The Neon Demon (Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)
The film follows Jesse (Elle Fanning), who has recently arrived in LA and is attempting to break into the competitive modeling industry. When Jesse finds early success with some of the industry’s biggest names, other women in the industry become dangerously fixated with her youth and beauty.
Littered with collection of poor performances (they were really ACTING here), Abbey Lee’s fierce bitchy model and Keanu Reeve’s creepy-as-hell motel manager steal each scene they are in. Refn’s signature blues and reds play a starring role here (he’s colourblind, he uses these colours because he can see them), as does dreamy, other worldly cinematography and a pulsating electric score (think Goblin and Tangerine dream) from frequent collaborator Cliff Martinez. While the technical aspects of the film are almost faultless, the story lacks depth and intrigue, and I found that I became bored on several occasions. Supposedly a film about beauty, the point is perhaps a little bit too thin – as shallow as the beauty industry itself.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (Dir. Edward Zwick)
Reacher (Cruise) is drawn back into military business when he discovers that Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) is being framed for espionage. After busting her out of prison, the two must avoid capture, all while trying to clear both their names. Their mission is complicated by a ghost from Reacher’s past, who could have serious implications on his future.
This film has been given a rough assessment by some, many of whom elevate it’s predecessor Jack Reacher to heights which that film quite doesn’t deserve. While Never Go Back lacks an opener with as much punch and misses the pizzaz of Herzog’s villain, it is an entertaining action film, with the always charismatic Tom Cruise doing the Tom Cruise action star thing. Smulders is great here, and the no bullshit Major Turner is an equal in both brains and brawn to Cruise’s Reacher. Action sequences are well choreographed and edited; and the film has a refreshingly uncliched ending. It won’t go down as one of the great action films of our time, but it’s a solid couple of hours at the cinema.
The Girl on the Train (Dir. Tate Taylor)
Adapted from the wildly popular novel of the same name, The Girl on the Train is a mystery-drama about 3 women – 1 missing, 1 mother, and 1 drunk (Emily Blunt). Our drunk travels into the city on the train daily, looking at homes she can see from the train and imaging the lives the people in them live. Switching perspectives between the 3 women, the film weaves a tale of complicated domesticity and abuse.
While Blunt is reliably excellent, the film is largely forgettable – much more suited as a late-night weekend watch with a bottle of wine, than a trip to the cinemas. The small cast means the key mystery in the film isn’t all that mysterious, although the some thrilling moments did raise my heart rate. Aside from moving the story from England to America, the film largely hits the same beats as the book. I was surprised at the brutality of the violence in the film though; perhaps my mind censored those aspects of the book.