Ape expectations – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes review

DOTPOTA1

By Simon Miraudo
July 9, 2014

If we should take anything away from the terse title characters of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, it’s the power of brevity. So, here’s my review: Apes together strong. Sequel merely solid. (The rest is for the human readers, sticklers for protraction.) This laboriously-titled follow up to 2011’s laboriously-titled Rise of the Planet of the Apes sees director Matt Reeves step in for the outgoing Rupert Wyatt, and though you wouldn’t necessarily think it’d be the job for the former creator of Felicity, he proves to be remarkably able. For a long time, however, his flick feels like it will merely be a bridge to a better movie, balanced uneasily between special-effects showcase and nature documentary. A great wave of relief comes when you realise the better movie lay in the second half, when gun-toting rebel chimps finally take to their horses and wage war against measly mankind.

Many will be pleased to learn Dawn delivers much more action than its ancestor. But action wasn’t missing from Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which boldly experimented with the modern blockbuster by being as thoughtful and low-key for as long as possible, only exploding into a frenzy of activity in its final minutes. The contemplative pace and compelling special effects enthralled in spite of a lack of set pieces, and its highlight came when genetically-enhanced ape Caesar (a motion-captured Andy Serkis, animated to glorious perfection by effects house WETA), finally uttered his first spoken word: a howled “No.” Few moments in cinema have surprised or shaken me the way that one did. There’s a little more chatter in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and a lot more gunfire and fury. Its awesomeness knows no bounds. Yet, not a sequence in Dawn upended me like in the predecessor. It’s probably greedy of me to make the complaint, but this might be the one franchise that has spoiled us so that close to an hour of ape-on-horseback mayhem feels like a consolation prize to some other grand, missing, emotionally cathartic climax.

DOTPOTA2

Serkis once again brings great gravitas to what would be the otherwise ridiculous part of a benevolent, talking chimp king, whose deep belief in the ethos ‘ape shall not kill ape’ has helped his hugely intelligent flock to live in peace for close to a decade. The humans have been mostly wiped out, initially by the strain of Simian Flu (caused by the hopeful Alzheimer’s cure that accidentally made the apes smart), and then at their own hands, a result of their desperate looting and rioting as the seeming end-of-days closed in. A band of survivors in San Francisco, led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) and Malcolm (Jason Clarke), nervously await a second apocalypse, given a sliver of hope after discovering a dam near Caesar’s kingdom that might afford them enough power to stay alive. It’s on Malcolm to convince Caesar that they can indeed be trusted. This slight softening on Caesar’s part towards humankind allows the menacing Koba (a mo-capped Toby Kebbell) an opportunity to enact a coup d’état, and attempt to eradicate humanity for good.

Being about the similarities between men and ape-men, little love is given to the ladies in the cast. Judy Greer plays Caesar’s wife, defying typecasting by not playing Caesar’s wife’s friend. Keri Russell is also in this thing, making Dawn of the Planet of the Apes the unlikeliest Felicity reunion you could have ever imagined. She’s there to encourage Jason Clarke and help him be the best he can be. It’s a maddeningly underwritten role that’ll make you cry out for the halcyon days of Freida Pinto in Rise, who was doing some complex Blue Jasmine s*** by comparison.

DOTPOTA3

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is no perfect picture, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes betters it in a lot of ways. The notion of an arms race between two powers equalling destruction for all resonates beyond this amusing sci-fi tale, and the scene in which Caesar admits to his son, solemnly, that apes can be as animalistic and brutal as people bares the film’s rich vein of irony. Rise helmer Rupert Wyatt, as a visual stylist was… well, not one, and Matt Reeves, aided by the miracle-workers at WETA, take advantage of the absurd beauty of their subject and capture as many startling images as possible: two apes, pressing foreheads before a wall of flames; a tank’s turret spinning 360 degrees, beholding the full carnage of warfare. It’s no accident the final shot rests on a CGI ape’s eyes, zooming in until we’re no longer sure it’s CGI at all. This is a dare. “Look at what we made.” That may be the kind of hubris that undid civilisation in these very movies, but hey, they earned it.

3.5/5

Check out Simon Miraudo’s archive of reviews.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes arrives in cinemas July 10, 2014.

Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton go to war in ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ trailer

exodus-christian-bale-joel-edgerton

Bible movies are so hot right now, and Ridley Scott’s Exodus (newly renamed with the subtitle Gods and Kings) hopes to be the hottest.

Following in the wake of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, Exodus stars Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Ramses, and documents Moses’ attempt to free 600,000 slaves from his adoptive brother, the Pharaoh.

Unglimpsed in the trailer: co-stars Aaron Paul, John Turturro, and Ben Mendelsohn. Glimpsed in the trailer: a lot of CGI money shots and a bald, eyeliner-wearing Edgerton.

Sold.

Scripted by Steven Zaillian, Exodus: Gods and Kings arrives in cinemas late 2014.

J.K. Rowling debuts new ‘Harry Potter’ short story

J.K. Rowling

A new Harry Potter short story by J.K. Rowling has reinvigorated speculation about further adventures featuring the boy wizard, and though we’re talking about the world of literature here, whenever Harry is concerned, a film can’t be far behind.

The new story, published on Pottermore, takes the shape of a Daily Prophet column by the barb-tongued Rita Skeeter. (Spoilers for the series, ahoy.)

It tells of a 34-year-old Potter, his wife Ginny, and their married friends Ron and Hermoine visiting the Patagonian Desert for the Quidditch World Cup.

Though it’s mostly just an amusing venture back to their wizarding world, Rowling drops a few hints about stories still to be told. For instance, Harry is “sporting a nasty cut over his right cheekbone,” from some mysterious encounter, Hermione (despite her hair) has ascended to a powerful position at the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and Charlie Weasley is “unmarried” which is a not-so-secret reference by Skeeter to his sexual orientation.

“Skeeter” also hints at a new book coming out on July 31, which coincides with Potter’s birthday and fan-fathering LeakyCon. Might Rowling debut something fresh there?

Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara has plotted a new trilogy of Harry Potter spin-offs based on Rowling’s ‘Hogwarts textbook’ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Should there be anything remotely close to a new Harry Potter-centric adventure in the works, expect to see it in film form before the end of the decade.

The makers of ‘Transformers’ and ‘Tron: Legacy’ get to work on a live-action ‘Dumbo’

dumbo

Ehren Kruger, the screenwriter responsible for most of the Transformers movies, is taking the next logical step in his career: penning a live-action Dumbo remake.

According to THR, Disney have tapped Kruger and Tron: Legacy producer Justin Springer to adapt their 1941 flying-elephant classic into, presumably, an explosive sci-fi extravaganza. (That last bit we’re just supposing.)

Seeing as the original Dumbo is only 64 minutes long, this new remake will include a parallel story about a “unique family.”

It’s not the first live-action Disney adaptation have on the cards: Cinderella, The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast are all in the works.

For these we can thank the success of Maleficent, based on Sleeping Beauty, and Alice in Wonderland.

So, prepare to see that trippy dream sequence come to life in what will likely be even more terrifying fashion.

Public frenemies – Lawrence and Holloman review

lawrence and holloman

By Simon Miraudo
July 9, 2014

More anti-human than Antichrist, Matthew Kowalchuck‘s beyond-black comedy Lawrence & Holloman asks us to revel in the largely-unsuccessful emotional torture of a jerk by a sociopath. And they said cinema had run out of heroes. Based on the stage play by Canadian Morris Panych – a fan of Neil LaBute, probably – it elicits sporadic laughs from its bleak series of nihilistic skits. However, the grisliness stretches on too long, diminishing its sting significantly. Perhaps as a short it would left a greater impression; it certainly would have made the final “reveal” feel like less of a foregone conclusion.

Ben Cotton stars as Lawrence, a lonely clerk close to suiciding who finds last-minute friendship with a-hole salesman Holloman (Daniel Arnold).  Lawrence’s horrendous life – comprised solely of death fantasies, caring for his ailing mother, and admiring from afar the smoky-voiced Zooey (Katharine Isabelle) – seems especially awful when placed in such close proximity to Holloman’s, what with his adoring fiancée (Amy Matysio), charmed professional career, and inability to ever taste consequences for his transgressions. But Holloman somehow manages to pick up some bad luck from his new buddy, enduring cosmic punishment after cosmic punishment, while Lawrence finds the pieces of his life magically coming together. That’s still not good enough for Lawrence, though, with Holloman’s unwavering optimism managing to enrage and depress him even further.

lawrence and holloman

The low-status/high-status game played by Cotton and Arnold is occasionally fun to watch; a round of theatre sports in which Arnold never relinquishes his rank no matter how furiously the formerly-passive Cotton snatches at it. As performers in a movie, their turns feel slightly stilted. Much better is Katharine Isabelle, whose character journey also requires a number of wild gear changes, and yet, the actress remains grounded, and (particularly impressive in the face of her co-stars intensifying inner-and-outer grotesqueness) human.

We’d be having a very different conversation if Lawrence & Holloman had the good sense to sharpen its story in the same way that it sharpens its claws. A 45-minute version of the same could have been a delectable, demonic treat. In its current shape, it rudely overstays its welcome. I thought Canadians were meant to be polite?

2.5/5

Check out Simon Miraudo’s archive of reviews.

Lawrence & Holloman plays the Revelation Perth International Film Festival July 10 and 12, 2014.

Soul food – The Lunchbox review

The Lunchbox

By Jess Lomas
July 8, 2014

Sometimes the wrong train will get you to the right station, and sometimes the wrong lunchbox will lead you to the right person. Writer-director Ritesh Batra makes his feature debut with The Lunchbox, an impressive romantic drama in the vein of Ernst Lubitsch’s The Shop Around the Corner (or You’ve Got Mail, for modern audiences). The lost art of letter writing is resurrected here, set against a bustling Mumbai where Dabbawallas run the daily lunchbox delivery service like clockwork.

The delivery system is something to behold: hot food prepared by wives and packed in tiffins, picked up from homes around the city and transported to the husbands’ offices in time for lunch. One delivery man boasts the system is so good that men from Harvard have come to study it. However one day, Ila’s (Nimrat Kaur) prepared meal inexplicably gets delivered to the wrong desk; that of Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan).

Saajan is a lonely, widowed accountant in his final weeks before an early retirement. He is indifferent to his colleagues, especially when forced to train his bubbly, eager-to-please replacement, Shakih (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). When Saajan mistakenly gets Ila’s home-cooked lunch instead of his store-ordered one, the pair begin leaving notes in the tiffins for each other; polite exchanges that soon develop into meaningful correspondence as the two grow closer. When Ila reveals her unhappy marriage to Saajan, and a plan to run away with her daughter to Bhutan, she invites him to join her. But not before meeting.

The Lunchbox

The Lunchbox is a true surprise, and appears to be marketed more as a romantic comedy than what the actual film delivers. There is humour sprinkled throughout, and more than one instance that invokes a toothy grin, but largely the movie is a vivid and stirring story of life’s hardships and the unexpected friendship that is Ila and Saajan’s salvation.

What is refreshing about The Lunchbox, which perhaps stems from the culture of its creator, is its non-Hollywood approach to Ila and Saajan’s relationship. The less is more technique is reminiscent of David Lean’s Brief Encounter, where romantic stereotypes are challenged by a code of conduct, in this case: Is Saajan too old for Ila? Is he better to follow his head instead of his heart?

The Lunchbox is the kind of picture that envelopes you like a warm blanket, charming you with its slow-building affection and life-altering curries.

4/5

The Lunchbox arrives in cinemas July 10, 2014.

Television Revision: The West Wing – Season 5

The West Wing S5

By Andrew Williams
July 8, 2014

Television Revision is a weekly feature in which our tuned in TV critic trawls through the best the box has to offer, giving you a primer on some of history’s finest shows (and the rest).

Now, this is a story all about how… the kidnapping of Zoey Bartlet  (Elisabeth Moss) has thrown the administration into utter chaos, and tested President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) like never before.

The West Wing S5

Happy days? A much-loved and admired genius at the top of his game was forced by circumstance to leave his vaunted position at the head of a hugely respected institution, and everyone else was left to pick up the pieces. It was never going to be easy for the fictional characters of The West Wing to return to their walking, talking, jovial ways after the cataclysmic events of the Season Four finale. But the real blow came when Aaron Sorkin was arrested for drug possession and subsequently left the show along with director Thomas Schlamme. Without Sorkin, could The West Wing recover? Was there any point in continuing with a show that was so synonymous with its departed creator?

While The West Wing was certainly never the same, it was absolutely worth sticking with… just not yet. Season Five is without a shadow of a doubt the worst season of the series, as the huge ramifications of the previous season prove too big a hurdle for the show to clear successfully. New showrunner John Wells does an admirable job trying to keep things on track, but the transition from the show it was under Sorkin into the show he wanted it to be was a bumpy one, to say the least. Season Five is scattered, uninspired (drawing from real life events far too often) and introduces several regrettable characters and plotlines that would be promptly excised by the beginning of Season Six.

It’s not all bad. Season Five of The West Wing was still significantly better than most dramas airing on network television and a cast this stacked could have made rejected Two and a Half Men scripts seem like Shakespeare. Wells is an outstanding creative mind, but he was trying to make Sorkin’s show. It wouldn’t be until Season Six when he started making The West Wing his own.

The final frontier: This is the worst season of The West Wing by a long, long way, but improvement is just around the corner.

The West Wing S5

Best episode: 8) Shutdown. When the Republican party acts out of such cynical and disingenuous political self-interest that the entire government has to shut down (as if!), President Bartlet and Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) take matters into their own hands with a breathtaking display of political acumen. A standout West Wing moment that proved the show still had what it took to inspire even in the bad times.

Worst episode: 18) Access. Sometimes it’s good to experiment. It can yield interesting, often miraculous results. And sometimes you get episodes like Access, which break the visual mould of The West Wing to disastrously boring results. Allison Janney won an Emmy for her performance in this episode, and she’s fantastic as always, but Access is predominantly a failed experiment.

Season MVP: Bradley Whitford would essentially take over as the central character on The West Wing as the series progressed and President Bartlet faded into the background of the upcoming election campaign, and for good reason. He has Martin Sheen’s ability to handle comedy as deftly as he does high drama, and he is the undisputed anchor of a show constantly under threat of floating away.

3.5/5

Check out Andrew Williams’ previous instalments:

Television Revision: The West Wing - Season 1

Television Revision: The West Wing - Season 2

Television Revision: The West Wing - Season 3

Television Revision: The West Wing - Season 4

The West Wing is available on Quickflix.

Smile! David Fincher’s ‘Gone Girl’ gets a proper trailer

GoneGirl

A feature trailer for David Fincher’s Gone Girl has arrived online. Though it’s not quite as ambiguous and unsettling as the ‘She’-scored teaser, it skilfully navigates around the source novel’s major twists, highlighting the impressive supporting cast.

It also further makes the case that Ben Affleck might be perfectly cast as the widely-despised, suspicious husband of a missing woman (Rosamund Pike), and it’s not often Ben Affleck seems perfectly cast for things.

Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Casey Wilson, Missi Pyle, and Scoot McNairy fill out the rest of the cast.

Author Gillian Flynn has adapted her own book for the screen, reportedly retooling the controversial final act.

Pulling this adaptation off – particularly the novel’s unique storytelling style – is a high-wire act, for certain, and we can’t wait to see how Fincher fares when it hits cinemas October 2, 2014.

‘The Conjuring’ spin-off, ‘Annabelle’, set to hit cinemas later this year

ANNABELLE

Horror movies are usually reliable money-spinners, but even The Conjuring astounded when it grossed more than $300 million worldwide off a $20 million budget in 2013.

So, it comes as no surprise to hear that Warner Bros. has set for release a spin-off titled Annabelle later this year, ahead of next year’s official Conjuring sequel.

Annabelle, based on the very creepy doll from the first Conjuring movie, will, fittingly, star Annabelle Wallis and Alfre Woodard.

Based on a real-life Raggedy Ann doll kept contained by paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, Annabelle was imprisoned after supposedly terrorising a couple of college students.

Director James Wan is busy at work on Conjuring 2, so he’ll hand helming duties over to John R. Leonetti, acting instead as a producer.

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are set to return for The Conjuring 2, but don’t expect them to appear in Annabelle.

‘Clerks 3′ faces a Weinstein-sized roadblock

Kevin-Smith-Comic-Con

Kevin Smith has been trumpeting Clerks 3 for some time, but it may have faced an insurmountable obstacle: the Weinsteins.

Smith revealed to Screen Daily (recounted by IndieWire) his $6 million budget for the sequel was deemed too high by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who were planning to make and distribute the film.

“I went in with a $6m budget and they were, like, ‘Oh no Kevin, this is too high’. Bob offered us distribution but they weren’t going to finance it.”

It seems unlikely Smith will put the project to bed because of it, so maybe look for an upcoming Kickstarter campaign to fund the flick instead.

At this time, he’s wrapping production on his oddball Tusk and contemplating Yoga Hosers, both born from his podcast, Smodcast.

It’s a lot of movement for a guy who once upon a time was considering walking away from cinema for good.

“I am definitely not going to retire… I am only going to make films that only I could ever make or would ever make.”

Girl, incubated – Wetlands review

Wetlands

By Simon Miraudo
July 7, 2014

Wetlands takes a gross thing, teenagerdom, and makes it grosser, which is like setting out to make an especially revolting movie about your last bout of conjunctivitis: any memory of the experience is probably potent enough. Still, credit to director David Wnendt, adapting Charlotte Roche’s controversial, conservative-enraging novel, for finding plenty of gag-inducing ways to make this kind-of funny coming-of-age tale increasingly repulsive.

It begins with our heroine, German teenager Helen (Carla Juri), picking her haemorrhoid-ridden crack and wiping her nether regions on a public toilet-seat so foul even the cast of Trainspotting would hesitate diving into it. This, it should be noted, is really just the setting of the bar. Later on, Wnendt and his co-writers Claus Falkenberg and Sabine Pochhammer have to think outside the box to find opportunities to disgust, making visual an urban legend relayed by Helen of four male pizzeria workers ejaculating onto an outgoing delivery. Oh, the things you’ll see.

Wetlands

The plot, as uncertain and unbalanced as it is, concerns Helen’s admission at a hospital following the development of an anal fissure. In there, she recalls her anonymous sexual encounters and drug-addled adventures, as well as her ultra-hygienic upbringing (resulting directly in her rebellious attempts to pick up genital diseases wherever they might be on offer) and the dissolution of her parents’ marriage, hoping that her recent misfortune might actually bring them back together. Orderly Robin (Christoph Letkowski) offers a sympathetic ear, and, inappropriately, a camera to snap her newly-operated rectum. As Helen’s stories grow more frenzied and her narration more unreliable, she eventually admits to having trouble differentiating “reality, lies, and dreams,” hinting at the big secret she’s long kept buried deep within.

Helen’s various memory-montages (not to mention the ejaculatory pizza-basting) are realised with Lust for Life-ian dynamism by Wnendt, taking inspiration from Danny Boyle, surely, just as Roche must have been influenced by Irvine Welsh. Juri, with her cherubic smile and messy pixie cut, is relentless and fearless in her part, and not just when she’s asked to insert a variety of vegetables into her person, to name just one further outlandish act. She cuts a likable figure, even when self-harming to extend her hospital stay. Juri can’t keep Wetlands from going soft in the final act though, once the nauseating, early shocks have subsided, and the way becomes paved for the screenwriters’ new, somewhat-happy ending. It may boast some truly unique shocks, and a rarely-seen, uncompromising glimpse at ribald female sexuality, but Wetlands is not nearly as substantial as the best teen films. What can be seen can never be unseen. Actually having a lasting effect on a viewer is something else entirely.

3/5

Check out Simon Miraudo’s archive of reviews.

Wetlands plays the Revelation Perth International Film Festival July 7, 9, 11, 12, and 13, 2014.

Say yes to the undressed – Under the Skin review

Under the Skin

By Simon Miraudo
July 4, 2014

Sensory experiences such as Under the Skin defy mere words, which is going to make enthusiastically recommending it a tricky task indeed. The picture stars Scarlett Johansson as an extra-terrestrial who seduces Glaswegian men as a means of harvesting their organic material, for some alien mission we’re never made privy to. Giving that brief description to Jonathan Glazer‘s transfixing tone-poem makes it sound more plot-driven and accessible than it truly is. That description makes it sound like Species. And, er, this is no Species.

Under the Skin feels instead like a feature-length successor to Scotty’s nightmare from Vertigo. It helps that Mica Levi’s droning, snake-charming score pays tribute to Bernard Herrmann’s own. In that aforementioned Hitchcock sequence, James Stewart‘s Scotty, driven mad by an obsession over a beguiling beauty (who was maybe possessed by some otherworldly entity), imagines marching towards her in the darkness, eventually peering into an open grave and tumbling into an abyss.

Under the Skin

When Johansson’s unnamed alien leads suitors back to her place – a cavernous black hole – she strips down while they follow behind in kind, barely caring as they find themselves submerged in black goop while she continues to stroll forward. Johansson, following on from her hugely physical performance in Don Jon and solely vocal turn in Her, is superb here as the unfeasibly-womanly creature, inviting normies to accept certain oblivion. She’s such a convincing seductress, you can hardly blame them. When she later becomes shockingly sympathetic, you’ll be amazed at what earlier travesties you’ll forgive. Johansson has become an essential screen presence, in blockbusters and art cinema alike.

Under the Skin is an adaptation of Michael Faber’s book in the same way Chet Hanks is an adaptation of Tom Hanks: they share some material, but these are two totally different animals. Glazer, an accomplished music video director who learnt the power of repetition in his first flick Sexy Beast, treats us to a series of similar sequences; with the just-landed Johansson driving around Scotland in a white van, asking male bystanders for directions, and especially if they have any family or friends, before offering a lift. Many of these interactions were improvised and conducted with actual passers-by, captured by hidden cameras. I fear investigating any further and accidentally unravelling its tangle of reality and fantasy.

Under the Skin

Before long, she begins disobeying orders and attempts to live as any regular person might. However, her alien heart isn’t softened by seeing the goodness in her victims, nor does she suddenly come down with an inexplicable case of compassion, as usually happens in science fiction. (At one point, she in fact looks upon acts of self-sacrifice and bravery on a beach dispassionately, as if it was bacteria scattering under a microscope in unknowable ways). It’s instead imperfection, peculiarity, and deformity that intrigues her most, particularly after she picks up a young man with facial neurofibromatosis (Adam Pearson). In private, she inspects her nude body in a mirror, stretching awkwardly and watching the wrinkles form. Did her dossier on Earth not reveal just how self-conscious we humans can be? She may not suffer from original sin, or shame, yet she too learns how humbling it is to have to carry around these weird, freakish flesh bags called bodies.

Under the Skin will rankle some viewers. Okay, most. Not even the presence of A-lister Johansson, Glazer’s genuinely chilling horror-movie moments, puncturing the unbearable bubbles of tension, or Daniel Landin’s dazzling cinematography could make this go down smooth. Nonetheless, to those who think it nonsense – (cough) the guy behind me as I left its screening (cough) – you don’t have to gaze too deeply to find meaning in it all. Under the Skin is about an alien who becomes entranced by her feminine qualities and how powerful they can be, only to pay the price for being a woman in the world, leered at and lusted over, in increasingly dangerous scenarios. Stunning to behold, often impossible-seeming, hypnotic and profoundly affecting, Under the Skin achieves what some sci-fi films could only ever dream of: actually taking us to another universe entirely.

4.5/5

Check out Simon Miraudo’s archive of reviews.

Under the Skin plays the Revelation Perth International Film Festival July 6 and 9, 2014. It’s also showing in select cinemas around Australia.

Photo sensitivity – Finding Vivian Maier review

Finding Vivian Maier

By Simon Miraudo
July 4, 2014

Separating the art from the artist – or the sandwich art from the sandwich artist – is sticky stuff. Maybe impossible. Inappropriate, even. But what if the art has separated itself from the artist; is lost and only found after the artist has abandoned their creative pursuits, and appreciated despite their creator’s true identity being nearly inscrutable? Does digging into their past – perhaps intentionally made obscure – give that art greater depth? Does it make the life of the late artist more valuable? Or does it besmirch something pure when the artist’s more unsavoury aspects come to light?

These are the questions faced by John Maloof. The Chicagoan purchased a $400 box of anonymous photos in the mid-2000s and found inside a treasure trove of incisive, indelible, American street photography from the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s; all, amazingly, captured in secret by a working nanny named Vivian Maier. In his documentary, Finding Vivian Maier, Maloof and co-director Charlie Siskel seek to give their enigmatic subject her due, uncovering further negatives (around 100,000) and amusing videos. Convincing us of her talent is easy. What’s significantly more difficult a task is piecing together the experiences that formed it; before she ultimately succumbed to the mental illness that always flirted just beneath the surface of her curious personality.

Finding Vivian Maier

Something like a cross between Stories We Tell, a patchwork quilt of a doco that pays tribute to director Sarah Polley‘s mother through blended home movies and re-enactments, and Frank, a fictional tale about a musician whose internal, emotional struggles colour (and are also cured by) his music, Finding Vivian Maier is an exquisite portrait of an almost-lost icon. The talking heads who attempt to characterise Vivian – many of them her former charges – can barely reach a consensus on what she liked to be called, how to spell her name, or if her vaguely-European accent was even real. And yet, her negative is slowly exposed, revealing fully the troubled, fiercely funny, sometimes abusive, and fiendishly talented photographer hiding behind her omnipresent Rolleiflex camera.

Though the film, at first, feels like a self-congratulatory attempt by Maloof to make his discovery (rather than Maier’s actual work) seem the triumphant achievement, it doesn’t take long for her powerful pictures to overshadow the very competent movie containing them (which does a fine job of contextualisation). The videos are even more valuable, at least in regards to giving us a glimpse at the woman shooting them, such as the moment in which she presses a female passer-by to give her thoughts on a hot button issue, saying, “women are supposed to be opinionated.” A professor recalls Vivian’s explanation for her fevered photo-taking (none ever submitted for publication): “I’m sort of a spy.” That she was. For decades, without anyone knowing, she etched several generations of Americans into eternity. Maloof and Siskel have made a very watchable flick, however their truly significant actsort of like Domhnall Gleeson in Frankis reintroducing the world to an important, nearly-forgotten figure. Artists in service of other artists. No separation necessary.

4/5

Check out Simon Miraudo’s archive of reviews.

Finding Vivian Maier plays the Revelation Perth International Film Festival July 5, 8, 12 and 13.

Still burns – Endless Love review

Endless Love

By Glenn Dunks
July 4, 2014

If Hollywood insists upon remaking movies left and right, then it makes more sense for them to do it to the likes of Endless Love. The original, a button-pushing romance best remembered for its famous theme song, has been remade by Shana Feste in the sun-drenched style of a clothing commercial, but for a younger audience seeking out a serious exploration of teen sexuality, Endless Love will prove to be soporific and – most disappointing of all – sexually tepid and timid. Filled with inexplicable stupidity on behalf of nearly every character, this is a bland slice of generic pap.

Pretty, upper-class rich girl – and not to mention terminally boring – Jade (Gabriella Wilde) falls for the boy from the wrong side of the tracks, David (Alex Pettyfer), of whom her overbearing father (Bruce Greenwood) disapproves. As they spend their summer running joyfully through picturesque gardens and kissing in the back of a pick-up truck, David’s past comes back to haunt him and threaten their perfect relationship. There’s really little else to the story, which makes for a dragging 100 minutes, the only true benefit of which is the wonderful soundtrack that has assembled Tegan and Sara, Tanlines, Franz Ferdinand and a collection of other indie outfits.

Endless Love

Despite never convincing as either love-struck or teenagers (Pettyfer is 24, Wilde is 25), the two stars are hardly the worst element of Feste’s film. Unlike the similar problems with her last, Country Strong, Endless Love never turns its faults into anything entertaining. The screenplay by Feste and Joshua Safran from Scott Spencer’s novel is a turgid progression of clichés and idiocy lacking any sort of real world connection. The father in particular is a character of such unfathomable hatred that he very quickly descends into something akin to Richard Roxburgh’s moustache-twirling evil duke in Moulin Rouge!

Young audiences are used to being treated as idiots, but features like Endless Love only confirm the worst about this sorely underserved crowd. Missing the awkwardness, and messiness, of teenage love, this film lacks even the conviction of a Mills & Boon that made The Notebook such a winner.

1/5

Endless Love will be available from Quickflix on July 3, 2014.

‘Sherlock’ to return for Christmas special in 2015; Season 4 follows in 2016

Sherlock

Yes, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman will play another.

BBC One’s Twitter account has made flesh the dreams of Tumblr’s collective hivemind: more episodes of Sherlock.

Creator Steven Moffat added in an official statement that Sherlock and Watson would first return with a Christmas special in December of 2015, to be followed by a fourth season, once again comprised of three episodes, in 2016.

Each season of Sherlock goes by criminally fast, so getting one extra movie-length mystery is a true bonus.

But with Cumberbatch and Freeman becoming increasingly busy – thanks, ironically, to the success of Sherlock - might this be their final go round?

At least we don’t have to confront that prospect for another year.

Channing Tatum and Steve Carell go for Oscar gold in ‘Foxcatcher’ teaser

Foxcatcher

The long-awaited Foxcatcher – a film I prematurely added to my Most Anticipated of 2012 list – is finally hitting cinemas this December. To tide over our ravenous anticipation, here’s another teaser trailer.

Steve Carell stars as schizophrenic billionaire John du Pont, a chemical heir who tried to train wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) ahead of the 1988 Olympics.

As the official synopsis puts it, “[John] lures Mark into dangerous habits, breaks his confidence and drives him into a self-destructive spiral.”

Do not take to Google if you wish to remain oblivious to the tragic events that unfolded; at least until Foxcatcher hits local cinemas this summer.

Mark Ruffalo also stars in the flick, as Schultz’s brother.

Originally slated to hit cinemas late in 2013, its release was delayed by a full year to give it a better shot at the Academy Awards.

It’s a move that just might pay off, as Foxcatcher was able to play In Competition at Cannes, where it was met rapturously. Bennett Miller even walked away with the Best Director prize.

Could Carell and Tatum also find themselves amongst the nominees? Bet on it.

Tina Fey to star in ‘Untitled Witch Comedy’ for Disney

tina fey

If your Nostalgia Sensor started flashing this morning, it was likely due to the internet becoming abuzz with news of Tina Fey developing a sequel to Hocus Pocus.

Her reps have since shot down that claim, but a source has clarified to The Wrap that the 30 Rock star is indeed working on a similar-sounding Disney movie, being developed under the name Untitled Witch Comedy.

Fey will star in and produce the flick, which she’ll begin working on afterThe Nest, in which she plays opposite Amy Poehler, and The Taliban Shuffle, based on the memoir of a journalist embedded in Afghanistan during the war.

Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy, meanwhile, wait by their phones.

Bill Murray stars in ‘St. Vincent’ trailer, sadly, not about the singer

St Vincent

If only Bill Murray could have babysat us all.

In the trailer for Theodore Melfi’s St. Vincent, Murray stars as a grouchy, down-on-his-luck gentleman who takes a job babysitting his neighbour’s son.

Now, Melfi had us at “Murray stars,” but the additional promise of having him play opposite Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd and Naomi Watts is pretty appealing too.

The trailer suggests this might be more of a heartwarming dramedy in the mould of Little Miss Sunshine than an out-and-out comedy, or even one of Murray’s more melancholy, late-career efforts.

If that’s the case, then it just might be the kind of catnip the likes of the Academy will eat up, and perhaps earn the actor his long-desired Oscar.

It arrives in U.S. cinemas this October, but we’ll have to wait until Boxing Day to see it for ourselves.

‘Shrek’ screenwriters (happy) working on ‘Enchanted 2′ for Disney

Enchanted

Disney, finally listening to your Vision Boards, have set screenwriters to work on a sequel to Enchanted.

According to DeadlineShrek 2 scribes J. David Stem and David N. Weiss have begun penning the script for Enchanted 2.

The first Enchanted, released a long, long time ago (2007, specifically), saw Amy Adams play Giselle, a Disney princess who accidentally wandered into New York City.

Anne Fletcher will return as director, and, you can expect, much of the cast from the original will follow.

No release date has been set, and this is also the second time Disney has tasked writers to the script, but we are getting closer people. This is happening.

Jennifer Aniston seduces Jason Bateman, grossly, in Horrible Bosses 2 trailer

Aniston - Horrible Bosses 2

If you ever wanted to see Jennifer Aniston offer to be Jason Bateman’s waste receptacle, well, here is your chance!

The trailer for Horrible Bosses 2 sees would-be criminals Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day seeking advice from their former (failed) assassination targets (Aniston, Kevin Spacey) as well as murder consultant “Motherf***er” Jones (Jamie Foxx) for a brand new sting.

The target this time is the slimy Christoph Waltz and his son, Chris Pine. We don’t get to see them much in the trailer, which is probably for the best, because that is not a father-son pairing that looks like it shares much genetic material.

Horrible Bosses 2, directed by Sean Anders, arrives in cinemas December 11.

Flying high – Non-Stop review

Non Stop

By Richard Haridy
July 2, 2014

Non-Stop is another entry in Liam Neeson‘s late-career shift towards gruff, sombre action pictures. Teaming up again with Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra, after the surprisingly engaging Unknown, Neeson offers up a compelling turn in a film that is fast-paced and filled with satisfying twists.

The less said about the plot the better as the narrative reveals strategically placed throughout are a great part of the fun. All you need to know is that Liam Neeson plays a US Air Marshal who begins receiving odd phone messages while aboard a flight over the Atlantic. The messages threaten to kill a person on board the plane every 20 minutes until $150 million is paid into a special bank account.

Non Stop

Is the evil culprit on board too? Why have they chosen Neeson to be the catalyst? These are just two questions this clever screenplay toys with, as the feature plays like a locked-room whodunit mystery for much of its running time. Neeson is amusing as the increasingly paranoid protagonist and an impressive supporting cast featuring Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy and Lupita Nyong’o all elevate this B-grade material by treating it much more seriously than it deserves.

Non-Stop moves like the type of tight little thrillers that were popular in the 1990s but don’t really get made much anymore. Recalling everything from Under Siege to Air Force One and Nick Of Time, this is a dumb movie made by very smart craftspeople who know exactly how to pitch and pace exciting cinema. The final act is inevitably over the top and slightly anti-climactic, but any flick so fundamentally centered around its mysteries will always lose momentum as the reveals finally arrive. The filmmakers deeply understand this trap of the genre and the time between final reveal, climax and end credits is absurdly brisk.

For a good 80 minutes, Non-Stop delivers exactly what the title promises – an escalating series of exciting set-pieces with a great, mysterious backbone. This is top grade Hollywood entertainment.

4/5

Non-Stop will be available from Quickflix on July 3, 2014.

Dog on wheels – Belle and Sebastian review

BELLE AND SEBASTIAN

By Jess Lomas
July 2, 2014

In some ways, Belle & Sebastian feels like Lassie meets The Sound of Music; at other times, the absurdity of the plot conjures memories of Charlie the Wonder Dog (for fans of The Late Show’s ongoing sketch starring the late Bud Tingwell). It’s at once sweet and endearing before tumbling into a cheap family drama where good versus evil plays out in front of the picturesque French Alps. Despite that unevenness, there’s something magical about this feature that captures your imagination.

Based on the 1965 French television series (itself inspired by a novel), Belle & Sebastian, set in 1943, tells of an unlikely friendship between boy and mutt. Six-year-old Sebastian (Félix Bossuet) lives in a small mountain village with grandfather Cesar (Tchéky Karyo) and aunt Angelina (Margaux Chatelier). Sebastian’s mother is “living in America,” according to Cesar, who we soon discover is hiding the truth about her behind the bottle of brandy he consumes each day.

BELLE AND SEBASTIAN

As the Second World War plays out in the distance, German troops are stationed in the town to monitor and foil any illegal crossings of Jews from France into Switzerland. While they remain largely faceless throughout the film, Lieutenant Peter (Andreas Pietschmann) takes a particular liking to Angelina, much to the irritation of Angelina’s boyfriend, Doctor Guillaume (Dimitri Storoge). When a mysterious “beast” maims and kills local livestock, Cesar and the other farmers hunt to destroy it. Before they can raise their guns, Sebastian has befriended the culprit, a large dog christened Belle, who despite past mistreatment trusts the young boy.

While director Nicolas Vanier succeeds in beautifully capturing the stunning landscape, the same cannot be said for the Nazi subplot. One can imagine a young audience enjoying the opening half of the movie only to lose interest as the narrative takes a decidedly mature and morose turn. Sebastian is played impressively by Bossuet given his age, and the quiet moments between he and Belle are handled masterfully by Vanier, subconsciously manipulating you in preparation for some of the picture’s tense closing scenes. It is at this point that you realise the level of investment you have in Belle & Sebastian, a tale of innocence and companionship that is thankfully nowhere near as traumatic as Old Yeller.

3.5/5

Belle & Sebastian arrives in Australian cinemas July 3, 2014.

 

Hicker than your average – Joe review

Joe

By Simon Miraudo
July 2, 2014

Nicolas Cage is as if the question “Turn down for what?” took human form and then starred in a bunch of direct-to-DVD thrillers. For him, there is no such thing as a ‘phoned-in’ performance. Performances should be delivered with gusto, peppered with screaming fits. It’s become harder and harder to defend his late career choices (belonging to what I like to call the ‘Castle Repayment Collection’) but he, as a screen presence, remains oddly compelling, with such uniquely weird energy. Even Kevin Costner‘s recent rebranding has him seeming like a low-rent Liam Neeson. There’s only one Nicolas Cage. If there were more than one Nicolas Cage, the internet wouldn’t know what to do with itself.

So imagine what Cage, always committed to being committed, could pull off in an honest-to-goodness decent movie. David Gordon Green, a once-promising director whose second act saw him produce dumb stoner comedies like Your Highness, has himself hit the reboot button with his plaintive, pastoral Joe. The name in the title belongs to Cage’s character, a well-liked, bad-tempered ex-con eking out a modest living clearing trees in a ruined, desolate Texas. Young Gary (Tye Sheridan), an eager-to-impress teen, has it harder, trying to provide for his destitute family in spite of the short fuse he inherited from his abusive, alcoholic, and (here’s the kicker) break dancing father Willie (Gary Poulter, a homeless actor who died shortly after production was completed). As Gary’s situation becomes more dire, and his father resorts to more disgusting means of getting by, Joe risks making some dangerous enemies by helping the boy out, teaching him how to be a man, and in the flick’s lone joyful moment, how to look cool.

Joe

Green is certainly closer to his Malickian roots than he was with even last year’s lyrical Prince Avalanche, aided by cinematographer Tim Orr (who is certainly better suited to shooting the expansive outdoors than he was trying to keep up in Green’s improv-heavy comedies). Joe, to many, will bring to mind Mud, the Jeff Nichols/Matthew McConaughey joint that came just when McConaughey needed it. It too starred Tye Sheridan as a boy who learned about manhood from a wandering criminal with a heart of gold. However, Nichols’ picture is about romance and heartbreak, and Green’s is about poverty and desperation. Stars, setting, and title brevity is where the similarities between Joe and Mud end.

A closer comparison would be Winter’s Bone, though that had the benefit of a star-making turn from Jennifer Lawrence, and a stealthily-hidden hard-boiled detective story under the surface. Joe is a much tougher watch, full of people making bad decisions with worse consequences. Do its rewards, namely the bonding scenes shared by Cage and Sheridan, make the experience worthwhile? Certainly. Joe won’t reset Cage’s career the way Mud reset McConaughey’s. That’s only because Cage’s doesn’t need resetting. It’s the perception of him that needs to change. If only more directors like Green would realise Cage is the uncommon actor who knows precisely how to make their film better. The despairing, haunted, redemptive tale of Joe deserves its own despairing, haunted, redemptive lead performance. Hopefully that’s how people see it.

3.5/5

Check out Simon Miraudo’s archive of reviews.

Joe plays the Revelation Perth International Film Festival 5, 7, 9, and 11 July, 2014.

Bloodless – Vampire Academy review

Vampire Academy

By Glenn Dunks
July 1, 2014

Rarely have I felt such disconnect between material and the actors tasked with performing it as I did with Mark WatersVampire Academy. A little bit Mean Girls (which Waters directed) and a whole lot Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but sadly nowhere near as good as either, this weak teen comedy is a hopeless attempt at building a comic-horror franchise for a new generation. And while there is certainly potential in the story adapted from Richelle Mead’s series of novels, Vampire Diaries suffers from unconvincing actors delivering inept exposition-heavy dialogue alongside appallingly cheap visual effects that make the finished film look like little more than an episode of Supernatural.

Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry) is the last of her royal bloodline after her parents were killed in a car accident. Now a social outcast alongside her vampire guardian and best friend Rose (Zoey Deutch), the two must attempt to uncover who is behind a series of exceedingly gruesome pranks that escalate into a threat on both of their lives.

Vampire Academy

Superficially reminding of screenwriter Daniel Waters’ own revolutionary screenplay for Heathers, Vampire Academy lacks genuine wit and intelligence. Its characters talk and act like they are far older than their ages suggest but without the generational smarts that made Sarah Michelle Gellar on Buffy such a strong character. By the time Deutch screams “Are you not entertained,” it has become far too impossible to imagine a world where such pop culture cues are in their teenage vernacular. They don’t even have televisions and aren’t allowed out of school grounds, which makes me wonder how this young woman ever saw Gladiator.

It is frustrating inconsistencies such as these that make Vampire Academy so disappointing. The two Waters appear busier explaining their vamp-universe’s grand mythology rather than exploring the lives of teenagers in any honest way. A seemingly last-minute feminist twist notwithstanding, the filmmakers likely intended on delving deeper in sequels that will never come. This is a misjudged, mishandled affair from start to finish, including its sequel-baiting stinger that will remain a sad testament to the movie’s financial success that was never to be.

1.5/5

Vampire Academy will be available from Quickflix on July 3, 2014.

Talk Hard – The Lego Movie, Jersey Boys

Everything is awesome! Well, almost everything. In this episode, Quickflix critic Simon Miraudo reviews The Lego Movie (on DVD and Blu-ray in Australia) as well as Jersey Boys (in cinemas July 3).

The-Lego-Movie

 

Show Notes:

Thanks for listening!

Please tell your friends to subscribe to us on iTunes and feel free to leave a review. Or, follow our RSS feed.

You can shoot us a line at talkhard@quickflix.com.au. Find me on Twitter here: @simonmiraudo.

Thanks to Blue Ducks for our theme, “Four, Floss, Five, Six.” You can find more of their work at www.recordsonribs.com

That thing they did – Jersey Boys review

Jersey Boys
By Simon Miraudo
July 1, 2014

Here’s what’s interesting about Jersey Boys (and pay attention now because little else is): the Broadway sensation and now Clint Eastwood movie, based upon the career of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, is the rare music biopic to have zero interest in the quest for artistic perfection. It concerns guys who, as far as we can tell, have no real creative aspirations beyond making a living and being able to hang out with one another at the same time. The songs – though we have to go through the cliché of seeing the precise moments of inspiration when someone accidentally utters a future, legendary title – never actually reflect any major life events. They’re just disposable pop for the Four Seasons to make money from. And for a quartet of New Jersey natives who came this close to joining the mob, we’re told that’s good enough.

As they rose from the ranks of the local pool halls to the hallowed set of The Ed Sullivan Show, crooning in perfect synchronicity meaningless hits like Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry and Walk Like a Man, I wondered: did they deserve the recognition? Jersey Boys, through the transcendental magic of the music and its performers, makes a good enough case that they did. Just. Credit for that goes to its stars, especially Vincent Piazza, who is particularly watchable as Tommy DeVito, the troubled huckster who started the band for every reason except for all the honourable ones. John Lloyd Young, the ageless, Tony-winning actor who originated the part of Valli on Broadway, is a ringer for the diminutive icon, and it is no surprise Eastwood recruited him again here. Some other stage regulars hired for this cinematic retelling, sadly, standout in all the wrong ways.

Jersey Boys

The experienced cast help to hide the usual flaw in Eastwood’s notorious cut-and-run style. (For the other result, in which inexperienced actors are only given a handful of takes to get it right, and fail, see Gran Torino.) His technical team also clearly knows by now how to recreate that sleek, grey ‘Eastwood sheen’ in a dash, playing with shadows in a manner that at least seems like some time was taken to perfect the visual landscape. Screenwriters Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice have adapted their own book for the hit jukebox musical, and though their Jersey Boys hits a lot of the typical beats of these kinds of flicks, when those guys start singing those songs, the quality of the picture around them barely matters anymore.

There’s a reason why so many non-English language speakers audition for Idol and The X Factor and The Voice, mimicking glass-shattering anthems phonetically (for which they’re mercilessly mocked). Music translates. Music is that intangible something. The meaning of a certain song, and its inspiration, might never equal the significance of an impossible voice, impossible in any language, and that is precisely what Frankie Valli was armed with and makes his story worth telling.

Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys, at times, had me questioning what’s to be valued in art. Should Frankie and his buddies have suffered more? Put more of their pain into their music? Told tales of 1950’s New Jersey (which, shockingly, they never do)? The film itself doesn’t delve that deep into its subjects, and their eventual entry into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is presented as more of a given rather than an enthusiastic defence for their talents after two hours of soul searching. But when Christopher Walken’s gangster wells up at Valli’s rendition of ‘My Mother’s Eyes,’ making him forever indebted to him, we have no trouble believing this turn of events. It’s that impossible voice.

Still, a little something has been lost in the translation to celluloid. What succeeded on Broadway was the uncanny resurrection of an era and the indelible songs that defined it, culminating in a live concert of a troupe that modern-day viewers could only dream of seeing perform (and certainly so in their youthful register). When Jersey Boys closes with a climactic, non-canonical curtain call, the entire cast singing along to ‘Oh, What a Night,’ it’s charming but hardly stand-in-your-seat stuff. When they finish, the camera lingers on the performers, out-of-breath, arms open to the silence of the cinema. Did Eastwood leave an applause break? There might not be a sadder image in 2014 than the cast of Jersey Boys awaiting their ovation as a half-empty matinee clears out, sporadically-clapping, maybe, out of obligation.

2.5/5

Check out Simon Miraudo’s archive of reviews.

Jersey Boys arrives in Australian cinemas July 3, 2014.

James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain tell their side of the story in ‘The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby’

The-Disappearance-of-Eleanor-Rigby-Him-and-Her-2

The trailer for Ned Benson’s audacious tri-movie project The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby has arrived online.

The picture(s) tell of the relationship between Connor (James McAvoy) and Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) in New York.

At the Sydney Film Festival, individual versions of the story told from each character’s perspective played under the titles Him and Her. In the U.S., and likely Australia later down the track, a joint version subtitled Them will see release first, with the Him and Her versions arriving one month later.

This might get confusing.

Nonetheless, the trailer is compelling, and highlights an impressive supporting cast that includes Viola Davis, Bill Hader, William Hurt and Isabelle Huppert.

How it connects to that Beatles song is yet to be seen.

Jason Bateman to direct and star in ‘Untitled FBI Wedding Comedy’

Bad Words

But what Jason Bateman really wants to do is direct. The comedy star debuted his first directorial effort, Bad Words, at Sundance earlier this year, and has already lined up two further projects at which he’ll sit at the helm.

We previously discussed The Family Fang, which will begin production next month with Nicole Kidman and Christopher Walken in the lead roles.

Deadline now reveals his third effort, Untitled FBI Wedding Comedy. Catchy!

Bateman will also star in the flick, for which details – outside of those to be found in its working title – are scarce.

‘Audition’ remake in the works

audition

Australian director Richard Gray (Blinder, Summer Coda) is set to shoot an English-language adaptation of Ryu Murakami’s novel Audition.

The news was first broken via Gray’s Twitter account, with details added by Deadline.

Audition is perhaps most famous for Takashi Miike’s 1999 cinematic retelling, considered still one of the most notorious Japanese horror movies ever made (for reasons we don’t care to relay here, but super encourage you to Google).

The original story concerns a widower who attempts to find a new wife by putting out a fake casting call, only to find himself entangled with a seriously damaged young woman.

In Gray’s new take, the protagonist is called Sam Davis, while the woman he chooses is, this time around, a ballerina named Evie Lawrence.

Gray’s last American effort, The Lookalike, is still awaiting release. He will begin shooting Audition after wrapping the Jason Momoa thriller Sugar Mountain.

‘Pacific Rim 2′ officially set for 2017

Pacific Rim

It’s official: Legendary Pictures will make a sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim.

Universal Pictures will release the flick in 2017.

Details were dropped by del Toro in a short video clip, who also added that an animated series would precede the sequel.

Original screenwriter Travis Beachem will continue with franchise development, but actual scripting duties will be taken by Zak Penn and del Toro.

No cast-members have been confirmed as returning.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 348 other followers