Archives for Ramsey Hassan

Film Review: The Levelling

levellingDirected by Hope Dickson Leach

Starring Ellie Kendrick, David Troughton

Clover (Kendrick) never wanted to go back home, but the news of her brother’s death forces her to return. However, her arrival opens painful wounds for family and friends alike, particularly her troubled father.

Set in the aftermath of the devastation wrecked upon Somerset by the flooding of 2014, director Hope Dickson Leach‘s acutely observant feature debut subverts the typically kindly, bucolic countryside of The Archers by instead capturing it’s ennui in unsettling, semi-hallucinatory fashion. and adding a sinister aspect to those signifiers of England’s green and pleasant land.

This is where The Levelling really scores – in its depiction of country life beyond the pages of Horse & Hound. Evoking a strong sense of place and a stronger sense of the complex bonds that simultaneously keep families together and threaten to tear them apart, the film presents an engrossing portrait of the hardscrabble nature of modern rural life.


Film Review: The Gift

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 07.54.08Directed by Joel Edgerton

Starring Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall & Joel Edgerton

As Blockbuster movie season reaches its crescendo, those seeking escapism from the loud barrage of CGI could do a lot worse than checking out The Gift, a creepy, airport paperback thriller of a movie that harks back to ’90s stalker thrillers like Single White Female, Unlawful Entry, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and Pacific Heights.

Bateman and Hall star as Simon and Robyn, a newly married Yuppie couple whose life is going just as planned until a chance encounter with Simon’s old high school acquaintance, the awkward Gordo (Edgerton). Robyn feels sorry for the guy and the couple befriend him much to Simon’s annoyance. Gordo is kind of creepy and very clingy and soon things get uncomfortable as the obsessive Gordo starts presenting them with mysterious gifts that hint to a dark secret from Simon’s past. As Robyn learns the unsettling truth about what happened between Simon & Gordo, she is forced to confront just how well she knows the people around her, and are past bygones ever really bygones?


Film Review: Appropriate Behavior

DireABcted by Desiree Akhavan

Starring Desiree Akhavan, Rebecca Henderson & Halley Feiffer

OMG! Not another Bisexual Persian in Brooklyn Story!  Girls Co-Star Desiree Akhavan writes, directs & stars in her frank & painfully hilarious debut feature Appropriate Behaviour, a tale of a young woman looking back on her failed relationship.

When Shirin (Akhavan) breaks up with her live-in girlfriend Maxine (Henderson), we go on a criss-crossing non-linear journey through Shirin’s post-Maxine singledom as she fumbles through a series of offbeat sexual encounters with men, women & a hipster swinger couple juxtaposed with her rollercoaster relationship with Maxine – from their meet-cute on the steps of a brownstone outside a New Years Eve party just before midnight, to their many spats & fun times. This is essentially a relationship post-mortem movie akin to Blue Valentine, (the criminally little seen) Two for the Road and, of course, Annie Hall only without much focus on the other half of the relationship – Shirin is the main character whose heartbreak journey through hipsterville we follow.


Film Review: Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 10.57.45Directed by David Zellner

Starring Rinko Kikuchi

Indie director David Zellner teams up with Alexander Payne (Sideways, Nebraska) and Pacific Rim’s Rinko Kikuchi to tell the remarkable true story of a  lonely Japanese woman who after seeing The Coen Brothers 1996 classic Fargo and believing it to be real, travels to the USA on a treasure hunt for the movies buried loot.

Kumiko lives a sad-sack life in a tiny, messy Tokyo apartment she shares with her pet rabbit ‘Bunzo’. She works a soulless, unfulfilling job as an “OL” (Office Lady) for a Japanese businessman, hounded by her mother and society’s expectations for her, she yearns for something deeper in her life. Kumiko’s wish comes true in a map which leads her to a cave by the beach where she finds an old VHS tape. She plays it to discover that the film is Fargo, and closely examines the scene in which Steve Buscemi buries a cash-stuffed briefcase in the snow alongside a fence in an open field. Suddenly obsessed, convinced that the money is still there for the taking, waiting beneath the Dakota snow for an enterprising treasure hunter to unearth the small fortune and wrest it into reality. What follows is a sort of road movie where Kumiko encounters the kind of quirky, salt of the earth characters you’d find in that famous Coen Brothers film. (more…)

DVD Review: Begin Again

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 12.04.02Directed by John Carney

Starring Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley &

In 2006 Irish writer/director John Carney made the breakout sleeper hit of the year in his indie musical Once which went on to win an Academy award and spawn  a hit Broadway musical spin-off.  In his latest film, Begin Again, Carney tries to make lightning strike twice and just about succeeds.

It tells the story of Gretta (Knightley), a rising Pop star’s girlfriend and a sometime songstress. A spiral of personal calamities finds her on stage at an open-mic night making her swansong performance before she flies back to England with her tail between her legs. This performance though catches the well-trained ear of Dan (Ruffalo), a self-destructive record producer on a downswing. He is bowled over by her song and raw talent and in one of the film’s few delightfully imaginative scenes, he mentally composes an arrangement around her bare vocals & acoustic guitar rendition, as scattered instruments come to life and begin playing themselves like broomsticks and buckets brought to life in the famous ‘Sorcerers’ Apprentice’ segment of Disney’s Fantasia.He tries to sign her on the spot, and the rest of the film centers on their efforts to produce an album as they also strive to pick up the pieces of their derailed careers and place them back on track.


Film Review: How To Train Your Dragon 2 (Ramsey’s Take)

images Directed by Dean DeBlois

Starring Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler & Kate Blanchett

When the original How To Train Your Dragon first soared into your screens back in 2010 with it’s winning mixture of heart-warming Boy and his Dragon spin on the ‘Lassie’  trope, solid laughs and eye ravishing CG flight sequences it was the surprise hit of the summer.

It told the coming of age tale of Hiccup (voiced by the eternally teenage tones of Jay Baruchel), the nerdy son of the Viking Chieftain, Stoick the Vast (Butler) who ruled over the dragon hating island village of Berk. In 98 minutes Hiccup made a friend in an abandoned dragon called ‘Toothless’, got his blockheaded village to embrace their fire breathing reptile neighbours whilst also evolving from Medieval dork to badass dragon rider and winning his father’s respect It was a very straightforward, villain-free, uplifting fantasy tale – so with that in mind and knowing that the same creative team were back on board I went in with high hopes and was not let down.



Film Review: Chinese Puzzle

CPDirected by Cédric Klapisch

Starring Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou & Cecile De France

Writer/Director Cedric Klapisch and his Franco-English ensemble cast reteam to tell the next chapter in The Adventures of Xavier in the breezy and fun Chinese Puzzle.

2002’s Pot Luck introduced us to the romantic misadventures of postgraduate student Xavier (Duris) studying in Barcelona, we met up with him again in 2005’s Russian Dolls juggling work and romance in London, Paris and St Petersburg. We return to Xavier and his colourful gallery of friends, lovers, family and colleagues eight years later to find our euro-tripping romantic a fish-out-of-water in New York and in pursuit of his estranged wife (Kelly Reilly).


Film Review: The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (Ramsey’s Take)

TSCDirected by Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani

Starring Klaus Tange , Ursula Bedena & Joe Koener

In 2009 Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani pulled of the rare feat of  uniting Art house cineastes and horror movie geeks in shock and delight with their first feature, a love letter to Giallo Horror, Amer. They have now boldly followed it up with the dazzlingly bravura, unapologetically opaque and deliciously titled The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears


Film Review: The Book Thief

TBTDirected by Brian Percival

Starring Sophie Nélisse, Emily Watson & Geoffrey Rush

The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel (Nelisse) , the daughter of Communists who is sent to live with impoverished, kind-hearted house painter Hans Hubermann (Rush) and his surly wife Rosa (Watson) in a fictional German town to hide her from the Nazis who are closing in on her parents.



Film Review: Endless Love

elDirected by Shana Feste

Starring Alex Pettyfer, Garbriella Wilde & Rhys Wakefield

Remember Franco Zeffirelli’s mindblowingly mawkish 1981 forbidden love story which was adapted from Scott Spencer’s smart and steamy book of the same name (think Blue Is The Warmest Colour for straight kids)? Well, neither does this writer. In fact that movie could have completely vanished had it not been for two notable facts – it boasts Tom Cruise’s first appearance on the big screen and it’s theme song was , unlike the movie, a worldwide hit sung by Lionel Ritchie & Diana Ross (and a hit again for Luthor Vandross & Mariah Carey).