In cinemas this week: Hail Caesar!, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Son of Saul, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi and Gods of Egypt.
Hail Caesar! – In the early 1950s, Eddie Mannix is busy at work trying to solve all the problems of the actors and filmmakers at Capitol Pictures. His latest assignments involve a disgruntled director, a singing cowboy, a beautiful swimmer and a handsome dancer. As if all this wasn’t enough, Mannix faces his biggest challenge when Baird Whitlock gets kidnapped while in costume for the swords-and-sandals epic “Hail, Caesar!” If the studio doesn’t pay $100,000, it’s the end of the line for the movie star. The latest film from the Coen Bros may be a minor work – for me their screwball comedies aren’t quite as satisfying as their darker work – but this is destined to be a whole lot of fun anyway. And check out that cast – Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum and Tilda Swinton.
Pride & Prejudice and Zombies – In the 19th century, a mysterious plague turns the English countryside into a war zone. No one is safe as the dead come back to life to terrorize the land. Fate leads Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James), a master of martial arts and weaponry, to join forces with Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), a handsome but arrogant gentleman. Elizabeth can’t stand Darcy, but respects his skills as a zombie killer. Casting aside their personal differences, they unite on the blood-soaked battlefield to save their country. I was intrigued by this idea and after being very impressed by Lily James in Cinderella I was quite keen to check it out. Poor reviews have sapped my motivation, and I’ll see it on home ent release.
Son of Saul – During World War II, a Jewish worker (Géza Röhrig) at the Auschwitz concentration camp tries to find a rabbi to give a child a proper burial. The clear favourite to win the Best Foreign Language film Oscar, this has been all the rage since its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last year. Sure to be harrowing, gruelling viewing we’ll be making this one a priority considering it’s likely short, limited run.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of the Benghazi – On Sept. 11, 2012, Islamic militants attack the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and Sean Smith, an officer for the Foreign Service. Stationed less than one mile away are members (James Badge Dale, John Krasinski, Max Martini) of the Annex Security Team, former soldiers assigned to protect operatives and diplomats in the city. As the assault rages on, the six men engage the combatants in a fierce firefight to save the lives of the remaining Americans. This is perfect material for Michael Bay’s filmmaking sensibilities, and while the footage I have seen suggest more mature work from the filmmaker, it will still be a punishing 144 minutes.
Gods of Egypt – The survival of mankind hangs in the balance when Set (Gerard Butler), the merciless god of darkness, usurps Egypt’s throne and plunges the prosperous empire into chaos and conflict. Hoping to save the world and rescue his true love, a defiant mortal named Bek (Brenton Thwaites) forms an unlikely alliance with the powerful god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Their battle against Set and his henchmen takes them into the afterlife and across the heavens for an epic confrontation. This looks BAD.
Weekly Recommendation: Every new film from the Coen Bros is cause for celebration, so you don’t want to miss Hail Caesar!. If you’re prepared for challenging cinema and want to have an opinion on this year’s Foreign Language Oscar category, you should seek out Son of Saul.