Summary: After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 28th June 2017
Australian DVD Release Date: 1st November 2017
Country: United Kingdom, United States
Director: Edgar Wright
Screenwriter: Edgar Wright
Cast: Jon Bernthal (Griff), Jeff Chase (Jeffrey), Morse Diggs (himself), Ansel Elgort (Baby), Flea (Eddie), Jamie Foxx (Bats), Eliza Gonzalez (Darling), Brogan Hall (Samm), Jon Hamm (Buddy), Lily James (Debora), CJ Jones (Joseph), Lanny Joon (JD), Kevin Spacey (Doc), R. Marcos Taylor (Armie), Paul Williams (The Butcher)
Runtime: 113 mins
OUR BABY DRIVER REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Kyle McGrath’s Baby Driver Review:
I’ve considered myself a huge fan of Edgar Wright’s films for some time. Since the release of Shaun of the Dead and with the continuation of his “Cornetto Trilogy” with Hot Fuzz & The World’s End Wright he has created what I would consider to be almost perfect films. In only a short amount of time Wright has created several instant cult classic films with their stylish presentation, music selection to characterisation and emotional moments having a kick to them even though the film itself may have an absurdist comedy twist to them. This isn’t to say I have impossibly high expectations for his movies simply that I know what Edgar Wright as a filmmaker is capable of.
Baby Driver is the story of “Baby” (Ansel Elgort) a young extremely talented getaway driver with a passion for music and a constant soundtrack to his own life playing on his iPod. Forced for years to serve as a wheelman to payback a debt to crime boss “Doc” (Kevin Spacey) Baby appears to be finally free to start building a life for himself after meeting a beautiful waitress named Deborah (Lily James). However much to Baby’s horror he is forced to take part in yet another “final job” with a team of psychopaths. Trying not to get in too deep Baby strive to stay ahead of the criminals and the cops and escape this life of crime once and for all before it’s too late.
By far the star of the film is not the actors but the music and how it is incorporated into the film. Wright has clearly put an extensive amount of effort into choreographing almost the entire film so that it synchs up with the accompanying soundtrack. Gunshots, camera edits, punches, car chases, car crashes everything is timed perfectly to match the rhythm and the beat of the song playing in the background. This has got to be the most musical-like non musical I’ve ever seen.
It’s definitely an impressive achievement and Wright shows off the slick visual style he has become known for. While definitely cool it can feel a little out of place at some points like the opening credits which serves as a single long take of Baby going to get coffee for the crew after a job well done. The scene plays out with specific lyrics from the song playing inexplicably spray graffitied around right as they come into view and right as that line in the accompanying song plays. Now this is probably the most extreme example and while being inconsequential it shows how at some points what’s happening in Baby Driver is more about creating a music video than the music enhancing the story.
That’s the main issue I personally had with the film and it’s just one of taste really, so much time and effort has gone towards these musical scenes though the actual story and characters feel underwritten.
Storylines and relationships feel completely rushed, the characters are really given room to grow or give us reasons to care for them other than on a superficial level. The romance between Baby and Deborah especially felt forced and certain characters actions contradict how they were portrayed up to that point that the audience themselves are left to fill in the gaps more often than I felt was necessary.
Like for example in Mad Max Fury Road I’m perfectly fine with some backstory left up to interpretation as it wasn’t particularly necessary. But as simple as the plot was for that film if the villain had a sudden change of heart out of the blue at the end and called off the whole chase or something I would expect more than a passing line of dialogue as an explanation.
Baby Driver I felt was all style and little substance. It’s not a bad film really it is just somewhat forgettable despite its stylish presentation. The plot and characters feel like they are just there as an excuse to create some cool car chases and music videos which is totally fine. However at the same time the film is brought down a little by that.
Not that I want to say I’m rating this film on a curve, I would have felt the same way about it if had I not known the director’s name or previous work at all. But the soul of this film doesn’t quite live up to Wright’s previous work. Rather than feeling for these characters I felt indifferent to them and what was happening. Actors like Jamie Foxx or Kevin Spacey who I know are capable of comedy and drama seemed wasted on what felt like no more than rehashes of their roles in Horrible Bosses.
I enjoyed Baby Driver as a funny and entertaining rev head popcorn heist flick. Clearly I do think Edgar Wright was capable of crafting something better overall but for a crowd pleaser he’s most assuredly delivered with his latest film.
Average Subculture Rating:
Other Subculture Entertainment Baby Driver Reviews: N/A
Summary: When Robert Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Dr. Sienna Brooks, and together they must race across Europe against the clock to foil a deadly global plot.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 13th October 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: 18th January, 2017
Country: United States, Japan, Turkey, Hungry
Director: Ron Howard
Screenwriter: David Koepp, Dan Brown (novel)
Cast: Cesare Cremonini (Ignazio Busoni), Ida Darvish (Marta), Jon Donahue (Richard Savage), Mehmet Ergen (Mirsat), Ben Foster (Bertrand Zorbist), Tom Hanks (Robert Langdon), Felicity Jones (Dr. Sienna Brooks), Irrfan Khan (Harry Sims ‘The Provost’), Sidse Babett Knudsen (Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey), Xavier Laurent (Antoine), Fausto Maria Sciarappa (Parker), Paolo Antonio Simioni (Dr. Marconi), Omar Sy (Christoph Bruder), Ana Ularu (Vayentha)
Runtime: 121 mins
OUR INFERNO REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Inferno sees the arrival of yet another attempted franchise reboot in 2016. We’ve seen Ghostbusters and Bridget Jones’s Baby arrive with mixed success now we find Academy Award winning director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind) rebooting the Robert Langdon franchise some seven years after its last instalment.
Based on the novel by Dan BrownInferno begins with Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks – Forrest Gump) waking up in a hospital with no memory of how he got there and being hunted by a assassin (Ana Ularu – Serena). After managing to escape with Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones – The Amazing Spider-Man) Langdon starts putting together the pieces and realises that he must try and stop an apocalyptic event set by Bertrand Zorbist (Ben Foster – Warcraft: The Beginning) who believes his actions will actually save the world.
But as Langdon tries to overcome memory loss and put the pieces together to solve the mystery things are made even more difficult by him when he realises he doesn’t know which World Health Organisation agent he can trust, Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey (Sidse Babett Knudsen – Westworld) or Christoph Bruder (Omar Sy – Jurassic World). To add to their confusion the audience also learns there is a puppet-master in the wings in the form of Harry Sims (Irrfan Khan – Life Of Pi).
While watching Inferno you do start to realise that this is going to be a film that divides its audience. For the regular popcorn set this is going to be a film that delivers a fairly decent, if not at times confusing, crime thriller plot that shows you just as many European landmarks as a Bond film. For the more seasoned film goer though this is a film that reveals some of the laziest filmmaking Ron Howard will deliver during his career with a clichéd plot that just follows the same sequence over and over – Langdon arrives in a city, goes to find the puzzle piece, is chased by Police and uses an ancient tunnel to escape and then moves on to the next city. There is also a level of inconsistence around the character of Robert Langdon that surfaces right throughout this film and despite the work of screenwriter, David Koepp (Jurassic Park), to pass it off as part of Langdon’s amnesia it simply doesn’t work.
Rather than being a gritty thriller Inferno becomes more of a fun ride as the audience gets to see European city of European city while there is a mid-level of suspense and you try in your mind to put the pieces together at the same time as Langdon does… although that it made a hell of a lot easier if you are up to date on your Dante. The big tip for the audience is to not let to get too bogged down in the ‘historical’ parts of this film or you will be scratching your head and hurling popcorn as you struggle to work out what the hell is going on.
Likewise this is a movie that Tom Hanks just seems to breeze through. While Sully recent saw Hanks once again reveal his wonderful character acting skills here Hanks wears the character of Robert Langdon like an old slipper, it’s a role that he is obviously comfortable in but doesn’t deliver the acting heights that we know he is capable of. The same can be said for Felicity Jones who isn’t given a huge amount to work with and even disappears for a quarter of the film. The big winner in the acting stakes is Sidse Babett Knudsen who makes good use of the screen time she is given. Omar Sy and Irrfan Khan are also wasted in their roles, the latter being given a role very similar to a poor man’s Bond villain as he plays a character that leaves the audience asking… is that even a profession?
The best way to enjoy Inferno is to just go into the cinema expecting a fun film. While it isn’t exactly a borefest it certainly lacks the suspense of Angels & Demons and is a lot more clichéd than the Da Vinci Code. Did the Robert Langdon franchise need Inferno? Probably not!
Summary: As Batman hunts for the escaped Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime attacks the Gordon family to prove a diabolical point mirroring his own fall into madness.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 23rd July 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: 3rd August 2016
Director: Sam Liu
Screenwriter: Brian Azzarello, Bob Kane (characters), Bill Finger (characters), Jerry Robinson (characters), Brian Bolland (graphic novel), Alan Moore (graphic novel)
Cast: Kevin Conroy (Batman/Bruce Wayne (voice)), John DiMaggio (Francesco (voice)), Robin Atkin Downes (Detective Bullock (voice)), Brian George (Alfred (voice)), Mark Hamill (The Joker (voice)), JP Karliak (Reese (voice)), Andrew Kishino (Murray (voice)), Nolan North (Mitch (voice)), Maury Sterling (Paris (voice)), Tara Strong (Batgirl/Barbara Gordon (voice)), Anna Vocino (Jeannie (voice)), Rick D. Wasserman (Maroni (voice)), Ray Wise (Commissioner Gordon (voice)),
Runtime: 76 mins
OUR BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Few movie/television franchises have evolved as much as Batman has over the years. For those of us older enough we grew up watching the campy Adam West led series that saw Batman’s violence limited to ‘POW’ and ‘KAPOW’ being placed on the screen as Batman almost playfully put down his enemies. For anyone that had never read the original Batman comics and graphic novels there was no hint at all at just how dark this series could be. Tim Burton touched on it with ‘Batman’ and ‘Batman Returns’ while Christopher Nolan fully embraced with his Batman trilogy. Now however comes what is possibly the darkest ‘Batman’ adaption to ever grace our screens – the animated cinematic event that is ‘Batman: The Killing Joke.’
Loosely based on the Brian Bolland/Alan Moore graphic novel of the same name ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ sees the successful duo of Batman/Bruce Wayne (voiced by Kevin Conroy – ‘The Office’) and Batgirl/Barbara Gordon (Tara Strong – ‘Ice Age’) pretty much keeping Gotham City crime free. But things sour when their relationship turns sexual and it seems to Barbara that Bruce still wants to treat her like a child. As she decides to quit the Batgirl role both her and her father, Commissioner Gordon (Ray Wise – ‘RoboCop’), are attacked by The Joker (Mark Hamill – ‘Star Wars’) who is determined to prove that anyone can break the way he did.
Anyone who is expecting that ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ is aimed at children because of the fact that it is animated is in for a very rude shock indeed. I say that because those have read the graphic novel know that the treatment that Barbara and Commissioner Gordon receives from The Joker is extremely violent and adult orientated and here director Sam Liu (‘Green Lantern: The Animated Series’) doesn’t hold back. And while Liu doesn’t tone things done ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ is far from the perfect film.
Liu and his screenwriter, Brian Azzarello (‘Batman: Gotham Knight’) actually do a pretty good job making this a Joker origins story and while they produce a great insight into how the Joker ended up the way he did and what he is capable of doing there are also weaknesses in the plot. The opening scenes which show Batgirl and Batman trying to bring down Paris Franz (Maury Sterling – ‘The A-Team’) are massively too long. As a film this should be a Joker origins story but having a whole early sub-plot of having Paris develop a crush on Batgirl before the Joker is even properly introduced makes the film feel clumsy and awkward as it suddenly switches from being a Batgirl movie to a Joker movie… not a great move when you know what the Joker does to her here. It’s also a weird thing to say about a film that only runs for 76 minutes but that added Batgirl story makes the film seem over-long.
Perhaps the worst crime though that ‘Batman: The Killing’ commits though is its rushed ending. Liu does a great job setting up what appears like it is going to be an epic battle between Batman and The Joker after Joker has tortured Commissioner Gordon in an old fairground. But alas the battle is never as epic as you expect it to be and the ending is just ever awkward as you see Batman and Joker laughing together… something you would never expect to see when you know what Joker has just done to Batgirl. Anyone that knows Batman would know that this would never be his response to such an act and it feels dangerously out of place here.
The darkness of ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ does ring out the best in its voice cast. Anyway who says that Mark Hamill has had a ‘nothing’ career since ‘Star Wars’ will be silenced by his eerie and manic portrayal of The Joker while Kevin Conroy is his typical smooth self voicing Batman. The other star here is Tara Strong who gets the benefit from the added Batgirl storyline and she reveals herself to be one voice artist who really knows how to get emotion out of her voice.
‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ does have its weaknesses but they are somewhat overcome by the fact that this is one of the darkest Batman stories that we have ever seen on the big screen. While it may be animated it certainly doesn’t lessen the impact of the darker scenes and the filmmakers behind it need to be congratulated for not toning it down. Well worth a look if you are a hardened Batman fan.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Batman: The Killing Joke reviews: Nil.
Summary: Jason Bourne, now remembering who he truly is, tries to uncover hidden truths about his past.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 28th July 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Paul Greengrass
Screenwriter: Paul Greengrass, Christopher Rouse, Robert Ludlam (characters)
Cast: Riz Ahmed (Aaron Kalloor), Bill Camp (Malcolm Smith), Vincent Cassel (Asset), Johnny Cicco (Bradley Samuels), Matt Damon (Jason Bourne), Ata Essandoh (Craig Jeffers), Ellie Fox (Officer Jones), Gregg Henry (Richard Webb), Tommy Lee Jones (CIA Director Robert Dewey), Vinzenz Kiefer (Christian Dassault), Stephen Kunken (Baumen), Scott Shepherd (Director NI Edwin Russell), Julia Stiles (Nicky Parsons), Alicia Vikander (Heather Lee)
Runtime: 123 mins
OUR JASON BOURNE REVIEWS & RATINGS:
It’s the film that hardcore Jason Bourne fans thought they would never see but yes Jason Bourne is back on the big screen. After ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ Matt Damon was quoted a number of times that he would never play the role again, even Universal seemed sure of it as they reworked the franchise with a new character that was given to Jeremy Renner to play. But it seems when you listen to a quote, listen to it properly because what Damon said was that he would never do another Bourne film unless Paul Greengrass (‘Captain Phillips’) was in the director’s chair. When Greengrass is back and so is Damon!!!
The film begins with Jason Bourne (Matt Damon – ‘Good Will Hunting’) staying out of sight in Europe and surviving on the money that he makes as he goes around competing in various underground fighting tournaments. He is forced out of hiding though when his former ally Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles – ‘Save The Last Dance’) hacks into the CIA’s computer network and makes some alarming discoveries about the real identity behind Jason Bourne and how his father was involved.
The hack alerts young CIA agent Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander – Ex-Machina) to what is happening and soon she finds herself working with CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones – ‘Men In Black’) to bring Bourne in. Together they bring in a brutal agent named only as Asset (Vincent Cassel – ‘Black Swan’) to put Bourne down while also trying to work out how to best deal with Social Media empire boss Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed – ‘Nightcrawler’) who is threatening to expose the relationship between his social media platform and the CIA.
There is little doubt that Paul Greengrass’ latest entry into the Bourne franchise is pretty sleek but how does it hold up in the modern film environment? To be brutally honest I’ve never really seen Bourne as an elite franchise. While yes the films always look and they have shown that Matt Damon is a more than capable action star, they just don’t do enough to make themselves ‘different’ enough to really impress me. While franchises like ‘Fast & The Furious’ do whatever they can to make each film bigger and better the ‘Bourne’ franchise seems to just chug along doing the same thing each time, without doing much to change the formula along the way.
One of my criticisms levelled at this franchise in the past has been the fact that these films ride a dangerous path. The plots are never intense enough to make you marvel at the screenwriting while the action sequences are normally nothing any different to what we have seen before. Here it is obvious that they have tried to overcome these issues as the screenplay does have a bit more ‘meat’ to it while the car chase through Las Vegas resembles something of a sequence that may stick in some cinema goers minds for at least a few weeks… even though it still isn’t something as spectacular as dropping a car from a plane or jumping cars between high rise in Dubai.
What truly is remarkable here though is Greengrass’ attempt to re-capture the riots that have plagued Greece over the past few years. These sequences are absolutely brilliant and work amazingly well as a back-drop as Asset works feverishly to hunt down Parsons and Bourne. It is with sequences like these that Greengrass comes to the fore, and here he recaptures the same type of suspense that he wowed audiences with throughout ‘Captain Phillips.’ In a lot of ways these scenes are a lot better than the clichéd car chase that serves as a finale here and it will be the main thing that sticks in mind for a while to come.
We do see a vast improvement in the screenplay here as well. While characters like Asset may still be a walking cliché the sub-plot that looks at the CIA being in bed with a social media platform does raise questions such as ‘should the Government spy on us in order to keep us safe?’ while the screenplay also paints a very murky picture to what the audience should expect from Heather Lee. So often action films like this feel the need to show the audience who is good and who is bad without any grey at all. But with Lee the audience is left constantly wondering where her alliance sits. Is the just another lapdog for Dewey or does she have a soft spot for Bourne? It’s actually a relief to find a character in this genre that has the audience constantly questioning their thoughts on said character… and Bourne’s reaction to her at the end is what makes this film’s finale work despite the disappointment of the car chase.
Being written that way makes Heather a dream for a young actress to play and here Alicia Vikander doesn’t disappoint. She really is one of those actresses that just seems to shine no matter what role is thrown at her. Her recent performances in ‘Testament Of Youth’ and ‘The Danish Girl’ show what she is capable of in brilliant films, while here she follows what is written for and plays Heather as a cold, almost emotionless agent who never lets her true feelings known to anyone. While she’s not exactly working with a great script she certainly makes something of it. To her credit she holds her own as she acts alongside Tommy Lee Jones who just breezes through as the ‘bad guy’ while Matt Damon once again shows that he can still hold his own with any action star going around.
While ‘Jason Bourne’ doesn’t exactly set the world on fire or bring anything new to the action genre it is a serviceable film that certainly won’t bore its audience. Greengrass manages to make the film visually attractive but you are left wanting a big action sequence that just never eventuates (‘Star Trek Beyond’ it ain’t), still the film does more than enough to be considered ‘a thinking person’s action film.’
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Jason Bourne reviews: Nil.
Summary: A remake of La Piscine from 1969 A Bigger Splash sees rock-star Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton), who has lost her voice after recent surgery, on a vacation on the beautiful Italian island of Pantelleria, with her recovering drug-addict, filmmaker boyfriend Paul De Smedt (Matthias Schoenaerts).
Their enjoyable times of lazing in the sun however is cut short when Marianne’s manager and ex-lover Harry Hawkes (Ralph Fiennes) and his new-found daughter Penelope Lanier (Dakota Johnson) turn up unexpectedly and cause a range of issues to arise.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th March 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: Italy, France
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Screenwriter: David Kajganich, Alain Page (story)
Cast: Elena Bucci (Clara), Aurore Clement (Mireille), Ralph Fiennes (Harry Hawkes), Corrado Guzzanti (Maresciallo Carabinieri), Dakota Johnson (Penelope Lanier), Lily McMenamy (Sylvie), Matthias Schoenaerts (Paul DeSmidt), Tilda Swinton (Marianne Lane)
Runtime: 124 mins
OUR A BIGGER SPLASH REVIEWS & RATINGS:
If you don’t like slow burns and films a little on the alternative then A Bigger Splash is not the film for you. On the other hand if you like me and like a film with a little bit of an edge to it then you might be right in your element with Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s latest offering – a film that certainly keeps its audience guessing right up until the final credits.
Now I would be lying if I sat here and said that A Bigger Splash is the perfect film because it isn’t. While Guadagnino does use the island’s beauty and perils brilliantly well the film does drag at times, especially early on. Of course anyone who can cope with that slowness is then rewarded handsomely with a second half that sees the character’s loyalties tested and even a massive amount of crime injected into the storyline, and it is those moments that will have the audience on the edge of their seat as even though some of the characters are unlikable you do actually find yourself caring what happens to them in the long run.
A Bigger Splash is really a film told in two halves. The first half of the film is brought to life with some good acting performances that will be loved by those who like serious cinema. Tilda Swinton is at her usual best despite being put to the test by playing a character that can barely say a word. To her credit Swinton instead lets Marianne put all her emotions across powerfully for a range of looks and normally aggressive forms of body language.
Swinton is well supported by Ralph Fiennes who seems to enjoy play the eccentric and very bossy Harry Hawkes. No matter how slow the film is at times Fiennes completely steals a lot of the scenes that he is in, especially one in which he strangely dances for nearly five minutes, a scene which it seems he had a lot of fun filming. His later menacing scenes with both Swinton and Schoenaerts are also standouts that really bring the film to life as well.
Cast wise the audience also gets to see a very different side to Dakota Johnson that what we have not seen previously as well. While audiences got to see her as sweet and demure in Fifty Shades Of Grey and shy and reserved in How To Be Single here Johnson is completely transformed into a sultry and seductive blonde and shows that she is more than capable to match it with her much more experienced cast.
The second half of the film is where Guadagnino really brings the film to life though. As tension reaches a boiling point and a good crime story moves to the fore (don’t worry you won’t read any spoilers here) the film moves up several gears and takes a turn to the dark side. The infusion of glimpses of Europe’s refuge crisis all throughout the film also enhance the latter parts of the storyline as well, which shows that despite the films meandering style early on there was some form of structure there all along.
While A Bigger Splash may not be enjoyed by those who enjoy their normal popcorn movie, this is a film that will be loved by those that love their films a little left of centre and a good dose of darkness.
An erotic psychological drama starring Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson, A Bigger Splash is a loose remake of Jacques Deray’s seductive 1969 film called La Picerne, which starred Alain Delon. Director Luca Guadagnino (better known for the gorgeous and visually sumptuous I Am Love) and writer David Kajganich (the dire Nicole Kidman sci-fi thriller The Invasion, etc) give the material a more contemporary flavour as they work in some topical issues with a mention of displaced migrants and refugees who are flooding into European countries by the boat load.
The film is set on the volcanic island of Pantelleria, which lies off Sicily, and centres around four self destructive characters caught up in a complex and complicated relationship. There is rock star Marianne Lane (Swinton), something of a cross between Bowie and Chrissi Hynde, who is recuperating following throat surgery. She is enjoying a nice holiday with her filmmaker boyfriend Paul (Belgian hunk Matthias Schoenaerts), a recovering alcoholic. Both Marianne and Paul are psychologically wounded and carry mental scars.
Then their idyllic holiday is interrupted by the arrival of flamboyant record producer Harry Hawkes (Fiennes) and his estranged daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson, from the Razzie award winning Fifty Shades Of Grey, etc). Marianne and Harry share a past history. Indeed it was Harry who introduced Marianne to Paul in an effort to get out of the relationship, and he is now full of regrets over that decision. And the sexually precocious Penelope sets her sights on seducing Paul. The atmosphere is charged with suspicion, jealousy, and personal revelations, and there are palpable undercurrents of sexual tension, lust, temptation.
This is a juicy role for Fiennes. This is Fiennes like we haven’t seen him before on screen – lively, brash and flamboyant – and he chews the scenery with his manic performance. He normally has such an intense screen persona, but here he is such an ebullient character who also strips off and dances and swims naked and shows off rare comic timing. It was his performance in The Grand Budapest Hotel that convinced director Guadagnino that Fiennes was suited to the character here.
Swinton has the more challenging role as Marianne, who is largely a silent participant in events. Her character is unable to speak, so Swinton has to convey a wide range of emotions through gestures and facial expressions. Schoenaerts has plenty of charisma and is solid as the brooding Paul.
Johnson’s breakthrough role was as the ingenue introduced to the world of sexual games and b&d in the risible Fifty Shades Of Grey, and here she plays an outrageous, sexually aware Lolita-like adolescent, but her character is a little underdeveloped.
The film features an eclectic soundtrack that includes The Rolling Stones, Harry Nilsson and Captain Beefheart. And Fiennes’ character narrates a wonderful anecdote about working with the Rolling Stones during the 80s, telling an apocryphal story about the recording of the track The Moon Is Up for their Tattoo You album – the story is apparently true, but the Harry Hawkes character and his involvement is not.
A Bigger Splash has been shot on location on Pantelleria by Guadagnino’s regular cinematographer Yorick Le Saux, who gives the material a sunny, washed out, burned look that complements the setting. The swimming pool itself almost becomes a nother character in the carnal edgy drama. The title is also deliberately evocative of David Hockney’s 1967 painting of the same name, and also recalls Francois Ozon’s film Swimming Pool. The itself has something of a European sensibility in its approach to sex and nudity. Guadagnino’s regular editor Walter Fasano uses abrupt cuts to give the film an unsettling and disjointed feel.
But it remains to be seen whether A Bigger Splash will connect with an audience and make a splash at the box office.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment A Bigger Splash reviews: Nil
Summary: When young Detective Chris Allen (Casey Affleck) is moved into a tough squad of the Atlanta Police Department he is unaware that his new partner, Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie), is corrupt and working with a group of criminals including Gabe Welch (Aaron Paul), Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Russell Welch (Norman Reedus) and another corrupt officer, Franco Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jnr.).
With the group running a series of robberies for Russian Mafia boss Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet) they find themselves stretched to the limit and it is decided that the only way to pull off the hardest of the robberies is to have Triple 9 (Police officer down) call put across the airwaves. Their chosen target is Chris because they know his uncle, respected Detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson) will pull every officer onto the case.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 3rd March 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: John Hillcoat
Screenwriter: Matt Cook
Cast: Terri Abney (Leah Green), Casey Affleck (Chris Allen), Armando Alonzo (Emilio), Michelle Ang (Trina Ling), Carlos Aviles (Fernando Rivera), Alexander Babara (Ben Feldman), Anthony Belevstov (Yussel Gotlib), Ian Casselberry (Gomez), Clifton Collins Jnr. (Franco Rodriguez), Luis Da Silva Jnr. (Luis Pinto), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Michael Atwood), Gal Gadot (Elena Vlaslov), Michael Harding (Walter Sims), Woody Harrelson (Jeffrey Allen), Karen Kaia Livers (Shanice), Anthony Mackie (Marcus Belmont), Blake McLennan (Felix), Valiant Michael (Sergio), E. Roger Mitchell (Smith), Teresa Palmer (Michelle Allen), Aaron Paul (Gabe Welch), Norman Reedus (Russell Welch), Terence Rosemore (Joshua Parks), Labrandon Shead (Sgt. Pete Nelson), Christiana Simonds (Christina), Michael Kenneth Williams (Sweet Pea), Kate Winslet (Irina Vlaslov)
Runtime: 115 mins
OUR TRIPLE 9 REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Yes it might be a year when we are getting films like Batman vs Superman and of course another Captain America film but one of the films I was most excited to see this year was Triple 9. Triple 9 looked like it would be interesting watch, not only did it have a stellar cast involved including two of my favourites Woody Harrelson and Kate Winslet (who never normally chooses a bad script) but was also directed by John Hillcoat whose filmography contains films like TheProposition, The Road and Lawless all films that have revealed that he is gritty director certainly worth watching the work of. Throw in a healthy dose of Police corruption and this was well and truly on the road to becoming one of my fave films of the year. That was until I sat down and watched it.
To be honest Triple 9 isn’t a bad film, in fact many elements of the film do in fact work. Hillcoat is at his normal gritty best with some realistic action sequences in which a normal cops and robbers chase across Atlanta becomes something of violent beauty, while some of the urban shoot-outs will have the audience on the edge of their seat. The problem with Triple 9 though is that it tries to do too much and is sadly let down by a script that needed just a few more re-writes.
It’s not surprising to learn that Triple 9’s screenwriter Matt Cook is a first time feature writer. The idea behind Triple 9 is sound but still the screenplay itself has some very big holes. First of all there is way too much happening and too many of the characters are too similar, so similar in fact that some of the critics at the Melbourne media screening were turning to each other and asking ‘who the hell was?’ after the screening… never a good sign.
As a screenwriter Cook seems to created quite a good world with a massive amount of back story that just doesn’t come through during the film. Just how did Michael start having a relationship with Elena, what ended etc are just never fully explained. Then there are huge plotholes like if all the team need is for a Triple 9 call to go over the airwaves do they really need to shoot a cop or can they just ‘pretend’ a cop has been shot? A seasoned screenwriter would have known to have ironed out things like that during the writing process but sadly that is something that Cook has overlooked. Hillcoat does all he can to make the screenplay watchable but just falls short of making this a decent film.
Likewise the weak screenplay also leaves some of the cast floundering as well. Luckily Casey Affleck and Kate Winslet are there to save things. Affleck does a more than admirable job playing the fresh faced Chris, but it is Winslet that really excels herself. Casting Winslet as a Russian Mafia boss was a risky pick. A pick so risky that if she had failed she could have been looking at finding herself in Golden Razzie territory, luckily though she is up to the task and Winslet delivers another fine performance… this time showing that she can pretty much handle anything that is thrown at her.
Also up to the task is Harrelson who seems to borrow a little bit from his role that he had in Rampart. Those suffering though are the likes of Antony Mackie, Aaron Paul and Chiwetel Ejiofor who in roles where they are severely hampered by the fact that their characters are dangerously clichéd. Then there are poor Gal Gadot, Teresa Palmer and Michelle Ang whose characters just seem to go missing for huge chunks of the film.
There is no doubt that with a little bit more work on the screenplay Triple 9 could have been a brilliant film. The poor screenplay unfortunately though leaves the audience asking too many questions and dumps this film right in the middle of a heap of other average films. While it may appeal to fans of The Shield don’t expect the writing of Triple 9 to ever lift it to anything near as brilliant.
Australian director John Hillcoat makes visceral, violent, dark and aggressively masculine thrillers, ranging from the bleak prison drama Ghosts… Of The Civil Dead through to the gritty outback western The Proposition, the apocalyptic journey into a heart of darkness with The Road or the prohibition era crime drama Lawless. And he seems to be able to attract A-list actors to work with him. Hillcoat’s latest film is another gritty and morally murky crime drama that is not for the squeamish or faint hearted. Triple 9 features a strong cast, some strong action sequences and a high body count. But it is also something of a disappointment given his body of work.
Written by first time writer Matt Cook, Triple 9 is set on the mean streets of Atlanta, Georgia, a lawless city full of crime and corruption where the gang and gun culture seems out of control. But the script itself raises too many questions and there are some gaping holes in the plot. Some of the dialogue is cliched, and the characterisation underdone.
When the film opens a carefully planned bank robbery is in progress. The thieves rob some money but their prime interest lies with a safety deposit box that holds some important documents vital to a Russian gangster incarcerated in a Siberian gulag. The thieves turn out to be a couple of former special forces operatives and a couple of corrupt cops. They have been blackmailed by the powerful Irina Vaslov (Kate Winslet, cast against type), the wife of the Russian gangster, into working for the Kosher Nostra, a criminal gang of Russian Jews. But Irina welshes on paying them, instead she forces them to break into a Homeland Security safe house, an even more secure location, to steal further incriminating evidence. The thieves plan to distract the police by killing honest cop Chris Allen (Casey Affleck).
On the trail of the daring brazen thieves is veteran detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson), who happens to be Chris’s cousin.
The title comes from the police code for “Officer Down,” a code that sees police officers everywhere stop what they are doing and respond immediately to the distress signal. The film itself is full of some violent action, double crosses and revenge. But this contemporary heist thriller is also a morally empty film, and its seedy air of corruption and desperation reminds audiences of Training Day and the films of Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, etc).
Hillcoat certainly directs with energy and he maintains a fast pace throughout. He effectively ramps up the action with a superb urban shootout that imitates Michael Mann’s superb Heat, and an exciting adrenaline charged car chase on the city’s freeway.
Belgian cinematographer Nicholas Karakatsanis (the moody crime drama The Drop, etc) gives the film a grimy authenticity as he has shot the film largely using a restless handheld cameras to take us into the action. This is particularly effective in a couple of tense scenes. He has also shot in muted colours, lots of reds and blacks that is meant to intensify the mood, but the colour scheme also sometimes renders it hard to discern what is happening. The film has also been edited in that rapid, kinetic style by Dylan Tichenor (who has worked with the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson and Wes Anderson) which sometimes renders the action incomprehensible. And too many of the characters seems too similar and we never really get a handle on them and what makes them tick.
Strong performances from Affleck, Winslet and Harrelson bolster the film. Winslet steps into a role originally intended for Cate Blanchett (who wisely said “nyet”), but she adopts a convincing Russian accent and a cool icy demeanour. Affleck delivers one of his best perfomances yet as the fresh faced cop unaware of the corruption surrounding him. Harrelson is also good as the seedy and jaded veteran cop with an addiction problem, a role that has some similarities to his recent work in True Detective and the gritty drama Rampart.
Unfortunately, talented players like Anthony Mackie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Clifton Collins jr, Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul and The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus find themselves stuck with cliched, one-dimensional characters ands do not leave much of an impression.
With its convoluted plotting and cliched characters, Triple 9 is unfortunately just another police action thriller that doesn’t really offer anything particualrly new or surprising.
John Hillcoat has an impressive back catalogue to show off. All of them tapping into a vein of masculinity being tested. Whether it be Ray Winstone saving face in The Proposition, Viggo Mortensen going above and beyond fatherly duties in The Road, or literally every cell mate in Ghosts… Of the Civil Dead. Based on a screenplay by Matt Cook, Triple 9 lets Hillcoat return to these themes and, well, triple them. Not always to great effect.
In Atlanta, Georgia, three professional criminals (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Norman Reedus and Aaron Paul) join up with two corrupt lawmen (Anthony Mackie and Clifton Collins Jnr) to rob a bank at the behest of a Russian mob wife (Kate Winslet). She stiffs the group on their reward, politely and violently asking them do one last robbery for the sake of her incarnated husband.
Each of the man has a lot to lose, financially and personally, if they don’t steam ahead. Ejiofor, for example, will lose custody rights to the kid he’s fathered with Winslet’s sister. So, realizing that the robbery is impossible unless they come up with a big enough distraction, the decision is made to kill a cop on the day. With Atlanta’s police searching for a cop killer, they should have plenty of time to get in and out unnoticed. Enter Casey Affleck as Mackie’s new partner, who he clearly doesn’t care for.
Triple 9 is bolshy, angry and suffers from excess in all departments. With such a pedigree of cast on display, I haven’t even mentioned Woody Harrelson yet, it’s understandable the film wants to get plenty of bang for its buck.
This should be an ensemble piece, but it feels like Triple 9 can’t decide who its focus is. Is it Affleck stumbling around naively? Is it Mackie wrestling with his subconscious? Perhaps it’s Ejiofor battling to see his son. Triple 9 wants it to be all of them. And that’s fine, but it doesn’t achieve its goals.
Meanwhile, Hillcoat’s direction paints a suitably sweaty, gritty world lit in blue and red. At it’s best, it’s a reminder of Ghosts… of the Civil Dead. At it’s worst it’s Heat as directed by Michael Bay, where men are real chest beating men and women have minimal dialogue or clothing. That’s not an exaggeration as Triple 9 ensures that anyone remotely female is saved for background or wifely duties. It’s only really Winslet that manages to rise above the heap and she does so with an outrageous accent.
There is still a lot to enjoy here, with some breathtaking set pieces that suggest Hillcoat could be eyeing up an action movies as his next gig. But this is then clouded by overripe dialogue, undercooked characterisation and so much backstabbing it makes Wild Things blush. Please understand, this isn’t a bad film. It’s perfectly serviceable, but it is not what we expect from Hillcoat, who has proven in the past he can play with restraint. Enjoyable, but a bit of a misstep.
Triple 9, directed by John Hillcoat and containing a decent cast consisting of Kate Winslet, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson and many more. Personally I am not one who is into all the Police and crime films but after seeing Triple 9 I must say that is a film that is definitely worth watching. The film opens with a bang consisting of a bank robbery and from that point on the film is non-stop action. There aren’t any big defying scenes of the film that consist of car chases and explosions but the film is very confronting when it comes to the criminal side of things. The film has a lot of graphic scenes which really gives the film a very dark feel to it. Some of the things I liked about the film was the story and the acting. The story itself had many twists and turns that you don’t see coming and it adds so much to the film when you see something you don’t believe would happen. The acting in the film from all the actors was incredible. The pure emotion that was seen on screen was great to me.
If your a fan of the Police and crime films this is a film that you really should go see.
Summary: A young teenager teams up with an aging scammer and his daughter after he fails a High School exam.
Australian Cinema Release Date: N/A
Australian DVD Release Date: 15th January 2016
Director: Ben Chessell
Screenwriter: Ben Chessell, Laurence Leung
Cast: Eddie Baroo (Stu), Chris Broadstock (Andy), Ferdinand Hoang (Leo), Jacek Koman (Riley), Lawrence Leung (himself), Yang Li (Uncle Sam), John Luc (Lawrence), Shaun Micallef (Harry), Sophie Ross (Joy), Linda Scharagger (Mai-Ling), Dalip Sondhi (Rashid), Timothy Spall (The Professor), Jacinta Stapleton (Alice), Kat Stewart (Emma), Lily Sullivan (Sarah)
Runtime: 90 mins
OUR SUCKER REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Normally when you think of a heist film you think of big stakes and huge amounts of action. It’s how modern day cinema has programmed us with films like Oceans 11 and The Fast And The Furious pushing the boundaries of the genre with every entry into their franchise. But now comes a heist movie with a real difference. Low budget film Sucker takes a look at the smaller heist and scams that probably go on around the world every single day. Hell, you’ve probably been a victim of them and not even realised.
The man pulling the scams is the aging rip off merchant who names himself The Professor (Timothy Spall). He has been successfully (and sometimes not so successfully) scamming people right around Australia for most of his life. Sure it might just be $50 here or $100 there but it pays the bills and keeps him going, he is more than happy. For the last few years he has also had his beautiful and skilful daughter, Sarah (Lily Sullivan) by his side. While she makes the scams easier she also causes The Professor pain as it makes him remember when he was blindsided himself with his ex-wife.
Then along comes Lawrence (John Luc who many would know as Youtube sensation MyChonny) a naive young Asian teenager who has just failed his family by being caught on his end of year school exams. Eager to make a change in his life (and perhaps just to escape his family for a while) Lawrence becomes intrigued by the world that The Professor lives in and decides that he wants to be his protégé.
Anyone expecting Sucker to compete on the same par as the above mentioned franchises is in for a big shock. Rather than you dazzle you with a massive amount of special effects and huge named stars Sucker is much more a well told character tale. Aside from the whole narrative idea of going along with the idea that this is comedian Lawrence Leung’s life story (or is it?) most of Sucker actually works pretty well.
The screenplay which comes from the pens of Lawrence Leung and director Ben Chessell (who has made his mark with directing hit television shows like Rush and Offspring) actually ends up working on a number of levels. There are a number of moments of comedy which do actually make the audience laugh but the power in this script is the basic yet interesting scams they have managed to include throughout the film.
Yes you do start to care about what happens to Lawrence, especially when the young virgin starts to develop feelings for Sarah, but what really holds your interest is just how basic and simple these various scams are and just how well they work. From scamming chess clubs to finding ways to make money while visiting country pubs these scams are really basic but as an audience you can’t wait to see what the reveal is or whether or not the characters get away with it or not.
Like a lot of Australian films there are some cheesy moments in Sucker but largely the good outweighs the bad. As I mentioned the film does have an emotional level, it’s not just scam after scam or trick after trick. As an audience you do actually invest an interest in the romance between Lawrence and Sarah, especially when you realise what a convincing con artist she is and you can’t help but wonder whether her affection is real or all part of another big scam. You also find yourself concerned about The Professor. The back story of his broken heart adds another element to his character but once again you are never one hundred per cent sure whether you can trust him or not. It might be a subtle kind of suspense that the filmmakers have come up with, but it is certainly there throughout the film.
The legendary Timothy Spall laps up this script with clear actor’s delight. Many of The Professor’s scams involve him pretending to be intoxicated and Spall takes these scenes and runs with them over-acting to his heart’s content. As an actor though he is also smart enough to know when to rope this character again and also gives The Professor moments of deep emotion and also cruel anger. Spall is well backed up by young Lily Sullivan who backs up her sensational performance in Galore to show why she should be considered one of Australia’s most promising young talents… it really is only a matter of time before Hollywood notices her. Making up the team is John Luc who despite his inexperience as an actor never gets blown out of the water by his much more experience co-stars and he reveals himself to be a future comedic force in the Australian film industry.
Sucker is a low budget gem that will have you laughing one moment and then deeply concerned the next. The film is made even more special by the acting talents of Timothy Spall but is well conceived scams that the screenwriters have come up with that will keep you watching.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Sucker reviews: You can listen to our full Daddy’s Home review on a future episode of The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show. You can also read our Sucker review on The Book The Film The T-Shirt.
Summary: When FBI Agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), her partner Reggie (Daniel Kaluuya) and her boss, Jennings (Victor Garber) accidentally uncover a Mexican drug cartel’s house of death Kate suddenly finds herself thrust into a brand new, very dangerous world.
With Jennings’ blessing Kate finds herself recruited to join a black-op mission led by special Agent Matt graver (Josh Brolin) and a Columbian operative known only as Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro). The mission soon sees Kate very much in the middle of the borderland drug war in a word where there seems to be no rules whether you are on the side of good or evil.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th September 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Screenwriter: Taylor Sheridan
Cast: Edgar Arreola (Guillermo), Jon Bernthal (Ted), Emily Blunt (Kate Macer), Josh Brolin (Matt Graver), Julio Cedillo (Fausto Alarcon), Benicio Del Toro (Alejandro), Laurence Scott Deveraux (Alex Driver), Jeffrey Donovan (Steve Forsing), Victor Garber (Dave Jennings), David Garver (Bob Fisks), Maximiliano Hernandez (Silvio), Daniel Kaluuya (Reggie Wayne), Lora Martinez-Cunningham (Jacinta), Jesus Nevarez-Castillo (Eliseo), Hank Rogerson (Phil Coopers), Bernardo P. Saracino (Manuel Diaz), Boots Southerland (U.S. Marshall Keith), Adam Taylor (U.S. Marshall Kevin), Matthew Tompkins (Jessie Garza), Raoul Trujillo (Rafael), Kevin Wiggins (Burnett)
Runtime: 121 mins
OUR SICARIO REVIEWS & RATINGS:
No I’m not chucking in my card to the Comic Book And Cult Film Lovers Association but one of the films I was most looking forward to this year was Sicario. Yes I am not too embarrassed to admit that the fact that a certain director is at the helm of a movie is sometimes enough to make me wanna see a film and that was certainly the case here. See to me Denis Villeneuve’s last film was a cinematic masterpiece. I can watch Prisoners over and over again and find something new that I like about each time, add that to the fact that Villeneuve was directing a borderland crime film starring Josh Brolin and yes Sicario had me at hello. My biggest fear for Sicario was that Hollywood would have claimed Villeneuve and that he would decide to rope in his grittiness and harshness, luckily that certainly isn’t the case here.
Many have labeled Sicario a blockbuster for this year, yet that title just doesn’t seem to fit comfortably with this film. This film is harsh, bloody harsh and it’s not hard to see that the popcorn set are going to struggle with the film’s brutal opening in with Kate finds a house that contains more dead bodies than your local morgue. And in typical Villeneuve fashion he doesn’t make it easy watch for its audience, no as he goes in for the close-up on a decaying man’s face you are well and truly aware of the fact that while he is making a Hollywood film he certainly hasn’t been claimed by Hollywood.
Visually Sicario is a blessing. Villeneuve along with DOP Roger Deakins have made this movie look like some kind of modern day western with it’s yellow tinge and cinematic aerial desert shots, and somehow that works wonders with Brolin and Del Toro cruising around like modern day Sherrifs seeking vengeance. Sadly though Sicario’s screenplay isn’t always as good as the visuals the audience are being treated to. Unlike Prisoners this film has some weak points that leave the audience shaking their head, nothing major but little moments like Kate picking up the Police Officer in the bar… isn’t it just too much coincidence that her partner would just happen to be good friends with the guy?
Still there are powerful moments in Sicario, moments that are so powerful that they will stick in your mind for ages. From the fact that this is a very much anti-Mexican tourism video as Villeneuve takes you past bodies hanging from Mexican border-town overpasses to suspenseful scenes such as the border battle which will have any cinema lover watching with baited breath. Then there is the magnificent finale with Del Toro and a dining table… I’m not going to say anything else but that as I don’t want to spoil the film… but hell it is one of the most suspenseful scenes you are going to see in cinema for a long, long time. Adding to the suspense all throughout this film is the pounding soundtrack that simply becomes a character upon itself.
Now you may have heard some people criticize Emily Blunt’s acting performance in Sicario. Don’t believe it. She puts in a great effort and those complaining about her performance are simply looking for something that doesn’t need to be there. Kate is not Lara Croft in a Police uniform. She’s a very innocent but good at her job cop normally used to dealing with hostage situations who suddenly finds herself thrown into a world she just doesn’t understand. Anyone that goes into this film expecting Blunt to be the gun-ho character she was in Edge Of Tomorrow is going to be disappointed, it’s just not what Kate is.
Then there is Brolin and Del Toro who knock their performances out of the park. Brolin is gruff and rough as you expect him to be and is well backed up by Del Toro who has an air of mystery about him from the moment he first appears on the screen here. Some of the Del Toro’s performances have been a little questionable recently (no I still have not recovered from that scene with him, Diaz and a windshield in The Counselor) but here he bounces back with a brutal performance and for once he doesn’t over act his way through it. He’s just on song.
If you’re a fan of Denis Villeneuve’s past films you are certainly not going to be disappointed by Sicario. It is brutal, rough and in-your-face, just the way a crime thriller should be. Brolin and Del Toro bring their A-Games and this is one film that is a must see for 2015.
Summary: Based on actual events London Road looks at the reactions of local residents in a quiet street named London Road in Ipswich whose peaceful neighborhood was at first disturbed by the arrival of prostitutes deciding to sell their trade in their street and then the craziness and fear that resulted after a serial killer murdered five of the woman.
With a script that has dialogue that comes straight from the interviews conducted with the residents over a three year period London Road explores how everyday people such as a taxi driver named Mark (Tom Hardy) and local residents like Dodge (Paul Thornley) and Julie (Olivia Colman) cope with the resulting media and Police circus.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th September 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Rufus Norris
Screenwriter: Alecky Blythe
Cast: Angela Bain (Kath), Rae Baker (Anglia Newsreader), Jason Barnett (Chris Eakin), Gillian Bevan (Colette McBeth), Clare Burt (Jan), Steve Carroll (Tony – Kerb Crawler), Olivia Colman (Julie), Rosealie Craig (Kelly McCormack), Calvin Demba (Alec), Anita Dobson (June), James Doherty (Seb), Kate Fleetwood (Vicky), Hal Fowler (David Crabtree), Michael Fox (Nightclub Bill), Richard Frame (Jason Photographer), Jenny Galloway (Margaret), Jonathan Glew (Steve Cameraman), Amy Griffiths (Sarah), Anna Hale (Jessica), Tom Hardy (Taxi Driver Mark), Linzi Hateley (Helen), Janet Henfrey (Ivy), Rose Hilal (Hayley), Paul Hilton (Tim), Nick Holder (Ron), Ruby Holder (Stephanie), Philip Howard (Bob), Sean Kinglsey (Alan), Mark Lockyer (Grahame Cooper), Helen Lymbery (Stella), Barry McCarthy (Harry), Jayne McKenna (Imelda), Claire Moore (Counciller Carole), Michael Shaeffer (Simon Newton), Mark Sheals (Wayne), Nicola Sloane (Rosemary), Frank Stone (George – Kerb Crawler), Paul Thornley (Dodge), Morgan Walters (Graeme), Howard Ward (Terry), Duncan Wiseby (Gordon)
Runtime: 91 mins
OUR LONDON ROAD REVIEWS & RATINGS:
London Road is not an easy film to talk about because to be brutally honest this is a film that is going to divide cinemagoers like no other film this year. On the one hand London Road is a breath of fresh air in the cinema, a type of film that we haven’t really seen before. But then on the other hand all the things that make it so different are also the things that are going to make this film appeal to a very small audience indeed.
For those not in the know London Road is based on the popular National Theatre production that had critics and audiences raving. Now the name National Theatre shouldn’t be foreign to cinema lovers any more. Over the past few years the theatre company have reached out into cinemas with countless productions that have featured some of cinemas’ biggest names – Danny Boyle directed Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch in Frankenstein, Kenneth Branagh directed Macbeth and Gillian Anderson starred in A Streetcar Named Desire. With these productions filling cinemas worldwide it is very little wonder that the National Theatre have decided to look at other ways to bring their work to the cinema and the result is London Road, a film that is produced by them, stars most of their actors and is directed by Rufus Norris, a Tony nominated theatre director who has had a few films reach the cinemas over the years as well.
Now this is where things get tricky for London Road. The idea of creating a modern day musical about a spate of prostitute murders is so different to anything we have ever seen before that it is actually something that is worth watching. At times the film does really draw you in but the alternative style of musical theatre that makes up the score never really allows its audience to comfortably forget the fact they are watching a musical. The key to a good musical films – things like Sweeney Todd, Moulin Rouge or Rock Of Ages – is to make the audience forget that most of the dialogue is being delivered in song, but here the fact that the songs often contain the one piece of dialogue used over and over again, and the fact that in trying to make this film feel natural they haven’t selected the best singers in the world means that for the entire film you are conscious of the fact that you are watching a musical.
On the plus side though London Road is different enough that it does draw you in. You genuinely feel sorry for the innocent members of the public that through no fault of their own got swept up in this Ipswich Ripper case and at times the directional hand of Rufus Norris does creatively show things such as how scared young girls were scared to walk down the street or were judging every man they meet. Moments like a radio station capitalizing on the murders by running a promotion giving away personal alarms for women are memorable but the most powerful part of this film is when you start to hear the stories of some of the prostitutes who worked in London Road at the time and the effect that the murders had on them.
Aside from those moments the other thing that works for London Road is the fact that there will be one or two characters that each audience member will warm to and you find yourselves really wanting to go on the journey with them. Dodge played by Paul Thornley is one such character and he is one of the more interesting characters. Unfairly you sometimes wonder if he is the killer because of his appearance and seemingly unhealthy obsession with the prostitutes early on the film, and as a result characters like this become a lot more interesting then people like Mark who you know have only been added to the film to get a big name actor like Tom Hardy into the film. While these appearances are a little unnecessary we do learn rather quickly that it’s a good thing that Nolan didn’t want Hardy to portray a musical version of Bain.
London Road is a film that is only going to be lapped up by a very small clique of audience members. Its musical stylings are a little too alternative for you traditional musical lovers while the film is too musical for lovers of alternative cinema. It’s quite a pickle the film finds itself in, but the core problem is that the filmmakers didn’t seem to realise that audiences are a lot more open to alternative theatre than alternative film. Still London Road is worth a look if you like your cinema on the quirky side and it certainly shouldn’t be described as a bad film.
Summary: Set in Brazil, three kids who make a discovery in a garbage dump soon find themselves running from corrupt cops, gangsters and one another in an attempt to right a terrible wrong.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 30th April, 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United Kingdom, Brazil
Director: Stepeh Daldry
Screenwriter: Felipe Braga, Richard Curtis, Andy Mulligan (novel)
Cast: Christiane Amanpour (herself), Jesuita Barbosa (Turk), Jose Dumont (Carlos), Maria Eduardo (Pia), Eduardo Luis (Gardo), Rooney Mara (Olivia), Selton Mello (Frederico), Wagner Moura (Jose Angelo), Stephen Nercessian (Santos), Andre Ramiro (Marco), Martin Sheen (Father Juilliard), Rickson Tevez (Raphael), Gabriel Weinstein (Rato), Nelson Xavier (Jefferson)