Child 44 is a serial killer procedural set in 1950s post-war Soviet Union. The film stars two of the worlds most chameleon actors, Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman, oddly enough in their fourth appearance together on screen; the others are Lawless, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and The Dark Knight Rises. Here they both play Russian military officers involved in both an investigation and a cover-up, simultaneously. It all looks a tad laboured in execution (“Murder is strictly a CAPITALIST disease!”) But, perhaps it is merely the case of an uninspired trailer. The chilly period production design is quite handsome.
The film is directed by Daniel Espinosa (Safe House, Snabba Cash) and has Vincent Cassel, Paddy Considine, Noomi Rapace, Charles Dance, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, and Jason Clarke in the supporting cast.
It is not only Astron-6 doing cheesy 1980s throw-backs. Out of Montreal, Anouk Whissell, François Simard, Yoann-Karl Whissel originally made T is for Turbo for the first ABCs of Death anthology open-submission contest. It did not win the slot (losing to claymation T is for Toilet), but ABCs producer Ant Timpson, along with Hobo With A Shotgun director Jason Eisener, liked the short so much they decided to produce it into a feature. It bowed at Sundance in the midnight program, but to coincide with its premiere last night, they released this 80s synth-scored trailer.
The film is Turbo Kid and it is set in the apocalyptic future of 1997. A young solitary scavenger becomes a reluctant hero when he meets a mysterious girl in the wasteland. The villain is well represented by Canuck legend, Micheal Ironside. If you grew up on everything from BMX Bandits to Hell Comes to Frogtown to Solarbabies, then this might hit your nostalgia sweet-spot when it pops up on the genre festival circuit, or I’m guessing, VOD. If you reside in Canada, indie distributor Raven Banner already has the rights for the great white north.
Motion posters. There are not many of them made at this point, but as cinemas switch to screens for their poster displays, I expect there to be more of them in the future. I doubt they will be as ethereal and evocative as these from Guy Maddin’s forthcoming feature, The Forbidden Room.
Dreamy vaselined lenses and putrid yellow colour palette that remind me of smoke and water damaged book covers…In a good way. There are more tucked under the seat.
One of the emerging trends of 2014 horror genre is the slow evolution of the ‘found footage’ film into a ‘live-desktop’ kind of horror picture. Nacho Vigalondo’s Open Windows was an abject disaster at pioneering this form, but by all accounts, Cybernatural, aka Unfriended, is a fair bit better. After a successful run on the festival circuit, the film edges close to a commercial release in April (VOD would be best suited considering the narrative takes place entirely from a desktop screen) it seems to have settled on the original title.
The poster itself makes wonderful use of negative space and text, albeit it eschews any standard browser window look. Bad behavior, cyber bullying, murder, suicide, are all highlighted to offer the kind of horror-promissory notes content to go along with form.
(PSSST. I’ve tucked the trailer for the film, under the seat)
OK, this looks like too much fun: A movie where Scorsese invites his two muses, DeNiro and DiCaprio, to the gambling city of
Macau Manila and then pits them against each other for winning a part in an upcoming Scorsese movie. This high concept is something that Lars Von Trier would dream up, and then make it mean-spirited. Alas, it’s a piece of advertainment, a short film, and not a bonafide feature. Too bad. (Also: Note the Brad Pitt cameo in the trailer.)
This Sundance selected documentary on Amina Arraf, a pretty Syrian-American revolutionary who’s having an online affair with Montrealer Sandra Bagaria, looks interesting. Arraf launched the provocatively named blog, “A Gay Girl in Damascus.” back in 2011, as the Syrian uprising gains was gaining momentum. Amina’s subsequent abduction that sparked an international outcry to free her. Playing out like a detective story, The Amina Profile involves American intelligence agencies, major global media outlets, and a host of activists and sympathizers. But what started as a love story becomes the tale of an unprecedented media and sociological hoax, infotainment, deceit and betrayal.
Carrying forward the ‘texting and social media’ on screen aesthetically is as much of interest to me here, as the socio-political aspects. Sundance has a way of picking their docs in a larger hit-to-miss ratio than their features. Even if there seems to be a fair number of talking heads here, I’ve got my eye on this feature from Sophie Deraspe.
The Sundance Film Festival runs from January 22 to February 1, 2015. The Amina Profile has multiple screenings over the festival.
Isabel Coixet (Map of the Sounds of Tokyo, Elegy) has made one of the rarest of cinematic birds: an female driven nature survival epic. Set in the frozen northern wastes of Canada (Ellesmere Island), Nobody Wants The Night stars Juliette Binoche as a stubborn wife intent on finding her husband who was lost in the arctic wastes, Rinko Kikuchi as an Inuit woman whom she meets, and Gabriel Byrne as the tracker she’s hired on the journey. Lots of frostbite, hypothermia, and endless fields of white are contained herein.
Nobody Wants The Night was selected as the opening film of this years Berlinale, so expect a fair bit of press and reviews in early February.
Comfortably nestling in the nougat centre between Robocop and Short Circuit, is Neill Blomkamp’s A.I. action flick Chappie. Clearly as a filmmaker, Blomkamp has found his niche and is more than happy to stay in it.
In the meantime, you’ve got Hugh Jackman as the villain of the piece along with his boss played by Sigourney Weaver. Dev Patel (tired of Best Exotic Marigold sequels) as the inventor, and a mo-capped Sharlto Copley as the title character, humanities first A.I. robot.
The entire package looks handsome and well put together, even if it feels we’ve been over this ground many times before. Check out the full trailer below.