Alistair Harkness on the rest of this week’s new releases...
The Shining (18)
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers
WITH current documentary Room 237 offering plenty of out-there theories on the meaning of The Shining, this well-timed reissue offers British fans the first proper opportunity to view the longer American cut of the film in cinemas.
After The Shining met with mixed reviews and patchy box-office on its initial US release, Kubrick elected to trim 31 minutes of footage from all overseas versions, ensuring that it’s the shorter version that has been pored over by generations of Kubrick fans in the UK, while over in the US, the film’s reputation has grown based on the original, longer version
Effectively having two director’s cuts, while a little odd, is of course entirely in keeping with the eccentricities of the man who sanctioned them. Alas, in this case, much as I love The Shining, less was most definitely more. This alternate version, while fascinating to finally see, turns the film into a much more conventional ghost story, with heightened spectral activity and some honkingly acted expositional scenes (largely involving Scatman Crothers as the Overlook Hotel’s folksy cook) chipping away at the film’s enigmatic appeal. Still, Kubrick’s compositions and Jack Nicholson going kill-crazy with an axe remain hard to beat on the big screen.
Keep the Lights On (15)
Directed by: Ira Sachs
Starring: Thure Lindhart, Zachary Booth, Julianne Nicholson
SUNDANCE-winning director Ira Sachs (40 Shades of Blue) returns with this sad, grainy, quietly impressive film about how a destructive long-term relationship can become a crutch for couples who subconsciously want to avoid moving on with their lives.
Kicking off in 1998, the story revolves around a young commitment-phobic Danish documentary maker called Erik (Thure Lindhart) who embarks on a troubled romance with Paul (Zachary Booth). Paul works in book publishing and has a girlfriend; he also has the beginnings of a drug habit and as his more conventional life starts sliding into chaos, just as Erik’s more privileged bohemian existence begins to find purpose, it’s this rather than his confused sexuality that provides the dramatic momentum.
This isn’t to say the film is an addiction drama, it’s merely to emphasise that, like last year’s Weekend, the film is mercifully free of coming-out angst, something that enables it to explore instead the intimacy issues that begin having a deleterious effect on the couple.
Set over the course of a decade, the film effectively drops in on the characters’ lives and it’s to Sachs’ credit that, rather than making the film seem episodic, it feels as if we’re being given glimpses into real lives unfolding.
Fun Size (12A)
Directed by: Josh Schwartz
Starring: Victoria Justice, Thomas Mann, Chelsea Handler, Jackson Nicoll
FORMER US TV wunderkind Josh Schwartz (creator of The OC, Gossip Girl and Chuck) makes an ignominious film debut with this insipid tween movie about a high school student (Victoria Justice) trying to get through a socially awkward Hallowe’en.
Slasher movie antics take a backseat to bland coming-of-age shenanigans as the beautiful but slightly nerdy Wren (Justice) has to look after her mute eight-year-old brother (Jackson Nicoll) while her widowed mother (talent vacuum Chelsea Handler) works through her unacknowledged grief by dating a 26-year-old.
The tragic backstory haunting this family should give their slapstick, gross-out antics some of the soapy poignancy that made The OC such an easy-going treat. Alas, Shwartz fails to pull off a similar trick. Instead, as Wren frets about finding her little brother after losing him en route to the coolest party of the year, barely developed characters come and go while faux edgy jokes and obscure American pop cultural references fall flat. Worst of all, Schwartz makes a bid for vintage credibility by turning the creation of The Beastie Boys’ Licence to Ill album into a plot point. Needless to say, he succeeds only in desecrating its playfully anti-authoritarian memory.
5 Broken Cameras (15)
Directed by: Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi
WITH horror currently dominated by the “found footage” format, here’s a fascinating documentary in which the instinct to film has genuine life-and-death implications. Shot over five years, 5 Broken Cameras charts the efforts of amateur filmmaking enthusiast Emad Burnat to document the ongoing protests by his fellow Palestinian villagers in the Occupied Territories against a proposed Israeli separation barrier that, if completed, will deprive them of half their cultivated lands.
Filled with incredible footage that is sometimes breathtaking in its apparent banality (at one point Burnat films his wife hanging out washing, largely oblivious to the gunshots and explosions going off in the background), the film charts the ongoing struggle as well as giving a snapshot – via Burnat’s young family – of how the complications of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict begins to shape and inform those directly affected by it from the moment they’re exposed to it.
What’s most striking though is Burnat’s evolving attitude to the conflict as he views it through the lenses of the titular cameras, with each malfunction marking a dramatic development in his involvement in the struggle. Of course it’s a highly personalised and subjective account of the situation, yet still gives us a clear sense of how complicated life there is.
Silent Hill: Revelation (15)
Directed by: Michael J BassetT
Starring: Adelaide Clemens, Sean Bean, Carrie-Anne Moss, Malcolm McDowell
The only revelation in this belated sequel to the moderately successful 2006 video game adaptation is that its makers clearly think people are invested enough in the original film to want another instalment. Having already tanked in the US, its franchise potential looks decidedly dicey, especially given the new film can’t even offer up the flashy production design that aficionados of the game liked about the Christophe Gans-directed original.
This time Solomon Kane’s Michael J Basset takes over directing duties, but even with a decent cast at his disposal – Sean Bean, Carrie-Anne Moss – he can’t inject any life into proceedings beyond a brief cameo by seasoned ham Malcolm McDowell.
Rising star Adelaide Clemens is also fighting a losing battle against a hazy backstory and some exposition-heavy dialogue designed to remind us that she’s supposed to be the little girl who was kidnapped in the first film and held captive in the titular helltown until her mother sacrificed herself to save her.
Annoyingly, the film spends a lot of time luring her back into her personal nightmare only to subject her to various demonic counsels and cheaply rendered monsters who apparently like nothing better than pondering her destiny as some sort of chosen one.