This week on That’s Entertainment Dave Griffiths joins Ed Phillips to chat about new films The Dark Tower, Hampstead, Logan Lucky and The Trip To Spain.
Summary: The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 17th August 2017
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Screenwriter: Nikolaj Arcel, Akiva Goldsman, Anders Thomas Jensen Stephen King (novel), Jeff Pinkner
Cast: Michael Barbieri (Timmy), Idris Elba (Roland), Kenneth Fok (Johnny), Jackie Earle Haley (Sayre), Nicholas Hamilton (Lucas Hanson, Dennis Haysbert (Steven), Eva Kaminsky (Jill), Caludia Kim (Arra), Fran Kranz (Pimli), Abbey Lee (Tirana), Matthew McConaughey (Walter), Robbie McLean (Toby), Nicholas Pauling (Lon), Leeanda Reddy (Dr. Weizak), Tom Taylor (Jake), Matthew Thomson (Jonah), Lemogang Tshipa (Phedon), Robert Whitehead (Cantab), Kathryn Winnick (Laurie), Jose Zuniga (Dr. Hotchkiss)
Runtime: 95 mins
Whew… I feel like I have dodged a bullet. Reading reviews before I went into to see The Dark Tower meant I was preparing myself for an abysmal nightmare of a film – one that some critics had labeled the ‘worst film based on a Stephen King novel ever’. So imagine my surprise when I sat down and ended up finding myself watching a fun, intriguing, albeit brief, supernatural action film.
The Dark Tower sees a story that took King seven novels to tell told in a film that clocks in at just over an hour and a half. It begins with New York being rocked by earthquakes that have experts confused. Meanwhile, young Jake (Tom Taylor – Doctor Foster, Legends) is having terrible nightmares in which he sees a Dark Tower and dark characters including a Gunslinger and a man in dark jacket. Jake’s mother, Laurie (Kathryn Winnick – Vikings, Love & Other Drugs) is convinced that the dreams are the result of the trauma of Jake’s father dying while on duty as a firefighter and seeks medical advice for him.
However, soon the jigsaw pieces start falling into place for Jake. The earthquakes are being caused by the man in the black jacket… aka Walter (Matthew McConaughey – Interstellar, Dallas Buyers Club) using children’s minds in horrific experiments to try and bring down The Dark Tower – a tower that prevents the darkness of other worlds taking over our own dimension. The only man who can stop Walter is the last known gunslinger, Roland (Idris Elba – Prometheus, Zootopia) who is haunted by the fact that Walter has killed everybody that has ever meant anything to him.
Walter then realises that with Jake’s psychic ability he has the one mind that can bring down the Dark Tower so he orders all his minions to go after Jake who has found Roland… cue the music for the battle to end all battles.
When you put everything into perspective director Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair, Truth About Men) and his screenwriters have actually done a pretty good job at making The Dark Tower work. Putting seven novels worth of work into one relatively short feature film has taken a mountain or work. You could have been forgiven if this had been stretched out into a trilogy or at least a film that went well over the two-hour mark. But somehow Arcel and team have managed to tell the story without making it feel incomplete or leaving the audience not understanding the world that we find ourselves in. Somehow the fact that some of the beings that surround Walter aren’t fully explained means we get to see the story from the point of view of Jake a little more… and it least Arcel doesn’t fall into the trap of filling the film with scenes and scenes of exposition.
Visually The Dark Tower looks great. Darkened scenes of man versus monster are stark reminders of films like Harry Potter while the harshness of a lot of the scenery in most scenes brings back memories of films like Priest or The Book Of Eli. Even the CGI effects work pretty well, more than enough to draw the audience into the world at hand, and while some films suffer when they try to mix the supernatural with a modern day city there is no such issue here with the scenes of modern day New York flowing well with the rest of the film, and thankfully they steered away from a battle that involved the entire city falling from the sky or the like. Really the last battle in this film just needed to be between Jake, Roland and Walter and that was what delivered, now why couldn’t we have had something like that in Wonder Woman?
The films two leads also seem to be enhanced the short nature of the film. Matthew McConaughey seems to have a lot of fun playing Walter and whether it be a scene where he is torturing poor Kathryn Winnick or messing with the mind of Roland he seems to embrace the evilness of his character while remaining smooth and charming… much like Jack Nicholson did years earlier in The Witches of Eastwick. Idris Elba is also fantastic as the cowboy inspired gunslinger. He is perfectly cast in a role that demands his action/stunt ability but also at times needs him to step up in a dramatic, gut-wrenching scene. Likewise, he is well supported by young Tom Taylor whose emotional portrayal of Jake shows that he is an actor to watch in the future.
Don’t be fooled The Dark Tower is not the mess that everybody is saying that it is. With its dark storyline that doesn’t hold back to spare the audience’s emotions and great special effects, this is just one of those supernatural thrillers that you can sit back and enjoy while you munch on popcorn. The only weakness that really annoyed me was that I could have easily spent another half an hour in this universe, but still, this is an enjoyable film with a nice graphic novel feel to it.
Other Subculture Entertainment The Dark Tower Reviews: You can listen to Dave Griffiths’ The Dark Tower review that aired on That’s Entertainment in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane on The Talking Lifestyle network on 17/08/2017 right here.
Summary: Falling in love is easy, getting out of it is hard. Our hero, Josh ﬁnds himself ‘LoveStuck’ between his best friend, his ex-girlfriend and the new girl he is about to move in with. As a lowly clerk working with the public service in Canberra, Josh is used to procrastination, but his fear of con*ict and knack for stretching the truth gets him into trouble with the women that he loves.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th August 2017
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Murray Fahey
Cast: Rik Brown (Josh), Fenella Edwards (Horatio), Murray Fahey (Polonius), Cathy Hagarty (Cath), Malcolm Irvin (Rosencraztz), Ali Little (Barnardo), Jenny Lovell (Gertude), Heady Manders (Voltemand), Gabby Millgate (Bag Lady Ophelia), Glen Morrison (Laertes), Robert Morrison (Guilderstein), Rama Nicolas (Kate), Emma Reid (Hecuba), Patti Stiles (Trish), Geoff Wallace (Claudius)
Runtime: 73 mins
The Australian film industry has been throwing up some extremely experimental films over the past few years – from one-shot action films through to filmed theatre productions. Well now comes Lovestuck – a completely improvised film from director Murray Fahey (Cubbyhouse, Dags). Not only does the film toss up a story that keeps you guessing but also gives you a look behind the scenes of what goes into making an improvised film at the same time.
The film centres around Josh (Rik Brown – Utopia, Dinner For Three) a man who is struggling with his feelings with three woman – his ex Kate (Rama Nicolas – Little Solider, The Mutant Way), his current girlfriend Cath (Cathy Hagarty - newcomer) and his best friend Trish (Patti Stiles – Neighbours, Stingers). On one disastrous day he meets with Kate to hand back some of her things – which then sets him on a journey to find a pen that she once gave him – while meanwhile Cath and Tess meet for the first time. The result is him having to make a decision about the three woman if he has any chance of moving on at all.
The danger of doing an experimental film like Lovestuck is that sometimes the experiment itself can get in the way of the story or can distract the audience from getting immersed in the film. Strangely, given that the film also shows the audience what is happening behind the scenes at times, neither happens here. The actors at hand – especially Rik Brown – are so good at the improvisation that you forget that you are watching a film that never technically had a script. The scenes flow together well and while there are some scenes that perhaps didn’t need to be there, most of the scenes featuring the main four characters tie in together well and do raise the suspense of who Josh will chose at the end… something that director Murray Fahey let Rik Brown decide as part of the improvisation.
The improvisation of the film does allow for the tone of the film to switch at times which gives Lovestuck a really unique feel. From comedic moments when Josh runs into Cath outside a massage parlour and tries to explain that he didn’t get one of ‘those’ massages right through to more dramatic scenes like Cath and Trish meeting for the first time this is a film that at one moment feels like an episode of Seinfeld one moment and the latest romance drama the next. Even the Hamlet Hip-Hop scene which had the potential of feeling out of place in the film works well because as an audience member you find yourself sitting there thinking ‘do they have the pen or not?’
The key to this film working though was the cast and to Fahey and his casting assistant’s credit they get this 100% right. Rik Brown carries the film throughout and with the tone changes that is no easy feat. From moments of complete awkwardness right through to almost slapstick comedy he delivers each time while Nicolas, Hagarty and Stiles also amazing throughout the film. Not once does there seem to be a moment where they hesitate when they think of what to say next and to be able to deliver improv lines so naturally means they deserve high credit… it is no easy feat.
Lovestuck just shows what you can create when you get together a creative team of people. While an improvised movie sounds like it shouldn’t work this one does to the point where you really do care which decision Josh makes. Worth checking out if you like your cinema a little left of centre.
IMDB Rating: N/A
Other Subculture Entertainment Lovestuck Reviews: Nil
Robert Downey Jnr. returns as Iron Man in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Dave Griffiths was able to deliver this interview with the man talking all about the role. Downey Jnr talks about how Tony Stark is a mentor to Peter Parker and how he believes that Iron Man is the heart of the Avengers franchise.
You can listen to or download our Robert Downey Jnr interview right here.
It has been described as one of the films of the year so take a listen as Dave Griffiths delivers an interview with Ansel Elgort. Elgort talks about how important music was to the film and tells us all about his character of Baby.
You can listen to or download our Ansel Elgort interview right here.
When a seasoned actor like Liam Neeson tells you that his latest film made him cry you not only sit up and take notice but you realise that as a cinema lover you are about to watch a film that really means something.
Long before he was chasing bad guys in Taken or taking on Jedi skills in Star Wars Neeson worked on some of the most emotional films that Hollywood has ever seen – from the brilliant portrayal of a man overcome with grief during World War II in Schindler’s List through to Gangs Of New York and Les Miserables… Neeson knows a thing or two about films that are going to emotionally affect their audience.
When Neeson sits down to talk about his brand new film A Monster Calls – in which he voices the monster – his excitement and commitment to the film are clearly evident and you can tell that this wasn’t a film that he needed much persuading to be involved with. “It’s magical realism,” he says with his eyes lighting up. “It’s a fable about the complexity of our emotions, and how we navigate that complexity as we are growing up. The film is as rich and as imaginative as the book is – it’s quite a cinematic achievement. The subjects that the film deals with are how to grow as a young boy and how to handle very, very complex emotions, especially when a lot of those emotions deal with loss, death and it looks at where you fit in the world – especially when you are at school, and we have all been through that and we have all have tales to tell. The book and the film both very, very beautifully navigates you through this web of heavy and extreme and grey moral issues that all young boys and girls are confronting these days.”
Even Neeson’s role is very much full of subtext and is perhaps the most important character in the entire film. “I plays a character called The Monster,” he explains. “He is conjured up in our young heroes mind. He is like thirty metres tall, he is huge. He comes from the Earth and he is essentially made of the Earth – timber and trees – ancient trees at that – and he represents the universe.”
Neeson is quick to admit that one of the reasons why he wanted to be part of the film was because it had director, J.A. Bayona, at the helm. “I saw two of his films – The Orphanage and The Impossible – and they kind of blew me away. I thought ‘wow here’s a real cinema talent.’ So when I heard that he was doing Patrick Ness’s book A Monster Calls, which I had read, I thought that was a marriage made in heaven right there. Working with J.A. Bayona has been one of those unique experiences that you don’t come across very often. I’ve done 63 or 64 films and every so often you work with a director who just takes you into their world and takes you into the world of the film that they are shooting, He eats, sleeps and drinks films – film and cinema – he’s a little walking encyclopaedia – in fact he is very much like Martin Scorsese. He takes care of you as a director, he nurtures you – he nurtures the performers in the scene, he even nurtures the scene. He allows you to experiment and he just wants you to get to the truth of what the scene is and he will takes as long as it takes to get there and I love working with a director like that.”
With a film that has obviously left an impression on Neeson himself he has no trouble explaining what he thinks audiences will be left feeling after they have viewed it. “It think audiences will be stunned by the technical achievement of not just the motion capture but how it integrates with the story and it is a very moving story, a very, very beautifully written story and it has been very beautifully acted. There is some comedy in it but I think audiences will connect with the emotion in a very, very big way.”
The beautiful and moving A Monster Calls will be released in Australian cinemas on 27th July.
Brand new documentary Descent Into The Maelstrom takes a look at the band Radio Birdman – a band which many people say opened the doors for heavy bands right across Australia. Dave Griffiths chats to Pip Hoyle, the Radio Birdman keyboardist about the band in general and what it was like being part of this documentary.
You can listen to or download our Pip Hoyle interview right here.
One of the more interesting films to hit Australian cinemas this year is Luc Beeson’s latest sci-fi epic – the rather lengthy titled – Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets. Like all of Beeson’s films this is a film that feels like it takes an audience on a beautiful but epic journey. Once again Beeson has created a magnificent universe in which to immerse his audience.
Starring in the film this time around are youngsters Dane DeHaan, from films like Chronicle and The Amazing Spider-Man, and Cara Delevingne, from Paper Towns and Suicide Squad. They appear alongside R ‘n’ B star Rihanna and seasoned actors like Clive Owen and Ethan Hawke.
As we start to explore the world of Valerian Delevingne begins by telling us about why she wanted to play the character of the rough-and-tough space cop Laureline. “The thing that drew me to the character of Laureline most is her strength,” she explains. “She is so intelligent, hard-working and determined and she isn’t scared to speak her mind. You know, no matter how big, small or alien the place she is in she will overcome her challenges. Laureline basically has the knowledge of Alpha (the space station/planet they live on), she basically knows everything. She knows all the different aliens, she knows all the different codes. Valerian (Dane DeHaan’s character) kind of goes into everything head-first without really thinking about things whereas Laureline figures them out with strategy behind it all.”
Over the years as a director and a screenwriter Luc Beeson has brought a number of strong female characters to the screen so what was it like for an actress like Delevingne to work with him? “Luc is definitely known for his strong female characters,” agrees Delevingne. “Getting to work with him has been an absolute dream for me. Every movie that he has ever down is one of my favourite films so to see this movie come to life is another ‘pinch me’ moment. I really hope that young girls and women see this movie and take away the fact that Laureline is extremely hard working and is a strong space cop. She is just as able to do everything as Valerian is able to do.”
Laureline is Valerian’s love interest and of course space-cop partner and bringing the cocky character to life is young actor on the rise – Dane DeHaan. Coky is a word that DeHaan readily agrees sums up Valerian. “Yeah Valerian is a pretty cocky space agent,” he says laughing. “He is pretty sure of himself. He has a perfect track record and he is pretty good at what he does but what he doesn’t realise is that there is a lot of luck in what he does and that he would be nothing without Laureline. We are definitely a dynamic duo and he has a very big crush on Laureline, he would love to spend the rest of his life with Laureline, but also I don’t think he realises just how important she is to his succsess as a crime-fighting space agent.”
Like Delevingne DeHaan was also excited about being able to work with Beeson. “It was the phone call that every actor wants to get – that a visionary director is making THE movie that he has wanted to make his entire life and he wants you to star in it. It’s my first go at playing the straight up hero, which is exciting for me because I am always trying to do different kinds of things So for the role there is something delightfully fun about it , but the movie I knew was just going to be so special and epic and you know when I was reading the script, there was all these aliens and new worlds, and it was an opportunity that I definitely couldn’t pass up.”
DeHaan again laughs when he is asked whether he felt heroic when he first put on the pretty impressive space suit that Valerian wears. “When I first put on the space suit I felt heroic for sure,” he says. “But you know it wasn’t until they turned the lights on on the space suit that I think every sunk in then. And then I felt super cool and I felt like Valerian for the first time. You know the suit is amazing but you know it goes to a whole new level when they turn those lights on so that was the most special moment for me.”
It is incredible world that Beeson has created for Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets and that was something that also impressed DeHaan. “In Valerian the year is 2763 and outer space has become a place where both aliens and humans can live and co-habit peacefully together, and the place where they can do that the easiest is on Alpha, which is the city of a thousand planets. It is like the Space Station of today has just grown and grown and grown for seven hundred years and human beings have made contact with aliens from all over the universe and ten thousand species of aliens and human from all over the world have come together and peacefully living together on one Space Station – and that is the city of a thousand planets and that is where a huge chunk of the movie takes place.”
Of course Valerian and Laureline are a dynamic duo and of course love interests for each other so how did DeHaan find working with Delevingne? “Cara is just so much fun,” he says smiling. “She is such a pleasure to be with on-set because she always brings this really fun energy and I am the kind of person that can take themselves too seriously, but whenever Cara would show up on-set I would just light up, loosen up and then just have a really good time. That was so important, especially with this movie, to have somebody like that – to have somebody that I could trust in but also joke around with and just have a great time with through this whole process.”
With DeHaan being so open about the movie we had to ask what was some of the biggest challenges of tackling a movie of this scale and intensity. “The blue-screen was definitely one of the biggest challenges,” he says after thinking for a moment. “Just having to use my imagination with it was challenging. But it was also one of the most fun things as well. I also had to stay in physical shape for the move as well, I would start my mornings every day in the gym for a couple of hours with my trainer and that was you know to stay in shape to do all of the stunts and scenes and everything but also it would just pump me up for the day. Valerian is probably somebody that is always a little more upbeat, cocky and a little bit more of a bro than I am in real life so just going to the gym and doing that every day was a challenge but also prepared me for the day. It certainly got me in the right state of mind.”
Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets opens in cinemas on the 10th August.
A few years the world scoffed when they heard that a film set in the world of social media was about to be released. Those scoffers were soon eating their words because The Social Network ended up being not only a worldwide hit but also a critically acclaimed film. Well now the social media world is getting another go on the big screen with – The Circle.
Labelled as a dramatic thriller The Circle sees Emma Watson (yes Hermonie from the Harry Potter franchise, but she does have a fair body of work outside of that now) play Mae a young woman who lands her dream job at a social media company called The Circle. There she is taken under the wing by Bailey (Oscar winner Tom Hanks) and soon finds herself engaging in groundbreaking experiments that push the boundaries of privacy. Heavy Mag caught up with Hanks and Watson just to see what is behind this film that will hit cinemas in Australia in August.
Hanks begins by telling that his character, Bailey, is one of the main people behind The Circle. ‘Bailey is one of the three founding fathers of The Circle,” Hanks explains. “He is the visionary, the ideas man, not the financial guy, not the tech guy… he is the guy that dreams big. The Circle is that great thing that the internet hopes to be and wants to be but dear God I hope it never becomes. It is what would happen if you took of the great companies and all of the great ideas – if you took Google and Amazon and Apple and Facebook and Uber and jammed it all into one entity, that is what The Circle is. The Circle is once you’ve become a member, once you’ve entered The Circle everything you need to is in one house on one tablet or one phone. You never have to give faith or allegiance to anyone outside The Circle because The Circle will take care of all of your lifestyle needs.”
It is clear while talking to Hanks that it was the fact that James Ponsoldt was directing that encouraged him to be part of the movie. “He has a very real gift for capturing real life inside the super structure of what the movie has to be. His willingness in the movie to just let people explore, almost to the point of straying, but not quite to the point of that, but just to see where the human behaviour would take to get you there, and I think that is his strength and we all leapt at it… especially on the power of this movie.”
Hanks is also full of praise for his co-star Emma Watson. “Emma is phenomenally untouched and grounded in a lot of ways but she is brilliant at knowing what to do when making movies. I mean she did all those Harry Potter movies so she understands very complicated film making. She also knows that none of that really matters unless you are going to be able to inhabit the moment and her ability to inhabit the moment is pretty profound.”
Like Hanks Emma Watson says one of the reasons that she chose to do the film was because after first reading the script it really won her over. “It really stuck with me,” she explains. “The story, the questions that it raised I found that weeks later they were still there and I was pondering different aspects of it and I think that is a good sign for a story or something that I might potentially work on. It doesn’t leave you quickly. I think Mae finds herself having these big dreams and these big ambitions and she is like ‘WOW, I’m twenty-six and I’m living with my parents, I don’t have enough to pay for my health insurance and I’m working in a job that doesn’t challenge me and doesn’t mean anything to me… is this my life?’ When Annie, her friend, offers her the chance to have a job interview at The Circle this is like this is her ticket, this is her escape and this is her chance to be able to take care of her family. She has this sense of powerlessness is her life and somehow The Circle gives her control and also hope for her future so it’s a very powerful promise that The Circle kind of gives her.”
However, everything doesn’t end up being rosey for Mae while working at The Circle and Watson says that is something that Mae doesn’t see coming. “The expectations that are put on the employees at The Circle are that every aspect of their life will be shared and the socialising that you would normally do has to be done at The Circle within The Circle because The Circle has found a way to commercialise every aspect of people’s lives. So every bit of data, all of that money, all of that content and content sharing that want to have happening on their network. So it becomes a very claustrophobic environment very quickly.”
So would she say the film has a lot to say about modern society and in some way a personal story? “I think the film is about today’s society,” she explains. “You know this isn’t some kind of dystopian future that is a long way off, this is a story that could be happening now. So I think it is incredibly topical and speaks to this moment now. As someone who has been in the public eye since I was very young. I always thought the boundaries between public and private were important, and I think even more so playing this role and exploring this world made me think about it even more than I ever had before. I think that is what is great about this film, it’s not there to preach or to give a certain perspective on it. It forces the audience to ask questions and to ask themselves questions and I think that is the key really – what is difficult about the situation that we are in now is that we give our information away so freely with so little thought any more and I think people will think more about these questions having seen it.”
The Circle will be in Australian cinemas in late August.