Friday One Sheet: Raw

Sporting a photographically pure, that is to say, a single image with very little colour/contrast/background manipulation, allows the eye to focus on the blood (and the crisp typesetting) on display for the latest poster for Julia Ducournau’s pulse-poundingly visceral coming-of-age horror picture, Raw. The relative still nature of this Australian poster for the film belies what the film does at its best. Is that false advertising, or perhaps better setting the stage for a ‘pleasant’ (if that is the right word) surprise. The tagline, “Sister – bound by love, torn by flesh” has a kind of 1970s Italian vibe to it, and is quite at odds with the design, but salacious enough to ground Raw in the trashy space the film finds itself wandering into at key moments. This one is a keeper, and a far better design than the previous posters.

Raw is being released by Monster Pictures in Australia and New Zealand on 20 April. The film will be bowing a earlier in the USA with a theatrical release on March 10th. My recommendation: Go see it with someone who doesn’t watch horror pictures very much, and watch them squirm. Ducorneau is the real deal. Apropos of the cannibal angle, Raw would also make a swell double bill with Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Bad Batch.

Prologue: Alien Covenant

Is this the first 5 minutes of the new Alien movie, or merely a web-released bit of glossy fan-service? (Or do you remember that TED Talk issued prior to Prometheus?)

Nevertheless, if you want a look at the crew of the Covenant, a colony ship with its human inhabitants (and another version of Michael Fassbender’s android, David) bound for a humanities first reachable Class-M planet on the far side of the galaxy, Fox has put a solid introduction online. With some quite serendipitous timing, in light of the recent NASA discovery of host of possible Class-M’s only 40 light years away.

I hold out hope that Alien: Covenant will continue the weird ‘quest for god’ angle in Prometheus, rather than simply rehashing Scott’s 1979 film. But I’d be lying by omission if I didn’t point out that I find it a little weird that cowboy hat sporting Danny McBride and ghoulish kill-joy James Franco are humanities idea of future world builders. Katherine Waterston, Amy Seimetz and Billy Crudup among others make up the principle cast in this chapter, and the IMDb indicates that Noomi Rapace will return.

But for now: props to David’s 22nd century improvement on the Heimlich Maneuver.

Trailer: Terrence Malick’s Song To Song

After the magnificent Knight of Cups and the egregious Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey in 2016, Terrence Malick is back (so soon) with a rock and roll sour romance (Mike Nichol’s Closer with guitars and keyboards?) featuring some of the best A-list actors working today: Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara and Natalie Portman. Not featured in the trailer are the host of other actors, Cate Blanchette, Clifton Collins Jr., Christian Bale, Benicio Del Toro, Holly Hunter, Angela Bettis, Val Kilmer, and Halley Bennett. Nor do you see the various musicians: Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Johnny Lydon or Arcade Fire.

Shot with his signature style (lots of voice over, wide angle lenses, and pretty much zero emphasis on narrative) with his usual cinematographer, Emmanual Lubezki, if you wanted to know what an indie-rock tale would look like from the elegiac master of cinema, well, the trailer is tucked below.

Song to Song opens on March 17th.

Friday One Sheet: Colossal

Another day, another Kaiju picture. OK, not fair, and in these parts we have not given enough love to Nacho Vigalondo’s feminist, metaphorical-literal toxic-relationship cum monster movie, Colossal. This unorthodox (as is the film) poster, is hot pink, giving the genre the finger, while simultaneously affectionately putting on a puppet show. This is, in fact, exactly what the film is. I saw it at TIFF last year, and it is a solid genre effort that has some progressive meat on its bones; in spite nothing being subtextual, as the movie wears its ideas right on its sleeve. (I wonder if in the poster if it is a hand model, or actually Anne Hathaway’s hand.)

Just for completeness sake, we have tucked the trailer under the seat, but this movie plays better if you go in with no expectations. You’ve been warned, as with every Vigalondo picture, the discovery of the mystery/puzzle/rules is one of the chief pleasures of the thing, best not to have a trailer do the short-hand work in advance.

Would you like to know more…?

Trailer: The Bad Batch

Billed as, “A dystopian love story in a Texas wasteland and set in a community of cannibals,” having seen the film, i can attest that that is a pretty accurate description of the film. And yet, even with that description, the film is a bit of an oddball. This is fitting, as the film is given a very unconventional trailer – which confirms one of the films chief strengths, its integration of music in to story and image.

From Ana Lily Amirpour, the director of Iranian set (Los Angeles shot) vampire picture, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, the film is brimming with top actors in tiny parts (Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi, Diego Luna, and Jim Carrey all have superb supporting roles). Suki Waterhouse and Jason Mamoa star in the film (and have some excellent chemistry.) Unlike the moody black and white Jarmusch-ian urban nightscapes of her first feature, she has gone saturated sunshine in the desert here, and it is both gorgeous not easily comparable to any other filmmaker.

Great tagline: “Being good or bad depends on who you are standing next to.”

The Bad Batch opens in the US on June 23rd.

Friday One Sheet: Skull Island

For the past few months, I have been deeply impressed with the poster campaign for the upcoming King Kong picture, Skull Island. From wide British Quad highlighting the scale of the beast, to this unabashed homage to Apocalypse Now! the promise from these graphic designs has been a muscular undiluted B-film with an big budget (of which There are enough these days.)

But along comes this Japanese poster which is all Kaiju hand-painted collage goodness! This poster is exceptional, both historically, and from a contemporary point of view, it also promises lots of secondary creature (tentacles, spines, tongues oh my!), and strong imagery. It is busy, but in the best possible way, and I would happily hang this one on a wall, if I could get my hands on it.

John Hurt: 1940 – 2017

Legendary actor John Hurt as passed on just less than a week after his 77th birthday. How does one even begin to sum up his career? From British Television in the 1960s to a small role in the multi-Oscar feted, A Man For All Seasons, to drunken patsy and terrible spouse, in 10 Rillington Place, to the shockingly gaunt Emperor Caligula in the greatest BBC miniseries of all time, “I, Claudius.” Even though the actor always looked older than his actual age, he was just getting started.

All of this was before that iconic scene in Ridley Scott’s Alien (and Hurt was deprecating enough to re-enact it as a comedy bit in Mel Brooks Spaceballs, nearly a decade later). Later came memorable roles David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, Stephen Frears (deeply underrated) The Hit, and his iconic Winston Smith in the 1984 adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Hellboy, Harry Potter, “Dr. Who”, Snow Piercer, The Proposition and several collaborations with Jim Jarmusch and Lars Von Trier demonstrate that the man had one hell of a career in front of the camera; on screens in the arthouse and the multiplex.

The man was outspoken and forthright in his own public life, by all accounts. In short, he is one of those prolific, truly great actors.

You can still see him in the cinema, right now he as a significant supporting role in Pablo Larraín’s Jackie. And has several pictures in post production, including Joe Wright’s Winston Churchill biopic, Darkest Hour, where he plays infamous British PM Neville Chamberlain.

The Hollywood Reporter has more.

Friday One Sheet: Dark Night

I have not been keeping a close eye on Sundance this year, but Tim Sutton’s documentary on the Aurora, Colorado mass shooting that took place in a movie theater showing The Dark Knight, played Sundance last year. Dark Night is getting a commercial release shortly (February 3 in NY, February 9th in LA.)

The poster has a lovely use of negative space, and grain. I like the red emphasis on the exit light of the cinema which matches the title and unconventional location of the credit block. The three street lights echo the ‘shine a light’ on the subject which is obviously the intent of the docudrama.

Review: Gold

Are you old enough to recall Bre-X? If not, Stephen Gaghan’s Gold is a fanciful, fictional retelling of a story about Wall Street greed and hubris that is happy to take the cautionary tale and gild it with Hollywood glitz. Investment bankers taking wild speculative gambles, the roller coaster of unsupervised capitalism; one might ask incredulously, what could possibly go wrong?

In the vein of The Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short, Gold charts the progress of a mining company that hits the largest gold strike in the 20th century, deep in the jungles of Indonesia. More so, it is an opportunity for Matthew McConaughey to play an oily and charismatic slob, Kenny Wells, complete with snaggle-tooth, bald pate and pot belly.

We see Wells, early on in the picture, crudely romancing his girlfriend Kay (Bryce Dallas Howard), unrecognizable with a late 1980s perm and a push-up bra, a la Erin Brockovich, presenting her with expensive baubles and cheap (but earnest) philosophy in his father’s office. He takes the meeting with his dad (Craig T. Nelson) who offers the moral of the film and the modern prospecting business: “I don’t have to do this, I get to do this.”

Some years later, the younger American prospector-dreamer has brought his father’s company to a pretty low point. In a Hail Mary pass, he liquidates his meager assets to team up with sexy geologist Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramírez) on a jungle prospecting adventure.

Watching Ramírez unconsciously (effortlessly) channel Oliver Reed up against the backdrop of Robert Elswit’s superb 35mm cinematography — albeit, Thailand dubiously subbing in for Indonesia — trumps the Wall Street shenanigans of the film. The bromance is more compelling than the business at hand, but the film doubles down on the conference rooms and Waldorf ballrooms that occupy vast swathes of its two-hour running time.

The local peasantry have been panning the Busang River in Borneo for thousands of years, but it is Wells and Acosta that come in with a modern engineering approach and take a plethora of core-samples in the nearby mountains. When the results indicate that the region contains rich deposits of gold, the madness truly begins. Word in the financial district that the Wells’ company is, quite literally, sitting on a gold mine, prompts everyone from billionaire bankers (such as Bruce Greenwood, stealing his all-too-brief scenes) to Indonesian dictators to the mainstream media to want a piece of the action.

Wells lets his ego and his natural showmanship fan the flames before, well, you might expect that things go a bit off the rails. Wells’ mantra vacillates between the whimsical, ‘a bird without feet sleeps on the wind’ and the far more pragmatic, ‘you land where you are stuck.’

He fights with on-again, off-again Kay, who is fine with being assistant manager at a furniture store, while Kenny rides the rollercoaster. The mythology of the ‘big American vision’ takes a pounding, but we all learn something, a canard favoured by M. Night, Mamet, and of gamblers everywhere: ‘The last card you turn over is the only one that matters.’

If that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.