When a seasoned actor like Liam Neeson tells you that his latest film made him cry you not only sit up and take notice but you realise that as a cinema lover you are about to watch a film that really means something.
Long before he was chasing bad guys in Taken or taking on Jedi skills in Star Wars Neeson worked on some of the most emotional films that Hollywood has ever seen – from the brilliant portrayal of a man overcome with grief during World War II in Schindler’s List through to Gangs Of New York and Les Miserables… Neeson knows a thing or two about films that are going to emotionally affect their audience.
When Neeson sits down to talk about his brand new film A Monster Calls – in which he voices the monster – his excitement and commitment to the film are clearly evident and you can tell that this wasn’t a film that he needed much persuading to be involved with. “It’s magical realism,” he says with his eyes lighting up. “It’s a fable about the complexity of our emotions, and how we navigate that complexity as we are growing up. The film is as rich and as imaginative as the book is – it’s quite a cinematic achievement. The subjects that the film deals with are how to grow as a young boy and how to handle very, very complex emotions, especially when a lot of those emotions deal with loss, death and it looks at where you fit in the world – especially when you are at school, and we have all been through that and we have all have tales to tell. The book and the film both very, very beautifully navigates you through this web of heavy and extreme and grey moral issues that all young boys and girls are confronting these days.”
Even Neeson’s role is very much full of subtext and is perhaps the most important character in the entire film. “I plays a character called The Monster,” he explains. “He is conjured up in our young heroes mind. He is like thirty metres tall, he is huge. He comes from the Earth and he is essentially made of the Earth – timber and trees – ancient trees at that – and he represents the universe.”
Neeson is quick to admit that one of the reasons why he wanted to be part of the film was because it had director, J.A. Bayona, at the helm. “I saw two of his films – The Orphanage and The Impossible – and they kind of blew me away. I thought ‘wow here’s a real cinema talent.’ So when I heard that he was doing Patrick Ness’s book A Monster Calls, which I had read, I thought that was a marriage made in heaven right there. Working with J.A. Bayona has been one of those unique experiences that you don’t come across very often. I’ve done 63 or 64 films and every so often you work with a director who just takes you into their world and takes you into the world of the film that they are shooting, He eats, sleeps and drinks films – film and cinema – he’s a little walking encyclopaedia – in fact he is very much like Martin Scorsese. He takes care of you as a director, he nurtures you – he nurtures the performers in the scene, he even nurtures the scene. He allows you to experiment and he just wants you to get to the truth of what the scene is and he will takes as long as it takes to get there and I love working with a director like that.”
With a film that has obviously left an impression on Neeson himself he has no trouble explaining what he thinks audiences will be left feeling after they have viewed it. “It think audiences will be stunned by the technical achievement of not just the motion capture but how it integrates with the story and it is a very moving story, a very, very beautifully written story and it has been very beautifully acted. There is some comedy in it but I think audiences will connect with the emotion in a very, very big way.”
The beautiful and moving A Monster Calls will be released in Australian cinemas on 27th July.
Entourage picks up where the television series left off but with a couple of changes. Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven – Old School) takes on the new role of a studio boss and he instantly places his head on the chopping block when he gives his star client Vince (Adrian Grenier – The Devil Wears Prada) the rights to direct a mega blockbuster film called Hyde. This is a move that Hollywood quickly slams pointing out that Vince and his producer/manager Eric (Kevin Connolly – The Notebook) are ill equipped to be in charge of such a big film. The result is that soon Ari is being hauled over the coals by his boss John Ellis (Alan Dale – Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and the executive producer’s over zealous son Travis McCreadle (Haley Joel Osment – The Sixth Sense) who decides straight away that he wants Vince’s brother, Johnny Drama’s (Kevin Dillon – Platoon) scenes cut from the movie.
Things aren’t much better on the personal front for our stars either. Vince’s marriage ends after nine days, Eric’s realationship with Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui – Wrong Turn) is strained despite the fact she is about to give birth, Johnny’s one night stand ends up in a sex tape while Turtle (Jerry Ferrara – Lone Survivor) who is now a millionaire suddenly finds himself with the hots for MMA star Ronda Rousey (herself – Furious 7).
Australian Cinema Release Date: 4th June, 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Doug Ellin
Screenwriter: Doug Ellin, Rob Weiss
Cast: Nina Agdal (Bridgite), Jessica Alba (herself), Raquel Alessi (Jennifer), David Arquette (himself), Tom Brady (himself), Warren Buffettt (himself), Gary Busey (himself), Brian Carenard (Saigon), Emmanuelle Chriqui (Sloan), Andrew Dice Clay (himself), Rhys Coiro (Billy Walsh), Common (himself), Kevin Connolly (Eric), Mark Cuban (himself), Alan Dale (John Ellis), Baron Davis (himself), Billy Dec (himself), Kevin Dillon (Johnny Drama), Christine Donlon (Paula), Nora Dunn (Dr. Deanne Emily Marcus), Lucas Ellen (Jonah), Alice Eve (Sophia), David Faustino (himself), Jon Favreau (himself), Jerry Ferrara (Turtle), Sabina Gadecki (Melanie), Kelsey Grammer (himself), Jim Gray (himself), Adrian Grenier (Vince), Rob Gronkowski (himself), Armie Hammer (himself), Tameka Harris (herself), Thierry Henry (himself), Terrence Jenkins (himself), Martin Landau (Bob Ryan), Matt Lauer (himself), Rex Lee (Lloyd), Chad Lowe (himself), Tim Maculan (Dr. Feldman), Sonny Marinelli (Randy), Clay Matthews (himself), Debi Mazar (Shauna), Maria Menounos (herself), Scott Mescudi (Allen), Alyssa Miller (herself), Piers Morgan (himself), Shad Moss (Charlie Williams), Liam Neeson (himself), Ed O’Neill (himself), Haley Joel Osment (Travis McCredle), Henry Penzi (himself), Shervin Pishevar (himself), Jeremy Piven (Ari Gold), Breanne Racano (Katie), Emily Ratajkowski (herself), Perrey Reeves (Mrs. Ari), Rocky (Arnold), Ronda Rousey (herself), Bob Saget (himself), David Spade (himself), Nick Smyth (Alex), T.I. (himself), George Takei (himself), Billy Bob Thornton (Larsen McCredle), Mike Tyson (himself), Dominico Vacca (himself), Scott Vener (himself), Mark Wahlberg (himself), Pharrell Williams (himself), Russell Wilson (himself), Constance Zimmer (Dana Gordon)
Runtime: 104 mins
OUR ENTOURAGE REVIEWS & RATINGS:
This is the first time ever in my career that I have ever written a biased review. See I’m not stupid enough to know that if 80% of the people on this planet walked into a cinema to watch Entourage they would not like… possibly a great deal of them would even despise it. But see I am unashamed huge fan of the television series that sparked this movie and despite a lot of press saying the opposite there is no way that anybody who had never seen (or hated) the television series would ever like this film, or even possibly understand one single thing that is going on throughout the film. So yes this is a review written by a very biased Entourage fan who was as excited about this film arriving as I was about any other blockbuster this year.
The thing that works best and is going to appeal to fans of the television series is the fact that screenwriter/director Doug Ellin (Kissing A Fool) didn’t decide to do what most television spin off movies do and make the film too different from the television series. There’s no sending the cast into space or back in time or any of that crap, no instead he literally makes the film feel like an extended television episode. To a certain extent he even has the ‘opening credits’ that true fans of the show would know and love and changing Ari and Vince’s careers isn’t exactly out of the realm of things that could have happened in the real world. Yes to be blunt Ellin makes the Entourage movie work because he keeps it realistic.
The irony of what I said before is that for all the reasons that non-Entourage fans would get lost in this film are most of the reasons that true fans will love it. Ellin doesn’t go over the top filling in character’s back stories just to appease the ‘newcomers’ to the franchise. So as a result if you take the character of Eric as an example to a newcomer he looks like a bad guy. The kind of guy who is racing off having sex with whoever he meets while his ex is pregnant… now any true fan of the series knows that Eric isn’t a bad guy and is just making some bad decisions in his life. Likewise with Turtle, how is a newcomer supposed to know he was a fat sponger for a long time, so how would they understand some of the humor aimed at him? And for that matter how would they also understand some of the jokes about Johnny or why Ari is so frustrated that Lloyd (Rex Lee – Young & Hungry) wants him to be part of his wedding? Actually how would they even know who Lloyd is? And how will they get the same laughs out of seeing Mark Wahlberg (Ted) appear in the movie if they don’t know the series was loosely based on his life? No Entourage is firmly a film only for those that fell in love with the series.
For the fans though Entourage is a real gem. Ellin’s comedic moments work a treat, especially when he isn’t trying (Ari punching a picture of a kitten while denying having an anger problem is classic) and the throwaway lines at the expense of characters or real life celebrities all hit the spot well. Ellin also loads this film with celebrity cameos that all really work, to his credit none of them seem forced not even the short ones featuring the likes of Liam Neeson or Kelsey Grammer for example, they all feel natural and will be lapped up by the audience.
What else works with Entourage is the drama and intrigue that the script and storyline manages to bring to the table. As the film goes on and Vince is more and more reluctant to show his film to anyone you actually do find yourself wondering whether he has really made a masterpiece or whether it will be a piece of rubbish. Then when things such as the sex tape and Travis’ interference into Hyde increases the sinking feeling that this film is going to see Ari and Vince have a very public fall from the Hollywood elite seems more and more likely. It is stuff like that that shows this is a classy film that really knows how to draw its audience in.
As we all learned from the television series Kevin Connolly and Jeremy Piven are the acting gold when it comes to Entourage. Adrian Grenier might be the public face and star of this film but Piven owns him right throughout the film. Ari is back bigger and meaner than ever and Piven lets himself run with that stealing scenes from his co-stars as he finds just the right mix of comedy and drama to really shine. Likewise Connolly who plays the ‘wet puppy’ this time around but does absolutely nothing wrong in a role that can lift his Hollywood star.
Whether you love or hate Entourage will come down solely to whether or not you were a fan of the television series. Go into this film without having ever seen an episode and you are going to be completely lost, but if you enter the cinema having watched the series throughout then this is going to feel like you are catching up with old friends. Entourage is far from the perfect film but it is a good continuation of a television series that obviously has more stories to tell. If however this is the last that we see of Entourage then I think fans will be truly happy with the one it ends. This is one for the Entourage fanboys only.
This week on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Dave, Greg and Nick take a look at new release films ‘71,’ ‘Big Eyes,’ ‘Love Is Strange,’ ‘Insurgent,’ and ‘Run All Night′. This episode also contains interviews with Amy Adams, Tim Burton, Inna Rogatchi, Monica Zanetti, Jon Leahy, Julie Kalceff, Liam Neeson and Joel Kinnaman.
Also make sure you listen in for your chance to win copies of ‘The Love Punch’ and ‘What If?’ on DVD thanks to eOne.
Summary: Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) is a washed up gangster, a gangster with more notches under his belt due to his work with good friend Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) then even he would care to admit. Those kills mount so high that he has in the ‘Moby Dick’ for Detective Harding (Vincent D’Onofrio) who is determined to bring him down but has never really been sure which murders he was responsible for and which ones were committed by somebody else.
But Jimmy isn’t living by his gun any more. No these days he spends his time drunk and asleep in Shawn’s bar, which seemingly seems to be managed by his also criminally-minded son Danny (Boyd Holbrook). Meanwhile Jimmy’s own son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) keeps out of the gangster lifestyle choosing to be away from his father and do an honest job as a limo driver.
Suddenly though Mike’s world is turned upside down when his job causes him to witness a murder committed by his former friend, Danny. Now suddenly Danny and Shawn have their sites set on Mike who suddenly finds himself being reluctantly helped by his old man.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 19th March, 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Screenwriter: Brad Ingelsby
Cast: Lisa Branch (Angela Banks), Radivoje Bukvic (Victor Grezda), John Cenatiempo (Tommy), Giulia Cicciari (Catelyn Conlon), Common (Andrew Price), Ella June Conroy (Kirsten), T.J. Craig (Tim), Chris C. Cullen (Young Pat Mullen), Vincent D’Onofrio (Detective Harding), Tony Devon (Detective Angie), Dan Domingues (Uncle Ricky), Malcolm Goodwin (Officer Colston), Ed Harris (Shawn Maguire), Roderick Hill (Billy Conlon), Boyd Holbrook (Danny Maguire), Aubrey Joseph (Curtis ‘Legs’ Banks), Jelani Robert Joseph (Marcus), Patricia Kalember (Rose Maguire), Joel Kinnaman (Mike Conlon), Beau Knapp (Kenan Boyle), Anna Ladner (Maria), James Martinez (Detective Oscar Torres), Holt McCallany (Frank), Bruce McGill (Pat Mullen), Carrington Meyer (Lily Conlon), Julian Murdoch (Young Mike), Andy Murray (Paul), Tony Naumovski (Samir), Liam Neeson (Jimmy Conlon), Nick Nolte (uncredited), Genesis Rodriguez (Gabriela Conlon), Daniel Stewart Sherman (Brendan), Lois Smith (Margaret Conlon), Gavin-Keith Umeh (Officer Randle), Barrington Walters Jnr. (Terrell)
Runtime: 114 mins
OUR RUN ALL NIGHT REVIEWS & RATINGS:
The gangster film genre (yes a sub-genre of the crime genre) can be a slippery slope for females. Get it wrong and you end up looking incredibly stupid like director Ruben Fleischer did with Gangster Squad. Yes everyone wants to make the next Godfather, but few come close, in recent times it has really only been films like Animal Kingdom, The Departed, Two Hands and Killing Them Softly that have ever come anywhere near the masterpiece of the genre though.
With Run All Night though director, Jaume Collet-Serra, who started as a horror director with House Of Wax and Orphan before directing Neeson it great thrillers Non-Stop and Unknown, comes dangerously close to making a film that deserves to be listed amongst the ‘better’ films in this realm.
Collet-Serra’s horror background certainly seems to help him in the making of Run All Night. Unlike some of the softer gangster flicks around he isn’t afraid to let a little bit of blood splatter, while he brings a dark sinister urban feel to Brad Ingelsby’s script, which already uses the city of New York as a character anyway. The best part of Run All Night though is the fact that Collet-Serra keeps track of the character relationships awfully well and never allows the film to become a storyless shoot-‘em-up like the mediocre Denzel Washington led The Equalizer which surfaced last year. The fact that Ingelsby’s screenplay sets this film over the course of one night also shows that he is a screenwriter to watch.
Instead Collet-Serra keeps the tension running throughout this film, not only from having Mike and Jimmy in constant danger whether through a high speed car chase or a slow paced forest ‘hunt’, but by realizing that the friction generated from the fractured relationships that these characters share with each other is more than enough to have the audience on their seat as well… a tension that is also enhanced by a great soundtrack by Junkie XL.
In fact the only weakness with Run All Night seems to be storyline surrounding Mr. Price (played by the rapper Common), the mysterious hitman hired to track down Mike and Jimmy. While most of the characters in Run All Night escape that the Hollywood gangster clichés, Mr. Price certainly doesn’t. Very little character background is given about him which doesn’t make him mysterious, it just makes him slightly annoying. There seems to be very little motivation to why the character exists in the film except to lead up to the finale, and he would really be more at place in a film like Sin City. Not sure why he was written into the original screenplay when two great adversaries were already set up with Shawn and Detective Harding… the latter a character that certainly deserved a lot more screen time.
Also making Run All Night a must see are the performances of the cast. Neeson vs Harris is one of the best enemy pairings in modern cinema and the two veteran actors go toe-to-toe with not only violence but also a remarkably tension filled dialogue driven scene where the two face off in a crowded restaurant over a meal. Neeson shrugs off the misses he recently delivered with Taken 3 and A Walk Among The Tombstones and once again returns to what we saw in Non-Stop a man who understands the action thriller genre more than most of his counterparts.
The younger cast step up as well with Joel Kinnaman making us forget RoboCop with a performance not too dissimilar to his one in The Killing while Boyd Holbrook also seems to relish the opportunity of playing the ‘bad guy.’ Common doesn’t do much to suggest that he should turn his back on his music career while the brave casting of Law & Order: Criminal Intent star Vincent D’Onofrio to play another New York cop (like playing one on TV for ten years wasn’t enough) actually seems to pay off despite the role not having quite enough meat to make him stand out.
Run All Night is a stylish gangster flick that shows that there is still life in this genre and Liam Neeson yet. Jaume Collet-Serra again reminds us why he is the leading thriller director around at the moment with a film that I am certain is going to be talked about for years to come.
This week on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Adam, Dave, Greg and Nick take a look at new release films ‘Life Itself’, ‘Mr. Turner,”Into The Woods,’ ‘Taken 3,’ and ‘Dumb & Dumber To′. This episode also contains interviews with Chaz Ebert, Steve James, Timothy Spall, Mike Leigh, Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Jim Carrey and Darren L. Downs.