As we are going to be away for a couple of weeks, here is a preview of what is to come in cinemas both September 24 and October 1.
Sept 24 – Sicario, Pan, Cut Snake, The Visit, Diary of a Teenage Girl and London Road.
Oct 1 – The Martian, Macbeth, The Intern and The Wrecking Crew.
Sicario – In the lawless border area stretching between the U.S. and Mexico, an idealistic FBI agent [Emily Blunt] is enlisted by an elite government task force official [Josh Brolin] to aid in the escalating war against drugs. Led by an enigmatic consultant with a questionable past [Benicio Del Toro], the team sets out on a clandestine journey forcing Kate to question everything that she believes in order to survive. The latest film from the great French-Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy) strikes a troubling chord throughout, ensuring there is an ever-present tension, and wisely keeping his characters working on different frequencies and keeping us in the dark as to what this task force is really up to. With some genius photography from Roger Deakins and an psyche rattling soundscape from Johann Johannsson, this is essential cinema viewing that implicates you in an off-the-grid government-sanctioned drug bust mission. Jeremy Scahill (an investigative reporter featured in Dirty Wars) would have had a hot case with this one.
Pan – The story of an orphan who is spirited away to the magical Neverland. There, he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny — to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan. Joe Wright’s (Atonement, Hanna) re-working of the classic fairy tale will no doubt feature his renowned visual flair, and it also boasts a strong cast, including Hugh Jackman and Rooney Mara.
Cut Snake – In 1974, Sparra sweeps Paula off of her feet and starts building a life with her. When Pommie, a brutish thug, shows up unannounced, Sparra has a difficult time hiding his criminal past from Paula as he juggles both of their expectations. Starring Sullivan Stapleton and Alex Russell, Cut Snake premiered at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, but has taken a while to come to Australian audiences. I have seen some positive reactions – a lean, mean thriller which subverts conventions – and it has a lot of potential.
The Visit – The terrifying story of a brother and sister who are sent to their grandparents’ remote Pennsylvania farm for a weeklong trip. Once the children discover that the elderly couple is involved in something deeply disturbing, they see their chances of getting back home are growing smaller every day. The latest film from M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs and The Village – the good ones) has been gathering some praise – something the filmmaker has been in dire need of. The trailer isn’t much chop, but I don’t think anyone has every questioned his skills as a director of suspense – largely his scripts. Hopefully he deftly balances the horror and humour and makes the most of the tried-and-tired found-footage approach.
Diary of a Teenage Girl – Like most teenage girls, Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley) is longing for love, acceptance and a sense of purpose in the world. Minnie begins a complex love affair with her mother’s (Kristen Wiig) boyfriend, “the handsomest man in the world,” Monroe Rutherford (Alexander Skarsgård). What follows is a sharp, funny and provocative account of one girl’s sexual and artistic awakening, without judgment. Caught this at Sydney Film Festival and wasn’t overly impressed – I feel like I had seen it before, I never connected to or found sympathy in her sexploits. Many (almost everyone) has liked it more than me, but some further thoughts at the link.
London Road – Documents the events that shook Suffolk in 2006, when the quiet rural town of Ipswich was shattered by the discovery of the bodies of five women. The residents of London Road had struggled for years with frequent soliciting and kerb-crawling on their street. The film follows the community who found themselves at the epicentre of the tragic events, and is based on interviews conducted with the road’s real residents. Using their own words set to an innovative musical score, London Road tells a moving story of ordinary people coming together during the darkest of experiences. Tom Hardy and Olivia Colman star, and Rupert Norris (Broken) directs.
The Martian – During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meagre supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return. Sam absolutely loved this film – it is amongst her favourites for the year – and I am very much looking forward to seeing it. I believe the music and humour are the highlights.
Macbeth – Macbeth is the story of a fearless warrior and inspiring leader brought low by ambition and desire. A thrilling interpretation of the dramatic realities of the times and a reimagining of what wartime must have been like for one of literature’s most famous and compelling characters, a story of all-consuming passion and ambition set in war torn Scotland. Snowtown director Justin Kurzel teams up with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard for an adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays – and it is every bit as grim as suggested. Aesthetically brilliant and uncompromising, this lays down a challenge to the audience and I feel it will be very divisive.
The Intern – A retired successful business owner and widower lands an internship at a fashion website run by a young, career-driven woman. Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway star as said characters. I dunno. It could be fun.
The Wrecking Crew – What the Funk Brothers did for Motown…The Wrecking Crew did, only bigger, for the West Coast Sound. Six years in a row in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, the Grammy for “Record of the Year” went to Wrecking Crew recordings. This film tells the story in pictures and that oh, so glorious sound. The favorite songs of a generation are all here, presented by the people who made them for you. Produced and directed by Denny Tedesco, son of legendary late Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco, the film tells the story of the unsung musicians that provided the backbeat, the bottom and the swinging melody that drove many of the number one hits of the 1960’s. It didn’t matter if it was Nat “King” Cole, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, The Monkees, The Byrds or The Beach Boys, these dedicated musicians brought the flair and musicianship that made the American “west coast sound” a dominant cultural force around the world.
Recommendation: A powerful fortnight of releases. Sicario is essential viewing, and cinephiles won’t want to miss Macbeth. I am especially looking forward to The Martian and London Road from the daunting amount of unseen, but am intrigued by the formerly-unfamiliar The Wrecking Crew, Aussie thriller Cut Snake and M. Night’s return-to-form The Visit.