Oh hello! We've been awfully busy attending screenings and staying out of the rain this week, so look out for a slew of recent release reviews appearing throughout the week. In the meantime we do have the one for you within, as well as an intriguing trailer, some thoughts on the new Covent Garden Film Museum and of course a run down of the most important news of the past week.

Don't feel like you need to read it all at once! Bookmark us or get that fancy Read It Later app, dip in and out, do with us what you will.

Danny - Film Ed.



American Reunion

- Ashley Clark

Nine years after their last outing American Wedding, and a full 13 after the first film in the series American Pie, Jim (Jason Biggs) and the crew return for a ‘just the same but brand new’ romp which looks at how the guys are coping with the many vagaries of regular-guy adulthood.

We pick up with Jim, now the father of a young child, and ensconced in a sexless marriage with erstwhile band camp honey Michelle (Alyson Hannigan). The masturbatory excesses inspired by their barren domestic predicament are demonstrated in an opening scene of brutally tasteless slapstick which, as one might expect, pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the film. If you find the prospect of an infant child with his dad’s wanking sock draped over his face funny, you’ll be OK.

Jim sees an opportunity to unwind with the forthcoming high school reunion, and it’s not long before we’re re-introduced to the crew of old; Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is bearded, successful and with a beautiful lady; eccentric Paul (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is spilling over with vague, improbable tales of international adventure; and hunky Chris (Chris Klein), the sensitive choirboy jock is now a popular-but-cheesy sportscaster. Oh, and of course, there’s manic manchild Stifler (Seann William Scott), now an office temp presided over by a fey, domineering boss. As anybody with any sense surely would, the guys do their utmost to avoid the Stifmeister, with limited success.

What follows is a largely predictable compendium of gross-out humour, a college-rock saturated soundtrack, and various shallow-arced journeys toward self-knowledge, punctuated by one or two would-be arch, postmodern nods to generational disparity. As ever, the best thing here is Scott’s wild-eyed turn as Stifler. He’s effectively the film’s wrecking ball; whatever’s happening, however unpleasant or mawkish, all he has to do is appear onscreen to provoke a laugh. Whether it’s mercilessly bashing a double-entendre into a single one, or shitting into a beer cooler, he’s the film’s comic heart. Further enjoyment is provided by the redoubtable Eugene Levy as Jim’s dad, one or two predictable but amusing cameos, and a surprisingly decent minor turn from Tara Reid as Kevin’s ex, Vicky.

However, while no-one will be surprised by frequent swerves toward the grotesque and amoral, genuine alarm is caused my the film’s treatment of women. In the first film(s), the girls had significant screen time, and even some half-decent characterization. There’s no such parity here, sadly. It comprehensively flunks the the Bechdel Test, (a handy barometer which names the following three criteria for a film for which to pass: it has to have at least two women in it who talk to each other about something besides a man). While it stops just short of the misogynistic viciousness of the likes of The Hangover films, much here leaves a bad taste in the mouth, not least the weirdly conservative agenda that makes women the source of the majority of the men’s problems rather than their own ineptitude, yet punishes them for expressing themselves sexually (You’re inner/outer feminist will explode with rage at the treatment meted out to the character of Kara, Jim’s ex-babysitee). It’s only really the spirited Michelle that saves the day in this respect.

Ultimately American Reunion, while almost wholly unnecessary as an endeavour, is just about what you’d expect. There’s a few laughs and a few sweet moments along the way (if you can find sweetness in the lives of these overprivileged whingers), and it will certainly constitute a worthwhile nostalgia trip for viewers of a certain age and constitution. Really, the film itself is a bit like how one might imagine the experience of hanging out with Stifler. It’s initially relatively entertaining, a little bit lovable, frequently disgusting, and when it’s over you won’t be in any hurry to repeat it.


Film Comes to Covent Garden

- Maria Pilkington

If you've ever visited the highly excellent (if a tad expensive) London Film Museum at County Hall, then you'll know how good the curators and the wider team behind the museum are. And so it is they've opened a new space, at a much smaller venue in Covent Garden (some of you may remember it as the home of the Theatre Museum).

Opening with a special 'Magnum on Set' exhibition, this spin-off museum is much more about rotating exhibitions rather than permanent displays, which in fact only make up one small section. As visitors walk downstairs into the space, the walls featuring the history of the first moving images are concise and interesting, but are over too quickly (the history finished with the Lumiere Brothers bringing their first films to London). No, the real draw to the museum is going to be the changing exhibitions.

And what an opener: Magnum Photos was set up in 1947 by Henri Cartier Bresson and has been at the forefront of photojournalism ever since. The first exhibition features pictures from the sets of classic films including The Seven Year Itch, Limelight, Moby Dick, Suddenly Last Summer and others. Interspersed with candid moments featuring John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Gregory Peck (to mention but a few) is footage from the films themselves, so visitors can get familiar with the how the stars brought their beauty and talent to both their off moments and their 'on'. The collection of film memorabilia is small at Covent Garden, but there are two glass cases featuring John Wayne's stetson, that he gave to a London cinema owner who remarked how much he liked the hat and was then given it as a gift (note to self: next time near a celebrity, say you like something they're wearing..) - Marilyn Monroe's pill bottles, an original script of The Seven Year Itch and cameras used by some of the biggest names who worked at Magnum, including Cartier Bresson himself and Eve Arden. Making its presence known above everything else though, is the Planet of the Apes costume, which is huge and looks as if it'll come to life at any moment.

The verdict? Well worth a visit, if you're a hardcore cinema-geek, a curious fan, or just passing though.

Trailer Park

- The 405

Mitsuko Delivers seems like part cautionary tale part off-kilter love story, and from what we can tell from the trailer, it's a blast. Alternative Japanese cinema is usually thought of as Tartan Asia Extreme-esque hyper-violence (Ichi The Killer), blood-chilling horror (Ringu etc) or bat-shit crazy anime (Cat Soup, Dead Leaves) and, of course, the reality is that there exists plenty of good fare outside those particular exports. We'll be bringing you the definitive written word on this quirky recent release in short order!

News Bite!

- The 405

Had you heard of Think Like A Man? No? I'm not saddened to be honest, but still, it's doing the business as part of a host of over-performing new movies; Lucky One turned in $22.8 million, while Chimpanzee racked up $10.2 million, the highest opening for a Disneynature film; and the mighty Hunger Games has, as of today, grossed $357 million domestically. Domestically (as in the US natch) alone, certainly proving popular.

Hollywood is making serious inroads to China (such as Iron Man 3 being the first Hollywood film to be part-financed by elements of the Chinese film industry) so perhaps it's not so shocking that The 3D makeover of the classic that is The Titanic earned $98.9 million in its second weekend internationally, including an astounding $67 million in China; meaning the film jumped the $200 million mark worldwide in only 12 days as well as scoring the top opening of all time in China.

Speaking of Iron Man, some exciting casting news; the fantastic Guy Pearce (most lately Lockout, most-good Memento) will be making a pretty pivotal appearance. Details are still thin on the ground but with Pearce slated to appear on the silver screen next in Prometheus we'll all get a chance to have our Pearce-fix before Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013.