In cinemas this week: Inherent Vice, Chappie, Top Five, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them, Manny Lewis and Kidnapping Mr Heineken.
Inherent Vice – The seventh feature from Paul Thomas Anderson and the first ever film adaption of a Thomas Pynchon novel. When private eye Doc Sportello’s ex-old lady suddenly out of nowhere shows up with a story about her current billionaire land developer boyfriend whom she just happens to be in love with, and a plot by his wife and her boyfriend to kidnap that billionaire and throw him in a looney bin…well, easy for her to say. With a cast of characters that includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, LAPD Detectives, a tenor sax player working undercover, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang this is part surf noir, part psychedelic romp, and all Thomas Pynchon. PTA has done it again, here. The vastly-threaded narrative requires strict attention, but at the same time it is rewarding to just relax and luxuriate in the film’s plethora of riches and not worry about putting all of the pieces together. It is about as good an adaptation as is possible of Pynchon’s novel, and Phoenix (as always) is excellent. Review at the link.
Chappie – In the near future, crime is patrolled by an oppressive mechanized police force. But now, the people are fighting back. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself. As powerful, destructive forces start to see Chappie as a danger to mankind and order, they will stop at nothing to maintain the status quo and ensure that Chappie is the last of his kind. Loved District 9, but Elysium was very disappointing. I have little interest in this, but there have been some strong defence for the film of late, so I am more intrigued than anything.
Top Five – Pulsing with the rhythm of his greatest stand-up, Chris Rock’s Top Five takes things to the next level, revelling in the high and the low, and blending a star-studded comedic romp with an irresistible romance. Top Five digs under the surface of show business, politics, rap, and the exigencies of being black and famous today-holding it all up to the light in the way only Chris Rock can. Written, directed by, and starring Chris Rock, it tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career – and the past – that he’s left behind. This is a personal celebrity-insider study about sticking to your honest self; and it is both sincere and crass. Over-stretches a bit, but often very funny. Littered with hilarious cultural tidbits and cameos. And provokes immediate consideration: Who’s your top five?
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them – With his unique vision, writer/director Ned Benson ambitiously captures a complete picture of a relationship in this beautifully relatable portrait of love, empathy and truth. Once happily married, Conor (McAvoy) and Eleanor (Chastain) suddenly find themselves as strangers longing to understand each other in the wake of tragedy. The film explores the couple’s story as they try to reclaim the life and love they once knew and pick up the pieces of a past that may be too far gone. Screened for the first time at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Benson’s latest version of their story combines his previous two films – titled Him and Her– uniting their perspectives and taking a further look into the subjectivity of relationships. Note: Him and Her are available on Dendy Direct and iTunes, while Them is exclusive theatrically to Dendy Newtown in Sydney. Saw the two separate films back at the Sydney Film Festival last year and found them very moving. The casting is excellent and all of the character relationships are written so well. I am intrigued to see Them to see how they could condense this worthy double-bill into a single film and maintain the depth of study.
Kidnapping Mr. Heineken – In 1983, a group of childhood friends pulled off the crime of the century: kidnapping one of the richest men in the world, the heir of the Heineken beer empire (Anthony Hopkins). The shocking capture–by gunpoint in broad daylight on the streets of Amsterdam–resulted in the largest ransom ever paid for a kidnapped individual. It was truly the perfect crime…until they got away with it. Based on a true story, Kidnapping Mr. Heineken also stars Anthony Hopkins, Sam Worthington, Jim Sturgess and Ryan Kwanten. Bad reviews but the premise is enticing, and that cast isn’t bad.
Weekly Recommendation: Inherent Vice is essential, it is just so much fun, and you shouldn’t miss The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her/Him. If you have the access to Dendy Direct or iTunes I recommend checking out the pair of films (Her first). I also enjoyed Top Five if you are after something a little bit lighter. Worth it for the cameos alone.