Summary: The peaceful town of Centerville finds itself battling a zombie horde as the dead start rising from their graves.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th September 2019
Thailand Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian DVD Release Date: 11th March 2020
Country: United States, Swden
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Screenwriter: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Eszter Balint (Fern), Steve Buscemi (Farmer Frank Miller), Austin Butler (Jack), Rosal Colon (Lily), Maya Delmont (Stella), Adam Driver (Officer Ronnie Peterson), Larry Fessendon (Danny Perkins), Danny Glover (Hank Thompson), Selena Gomez (Zoe), Caleb Landry Jones (Bobby Wiggins), Carol Kane (Mallory O’Brien), Bill Murray (Chief Cliff Robertson), Rosie Perez (Posie Juarez), RZA (Dean), Luka Sabbat (Zack), Chloe Sevigny (Officer Mindy Morrison), Tilda Swinton (Zelda Winston), Tom Waits (Hermit Bob), Taliyah Whitaker (Olivia), Jahi Di’Allo Winston (Geronimo)
Running Time: 104 mins
Classification: MA15+ (Australia) TBC (Thailand)
OUR THE DEAD DON’T DIE REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Dave Griffiths’ The Dead Don’t Die Review:
Some directors are just an acquired taste. Think of filmmakers like Gaspar Noe or Terrence Malick. They are directors that you will normally find that cinema-lovers are left in awe of or go to the opposite and can’t stand their work. Another director that should be added to that list is Jim Jarmusch. For me films like Only Lovers Left Alive and Paterson are absolutely sensational films that need to be savoured as you watch them. At the same time though I can perfectly understand why someone wouldn’t enjoy the more alternative aspect.
Now comes Jarmusch next little beauty – The Dead Don’t Die which sees the talented director bring his own sense of humour to the zombie genre in a way that makes this a truly memorable film. So many supposed comedies this year have failed to impress me at all so it was a welcome relief to see The Dead Don’t Die and find myself laughing all the way through it.
Set in the small peaceful town of Centerville the film centres around three Police Officers who bring law and order to the town. Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray – Ghostbusters, Lost In Translation), Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver – Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Inside Llewyn Davis) and Officer Mindy Morrison (Chloe Sevigny – Boys Don’t Cry, Big Love) do what they can to bring law and order to the town but when the dead start rising even they aren’t completely sure what is the best avenue to follow.
Plot wise The Dead Don’t Die is probably one of the most simplistic films you will see this year. For most of the film the plot follows the traditional zombie trope storylines that we have come to know and love over the years. What makes the film so special though is the interesting characters that Jarmusch has created to inhabit the town. Interesting characters such as Farmer Frank Miller (Steve Buscemi – Fargo, Reservior Dogs) and Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer, Suspiria) keep the audience guessing throughout the film. Countless times you find yourself whether Zelda’s sword-fighting skills are going to be what ends up saving the town or whether someone likes Hermit Bob (Tom Waits – Seven Psychopaths, Down By Law) knows more about the events than they are letting on.
Also making the film stand-out from other zombie comedies is the unique Jarmusch humour and dialogue that is delivered by the characters here. At times the dry wit humour and language used by the characters brings back memories of legendary television shows like Northern Exposure… and that is a welcome relief in a time when it feels sometimes that some screenwriters have forgotten how to create good dialogue.
The take it or leave it aspect of this being a Jim Jarmusch film will most likely come into play for most people when he takes this film into the weird territory of breaking down the line between the characters and the actors. Early on when Adam Driver refers to a song playing on the radio as ‘the theme music’ you realise that Jarmusch breaks down the third wall and here the actors know they are ‘characters’ in a movie. That might be a little confronting and a little weird for those that are not used to alternative film-making but once you get a handle of it it is something that adds to the creativity and uniqueness of the film.
The resulting nature of the film does allow its stars to shine. Bill Murray and Adam Driver seem to enjoy the deadpan style of their character’s interactions. The pair seem to share an amazing on-screen partnership that only enhances the film. Jarmsuch’s star-pulling power also sees the likes of RZA (The Man With The Iron Fists, American Gangster) and Selena Gomez (Spring Breakers, Hotel Transylvania) play smaller roles in the film while the inclusion of screen veterans like Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon, 2012) also add to the films atmosphere. Jarmusch also doesn’t waste his plethora of stars giving them all memorable moments while also brilliantly giving small nods to their past roles throughout the film.
What Jim Jamusch has created here is a smart horror-comedy that deserves all the accolades that the film has been garnishing. The film is smart enough to be different that previous zombie horror-comedies like Zombieland and Shaun Of The Dead and has that unique Jamusch stamp on it which will mean it is a film that will be adored by those who love his unique style of filmmaking.
Average Subculture Rating:
Other Subculture Entertainment The Dead Don’t Die Reviews:
NOMINEES: Alan Robert Murray (Joker), Oliver Tarney and Rachael Tate (1917), Wyllie Stateman (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood), Matthew Wood and David Acord (Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker)
ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING
WINNER: Mark Taylor and Stuart Wilson (1917)
NOMINEES: Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson and Mark Ulano (Ad Astra), Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Steven A. Morrow (Ford vs Ferrari), Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic, Tod Maitland (Joker), Michael Minkler, Christian P. Minkler, Mark Ulano (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood)
ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
WINNER: Roger Deakins (1917)
NOMINEES: Rodriego Prieto (The Irishman), Lawrence Sher (Joker), Jarin Blaschke (The Lighthouse), Robert Richardson (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood)
ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING
WINNER: MichaeL McCusker and Andrew Buckland (Ford vs Ferrari)
NOMINEES: Thelma Schoonmaker (The Irishman), Tom Eagles (Jojo Rabbit), Jeff Groth (Joker), Yang Jinmo (Parasite)
ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS
WINNER: Guillaume Rocheron, Greg Butler and Dominic Tuohy (1917)
NOMINEES: Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Matt Aitken and Dan Sudick (Avengers: Endgame), Pablo Helmann, Leandro Estebecorena, Nelson Sepulveda-Fauser and Stephanie Grabli (The Irishman), Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Elliott Newman (The Lion King), Roger Guyett, Neal Scanlan, Patrick Tubach, Dominic Tuohy (Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker)
ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKE-UP AND HAIR STYLE
WINNER: Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivican Baker (Bombshell)
NOMINEES: Nicki Ledermann and Kay Georgiou (Joker), Jeremy Woodhead (Judy), Paul Gooch, Arjen Tuiten and David White (Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil), Naomi Donne, Tristan Versluis and Rebecca Cole (1917)
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
NOMINEES: Corpus Christi, Honeyland, Les Miserables, Pain And Glory
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
WINNER: Hildur Guonadottir (Joker)
NOMINEES: Alexandre Desplat (Little Women), Randy Newman (Marriage Story), Thomas Newman (1917), John Williams (Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker)
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
WINNER: ‘(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again’ – Elton John and Bernie Taupin (Rocketman)
NOMINEES: ‘I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away’ – Randy Newman (Toy Story 4), ‘I’m Standing With You’ – Diane Warren (Breakthrough), ‘Into The Unknown’ – Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Frozen II), ‘Standing Up’ – Joshuah Brian Campbell and Cynthia Erivo (Harriet)
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING
WINNER: Bong Joon Ho (Parasite)
NOMINEES: Martin Scorcese (The Irishman), Todd Phillips (Joker), Sam Mendes (1917), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood)
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
WINNER: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
NOMINEES: Antonio Banderas (Pain & Glory), Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Jonathan Pryce (Two Popes)
Well we’ve seen the worst… now here the best. Dave G takes a look at what his favourite films were for 2019.
Few films could match the power of The Nightingale this year. While described as a thriller Jennifer Kent’s film could easily been described as a Gothic horror. Brilliantly capturing the harshness of early Tasmanian settlement the film and allowing Sam Claflin to shine in the role of one the screen’s worst villains. The film shone as did its amazing star Aisling Franciosi.
Ford vs Ferrari
In an era when films around fast cars usually involve epic stunts and a cast full of muscle Ford vs Ferrari did things a little differently. While the heart of the story revolved around the Shelby racing team having two of the greatest character actors of our era, Matt Damon and Christian Bale, acting opposite each other made it an audience’s delight and has rocketed it into Oscar contention.
What is it about playing the Joker that seems to make an actor lift their performance? After great performances in the role by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger here Joaquin Phoenix stepped into this origins story and suddenly DC Comics had an Oscar worthy film on its hands… cop that Marvel.
From first time feature director Rodd Rathjen Buoyancy explored the practice of human slavery in a brutal way. Shot almost entirely on the water in Thailand with a very under-experienced leading man this film should have been talked about more often during the awards season. Rathjen is a filmmaker to watch in the future.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
When Quentin Tarantino makes a film these days it is not just a release it is a cinematic event. Once again Once Upon A Time In Hollywood showed what a serious filmmaker Tarantino can be as he creatively tells a story around the notorious serial killer Charles Manson. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt relished on a script that some thought was a little too talky.
While I wasn’t a fan of HereditaryMidsommar is the film that has really shown me that Ari Aster is a filmmaker that really knows how to hit his mark. Thought-provoking, creative and gruesome, what else do you want from a modern day horror film?
Sorry We Missed You
Nobody makes movies that critique modern day society the same way Ken Loach does. Once again Sorry We Missed You exposes what hundreds of thousands of families go through each day in a way that seems like a time capsule that can make you cry.
A Bigger Jail
Brand new film from Australian director/screenwriter Matthew Victor Pastor telling the parallel story of a man living in a cuckhold relationship and a man who has recently been released from prison trying to fit into society. This is the film that should make Pastor a household name in Australian filmmaking circles.
Blinded By The Light
An amazing film that mixed drama and comedy as it told the story of a young refugee coming to grips with living in Thatcher’s England. Uses the music of Bruce Springsteen as a back-drop this is one of the big surprises of 2019 and shows that Viveik Kalra is a young actor to watch.
Melanie Laurent continues to show that she is a filmmaker on the rise with the gritty crime drama Galveston. There is no way to pick where there movie is headed and it is only made better by a script that allows Ben Foster and Elle Fanning to put on two of the best acting performances of the year.
Jonah Hill makes his feature film directional debut with a film that Larry Clarke would have been happy with. Edgy and really captures the 90s… certainly show that Hill maybe someone to watch as a filmmaker in the future.
Largely overlooked in Australia The Public saw one of the best acting/directing performances from recent years with Emilio Estevez delivering pure perfection. The films biting commentary on homelessness certainly made its audience sit up and take notice.
Jo Jo Rabbit
You can’t do a comedy film about the Hitler Youth, right? Wrong. Director Taika Waititi returns to form with a film that will make you laugh and then make you cry. Sam Rockwell once again steals the show.
Another Australian film that is perhaps unlucky not to be higher up on my list. Heart-breaking and acting packed the film captures one of India’s darkest days with an amazing acting performance from Dev Patel.
A Good Woman Is Hard To Find
Great British crime thriller from director Abner Pastoll. Very reminiscent of the gangster fills of the 1980s. Has cult film written all over it and has a brilliant performance from Sarah Bolger who deserves to be a star.
Brilliant Netflix drama about a couple going through a divorce. Brilliant screenplay and brilliant performances by Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. Could it be enough to get Driver an Oscar nomination?
One of the very few comedies to be released this year that actually had heart. Instant Family knew when to be funny and knew when to be touching.
Ben Is Back
Perhaps one of the most underrated films of 2019. Ben Is Back is everything that you don’t normally expect from a Julia Roberts film – gritty and totally engrossing.
The Dead Don’t Die
This film may have divided audiences but at the end of the day you had to remember that it was a film from the legendary Jim Jamusch. With that in mind the film delivered everything it should – quirky humour and unexpected turns.
The Kindergarten Teacher
One of the most intriguing films of 2019. What seemed to be a heartfelt film about a teacher trying to help a gifted student had twists and turns that nobody saw coming.
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Not only one of the action films of the year but one of the best action films ever made. Amazing stunts and brilliant fight sequences… surely there are no action film fans out there that didn’t love this?
Defend, Protect, Conserve
One of the most important doccos made this year. Captures what really happens when Sea Shepherd goes up against the Japanese whaling fleet which made for a really interesting viewing.
A Dog’s Journey
Probably one of the biggest surprises for me in 2019. This looked like it was going to be light and fluffy but instead ended up being a film with grit that explored tough topics such as family separation. If you haven’t seen it, go out and grab yourself a copy.
The Guilty is easily one of the best foreign language films of the year. Claustrophobic and suspenseful this is another of this year’s must see films.
Danny Boyle once again at his creative best. Funny in parts, thought provoking in others, plus who would have known that Ed Sheeran would steal the limelight the way he did?
Summary: The surviving members of the resistance face the First Order once again, and the legendary conflict between the Jedi and the Sith reaches its peak bringing the Skywalker saga to its end.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 19th December 2019
Thailand Cinema Release Date: 19th December 2019
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States
Screenwriter: J.J. Abrams, Chris Terrio
Cast: Gerald W Abrams (Captain Cypress), J.J. Abrams (D-O (voice)), Naomi Ackie (Jannah), Josef Altin (Pilot Vanik), John Boyega (Finn), Lynn Robertson Bruce (D-O/Sith Alchamist), Dave Chapman (BB-8), Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker (voice)), Richard Coombs (Maz Kanata), Aidan Cook (Boolio), Liam Cook (Ochi of Bestoon), Olivia d’Abo (Luminara Unduli (voice)), Anthony Daniels (c-3PO), Harrison Davis (Pommet Warrick), Warwick Davis (Wicket W. Warrick), Matt Denton (Maz Kanata), Mandeep Dhillon (Lieutenant Garam), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano (voice)), Amir El-Masry (Commander Track), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa (archival footage)), Cailey Fleming (Young Rey), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Geff Francis (Admiral Griss), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Richard E. Grant (General Pryde), Greg Grunberg (Snap Wexley), Alec Guiness (Obi Wan Kenobi (voice)), Robin Guiver (D-O), Amanda Hale (Officer Kandia), Jennifer Hale (Aayla Secura (voice)), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Claire Roi Harvey (Maz Kanata), Shirley Henderson (Babu Frik (voice)), Carolyn Hennesy (Demine Lithe), Brian Herring (BB-8), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Josefine Irrera Jackson (Young Rey), Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu (voice)), James Earl Jones (Darth Vader (voice)), Paul Kasey (Cai Threnalli), Nick Kellington (Klaud), Diana Kent (General Engell), Amanda Lawrence (Commander D’Arcy), Denis Lawson (Wedge Antilles), Billie Lourd (Lieutenant Connix), Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine), Ewan McGregor (Obi Wan Kenobi (voice)), Dominic Monaghan (Beaumont), Tanya Moodie (General Parnadee), Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn (voice)), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Frank Oz (Yoda (voice)), Simon Paisley Day (General Quinn), Angelique Perrin (Adi Gallia (voice)), Freddie Prinze Jnr. (Kana Jarrus (voice)), Mike Quinn (Nien Nunb), Daisy Ridley (Rey), Vinette Robinson (Pilot Tyce), Alison Rose (Lieutenant Draper), Kipsang Rotich (Nien Nunb (voice)), Keri Russell (Zorii Bliss), Philica Saunders (Tabala Zo), Andy Serkis (Snoke (voice)), Kiran Shah (Nambi Ghima), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), Hassan Taj (R2-D2), Chris Terrio (Colonel Aftab Ackbar (voice)), Lee Towersey (R2-D2), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), John Williams (Oma Tres), Patrick Williams (Boolio (voice)), Debra Wilson (Nambi Ghima (voice)), Tom Wilton (Colonel Aftab Ackbar), Matthew Wood (Cai Threnally (voice))
Running Time: 142 mins
Classification: M (Australia) TBC (Thailand)
OUR STAR WARS: RISE OF SKYWALKER REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Dave Griffiths Review:
It has taken forty-two years to get there, but finally the Skywalker saga is drawing to a close. No other cinematic franchise has ever reached the massive heights that Star Wars has and to say that this is a beloved series is under-selling it in a very big way. It is for that reason that J.J. Abrams has had one of the most difficult jobs that any filmmaker could ever dream of, it is up to him to close this much loved chapter in the Star Wars story in a way that will please a legion of fans world-wide.
Leading into Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that story had been thrown into turmoil both on and off the screen. On screen we saw the death of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and the apparent return of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). Off screen all Star Wars fans were rocked with the tragic death of actress Carrie Fisher which they knew would impact the storyline of the final film.
Abrams doesn’t leave fans waiting with The Rise Of Skywalker very quickly getting down to business. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is on the hunt for Palpatine, while Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) search for an artefact that will allow Rey (Daisy Ridley) to face Palpatine, while they try to stop the massive First Order forces who are ready to once again take over the universe.
The plot maybe simple but certainly does not fail to entertain. Early on the film feels episodic simply moving from one story to another in a specific order but once it breaks those shackles the film mirrors the energy and entertainment that we all come to love from the original Star Wars films. But while the film does entertain it also does have its flaws. With the plot having so much going on there are times when it feels like it doesn’t spend enough time raising the levels of suspense, something that is very surprising considering that some of the lives in danger here are some of the most loved characters in cinematic history.
Still for the most of the part of the film Abrams keeps things simple but effective. Once it established that all characters could meet their end this time around that goes some way to keeping the audience on their toes while the final epic battle is something that true Star Wars fans have dreamt of for a long time. Unlike a lot of franchises this chapter does close with a finale that will leave fans happy and is should be noted that Disney does leave the door slightly ajar if they ever wish to continue the saga.
What makes this instalment so enjoyable though is the acting, and that is not something we have been able to say about every Star Wars instalment. Adam Driver shows in this film why he is one of the best actors in Hollywood at the moment. It is obvious that he doesn’t move into a lower acting gear because he is in an epic blockbuster here, instead he puts as much drama and emotion into his Marriage Story and Paterson… the former role which is talked about possibly earning him an Oscar nomination.
Driver is well matched on screen by Daisy Ridley whose acting prowess has continued to grow throughout this trilogy. Johy Boyega and Oscar Isaac also deliver their goods but at the end of the day this film is literally Driver versus Ridley and that shows right up to the last amazing and memorable crescendo.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is a film that is going to be embraced by the hardened Star Wars fans out there, something we can breathe a sigh of relief over since the disappointment of the Game Of Thrones finale. The Rise Of Skywalker is light but thoroughly entertains.
Average Subculture Rating:
Other Subculture Entertainment Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker Reviews:
Summary: A quiet observation of the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 22nd December 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States, Germany, France
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Screenwriter: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Adam Driver (Paterson), Golshifteh Farahani (Laura), Chasten Harmon (Marie), William Jackson Harper (Everitt), Frank Harts (Luis), Barry Shabaka Henley (Doc), Rizwan Manji (Donny), Brian McCarthy (Jimmy), Method Man (himself), Nellie (Marvin), Trevor Parham (Sam), Troy T. Parham (Dave)
Runtime: 118 mins
OUR PATERSON REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Film director Jim Jarmusch’s work isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. His films are often described by the average cinema goer as ‘hard to get’ and you can always guarantee that his films are going to make you think. His last film, Only Lovers Left Alive,may have been a vampire movie… but even that was a flick with a difference. Now comes one of Jarmusch’s most cinema-friendly films, Paterson… but even this is going to have to you thinking deeply long after you leave the cinema.
Paterson tells a simple tale. It follows the lives of Paterson (Adam Driver – Star Wars: The Force Awakens), a poet who spends his days working as a bus driver, and his partner Laura (Golshifteh Farahani –Body Of Lies) who dreams drift from being a cup-cake mogul to starting a country music career. Ironically they live in Paterson, New Jersey and for the most part, the film follows Paterson’s regular day of going to work, listening to his passenger’s conversations, writing poetry, walking his dog and visiting his local bar.
As you can ascertain from the film’s synopsis Paterson is one of those films where very little happens plot-wise yet while you are watching the movie you never find yourself getting bored. Jarmusch is a talented enough storyteller to know that you can get away with very little plot if you fill your film with enough interesting characters to hold your audience’s interest. Here, Jarmusch does that in bucket loads. While his life may be a little boring Paterson himself is a character that you find yourself rooting for because he is such a nice character and completely unaware of what a great poet he is.
The secondary source of interest for the audience in Paterson is the interesting characters that Jarmusch chooses to have interact with Paterson. Whether it be passengers such as two men who know nothing about women, teenage anarchists or those that chat to Paterson in his local bar – a barman obsessed with celebrities who lived in Paterson, Doc (Barry Shabaka Henley – Collateral) or Everett (William Jackson Harper – True Story) and Marie (Chasten Harmon – Elementary) a young couple in disarray, these characters each bring something unique to the story at hand.
Part of what makes Paterson such an interesting film is you never really know what Jarmusch is setting his audience up for. Is he planning on giving Paterson that one moment when he meets the right person who can help launch his career as a poet or even deliver the time when he finally realises that he does, in fact, have a talent that the world deserves to hear. Then, of course, the darker side of your imagination wonders whether or not Jarmusch is planning on putting his characters through something traumatic that will change their lives forever.
Jarmusch’s writing also allows for some decent performances from his leads. Fans of Adam Driver will quickly tell you that he is capable of more than what we saw in his recent performance in The Force Awakens. Serious movie fans will know that over the years Driver has delivered some powerful performances in serious films like What If, Midnight Specialand Inside Llewyn Davis, and once again he delivers the goods here as he portrays the very melancholy Paterson. This film also introduces most fans to a bright, new star in Golshifteh Farahani. This fresh face shows pure talent as she plays the free-spirited Laura and you get a real feeling that she is somebody that we are going to see a lot of in the near future.
If you go into Paterson expecting a high-octane film, then you will be sorely disappointed. Instead, once again Jim Jarmusch has created an interesting film that is largely a character study of two everyday people. This is a film that will have you debating what Jarmusch is trying to say with the film and will also have you seeing Adam Driver as a potential Oscar nominee.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Paterson 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.
This week on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Dave, Greg and Nick take a look at new release films ‘Midnight Special,’ ‘Eddie The Eagle,’ ‘Marguerite,’ and ‘Pawno’. This episode also contains interviews with Michael Shannon, Adam Driver, Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton, Paul Ireland, Travis Bain (Landfall), Omrane Khuder (short film screening), Robert Englund (The Last Showing) and Darren Downs (Flats).
Also make sure you are listening this week for your chance to win a The Man Who Knew Infinity pack thanks to our good friends from Icon. The pack contains a double pass for you to go and see The Man Who Knew Infinity and copies of Slumdog Millionaire, The World’s Fastest Indian, The Motorcycle Diaries, Nowhere Boy, Love & Mercy and I’m Not There on DVD. The pack is worth $140. To win just listen to this week’s episode of The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show, and tell us how many stars Dave gives Midnight Special and then private message us your answers on either our Facebook or Twitter pages.
We also have a second competition running this week so make sure you are listening this week for your chance to win a double pass to see Bastille Day at a special screening in Sydney (only open to Sydney residents)thanks to our good friends from Studio Canal. To win simply private message us the code word ‘Idris’ on our Facebook page.
Summary: Set thirty years after the events of Return Of The Jedi the universe is once again facing upheaval. Rising from the ashes of Darth Vader before him Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) leads the First Order as they strive to conquer (and in some cases) destroy the galaxy. In order to do so they know they must kill every remaining Jedi which means they need to hunt down Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who has been missing for years.
Leading the resistance against the First Order is Leia (Carrie Fisher) who despite the good intentions of her fighters, like Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), is losing the battle against the First Order. The Resistance gets a much needed boost when a map that may show the whereabouts of Luke is found. But in order to have any affect a young scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley), a reformed Storm Trooper named Finn (John Boyega), the legendary Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and everybody’s favourite Wookie (Peter Mayhew) must get the map (which is hidden to a droid) to the Resistance.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 18th December 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: J.J. Abrams
Screenwriter: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt, George Lucas (characters)
Cast: Gerry Abrams (Captain Cypress), Sebastian Amresto (Lieutenant Mitaka), Erik Bauersfeld (Admiral Ackbar), Leanne Best (Min Sakul), Jason Boyega (Finn), Anna Brewster (Bazine Netal), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Crystal Clarke (Ensign Goode), Tosin Cole (Lietenant Bastian), Morgan Dameron (Commodore Meta), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Warwick Davis (Wollivan), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Emun Elliott (Brance), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Cailey Fleming (Young Rey), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Michael Giacchino (FN-3181), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Nigel Godrich (FN-9330), Stefan Grube (Yolo Ziff), Greg Gunberg (Snap Wexley), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Jessica Henwick (Jess Testor), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Andrew Jack (Major Ematt), Jeffrey Kissoon (Rear Admiral Guich), Ken Leung (Admiral Statura), Billie Lourd (Lieutenant Connix), Rocky Marshall (Colonel Datoo), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), James McArdle (Niv Lek), Jim McGrath (Vice Admiral Resdox), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Simon Pegg (Unkar Plutt), Mike Quinn (Nien Nunb), Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Korr Sella), Daisy Ridley (Rey), Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar), Kipsang Rotich (Nien Nunb), Yayan Ruhian (Tasu Leech), Philicia Saunders (Tabala Zo), Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke), Claudia Sermbezis (Lema Eelyak), Kiran Shah (Teedo), Mark Stanley (Knight Of Ren), Pip Torrens (Colonel Kaplan), Iko Uwais (Razoo Quin-Fee), Brian Vernel (Bala-Tik), Max von Sydow (Lor San Tekka), Harriet Walter (Dr. Kalonia)
Runtime: 135 mins
OUR STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS REVIEWS & RATINGS:
It might be a brutal thing to say but Star Wars: The Force Awakens is perhaps George Lucas’ worst nightmare. For years now we’ve heard people worldwide speculating at how Disney and J.J. Abrams were going to destroy the Star Wars universe. Well now after viewing Star Wars: The Force Awakens I can say that it seems that Abrams actually has a better understanding of that universe than what Lucas himself has had over the past few years. Episode 1 and the rest of the new trilogy made me lose my childhood love of everything Star Wars but last night The Force Awakens just awakened it inside me.
There is little wonder that true Star Wars fans at the Melbourne premiere last night clapped their hands off as the final credits rolled last night because Abrams has obviously created this film from his Star Wars fanboy point-of-view. In fact in light of day this script could have easily been lifted from any short novella on a Star Wars fan-fiction site… that’s how true to the original trilogy it was. The original Star Wars feel to the film can also be credited to Abrams’ right hand man – legendary screenwriter who has brought us gems like The Empire Strikes Back, Return Of The Jedi and Raiders Of The Lost Ark… yes the man knows how to write what audiences love.
In some ways Abrams plays the safe-card with The Force Awakens. He sticks to the tried and true tropes of the original Star Wars films even using similar storylines such as a very important map hidden inside of a droid. Instead of feeling like a blatant rip-off though it instead feels like Abrams paying homage to something that he has loved over the years. Having said that though Abrams does put his own stamp on the franchise very well. His new characters, such as Finn and Rey, are likable and unlike Lucas’ attempt with the ill-fated Jar Jar Abrams shows that his new characters don’t need gimmicks to try and win over their audience. Sure you have to wonder how much political correctness was in mind when characters like Rey, Finn and Poe were created but that doesn’t stop them from being the kind of characters that fans of the series are very quickly going to warm to. The idea of Finn being a reformed Storm Trooper is a stroke of genius from the Abrams camp, while Rey and Poe seem to have some pretty interesting back stories that need to be explored in future Star Wars film… and yes it is very obvious that Finn and Rey have some sexual tension that is guaranteed to surface in the future as well.
Perhaps the biggest stamp that Abrams puts on the Star Wars franchise is his visual style. Teaming up with cinematographer Daniel Mindel (who Abrams has also worked with on the Star Trek franchise) Abrams here has created a film that doesn’t need CGI to enhance its environment. Whether it be a great light sabre in a forest, a Millennium Falcon led dog fight or a group of Tie fighters flying out of a sunset Abrams put a visual stamp on the film that George Lucas always seemed to fail at doing throughout his time in the Star Wars world. As The Force Awakens plays out you realise that Abrams’ main focus here wasn’t CGI creatures but instead developing a film that not only had a decent plot but looked damn fine as well.
The big plus for this film though is the inclusion of old favourites. Giving Han and Chewie such a big role in this film is another stroke of genius from the Abrams’ camp. It gives the film some familiarity and the fact that Han is so accepting of Rey and Finn gives them a huge ‘in’ with the film, plus the Abrams’ screenplay provides Han and Chewie with some truly great moments as well. The comedic dialogue works well between the two and once again Harrison Ford shows that even at his age he can be a believable action hero who is more than capable of carrying a film like this… plus the time on set with such a legendary actor will surely put the young stars of this film in great steed for the future.
After the disappointment of the previous three Star Wars films J.J. Abrams touch on the franchise is a welcome relief. Finally there is another Star Wars film to be proud of and yes this is one former lover of the franchise that has had his flame rekindled.
Big Star Wars fan, here. As a child I wanted to hire the original trilogy videos every week. I wanted to be Luke; loved the tale, mythology and symbolism littered throughout. I loved the prequels, despite them generally getting a bad rap these days.
Then it was finally announced – episode 7! We’d see what really happened after Return Of The Jedi. And then I saw it…
And I was sad. A brilliant opening set the scene well – I was hooked. But it falls apart more and more as we progress. The film had a habit (even before release) of building expectations, then dashing them. Even from the opening ‘story crawl’ – “…Leia has sent her most daring pilot on a secret mission to Jakku, where an old ally has discovered a clue to Luke’s whereabouts…” Most daring pilot – is it Han Solo?! No. It’s newcomer Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). That’s OK, I want to get to know him (but barely do). And the old ally… who could it be?! No-one we’ve ever met before. Played by a very famous actor, Max von Sydow, ‘old ally’ Lor San Tekka is killed-off in about 5 minutes, as just a plot device. Even Poe Dameron is seemingly killed-off within the first half hour, only to suddenly reappear later in a cheap way. It was hollow, like something wasn’t right so I kept looking for some big surprise around the corner. Nothing.
Everything builds-up to go nowhere. The opening line of the film is “Luke Skywalker has vanished” – so the story is about finding him, right? No, it’s the main crux of the story but forgotten about and sidetracked with nonsense until the last few minutes.
The new characters of Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisey Ridley) were great and the performers did well. All the impetus was put on them by Disney as what they wanted to sell. The fans wanted to see more of the classic characters along with the new generation, but the classic cast was left underdeveloped or written sometimes out-of-character. I remember when you could half understand the Droids’ bleeping, but now it’s like random sounds.
Daisey and John, at least, are great at bringing their characters to life and we enjoy following them, but there’s too much time spent sidelining the plot. It sets up questions (which kind of look like they have predictable answers – we’ll see in episode 8, probably) that don’t pay-off. You need to give the audience some pay-off, even if this is part of a trilogy. Both characters get invested in their journey then alternatingly both want to leave, then just-as-suddenly change their mind again.
So, then they look for Luke Skywalker, right? No, there are more distractions as the First Order (just a condensed copy of the Galactic Empire from the original trilogy) come to find the map to Luke Skywalker as this is also their plan… or is their plan to blow-up planets with yet another Death Star – oh, sorry: “Star Killer”? While I like the ‘Star-Killer’ nod to George Lucas’ original Star Wars script where the Skywalker clan was named Starkiller, that would have been more than enough of an in-joke. But everything else in the film is a nod to something, a re-make of an old scene, an in-joke for fans, etc… We get two hours of fan-service and maybe 30 minutes of it is story-related. Instead of finding Luke we deal with the unoriginal ‘planet-killing’ device – something we’ve seen fail TWICE already – then clumsily get to a plot point of killing-off a character.
We see what was probably an important planet destroyed by the Starkiller (actually, the home of the New Republic; an element totally lost as the First Order seems to have such power that it seems NOTHING has changed since episode 6) but we don’t care because we never saw the planet. We see some people about to die in horror (including great actress, Freema Agyeman, who’s little more than an uncredited extra after deleting an important scene earlier in the film) but we don’t get invested in their deaths as it becomes such a non-point with little gravitas or repercussion.
Abrahams and Disney cut so much of what was filmed after already diluting so much of what George Lucas had written for them that the current universe isn’t properly established, so have little grounding. But then Abrahams goes all-out on padding the movie with stuff we’ve seen before but has little reward. We get a couple of important plot-points, but mostly this movie is just played out as an small opening act for an actual story which leaves the experience very hollow.
Gone, also, are the layers of myths and symbology that Lucas created in his original films, which I still enjoy discovering to this day, leaving with us something quite superficial.
Technically, the film is well-achieved, and if you want mindless spectacle over an adventure you’ll enjoy this film. I think Disney have been too keen to cash in on this (you can see them whoring the franchise out to anyone who will pay to have a Star Wars image on their product – including Gillette razors) and wanted to hurriedly establish their characters to use as they wish with little continuity constraints (and probably because they’ll be cheaper than the existing heroes). And a new Star Wars-related film will be out every year! Great, so long as they have actually gone to the lengths to make it GOOD.
I, of course, can’t wait for Episode 8 and have hope (A New Hope?) that it will make-up for TFA’s shortcomings and actually develop the plot and story properly. We want more than a money-making romp from Disney, and sadly that is all this film feels like in the end.
Star Wars ‘The Force Awakens’ (Directed by J.J. Abrams) is a sequel, continuing on from the original Star Wars trilogy.
The Force Awakens is said to be the biggest film release in history. But does the film live up to all the hype?
Star Wars ‘The Force Awakens’ introduces us to a new range of characters when at the same time bringing back ones from the past. At the beginning of the film we are introduced to Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and a brand new droid, BB-8. Poe is an X-Wing pilot and is on a mission to protect classified information from the hands of the First Order.
The audience is then introduced to Finn (John Boyega). Finn is a Stormtrooper who disagrees with the ways of the First Order and decides to run away. Finn escapes to the planet of Jakku where we meet Rey (Daisy Ridley). Rey is a scavenger living a life where she needs to recover any junk metal or spare parts that are good enough to be traded for food.
Any Star Wars film wouldn’t be complete without a major threat and villain fighting to make that threat a reality. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is the leader of the First Order and is accompanied by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie).
We are of course greeted with some old faces as Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher and of course Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). It was amazing to see the characters we know and love return to the big screen and to see how they have changed after all these years. C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) also return to join the returning cast.
The one thing that stood out to me in this film was the acting. J.J Abrams chose actors who were not well known to a large audience and they have definitely shown their potential when it comes to acting.
Throughout the movie there is so much going on that it’s hard to determine your thoughts about it and what you think. After seeing the movie and taking a moment to breath I can honestly say that it was a triumphant return for the Star Wars franchise. The movie was non-stop action and intensity and it was amazing to see that J.J. Abrams kept to the old films and didn’t change anything that would leave fans disappointed. Star Wars ‘The Force Awakens’ is an amazing film for Star Wars fans and the ending has been left wide open for future stories and films to connect with.
The one thing I loved most about this film is that the only CG (Computer Graphics) used was for when they are in space or in battle, flying through the air. There was a physicality to it that made the Star Wars universe feels so real. All the character, droids, aliens, sets and locations were all real and done brilliantly.
My finale thoughts of the film are that it was a great comeback for the Star Was franchise and it’s great to see this universe be introduced to a whole new generation of fans. I would definitely see it again!