‘Transformers 5′ dated for 2017 (maybe)

Transformers 4

In news that should surprise no one and depress most, a fifth Transformers movie is being considered for 2017.

Transformers World got their hands on some leaked concept art for Michael Bay’s upcoming fourth instalment, Age of Extinction, which included a placeholder logo for its sequel.

That’s about as deep as the scoop gets, though it doesn’t take a genius to assume Paramount Pictures would be developing a new instalment for their most successful franchise.

Considering 2017 is still three years away, that gives Bay plenty of time to complain about having to make more Transformers movies before ultimately signing on once more.

Shia LaBeouf might even be interested in being famous again by then. Comeback?

Key & Peele are rebooting ‘Police Academy’


Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele – of the aptly-titled and brilliantly incisive sketch show Key & Peele - are set to produce a Police Academy reboot.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the duo is on board to develop the flick for New Line.

Though a reboot has long been in the works, this is the first bit of development news in some time.

Director Scott Zabielski, last named as helmer in 2012, has walked away from the project.

Key and Peele will team up with original producer Paul Maslansky for the new take on the seven-film franchise.

It’s unknown if they’ll star in it… but surely they would, right? The world needs a cinematic vehicle for these two comic talents, even if it is pre-loved.

It was announced in November that Judd Apatow was working with the duo on a film of their own. Until that manifests, we’ve got this.

Oh, and if they’re looking for character names to join the force, might we suggest Ibrahim Moizoos or Hingle McCringleberry?

Turbulent times – Planes review

"PLANES" By Simon Miraudo
February 1, 2014

The Cars franchise is Pixar’s cash cow; a kid-pleasing collection of movies tailor-made to sell merchandise (which, at this point, totals in the billions of dollars). The adults don’t much care for them, and unabashed lovers of the studio (including myself) turn a blind eye. “If the little ones enjoy it, and it helps Pixar to raise funds for their more experimental and ambitious efforts, there’s really no harm in them making more,” we all thought. Fools. The lot of us. As Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Pixar’s “experimental and ambitious” efforts – such as Ratatouille and WALL-Enow seem like a distant memory, with the studio now focusing on prequels and sequels to previously successful flicks in this new, terrifying age. One of those is Cars spin-off Planes, which, in fairness, is not actually produced by Pixar (who perhaps were too embarrassed by the brazenness of it) but instead their overlords at Disney. Still, it’s the direct result of their willingness to abandon bolder fare for guaranteed money-spinners.


Featuring the vocal talents of Dane Cook, Teri Hatcher, and, erm, Sinbad, Planes feels like an off-brand, Eastern European imitation. (Half the calories, none of the taste, double the dyspepsia!) Cook plays Dusty, a crop-duster with dreams of competing in a round-the-world race. After unexpectedly qualifying, he meets his competitors (voiced by affordable international stars John Cleese, Priyanka Chopra, and Australia’s own Jessica Marais) and discovers they don’t all play as fairly as he’s been raised to do. Once again, another tale from the Cars universe reminding us that only farm-folk from the American red states can truly be trusted. Everyone else: git off their lawns.

Okay, neither Cars nor Planes are nearly as xenophobic as I’m suggesting, but they do delight in an old-fashioned idea of community and culture that doesn’t feel quaint so much as it feels in total denial of the world we truly live in. The kids won’t care about that stuff though. The animation is dynamic, the colours are bright, and the voices are goofy/ethnic. The toys it will inspire are probably going to be pretty cool too. It’s a shame that Disney and Pixar aren’t in the ‘classic-making’ business anymore; just the ‘distraction-making’ business. Planes is, at the very least, successful as a product of the latter manufacturing line.


Check out Simon Miraudo’s other reviews here.

Planes will be available on Quickflix from April 9, 2014.

Full service – The Grand Budapest Hotel review

The Grand Budapest Hotel

By Simon Miraudo
April 7, 2014

What a rare pleasure it is to watch a movie and slowly realise it will soon become one of your favourites. Wes Anderson joints always threaten to wedge their way into your heart for all time, and his latest, cuckoo caper comedy The Grand Budapest Hotel, wedges with gusto. I’ve lived with Rushmore for fifteen years, and Moonrise Kingdom for only two, yet both are remembered by me (and many) with an increasingly warm hue. The same fate will likely befall The Grand Budapest Hotel, actually all about memories so potent and experiences so vivid the decades that follow just can’t compare. As with all things nostalgic, when Anderson bows out of filmmaking, I’ll probably wonder forlornly why things weren’t ever quite as good again.

Our tale begins when the mysterious Zero (F. Murray Abraham) – seemingly the lone, lingering resident in the decrepit remains of the once grandiose title hotel – reveals to a holidaying writer (Jude Law, seen as Tom Wilkinson in his later years) the circumstances of his loyal patronage to this crumbling icon, reflecting on his youth as a lobby boy (played by newcomer Tony Revolori) working under the tutelage of legendary concierge M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes). Back in the early 1930s, the wealthy, elderly, largely-female clientele were drawn to the Grand Budapest - anachronistically located in the fictional, eastern European Republic of Zubrowka – specifically to be serviced by the refined, profane Gustave. And yes, ‘serviced’ is the key term here.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

When one of Gustave’s ancient playthings (Tilda Swinton) winds up murdered, with a will recently reshaped to bequeath him a priceless heirloom, her family make it their mission to put the amorous concierge behind bars. In prison, Gustave relies on Zero and baker’s apprentice Agatha (Saoirse Ronan) to help bust him out, clear his name, and claim his treasure. Unfortunately, there is no brief plot synopsis that could give fair mention to the dense cast of characters surrounding them, comprised of Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Edward Norton, Mathieu Amalric, Jeff Goldblum, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman, as well as (too briefly) Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, and Léa Seydoux.

Framed as a story-within-a-story-within-a-story-within-a-story (each earning its own aspect ratio), The Grand Budapest Hotel is as manicured and intricately designed as any of Anderson’s features. It’s also the grandest in scope, with the most outrageous locations, the closest thing he’s ever made to action set pieces, and one towering lead performance from M. Fiennes, whose Gustave is maybe the most memorable in Wes’ canon; a complex, comic creature whose con-man charm masks genuine concern for those in his life (including Zero, Agatha, and all those lovely old ladies he prides himself on satisfying). The Grand Budapest Hotel is similarly, wonderfully contradictory; easily the director’s coarsest, most violent effort to date, with some honest-to-goodness gruesome deaths that are cutesy and cartoonish and chilling in their own Etsy-esque manner. Is it wrong to be so tickled by them?

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The credits claim the script is inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig, although the screenplay is assigned to Anderson and Hugo Guinness, so to them goes the majority of praise. They’re responsible for this magnificent monologue of Gustave’s, explaining to his young colleague the origin of his new shiner from prison: “What happened, my dear Zero, is I beat the living s*** out of a snivelling little runt called Pinky Bandinski. You should take a long look at his ugly mug this morning. He’s actually become a dear friend.” Odd, funny lines are one thing. Intricate narrative craftsmanship is another. Most impressive about their screenplay, however, is the way in which it twists history into something that feels both foreign and familiar. As the 1932 storyline comes to a close, the fictional Zubrowka is invaded entirely by a Nazi-like army (calling for immediate comparisons with Ernst Lubitsch‘s To Be or Not To Be, Powell and Pressburger‘s A Matter of Life and Death, and Charlie Chaplin‘s The Great Dictator; esteemed company it certainly earns). The mismatching of dates, locations, and names of nations furthers the point that this wonderful time – the best in Zero’s life, preceding true tragedy – is slowly escaping his grasp, and only by recounting it aloud can he hold onto it, even in this slightly forgotten, perhaps half-invented form. There’s tragedy to be found beneath the surface, should you want to dig deep enough.

It’s a visual delight, surely no surprise to anyone who’s seen one of Anderson’s projects before, thanks to the well-schooled, track-happy cinematographer Robert Yeoman. The highly-specific blocking of the actors and the way the camera follows them as if they were moving across a doll-house is especially effective in this instance, representing the Grand Budapest as a fantasy, illusion, and maybe-memory wrapped into one. (Don’t think that turns his cast into props: Fiennes in particular leaps off the screen.) It’s an aural delight too, and not just because the resonant Abraham is our primary narrator. Alexandre Desplat’s hypnotic, metronomic, surprisingly witty score easily ranks among his best; an imposing, amusing, melancholy companion to the film it supports. The Gregorian rendition of the main theme that briefly appears in a monastery earns a laugh on its lonesome.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel is as inventive and immaculately orchestrated a cinematic universe as I’ve ever seen. Avatar ain’t got nothing on this. Speaking of, patrons reportedly suffered depression after leaving sessions of James Cameron‘s space epic, knowing they can’t actually live in Pandora. I feel the same after Anderson’s pictures. You can never go home again, but you can always watch his idiosyncratic treats any time you please, and know that even though the years pass and change everything around us, nothing could diminish or damage his pristine, snow-globe ensconced worlds. Photos fade. Dreams dissipate like fog. Recollections grow unreliable. The only major change I’ve found in Wes Anderson’s movies? They mostly just keep getting better.


Check out Simon Miraudo’s archive of reviews.

The Grand Budapest Hotel arrives in Australian cinemas April 10, 2014.

‘God Help the Girl’, ‘Frank’ bound for 2014 Sydney Film Festival

God Help the Girl

The first batch of features bound for the 2014 Sydney Film Festival have been unveiled.

Lenny Abrahamson’s music comedy Frank, starring Michael Fassbender in a giant papier mâché head, will make its Australian debut at the festival, as will Belle & Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch’s directorial debut, God Help the Girl.

David Gordon Green and Nicolas Cage’s collaboration, Joe, Irrfan Khan’s rom-com The Lunchbox, and Xavier Dolan’s Tom at the Farm are also headed to SFF.

A number of documentaries profiling some fascinating figures have also been selected by festival director Nashen Moodley: Michel Gondry’s Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy? sees the French filmmaker interview Noam Chomsky, while Errol Morris’ The Unknown Known puts Donald Rumsfeld under the microscope.

The festival will also screen an eight-film retrospective on the work of Robert Altman.

A special 40th anniversary restoration of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre will be screened as part of the festival festivities on Friday the 13th of June at the Skyline Drive-In.

The full program for the 61st Sydney Film Festival will be announced May 7.

SFF runs from June 4 to the 15th.

Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz get freaky in the trailer for ‘Sex Tape’


Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz fall victim to the cloud in the trailer for their upcoming comedy Sex Tape.

In the flick, they play a married couple trying to rekindle their passionate spark by recording their lovemaking.

Problem is, by using their tablet to tape the shenanigans, they accidentally upload it to the cloud and onto the iPads they recently gifted their family and friends.

(How rich is this couple that they’re just giving away iPads?)

Diaz and Segel previously starred together in Bad Teacher, also directed by Jake Kasdan.

The flick, featuring Rob Lowe, Ellie Kemper, Rob Corddry and Jack Black in supporting roles, hits cinemas in July.

This is a red band trailer, so you know the drill, kids: avert your eyes!

Ben Stiller in talks for stripper drama ‘I Am Chippendales’


Ben Stiller is in early talks to take a lead role in Alan Ball’s stripper drama I Am Chippendales.

According to Deadline, Stiller would play the choreographer who turned the all-male dance revue into a internationally recognised phenomenon.

Before you begin picturing Stiller in the tearaway pants, Magic Mike style, it’s worth noting the dark undercurrent to this true tale.

‘Chippendales’ founder Steve Banerjee would go on to hire a hitman to take out his choreographer after becoming intensely paranoid.

Ball, who won the Original Screenplay Oscar for American Beauty, is shopping the project around as a potential directorial project, with The Weinstein Company close to picking up the rights.

Talk Hard – Sam Lloyd and Robert Maschio (Scrubs), Enough Said

Quickflix critic Simon Miraudo dons a hospital gown and catches up with Scrubs stars/Oz Comic-Con guests Sam Lloyd and Robert Maschio. Stay tuned for a review of new release Enough Said, now available from Quickflix.

Sam Lloyd and Robert Maschio

Show Notes:

Cheers for tuning in!

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

Remember to send all thoughts, comments, feedback, and general well-wishes to talkhard@quickflix.com.au

You can contact me directly on Twitter: @simonmiraudo.

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

A special thanks to RTRFM for their recording facilities.

Play It Again – Fargo


By Glenn Dunks
April 2, 2014

Play It Again is a weekly feature in which our classic-film connoisseurs revisit a revered motion picture from the annals of movie history, to see if it holds up… or if it has aged terribly. And yes, it takes its name from a famously misquoted Casablanca line. Hey, whatever. It fits!

It’s easy to underestimate the skill behind Joel Coen’s Fargo. Deceptive in its storytelling choices, economical with its plotting, and sly with its dialogue, this Oscar winner is truly incredible. It’s stood the test of nearly 20 years, and will continue to do so thanks to its roll call of fabulous performances, cold yet alluring cinematography, and a wickedly comic screenplay. Inspired in part by the groundbreaking television series Twin Peaks, Fargo itself has proven to be an influential and important work.

Fargo – which falsely claims to be based on a true story – follows the botched kidnapping of a wife and mother in Minnesota by Carl (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear (Peter Stormare). Hired by the woman’s husband (William H. Macy), and eventually trailed by seven-months pregnant police Chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), the bungled ransom job has, in reality, born multiple television pilots and even inspired urban legends of people travelling to find the missing case of cash.


There is so much to enjoy about Fargo, but without the performance of McDormand it’s unlikely the movie would be held in quite as high esteem. Despite not appearing until 30-minutes into the proceedings, her effective and charming take-charge attitude makes her one of cinema’s greatest characters. In the kind of strong female role that many decry Hollywood for not producing enough of, McDormand is funny, but also tough, and written so wonderfully by Joel and Ethan Coen it’s easy to forget she’s only around for two thirds of the runtime.

Despite the similarities between Coen productions involving blood, limbs, violence, and greed, there’s a refreshing deftness to the material that hasn’t changed since its 1996 premiere at Cannes. Unlike some of the Coens’ other features, and cinema in general in the years since, Fargo doesn’t allow its nastiness to take over. Despite its themes, it’s an illuminating picture that suggests things about people a cheaper, more shock-oriented filmmaker may have been more inclined to ignore in favourite of a nihilistic game of grotesque one-upmanship. It remains the Coen brothers best films and one of the best films period.


Fargo is available on Quickflix.

Felt again – Muppets Most Wanted review

Muppets Most Wanted

By Simon Miraudo
April 1, 2014

In 2011, Jim Henson’s long-retired felt friends The Muppets were welcomed back to the big screen warmly by kids and kids-at-heart alike. In 2014, The Muppets’ inevitable sequel is met with all the anticipation of a forgotten appointment: “Oh, was that today?” There are a few possible reasons Muppets Most Wanted received such a muted reaction ahead of its release (ultimately translating to a dull box office tally in the United States). Perhaps it was the reminder that a parade of awful Muppet sequels was exactly what killed the franchise in the first place. Perhaps it was the perceived watering-down of the prestige “movie” status following the exit of Jason Segel and Amy Adams, and their replacement with ‘famous from TV!’ talent Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, and Ty Burrell. Or maybe it’s simply that nostalgia can only be tapped for critical and commercial gain when those doing the fond remembering have had time to miss what’s being sold. Kermit, Miss Piggy, and company are, so to speak, part of the furniture once more.

It’s true that, without the sense of rediscovery, Muppets Most Wanted lacks much of what made The Muppets feel so special, joyful, eventful. Yet, in a lot of ways, Muppets Most Wanted is the better picture. It’s not burdened with the unenviable task of having to spend much of its running time reuniting the fallen-out puppets, isn’t beholden to reprising ‘The Rainbow Connection’, and, most significantly, (thanks to the slightly-less-stellar human cast), puts its titular creatures back in the center of proceedings. There are also some new songs courtesy of Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie, even more earwormy than his last batch. His late-seventies sensibility is a perfect fit, and his musical numbers make the movie worthwhile alone. That could be read as a dismissal of everything else on display. Please don’t read it that way.

Muppets Most Wanted

Director James Bobin (of the Conchords TV show) also returns, working from a script he penned with Nicholas Stoller. They don’t bother much with making excuses for their latest venture, its entire existence shrugged away in jaunty opening jingle ‘We’re Doing A Sequel’. With the Muppets internationally famous again, they are encouraged by sinister British manager Dominic Badguy (Gervais) to take their undercooked variety show on the road. Their world tour gets off to an inauspicious start when criminal masterfrog and prison escapee Constantine (Matt Vogel) fools the authorities into arresting his doppelgänger, Kermit. Constantine, barely masking his Eastern European accent, installs himself as leader of the easily-fooled Muppets, enacting elaborate heists while his troupe is busy on stage in Berlin, Madrid, and London. Meanwhile, the real Kermit suffers in a Siberian prison run by Fey’s warden Nadya and occupied by Danny Trejo. The most appealing and playful of the human cast, Fey is gifted the Carole Bayer Sager-esque musical number ‘The Big House’, a major highlight. Muppets Most Wanted is handily the funniest film ever set at a Russian gulag.

The catchiest track, however, belongs to Constantine, who woos Miss Piggy with the Hall & Oates soundalike slow-jam ‘I’ll Get You What You Want’. She spends much of Muppets Most Wanted trying to get Kermit/Constantine to acquiesce and marry her already. (No mention is made of her former career as editor of French Vogue.) I have to say I was weirdly concerned with the way in which Bobin and Stoller so happily reduced the fiercely independent Piggy to a wouldbe bridezilla. That said, her Marlene Dietrich-inspired outfits are pretty remarkable and she does get to perform the show-stopping ‘Something So Right’ with Celine Dion. That has to count for something.

Muppets Most Wanted

Listing the remaining cameos would be wasteful, so the only other human star I’ll mention is Burrell as an outrageous French Interpol officer, not so much paying homage to Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau as he is Steve Martin’s. The low-key Gervais isn’t nearly as mischievous; funny, kind of, just not ‘Muppet funny’. Muppets Most Wanted, mercifully, is ‘Muppet funny’; goofy and shameless and irresistible because of it. (The running joke is that the kind of humour favoured by the Muppets themselves – puns, explosions, chickens – is largely despised by their audience, Statler and Waldorf included. Still, they do find space for a smart Seventh Seal gag…)

Bobin’s staging is a little flat, as it was in the predecessor, though his direction comes to life in the peppy music videos littered throughout. The increased presence of previously underserved supporting players Scooter, Sam Eagle, Rizzo the Rat, and the rest was certainly appreciated. They’re all performed wonderfully by Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, and David Rudman; Whitmire and Jacobson being better mimics of iconic puppeteers Henson and Frank Oz than Constantine is of Kermit. The Muppets may not be as wanted as they once were – even just three years ago – but there’s still some dumb laughs and sweet tales of friendship to be found in this ragtag group of old-fashioned show-puppets.


Check out Simon Miraudo’s archive of reviews.

Muppets Most Wanted arrives in VIC/QLD cinemas April 3, 2014. It arrives in ACT/NSW/SA/WA/TAS/NT cinemas April 10, 2014.

Anatomically incorrect – Nurse review


By Richard Haridy
April 1, 2014

Nurse is one of those modern, pre-fabricated cult movies like The Human Centipede or Sharknado, designed to be talked about amongst friends though never truly satisfying as a genuinely interesting piece of exploitation cinema.

The picture (inspired by the photography of Tim Palen, production company Lionsgate’s chief marketing officer) introduces us to homicidal nurse Abby (Paz de la Huerta), a killer who preys on cheating men. Abby becomes obsessed with new graduate nurse Danni (30 Rock‘s Katrina Bowden) and, after being shunned by her, begins exacting a revenge that includes sex, blackmail, murder and a contrived backstory.


The big hook of Nurse is de la Huerta and much of the magnificently fetishistic promotional images play up her exploitation charms. Her disaffected presence and monotone narration is admittedly frequently compelling. She’s an intriguing presence – a bizarre blend of conscious self-parody and authentic lack of talent. Some of her line deliveries are so astoundingly misguided they veer into campy brilliance. Director Doug Aarniokoski knows exactly how to use her unique “skills” but the flick frequently hides its lack of ideas with a conscious “we’re making a bad film on purpose” vibe.

After a strong, well paced first half, Nurse becomes increasingly uninteresting as its focus shifts away from Abby to Danni, transitioning into a conventional Fatal Attraction-styled thriller. Bowden does competent work, despite her character being bland and one-dimensional. A project like this needs escalating wackiness and here we simply get a bland movement into formulaic territory. The gleefully gory final 15 minutes do certainly compensate for many of Nurse‘s shortcomings, serving up a bonkers bloodbath jammed with limb chopping, endless cat fights, anachronistically jaunty music, and an obscene volume of redder-than-red blood. Is it enough to make a viewing worthwhile? I’m not so sure.

Originally presented in 3D, Nurse’s pulpy heritage is still notably present from the cavalcade of sharp things pointed at the viewer to the obsessive way the camera leers over de la Huerta’s shapely figure. Nurse certainly has enough nudity, gore and camp to satisfy most viewers. However, in the end it’s not creative enough to be the true trash classic it so clearly wants to be.


Nurse will be available from Quickflix on April 9, 2014.

Rebel yell – Ginger and Rosa review

Ginger and Rosa

By Jess Lomas
April 1, 2014

In Sally Potter’s Ginger and Rosa, two best friends learn forever may not be as long as they’d always thought it would be. Set in London while the Cuban Missile Crisis is in full swing, best friends Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) yearn to escape their repressive mothers and the domestic boredom they want no part of. Growing up the girls have done everything together, but as Ginger becomes increasingly preoccupied with the potential end of the world and attending ban the bomb rallies, Rosa focuses more on her developing sexuality.

Despite the title, this is Ginger’s story, told from her point of view as the threat of nuclear war collides with her disintegrating family. There’s her fragile mother Natalie (Christina Hendricks) and radical writer father Roland (Alessandro Nivola), whose unremitting fighting leads to a separation. Ginger’s godfather Mark (Timothy Spall), his partner – also named Mark (Oliver Platt) – and their houseguest, activist Bella (Annette Bening), make up the rest of Ginger’s support network, begging her to be content as a carefree girl a little while longer. Yet, the problems of 1962 weigh on Ginger’s shoulders, especially when she is forced to keep a secret of her father’s; something she believes will cause the end of the world for everyone she loves if admitted out loud.

Ginger and Rosa

The film nails the transitional period of the era, perfectly blending the bland and understated post World War II decor and attitudes with the burgeoning Swinging Sixties looming on the horizon. Even within Ginger and Rosa’s relationship there is evidence of this, with the girls content to share a beige wardrobe early in the feature before Rosa transitions to all black, complete with eye liner and Brigitte Bardot hair. These are the subtleties that impress on reflection, and, in an otherwise competently layered story, it is only the main and incredibly predictable plot development with Ginger’s father that weakens the overall impact of the movie.

This is a tepid drama, riding on the shoulders of a truly breakout performance from Fanning. Her understated and beautiful interpretation of the fragility of teenage friendships and the heartache that can occur as girls become women is made only more impressive by her age during production, a mere 14 years old. Ginger and Rosa is a small flick that reminds audiences how exciting it is to see raw and sincere performances despite what kind of package they’re delivered in.


Ginger and Rosa will be available from Quickflix on April 2, 2014.

Talk Hard – Olaf Boggleson, The Boney Instrument, Pelvis Season 4

Simon Miraudo and RTRFM host Peter Barr talk up April 1st’s finest releases: Olaf Boggleson’s biopic on the life of Icelandic poet Borg Romulanson; YA sensation Daphne Zuniga and the Boney Instrument, and, of course, Season 4 of Pelvis.


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.

Remember to send all thoughts, comments, feedback, and general well-wishes to talkhard@quickflix.com.au

You can contact me directly on Twitter: @simonmiraudo.

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

A special thanks to RTRFM for their recording facilities.

‘Frozen’ becomes highest grossing animated film of all time; 10th biggest overall


Frozen, unwilling to end its reign atop the box office charts, just broke another record.

This past weekend, it overtook Toy Story 3 to become the highest grossing animated film of all time.

It now sits in tenth place overall, with $1.072 billion in the bank.

There is a chance it could rise a few more spots depending on how it continues to fare in Asia (Japan, Korea, and China were among the last markets for the Disney behemoth to open in, and, spoiler alert, they are loving it).

It will be available from Quickflix on April 30.

Keira Knightley sings for Mark Ruffalo in ‘Begin Again’ trailer

begin again

Keira Knightley shows off her pipes in the trailer for musical dramedy Being There, previously titled Can A Song Save Your Life?

She plays a recently-dumped songstress taken under the wing of a recently-fired music exec (Mark Ruffalo).

Though the trailer looks pretty unremarkable, reviews out of Tribeca were largely positive, and the pedigree behind and in-front of the camera is enticing.

First up, you’ve got Once director John Carney at the helm, as well as Judd Apatow acting as executive producer.

Throw Hailee Steinfeld, Mos Def, James Corden, and Catherine Keener into the cast, and you’ve got yourself a stew going.

Begin Again arrives in cinemas August 7, 2014.

Warner Bros. spinning ‘Harry Potter’ off-shoot ‘Fantastic Beasts’ into trilogy

J.K. Rowling

Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara has plans for three new Harry Potter spin-offs based on J.K. Rowling’s ‘Hogwarts textbook’ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

In a lengthy profile by the New York Times, the previously announced Fantastic Beasts adaptation is revealed to be in the works as a brand new trilogy.

Rowling penned the spin-off, set seven decades before the events of the main Harry Potter saga, in 2001.

The protagonist of the new film trilogy will be “magizoologist” Newt Scamander.

Rowling is working on the script for at least one of those feature films.

‘Magic Mike’ sequel christened ‘Magic Mike XXL’

Magic Mike

The Playlist has unzipped some major details regarding the next Magic Mike film, namely… it’s name!

Magic Mike XXL is what the strippertastic sequel shall be christened.

Since Steven Soderbergh won’t return to direct – on account of his “retirement” – his right-hand man and frequent first AD Greg Jacobs will take the helm.

Channing Tatum has co-written the script with his producer Reid Carolin, and has previously been said to be something of a road movie.

It is expected much of the original cast will return for the flick, but nothing is set in stone (besides everyone’s abs).

Here’s Scarlett Johansson as another superhero in ‘Lucy’


Entertainment Weekly offers up the first official picture of Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s Lucy.

In the flick, Johansson plays the title character, a drug mule who accidentally absorbs her cargo and develops superhero-esque powers.

Hopefully those powers are slightly more impressive than those belonging to Johansson’s Marvel hero, Black Widow, which largely comprises of owning two guns.

Morgan Freeman and Choi Min-sik (Oldboy) also star in the picture, set for release this August.

Peter Dinklage to play games with Adam Sandler in ‘Pixels’

Peter Dinklage

Emmy and Golden Globe winner Peter Dinklage is in final negotiations to join Adam Sandler’s upcoming sci-fi comedy Pixels, The Wrap reports.

The Game of Thrones star, to be seen next as the villain in X-Men: Days of Future Past, will appear alongside Sandler, Kevin James and Josh Gad in the flick.

Pixels is based on Patrick Jean’s short film of the same name, which saw, well, pixels attacking New York City.

The feature film, helmed by Chris Columbus, concerns a similar attack, with those aforementioned actors playing video game experts called in to end the alien threat.

Though any Sandler/James collaboration inspires nervous feelings, the unique premise and involvement of the always entertaining Dinklage should make this a slightly more promising venture.

Long is good – Nymphomaniac Vol. 2 review

Nymphomaniac Vol 2

By Simon Miraudo
March 28, 2014

As I concluded my review of Nymphomaniac‘s first volume, I wondered if director Lars von Trier would surprise us with a happy ending in its follow-up. For him, that would truly be shocking. Turns out it was a misjudged prediction. I also said the following: “Lars von Trier may have well and truly proven his freaky-deakie credentials over the years, but Nymphomaniac may prove him to be a softie too.” Boy, was that flat out wrong. Having now seen Volume 2 – not so much the ascension of our sex-loving protagonist, Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), as it is a continuation of her descent – the full shape and meaning of his opus has emerged from the fog. Ultimately, I thought it was great. However, thinking it was going to end sweetly was just dumb.

Where last we left our hero: Joe (Stacy Martin as a young woman) had lost all feeling in her nether-regions after finally going to bed with the object of her affections, Jerome (Shia LaBeouf). The way Vol. 1 uses this as a – pun definitely intended, and I shan’t be judged for using it – climax, we’re led to believe this sought-after combination of sex and love was no richer than all those empty experiences she’d had with countless strangers. As Vol. 2 opens, her cries of “I can’t feel anything” mid-coitus are revealed to be totally literal, and, frankly, a damning condemnation of LaBeouf’s manhood. An older Joe (now played by Gainsbourg) takes extreme measures to reclaim sensation: firstly by recruiting two African brothers for a logistically-nightmarish threesome, and then by employing the brutal K (Jamie Bell) to slap, whip, and emotionally torture her. That latter approach seems to work, though Joe’s increasing obsession with the crueller side of sexuality endangers her relationship with Jerome, the safety of their child, and even her own life, as we’re finally given an explanation for Seligman’s (Stellan Skarsgård) discovery of her bloodied, unconscious body in that alley from Vol. 1.

Nymphomaniac Vol 2

Vol. 2 is significantly more metatextual than the first flick, blatantly recreating a sequence from von Trier’s own Antichrist and giving a shout-out to its spiritual cousin, Michael Haneke‘s The Piano Teacher. It also lays on thick the Christian allegory that had been simmering under the surface for the previous two hours. Joe is positioned as something of a Christ-like figure here, enduring first a Transfiguration, followed by several Satanic-seeming curses, and, eventually, punishments familiar to those who’ve glanced at the Stations of the Cross. Our bold director makes no secret of these allusions, literally having our characters explain and dissect them from the safety of Seligman’s apartment. They did something similar in Vol. 1, comparing Joe’s life to that of a fly-fisherman and orchestra-conductor and, erm, a pastry.

What’s different, this time around, is the reveal of a new dynamic between the two. If Joe is a stand-in for the director (“someone who slyly delights in tales of depravity and degradation, but acknowledges the kind of terrible person they might be because of it”), so too is Seligman, albeit subtly. In this instalment, his virginal nature is revealed, positioning him as a supposedly innocent, empty canvas for Joe to bounce practical encounters off of, and who can offer theoretical explanations in return. As the picture progresses, their dialogue feels like a conversation between von Trier and himself about the best way to tell this story. “I think this was one of your weakest digressions,” Joe casually informs Seligman after he tries to compare her desires to something especially banal (as he is wont to do). Later she’ll decry the “sentimentality” of a particularly emotional memory, calling it “a lie.” Even the usually-all-ears Seligman offers up a criticism, making fun of a youthful, transcendent incident of Joe’s, calling it “a blasphemous joke spiced up with a biblical light emanating from nothingness, [followed by] a spontaneous orgasm.” Seems like von Trier is trying to beat his critics to the punch. Polite society is also prematurely chided for the scorn they’ll soon turn towards his movie; they’re accused of being stupid and ignorant and then some. Sorry audience: Lars von Trier likes to engage in a dialogue with himself, and only himself.

Nymphomaniac Vol 2

That doesn’t mean we can’t engage with his art. Politically correct tut-tutters be damned: there is a lot of interesting meat to chew on in both features. In a world where von Trier no longer talks to press for fear of being misrepresented, he gives us two characters to demonstrate his squabbling inner monologue; the perfect depiction of the conflicting emotions we – and clearly he – feel from his work. Nymphomaniac Vol. 2 does not exist merely in von Trier’s mind, or in the realm of the theoretical. Just as the first one did, it delivers plenty of harrowing, complicated, near-unwatchable moments, punctuated occasionally by honest-to-goodness LOL lines. Chapter VI offers an incredible explanation for its subtitle ‘The Silent Duck’, which is countered by Seligman’s query about a ‘Quacking Duck’, and it’s even funnier. (Okay… maybe you had to be there.)

The final two chapters are perhaps the best of the lot, featuring Willem Dafoe and Mia Goth in key, spoilery roles. Chapter VII, ‘The Mirror’, is a delicate, haunting, weirdly funny and deeply sad vignette about Joe’s attempts to shun sexuality for good (leading her to remove all potentially arousing distractions from her home, resulting in her painting over anything that casts a reflection and adding cotton padding to any inanimate objects with an edge to grind against). Joe’s so eager to get to her explosive final chapter, ‘The Gun’, that she literally interrupts an earlier tale to start telling it. Its theme song is Talking Heads’ ‘Burning Down the House’, an interesting echo of Vol. 1‘s propulsive, anarchic anthem, Rammstein’s ‘Führe Mich’. Both songs book-end the narrative, powering the film past the 241-minute mark.

Nymphomaniac Vol 2

It all builds to a fascinating moral observation by Seligman: the hypocrisy of those judging Joe for the same tendencies that would be lauded in a man. Those thinking that to be nonsense, you need only look to the diabolical Dane Cook comedy Good Luck Chuck - which plays for laughs a sex-montage not dissimilar to one Joe enjoyed in Vol. 1 – for evidence supporting Seligman’s theory. Nymphomaniac, like so many von Trier joints before it, is ultimately about the viciousness of men (emotionally, physically, and psychologically) towards women. Lars von Trier is no misogynist. Anti-humanist, definitely. But not specifically a misogynist.

Nymphomaniac Vols. 1 & 2 run four hours, total. I’d like to see the five-and-a-half hour cut. More of the fearless and brilliant Gainsbourg could never be a bad thing, after all. As was proven by the satisfying, scintillating, often-distressing and uncommonly-moving second entry of Nymphomaniac: the longer it is, the better it gets.


Check out Simon Miraudo’s archive of reviews.

Review – Nymphomaniac Vol. 1

Nymphomaniac Vol.1 Vol.2 will screen back-to-back in Australian cinemas from March 27, 2014.

Float on – Noah review


By Simon Miraudo
March 28, 2014

If anyone could rival the fire-and-brimstone-spewing judgement of the Old Testament’s God, it’d be the modern movie-watcher. Though they can’t incite a world-ending deluge, they can – and will – let their disappointment be known by flooding Twitter with their rulings, or, even more devastatingly, by staying away from a film entirely, dooming its creator to… try working in television or something. How audiences will take to Darren Aronofsky’s nutso Noah, a grim, bizarre retelling of the familiar Bible parable, is anyone’s guess. Maybe Aronofsky should start prepping his getaway ark just in case.

Russell Crowe brings his gravelly presence to the part of Noah, a descendant of Adam and Eve’s not-evil surviving son, Seth. He lives a simple life with his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connolly) and sons Ham (Logan Lerman) & Shem (Douglas Booth), until a ghastly premonition informs him of an impending downpour that will send the sinners of the world to a watery grave. Those sinners, led by the barking Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone), are born of Adam and Eve’s murderous offspring, Cain. Hey, everyone has a side of the family they’re not super proud of. Tasked by God and encouraged by grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins), Noah gets to work on a giant ark to protect the innocent animals that should be spared extinction. Much of the building is actually done by The Watchers, a fleet of fallen angels, cursed with misshapen rock bodies and, in one instance, burdened further with the voice of Nick Nolte. Emma Watson also helps out as Ila, an orphan girl picked up on Noah’s travels as a wife for Shem. Ham, as you would imagine, is pretty peeved that his dad didn’t pull the same ‘wingman’ move for him.


A long-time dream project of Aronofsky’s, he penned it with his producer Ari Handel, only convincing Paramount Pictures to pony up the massive budget after the breakout success of his psychosexual indie Oscar-winner Black Swan. The prospect of Aronofsky ever being entrusted with this much money seemed unlikely in the wake of his 2006 flop The Fountain (which, it should be noted, cost four times less than Noah). And yet, here we are. In many ways, his latest feels like a covert remake of The Fountain. Both features use folklore, science fiction and the supernatural to explore humanity’s struggle with mortality, as well as the prospect of our species’ total annihilation (either by our own hand, that of some God-like being, or the random chaos of nature herself). Many laughed at The Fountain’s earnest hokum. By dressing the same subject matter up in the clothes of a Christian allegory, will people now flock to it, or be further repulsed?

It’s a question that can’t be answered by this review, but will handily be answered by Noah’s opening weekend at the box office. Instead, let’s try and figure out if the thing is any good. In a universe where high-profile frolics like this are either dismissed as gargantuan, hubristic follies or celebrated as ingenious masterpieces, it’s difficult to convey the reality that Noah sits somewhere in between; neither a decisive failure nor an absolute success. These projects don’t allow for comfortable fence-sitting, particularly when they so happily invite the disdain of the evangelical and the militantly-atheistic alike, not to mention the general filmgoing populace, who are always hungry for the year’s first massive flop. (You can imagine the Russell Crowe shaped Wicker Man that will be inevitably erected.) I’ll say this, at least: the fable of Noah’s Ark is one of humanity’s most enduring, and regardless of one’s personal beliefs, it inspires a fascinating debate about what it means to be a zealot, sceptic, sinner, and human being. Don’t dismiss it on religious (or anti-religious) grounds. Frankly, if anyone should be offended by it, it’s the carnivore community. This is as pro-vegan a flick you’ll see that also stars Ray Winstone.


Noah is, surprisingly, not all that concerned with all those animals; traditionally the most fixated-upon element of the saga. Rather, Aronofsky explores Noah’s mighty emotional load, the result of him having to actively fight people off his vessel when the rains finally come, and later having to hear their dying screams through the ark’s wooden walls. Those darker shades of the story are especially affecting, and find the humanity within the sillier aspects of the legend, which go largely unquestioned and are sometimes flat-out ignored. Notice how no-one brings up the inevitable incest that’s required to repopulate the recently cleansed planet. Sounds like it would make for one memorable family meeting.

Contrary to popular panic, Aronofsky’s idiosyncratic directorial fingerprints haven’t been washed clean from the final print. Noah is innately Aronofskian. The man behind such experimental fare as Pi and Requiem for a Dream, as well as the melancholy masterpiece The Wrestler, seems like an odd fit for this Biblical narrative, however, he unquestionably makes it his own. Their marriage may benefit the myth – timeless tales like these can always use a new pair of eyes – yet I can’t help but think Aronofsky should be working on something different. Far be it from me to say the Bible is beneath him… it’s just that it was a lot more fun and fascinating when he was making movies about obsession, bodily degradation and deviant sex, and there’s only a little bit of each of those things in Noah.


The special effects are remarkable, chiefly the charmingly-clunky Watchers, Clint Mansell’s score is booming, as you’d expect, and cinematographer Matthew Libatique captures some stunning moments on some truly unusual vistas (the colour palette of the landscapes is entirely alien). Still, for all its nuttiness, this is a po-faced telling of the tale, often guilty of sliding back into the comfortable sandals of your typical old-fashioned epics when it should be forging fresh, freaky ground. Noah is admirable and watchable, sometimes very interesting and also incredibly cruel and strange. I have conflicting feelings towards the picture, which is perhaps as muted a reaction someone can have to it. This adaptation wasn’t quite a transformative experience, but it was weird as hell, just not frequently enough. I will offer Darren Aronofsky this one unqualified compliment: at times, Noah is unlike anything that’s been done before.


Check out Simon Miraudo’s archive of reviews.

Noah is now showing in Australian cinemas.

Bradley Cooper probably won’t be taking over the Indiana Jones franchise

Indiana Jones

Reports of Indy’s recasting have been greatly exaggerated.

The internet had a conniption yesterday when Latino Review suggested Bradley Cooper was being eyed for an Indiana Jones reboot, suggesting the saga would be taking a ‘James Bond’ route.

Slash Film has since heard from a high-placing source that the rumour is not true.

Producer Frank Marshall also Tweeted the following:

“Due to the ridiculous rumors that keep popping up, like agents pipe dreams, I will stop commenting on our projects until I have real news.”

Until we hear anything further, let’s believe Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are still mulling the idea of a fifth Indy movie with Harrison Ford in the lead.

Fact is, however, Ford can’t work forever, and the way Hollywood likes to operate, it’s silly to think there won’t be another Indy instalment made after he’s retired.

Chris Pratt and Anna Faris will “play” a married couple in ‘Vacation Friends’

Pratt Faris

Married funny people Chris Pratt and Anna Faris will star as married funny people in Vacation Friends, Deadline reports.

Fox paid seven figures for Tom & Tim Mullen’s spec script, which will see Pratt and Faris play a wild couple who befriend a straight-laced couple on holidays, and are surprised to discover the straight-laced couple don’t want to continue the friendship back in reality.

Steve Pink (Hot Tub Time Machine) will direct.

Anna Faris is a wonderful comic actress who hasn’t been given much of a chance to shine of late. With Pratt’s star rising (albeit, in largely dramatic movies and action blockbusters), it’s nice to see the duo use their combined pulling power to set up a comedy together.

Love overcomes all!

Chris Evans wants to quit acting (once he’s finished all those Marvel movies)


It ain’t easy being Captain America. Chris Evans tells Variety he wants to quit acting as soon as his Marvel contract is up.

“If I’m acting at all, it’s going to be under Marvel contract, or I’m going to be directing,” he said, his publicist probably nervously-laughing by his side.

“I can’t see myself pursuing acting strictly outside of what I’m contractually obligated to do.”

Evans spilled the beans while promoting Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the second entry in a trilogy he is “contractually obligated to do.”

He must also appear in two more Marvel movies, one of which will be 2015′s Avengers sequel Age of Ultron.

So, start saying your goodbyes.

Meanwhile, John Krasinski, start hitting that gym. The role you were once passed over for might soon be back in your grasp.

Meryl Streep to play a rock star for Diablo Cody and Jonathan Demme


Oscar-statuette inscribers, take note: Meryl Streep might star in a new Jonathan Demme movie scripted by Diablo Cody called Ricky and the Flash. That’s ‘Streep’ with two e’s.

According to The Wrap, Streep would play “a woman who abandoned her family when she was younger to find fame and fortune in California.”

Variety added this flourish to Streep’s character: she’s apparently a rock star.

Firstly, the marriage of Cody – who won the Academy Award for Juno - and Demme – of The Silence of the Lambs fame and most recently Rachel Getting Married - is a fascinating one.

Secondly, Meryl Streep is great and should be in everything.

No studio is attached at this time, though Universal and Fox 2000 have both expressed interest, because they are not insane.

Can you smell what the ‘Hercules’ trailer is cooking?


The answer is cheese. The Hercules trailer is cooking lots and lots of cheese.

Dwayne Johnson plays the Grecian idol in this Brett Ratner-directed joint, though we don’t get to see what kind of flavour he’ll bring to the role until the very end of this teaser, in which he screams a lot.

You may not even know another Hercules movie came out earlier this year, starring Kellan Lutz, who, we can agree, is no Dwayne Johnson. It grossed $44 million off a $70 million budget.

With a July release date, Ratner’s Hercules should fare better at the box office.

Patriot games – Captain America: The Winter Soldier review

Captain America The Winter Soldier

By Simon Miraudo
March 26, 2014

We’re three films deep into Marvel’s Phase Two, which is the collective name they’re using for the standalone superhero efforts bridging billion-dollar team-up feature The Avengers and its upcoming, probably-googol-grossing sequel. First two entries Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World were really just marking time until Captain America: The Winter Soldier came along to put Phase Two’s plot into play. A follow-up to my – and no one else’s – favourite Marvel movie, it sees Chris Evans return as Steve Rogers, the peppy, titular supersoldier, transplanted from the simple, Nazi-littered 1940s to the terrifying, One Direction-worshipping world of the present day. He’s handily compiling a list of recommended pop-cultural catchups, though the absence of both Mad Men and Scandal makes me worry about the kind of company he’s keeping in 2014.

Director Joe Johnston, sadly, isn’t back with the Cap, perhaps left frozen by the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Rogers’ downed warplane from film one. As the adage goes, when one director falls, two take his place, and these two are brothers: Joe and Anthony Russo, famously of TV shows Community and Arrested Development, and infamously of the godawful You, Me and Dupree. A total stylistic departure from its predecessor – closer in tone and look to the crazy-for-canted-camera-angles Avengers – their sequel puts the patriotic Rogers in the middle of a political conspiracy, the likes of which could rock secret government agency S.H.I.E.L.D. to its core. The casting of Robert Redford as one of Rogers’ bosses is no coincidence, bringing to mind All the President’s Men, Three Days of the Condor and, if you’ve only ever seen bad Robert Redford movies, maybe Spy Game. The screen legend is a welcome presence. Not scene-stealing. Not show-stopping. Simply ‘welcome’.

Captain America The Winter Soldier

Old friends Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) aid Rogers in his quest to uncover the rats in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s ranks, and they too fall into the ‘welcome’ category. The inclusion of invaluable supporting player and someday-star Anthony Mackie as a fellow war veteran isn’t enough, however, to make up for the cavernous absence of Hayley Atwell, who, as Agent Carter in the first Captain America, damn near stole the whole Marvelverse out from under its bulky heroes.

Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have admirably approached the inherent problem of a Captain America tale set in the 21st century; most smartly by having him confront the prospect of an America that instils fear in its enemies with the use of drone strikes and ill-gotten private information. For once though, it seems an intelligent action flick has been undone by its big ideas; or, at least, the ideas here outshine the action. Little besides the scary ethical questions raised is all that memorable. The performances, explosive set pieces, and even the “big” reveal of its sub-titular villain’s identity (a ‘Jared Leto meets Mortal Kombat’s Sub Zero’-looking mother******) can probably be filed under ‘welcome’ too, but never ‘essential’.

Captain America The Winter Soldier

Marvel has previously proven that the grave consequences of their universe aren’t so grave after all, bringing beloved Agent Phil Coulson back from the dead and cursing him to the existential limbo of broadcast television. So, when characters say their farewells in The Winter Soldier – whether it’s them passing away or simply pledging to go on a solo mission of self-discovery – why should we feel anything? Death is just a way station between sequels, and for all their big goodbyes, most of these people will be back before us in less than twelve months, suited up for the next Marvel outing.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is frequently unboring, often expensive-looking, and expert at making promises later instalments have to deliver. (As always, you have to sit through the credits for one really exciting bonus scene and one very-dumb one.) This conveyer-belt approach to moviemaking has taken all the superness out of these superhero stories. Everything is now so expected, and not especially special. As such, The Winter Soldier (admittedly, the best of a recent batch) feels thoroughly unremarkable. That’s what happens when you get too much of a just-okay thing.


Check out Simon Miraudo’s archive of reviews.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier arrives in Australian cinemas April 3, 2014.

Play It Again – Elizabeth


By Jess Lomas
March 26, 2014

Play It Again is a weekly feature in which our classic-film connoisseurs revisit a revered motion picture from the annals of movie history, to see if it holds up… or if it has aged terribly. And yes, it takes its name from a famously misquoted Casablanca line. Hey, whatever. It fits!

One should not look to Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth for an accurate history lesson, nor expect to find a faultless cinematic masterpiece. Rather, expect a delectable costume drama with superior performances.

Following the death of King Henry VIII in 1547, the crown of England is passed to Edward VI, who perishes shortly afterwards. Henry’s eldest daughter Mary then ascends the throne; a childless Catholic, she runs her country into the ground, depleting its treasury and burning Protestants to death in her pursuit for national religious purity.

Mary’s Protestant sister Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett), the bastard child of King Henry and Anne Boleyn, is next in the line of succession to the throne. Despite being advised to try Elizabeth for treason, Mary cannot sentence her sister to death, and so, after Mary’s own death, it is Elizabeth who becomes the new Queen of England.


The feature, written by Michael Hirst (The Tudors), follows the four years between the passing of Queen Mary and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, a period in which multiple attempts were made on Elizabeth’s life, where she was continually advised to marry and stabilise her nation’s security, and her personal love affair with Robert, Earl of Leicester (Joseph Fiennes) took a back seat to her attempts to create harmony between warring religions. As a feminist tale, Elizabeth is inspirational in its message of a woman’s dedication to duty and country, and it is Blanchett’s delivery of this that impresses most. As a historical representation, it colours outside the lines.

By all accounts Elizabeth is an exquisite picture; it’s dark and moody, impeccably lit with inspirational costumes and art direction, and has fine supporting performances from Geoffrey Rush as Elizabeth’s trusted advisor Sir Francis Walsingham, Christopher Eccleston as the Duke of Norfolk, and Richard Attenborough as Sir William Cecil.

The trouble with a movie that garners considerable awards attention, and watching said movie some fifteen years after its release, is that viewer expectations are unusually high, making them exceptionally hard to meet. Despite the positive notes the film hits, Elizabeth leaves a quiet impression rather than thrilling on initial viewing.


Elizabeth is available on Quickflix.

Talk Hard – Gareth Evans, The Raid 2, Blackfish

“Where would I least like to get hit with a hammer?” The Raid 2 director Gareth Evans reveals his creative process to Quickflix critic Simon Miraudo. The interview is followed by a review, as well as a look at doco Blackfish (now on Quickflix).

The Raid 2

Show Notes:

The Raid 2 opens in AU/NZ cinemas March 28.

Thanks for listening! Apologies for the audio quality. Bad phone line from Jakarta, sadly.

Yes, we said we were going on a fortnight break. What can we say? We like to surprise!

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

Remember to send all thoughts, comments, feedback, and general well-wishes to talkhard@quickflix.com.au

You can contact me directly on Twitter: @simonmiraudo.

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

A special thanks to RTRFM for their recording facilities.

Hammer time – The Raid 2: Berandal review

The Raid 2By Simon Miraudo
March 25, 2014

The world of cinema is full of many wonders, chief among them in 2014, writer-director Gareth Evans‘ unending well of inventive ways to kill people on screen. Berandalthe sequel to his murder-a-minute action spectacular The Raid - showcases perhaps the best martial artistry ever committed to celluloid, as well as a slew of the most incredible gasp-and-groan-and-guffaw-inducing deaths. Its format has been altered significantly from its predecessor’s, dropping the single-location setting and instead sprawling out across the streets of Indonesia, as well as spilling into its prisons. The passage of time is also greater: whereas Part One took place over a day, Part Two spans half a decade. Evans’ desire to make the Indonesian Godfather - evidenced by the bloated 150-minute length – keeps The Raid 2 from surpassing its leaner, meaner parent. Still, it delivers some of the finest, rawest fight sequences ever filmed. Surely that’s what we’re paying to see.

Iko Uwais reprises his role as Rama, Indonesia’s last good cop, and one of the few survivors of the first flick’s suicide mission. Having been rescued by the chief of Jakarta’s anti-corruption task-force, Rama is sent to prison under the name Yuda, tasked with a new mission: to befriend the well-coiffed Keiichi (Ryuhei Matsuda), son of mob kingpin Goto (Kenichi Endō). If Rama can get in close with the family and discover which cops and politicians are in on the take, the task-force can bring down corruption for good (err…) and get our hero safely back to his family. Only problem is, ingratiating oneself with Keiichi is not necessarily as simple as sparing him from the occasional shiv. To gain his attention, Rama has to fend off an army of assailants. For access into his inner circle… well, Rama practically has to break the neck of every inmate and guard during a muddy, prison-yard riot. That last sequence is just one of Berandal‘s many impossible-seeming shots; a prolonged single take of unbridled, bone shattering devastation. (Evans surely cheated by working a few cuts in, but no one watching the thing could possibly care.)

The Raid 2

I’ve barely covered the opening act in the above synopsis. Oh, how I wish I could explain concisely the way in which bloodthirsty-siblings ‘Hammer Girl’ (Julie Estelle) and ‘Baseball Bat Man’ (Very Tri Yulisman) factor into the climax, though I’d have to break down the rest of the tortuous plot (a feat I’m not sure I’d be able to accomplish if I tried). Of the criticisms that might be levelled against The Raid by someone uncharmed by its non-stop butchery, “convolution” isn’t one of them. Evans might have bitten off more than he could chew in this follow-up, producing no less than two rival gangs for the Gotos to conspire against, as well as a series of back-stabbings and betrayals that, frankly, lose potency as the picture becomes more distended. Eastern Promises got the same job done in 90 minutes (and David Cronenberg managed to squeeze in a naked, gory fight scene too).

What Evans is unsurpassed at, however, is crafting memorable set pieces, and he’s aided superbly by fight choreographers Uwais and Yayan Ruhian. (Ruhian’s ‘Mad Dog’ was handily dispatched in The Raid, yet he’s back once again playing a much nicer, equally effective assassin here.) Each battle is punctuated with comic beats and builds to a wrenching climax; as they layer upon one another, the film reaches an absurd crescendo of carnage. Fearless cinematographers Matt Flannery and Dimas Imam Subhono are right there amongst the action, miraculously not getting themselves killed even when it looks like they’re doing more dangerous stuff than the stuntmen themselves. At one point the camera jumps through a window in hot pursuit of a fleeing criminal; later, the camera exits a moving car only to find its way into another moving car. Yes, it’s probably all a fakery; movie magic at its most magical. The Raid 2: Berandal is so astounding you’ll eagerly believe it’s happening for real. Never before has the bloody slaughter of dozens provided such delights.


Check out Simon Miraudo’s archive of reviews.

The Raid 2: Berandal arrives in Australian cinemas March 28, 2014.


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