Sep 092015


In cinemas this week: The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Life, People, Places, Things, Pixels, Tangerine and The Duke of Burgundy

The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials In this next chapter of the epic “Maze Runner” saga, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers face their greatest challenge yet: searching for clues about the mysterious and powerful organization known as WCKD. Their journey takes them to the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles. Teaming up with resistance fighters, the Gladers take on WCKD’s vastly superior forces and uncover its shocking plans for them all.

Life – A Life Magazine photographer receives the assignment to photograph rising Hollywood star James Dean. Stars Dane Dehaan and Robert Pattonson and it is excellent. My thoughts at the link.

People, Places, Things – Will Henry is a graphic novelist and a professor in NYC. At his adorable twin girls’ fifth birthday party, Will’s life is turned upside down when he walks in on the mother of his children, and longtime girlfriend, Charlie, with their friend Gary. One year later, Will is still alone and trying to put his life back together. He finds unexpected challenges when his talented student Kat tries to set Will up with her accomplished mother Diane. In this thoughtful comedy, Will is forced to navigate the unknown landscape of single fatherhood and dating in New York City, while remaining an inspiration for his students and coming to terms with himself both as a father as an artist.

Pixels – As kids in the 1980s, Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), Will Cooper (Kevin James), Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad), and Eddie “The Fire Blaster” Plant (Peter Dinklage) saved the world thousands of times – at 25 cents a game in the video arcades. Now, they’re going to have to do it for real. In Pixels, when intergalactic aliens discover video feeds of classic arcade games and misinterpret them as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth, using the video games as the models for their assaults — and now-U.S. President Cooper must call on his old-school arcade friends to save the world from being destroyed by PAC-MAN, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Centipede, and Space Invaders. Joining them is Lt. Col. Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan), a specialist supplying the arcaders with unique weapons to fight the aliens.

Tangerine – A working girl tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart. This is the infamous iPhone film, which screened as part of the competition for the Sydney Film Festival prize. Further thoughts at the link.

The Duke of Burgundy – Day after day, Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and Evelyn (Chiara D’Anna) act out a simple yet provocative ritual that ends with Evelyn’s punishment and pleasure. As Cynthia yearns for a more conventional relationship, Evelyn’s obsession with erotica quickly becomes an addiction that may push the relationship to a breaking point. One of the weirdest films I saw at TIFF14. I still think about it often.

Weekly Recommendation: Having seen three of these films I can heartily recommend Life and, if you are in Melbourne (a Nova exclusive), The Duke of Burgundy. I did not like Tangerine as much as the crowd, but if you are interested in an innovative filmmaking venture that shatters convention you may find it a hoot. Having enjoyed The Maze Runner I will eventually see The Scorch Trials on DVD. Similarly People Places Things, which looks rather sweet.