Friday, 18 October 2019

GEMINI MAN : Tuesday 15th October 2019

'GEMINI MAN' which I saw at my local independent Odeon earlier this week is an M Rated American Sci-Fi actioner Directed by the acclaimed and multi-award winning Taiwanese film maker Ang Lee whose previous credits include 'Eat Drink Man Woman', 'Sense and Sensibility', 'The Ice Storm', 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', 'Brokeback Mountain', 'Life of Pi' and 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' most recently. The film is also Co-Written and based upon a story by David Benioff - he who is the much lauded Co-Writer and Showrunner of that lesser known HBO series 'Games of Thrones'. The original story for the film was first pitched way back in 1997 and then went through development hell for the ensuing twenty years with various well known A-Grade Directors and Actors assigned to the project coming and going. The film was released in the US last week too, and has so far generated relatively poor Reviews and has grossed US$72M at the Box Office from its Production Budget of circa US$150M.

Here Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is an elite, albeit ageing government assassin seeking to end his career and enter a life of relaxation and blissful retirement. Having shot an alleged terrorist on a moving bullet train from a distance of two kilometres away, Henry has become somewhat disillusioned after 72 confirmed kills and decided that it really is time to retire. While settling down to the free and easy life at his rural home, he one day meets Dani (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who is the recently appointed boat rental manager at his local wharf, and they strike up a conversation before Henry takes his boat out for a spot of mackerel fishing. Henry rendezvous with a former colleague aboard his lavish luxury yacht and they enjoy a beer. Henry's friend confides that the alleged terrorist that he killed was in fact an innocent, as advised by an informant named Yuri. Henry has his friend arrange a meeting with Yuri so that he can learn more. Upon leaving Henry looks up at the bright blue cloudless sky and notices a reflection of a drone flying high overhead. Later that night, Henry's friend and former colleague is killed aboard the luxury motor yacht and his body, together with that of his female companion, are thrown overboard.

Spying in on that conversation is Clay Varris (Clive Owen) the ruthless Director of a secret black-ops unit named 'Gemini' and Janet Lassiter (Linda Emond) the Director of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). They determine that because Henry is now potentially on their trail, that he needs to be eliminated. Varris has his own ideas of how this should be done, but is overruled by Lassiter. Varris reluctantly agrees, but if her plan all goes south, then Varris will step in and do the job his way using his resources.

Upon arriving back at the harbour Henry asks Dani out for a drink at a dock side bar a couple of days later. He rocks up with a bunch of flowers and a copy of Dani's DIA security clearance having done some investigative work to confirm his suspicions that she was/is a fellow agent sent to survey him. Later that night, Henry is woken from his sleep by heavily armed snipers who had tripped an alarm system surrounding the perimeter of his home. Henry quickly and efficiently dispenses with the four armed men, and calls Dani to warn her that they'll likely be after her too by power of association. Sure enough, while commandeering a speed boat at the harbour, Dani is attacked but is able to disarm her assailant, tie him up and knock out a couple of his teeth in the process. The pair then meet up with trusted former colleague, and long time friend Baron (Benedict Wong) who flies them down to the safety of his own home in Colombia to collect their thoughts and plan their next move to meet up with Yuri.

In the meantime, after Lassiter's attempt to neutralise Henry and Dani, Varris intervenes and sends his own top assassin to kill Henry. The pair get involved in a frenzied attack involving automatic weapons, grenades, knives and a frenetic motorcycle chase sequence through the streets of Cartagena culminating in the assassin gaining the upper hand until the local Police arrive to save the day, and save Henry so allowing the assailant to flee. Henry is locked up but is released following the intervention of Dani in her official capacity as a DIA Agent.

During the chase, Henry noticed that the younger man bore an uncanny resemblance to himself and possessed a similar set of skills, but quickly dismissed it. Similarly, arriving back at a safe house, the assassin is revealed to be Clay's adopted son named Junior (Will Smith), who also asks questions about his similarities to Henry's, but his questions are quickly dismissed by Varris who just orders Junior to do his job and take out Henry once and for all. Dani in the meantime has suspicions of her own regarding the connection between the two.

Borrowing a Gulfstream Jet from a good friend, Baron flies Henry and Dani to Budapest to meet with Yuri. There, Dani has a local run a DNA test on a baseball cap left behind by Junior and a blood sample from a bandage used to treat Henry. The test results come back, proving conclusively after three separate assessments, that Junior's and Henry's DNA is identical - a 100% match. They deduce therefore that Junior is a clone of Henry. Later Henry meets Yuri Kovacs (Ilia Volok), who informs him of the cloning project and that the man Henry killed was one of the project’s Scientists. Having designed a method to produce clones devoid of pain or emotion, the Scientist attempted to distance himself from the project and was killed upon being discovered.

In an attempt to get Junior to turn away from Clay's nefarious intentions, Henry calls Janet Lassiter, who agrees to send Junior to bring Dani safely back to the United States. Collecting Dani from a designated historical site in Budapest, Junior sets up a trap for Henry with the intention of this being their final showdown. Strip searched, bound and gagged Dani is still able to forewarn Henry via a covert listening device in her mouth. Ambushing the younger assassin and gaining the upper hand this time, Henry explains to Junior that he is a clone, convincing him by revealing their similar secret traits no one else could know. Escaping back to Gemini HQ, a heartbroken Junior confronts Varris, who claims that he is better than Henry, is still his son, and that the mission must still go on.

Meanwhile Henry, Dani and Baron have flown on the Gulfstream Jet back to the US with Henry getting some much needed repairs to his bruised and bloodied body and sleep en route. Junior by now is less than convinced about Varris' justification for his actions and intentions, and having sneaked out of Gemini HQ locates the three and decides to form a partnership to bring down Varris. The four travel by SUV to the extensive Gemini HQ and are greeted by a small platoon of heavily armed guards with enough fire power to destroy a small town. The SUV is targeted and all but Baron manage to escape as the vehicle explodes in a ball of flame. Henry and Dani escape into a nearby auto shop and Junior makes for a rooftop where he can gain a better view. Varris comes up to the rooftop, there is an exchange of heated words, a brief fist fight, and Junior knocks Varris out cold, retreating to the shop where Henry and Dani are under intense fire, taking out the Gemini goons in the process. 

With the Gemini operatives all killed, the three next face off against another assassin who is seemingly considerably more agile and resilient to bullets, fire, pain and emotion. However, after setting this assassin on fire and Dani plugging him with three high powered semi-automatic bullets directly to the chest at close range, his body lays motionless. Pulling off his full face helmet and visor another younger clone of Junior/Henry is revealed. At this point Varris enters and sees his latest and totally unique creation dead on the ground, and attempts to justify his actions to the three survivors. Junior, is poised to shoot Varris at point blank range, but Henry persuades Junior otherwise, and instead, he kills Varris himself.

Ensuring there are no more clones in existence, that they are finally free from harms way, and that Gemini has been closed down, Henry and Dani six months later meet with Junior, who has enrolled into College under a new identity. Junior has taken the name Jackson, after his mothers surname, and Brogan, Henry's surname.

I didn't like 'Gemini Man', but I didn't loathe it either. My impression of this relative by the numbers fairly formulaic offering sits some where mid-stream. Sure it's entertaining enough, the action set pieces maintain the interest for all the extensive choreography that must have gone into them; Will Smith at age 51 beating up, or getting beaten up by Will Smith at age 23 is interesting and for the most part well executed; and Brogans back up team of Winstead and Wong add some gravitas and levity to the otherwise predictable storyline that we have seen in countless movies before, and more often than not with sharper dialogue. Ang Lee's use of a 120 frames per second renders the film with a clarity of image that you'll either appreciate for what it is or hate it, and this is something that has divided the Critics the world over - some praising the Directors ingenuity and for embracing the technology while others have lambasted him. And then there is the de-aging process seen here with Will Smith the younger and younger still which has also divided audiences and yet is steadily becoming commonplace having seen this used with Samuel L. Jackson in 'Captain Marvel' recently and with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci in the upcoming 'The Irishman'. Ang Lee is certainly not one to shy away from the use of cutting edge technology in his films - both in front and behind the camera, but a little more thought to the plot, imbuing the film with a little more humour and a little more attention to the script could have made this film greater than the sum of its parts.

'Gemini Man' warrants three claps of the Odeon Online clapperboard from a potential five.
-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

What's new in Odeon's this week : Thursday 17th October 2019

As reported last week, the 57th annual New York Film Festival ran from 27th September up to 13th October. Since its inception in 1963, the New York Film Festival has brought new and important cinematic works from around the world to the Lincoln Centre. In addition to the Main Slate official selections (as highlighted last week), the festival includes a spotlight on documentary, newly restored classics, special events, filmmaker talks, panel discussions, revivals and restorations, a showcase on short films and much more besides.

To round out this years coverage of the NYFF, those films appearing in the 'Spotlight on Documentary' section take in a series of dispatches from the front lines of non-fiction cinema featuring incisive portraits of iconic figures, intimate reports from inside the American prison system, New York stories both personal and political, and more. Included in the thirteen films being showcased here, were :

* '45 SECONDS OF LAUGHTER' - from the USA, and Directed by Tim Robbins who here captures a series of extraordinary sessions in which a group of inmates at the Calipatria State maximum-security facility take part in acting exercises that enhance bonding and emotional connection.
* '63 UP' - from the UK, and Directed by Michael Apted in his one-of-a-kind British film series here returns once again to a group of individuals whose lives have been charted on film every seven years from the age of seven onwards, and are now more introspective than ever at 63 years of age.
* 'THE BOOKSELLERS' - from the USA, and Directed by D.W. Young whose elegant and entertaining documentary is a lively tour of New York’s book world, past and present, from the Park Avenue Armory’s annual Antiquarian Book Fair; to the Strand and Argosy book stores, still standing against all odds; to the beautifully crammed apartments of collectors and buyers.
* 'BORN TO BE' - from the USA, and Directed by Tania Cypriano this remarkable documentary captures the emotional and physical journey of surgical transitioning, as experienced by patients at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital under the guidance of groundbreaking surgeon Dr. Jess Ting.
* 'BULLY. COWARD. VICTIM. THE STORY OF ROY COHN' - from the USA and Directed by Ivy Meeropol here this thorough and mesmerising film takes an unflinching look at the life and death of Roy Cohn, the closeted, conservative American lawyer whose first job out of law school was prosecuting filmmaker Ivy Meeropol’s grandparents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
* 'COLLEGE BEHIND BARS' - from the USA and Directed by veteran filmmaker Lynn Novick whose intimate documentary film chronicles a handful of ambitious and inspiring incarcerated students as they work towards their college diplomas in the Bard Prison Initiative.
* 'CUNNINGHAM' - from Germany, France and the USA and Directed by Alla Kovgan this painstakingly constructed new documentary charts the artistic evolution of choreographer Merce Cunningham and immerses the viewer in the precise rhythms and dynamic movements of his work through a 3D process that allows us to step inside the dance.
* 'MY FATHER AND ME' - from the UK, and Directed by Nick Broomfield this distinctly personal, complex and moving film about his relationship with his humanist-pacifist father, Maurice Broomfield, a factory worker turned photographer.
* 'OLIVER SACKS : HIS OWN LIFE' - from the USA and Directed by Ric Burns here we get to know Oliver Sacks, from his childhood with a schizophrenic older brother, to his years as a champion bodybuilder and motorcycle aficionado, to his remarkable accomplishments as one of our foremost neurologists.
* 'STATE FUNERAL' - from Holland and Lithuania and Directed by Sergei Loznitsa who here has unearthed a wealth of astonishing, mostly unseen archival footage of the 'Great Farewell' in the days following the death of Joseph Stalin in March 1953 to create an ever-relevant meditation on the horrors and absurdity of totalitarianism.

For the rest of this, plus what went down at this years New York Film Festival and all the coverage, you can visit the official website at : http://www.filmlinc.org/nyff

This week then we have seven latest release new films coming to tease you out to your local Odeon. We kick off the week with a couple of sequels, starting with a ZomCom follow-up that first launched in 2009 that was a critical and Box Office success, and this time around we see those same four lead Actors reunite with the same Director for another road trip of zombie bashing across the American heartland; and the second follow-up comes to us from the House of the Mouse that saw its first outing in 2014 and was a huge Box Office success with this film continuing Disney's 'Sleeping Beauty' theme. We then turn to a biographical drama film about a child Actress who rose to international stardom at a very young age to see her worldwide success continue up until the time of her death in 1969 despite the many challenges she faced in her personal life. Next up is a drama film concerning a young woman's pregnancy to a man who died tragically five years previously and the fall out experienced by both sets of parents. This is followed by an Aussie outback crime thriller about two estranged brothers who fall victim to a scam in their small town when they reunite at the funeral of their father; and then we have another biographical film charting the intrepid first all female team of the 1989 Whitbread Round The World Yacht race; before closing out the week with a historical retracing of a young girls secret diary from WWII that has been the source of inspiration to readers ever since and right up to the present day, as this documentary commemorates what would have been her 90th birthday year.

Whatever your taste in big screen film entertainment is this week - be it any of the seven latest release new movies as Previewed below, or those doing the rounds currently on general release and as Reviewed and Previewed in previous Blog Posts here at Odeon Online, you are most welcome to share your movie going thoughts, opinions and observations by leaving your relevant, succinct and appropriate views in the Comments section below this or any other Post. We'd love to hear from you, and in the meantime, enjoy your big screen Odeon outing during the week ahead.

'ZOMBIELAND : DOUBLE TAP' (Rated MA15+) - here we have the long awaited ZomCom sequel to 2009's 'Zombieland' film which was Directed by Ruben Fleischer, starred Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin, and was a critical and commercial success grossing US$103M off the back of a US$24M production budget. Apparently a sequel was muted even before the release of the first film, but then things languished in development Hell for a number of years before being officially green lit in early 2018.

And so in this next instalment set ten years after the events of the first film, we witness the comedic and action mayhem that stretches from the White House and through America's heartland, as our four intrepid and fearless zombie slayers Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) come up against many new kinds of zombies that have evolved over the ensuing years, as well as some new human survivors including Nevada (Rosario Dawson) and Madison (Zoey Deutch). But most of all, they have to face the growing pains of their own irritable and snide, cobbled together family. Also starring Luke Wilson, Thomas Middleditch, Avan Jogia, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, this film cost US$42M to make and is released in the US this week too.

'MALEFICENT : MISTRESS OF EVIL' (Rated PG) - this Walt Disney produced dark fantasy adventure film is Directed by the Norwegian film maker Joachim Ronning, and is a sequel to the 2014 film 'Maleficent' which was Directed  by Robert Stromberg and took US$786M at the global Box Office off the back of a US$180M budget. Set some five years after the first film, Maleficent (Angeline Jolie reprising her role) is leading a relatively peaceful life as the protector of the Moors. But her life takes an unexpected turn when Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) proposes to Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) and she accepts. Unknown to all, Phillip's mother, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), plans to use the wedding to divide humans and fairies forever. With Maleficent and Aurora finding themselves on opposite sides of an impending war, the two question whether they can truly be a family. Also starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Ed Skrein, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Robert Lindsay, Warwick Davis and David Gyasi.

'JUDY' (Rated M) - this already highly acclaimed biographical drama film about American actress and singer Judy Garland is Directed by prolific English Theatre Director and occasional film and television Director Rupert Goold, and it is an adaptation of the Olivier and Tony nominated West End and Broadway play 'End of the Rainbow' by Peter Quilter. The film saw its World Premier screening at the Telluride Film Festival back in  late August, before going on wide release in the US in late September, in the UK earlier this month and in Australia this week. It is the Winter of 1968 and showbiz legend Judy Garland (Renee Zellweger) arrives in the London of the Swinging Sixties to perform a five-week sell-out show at The Talk of the Town nightclub. It has been some thirty years since she shot to global stardom in 'The Wizard of Oz', and even though her voice has weakened, its dramatic intensity has only grown. As she prepares for the show, battles with management, charms musicians, substance abuse, poor time management and reminisces with friends and adoring fans, her wit and warmth continue to shine through. Even her dreams of love seem undimmed as she embarks on a whirlwind romance with Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock), her soon-to-be fifth husband. Also starring Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon and Gemma-Leah Devereaux as Judy's daughter Liza Minnelli. The film has so far taken US$22M at the Box Office, garnered generally positive Press, with Zellweger's performance gaining particular praise.

'STRANGE BUT TRUE' (Rated M) - this American psychological noir thriller is Directed by Rowan Athale in only his second feature film outing after 2012's 'The Rise', and is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by John Searles. The film saw its World Premier showing at the Edinburgh Film Festival in late June this year, and was released in the US earlier last month. And so, it has been five years since high schooler Ronnie Chase (Connor Jessup) died in a tragic car accident on his high school prom night. But the shock of his death is reignited when his ex-girlfriend, Melissa (Margaret Qualley), visits Ronnie's mother Charlene Chase (Amy Ryan) and brother Phillip (Nick Robinson) and tells them she believes she's pregnant with Ronnie's child. Ronnie's family tries to dismiss Melissa's incredible claim - and is plunged into a web of lies, fears, and unrelenting suspense. Also starring Greg Kinnear, Blythe Danner and Brian Cox.

'LOCUSTS' (Rated MA15+) - here Australian film maker Heath Davis Directs and Co-Produces his third feature film following 'Broke' in 2016 and 'Book Week' in 2018. This outback crime thriller saw its World Premier Screening at the Gold Coast Film Festival back in April this year, and now goes on a limited release in Australia having been shown at numerous film festivals on its journey. When estranged tech entrepreneur Ryan Black (Ben Geurens) returns to his post mining-boom hometown for his father’s funeral, he’s reluctantly reunited with his ex-con brother Tyson (Nathaniel Dean). But when the pair become entangled in an extortion scam at the hands of desperate small-town criminals, Ryan is forced into extreme measures, exposing the dark underbelly of the sleepy former mining town. Also starring Jessica McNamee, Andy McPhee, Justin Rosniak, Steve Le Marquand and Damian Hill (in his last film role, having died in September 2018).

'MAIDEN' (Rated M) - Directed by Documenatarian and TV Director and Producer Alex Holmes this is the gripping story of the first all-female crew to take on the male-dominated Whitbread Round-the-World yacht race. The film follows the crews sea faring exploits as Skipper Tracy Edwards made history in 1989 when her boat ‘Maiden’ crossed the start line of this notoriously gruelling race. A former ship’s cook, Edwards decided the only way to break into this all-boys club was to take up the challenge with an all-female crew. She set about recruiting a team and raising the money to refurbish and equip a beat-up old boat. Overcoming many setbacks, including resistant sponsors, and with chauvinistic reporters betting on their failure, 'Maiden' – with Edwards at the helm – finally set out on the nine month 33,000-mile voyage. The difficulty of their undertaking is vividly demonstrated in footage shot by sports networks as well as the crew themselves.

'ANNE FRANK : PARALLEL STORIES' (Rated M) - here Academy Award winning Actress Helen Mirren retraces Anne Frank's life, marking what would have been her 90th birthday, through the pages of her remarkable and enlightening diary, and intertwined with the lives of five woman who, as teenage girls, were also deported to concentration camps but escaped the Holocaust. Those other women were Arianna Szorenyi, Sarah Lichtsztejn-Montard, Helga Weiss and sisters Andra and Tatiana Bucci. Anne Frank was deported to Auschwitz and then to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she died of typhus between February and March 1945. Directed by prizewinning Italian TV journalists Sabina Fedeli and Anna Migotto, they used innovative storytelling techniques to focus on Anne Frank’s role as a witness, 'because her approach to life … the depth of her writing … makes her able to speak directly to young people today'.

With seven new release movies this week to tempt you out to your local Odeon, remember to share your movie going thoughts with your other like minded cinephile friends afterwards here at Odeon Online. In the meantime, I'll see you sometime somewhere in the week ahead, at your local Odeon.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Friday, 11 October 2019

JOKER : Tuesday 8th October 2019.

'JOKER' which I saw earlier this week is here finally and is the eagerly awaited, much hyped, highly anticipated and largely acclaimed MA15+ rated American psychological thriller based on the DC Comics character starring Joaquin Phoenix as Batman's arch nemesis, the Joker. Directed, Co-Produced and Co-Written by Todd Phillips whose previous film making credits take in the likes of 'The Hangover', 'The Hangover Part II', 'The Hangover Part III', 'War Dogs', 'Due Date', 'School for Scoundrels', 'Road Trip' and 'Starsky & Hutch'. The film acts as an origin story for the Joker and is not intended to form any part of the DCEU, rather a launchpad for DC Black - a series of DC standalone movies. The film Premiered at the 76th Venice International Film Festival at the end of August where it won the Golden Lion, the festival's highest prize, was released in the US last week too, cost US$55M to make and has received positive Reviews from Critics, with particular praise for Phoenix's performance. The film has scored the biggest October opening, finishing the weekend with a global total of US$234M, and a total worldwide Box Office take so far standing at US$282M. It also set career records for Phoenix, Phillips, and De Niro, and was the fourth-largest debut for an R-rated film of all-time.

Set in 1981, party clown and aspiring stand up comedian Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) lives with his mother Penny (Frances Conroy) in a run down apartment in Gotham City. The city is itself becoming increasingly run down too with rising unemployment, a breakdown in basic infrastructure services, budget cutbacks in essential services, and escalating crime. After a gang of youths attack Arthur in an alleyway leaving him battered and bruised, one of his co-workers Randall (Glenn Fleshler) gifts him a gun with six bullets to fend off any future would be thugs and attackers. When returning home later that night, Arthur comes across Sophie Dumond (Zazie Beetz), a single mother in the elevator and befriends her. It's not long before they start dating, and Arthur subsequently invites her to one of his stand-up comedy shows.

One day while entertaining sick children at a hospital, and dressed in his full clown gear and make-up, his gun falls out of his pocket onto the floor in full view of the young kids, some parents and hospital staff. Arthur is subsequently fired. On his way home later that night, and still in his clown costume and made-up, Arthur is set upon by three Wayne Enterprise businessmen who first mock a young girl sat all alone and then turn attention to Arthur when he starts to laugh uncontrollably (a neurological disorder that causes him to laugh out loud at inappropriate times). He shoots two of his assailants dead in self-defence and executes a third trying to flee on the subway steps. The vicious murders are quickly condemned by Gotham's elite - especially one Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen), the head of Wayne Enterprises, who is considering running for the post of City Mayor, and who brands those jealous of more successful city dwellers as 'clowns'. This sparks demonstrations against Gotham's rich, with many protesters on the streets donning clown masks in Arthur's image.

Arthur's takes Sophie to his comedy show and it goes off very poorly, with him laughing uncontrollably right from the off, and then he has difficulty in landing his jokes. Popular talk show host Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) mocks Arthur live on-air by showing clips from his recent failed stand-up routine on his show, viewed by Arthur on his TV at home in his apartment.

Later, Arthur intercepts a letter written by Penny to Thomas, whom she used to work for years previously, and refers to him with fond memories. In the letter, she claims that Arthur is Thomas's illegitimate son, and he then berates his mother for hiding the truth from him for all these years. Arthur pays a visit to Wayne Manor, and talks to Thomas' young son, Bruce (Dante Pereira-Olson), through the gates of the estate but flees after a scuffle with family butler Alfred Pennyworth (Douglas Hodge). Following a visit from two Gotham City Police Department detectives - Garrity and Burke (Bill Camp and Shea Whigham respectively) investigating Arthur's involvement in the train murders, Penny suffers a stroke and is admitted to hospital.

At a black-tie public event showcasing a classic Charlie Chaplin film, Arthur confronts Thomas about what he now knows about him being his real 'Dad'. Thomas tells him that Penny is delusional and was assigned to a mental asylum and that he was in fact adopted. Thomas by now was informed of Arthur's visit to his property the day before, orders him to stay away and promptly thumps him to the ground with a hefty punch to the face. In denial, Arthur visits Arkham State Hospital and steals Penny's case file which the orderly had to dig out of the archives because it was over thirty years ago. The file states that Penny adopted Arthur as a baby and repeatedly allowed her abusive boyfriend to harm them both. Penny alleged that Thomas used his influence to invent the adoption and commit her to the asylum to hide their affair for fear of public shame and the impact upon his family name and business. Distraught, Arthur goes to the hospital and kills Penny by suffocating her with a pillow.

In going home that night, Arthur enters the unlocked door of Sophie's apartment, has a look around and sits on the sofa holding his head in his hands. Sophie's comes out of her young daughters bedroom and is both surprised and shocked to see Arthur there. Seemingly frightened, she immediately asks him to leave. Arthur is seen exiting the apartment and walking down the hallway towards his own apartment, with their previous 'relationship' having all been fragments of Arthur's overactive imagination. Once inside his apartment, he rips out the contents of his fridge, shelves and all, climbs inside, and closes the door behind him.

The next day the phone rings in Arthur's apartment, and answering it he is invited to appear on Murray's talk show due to the unforeseen popularity of his failed stand-up comedy routine clips. As he prepares himself for his live interview, he is visited by his former co-workers Randall and midget Gary (Leigh Gill). Arthur murders Randall with a pair of scissors, while Gary cowers in the corner completely shocked by what he has just witnessed. Arthur chooses to leave Gary unharmed for treating him well in the past, and allows him to leave the apartment. Having dyed his hair dark green, painted on his white clown face and dressed in his best red suite with orange waistcoat, while on the way to the studio, Arthur is pursued by Garrity and Burke onto a train filled with clown protesters all travelling to a rally in the city. Burke accidentally shoots a protester while giving chase on a crowded train carriage and incites a riot which then spills out onto the platform, allowing Arthur to escape in the ensuing chaos.

Arthur arrives at the television studio where the Murray Franklin Show is broadcast from. Before the show goes live, Arthur asks that Murray introduce him as 'Joker', a nod to Murray's previous derisory comments about his routine. When the curtain goes up, Arthur walks out to a warm reception and is welcomed to the stage by Murray. 

Within minutes Murray asks Joker to tell a joke from his new material, and he responds with a tasteless one that irks the audience. He then goes on to admit that he killed the three businessmen on the train much to the horror of Murray and his audience, and begins a rant about how society has abandoned the many disenfranchised citizens, and how Murray mocked him. Arthur pulls out a gun and shoots Murray in the head at point blank range killing him instantly live on television, he then unloads another round into Murray's now lifeless chest.

Arthur is promptly arrested as riots break out across Gotham City. One rioter wearing the trademark clown mask confronts the Wayne family in a dark and lonely alley and murders Thomas and his wife Martha, sparing the young Bruce. Rioters in an ambulance crash into the Police car carrying Arthur and free him, placing his unconscious body on the bonnet of the vehicle. He comes around soon afterwards, rises to his feet still on the bonnet and dances to the cheers of the gathered crowd. He tastes that he is bleeding from his mouth, and he uses his own blood to paint a smile on his face. In the closing scene assumed to be in Arkham Asylum, Arthur laughs to himself telling his psychiatrist that she would not understand his joke. Arthur is then seen exiting the interview room leaving behind a trail of blood red footprints on the white tiled floor, before being chased down by an orderly.

'Joker' has certainly divided the Critics and polarised the audiences, and it's easy to see why. On the one hand Phoenix, who appears in just about every frame of the film, inhibits his Arthur Fleck character with a nuanced and mesmerising performance of a wannabe stand-up comedian and professional clown who is emotionally and mentally unhinged to the point where he descends into homicidal madness, ultimately becoming the Joker. Phillips has also crafted a believable and relatable story grounded in the real world whose message resonates as much today as it would have done when the film is set - societal breakdown, riots in the streets, mass indiscriminate killings and the general ignorance of society towards those in less fortunate positions than ourselves. And, when the violence comes it does so graphically and clinically and without any remorse, and yet we are drawn to sympathise with the Clown Prince of Crime, because society has turned its back on him, created a monster and he is the victim of an uncaring, corrupt and violent world. On the other hand, at times it's a hard watch for the way its portrays mental illness, drags a little in places, and feels somewhat derivative of classic Scorsese offerings 'Taxi Driver' and 'The King of Comedy' both of which get nods in this outing. As an origin story, it gets to the very roots of the bleak maniacal world of an emerging monster that will be debated long after the end credits have rolled, providing a notable back story that gives way to Jack Nicholson's and Heath Ledger's portrayal of this clown faced antagonist.

'Joker' merits four claps of the Odeon Online clapperboard from a possible five.
-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

What's new in Odeon's this week : Thursday 10th October 2019.

The 57th New York Film Festival is currently in full swing having opened on Friday 27th September and running through until Sunday 13th October 2019. This is an annual film festival held every autumn in New York City, presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Centre and is described as one of the longest running and most prestigious film festivals in the US. The non-competitive festival is centred around a 'Main Slate' of typically twenty to thirty feature films, with sidebars for experimental cinema, shorts, revivals and retrospectives, and recently introduced documentary and trans-media sections.

This years 'Main Slate' section features 29 films from around the world. These include :

* 'THE IRISHMAN' - screened as the Opening Night film, Directed and Co-Produced by Martin Scorsese, this American epic crime drama film stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Bobby Cannavale, Stephen Graham, Ray Romano, Jesse Plemmons, Jack Huston and Anna Paquin.
* 'MARRIAGE STORY' - Directed by Noah Baumbach is an American comedy drama film starring Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta.




* 'MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN' - Directed by Edward Norton, this American crime drama film stars Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe, Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
* 'ATLANTICS' - Directed and Co-Written by Mati Diop, this supernatural romantic drama film stars Mame Bineta Sane, Amadou Mbow and Ibrahima Traore. It was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, at which Diop made history when the film premiered at Cannes, becoming the first black woman to direct a film featured in official competition at the festival for which the film won the Grand Prix.
* 'BACURAU' - Directed and Written by Kleber Mendonca Filho and Juliano Dornelles, this Brazillian weird western film stars Udo Kier and Sonia Braga.
* 'BEANPOLE' - Directed and Co-Written by Kantemir Balagov this Russian historical drama film stars Viktoria Miroshnichenko and Vasilisa Perelygina, and won the Un Certain Regard Best Director Award and the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Film in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.
* 'FIRST COW' - Directed and Co-Written for the screen by Kelly Reichardt this American drama stars John Magaro, Orion Lee, Toby Jones, Ewen Bremner and Alia Shawkat.
* 'MARTIN EDEN' - Directed, Co-Produced and Co-Written by Pietro Marcello, this Italian historical romantic drama film stars Luca Marinelli who won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the recent Venice International Film Festival.
* 'THE MONEYCHANGER' - Directed by Federico Veiroj, this Uruguayan comedy film stars Dolores Fonzi, Benjamin Vicuna and Daniel Hendler.
* 'PAIN AND GLORY' - Directed and Written by Pedro Almodovar, this Spanish drama film stars Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz, and at the Cannes Film Festival Banderas won the award for Best Actor and Alberto Iglesias won for Best Soundtrack.
* 'PARASITE' - Directed and Co-Written by Bong Joon-ho, this South Korean dark comedy thriller film won the prestigious Palme d'Or award at this years Cannes Film Festival.
* 'PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE' - Directed and Written by Celine Sciamma this French historical drama film won the Queer Palm at the Cannes Film Festival and Sciamma won the award for Best Screenplay. Starring Noemie Merlant, and Adele Haenel.
* 'SATURDAY FICTION' - Directed by Lou Ye this Chinese drama film stars Gong Li, Mark Chao and Tom Wlaschiha.
* 'SIBYL' - Directed and Co-Written by Justine Triet, this French comedy drama film stars Virginie Efira, Adele Exarchopoulos and Gaspard Ulliel.
* 'TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH' - Directed and Written by Kiyoshi Kurusowa this Japanese drama film stars Atsuko Maeda.
* 'THE TRAITOR' - Directed, Co-Written and based on a story by Marco Bellocchio this Italian biographical drama films stars Pierfransesco Favino and Maria Fernanda Candido.
* 'WASP NETWORK' - Directed and Written for the screen by Olivier Assayas this drama film stars Penelope Cruz, Edgar Ramirez and Gael Garcia Bernal.
* 'THE WILD GOOSELAKE' - Directed and Written by Diao Yinan this Chinese crime drama film stars Hu Ge, Liao Fan, Gwei Lun-mei and Wan Qian.
* 'YOUNG AHMED' - Directed, Written and Co-Produced by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, this Belgian drama film stars Idir Ben Addi. The film was chosen to compete for the Palme d'Or at this years Cannes Film Festival, where the brothers won the award for Best Direction.
* 'ZOMBIE CHILD' - Directed and Written by Bertrand Bonello who also wrote the music, this French drama film stars Louise Lebeque, Wislanda Louimat, Mackenson Bijou and Adile David.

For the rest of this, plus what's hot and happening at this years New York Film Festival, you can visit the official website at : http://www.filmlinc.org/nyff

This week we have four latest release movies coming to your local Odeon, and we kick off with a Sci-Fi action thriller from an acclaimed Director starring an acclaimed Actor portraying both older and younger versions of himself as the latter must hunt down and take out the former. We then turn to a crime drama offering featuring a group of strippers who go rogue and fleece their affluent Wall Street clients post the GFC. Next up is an Israeli foreign language film about a married mother of three who rejoins the workforce in a new industry and soon proves herself to be successful much to the chagrin of her struggling restaurateur husband, while attracting the somewhat unwelcome attention of her new boss. And we close out the weeks new release movies with an Aussie doco about  medicinal cannabis and the efforts of two men to be bring much needed aid to those suffering who have no where left to turn.

Whatever your taste in big screen film entertainment is this week - be it any of the four latest release new movies as Previewed below, or those doing the rounds currently on general release and as Reviewed and Previewed in previous Blog Posts here at Odeon Online, you are most welcome to share your movie going thoughts, opinions and observations by leaving your relevant, succinct and appropriate views in the Comments section below this or any other Post. We'd love to hear from you, and in the meantime, enjoy your big screen Odeon outing during the week ahead.

'GEMINI MAN' (Rated M) - this American Sci-Fi actioner is Directed by the acclaimed and multi-award winning Taiwanese film maker Ang Lee whose previous credits include 'Eat Drink Man Woman', 'Sense and Sensibility', 'The Ice Storm', 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', 'Brokeback Mountain', 'Life of Pi' and 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' most recently. The film is also Co-Written and based upon a story by David Benioff - he who is the much lauded Co-Writer and Showrunner of that lesser known HBO series 'Games of Thrones'. The original story for the film was first pitched way back in 1997 and then went through development hell for the ensuing twenty years with various well known A-Grade Directors and Actors assigned to the project coming and going. The film is released in the US this week too, and has so far generated relatively poor Reviews.

Here Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is an elite, albeit ageing government assassin seeking to end his career and enter a life of relaxation and blissful retirement. However, he finds himself going up against a mysterious younger operative, who as it turns out is a clone of himself named Junior (also Will Smith), who's able to predict his every move, and who is faster and more agile than he is. With no other choice, Henry must uncover the truth behind Junior's creation and save him from going down the same dark path he did, meanwhile fighting against a corrupt system determined to 'retire' him at all costs. Also starring Clive Owen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Benedict Wong, and seems to be of a similar ilk to Rian Johnson's 2012 Sci-Fi actioner 'Looper' with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing older and younger versions of the same character respectively.

'HUSTLERS' (Rated MA15+) - here we have an American crime drama offering Written and Directed by Lorene Scafaria and based on the 'New York' magazine article from 2015 titled 'The Hustler's at Scores' by Jessica Pressler. The film saw its World Premier screening at the recent TIFF and was released Stateside earlier this month. It cost US$21M to make, and has so far grossed US$111M and been largely praised by Critics. And so, working as a stripper to make ends meet, single mother Destiny (Constance Wu) sees her life change forever when she becomes friends with Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) the club's top money earner. Ramona soon shows Destiny how to manipulate her way around the wealthy Wall Street clientele who frequent their club. But when the 2008 economic collapse cuts into their profits, the girls and two other dancers devise a daring scheme to take their lives back and reinstate the wealth they had enjoyed prior to the financial downturn. Also starring Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo and Cardi B.

'WORKING WOMAN' (Rated MA15+) - is a Hebrew language Israeli film that is the second fiction feature film offering from the Israel Director, Screenwriter and Producer Michal Aviad. This drama film was screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, only now does it go on limited release in Australia having garnered mostly positive Critical reaction and has collected one award win and eleven other nominations from around the festival and awards circuit. Here Orna (Liron Ben-Shlush) is a married mother of three. Her husband, Ofer (Oshri Cohen) has only recently opened a restaurant, and is struggling financially already. She decides to pursue a new career in real estate development, working as a coordinator and Project Manager for Benny (Menashe Noy), a successful property developer. As Orna connects with her emerging talents and abilities in her newly chosen field, and feels she is growing and succeeding as a person, at the same time she has to come to terms with her husband's jealousy for now being the main breadwinner of the household, and Benny's growing advances towards her, and accompanying abuse of power.

'GREEN LIGHT' (Rated M) - in Australia, two men are working to provide the last vestige of relief, and in some cases a cure for thousands suffering chronic and terminal illnesses. Directed by Ned Donohoe, this documentary is his debut film, showing the two providing black market medicinal cannabis for people who have nowhere else to turn. Though increasingly accepted as having hugely beneficial medical benefits, cannabis is still not a legal way to treat chronic conditions. 'Green Light', seen from the point of view of two mavericks, explores the exceptional lengths these two men are willing to go to improve, and in some cases save, the lives of those with nowhere else to turn while running the risk of losing everything to help sick people in need.

With four new release movies this week to tempt you out to your local Odeon, remember to share your movie going thoughts with your other like minded cinephile friends afterwards here at Odeon Online. In the meantime, I'll see you sometime somewhere in the week ahead, at your local Odeon.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-