UK Release: October 3rd 2014
One of the most anticipated releases this year was the adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s ‘GONE GIRL’ from director David Fincher. This includes the interesting cast of Rosamund Pike (the Amy role she plays was called the ‘’most important role to get’’ by Variety in 2012), Ben Affleck as Nick, and other including Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry and Scoot McNairy. Before I begin I must warn of minor theme based spoilers because they will be coming!
Laced with black comedy (a director’s hallmark), it is clear why Fincher was attracted to this project in the first place. Basically it is a deconstruction of a relationship, almost an anti-date movie as viewers could be ending up questioning about the way they act. Rare for a Hollywood picture is the idea about façades, and how people build them and play them off. A lot of the black comedy is laced with this idea, throughout the film you see characters appear on TV, and before going on learning to convey a particular emotion and point, in the form of sending out a image via the media and manipulating viewers to this image. The black comedy aspect comes out when the media try reporting that Nick’s sister (a terrific Carrie Coon) is a lesbian. This idea is very much the films vocal point and punchline, and Fincher is able to craft it with such clarity. This certainly crossover’s into the theme of being able to be anyone on social media in the ‘Social Network’. And this theme is rare in a mainstream Hollywood film. This theme can be seen in the marketing itself. The posters and trailers certainly paint a façade, indicating this isn’t a normal conventional murder mystery, and after watching the film the posters themselves will make more sense to what you have watched. It adds this almost social experiment like aspect to the film. There is also certainly a Paul Verhoeven vibe to the film as well; you could see the director of ‘Basic Instinct’ making this back in his more popular days. This is a story about storytelling. Be interesting to see if the original author has cracks forming in her marriage when writing the original novel.
Rosamund Pike is terrific in the role of Amy, she embodies the character extremely well. What I do like about her, she has a almost ageless quality to her, and from this will finally become the big star which I think was expecting to be. Affleck is wonderful as Nick as well, initially I was worried his Batman bulk he has point on might ruin what he looks like, being a writer in this, but that isn’t a issue. Both of Pike and Affleck certainly bring this strange ‘Team Nick’, ‘Team Amy’ support to their characters as well. You also have Fincher regular turning up from ‘Zodiac’ in the cast as well.
Shot in 6K the film looks beautiful. The shot of Pike underwater is exquisite and will certainly spawn a load of clones. The film does feel like a crime scene, you get a sense that you shouldn’t touch or disrupt any visual surface. There is some problems, the ending will be like marmite, and the knock in tone is a little jarring, however the ending certainly has a style where you do question if it is really meant to be liked. And there isn’t any comeuppance ether as it just ends.
Still though this is real grown up entertainment, and should be celebrated, certainly one of the most interesting pictures I’ve seen this year.
UK Release: Friday 26th September 2014
Based on the old TV show of the same name with Edward Woodward, Antoine Fuqua’s ‘THE EQUILIZER’ is a modern take on the TV show with Denzel Washington. Washington is familiar with action, after all he kicked a lot of ass in the past in films such as ‘Man on Fire’ and such. And in this you do feel like he is wanting more then what he is been given here, and this is a shame as Washington is the last of the old-school Hollywood actors. In every scene you see him trying to get something more out of the character, but there is nothing there to draw onto.
It was reported this was the highest rated R rated film in regards to a Sony Pictures film in the test audience stage, however I really find it hard why. What you get is a very standard action picture. Yes it is violent (cut for UK cinema release to get a 15), however there is no conscience to this guys actions, as the idea is he make things ‘’equal’’, but he seems to go the extra mile and murders them. I just find it bizarre as he is not really making it ‘’equal’’. I also just didn’t care for the character, Washington seems invincible after he blows the oil tanker up midway through this long film, and then everything becomes cannon fodder. Marton Csokas is very good in this Russian accountant role, even it continues Hollywood’s trend of casting Russian’s as the bad guys, giving them tattoos and such.
UK Release: May 2nd 2014
Writer/Director Bobcat Goldthwait’s ‘WILLOW CREEK’, is a atmospheric found footage horror film about a young couple (a believable couple played by Bryce Johnson and Alexie Gilmore), who go to Willow Creek and follow a 1967 home movie tape to see if the legend of Bigfoot does exist. While it does take its time to get going the film certainly has elements of black-comedy underlining what is happening. It also has a very effect 19 minutes in a tent which moves from embarrassment into terror for characters. It has gone down well on the horror festival seen, and deceivably as well. Considering how much found footage films like this have become ridiculed since the days of ‘The Blair Witch Project’, this actually works pretty well, and has fun on its genre conventions.
UK Release: Friday 19th September 2014
Based on Laura Wade’s play ‘Posh’, which was controversial at the time, as it was thought to be a portrayal of the Oxford University Bullingdon Club, which once had David Cameron and Boris Johnson as members, has been adapted into a film with Lone Scherfig’s ‘THE RIOT CLUB’. With a strong young British cast including Max Irons, Sam Claflin, Douglas Booth, Holliday Grainger, Jessica Brown Findley and briefly Natalie Dormer.
With this film you can tell its based on a play. The main set piece takes place in a pub, which some might have a issue with, as a big chunk of it plays out here. However Scherfig does his best to break up the constant use of the location and makes it more interesting for dynamic for audiences. There is a good shock moment though when it arrives to this part of the film. A strange inevitability, which you can’t stop with this said moment, which will certainly rally the blood. The only issue is thought I found it too much when it resorted to violence, as it just makes it feel too familiar. I also think that the metaphor of class, and people with more money getting away with everything (ether politicians or bankers), is more interesting then the incidents which occur in this film. Some might not like how it’s based on a true story as well. However you do feel in its play form – ‘Posh’ feels more inline then the more marketable ‘Riot Club’. Also there is some fine performances from Sam Claflin and Holliday Grainger.
UK Release: May 9th 2014
Paul Schrader’s ‘THE CANYONS’ is a tale of young twenty-something’s in modern LA and getting mixed up in the world of sex and the movie industry. Acting as the first feature film to be successfully funded with use of Kickstarter, the film seems to take pot shots at the studios in Hollywood with its metaphorical opening shots of demolished cinemas, and how this model can see films like this being released digitally, meaning that the trip to the cinema is out of the way.
Going into this film I was hoping for something to surprise me. You do have the somewhat infamous casting of Lindsey Lohan (also producer here) and James Deen (yes the all important ‘E’ and no not that one – but a actor from adult porn) in the leads. The films was wrote by Bret Easton Ellis of ‘American Psycho’ fame, who knows how to write self destructive stories about professional young twenty-something’s which no doubt got the attention of that of Paul Schrader. There is also a cameo from Gus Van Sant as well. The thing with ‘The Canyons’ is this is a very self indulgent film which tries to have pot shots at the movie industry, but instead comes across very clumsily instead. A lot of the potshots taken here will make sense if you know about it being funded by Kickstarter, if you don’t do this further reading when coming into to watch this film, then good luck. You are going to be left with just a howling bad soap-opera-meets-soft-porn mash-up. Lohan looks very bewildered most of the time, even if you can tell in some scenes she doesn’t want to act, and then in other shows glimpses that she has the ability to be a perfectly decent actress then some stunt casted celebrity she is now. Porn star James Deen looks like he is from some panto, and brings more emotion in his sex scenes (and holds a lot of phone camera to shoot films with, again a potshot at Hollywood).
Considering the talent, I really thought, considering this was from Paul Schraider, this could have been something interesting, I mean why cast these two people in the lead and have Easton Ellis write the film? Instead you get something which doesn’t really amount to anything other than staying we were able to make a film to release online without the money of a Hollywood studio, and that actors should be able to start careers the same way as well (you see it assumes actors/actress’ sleep around to get to work in that town). In away its something which, just like the casting made people laugh, so will the film itself, and this is quite an achievement considering there isn’t really any humour in it at all.
UK Release: September 12th 2014
Classic spy film ‘A MOST WANTED MAN’ is from director Anton Corbijn. Backed by Film4 this film is a European set thriller featuring the final, fully finished performance of the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Also in this are Rachel McAdams and Robin Wright.
‘A Most Wanted Man’ is an interesting film, you can perhaps tell it’s been backed by Film4 as there is certainly a very anti-American message about it all. Furthermore the main character played by Hoffman, learns about the actual teachings of Islam, and that they do not preach terrorism you might have expected. If anything most of it, is coming from a idea that they a victim of circumstance. The film is a classic spy film, and unlike more recent releases, the twist comes after it’s been set out, rather than happening and then the characters clambering to find out what happened. I do like the idea it also feels like a real story, bankers are involved, the plot is neatly placed together and follows through, making its ending deserving. Corbijn does stretch the story as he did with ‘Control’ and ‘The American’, but it works here as (again) this is a classic slow moving spy story.
Performances on the board are great, however I couldn’t help but thinking that letting Hoffman speak with a German accent seemed like an odd choice. Was this done to “level out” his performance with the accents of the other German actors? Or did the filmmakers try to give the whole film a more authentically German sound? Given the fact that all written documents in the film (such as newspaper headlines, passports, building and street signs, etc) were in German I found this a slightly distracting creative choice. As such, the film might actually work better for German native speakers in its dubbed version.
UK Release: May 2014 (Direct- to-DVD)
British direct- to-DVD release ‘CONFESSIONS OF A HOOLIGAN’ is presented as some typical football gangster hooligan film, which for the last 10 years has been a weird subculture for British films. While the films cover certainly gives you an idea it is that (including that of the film’s title), the movie instead is your (almost very student like now) Tarantino school of film making about a bank robbery gone wrong. The film itself tries to be intelligent by telling different views points of the what happens in this bank robbery, but its full of clichés, it’s been done a thousand times before and more around horrible plastic guns, and a story made to accommodate and work around the areas they were allowed to shoot at.