Will Andrew Niccol’s latest capture the imagination and box-office in a similar fashion to American Sniper? On the surface, both films share a number of commonalities, not the least of which are soldiers having to kill their enemies from afar, with a certain unquestioning detachment. Niccol has made a career out of questioning the emotional and psychological significance of where we are and where we are going in terms of technology and its applications; from the sci-fi genetics drama Gattaca (also starring Ethan Hawke) to synthetic actors in S1Mone, to his screenplay for Peter Weir’s The Truman Show. Here he gets to play in the theater of the current Middle East and drone warfare. I think Good Kill will be better than American Sniper, but likely ignored by the public at large due to a falsely perceived copy-cat-itis.
In an air-conditioned shipping container somewhere in the Nevada desert, a war is being waged. Behind a door that reads “YOU ARE NOW LEAVING THE USA,” five flight-suited US Air Force officers operate drones that hover above “zones of interest” in the Middle East. At the press of a button, tiny targets viewed on computer screens vanish in plumes of smoke, as in a videogame. Egan (Ethan Hawke) used to live to fly. Now, he spends eight hours each day fighting the War on Terror by remote control and the remaining time at his suburban home, where he feuds with his wife (Mad Men’s January Jones), and numbs his boredom, rage, and guilt with alcohol. When Egan and his crew are told to start taking orders directly from the CIA — which selects its targets based not on personal profiles but patterns of activity — the notion of a “good” kill becomes even more maddeningly abstract, and Egan’s ability to comply with his superiors’ directives reaches its breaking point.
Bent Hamer’s quirky, visually formal romantic comedy was one of the most surprising pleasures at last years Toronto International Film Festival. In matters of science and love, if you get down to the most first-principle measurements at atomic levels, it’s more of an agreed upon reference than actual fact. What a novel and unusual way to articulate a life! The film might be on the nose at times and it’s driest of dry Norwegian humour is a bit of an acquired taste, but it is so brilliant and beautiful in how it goes about itself, that I fell in love with 1001 Grams, unequivocally.
When Norwegian scientist Marie attends a seminar in Paris on the actual weight of a kilo, it is her own measurement of disappointment, grief and, not least, love, that ends up on the scale.
Handsomely artificial, lush steam-punk production design, and an excellent cast (Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, and Mia Wasikowska), Crimson Peak, judging by the trailer, seems to continue Guillermo del Toro’s recent ‘inert’ dramatic streak. To put it bluntly, the actors look trapped by the sets and costumes, and the CGI so utterly out of place in this Turn of the Screw/The Innocents kind of homage, that I hope there is much more than meets the eye. Have a look at the trailer below (although judging by the millions of views on Youtube, you’ve probably already seen it by now. Feel free to weigh in on the comment section.
Set in Cumbria, in a crumbling mansion in a largely rural and mountainous region of northern England in the 19th century, young author Edith Cushing discovers that her charming new husband Sir Thomas Sharpe is not who he appears to be.
Compared to World War II, the First World War gets the shaft when it comes to representation on the big screen. Sure, there’s War Horse, All Quiet on the Western Front, Lawrence of Arabia, and Gallipoli, but overall, it seems for every film tackling the first, there are a dozen dealing with the second.
So, I’m always looking forward to a good WWI flick. Even if Russell Crowe’s upcoming The Water Diviner isn’t about the war itself, it is about the effects of that war–in particular, the effects of the Battle of Gallipoli on Australian families who lived with the consequences of their youth being sent into that particular senseless and avoidable slaughter.
Crowe, who directs as well as stars, plays a father who travels to the fallen Ottoman Empire (Turkey) to track down the remains of his boys. The trailer may be a bit heavy handed and give away a little too much of the plot, but overly dramatic is when Crowe is at his best.
The Water Diviner was Australia’s highest grossing film last year and won Best Film at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards. It opens stateside on April 24, 2015.
A pox on all your houses! Or Cancer. Which begs the question: Who in medieval times even knew what Cancer was? Apparently Morgan Freeman does. Along with (after The Knick) a slumming Clive Owen, Noway’s biggest star Askel Hennie (Headhunters) as well as Shohreh Aghdashloo and Cliff Curtis paychecks are cached considerable talents likely wasted on a grim, dour, and ultimately silly looking cash-in of the current Game of Thrones popularity. The Last Knights is directed by Kazuaki Kiriya, the Japanese director responsible a pair of films (Casshern, Goemon) big on ideas but small on execution and written by the guy adapted the Canadian novel Barney’s Version for the screen.
“A fallen warrior rises against a corrupt and sadistic ruler to avenge his dishonored master.”
Spy spoofs are a dime a dozen, as are Baby Boomer TV shows blown up into unnecessary feature films. After dumbing down Sherlock Holmes for two handsome (but inert) feature films, Guy Ritchie has a free-pass to go hog wild with 1960s production design in this expensive looking update of the era’s TV staple The Man From U.N.K.L.E. Stunts, sex and suave suits ensue as The Man of Steel himself, Henry Cavill, takes the title role along with support from Armie Hammer and Hugh Grant.
At one point, Steven Soderbergh was going to make this film with a screenplay by Scott Z. Burns (Contagion, The Informant!). After seeing this tired mess, I will be watching in my imagination that never-to-be version. Or hell, there are 5 seasons of Archer re-runs on Netflix.
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‘s been nearly a decade since I purchased a copy of Silence by Shusaku Endo in anticipation for a Hollywood adaptation by Martin Scorsese. It was supposed to be his follow up to 2006’s The Departed. At that point, Daniel Day-Lewis, Benicio Del Toro, and Gael Garcia Bernal were all attached to star as the Jesuit missionaries traveling to an unfamiliar and hostile Japan.
Yet, likely due to financing and scheduling conflicts, plans fells through. Scorsese went on to direct Shutter Island instead. With each passing announcement of his next film, I held onto hope that Silence would be his next project. Then came Hugo. The Wolf of Wall Street. Occasionally, a little news blurb would pop up saying Scorsese was still developing the project, but I was no longer holding my breath.
Well, it’s now January of 2015 and it seems the time has finally come. According to Deadline, Silence is finally a go – although with a different cast that now includes Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Tadanobu Asano.
Production begins in Taiwan on January 30th of this year and they’ll be aiming for a 2016 release date.
If you haven’t read this classic novel, be sure to swing by your local bookstore and order it.