With the release of 'Free Fire' this week (as Previewed below), cult British Writer and Director Ben Wheatley has already carved out a name for himself in the ten short years that he has been Writing and Directing English television series and feature length films.
His short but highly acclaimed film career started in 2009 with British crime drama 'Down Terrace' which was made for just US$30K but picked up three award wins and four nominations including Most Promising Newcomer for Wheatley at the London Evening Standard British Film Awards, and the Raindance Award at the British Independent Film Awards. Wheatley acted as Director, Writer, Producer and Editor on the film.
The British crime drama psychological horror offering 'Kill List' came next in 2011 which was made for US$800K and again received much critical acclaim and picked up three award wins and sixteen nominations including Best Director and Best Screenplay nods for Wheatley at the British Independent Film Awards. Wheatley Directed, Wrote and Edited this film.
2012 saw the horror comedy 'Sightseers' which gave a whole new meaning to the English caravanning holiday. Directed and Edited by Wheatley the film won eleven awards and a further seventeen nominations including British Independent Film Awards, London Evening Standard Film Awards, London Critics Circle Film Awards and Empire UK Awards.
2013 saw 'A Field In England' an historical psychological horror film set during the mid-17th Century English Civil War. Made for US$385K and Directed and Edited by Wheatley the film collected one award win and eight other nominations all mostly for Wheatley's Direction and Best Film.
The big screen adaptation of J.G.Ballards source novel 'High Rise' came next in 2015 with an all star cast featuring Tom Hiddleston, Luke Evans, James Purefoy, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and Elisabeth Moss. This film picked up two award wins and eleven nominations with Wheatley Directing and Editing once again. This dystopian drama film is set in the mid 1970's in an exclusive luxury tower block that has every modern convenience so that residents needn't leave the confines of their self contained environment until society begins to crumble and all hell breaks loose.
This brings us up to date with this years 'Free Fire' with 'Freakshift' in pre-production with Armie Hammer and Alicia Vikander starring in this action horror film about a band of misfits who hunt down and kill underground nocturnal monsters. Wheatley met Amy Jump in the sixth form while at school in North London, and she has since become his wife. Amy Jump collaborates with Wheatley as Writer on all his films since 'Kill List'. A British Writing and Directing force to be reckoned with, Wheatley just keeps going from strength to strength and can put no camera lens wrong it seems. Read on for more.
In the coming week there are six new release films to coerce you out to your local multiplex or independent picture house. We kick off with the sequel to another comic book adaptation that was a surprising commercial and critical hit way back in 2014, that saw a disparate band of cosmos travelling saviours protect the known galaxy from all manner of foe, and this time around, well they're doing it all over again and this time to a killer mix tape. This is followed up by an all guns blazing shoot 'em up bullet fest set within the confines of an abandoned warehouse in 1978 Boston when an arms deal goes south very quickly for all concerned. Then we have a Hollywood set fictionalised bio-pic helmed by an acclaimed Writer, Director, Producer and Star featuring an ensemble cast that looks impressive on paper but has bombed at theatres; before moving onto two French foreign language films - one set in the present and surrounding a fifty-something year old teacher reinventing her life after her husband of 25 years darts off with another woman, and the other set in the past at the end of WWII as a French Red Cross doctor comes to the aid of a group of nuns in Warsaw. We then wrap up with an Aussie teenage psychological thriller that pits nature against nurture from which there can be only one victor.
When you have sat through your film of choice sometime in the coming seven days, remember that you are warmly invited to share your movie going experience with your fellow readers here at Odeon Online. Leave your constructive, relevant and thought provoking observations in the Comments section below this or any other Post - we'd love to hear from you as always. In the meantime, enjoy your trip to the cinema.
And so what of the story line? Set about three months or so after the closing events of the first film, we see our intrepid band of intergalactic cosmos traversing Guardian heroes doing their utmost to keep their new found family together and maintain a peaceful accord with one another, as they also seek to discover the truth behind Peter Quill's, aka Star-Lord, (Chris Pratt) true parentage. Along the way old enemies turn into allies, and several Marvel characters that we have come to know and love from the Marvel Cinematic Universe come to their aid, as an enemy has designs on destroying the whole galaxy, so crossing over the rich film catalogue and further expanding the MCU. James Gunn has already announced that he will return as Writer and Director for 'Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3'.
'FREE FIRE' (Rated MA15+) - made for just US$7M this action comedy is Directed and Co-Written by Ben Wheatley and is set in a Boston warehouse in 1978 where an arms trade goes horribly and spectacularly wrong for all concerned. Those concerned amount to a dozen or so low life criminals who all start shooting at each other within the confines of a dirty abandoned rundown harbourside warehouse, when the deal doesn't quite go according to plan. As the shots ring out and chaos ensues, gang members on either side get shot and killed or injured, and so the entire film plays out within the warehouse as the tension reaches fever pitch, bullets fly, the body count rises and those left standing, or limping, try to find an exit in the bullet ballet. Starring Cillian Murphy, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Noah Taylor, Patrick Bergen, Sam Riley, Jack Reynor and Brie Larson this non-stop shoot-em up extravaganza is likely to be the most bullet riddled blood soaked chaotic fun you're gonna have at the cinema this year.
'RULES DON'T APPLY' (Rated M) - this romantic comedy drama film is Directed, Co-Produced, Written and stars Warren Beatty in his first Directing gig since 1998's 'Bulworth' and first acting role since 2001's 'Town and Country'. It is a bio-pic surrounding a time in the life of Howard Hughes, whom Beatty has been fascinated with for the past forty years, and for all of that time had intended to make a film based on the life of the American businessman, investor, pilot, film Director, and philanthropist. After a number of false starts the film is finally here, having been made for US$25M, starring a huge ensemble cast, and having been released in the US at the end of November last year. The film has been a Box Office bomb, recovering just US$4M, and has met with mixed Reviews from Critics. The plot surrounds newly arrived in Los Angeles beauty queen Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins) who is under contract to Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty). Being collected from the airport she meets with her recently appointed driver Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich). The two instantly feel an attraction for each other, but what are two star crossed lovers to do when their religious beliefs are put to the test, and an employee fraternising with a contract Actress is a definite no-no under Hughes' terms, conditions, and code of conduct. Also starring Matthew Broderick, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Steve Coogan, Oliver Platt, Paul Sorvino, Dabney Coleman, Annette Benning, Candice Bergen and Amy Madigan.
'THINGS TO COME' (Rated M) - Written and Directed by Mia Hansen-Love this French/German Co-Production was made for US$3.2M and so far grossed US$4.2M since its Premier at the February 2016 Berlin Film Festival where Hansen-Love was awarded the Silver Bear for Best Director, and its release in France in April 2016. Now a year later the film arrives at Australian cinemas having collected a swag full of awards and nominations by film critic associations and during its showing at several film festivals. The film has been universally acclaimed. Starring Isabelle Huppert in a career defining performance as Nathalie Chazeaux, a dedicated and passionate philosophy teacher who juggles her richly rewarding teaching life, her students, her demanding drama queen of a mother, her two grown up children, and her husband of 25 years Heinz (Andre Marcon), also a a philosophy teacher. But things take a turn when her husband announces that he is leaving her and is moving in with another woman. They led a comfortable existence, without any pressures or strains on the relationship - she is stunned and blindsided by this news, but also philosophical about it - her life hasn't come to an end and she has lots going for her. And so Nathalie embarks on a year long voyage of discovery taking in a new friendship with a former student, Fabien (Roman Kolinka), realising that her ailing mother can no longer look after herself and what to do with her independent black cat, the dissolving of her marriage, and a changing of the guard at the publishing house where she publishes her books as a sideline. Causing Nathalie to re-evaluate her life and reassess her future, this is a well crafted film about what constitutes happiness and success amid everyday commonplace situations and the impact of them when confronted with the reality of starting afresh.
'BAD GIRL' (Rated MA15+) - this Australian teen psychological drama is Written and Directed by Fin Edquist, and stars Sara West as Amy Anderson, a seventeen year old no hoper scumbag drop out recently released on probation from juvenile detention whose relationship with her adoptive parents is at breaking point. The family decamp to a new ultra modern rural house set in a compound all of its own. Amy attempts suicide, but is saved just in time by attractive local girl Chloe (Samara Weaving) the recently appointed cleaner to the Anderson household. The two teenage girls hit it off, and the Anderson parents see Chloe as a calming influence on their troubled Amy. In time however, it begins to emerge that Chloe has a hidden agenda and has ulterior motives for wanting to get close to the Anderson family. As Amy's world begins to crumble before her, she discovers Chloe's secret and the far reaching implications of it, and as a result begins to fight for that which she sought to destroy and escape from. The film Premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival in August 2016.
'THE INNOCENTS' (Rated M) - here we have another forgotten historical true life telling of WWII atrocities meted out by Russian Red Army soldiers occupying Poland toward the end of the war, upon a group of nuns. Directed and Co-Written by Anne Fontaine and telling the story inspired by the aunt of Co-Writer Philippe Maynial who was the French Red Cross doctor Madeleine Pauliac treating French patients at a post-war Warsaw hospital. Here, Mathilde Beaulieu (Lou de Laage) is that Red Cross doctor who is approached and agrees to help a Benedictine abbess, Sister Maria (Agata Buzek) in delivering a baby to a young woman in her convent. After delivering the newborn child, Mathilde returns the next day to check on mother and baby only to discover that seven of the other nuns within the convent are all pregnant, having been raped by Soviet soldiers. Mathilde decides to help the nuns through their pregnancies and child birth, but the Mother Superior (Agata Kulesza) wants their terrible secret kept quiet from the outside world and from prying ears and eyes. Mathilde therefore has to maintain her work with the Red Cross, while helping the nuns and their newborn children and maintain the closely guarded secret for fear of reprisals from the outside world. Made for US$7M the film has so far taken US$6.6M and has received widespread critical acclaim, picking up three awards wins and ten nominations from around the festival circuit.
Six new movie offerings then to tease you out to your local cinema in the week ahead ranging from comic book Superhero action fare to a gun totting blazing bullet action fest, to a couple of French foreign language offerings, to an Aussie teenage psychological thriller, to a fictionalised Hollywood bio-pic that is a passion piece from this acclaimed Director, Writer, Producer and Star. When you have sat through your film of choice, remember to share your thoughts with your like minded cinephiles here at this Blog. Meanwhile, I'll see you sometime somewhere in the week ahead, at your local Odeon.
-Steve, at Odeon Online-