Monday, March 30, 2015


I watch straight to video movies because sometimes you find hidden gems that were just too rogue or misfit to get a full theatrical release.  Sad to say, BY THE GUN does not fall into that category of film.  It's the sort of film someone with not much talent - me, for example - would make if they had just watched the SOPRANOS boxset.  It's not a pastiche or an homage but an attempt to create a tense psychological mafia movie that fails. 

The movie is written by Emilio Mauro and directed by James Mottern with no real originality or quality.  It stars Ben Barnes as a low-level mafiosi called Nick Tortano who wants to get made by local boss Sal Vitaglia (Harvey Keitel.)  We see Nick strike up a romance with a hard-to-get girl called Ali (Leighton Meester) and get mocked by his best friend George (Slaine) for not having the balls to kill a man.   The movie attempts to show the usual mafia movie conflicts - work vs lover; work vs gonzo best friend.  Once we get hold of the initial set-up it's fairly easy to see where the film is going to end.  There's lots of plot but no real action.

Ben Barnes doesn't have the charisma or indeed the mastery of the accent to pull this roll off. Leighton Meester is utterly miscast.  I was thinking about Blake Lively who had a small role in THE TOWN and put on an accomplished accent and persona as this pretty but damaged girl.  Meester doesn't come close.  There's an epic fail scene about half way through the film where Nick is trying to get Ali to sleep with him and he's begging her to taunt him - it's meant to be subversive sexy and maybe could've been in the hands of, say, Gosling-Lively. But here it's just awkward.

Epic fail. 

BY THE GUN has a running time of 110 minutes and is rated R.  The film went on limited release in the USA last December and has gone straight to DVD in the UK.

Friday, March 20, 2015


I AM MICHAEL is a provocative screening choice for a festival that celebrates the LGBT community. This is because it doesn't tell a coming out story, but a going in story, based on the true-life case of Michael Glatze.  Michael (James Franco) was a seemingly happy gay rights activist and journalist living in San Francisco with his partner Bennett (Zachary Quinto).  But something about the death of his mother, his increasing panic attacks, and belief that opening himself up to religion had helped calm him, led him to renounce his homosexuality in order to be reunited with his mother in the afterlife.  He trained as a preacher, married a woman he met at bible camp (Emma Roberts) and continues in his new identity to this day.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


You can listen to a podcast review of this film below or subscribe to Bina007 Movie Reviews in iTunes:

In World War Two, Irene Nerimovsky penned the first two parts of a novel before being sent to her death in Auschwitz.  Sixty years later, her daughter discovered and published those two self-contained novellas as Suite Francaise and it became a literary sensation, perhaps more because of the romance of its discovery than the work itself.  We now have this movie adaptation of the book, focussing heavily on the second part - the love story between a French woman and a Nazi soldier- that starts with a depiction of the exodus from Paris that forms the first novella.

Sunday, March 08, 2015


You can listen to a podcast review of this film below or subscribe to Bina007 Movie Reviews in iTunes:

STILL ALICE starts Julianne Moore in as Oscar-winning turn as Alice Howland - a successful College professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's Disease.  The first half hour of the film sees Alice suspect that something serious is behind her sudden memory loss and come to a diagnosis. The second half hour sees the family come to terms with her rapidly deteriorating condition - their bickering, frustration, love but lack of understanding.  The final third of the film focuses on Alice's relationship with her youngest daughter, played by Kristen Stewart - a relationship that was fraught when Alice was well, but finds a new sympathy in her illness.  Alice herself is alienated from herself and much of the rest of her family. This is the true cruelty of Alzheimer's Disease and in that sense the title of the film is ironic. When you take away a woman's intellect, her memory, her job, her sense of self, what is left?


You can listen to a podcast review of this documentary below or subscribe to Bina007 Movie Reviews in iTunes.

In December 2012 a young female medical student was brutally gang raped and left for dead. She has been walking home from the cinema at 8pm in Delhi, India, and took a ride on what she thought was a bus service.  The case provoked mass protests from women who felt it symbolised their lack of security and equality in modern India.  It went to the heart of how women are perceived.  Do men have the right to punish them for so-called transgressions of traditional values?  Is it fair that a rape victim is made to feel shame and culpability for the act rather than the man?

Tuesday, March 03, 2015


You can listen to a podcast review of this film below, or subscribe to Bina007 Movie Reviews in iTunes:

THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL is the inevitable sequel to the surprisingly popular and lucrative British romantic comedy set in a crumbling Indian hotel filled with English residents.  Some had come for a holiday - some because they could make their pensions stretch further.  But all were on an exploration of what it meant to be in love at an old age - what does it mean when your kids leave home and you realise you have nothing in common with your partner? How does it feel when you find yourself redundant from your children's lives?  Is it possible to have a second chance at love or a second career in your sixties and seventies?