.

But this is very much a personal journey, which places performance above the action for most of the time. It’s devoid of the showboating of the Rocky films at their most blockbuster leaning, and more evocative of the social drama of Considine’s own Tyrannosaurus.

As such, the performances are what you take away from it the most. Considine, himself, is typically towering: likeable yet fallible, sympathetic and yet sometimes ugly, yet always persevering. Whittaker, meanwhile, wears her heart on her sleeve, imbuing her Emma with an undying devotion that makes some of her decisions all the more painful to arrive at.

Journeyman is therefore a deeply affecting, and frequently moving, piece of filmmaking that knocks you out emotionally rather than landing too many fist-pumping heroics.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 92mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: July 30, 2018

Win Proud Mary on DVD

Proud Mary

Preview by Jack Foley

FANS will see Academy Award® nominee (Best Supporting Actress, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2008) and three-time Emmy® Award nominee (Empire) Taraji P. Henson as she’s never been seen before in the action-packed gritty crime thriller Proud Mary on Digital Download on July 16 and on DVD from July 30, 2018 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Henson explodes in the title role playing a hit woman working for an organised crime family in Boston. Her life is completely turned around however when she crosses paths with a young boy after a professional hit that goes badly wrong.

Billy Brown (How to Get Away with Murder), Jahi Di’Allo Winston (The Upside), Danny Glover (Shooter, Lethal Weapon) and Neal McDonough (Legends of Tomorrow) also star.

Proud Mary includes three behind-the-scene featurettes. Mary’s World unlocks some of the mystery behind all things Mary, with the cast and filmmakers weighing in on Taraji P. Henson’s kick-ass turn as the assassin nobody sees coming.

The Beginning of The End dives deep into the film’s final set piece with interviews on Mary’s signature battle to sever her ties from her former life once and for all.

Lastly, not only is Mary about the best there is in the world of hit people … she looks good doing it. If Looks Could Kill explores Mary’s signature look and killer style, from her Maserati to the clothes and wigs that become her metaphorical armour.

Synopsis

Lethal, professional hit-woman Mary (Taraji P. Henson) works for the most notorious crime family in town, headed by Benny (Danny Glover).

When Mary shoots a protected mobster in order to save a young boy, she must take on a rogues’ gallery of crime figures, from the Russian Mafia to those closest to her, including her former lover.

Armed with her wits – and a closet full of guns – Mary must do whatever it takes to be the last woman standing in this energetic and explosive action thriller.

Directed by Babak Najafi, with a screenplay by John Stuart Newman and Christian Swegal and Steven Antin, and a story by John Stuart Newman and Christian Swegal, Proud Mary was produced by Paul Schiff and Tai Duncan, with Glenn S. Gainor and Taraji P. Henson as executive producers.

Win Proud Mary on DVD

To celebrate the release of Proud Mary on DVD on Monday, July 30, 2018, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 3 copies. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs Taraji P. Henson in Proud Mary?

Simply send the answer to Proud Mary competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email