The Salt of the Earth (Wim Wenders/Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, 2014)

With The Salt of the Earth, Wim Wenders has helmed yet another strong documentary about a fellow artist (see Pina), though this time he’s on co-directing duties with Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, the son of his documentary’s subject. The film profiles Sebastião Salgado, an acclaimed Brazilian photojournalist whose life has mostly been spent chronicling the misfortunes of victims of man’s cruelty and selfishness; massacred Tutsi in Rwanda and famine victims in the Sahel region of central Africa are just two of the striking subjects of his camera’s lens…

Full review for VODzilla.co

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Pet Sights and Sounds: Brian Wilson biopic ‘Love & Mercy’

“I honestly grew up more as a Beatles guy than a Beach Boys guy, but I’ve admitted that to Brian, so he’s aware,” says Bill Pohlad with a little smile.

We’re speaking to Pohlad ahead of the UK premiere of his gorgeous and tragic Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and he begins by explaining how his musical alliances started to change. “As I got older, I think I started to appreciate The Beach Boys much more, and then, just spontaneously, about ten years ago, I got into Pet Sounds in a much deeper way. I mean, it’s something I always appreciated, but I didn’t really plumb the depths of it until more recently. And so when this project came along, I was kind of perfectly keyed up for it, I think…

Full interview for The Skinny

Scottish Mussel (Talulah Riley, 2015)

Sometimes the worst kind of bad film isn’t the one that’s outright offensive and hateful, it’s the one that is full of good intentions but lacks any grasp of tone or gripping storytelling; made with a message in mind, but completely vacuous in execution. Scottish Mussel is sadly one of those misfires, with the sort of scattershot script where most of the film’s cameo stars also get a romantic interest at the end…

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She’s Funny That Way (Peter Bogdanovich, 2014)

His first directorial effort not for television or the documentary format in over a decade, She’s Funny That Way sees legendary American filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich return to one of his recurring interests: resurrecting an old mode of Hollywood cinema for the contemporary film climate…

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Eden (Mia Hansen-Løve, 2014)

When calling Eden one of the more directionless portraits of a life and movement, one must clarify that this is not meant as a bad thing and that the lack of direction refers only to traditional expectations of narrative for what’s essentially a biopic of sorts. On its surface, Eden seems to be simply telling the rise and fall of one particular man in one particular music scene, in this case the French house or “French touch” scene that took off in the early 1990s. Director Mia Hansen-Løve is concerned less with a narrative of modest success followed by years of toiling away, and instead with the yearning for youth, to recapture something that seemed like it was only just there…

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The Tribe (Miroslav Slaboshpitsky, 2014)

The Tribe, the first full-length feature from Miroslav Slaboshpitsky, is presented in Ukrainian sign language, minus any subtitles or spoken dialogue, and contains instances of horrific violence (and quite graphic fornication) during gruellingly long takes that invoke many questions as to how certain scenes were even achieved without any genuine physical harm to the young men and women involved. The film is nothing if not an audacious directorial debut; a grand, horrifying cinematic mission statement that might particularly appeal to the likes of Michael Haneke and, especially, Gaspar Noé. The trouble is that shock value only gets you so far, and what’s in the breaks between the blows (both confrontational blows and sexual ones) doesn’t necessarily suggest there’s much beyond blunt shock value here…

Full review for The Skinny

Jurassic World (Colin Trevorrow, 2015)

In one early sequence of Jurassic World, the apathetic older brother (Nick Robinson) of a pair of kids visiting the now fully-functional dinosaur theme park suddenly expresses a degree of amazement at the sight of a prehistoric leviathan chomping on a shark, primarily because his sibling (Ty Simpkins) has knocked his smart phone out of his hand and forced him to focus on the wonders in front of them. One of several self-referential nods throughout Jurassic World implies that “no one’s impressed by a dinosaur anymore,” so the people behind the park decide to create, with genetic splicing, a bigger, badder beast to drive attention and profits.

It’s something that can easily be read as a wink-wink dig at the way Hollywood special effects generally lack much of a wow factor two decades on from Steven Spielberg’s original Jurassic Park, and how the solution for many studio heads seems to be to use CGI to create even bigger spectacles for hopeful blockbuster behemoths. Much as an expensive box office bomb might prove disastrous for financiers who’ve thrown everything at the wall to see what sticks, Jurassic World’s new attraction – hybrid dino Indominus Rex – runs amok and causes havoc pretty much immediately.

The thing is there’s a difference between ironically breaking the fourth wall about your film’s very existence and actually subverting anything…

Full review for The Skinny

Writing by Josh Slater-Williams