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.
Director: Daniel Barnz (Won’t Back Down) Writer: Patrick Tobin Producers: Ben Barnz, Mark Canton, Kristin Hahn, Courtney Solomon Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Adriana Barraza, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington, Mamie Gummer, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy MPAA Rating: R Running time: 102 min.
My original posting of this review can be found HERE
Over ten years ago, Jennifer Aniston gave a performance that demonstrated a depth and rawness in her work that we hadn’t seen before. The movie was The Good Girl, and until now it had been a pure oddity on her resume. It was released near the tail end of the run of “Friends,” one of the most popular American television programs of all-time and the launching pad for Aniston’s position as one of those “nation’s sweetheart” type of actresses who was able to hit a broad demographic thanks to her vanilla likability. Once the show ended, Aniston stuck squarely to that path, with the few early diversions (dark thriller Derailed and indie Friends with Money) not showing the kind of talent that we had seen her quietly unearth in Good Girl. Things kept in line from then on, with Aniston showing up time and again in lame, derivative romantic comedies that provided nothing but diminishing returns.
Thankfully, a few years ago some kind of switch turned in her creative decision making. While she still found herself in the comedic realm, Aniston began to take on slightly more daring projects like the black-humored Horrible Bosses, which allowed her to go against-type as a sex-crazed dentist, and Wanderlust, a bizarre bit of highly-exaggerated farce from the mind of David Wain. Neither film did much to shape the fully-formed public opinion of Aniston, but they showed a willingness to stretch herself that we hadn’t seen in a long time. That desire for growth has reached its crowning point with her newest venture, Daniel Barnz’s Cake, a drama with a capital D. Cake premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, but it feels so much more like a Sundance staple. It’s got all the trademarks: comedic actor going into heavy drama, swimming pools as a metaphor, main character with suicidal thoughts, a dead kid, Anna Kendrick. Cake has so much of the stereotypical indie movie cliches going on, in fact, that it never allows itself to become about more than the stretched-out tropes it uses to fill up its narrative beats. Would you like to know more…?
Director: Bernard Rose (Immortal Beloved, Ivansxtc, The Kreutzer Sonata, Two Jacks) Writer: Bernard Rose Producers: Christian Angermayer, Gabriela Bacher, Rosilyn Heller, Danny Krausz Starring: David Garrett, Jared Harris, Joely Richardson, Christian McKay, Veronica Ferres, Andrea Deck MPAA Rating: R Running time: 122 min.
Coming into The Devil’s Violinist, I had little knowledge about the project besides the fact that it was biopic of Niccolò Paganini, a violinist and composer I knew nearly nothing about. I didn’t recognize the handsome dark haired actor portraying Paganini but Jared Harris is certainly a great talent and let’s be frank, when have I ever been known to pass up a costume drama? Never, that’s when.
The Devil’s Violinist isn’t so much a biography as it is a drama about a musician who we know for a fact was a talented violinist and composer, a man who lived a lavish lifestyle and who was rumoured to be associated with the devil. Writer/director Bernard Rose takes a very short list of facts and weaves a story of mystery, intrigue and of a tortured artist who sells his soul to the devil, enjoys everything the world has to offer – from women to drugs – and eventually suffers for it.
If you’re looking for a biography on Paganini, you had best look elsewhere. Rose’s take on the maestro is so frivolously extrapolated that The Devil’s Violinist is far more fiction than anything else. I went reading about Paganini after seeing the movie only to discover that, among other inconsistencies, he suffered from syphilis and was later treated for tuberculosis neither of which was mentioned in the movie. As for his involvement with the devil… the movie does seem to get that part right. One can’t call this any sort of biography which leads to the question: why use Paganini’s name at all? My thought is that it adds intrigue and frankly, it’s a great excuse to fill the movie with spectacular music.
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.
Director: Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell, Tim Whelan, Alexander Korda (uncredited), Zoltan Korda (uncredited), William Cameron Menzies (uncredited) Screenplay: Miles Malleson, Lajos Biró, Miklós Rózsa Starring: Conrad Veidt, Sabu, June Duprez, John Justin, Rex Ingram Producer: Alexander Korda Country: UK Running Time: 106 min Year: 1940 BBFC Certificate: U
Just a couple of months ago I reviewed Douglas Fairbanks’ 1924 version of The Thief of Bagdad, which blew me away. It was the most spectacular silent movie I’d ever seen which was as fun as it was awe inspiring. Having heard good things about Alexander Korda’s 1940 version, I was keen to compare the two films, so jumped at the chance of reviewing Network’s new Blu-Ray release of the film. Because of this, my review will largely be matching the later film against the earlier one, so forgive me if you’re more interested in how it stands alone, but I saw the first so recently it’s difficult not to compare and contrast.
In terms of plot, although a number of core aspects and some key scenes are the same (coming from stories from the Arabian Nights), much of what and how it happens is quite different. The big change is in basically splitting the thief character from the 1924 film into two. The titular thief in Korda’s version is young Abu (Sabu), who pinches food to survive as well as to cause mischief, but the love story driving things forward is instead given to Ahmad (John Justin). Ahmad is the rightful king of Bagdad, but the evil Jaffar (Conrad Veidt) tricks him into being captured as a thief and throws him in jail. Here he meets Abu who also got arrested and sentenced to death. The two escape together and set off for a life of adventure. However, not long into this new life, Ahmad sets eyes on the Princess of Basra and instantly falls in love. This begins a quest to win her hand (he wins her heart straight away), which is made very difficult as Jaffar is also besotted with the princess and has the magical power and resources to keep Ahmad at bay. Thus begins an adventure which involves a mechanical flying horse, a giant genie and Abu being turned into a dog.
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.
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.
Well that came out of nowhere! Mamo looks at American Sniper‘s perfectly-fired magic bullet, which hit the Academy, the audience, and about a billion think-piece writers in a single shot. Afterwards, we delve into Supergirl, #XFiles2015, and the equally magic, equally bullet-shaped Joaquin Phoenix.
This week Bryan and Jon are joined by Chewie and Jandy as they take on the 2012 epic Cloud Atlas, starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry. Way too many people missed this masterpiece, which is a shame. Do you hear that? SHAME! Ugh. We can’t even look at you anymore.