Wednesday, 13 September 2017

What's new in Odeon's this week : Thursday 14th September 2017.

The Venice Film Festival has recently wrapped its 74th year on 9th September. Founded in 1932 this Festival is the oldest and regarded as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, and is considered one of 'The Big Three' film festivals that really count on the circuit, alongside Cannes and Berlin. The Venice Film Festival generally takes place in late August or early September on the island of the Lido, Venice, Italy. Screenings take place in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi and in other venues nearby. This years festival took place from 30th August through until 9th September, with Annette Bening announced in July as the President of the Jury for those films in main competition ably supported by the likes of Rebecca Hall, David Stratton and Edgar Wright. The film 'Downsizing' starring Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Alec Baldwin, Bruce Willis, Laura Dern, Jason Sudeikis and and Neil Patrick Harris and as Directed by Alexander Payne, opened the festival, and goes on general release in the US just before Christmas this year.

This years winners and grinners in main competition were as follows :-
* The Golden Lion for the Best Film of the Festival was awarded to 'The Shape of Water' by Writer, Producer and Director Guillermo del Toro. Set in 1962 where a mute janitor and her colleague work in a government laboratory and eventually discover an amphibious creature in a water tank. The janitor, out of loneliness, befriends the creature. Starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, and Richard Jenkins, this film is due for release in the US in early December.
* The Silver Lion was awarded to French drama film 'Custody' Directed by Xavier Legrand and stars Lea Drucker, Denis Menochet, Thomas Gioria and Mathilde Auneveux.
* The Grand Jury Prize was awarded to 'Foxtrot' an Israeli drama film Written and Directed by Samuel Maoz, and starring Sarah Adler and Lior Ashkenazi about a well to do Tel Aviv couple learning that their soldier son has been killed in the line of duty, and the events that led up to their son's death and how it effected the parents in the aftermath.
* The Special Jury Prize was awarded to 'Sweet Country' an Australian Western film Directed by Warwick Thornton and starring Sam Neill, Bryan Brown, Matt Day and  Ewen Leslie.
* Best Actor awarded the Volpi Cup goes to Kamel El Basha for the French/Lebanese drama film 'The Insult' as Written and Directed by Ziad Doueiri.
* Best Actress awarded the Volpi Cup goes to Charlotte Rampling for the Italian drama film 'Hannah' as Written and Directed by Andrea Pallaoro.
* Best Screenplay was awarded to Martin McDonagh for his Written, Co-Produced and Directed crime drama film 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage and Abbie Cornish and due for release in the US in early November.
* Also starring in main competition were 'First Reformed' by Director Paul Schrader and starring Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried; 'Lean on Pete' by Screenwriter and Director Andrew Haigh and starring Charlie Plummer (who was awarded the Marcello Mastroianni Award in recognition of an emerging Actor talent), Travis Fimmel, Steve Buscemi, Steve Zahn and Chloe Sevigny; the Italian/American co-production 'The Leisure Seeker' Directed by Paolo Virzi and starring Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren; 'mother!' Written, Co-Produced and Directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer and as Previewed below; and 'Suburbicon' Co-Written, Co-Produced and Directed by George Clooney and starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac and set for release in the US in late October. All up twenty-one films appeared in main competition, with a further twenty-two out of competition, and a further 46 in various other categories and special screenings.
* The Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award went to Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.

Turning to this week we have a haul of eight latest release movies coming to a cinema near you. Starting off with an origin story that could become the next big action franchise of a young Black Ops Counter Terrorism Agent with a very particular set of skills; then we move to an intense disturbing psychological horror film with a big name Director and a big name cast behind it; and then a highly rated tale set in the Yorkshire dales of northern England on a remote farm where a young farmer has his dead end life set right by a Romanian migrant worker. Then we go to a story of an up & coming rapper who has big dreams and aspirations of making it big and shrugging off the challenges that might prevent her from achieving her goals in life; followed by a historical drama of Queen Victoria and an unlikely servant with whom she forges a close and trusting relationship much to the disdain of those closest to her. Next up is a historical documentary of the civil rights and racial discrimination movement that marked 1960's America told from the perspective  of a man who was right in the midst of it; before wrapping up with two animated feature films that will be right on cue for your typical six year old.

Whatever your taste in big screen film entertainment is this week - be it any of the eight new release films 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 here warmly invited 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 meanwhile, enjoy your big screen cinema experience during the week ahead.

'AMERICAN ASSASSIN' (Rated MA15+) - this action thriller is based on series of books written by Vince Flynn, with 'American Assassin' being published in 2010. Although it is not the first book in the series of sixteen so far, rather the eleventh, it is a prequel novel that establishes Mitch Rapp as the main character cementing his back story and how he ultimately comes to be an undercover CIA Counter Terrorism Agent. Rapp's primary focus is uncovering and undermining terrorist attacks on the US, and he is an aggressive, opinionated Agent prepared to take measures that are more extreme than might be usually deemed commonly acceptable. His ongoing frustration with procedures, policy and red tape is a major theme throughout the entire series. Vince Flynn died in June 2013 aged 47, and ongoing books in the series are written by Kyle Mills. Antoine Fuqua was originally brought on to Direct, when CBS acquired the movie rights to the series of books back in 2008. Then Edward Zwick was announced to Direct, then Jeffrey Nachmanoff and finally Michael Cuesta, who delivers this film now being released in the US and Australia this week at a budgeted cost of US$40M.

And so this origin story potentially setting up a film franchise (think 'Jason Bourne' and 'Jack Reacher') introduces us to Mitch Rapp (Dylan O'Brien) who was orphaned at the age of fourteen when his parents were killed tragically in a car accident, and who in later years proposes marriage to his girlfriend only for her to be gunned down and killed moments later in a beachside terrorist attack. Now at the age of 23 and seeking revenge, Rapp is recruited by Deputy Director for the CIA Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan) as a Black Ops trainee. She in turn assigns Cold War veteran Stan Hurley (Michale Keaton) to train Rapp in the lethal ways of Black Ops. In due course the pair receive an assignment to investigate a wave of seemingly random terrorism attacks on civilian and military targets. Their discoveries lead them to join forces with a deadly Turkish Agent Annika (Sheva Negar) to halt a mystery operative known only as 'Ghost' (Taylor Kitsch) who appears Hell bent on starting a world war in the Middle East.

'MOTHER' (Rated MA15+) - this psychological horror film was Written by Darren Aronofsky in just five days, and is also Co-Produced and Directed by him too. His previous screen Directing credits include 'Requiem for a Dream', 'The Fountain', 'The Wrestler', 'Black Swan' and 'Noah' and so far during his career to date he has amassed 35 award wins and 79 other nominations. The film had its worldwide Premier at the very recent Venice Film Festival, and is released in the US and in Australia this week, and the early Reviews indicate generally widespread acclaim. The film here tells the story of a young woman's life, Mother (Jennifer Lawrence) and he husband, Him (Javier Bardem) who live a peaceful, tranquil life in the countryside in a huge mansion that they are gradually rebuilding after a devastating fire. She is working on the design and fit out, and he is a renowned poet and author suffering from writers block. One night unexpectedly a Man (Ed Harris) turns up at their front door enquiring if their house is a Bed & Breakfast establishment, and asks to stay anyway when he learns its not. He strikes up an instant rapport with Him, much to Mother's chagrin. Then the mans wife shows up, Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) with her two sons (played by real life brothers Domhnall and Brian Gleeson) who start to undermine Mother. What ensues when it all turns nasty is a story of love, devotion, sacrifice, hope and bloody surprises that will keep you guessing at every turn.

'GOD'S OWN COUNTRY' (Rated MA15+) - this British Drama film is Written and Directed by first timer Francis Lee, and has been critically acclaimed and has so far won eight awards around the film festival circuit including Berlin, Edinburgh and Sundance, and been nominated for seven others. The film was made for a budgeted GB£1M and has been described in The Times Newspaper as the 'Yorkshire Brokeback Mountain'. The story takes us to remote Yorkshire and a farm there where Johnny Saxby (Josh O'Connor) is a mid-twenty year old no hoper lad living a dead beat life on the family farm with his father Martin Saxby (Ian Hart) and his Grandmother Deirdre Saxby (Gemma Jones). Martin has suffered a stroke in the recent past and is largely incapacitated, and Deirdre is too old to attend to the daily routines on the farm, so much of the day to day workload falls to Johnny. To while away what little personal time he does have, Johnny drinks to excess often alone at the local pub, and engages in casual sex with one night stands that he has forgotten about the next morning. When Martin advertises for a farm hand to help out during lambing season, the only applicant is a Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe Ionescu (Alec Secareanu). Fairly soon, Johnny and Gheorghe strike up a friendship and then an intimate relationship that sets Johnny off on a different path altogether giving his life and his circumstances a new meaning.

'PATTI CAKE$' (Rated M) - Written and Directed by Geremy Jasper this film was made on a shoestring budget of just US$1M and screened in competition at this years Sundance Film Festival where the film also had its worldwide Premier. Here we are introduced to Patricia Dombrowski (Australian Actress Danielle Macdonald) aka, 'Patti Cake$, who is just about done with life in her New Jersey hometown. She has hopes and dreams to follow in the footsteps of her idol and hit the road to achieve fame and fortune as an aspiring rapper. With help from her best friend, a mysterious musician and her loving grandmother, Patti leads the charge against an army of staunch detractors, mounting bills that she can't afford to pay, and the shattered dreams that prevent her moving closer to making her dream her reality. Also starring Cathy Moriarty, Bridgett Everett, McCaul Lombardi and Siddarth Dhananjay. The film got a standing ovation at Cannes, and Danielle Macdonald's performance has been highly acclaimed.

'VICTORIA AND ABDUL' (Rated PG) - Directed by Stephen Frears whose previous credits include 'My Beautiful Launderette', 'Dangerous Liaisons', 'The Grifters', 'High Fidelity', 'The Queen', 'Philomena' and 'Florence Foster Jenkins', this film is based on he book of same name by Shrabani Basu, and on the real-life relationship between Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) and her Indian servant Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal). When Karim arrives from India to celebrate and take part in Queen Victoria's golden jubilee, the young clerk is surprised to find favour with the ageing Queen. As Victoria questions the restrictions and challenges of her long-held reign, the two forge an unlikely and close alliance that her household and those within her inner circle try to undo. As their friendship grows and becomes more deeply rooted, the Queen begins to see the world through a new pair of eyes, so re-establishing her humanity and humility. Also starring Eddie Izzard, Tim Pigott-Smith, Michael Gambon, Simon Callow and Olivia Williams. The film Premiered at the recent Venice Film Festival, is released in the UK and Australia this week and the US next week.

'I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO' (Rated M) - James Baldwin was an American Writer and Social Commentator who lived from 1924 until 1987. At the time of his death he was just thirty pages into his next book 'Remember This House' - intended to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and assassinations of three of his close friends, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jnr. Here Haitian documentary and feature Filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished, by crafting an insight, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, into the history of racism in the United States via Baldwin's recollections of those civil rights leaders and his personal observations of American History. The film had its World Premier screening at TIFF in September last year, was released in the US in early February and only now gets a limited release in Australia. The film cost a mere US$1M to make and has so far taken over US$7M at the US Box Office alone, and was nominated for the Best Documentary Feature film at this years Academy Awards and has so far garnered 22 award wins and 42 nominations. This stirring, thought provoking and insightful film has been critically acclaimed.

'THE EMOJI MOVIE' (Rated G) - Directed, Co-Produced and Co-Written by Tony Leondis for Sony Pictures Animation, this computer generated Sci-Fi comedy animated film cost US$50M and has so far grossed US$171M but has been critically paned, despite its ensemble voice cast that includes T. J. Miller, James Cordon, Anna Faris, Patrick Stewart, Sofia Vergara, Sean Hayes, Christina Aguilera, Steven Wright and Jennifer Coolidge. Here hidden away inside a smartphone, the city of Textopolis is home to all emojis. Each emoji has only one facial expression, except for Gene (T.J. Miller), an exuberant emoji capable of multiple expressions. Wanting to be normal like the other emojis, Gene enlists the help of his best friend and a notorious code breaker who together must travel through other apps downloaded to the smartphone, and in so doing discover a great danger that could threaten their phone's very existence.

'CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS : THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE' (Rated G) - this computer animated Superhero (of sorts) film is Directed by David Soren and is based on the hugely popular and successful series of children's books of the same name by Dav Pilkey. Produced by DreamWorks Animation at a cost of US$38M the film has so far recovered US$104M since its US release in early June. Here we have George Beard (voiced by Kevin Hart) and his best mate Harold Hutchins (Thomas Middleditch) who are two overly imaginative elementary school pranksters who spend hours in a treehouse creating comic books. When their mean spirited School Principal, Mr. Benjamin Krupp (Ed Helms) threatens to split them up into different classes, the mischievous boys hypnotise him into thinking that he's a superhero who fights crime wearing only a cape and a pair of underpants, aptly named Captain Underpants, and who is the subject of the boys comic book adventures. Also starring Nick Kroll as Professor Poopypants, the insidious villain in the piece intent on destroying Captain Underpants, and Jordan Peele as Melvin Sneedly, a child inventor who becomes Professor Poopypants unwitting sidekick.

With eight new release films this week to tempt you out to your local Odeon, taking in an action thriller, psychological horror, a remote farm love story, historical biographical drama, historical civil-rights and racism doco, a wannabe rap artist in the making offering and a couple of animated features remember to share your movie going thoughts with your other like minded cinephiles 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-

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