* Peter Wyngarde - Born 23rd August 1927, died 15th January 2018, aged 90. Most famed for his role as the flamboyant and stylish author turned investigator Jason King in the popular British television series 'Department S' which ran for 28 episodes from 1969 to 1970, and then a spin off series 'Jason King' which ran for 26 episodes from 1971 to 1972. Mike Myers is reported to have been inspired to base his Austin Powers character upon Wyngarde. His career launched in 1949 with an uncredited role on the film 'Dick Barton Strikes Back' and then a number of television films before the big screen epic 'Alexander the Great' in 1956 with Richard Burton. A number of feature length films followed over the years including 1980's 'Flash Gordon', but mostly his work in television continued throughout the '50's, '60's, '70's and '80's and into the early '90's. His last screen credit came in 1994 rounding out a career spanning five decades in which he notched up 62 acting credits to his name.
* Dorothy Malone - Born 29th January 1924, died 19th January 2018, aged 93. Malone was an American Actress whose film and television career launched with a series of uncredited roles back as far as 1940. Over her career spanning six decades in which she amassed 113 acting credits, she garnered one Academy Award win for her role as Best Supporting Actress to Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall and Robert Stack in the 1956 'Written on the Wind' and she was a three time Golden Globe nominee too. She is perhaps best remembered for her recurring role in 430 episodes as Constance Mackenzie Carson in the hugely popular television drama romance series 'Peyton Place' which ran from 1964 through until 1969, and saw a number of attempted revivals over the subsequent years. Her last acting role came in 'Basic Instinct' in 1992 with Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone.
* Warren Miller - Born 15th October 1924, died 24th January 2018, aged 93. Miller was a skiing and snowboarding filmmaker and author, with a prolific career spanning six decades when he first started filming the action on the ski slopes of Sun Valley ski resort in Idaho in 1946 with an 8mm movie camera. He founded Warren Miller Entertainment and Directed, Produced and Narrated his own films until 1988 when he sold his company to his son. Over the years he has made a film every year for 55 years with the last one coming in 2004, always about skiing. While moving out of his executive role, Miller still maintained his creative position as Director and Narrator but distanced himself from being actively involved from 2004 onwards. His credits include over 750 sports films, eleven books and hundreds of published non-fiction stories.
Turning attention to this weeks latest in big screen release films we have the third and final instalment in a successful film franchise based on a series of best selling erotic romantic drama novels; then a couple of real life based on true events dramatic biographical terrorism stories - the first recounting the aftermath of the Boston Bombing in 2013 on one particular impacted innocent bystander, and the second how a trio of friends thwarted a shooter aboard a packed passenger train travelling to Paris in 2015. Then we have a foreign language bleak black comedy surrounding one dysfunctional Calais dwelling family that sees three generations living under one roof all with an axe to grind; followed by another foreign language film set in New York's Orthodox Jewish community that sees a man struggling to find a new wife so that he can regain custody of his young son. We then wind up with the fourth instalment in a supernatural horror franchise that despite its commercial success is a by the numbers offering that has passed its use by date, but worth a look for followers of this series.
Whatever your taste in big screen film entertainment is this week - be it any of the six 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 in the meantime, enjoy your big screen Odeon experience during the week ahead.
'FIFTY SHADES FREED' (Rated MA15+) - the hugely popular trilogy of erotic romantic drama novels by E.L.James have transferred to hugely successful (in dollar terms) film offerings if not necessarily sharing the same level of critical success. That said, the first instalment in the series was released in 2015, 'Fifty Shades of Grey' was Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and made for US$40M and it recouped a worldwide gross of US$571M at the Box Office. It's second instalment came in 2017 this time Directed by James Foley at a cost of US$55M and that film 'Fifty Shades Darker' grossed US$371M. Now in 2018 with have the third and final instalment in the series 'Fifty Shades Freed' again Directed by James Foley and again with a Production Budget of US$55M. The film goes on general worldwide release this week.
Once again Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson reprise their roles from the previous two films as Christian Grey and Anastasia 'Ana' Steele respectively. He is a handsome, brilliant super wealthy, international jet setting business tycoon, and she a former University literature student who by accident first encounters Grey during an interview she was conducting with him on behalf of her college room mate. The pair fall head over heels for each other, he initially wanting complete control over her leading to various secrets and desires coming to the surface, and then she reverses the tables on him in the second film. Now in the third instalment, the pair are newlyweds and here very much hoping that they have left behind the shadowy figures from their past, the happy couple fully embrace an inextricable connection and shared life of luxury. But just as Ana begins to embrace her role as Mrs. Grey, and Christian eases himself into an unfamiliar stability and routine, new threats emerge that could jeopardise their happily ever after before it has even begun. The film also stars Kim Basinger, Rita Ora, Marcia Gay Harden and Luke Grimes.
'STRONGER' (Rated MA15+) - here hot on the heels of last years 'Patriot's Day' we have another film offering about the Boston Marathon Bombing of April 2013, but this biographical drama film tells a very different story. Directed by David Gordon Green at a cost of US$30M and based on the memoir of the same name by Jeff Bauman and Bret Witter, this film has received generally positive Reviews but tanked at the Box Office so far recovering just US$7M to date. The film was released in the US in late September last year and only now gets its release in Australia. The film tells the story of Jeff Bauman (here played by Jake Gyllenhaal) who loses both legs when two bombs explode during the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, close to the finish line where Jeff is standing cheering on a female friend about to finish. He wakes up in hospital and is able to help law enforcement authorities identify one of the terrorist suspects that he believed he saw just before the explosion. But, his own battle is just starting out. With unwavering support from his family and loved ones, Bauman begins a long and heroic journey to physical and emotional repair and rehabilitation, spurred on by the people of Boston who have proclaimed him a hero. Also starring Miranda Richardson and Clancy Brown as Jeff's mother and father.
'THE 15:17 TO PARIS' (Rated M) - here we have another true life biographical drama account of a thwarted terrorist attack, this time abroad a train bound for Paris. Directed and Co-Produced by Clint Eastwood, and based on the autobiography 'The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Soldiers' by Jeffrey E. Stern, Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos. The film recounts the the real-life story of three men whose brave and selfless act turned them into heroes during a high-speed railway journey. During the evening of August 21, 2015, the world watched in stunned silence as the media reported a thwarted terrorist attack on Thalys train #9364 bound for Paris from Amsterdam—an attempt prevented by three courageous young Americans travelling through Europe. The film charts the friends’ lives, from the struggles of growing up through finding their purpose in life, to the series of unlikely events that lead up to the attack. Throughout the harrowing ordeal, their friendship is never questioned, making it their greatest asset and leading them ultimately to save the lives of over five hundred passengers. The heroic trio is comprised of Anthony Sadler, Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, and U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Spencer Stone, who play themselves in the film.
'HAPPY END' (Rated M) - this French, German and Austrian Co-Production is Written and Directed by Austrian film maker and screenwriter Michael Haneke whose previous film making credits include 'Funny Games', 'The White Ribbon' and 'Amour'. Screened in competition for the Palme d'Or at Cannes last year, the film went on release in the US in late December and has so far taken just over US$1M at the Box Office despite generally positive Reviews from the Critics. Here a dysfunctional and detached upper class family living in Calais encounter a number of setbacks and challenges in their individual lives with the back drop of the worsening European refugee crisis unfolding in their own backyard just a few kilometres away from their home. The Laurent family headed up by octogenarian patriarch Georges (John-Louis Trintignant) suffering dementia lives together with his immediate family in a mansion. There is his daughter Anne Laurent (Isabelle Huppert), the owner of a construction company founded by her father, that has just had a fatal accident at the workplace; and his son Thomas Laurent (Mathieu Kassovitz) twice married already and Anne's son Pierre (Franz Rogowski) who seemingly has an alcohol problem. Around the edges dance Eve (Fantine Harduin) a troubled teenager and daughter to Thomas by his first wife who is being looked after in the family home while her mother recovers from a drug overdose. She has been secretly poisoning her mother with sedatives, experimenting on the pet hamster and filming it in its death throes and posting the footage to social media. Then there is Thomas' current wife Anais Laurent (Laura Verlinden) and her English boyfriend Lawrence Bradshaw (Toby Jones). This bleak black comedy about an unloving and uncaring family unit living in a world of privilege, but devoid of joy and happiness will not be for everyone, but for followers of Haneke's output, it is sure to please.
'MENASHE' (Rated PG) - here we have a Yiddish language drama film that Premiered over a year ago at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2017 going on a limited release in the US in July last year, where it has so far made just under US$2M at the Box Office. Directed by Joshua Z. Weinstein and Co-Produced and Co-Written by him too, the film tells the story of Menashe (Menashe Lustig) a recently widowed Hasidic Jewish man living in New York. He is seeking to regain custody of his ten year old son Rieven (Ruben Niborski) who is currently living with his aunt and uncle. The local Rabbi (Meyer Schwatrz) has ruled that it must be so for to raise a family there must be a complete family unit, and so Menashe must first find a wife to provide a proper home for his son. Menashe is a man of simple means, he works in a grocery store, has barely enough money to provide for himself, is reluctant to find another wife on the strength that his first marriage was unhappy, and prefers not to wear the traditional black coat and top hat in public. Shot over the course of two years in Brooklyn, in the home of the largest population of Orthodox Jewish people outside of Israel this is an effecting, insightful glimpse at a culture generally very guarded about itself, and shut off to the majority of us.
'INSIDIOUS : THE LAST KEY' (Rated M) - and here we have a sequel to the prequel set after the first two instalments in this now four film supernatural horror franchise. These low budget horror offerings are clearly doing something right as the Box Office numbers would attest. 2011's 'Insidious' Directed by James Wan was made for a meagre US$1.5M and grossed US$97M; 2013's 'Insidious : Chapter 2' also Directed by James Wan was made for a more substantial US$5M and grossed US$162M; and 2015's 'Insidious : Chapter 3' was Directed by Leigh Whannell and cost US$10M and grossed US$113M. This instalment was made for US$10M also, was released Stateside in early January, is Directed by Adam Robitel and has so far grossed US$156M. Off the back then of a less than combined US$27M Budget, the franchise has so far returned US$510M - not a bad return in anyone's books! Here gifted parapsychologist Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye reprising her role for the fourth time) receives a disturbing phone call from a man who claims that his house is haunted. Even more disturbing is the instantly recognisable address 413, Apple Tree Lane, Five Keys, New Mexico - the family home where Elise grew up. Accompanied by her two trusty investigative partners, Rainier ventures to Five Keys to confront and destroy her greatest fear - the demon known as Key Face, that she accidentally set free years earlier. Also starring Leigh Whannell reprising his role too from the previous films as is Angus Simpson with Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins and Barbara Hershey all seen in archival footage from earlier instalments. Despite its Box Office take, the film has received average Reviews at best, with many citing that this franchise has run its course!
With six new release films this week to tempt you out to your local Odeon, remember to share your movie going thoughts with your other like minded cinephiles afterwards here at Odeon Online, and meanwhile, I'll see you sometime somewhere in the week ahead at your local Odeon.
-Steve, at Odeon Online-