Acclaimed actor Dylan Baker (“Hunters”, “The Good Wife”, Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films) stars in 2020’s most thrilling short film Nightfire – premiering in your lounge room May 1st!
Two American agents (Lorenzo Pisoni and Greg Hadley) are hired to retrieve military chips containing a large sum of government money. Their plan goes awry when an unexpected political prisoner (Dylan Baker) enters the picture.
Bradley Stryker (“iZombie”, “Cold Pursuit”), Francesco Pannofino and Becky Ann Baker (“Hunters”, “Freaks and Geeks”) co-star in the short film, directed by Brando Benetton and co-written by Brando Benetton and Los Silva.
The white-knuckle thriller, produced by a group of friends from Ithaca college, debuts on streaming platforms, including Hulu and Amazon, May 1 via Hewes Pictures.
There have been a number of films over the years that have dealt with the topic of white Police violence against black citizens. Films like Fruitville Station and The Hate U Give have shown a spotlight on the issue with some sheer cinematic brilliance. Now comes Queen & Slim a film that explores the topic while bordering on being a genre flick.
Directed by Melina Matsoukas (Insecure) Queen & Slim possibly depicts one of the worst Tinder dates of all time. Bored and frustrated are having one of her clients put to death lawyer Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith – Jett) responds to a Tinder request from the quiet and law-abiding Slim (Daniel Kaluuya – Black Panther). However, the date ends disastrously when on their way home they are pulled over by a white Police Officer. When he pulls his gun and shoots Queen Slim is forced to kill him in self defence.
Convinced that nobody will believe their story the pair begin a journey across America aided by Slim’s ex-military turned criminal Uncle Earl (Bokeem Woodbine – Spider-Man: Homecoming) as they try to evade the manhunt that is now coming their way. Meanwhile the rest of America takes sides – some say they should be brought in as criminals while others want to help them escape Police.
The first thing that I should say about Queen & Slim is that this is not a multiplex film. I’ve read comments that the film is over-long etc. That simply is not true, but as you view the film your realise that Matsoukas has shot this is a way that is reminiscent of the arthouse films that Larry Clarke made in his heyday – films like Bully and Kids that made a point and stuck with you long after the credits had rolled.
The style in which Matsoukas has shot this film is hard-hitting and gritty. She is a filmmaker who is obviously not afraid to take risks – how many other filmmakers these days would have the courage to have an entire scene shot from a camera mounted and locked off on a car. Her style also allows the audience to feel like they are part of the action which in turn makes you feel a lot closer to the two main characters – Queen and Slim. The result is an understanding and closeness to them that most other filmmakers could only dream about capturing.
Having said that though there are some weaknesses with the film. At times it feels like as a director Matsoukas has been let down by the screenplay she is working with. There are too many times during the film were events happen that should be treated as major events but are never fully explored. From a man who wants to talk to them but is hit by their car through to a teenager who idolises them despite his father’s beliefs, these events happen way too fast and the audience never really get to feel the full affect of the events that surround these characters.
The film is at its best though when it allows the audience to soak up the locations and the characters that the characters find themselves around as the film goes on. One of the best characters in the film is Queen’s Uncle Earl and because of the extended time you spend with him as character the impact of his involvement in the story weighs more heavily for the audience watching. Likewise when Slim takes Queen to a dingy blues bar – the suspense is through the roof as you are never really sure whether the couple are welcome there or whether someone will turn them in.
One of the highlights of the film though are the acting performances. If nothing else Queen & Slim has introduced the cinematic world to two future stars. Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner Smith put in two stunning performances. No matter whether they are asked to deliver a deep and meaningful dramatic scene moved along only by dialogue or asked to perform graphic sex in the front seat of a car the two deliver in spades. As the film meanders along you get a strong feeling that these two actors are people we are going to be watching on the big screen for many years to come.
As a film Queen & Slim does have its flaws but it also has moments of true cinematic awe as well. Two brilliantly performed roles by the film’s stars makes up for the film’s errors while Bokeem Woodbine makes a welcome return in a truly memorable performance that only he could deliver. Likewise the film introduces us to a filmmaker that can only be described as a director that we all need to become aware of. Melina Matsoukas’ gritty style of filmmaking is a welcome relief in a cinematic world where it feels like every film needs to look ‘clean.’ Hard-hitting and at times experimental Queen & Slim is not a film that is easy to forget.
Other Subculture Entertainment Queen & Slim Reviews: N/A
There is no disputing that director/screenwriter Leigh Whannell is one of the kings of modern day horror. The Australian was the writer behind both the Saw and Insidious franchises while in recent years he has also sat in the director’s chair for films like Insidious: Chapter 3 and the under-appreciated Upgrade.
Now Whannell returns as the director/screenwriter/producer of The Invisible Man – a modern day Blumhouse take on one of Universal Pictures most loved horror characters. And as we chat to Whannell in Melbourne we learn that this is not a task that he took lightly.
“I actually wasn’t thinking about doing an Invisible Man movie at all, says Whannell as we begin to talk about the origins of this film. “I had just finished Upgrade and I had been bitten by the action movie bug and I think I was keen to go and shoot the fifty million dollar version of Upgrade. You know we could crash forty cars instead of one car… i was keen to get my Michael Bay on. Then this idea was suggested to me… the idea of doing The Invisible Man and it was not something that I had given any thought to, but then as soon as it was in my mind it was truly an inception.”
“It wouldn’t leave my brain,” says Whannell with a big smile on his face revealing just how excited he was about the product. “It just kept taking up space rent free. And then I just couldn’t stop thinking about it and that is usually the first sign that I am going to make a film – when it just won’t go away. That’s how it came about and then I just went back to Blumhouse and Universal and said that I was interested in doing this and we were off to the races. It was remarkable just how quickly the pieces all came together.”
As we begin to talk craft I ask Whannell whether or not the fact that the idea of the film was planted in his mind rather than him just thinking it up changed the way he went about writing the original screenplay. “It did in the sense that I was aware of this legacy that was behind me,” he says after pausing to think about the question for a moment. “Other people have made Invisible Man movies and I wanted to avoid repeating them. I didn’t want anybody to be able to say ‘well this is just a retread of so and so.’ And so if anything it was more of an awareness to avoid those other movies- that was the biggest thing – trying to take this character and modernise it and make it very new. In other words I wanted to make it feel like no other Invisible Man movie had ever existed and that this was the first. I can’t tell you how many scenes I came up with that I put on the reject pile because I felt that they had been done before.”
Whannell’s version of The Invisible Man takes on a very different voice to any of the Invisible Man films of the past have. Here Whannell explores the dark topic of domestic violence and depicts in a very dark way that few filmmakers have been brave enough to do in the past. “Really early on I knew that I wanted it to be dark,” he explains. “I knew that I wanted to make something that was really tense and suffocating – not light-hearted at all. I didn’t want anything that was frolicking or fun I wanted to make something that was really relentlessly tense and suffocating to the audience.”
“That was a decision that I made very early on and then I began building out the story,” he explains. “The thematic elements of the movie about a woman being in an abusive relationship that just came out organically. As you start to put the pieces out on the table those things just kind of emerge on their own without you forcing them. It was all really organic and that is how it all fell together.”
With the legacy of the Invisible Man being so entrenched in Hollywood history and certain amount of fandom is also there, and that is something that Whannell is more than aware of. “Any movie whether it has a legacy like The Invisible Man or if it is stand-alone like Upgrade makes me nervous,” he says laughing out loud. “Even just thinking about it now is making me nervous. I think it is because you put so much of yourself into a movie an then you release it to the world and they get to judge it and it is just a scary moment. Eventually the nerves ease off once the movie is out there and you can’t do anything about it. Then you a start to relax but right now I am right in the middle of the white hot centre of nerves because it is just starting to get out there.”
Summary: American security guard Richard Jewell saves thousands of lives from an exploding bomb at the 1996 Olympics, but is vilified by journalists and the press who falsely reported that he was a terrorist.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 13th February 2020
Thailand Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States
Director: Clint Eastwood
Screenwriter: Billy Ray, Marie Brenner (article), Kent Alexander (book), Kevin Salwen (book)
Cast: Muhammed Ali (himself – archive footage),Ronnie Allen (Kenny Rogers), David An (Ken), Nina Arianda (Nadya Light), Matthew Atchley (FBI Agent Doug Wall), John Atwood (Mr Brenner), Kathy Bates (Bobi Jewell), Jonathan Bergman (Jerrod Braden), Kellan Boyle (Lonny), Brian Brightman (Zoeller), Tom Brokaw (himself – archive footage), Bill Clinton (himself – archive footage), Alex Collins (Max Green – APD), David de Vries (John Walter), Wayne Duvall (Richard Rackleff), Luke Georgecink (Rob), Ian Gomez (Dan Bennet), Will Gonzalez (Agent Rosario), Charles Green (Dr. W. Ray Cleere), Garon Grigsby (Bryant Gumbel), Jon Hamm (Tom Shaw), Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell), Alan Heckner (Bill Miller – GBI), Izzy Herbert (Mariah Braden), Dylan Kussman (Bruce Hughes), Kelly Collins Lintz (Mrs. Braden), Eric Mendenhall (Eric Rudolph), Niko Nicotera (Dave Dutchess), Michael Otis (Mr. Braden), Desmond Phillips (Mike Silver – APD), Mike Pniewski (Brandon Walker), Grant Roberts (Will Jones – APD), Sam Rockwell (Watson Bryant), David Shae (Ron Martz), Billy Slaughter (Tim Barker),Aaron Strand (Joe Nobody), Robert Treveiler (Patrick Williams), Olivia Wilde (Kathy Scruggs), Mike Wilson (Forsythe), Olaolu Winfunke (Eli Gradestone)
Running Time: 131 mins
Classification: M (Australia)
OUR RICHARD JEWELL REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Dave Griffiths Review
Kyle McGrath’s Review
Average Subculture Rating:
Other Subculture Entertainment Richard Jewell Reviews: N/A
Summary: After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 6th February 2020
Thailand Cinema Release Date: 6th February 2020
Australian DVD Release Date: Out Now
Country: United States, United Kingdom
Director: Cathy Yan
Screenwriter: Christina Hodson
Cast: Charlene Amoia (Maria Bertinelli), K.K. Barrett (Dr.Aguilar), Ella Jay Basco (Cassandra Cain), Guiesppe Bucaro (Carlos Rossi), David Anthony Buglione (Joe Bertinelli), Robert Cattrini (Stefano Galante), Francois Chhau (Mr. Keo), Dan Cole (Officer Timm), Dana Lee (Doc), Michael Masini (Officer Drago), Miyuki Matsunaga (Mrs. Keo), Lenora May (Mrs. Marcucci), Ewan McGregor (Roman Sionis), Chris Messina (Victor Zsasz), Ella Mika (Young Helena), Anna Mikami (Miss Keo), Ego Mikitas (Don), Anthony Molinari (Mafiosi), Sara Montez (Kathrine), Bojana Novakovic (Erika), Bruno Oliiver (Sal), Rosie Perez (Renee Montoya), Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), Greica Santo (Crystal), Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Dinah Lance/Black Canary), Steven Williams (Captain Patrick Erickson), Matthew Willig (Happy), Derek Wilson (Tim Evans), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Helena Bertienlli/The Huntress), Ali Wong (Ellen Yee)
Running Time: 109 mins
Classification: MA15+ (Australia) 18 (Thailand)
OUR BIRDS OF PREY REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Dave Griffiths Review:
Creating a spin-off to the much maligned Suicide Squad film of 2016 was always thwart with danger. Yes the Director’s Cut was ten times better than the theatrical release but sadly after the bad experience of the original not many people wanted to part with hard earned cash to take a chance on the re-working.
Now that Suicide Squad curse seems to be tarnishing Birds Of Prey before it is even released. The film hadn’t even opened before some people were proudly boasting that they were going to give it a big miss. But are the negative comments geared towards the film warranted? I would have to say after sitting down to watch the film – they are not.
Aside from the fact the film features the intelligent but clearly psychopathic Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie – Wolf Of Wall Street) comparing Birds Of Prey to Suicide Squad is like comparing chalk and cheese. Where Suicide Squad revealed a cheesy side Birds Of Prey takes the lead from its DC counterpart Joker and delivers a more hard-edged film complete with adult language and violence that is certainly not suitable for children.
Here we find a Harley Quinn who has settled into her new state of madness. Her world is rocked though when she and Joker go through a bad break-up. Now alone Quinn finds herself unprotected and suddenly even criminal low-life in Gotham wants her dead – led by the vicious and cruel Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor – Trainspotting). Also attracting the attention of an arrow-for-hire hit-woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead – 10 Cloverfield Lane) and the down-beaten Detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez – Fearless) Quinn soon finds herself needing the protection of the deadly Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell – Underground).
For the most part the film does hold up and is an entertaining action film enhanced by the acting talents of the Oscar nominated Margot Robbie. The film is at its best though when it embraces its hard-edge. Scenes such as the one where Sionis is torturing a family for information is what sets DC apart from Marvel, likewise the early fight scenes involving Quinn and Lance which capture the same violence of John Wick have the audience on the edge of their seat.
Add to the that the suspense of never knowing whether Quinn will keep helping young pick-pocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco – Veep) while she is danger or eventually turn her over to claim the bounty, and the genuine comedic moments produced by Quinn’s madness and you are on the way to a pretty decent film.
Despite the moments of true enjoyment throughout the film Birds Of Prey does find a way to trip itself up. Like Suicide Squad there are moments when the film dips into that cheesiness that just doesn’t fit with the rest of the film. You could probably over look it more if it didn’t occur during one of the key fight scenes – what should be one of the most memorable scenes of the entire film becomes laughable as the stars battle it out in an overly choreographed fight sequence that almost feels like it needs the cheesy ‘POW’ and ‘BIFF’ text of the 1960s Batman series to appear after each punch or kick.
It is a shame that scene exists because it seems to stay with you after you leave the cinema and spoils what otherwise would have been a film that may have sparked a lot more interest in what DC plan on doing with these characters down the line. The fact that DC haven’t learnt that it is that kind of cheesiness and the sudden introduction of an influx of characters (as happens here with Huntress) is hard to fathom… especially in the same week they saw Joker score Oscar glory.
To sum up Birds Of Prey is a more than serviceable film. The performances of Margot Robbie and Ewan McGregor do allow the film to occasionally have an edge to it. The events of the film also did make you curious enough to wonder where the storylines involving the actual Birds Of Prey team that form during the film may lead to the future, but the film also dangerously lets itself down with one badly played scene that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. It is obvious what DC needs to do – they need to take stock of people liked about this film and take that on board for all future endeavours or else they are destined to keep making the same mistakes over and over.
Kyle McGrath’s Review
Average Subculture Rating:
Other Subculture Entertainment Birds Of Prey Reviews: N/A
A sadistic mastermind unleashes a twisted form of justice in SPIRAL, the terrifying new chapter from the book of SAW. Working in the shadow of an esteemed police veteran (Samuel L. Jackson), brash Detective Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks (Chris Rock) and his rookie partner (Max Minghella) take charge of a grisly investigation into murders that are eerily reminiscent of the city’s gruesome past. Unwittingly entrapped in a deepening mystery, Zeke finds himself at the center of the killer’s morbid game.
SPIRAL stars Chris Rock, Max Minghella, Marisol Nichols, and Samuel L. Jackson, and is produced by the original SAW team of Mark Burg and Oren Koules. The film is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and written by Josh Stolberg & Pete Goldfinger.