DVD & Digital · EIFF22

DVD review: Resurrection

 Off the back of her leading role in haunting horror The Night House a couple of years ago, Rebecca Hall finds herself at the centre of another tense mystery in Resurrection, written and directed by Andrew Semans. From the outside looking in, Margaret (Hall) very much has her life together, excelling in a high-powered job at a pharmaceutical company and raising her teenage daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman) to share the same strong values and success. However, when she spots David (Tim Roth) at a conference, she begins to spiral out of control as her dark past catches up with her.

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DVD & Digital

DVD review: 600 Miles (600 Millas)


At the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the programme is categorised into strands that celebrate and showcase different aspects of cinema, and each year a nation is focussed on which highlights the ‘international’ part of EIFF. In 2015, Mexico is the country in the limelight and Gabriel Ripstein’s debut film ‘600 Miles’, or millas in Spanish, is in the line-up, following its successful trip to the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year. The crime drama unfolds within the arms trafficking underworld as friends Carson (Harrison Thomas) and Arnulfo (Kristyan Ferrer) smuggle weaponry from Arizona across the border to Arnulfo’s Mexican drug cartel family in an SUV. Unbeknownst to them, ATF agent Hank Harris (Tim Roth) is tracking them closely and when their paths inevitably cross, a vicious encounter leads to an unlikely road trip, simmering with threat and nerve-shredding tension.

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DVD & Digital

DVD review: The Hateful Eight


Quentin Tarantino claimed in an interview recently that he would like to be considered a Western film director and that you really need to make three for that to happen. In his second foray into the genre, following on from Spaghetti-themed slavery shoot-em-up ‘Django Unchained’, he presents ‘The Hateful Eight’; a mystery story set shortly after the American Civil War which unfolds mostly in just one room. The cast includes a selection of regular collaborators, with Samuel L. Jackson starring as bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren. When en route to local town Red Rock with three deceased outlaws in tow, he encounters John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth (Kurt Russell) and hitches a ride on his stagecoach. Before long, a blizzard strikes and they’re forced to take refuge at a haberdashery where they meet a host of unsavoury characters played by the likes of Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern. Shot in Ultra Panavision 70mm film and with a score by veteran composer Ennio Morricone, the classic Western elements are combined with Tarantino’s signature style in a concoction of wit, spit and bloody bits.

In typical fashion, the narrative is divided into ‘chapters’ which are separated by title cards but the story struggles to come into its own until the third. The opening two serve to establish the setting and get the ball rolling but the dialogue isn’t quite as sharp as we’ve come to expect from Tarantino. Maybe the period in which the film is set limits the screenplay as there’s less room for tangents and no opportunity to pepper conversations with pop culture references. The script this time feels more direct and purposeful, and drives the plot forward, which some might argue is a good thing.

When the titular eight finally come together in the cabin, like the Reservoir Dogs of the Wild West, the brewing tension and entertainment value are noticeably heightened. Because of the length of time spent in one environment, elements of theatre develop and the wider picture cleverly lends itself to this technique. Around this time, the linear structure is toyed with, Tarantino himself featuring as the narrator to add fuel to the flames of the mystery that engulfs the haberdashery. This excellent sense of playfulness and creativity provide the film with its highlights, including a gruesome flashback sequence. As the secret unravels, the running time threatens to outstay its welcome and eventually intelligence makes way for an exaggerated blood-soaked finale.

As Tarantino movies go, ‘The Hateful Eight’ has all of the attributes, good and bad, that we’ve come to associate with the accomplished yet controversial filmmaker. In his confident, self-indulgent creation, he establishes a firmer stronghold on the genre he has borrowed so much from throughout his career. While the story itself is full of villains, it represents the step forward needed for the wannabe hero of neo-Western cinema.


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DVD & Digital

DVD review: The Liability

 ‘The Liability’ sees camera man Craig Viveiros take a seat in the director’s chair for the first time and he certainly wears his influences on his sleeve. Unsurprisingly, it is a joy to watch. After the young and reckless Adam (Jack O’Connell) writes off his Step Dad’s prized motor, he agrees to repay him by driving Roy (Tim Roth) on a routine job. As the carefully laid plans go awry, the pair are soon on an entirely different journey. As enjoyable as it is aesthetically, with slick cinematography, a striking use of colour and some cracking slow-mo sequences aided by an interesting soundtrack, it seems the direction lets it down in the final third, or essentially a lack of direction, as the plot lulls, failing to follow through the opening which promised so much.
  Beginning with a brutal murder, the thread of darkness originates in the opening frames and continues through to the final shots. This violent streak interweaves with humour in Tarantino-esque fashion, the tight witty script well suited to Tim Roth’s dulcet tones but as a Brit flick, the jokes could be said to be more aligned with the Guy Ritchie back catalogue than those of QT which matches O’Connell’s style perfectly. The balance is spot on as these two set out on their road trip, Roth’s Roy with an effortless smoothness, smoking Cubans and donning shades whereas driver Adam blasts urban music, chaotically chewing on Twix bars with an appealing naivety, soaking up the thought of the adventure but secretly overwhelmed by the reality of it. This is brought out exceptionally when at one point at the height of his terror he whines ‘I’m just a kid’. This visual juxtaposition between the two central characters is a real treat, as is the dialogue breezing along building suspense albeit slowly but creating a solid fountain to build on as the narrative develops. The story hops along frantically, taking a change of pace not unlike Ben Wheatley’s The Kill List, also set in the North of England, where the conventional gangster film goes surreal, as boss Peter’s murky world starts falling in around him reaching a somewhat predictable conclusion.
  The small cast perform as well as can be expected despite the characters feeling underdeveloped. Veterans Roth and Mullan are at ease in their roles, showing the vast experience they possess in the field of the smaller budget production, both also having taken director roles previously. Roth has this aura of attitude that is so easy to watch, perhaps playing off his associations with the big films that undoubtedly had a hand in the making of this such as Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. At times during certain driving scenes, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to turn the clock back twenty years and imagine Keitel behind the wheel alongside Roth, the on screen relationship with shades of White and Orange. O’Connell is the big talking point of the cast, unwilling to be overshadowed by the bigger names on the posters. He comes out firing on all cylinders as his characters so often do, playing an equally unhinged but perhaps more innocent version of Cook, the Skins character with who O’Connell made his name. With an impressive CV boasting roles in Harry Brown, The Weekender and Tower Block, get used to him because there will be a lot more to come. The disappointment of the cast is Kierston Wareing but through no fault of her own. She is perfect for the role of the gangster’s mistreated partner, having played similar roles to such a high standard in the past, most notably in Martina Cole adapted TV series’ The Take where she was superb as the long suffering wife of Tom Hardy. Sadly, here she is criminally underused, her character barely coming off the page it was written on.
  When the strong copycat blend of influences goes a little sour, the film is left with an aftertaste of unfulfillment, the characters lacking the depth and substance they deserve. The film is brave in its ambition and despite being somewhat one dimensional in the execution, it provides a lot of fun and exciting camera work. After all, the filmmaker is a cinematographer by trade. This is where it becomes clear that although Viveiros has a brilliant eye and an active imagination, his directorial vision falls short of those he aims to replicate but as a first outing, it is far from being unforgivable.


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