Brand new thriller Searching has the whole world talking at the moment. This is a film that has been filmed in a way that we haven’t seen before and early reports out of the USA is that this is the film that will change the future of filmmaking. Now the cast and crew take us behind the scnes to show us just how this movie was made.
Directed by first time director Aneesh Chaganty and starring John Cho (Star Trej, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle) Searching will hit cinemas in August.
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: In a small Midwestern town, a troubled teen with homicidal tendencies must hunt down and destroy a supernatural killer whilst keeping his own inner demons at bay.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 29th September 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: 9th November, 2016
Country: Ireland, UK
Director: Billy O’Brien
Screenwriter: Christopher Hyde, Billy O’Brien, Dan Wells (novel)
Cast: Christina Baldwin (Margaret), Elizabeth Belfiori (Rachel), Laura Fraser (April), James Gaulke (Principal Layton), Karl Geary (Sr. Neblin), Lucy Lawton (Brooke Watson), Michael Paul Levin (Roger Bowen), Christopher Lloyd (Crowley), Dee Noah (Kay Crowley), Tommy O’Brien (Ethan Watson), Tony Papenfuss (Ron The Coroner), Max Records (John Wayne Cleaver), Tim Russell (Olson the Barber), Mary Kay Schmitt (Mrs. Anderson), Dane Stauffer (Mark Watson)
Runtime: 104 mins
OUR I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Horror films have got decisively smarter over the years. The old school slice ‘n’ dice slashers that wowed audience in the 1980s and 1990s seem alarmingly redundant as horror film makers have discovered what really scares an audience is a film that can really get inside the head of those watching it and give them a good psychological scare. That is certainly the case with director Billy O’Brien’s (Isolation) new film I Am Not A Serial Killer which gets inside you head as a good psychological thriller and then delivers a special twist for all horror fans out there.
Set in a small American town I Am Not A Serial Killer centres around sixteen year old John Wayne Cleaver (Max Records – Where The Wild Things Are), a teenager who is obsessed by serial killers, works as an embalmer with his mother April (Laura Fraser – A Knight’s Tale) and has been diagnosed as a clinical sociopath by his therapist Dr. Neblin (Karl Geary – The Burrowers).
John fights against his urges to kill by doing small things like smiling at people who make him angry and helping out with those less fortunate than those around him, like his elderly neighbour Crowley (Christopher Lloyd – Back To The Future). However when a spate of murders start happening in the town it sparks John’s interest and he wants to try and find out exactly who is doing it.
Anyone out there who wants to learn how to write a great screenplay should start by sitting down and watching I Am Not A Serial Killer. Billy O’Brien teams up with Christopher Hyde (Last Light) to create an amazing script based on the novel by Dan Wells. When the two took on this challenge it was no small feat. While the novel was considered a young adult novel, it was a film that had to be different to other young adult films like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. While many were impressed by the ‘darkness’ of The Hunger Games this film has to go even darker and it explores going inside the head of a teenager who every day fights the urge to kill those around him.
Somehow O’Brien and Hyde manage to achieve this goal and they create a film that is part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age film with a little twist of horror. Not only do that but they manage to make this a film with believable dialogue and even make the young sociopath a character that the audience want to root for as he sets about trying to solve the murders that are terrifying the town. The realistic dialogue just adds to the naturalistic feel brought to the film by cinematographer Robbie Ryan (Philomena), a feel that is quite common in British cinema but but still matches this film’s American scene well.The screenplay also shows his hand as a great psychological thriller as it keeps its audience guessing – first of all to who is committing the murders and even after that is revealed the film doesn’t lose any of its suspense as it becomes a game of cat and mouse between an experienced serial killer and teenager who dreams about doing the same.
As this film is guaranteed to become a cult classic as the years go by this is also going to do for young Max Records’ career what the film Brick did for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Watching this film you would never pick that this is the little boy from Where The Wild Things Are and instead he has turned into a fine character actor who deserves to be winning awards for this film. He brings the role to life amazingly well and never seems out of his depth not even when in scenes with the very experienced Christopher Lloyd who is also playing against type.
Despite having a limited release in Australia I Am Not A Serial Killer is one of the best films of 2016. This gritty film is enough to show just how strong the British indie scene as this is one of the best psychological thrillers to surface since Prisoners and Nightcrawler. This is an amazing film that is not to be missed.
This gripping low budget psychological thriller mixes the familiar coming of age themes with outright horror tropes and a touch of the supernatural.
Sixteen-year-old John Wayne Cleaver (played by Max Records, the misunderstood young hero from Spike Jonze’s Where The Wild Things Are) is a troubled adolescent, a misfit with a morbid fascination with death and serial killers. He is something of an outsider, and he has written school essays on notorious serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer and the BTK killer, which concerns his principal. He works as an embalmer with his mother April (Laura Fraser), a morgue technician, at the family funeral parlour, and this feeds his fascination with death. He has been diagnosed with clinical sociopathy, but he is able to keep his dark homicidal urges at bay through regular therapy sessions with Dr Neblin (Karl Geary). He has established his own set of rules to keep these killer thoughts at bay. He also does good deeds to help his elderly amiable neighbour Mr Crowley (Back To The Future‘s Christopher Lloyd) and his invalid wife.
That is until a vicious serial killer begins leaving a trail of bodies behind in his small home town. Mysterious black sludge is found at the scene of the murders, and it appears that the killer is harvesting the organs of victims. John investigates and soon discovers the identity of the killer. But rather than go to the police with the information he tries to catch him. In doing this he puts himself and his family and a few friends firmly in the crosshairs of a killer.
The film is based on Dan Wells’ best-selling YA novel from 2009 and has an unusually darker sensibility for a piece of teen fiction. The director is Billy O’Brien (Isolation, etc), who has a strong visual style and creates an unsettling atmosphere and slowly mounting air of dread and suspense. He doesn’t pull his punches with the darker themes and there are some gruesome moments that are not for the squeamish. The body count rises and the film gradually grows darker in tone. But there are also some rather black moments of humour interspersed throughout the narrative to leaven the tone.
Like The Town That Dreaded Sundown and David Lynch’s bizarre Blue Velvet, this creepy thriller strips away the veneer of small town America and finds something nasty and sinister just below the surface. Irish cinematographer Robbie Ryan (Fish Tank, The Angels’ Share, etc) has shot the film in 16mm, which adds to the gritty visual style and the moody atmosphere that captures a distinctly 80s aesthetic. Ryan’s cold and crisp cinematography captures the subtle menace of this small town and its harsh wintry vistas and John’s somewhat bleak world view. O’Brien gives us a strong sense of place and we can almost feel the chill from the snow covered environment.
The film boasts some solid performances. Records is well cast here as the obsessed teen, a junior version of Dexter with his obsessions and quirky behaviour, and he holds our attention throughout the film. He brings a disconnected coldness and lack of empathy to his performance. His name is an intriguing mixture of both John Wayne the iconic American film star and hero, John Wayne Gacy the notorious serial killer, and Beaver Cleaver, the all-American kid from the 50s television show. In one of his best performances for quite some time Lloyd brings subtle nuances and a creepy element to his performance as the seemingly kindly old neighbour. Fraser brings a sense of compassion to her role as John’s mother who seems protective of her son even though she doesn’t understand him.
I Am Not A Serial Killer undergoes some surprising and unexpected shifts in tone, moving from teen friendly murder mystery to darker territory. This clever and engaging thriller is perfect fodder for late night screenings, and could possibly become something of a cult film in the future.
Summary: A story set on the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, which exploded during April 2010 and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 6th October 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Peter Berg
Screenwriter: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Matthew Sand
Cast: Joel Allen (Old Man Carl), Stella Allen (Sydney), Jonathan Angel (Gordon Jones), Peter Berg (Mr. Skip), Robert Walker Branchaud (Doug Brown), Anthony Centonze (Dan Barron/Roughneck #1), Joe Chrest (Sims), James DuMont (O’Bryan), J.D. Evermore (Dewey A. Revette), Henry Frost (Shane M. Roshto), Douglas M. Griffin (Landry), Garrett Hines (Wyman Wheeler), Michael Howell (Roy Wyatt Kemp), Kate Hudson (Felicia), Jason Kirkpatrick (Aaron Dale Burkeen), Garrett Kruithof (Karl Kleppinger Jnr.), Brad Leland (Kaluza), David Maldonado (Kuchta), John Malkovich (Vidrine), Terry Milam (Keith Blair Manuel), Dylan O’Brien (Caleb Holloway), Mayla Parker (Natlie (voice)), Jason Pine (Stephen Ray Curtis), Gina Rodriguez (Andrea Fleytas), Kurt Russell (Jimmy Harrell), Jeremy Sande (Adam Weise), Juston Street (Anthony Gervasio), Ethan Suplee (Jason Anderson), Deneen Tyler (Paula Walker), Mark Wahlberg (Mike Williams), Ronald Weaver (Donald Clark)
Runtime: 107 mins
OUR DEEPWATER HORIZON REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) has to be one of the most underrated film directors going around. Barring the ill-fated Battleship Berg has created always created films and television shows that felt as natural as can be. Lone Survivor made the audience feel that they were right there on the battlefield while many made the mistake of watching Friday Night Lights and thought they were watching a reality television show about a High School football team. Now Berg has taken that natural style of film-making and introduced it to the disaster film genre.
Deepwater Horizon tells the true story of electrician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg – Lone Survivor) who in 2010 left his wife, Felicia (Kate Hudson – Almost Famous), and once again went to work on the oil rig named ‘Deepwater Horizon’ in the Gulf Of Mexico. What he didn’t know was that on that fateful day due to poor work safety practices by BP an accident would occur that would cause the rig to erupt into flames. Suddenly Mike and his colleagues including his boss Mr. Jimmy (Kurt Russell – The Thing), radio operator Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez – Filly Brown), hard worker Caleb Holloway (Dylan O’Brien – The Maze Runner) and BP representative Vidrine (John Malkovich – Red 2) all find themselves fighting for their lives.
As a filmmaker Berg should be congratulated for his work with Deepwater Horizon. It was no secret that some of the survivors of the real Deepwater Horizon disaster were hesitant in wanting this film to be made, but they need not of worried. Berg certainly doesn’t ‘trivialize’ the memory of the men who died on that fateful day by making this a popcorn action film. Instead he makes this a character drama about not only the men who died on that day but also shows the world the valiant actions of people like Mike Williams whose brave acts saved many of the workers. To his credit Berg also doesn’t hide the facts of exactly what happened that day – no he points the finger firmly at BP without any hesitation even though he wouldn’t have known how the huge corporation would have reacted to it.
Many films these days claim to be suspenseful but few filmmakers have the skills to make the audience feel as part of the action and suspense as Berg does here. While with Lone Survivor the audience felt they were there on the side of the hill during the battle here Berg’s realistic style of directing makes the audience feel you are right there on the rig with Mike… you even at times feel like you can feel the heat of the flames against your skin.
Berg’s filmmaking is also well supported by his screen writers who don’t waste time making this film too scientific. The audience is given bite-sized pieces of information about what an oil rig does and what has gone wrong here but they never forget that at the heart of this film it is a character drama. So instead of focusing on the ins and outs of the rig they concentrate the suspense around a man trying to get home to his daughter and wife and a scared woman trying to survive in order to see her partner again. The fact that little things like a dinosaur tooth for show-and-tell and car problems back home are so seamlessly inserted into the script just go even further into humanizing this story. Having said that though it is also important to point out the Berg and his cinematographer, Enrique Chediak (The 5th Wave), also create some amazing action sequences as the rig burns against a night sky.
As a director Berg also brings the best out in his cast. Here Mark Wahlberg delivers the best of both worlds as he plays the action hero extremely well but also has the dramatic acting ability to pull off the character driven elements of the screenplay as well. Kurt Russell also benefits from one of the more meatier roles he has been given over the years and he is well matched by John Malkovich who is technically this film’s ‘bad guy.’ Despite her limited screen time Kate Hudson is also one of the standouts of the film.
Deepwater Horizon is proof that a modern day disaster film can actually find the right mix of action and character drama. Brilliant directing by Peter Berg makes this one of the must see films of 2016.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Deepwater Horizon Reviews: Nil
Summary: You remember nothing. Mainly because you’ve just been brought back from the dead by your wife who tells you that your name is Henry. Five minutes later, you are being shot at, your wife has been kidnapped, and you should probably go and get her back. You’re also in the unfamiliar city of Moscow, and everyone wants you dead. if you can survive the insanity and solve the mystery, you might just discover your purpose and the truth behind your identity.
Australian Cinema Release Date: N/A
Australian DVD Release Date: 3rd August, 2016
Country: USA, Russia
Director: Ilya Naishuller
Screenwriter: Ilya Naishuller
Cast: Haley Bennett (Estelle), Darya Charusga (Katya the Dominatrix), Martin Cooke (Marty), Sharlto Copley (Jimmy), Andrei Dementiev (Henry/Slick Dmitry), Danila Kozlovsky (Akan), Ilya Naishuller (Henry/Timothy/Higher-Self Merc), Aleksander Pal (Mr. Fahrenheit), Oleg Poddubnyy (Yuri), Tim Roth (Henry’s Father), Liya Sitdikova (Ella the Whore), Will Stewart (Robbie), Svetlana Ustinova (Olga the Dominatrix), Sergey Valyaev (Henry/Beaten Up Boyfriend)
Runtime: 96 mins
OUR HARDCORE HENRY REVIEWS & RATINGS:
You just know from the get go that Hardcore Henry is the type of film that is going to divide audiences. If you’re an audience member that doesn’t like graphic violence and has never played a first-person shooter video game then there is a high chance you aren’t going to like the film. If you’re an avid gamer or like your action films to try something a little different then you are going to be in your element with a film that gets two thumbs up from this reviewer.
Told from a POV perspective Hardcore Henry begins with Henry (Andrei Dementiev – Biting Elbows) waking up in a laboratory where he is being given robotic arms and legs by his scientist wife, Estelle (Haley Bennett – The Equalizer). The next thing he knows Estelle is being kidnapped by a criminal with telekinetic powers, Akan (Danila Kozlovsky – Vampire Academy), who also seems to want Henry dead as well.
The result is Henry lost in a city he doesn’t know, Moscow, and having to hunt down Akan in order to find Estelle. As he does so he learns more and more about his new robotic self while receiving orders and help from a man of many disguises, Jimmy (Sharlto Copeley – District 9).
Many cinema goers would dismiss Hardcore Henry as a cheap gimmick with very little artistic merit, but nothing could be further from the truth. Any person with any knowledge of filmmaking would know that what director Ilya Naishuller (Biting Elbows) does here is nothing short of cinematic brilliance. The thought of filming an action film from the POV of the hero sounds like an epic task that most filmmakers could only dream about, but the idea of doing it using Go Pro camera attached to an actor/stuntmen would send most directors to a rubber room where they would rock back and forth constantly.
Yet somehow Naishuller manages to pull all of this off. And we aren’t just talking about a hero that does a lot of running and shooting we are talking about a hero that takes plunges off bridges, jumps from trucks to motorbikes and likes blowing things up. Yes Naishuller doesn’t take the easy way out and the result is a sleek (didn’t think I would be saying that when I heard that this film was a POV film) action film with a lot of inventive shots and sequences.
To Naishuller’s credit his screenplay also holds up with the alternative filmmaking as well. Again the film’s storyline is not stereotypical and while most of the film is set in the action genre the telekinectic powers of the main ‘baddie’ sees it delve into the sci-fi realm as well. Yes it might be a bit of a surprise at first but once you are used to it it works just fine and even raises the suspense and you start to wonder just how Henry will every find a way to defeat Akan. The screenplay itself also provides enough twists and turns along the way to make sure you are constantly trying to guess just what will happen next.
Perhaps the most interesting side of Hardcore Henry though is the acting. There is a film where you only once get a glimpse of the leading man’s face yet you have to say that the array of stuntmen who play Henry do a magnificent job and you are there with them for the entire ride. The person who steals the limelight in most of the scenes he is in however is Sharlto Copley who gets to mix his action sequences with some well-timed comedy… something that he is very, very good at.
Hardcore Henry is a true action film with a difference. The POV style proves to be worthy and a lot more than just a gimmick while it also contains a killer soundtrack that matches the film to a tee. Write off this film at your own peril
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Hardcore Henry Reviews: Nil
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 father named Roy (Michael Shannon) goes on the run with his son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), after the boy’s special powers attracts the attention of a cult who believes he delivers messages from God and also the CIA.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 21st April 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States
Director: Jeff Nichols
Screenwriter: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Lynn Berry (herself), Sean Bridgers (Fredrick), Kerry Cahill (Linda), Bill Camp (Doak), Adam Driver (Sevier), Kirsten Dunst (Sarah Tomlin), Joel Edgerton (Lucas), Lucy Faust (Caroline), Sharon Garrison (Jane Adams), Dana Gourrier (Sharon Davison), Nancy Grace (herself), Scott Haze (Levi), David Jensen (Elden), Allison King (Hannah), Sharon Landry (Merrianne), Jaeden Lieberher (Alton Meyer), Michael Shannon (Roy), Sam Shepard (Calvin Meyer), Paul Sparks (Agent Miller)
Runtime: 112 mins
OUR MIDNIGHT SPECIAL REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Jeff Nichols has really announced himself as one of the best modern day filmmakers over the past few years. To be honest Nichols is yet to make a bad film, and his features which have included Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter and Mud have been gems that have regularly made my Top Ten films lists of the years they were released. Hell, I would go as far as to say that Mud is right up there as one of the best modern day films made. For that reason alone when I heard that his new film, Midnight Special, was a dark edged sci-fi that just happened to star two of my favourite actors, Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton, I was just as excited as I was about the release of Captain America: Civil War or Batman vs Superman.
Midnight Special begins with Roy (Michael Shannon – Man Of Steel) on the run from the law after he and his childhood friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton – The Gift) snatched his son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher – St. Vincent) from a cult where it is expected that Alton and his supernatural gifts will continue to be the cult’s bridge between themselves and God.
But as Roy and Lucas rush to get Alton first of all to his mother, Sarah (Kirsten Dunst – Melancholia), and then to the co-ordinates that he has been sent, the journey is made dangerous by the fact that they are pursued by henchmen sent by cult leader, Calvin Meyer (Sam Shepherd – Mud) and law enforcement agencies led by Sevier (Adam Driver – Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Then there is the fact that Alton’s supernatural powers seem to be changing all the time, sometimes with catastrophic results.
There is no doubt that Midnight Special is going to frustrate some audience members. The film begins with an amazing opening as Nichols has the courage not to let the audience be able to figure out too much. In fact for the first 20-30 minutes you are led to believe that Alton has been kidnapped and you have absolutely no idea who Lucas is. The film keeps you completely in the dark to key information and that just adds to the suspense as you try to piece everything together like a jigsaw puzzle. That works remarkable well for the beginning of the film but what is annoying is when Nichols decides to do the same thing with the ending the film. There are so many unanswered questions in the end that it almost drives you crazy. In fact there are so many things left open that this is the one time I wouldn’t be angry if they decided to make a sequel to the film just to finish it off.
For the most part though Midnight Special works sensationally well. The way the film drifts from the cult storyline to a road-thriller shows that Nichols has the maturity to be a filmmaker that doesn’t shy away from throwing all the traditional filmmaking styles right out the window to get his story across. The fact that Nichols also manages to mix tropes from road trip and thriller movies into a film that ends up being a sci-fi also shows why he is one of the most exciting filmmakers of the modern generation.
Nichols’ well written screenplay also allows his cast to shine. As you would expect Edgerton and Shannon at their usual brilliant best while the film also allows Kirsten Dunst to remind audiences that she is still an actress who can really deliver when she is given the right material to work with. The script also lets Adam Driver show those who have been critical since his performance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens just how good he has always been in the indie filmmaking society. But the star here is clearly Jaeden Lieberther who like he did in the Bill Murray film St. Vincent shows the world how is destined to become one of the finest actors Hollywood has ever seen.
Midnight Special is the kind of film that has the potential to frustrate cinema goers who like a simple linear story, but if you like your sci-fi a little left of centre then you are going to adore this film. In fact this is the kind of movie that you’ll go to see and then urge your friends to see because you’ve loved it so much. Sure Midnight Special is not as good as Nichols’ previous films but it is still well worth a look.
Summary: High ranking British officials Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) and Lt. General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman) think that their hard work is finally paid off and they have been able to track the location of a number of terrorists in Kenya. When it is determined that all the terrorists will be in the same building for a meeting a plan is put in place to use drones to watch their movement and pounce when the time is right.
But when things start to go wrong and Powell and Benson realise that they are going to have to use American drone pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) for a kill mission, the whole case becomes political. That then esculates when a young girl innocently goes into the ‘kill zone’ to sell bread.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th March 2016
Australian DVD/Blu-Ray/On Demand Release Date: 20th July
Director: Gavin Hood
Screenwriter: Guy Hibbert
Cast: Barkhad Abdi (Jama Farah), Mohamed Abdirahmaan (Abdi), Ahmed Mohamed Ali (Omar), Carl Beukes (Sergeant Mike Gleeson), Babou Ceesay (Sergeant Mushtaq Saddiq), Bob Chappell (Simon Powell), Francis Chouler (Jack Cleary), Monica Dolan (Angela Northman), Kim Engelbrecht (Lucy Galvez), Sonia Esguiera (Esther Alvarez), Daniel Fox (Tom Bellamy), Phoebe Fox (Carrie Gershon), Iain Glen (James Willett), Armaan Haggio (Musa Mo’Allim), Abdullah Hassan (Shahid Ahmed), Dek Hassan (Abdullah Al-Hardy), Faisa Hassan (Fatima Mo’Allim), Jon Heffernan (Major Harold Webb), Gavin Hood (Lt. Colonel Ed Walsh), Graham Hopkins (Nigel Adler), Jessica Jones (Kate Barnes), Tyrone Keogh (Sammy), Liz King (Susan Danford/Ayesha Al-Hady), Vusi Kunene (Major Moses Owiti), Warren Masemola (Agent Atieno), Richard McCabe (George Matherson), Roberto Meyer (Rasheed Hamud), Helen Mirren (Colonel Katherine Powell), Ali Mohamed (Khalid), Ma Mohamed (Osman Abade), Jeremy Northam (Brian Woodale), Michael O’Keefe (Ken Stanitzke), Abdi Mohamed Osman (Amadu Mukhtar), Aaron Paul (Steve Watts), Alan Rickman (Lt. General Frank Benson), Laila Robins (Ms. Jillian Goodman), Zak Rowlands (Second Crewman – K. Moore), Monde Sibisi (Muhammad Abdisallam), Abdilatief Takow (Ali), Aisha Takow (Alia Mo’Allim), Lemogang Tsipa (Matt Levery), Luke Tyler (Robert Powell), Ebby Weyime (Damisi), Meganne Young (Lizzy)
Runtime: 102 mins
OUR EYE IN THE SKY REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Director Gavin Hood seems like he has a lot to say about the military and Government officials. Over the years he has delivered movies such as Rendition (which looked at CIA interrogation techniques), X-Men Origins: Wolverine which despite its blockbuster appeal was critical of military experiments on soldiers and his big journey into the sci-fi genre was Ender’s Game a film that was extremely critical about warfare and its involvement with children. Now Hood explores the notion of how politics can interfere with modern warfare with his latest offering, Eye In The Sky. Of course the importance of this film takes another big step forward after the sad death of Alan Rickman, this is his final performance on screen.
As a film itself Eye In The Sky holds its own but the similarities between it and a movie that surfaced last year called Good Kill (starring Ethan Hawke) are alarming. Surprisingly the two films would actually fit together as a good companion piece (take note those who program the films at The Astor), while Good Kill explored the effects that drone warfare has on the pilot that has to deliver the ‘kill’ Eye In The Sky looks at the dangers that occur when politics and modern warfare come face-to-face together.
To Hood’s credit Eye In The Sky would not have been an easy film to direct as the film is almost like two different films in one. While the shots on the ground in Kenya call for chases and action the scenes set back in England call for tense maybe dialogue driven scenes. To Hood’s credit he pulls off both equally as well as each other and it is absolute credit to him that some of the scenes set in the political offices are just as tense as the moments of action in Kenya. Ender’s Game taught as that Gavin Hood was a director to watch and Eye In The Sky shows audiences worldwide that he is a director that at the top of his game can produce a sleek military thriller.
To give the film credit though it really does explore the issue of politics and public relations getting in the way of modern warfare remarkably well. The film’s theory is probably best described by a masterful piece of screenwriting by Guy Hibbert (who also wrote Five Minutes Of Heaven) who at one point has the politicians debating whether it would be better PR for them if they let the terrorists do their terrorist attack or whether they kill an innocent child along with the terrorists. It’s just one bit of writing that will stick with me for a long time.
When your two leads are Alan Rickman and Helen Mirren of course the acting is going to be top notch, and while Mirren once again puts in a brilliant performance you can only wonder whether or not she is miscast and it seems implausible that a woman of her age would still have a military career. Rickman again also puts in a good performance but just seems to breeze through in a role that doesn’t call for him to do anything special. And for those wondering if this is a time that Aaron Paul gets the chance to put his teeth into a meaty role, think again because he like Rickman just seems to get a dream run without having to do much.
While Eye In The Sky is not as good as Good Kill it is still a film that is worth taking a look at if you want to see a film not afraid to raise some questions about modern day warfare. Gavin Hood brings just the right amount of suspense to the film while Rickman and Mirren and predictably good in their roles. Not quite an Oscar worthy film… but not far off either.
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