Cinema City Film Quiz #206

[28 January 2018]


Winning Team:
Rock Bottom
Genre – Eddie and Ritchie open up a hotel on Alcatraz which is then overrun by terrorists. Seemingly outnumbered, help comes from an unlikely ally – Spongebob (voiced by Sean Connery)

Runners Up:
The Elm Street Posse
Genre – In a parallel universe, Norfolk’s finest (Horatio Nelson, Stephen Fry and Delia Smith) team up to become the first Norfolk based wrestling troupe and become world champions with their signature move: the full nelson
Stone Cold Steve Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery
Genre – Steven Austin is frozen in 1999 and defrosted in 2109 to fight a fem’bot’inist
Rock, Paper, Scissors
Genre – The new biopic of Dwayne The Rock Johnson
Juman-jina
Genre – Another sexist remake
Blade Runner 2069
Genre – SciFi


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. Dances With Wolves was adapted from which book by Michael Blake?
DANCES WITH WOLVES
2. What is the title of the sequel to Alien?
ALIENS
3. How many Godfather films were made?
THREE
4. What is the name of the villain in The Little Mermaid?
URSULA
5. Who directed Lock, Stock & Two Smokin’ Barrels?
GUY RITCHIE
6. What did M Night Shyamalan direct in between The Sixth Sense and Signs?
UNBREAKABLE
7. What colour is Leonardo’s mask in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
BLUE
8. Which 1992 western starred Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman?
UNFORGIVEN
9. What is the name of the tiger-shaped cave in Aladdin?
THE CAVE OF WONDERS
10. The following is the poster tagline for which film, “Mankind was born on Earth, it wasn’t meant to die here”
INTERSTELLAR


ROUND II: Filming [Wrestlers Special]
1. [Ernest The Cat Miller] Who played the lead role in The Wrestler? John Cena? Sylvester Stallone? Mickey Rourke? [bonus point for naming who was originally cast in the lead role]
MICKEY ROURKE [Nicolas Cage]
2. [Tyler Mane/Big Sky] X-Men was released in which year? 1999? 2000? 2001?
2000
3. [Kevin Nash] Who directed Magic Mike? Steven Soderbergh? Michael Mann? Richard Linklater?
STEVEN SODERBERGH
4. [Hulk Hogan] Hulk Hogan appeared in which instalment of the Rocky franchise? Rocky II? Rocky III? Creed?
ROCKYIII
5. [Jerry The King Lawler] 1999’s Man On The Moon, starring Jim Carrey is a biopic about which actor? Andy Kaufman? Bill Hicks? John Belushi?
ANDY KAUFMAN
6. [Jesse Ventura] The following quote is from which Arnold Schwarzenegger film, “I live to see you eat that contract. But I hope you leave room for my fist because I’m going to ram it into your stomach and break your goddamn spine”? Predator? The Running Man? Eraser?
THE RUNNING MAN
7. [Macho Man Randy Savage] What colour are the eyes on Green Goblin’s helmet in Spider-Man? White? Yellow? Red?
YELLOW
8. [The Big Show] What did Adam Sandler star in (lead role), in between The Wedding Singer and Big Daddy? The Waterboy? Bulletproof? Little Nicky?
THE WATERBOY
9. [Terry Funk] In Roadhouse, what is the specialised title given to the kind of bouncer that Patrick Swayze’s character is? Breaker? Blocker? Cooler?
COOLER
10. [Dave Batista] The Man With The Iron Fists was originally a sequel to the video game, Wu Tang: Shaolin Style. True or False?
FALSE


ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Frances Halladay is the lead character in which film?
FRANCES HA
2. The following quote is from which film, “I’d like you to tell me that you are and have been a false prophet and that God is a superstition”?
THERE WILL BE BLOOD
3. In which film is a Speak & Spell, an umbrella lined with tinfoil and a coffee can used to communicate with aliens?
E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL
4. In You’ve Got Mail, both Joe and Kathleen work for companies selling what?
BOOKS
5. What is the name of Kiefer Sutherland’s character in The Lost Boys?
DAVID
6. Jason Clarke, Shia LeBeouf and Tom Hardy played brothers in which John Hillcoat film?
LAWLESS
7. Excluding the theme park ride but including straight-to-DVD releases, how many Honey I Shrunk The Kids films featured Rick Moranis?
THREE (Honey, I Shrunk The Kids / Honey, I Blew Up The Kid / Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves)
8. The following quote is from which film, “This is your wakeup call. I am an FBI agent”?
POINT BREAK
9. 10 Things I Hate About You was released in which year?
1999
10. What is Harry Hart’s (played by Colin Firth) codename in Kingsman: The Secret Service?
GALAHAD


ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. The story of Scarface takes place over how many years? 2? 3? 4?
FOUR (1980-83)
2. The following quote/poster tagline is from which film, “If I could only have one food for the rest of my life? That’s easy. Pez. Cherry flavour Pez. No question about it”? Stand By Me? Dazed And Confused? Super-Size Me?
STAND BY ME
3. Who directed the 2005 adaptation of Rent? David Yates? Chris Columbus? Alfonso Cuaron?
CHRIS COLUMBUS
4. Which of the following was digitally added to Children Of Men? Yellow EU stars on the Union flag? The words English Telecom on the BT tower? The Shard?
THE SHARD
5. What is the name of Scarlett O’Hara’s family cotton plantation in Gone With The Wind? Tara? Erin? Inis?
TARA
6. Who composed the score for Signs? Howard Shore? James Newton Howard? James Horner?
JAMES NEWTON HOWARD
7. In Django Unchained, what did Dr King Schultz do before becoming a bounty hunter? Taxman? Farmer? Dentist?
DENTIST
8. What is the name of the school in The Breakfast Club? Hughes High? North Midwestern High? Shermer High?
SHERMER HIGH SCHOOL
9. Which principal knight does Terry Jones play in Monty Python & The Holy Grail? Gawain? Bedevere? Bors?
BEDEVERE
10. Shell Cottage in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 had 4,500 individual shells glued on the roof but is only seen on film in the background of a few shots. True or False?
TRUE


BOUNS IMAGE ROUND
Screenshots: Misery / The Day The Earth Stood Still / Titanic / Dick Tracy
Poster: Revolutionary Road
Actor: Kathy Bates


COCO

The Celebration Of A Lifetime

Director
Lee Unkrich

Starring
Anthony Gonzalez
Gael García Bernal
Benjamin Bratt



Miguel [Gonzalez] is a young boy living in Mexico who stems from a long line of cobblers. Music is forbidden in his family after his great great grandfather ran off to be a musician, abandoning his family. But Miguel has the heart of an artist and is a skilled guitar player. On the Day Of The Dead – the one day of the year the ghosts of ancestors past visit the Earth – Miguel defies his family and steals the guitar of deceased legendary artist Ernesto de la Cruz [Bratt]. In doing so, Miguel is cursed for stealing from the dead and crosses over to the land of the dead. There he meets up with his relatives who agree to send him back providing he gives up on his dream to be a musician. Believing de la Cruz to be his grandfather, Miguel enlists the help of Hector [Bernal], a man who claims to know de la Cruz.

When Coco was first announced I had immediate concerns that it would be little more than a shallow hybrid of The Book Of Life and Corpse Bride, a Diseny-fied cash grab that could monopolise an entire cultural festival in a blatant example of appropriation. I blame this knee-jerk reaction on the flailing calibre of releases that Pixar have put out of late. Thankfully I was not only proved wrong but Coco is better than both films and a genuinely worthy addition to the finest elements of the Pixar catalogue. Other than the surface story, there are so many mature concepts of legacy, identity, raising questions of the importance of shared culture, the prominence of family, the unwavering nature of traditions and feuds and broaching how a child (or adults) can deal with life, happiness and death.

One of the most immediately obvious factors is the lengths the film goes to respect the Mexican culture and influences, it also doesn’t hold its punches or dumb down the content for those unfamiliar with festivals like Dia de los Muertos. In that way, I was extremely impressed by the confidence with which the bilingual dialogue slips effortlessly back-and-forth and that the entire principal cast is of Latino origin. To my mind I wouldn’t say there is a single character who feels poorly executed – but I will come back to that later. In fact, this is the first film with a nine figure budget to contain an all Latino cast; which, when I learned that, caused my heart to sink a little for much like Black Panther, these shouldn’t be milestones/firsts/achievements. How are we still at the stage where there is only one film with this kind of funding but at least change is happening – albeit slowly.

Going back to trailers for a minute, there’s something about the impact of a shot or reveal which is completely lost in a snapshot – hopefully I don’t need to explain or justify why – for animated films this also includes the quality of animation. Sure, we can get a feeling of what to expect but it’s only when you see the characters progressing through a narrative to the degree you forget it’s not real that we feel the impact of the quality of the work – not to the degree of ethnographic animation but you get the idea. In simpler terms, I didn’t appreciate from the promotional material how detailed the animation would be. From the character designs to the often photorealistic lighting, the uncanny valley is sidestepped. We are not trying to convince ourselves that these characters are the same as a photographed human but the meticulous detail lends an exceptional amount of weight to the deception that they are indeed real; for how can something that complex be fake? Mexico is decently represented in a semi-eraless fashion, allowing audiences to believe this could have taken place any time in the last fifty years (even though it’s quite clearly set in the present) and the vibrancy of the afterlife is as wondrous and enchanting as it is overwhelming.

**Spoilers throughout**
For all Coco’s positives, it’s not exactly perfect but the complaints that follow are so minor that they barely register – but being a review, it would be wrong not to at least highlight them. First off we have the nature of the pleasing but straightforward plot. For kids and those who don’t go to the cinema often, the twist about Miguel’s forebears will be mind-blowing but in truth, the clues are very plainly laid out. I’ll admit, once I pieced it together, I was quite fearful it wouldn’t be the case – after all, the fact de la Cruz is such a national icon, it would be incredibly unlikely that no one would remember he left a family behind. Either way, there is a sizeable amount of convenience at work here but no more than most family releases. Another thing that got to me a little was the particulars of how an individual extends their life in the land of the dead. The only reason Hector agrees to help Miguel is under the agreement that he will take a picture with him (no idea how he has that in the first place but whatever) and place it on an ofrenda. But then he later explains that the picture alone isn’t enough, you need someone who knew them when they were alive to prolong their existence – but if that were true what would be achieved by giving Miguel the picture? Although I also don’t understand how everyone is dressed as they were when they died except for Hector who is in ragged clothes. Granted, we could argue it’s a side-effect of being forgotten but then when his identity is restored and he visits the following year, he’s still dresses shabby. And my final gripe is largely due to the nature of immaturity and low-hanging fruit in “children’s films” with the handful of cringey sophomoric jokes and antics which feel cheap considering the depth of the overall content.

Bright, funny, beautiful and emotional, Coco is one of the strongest Pixar releases in years and feels like a real return to form after Disney animated features have pulled ahead. My only concern now is the sense of déjà vu I had when reviewing Inside Out and the upcoming release schedule which contains very little original content.


Release Date:
19th January 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
While trying to contact de la Cruz at a rehearsal (which he is not attending), Miguel meets Frida Kahlo who explains how her pre-show opener is going to go. Even without understanding or knowing who Kahlo is, the sequence is indicative of creatives with an unlimited budget and is very amusingly presented.

Notable Characters:
One of Coco’s core strengths is its ability to feel relatable. One of the biggest obstacles films about non English speaking cultures face is that audiences won’t be able to keep up with the glossary of unfamiliar terms or they won’t be able to see themselves in any of the characters. But, much like The Godfather the elements of family and belonging transcend the exclusionary nature of specific heritage and become universal [I honestly can’t believe I’m typing this as, to me, this should be a standard of all storytelling but some people just can’t see past the status quo]. A lot of this comes down to the great performances and quirky characters present that can be found in most families worldwide. Having said that, one of the main developments between rivals (trying to avoid spoilers here), supernatural elements aside, plays out like a Mexican soap opera and that’s pretty marvellous.

Highlighted Quote:
“That’s such a sweet sentiment.. at such a bad time”

In A Few Words:
“A stellar, emotional, fantastic feature that outshines anything Pixar has released in the last three years”

Total Score:

5/5

THE POST

Truth Over Silence

Director
Steven Spielberg

Starring
Meryl Streep
Tom Hanks



Following a prologue set during the Vietnam war, reporter Daniel Ellsberg starts smuggling out reports which highlight how the US government was lying about the validity and direction of a potential (and then very real) war in Vietnam. We are later introduced to Washington Post owner, Katharine Graham [Streep], who is taking her company public to ensure its future but simultaneously feels doing so would rob her lineage of control over the paper itself – something her father and grandfather insisted upon. We later learn that Graham was never the intended head of the company, that The Post was left to her husband before he committed suicide. The editor in chief of the paper, Ben Bradlee [Hanks] is performing his duties as normal when he realises that one of The New York Times’ top writers hasn’t had a story for months – which invariably means he is working on some big scoop. It is later revealed that the story in question is an expose about the leaked government documents. Following an injunction from the White House, the Times is told it is not allowed to publish any further findings. Through a combination of investigating and luck, one of Bradlee’s writers come across the papers and both Bradlee and Graham are forced to decide what is more important, the company or the truth.

The central talking point of this release was always going to be twofold: the acting and parallels with the current White House administration. Tackling the former, the script doesn’t offer a great deal to stretch the abilities of those gathered but what is on display is still damn fine entertainment. On the one hand you have Tom Hanks leading the charge of freedom of the press, commanding a pool of outraged writers all of whom are desperate to go after the government for the lies they told in an attempt to make a statement and notable change to how things operate. Hanks’ manner and cadence are brasher than the performances we have become used to but underneath it, he is still operating in the same way he always has in recent years – being a relatable, charming, proactive character with a wise, doting wife who acts as his counsel. The other half is Meryl Streep battling a board of old white men who believe she is not suitable for the position she currently holds, that no woman can take the place of a man; so while trying to retain control of her family’s newspaper for her children and grandchildren, she is making bold practical statements about a woman’s place in business management.

Admittedly, I was initially taken aback by Streep’s portrayal, if only because the advertising failed to convey that Streep’s character lacked a degree of outward confidence and that her unsureness is part of what makes her a compelling individual. The assembled supports are all impressive enough but again nobody is pushed to do anything overtly demanding or outside their experience/expertise; if anything we are left with a conveyor of famous faces that crop up in various roles. I will note though, that Streep’s discussion with her daughter (played by Alison Brie) is very interesting. She talks frankly about her husband’s inheriting of the company, that she didn’t see this as at all unusual. This raises a great deal of comments and questions about the evolution of “a woman’s place”, gender politics and the fact that there is the constant presence of extra scrutiny over her actions, solely because of her gender rather than her capability. It’s a scene that is acted brilliantly but doesn’t say anything new. But then again, maybe it’s not supposed to, maybe it’s just saying the same thing over and over until the mainstream listen and act accordingly. Which, in a way, reflects the general message of the paper’s publishing plot thread: if you have a voice, it is your responsibility to use that voice for the common good.

As can be expected from a film with access to resources of this nature, the production design is magnificent, as are all the period-relevant aspects. Janusz Kaminski’s lights the set pieces superbly, cornering out where one need focus in something like a busy newspaper office with tens of desks, writers and clacking typewriters to distract the eyes. I would also add that The Post contains some of the more creative shots than that of any Spielberg film in recent years. But on the technical front there are a handful of faults, the first is the underwhelming score and some truly questionable CGI, which, considering this is the man who brought us Jurassic Park, is truly bizarre.

As stated earlier, the key take aways from this feature are the performances and the overt jab at the Trump presidency. The Nixon years were rife with protest, hatred, scandal and it all ended rather pitifully but Nixon’s attitude to the press bears a similarity (in all honesty, nothing is similar to what is happening right now) to how Trump shuts out the press and is therefore more relevant than ever. This urgency to get the story out while it reflects contemporary politics serves to highlight one of the biggest causes of the film’s faltering. Saying history is cyclical is nothing new to anyone who knows anything about history but the fact that everyone involved is trying to derail that endless cycle of betrayal and cover-up is extremely admirable. Having said that, the final piece feels a little rushed, from the simplistic characters to the inconsistent VFX to the fact that the choice was made to focus solely on the exploits of The Washington Post alone, rather than being a double-header narrative going back and forth with The New York Times and their germinating story. It could also have helped soften the blow of the Rogue One-esque ending which offers the briefest tease of the Watergate break-in.

In reality, these are only minor problems but they are problems that have no business being present in a film with resources of this calibre and issues at this level downgrade an outstanding film to a merely decent one. With the high profile success of Spotlight I wouldn’t expect this to be the last mainstream release about investigative journalism but in order to push actual change, I think they need to be stronger and significantly bolder – the trouble with that being, the more we get with the same formula, the more diluted the impact will be.


Release Date:
19th January 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
Streep and Hanks’ first scene together is typically Spielbergian. Both characters of immense power and charm meet in a quaint, unsuspecting setting (having a monthly scheduled breakfast) which starts pleasantly enough but quickly devolves into talking over one another before a very distinct shift in tone causes one to fall silent and analyse the other’s intentions. And the whole thing, up until that emotional crescendo, takes place in a single unbroken shot. It’s far from impactful on the story but it serves as a wonderful introduction to the relationship between these two individuals and shows off just how good everyone involved (in front of and behind the camera) is at their craft.

Notable Characters:
One of the more unsuspecting roles is that of journalist Ben Bagdikian played by Bob Odenkirk. Odenkirk has always been a great comedic actor but when given a dramatic role he really shines. It’s hard to be memorable, let alone standout when competing with the likes of Streep and Hanks but Odenkirk really feels like he bridges the gap between quirky office drama and national secrets thriller.

Highlighted Quote:
“They knew we couldn’t win and they still sent boys to die”

In A Few Words:
“Much like Bridge Of Spies and Lions For Lambs, The Post is a commendable well-performed release but will ultimately make very little impact outside of its initial release”

Total Score:

4/5

14TH ANNUAL RRH AWARDS (2017)

Best Motion Picture Of The Year
The Handmaiden
Moonlight
Your Name
Get Out
Blade Runner 2049
The Big Sick
Logan
Wonder Woman
War For The Planet Of The Apes
A Ghost Story

Worst Motion Picture Of The Year
Baywatch
Transformers: The Last Knight
The Mummy
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge
The Emoji Movie

Most Over-rated Motion Picture of 2017
Baby Driver

Most Under-rated Motion Picture of 2017
Assassin’s Creed

Best Animated Feature
Loving Vincent
The Lego Batman Movie
Cars 3

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Daniel Kaluuya [Get Out]
Casey Affleck [Manchester By The Sea]
Ashton Sanders [Moonlight]
Kumail Nanjiani [The Big Sick]
Andy Serkis [War For The Planet Of The Apes]

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Min-hee Kim [The Handmaiden]
Tae-ri Kim [The Handmaiden]
Dafne Keen [Logan]
Taraji P Henson [Hidden Figures]
Gal Gadot [Wonder Woman]

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Adam Driver [Star Wars – Episode VII: The Last Jedi]
Mahershala Ali [Moonlight]
Jung-woo Ha [The Handmaiden]
Issei Ogata [Silence]
Ray Romano [The Big Sick]

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Janelle Monae [Hidden Figures]
Ana De Armas [Blade Runner 2049]
Michelle Williams [Manchester By The Sea]
Tiffany Haddish [Girls Trip]
Holly Hunter [The Big Sick]

Best Achievement in Directing
Chan-wook Park [The Handmaiden]
Makoto Shinkai [Your Name]
Barry Jenkins [Moonlight]
Denis Villeneuve [Blade Runner 2049]
Jordan Peele [Get Out]

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Get Out
The Big Sick
Split
Free Fire
Brigsby Bear

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
The Handmaiden
The Death Of Stalin
Moonlight
Blade Runner 2049
The Disaster Artist

Best Achievement for Original Musical Score
Shiro Sagisu [Shin Godzilla]
Jed Kurzel [Assassin’s Creed]
Daniel Hart [A Ghost Story]
Michael Abels [Get Out]
Hans Zimmer [Dunkirk]

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Roger Deakins [Blade Runner 2049]
Chung-hoon Chung [The Handmaiden]
Rodrigo Prieto [Silence]
Darius Khondji [The Lost City Of Z]
Adam Arkapaw [Assassin’s Creed]

Best Achievement in Editing
Hacksaw Ridge
Assassin’s Creed
Dunkirk
Split
Star Wars – Episode VII: The Last Jedi

Best Achievement in Production Design
Blade Runner 2049
Wonder Woman
The Death Of Stalin
Star Wars – Episode VII: The Last Jedi
Ghost In The Shell

Best Achievement in Costume Design
The Handmaiden
The Death Of Stalin
The Beguiled
Star Wars – Episode VII: The Last Jedi
Silence

Best Achievement in Hair & Makeup
Star Wars – Episode VII: The Last Jedi
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
Silence
Thor: Ragnarok
Hacksaw Ridge

Best Achievement in Sound
Star Wars – Episode VII: The Last Jedi
Blade Runner 2049
Shin Godzilla
Dunkirk
La La Land

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
War For The Planet Of The Apes
Star Wars – Episode VII: The Last Jedi
Blade Runner 2049
Assassin’s Creed
Alien Covenant

THE SHAPE OF WATER

A Fairy Tale For Troubled Times

Director
Guillermo Del Toro

Starring
Sally Hawkins
Doug Jones
Michael Shannon
Richard Jenkins
Octavia Spencer
Michael Stuhlbarg



Set in the early 1960’s we are introduced to Elisa Esposito [Hawkins], a mute cleaner at a military facility, and her artist neighbour Giles [Jenkins], both of whom share a love for old movies and romantic musicals. Elisa’s main friend at work is the down-to-earth loquacious Zelda Fuller [Spencer]. Every night they work their way through the high-security facility, cleaning everything after the scientific and military minds have all but vacated the premises. One fateful day a specimen is brought to a containment room, along with the terrifying man who captured it, Colonel Richard Strickland [Shannon]. Neither Elisa nor Zelda care much for the brash, yet deceptively polite, Strickland but one evening, Elisa investigates what is being kept in the tank and comes face to face with an amphibious creature [Jones] who responds to music and her natural kindness. The two form a simple bond but pressures on the scientific team to learn more about the creature threaten their secret budding friendship.

I find it fascinating that the villains and monsters of cinema past are being repackaged as the heroes of this century. The same thing happened in Peter Jackson’s King Kong, where Kong was presented as less of a monstrous, horny beast and more a lonely soul. In terms of plot, Del Toro’s unofficial reworking of The Creature From The Black Lagoon actually has a closer link, in terms of story, to that of its dire sequel, Revenge of the Creature and salvaging anything from that mess is commendable in of itself. But more than the obvious route of simply wanting to see a horror character fall in love with a human, Del Toro’s fantastical plot allegorically applies to all the undesirables of our past; people dubbed by mainstream society as undeserving of happiness: homosexuals, minorities, the disabled, etc. While it’s not exactly subtle, it’s not trying to be. I could easily imagine this film being set in the present day but by showing us a less understanding and tolerant time, allows the film to draw a parallel between something a contemporary audience would find impossibly uncomfortable and something held to the same standards decades ago. Now, not for a minute am I comparing homosexual relationships, racial prejudices or abandonment of the disabled to falling in love with a fish man but the feelings of disdain projected by others is masterfully executed in a way that only cinema can and offers a crushing portrayal of intolerance and arrogance of established societal norms – which is ultimately fantasy/science fiction’s greatest tool.

While very distinctly a Guillermo Del Toro film, littered with beautiful shadow work, a rich colour palate, clockwork mechanics and things in jars everywhere, The Shape Of Water is visually and tonally reminiscent of La Cité Des Enfants Perdus. A feeling magnified by the deep period-appropriate score from Alexandre Desplat with its beautiful, soulful mix of strings the occasional accordion. On top of that, the direction is second to none, everything runs with precision, the tension builds delightfully and the camera movements are beautiful and clever. While I appreciate there is a fair amount of unseen subtle CGI at work, the production design – from the costumes to the sets, to the stunning amphibian man prosthetics – give the film an ageless quality and a grounding in reality that allows us deeper immersion into the more fanciful elements.

In addition to beautiful visuals and an extremely powerful heart beating at its core, this release is rife with fascinating characters. Seemingly everyone has a story and a personality, all the way from the complex lead to a random man at a bus stop with several balloons and a cake missing a slice; there are potential stories everywhere. I would even go one step further and say there isn’t a single weak component on the acting front, merely a sliding scale in different forms of excellence. I’ll admit, that sounds like hyperbole but it’s genuinely difficult to think of any one performance that felt feeble or out of place. To say Doug Jones’ performance is a graceful exercise in bringing horrific beauty to life is a bit of a moot point, that’s a sentiment which could be said of any of his roles and we can all agree, the man possess a physicality which is frankly unworldly. Then we have Sally Hawkins who is so desperately human and utterly compelling; again, drawing that Jean Pierre Jeunet comparison, she feels very evocative of his quirky, esoterically charming leads. The supports around her are equally masterful from Shannon’s bizarre and intimidating Richard Strickland, Stuhlbarg’s caring but suspicious Dr Hoffstetler, Octavia Spencer’s loveable and affable Zelda Fuller and Richard Jenkins’ timid but honourable neighbour Giles; your heart goes out to all of them.. well, except the military men, obviously – their manner is initially presented as pleasant but they’re ultimately the real monsters.

The only downside I could find is that it didn’t exceed my expectations. This may sound like an odd observation and a purely personal one but if you have any familiarity with or understanding of the influences on Del Toro’s work, you’ll know exactly where and how the entire film is going to develop. As with his last two features (Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak), the pastiches and homage materials are clear and you can generally work out the plot as it’s unfolding. I appreciate that’s almost the point of the film, to emulate and replicate the best elements of what came before, while elevating it into something more but in doing so, you never escape the progressional trappings of the narrative. I would really like to mention something covered in the first few shots of the film but unfortunately I cannot without going into spoiler territory – suffice it to say, I could tell how the film would end based on this one thing.

I can’t imagine this film will be for everyone and the rather visceral, unflinching nature of the violence and sexual content may shock some but for the genuinely radiant love story at the centre, this film is a masterwork.


Release Date:
14th February 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
**Spoilers**
In one of the film’s boldest choices (and there are plenty of bold choices made) Elisa is desperate to convey to the Amphibian Man the importance of his presence in her life. Frustrated and in a clear state of agony of the barrier between them, the lights fade and a spotlight appears on her. Softly, she mouths out sounds, reciting the words of ** from **. The faint singing builds before exploding into a black and white musical number with Elisa in a ballroom gown on an elaborate set, dancing with the Amphibian Man. What should be a completely laugh-out-loud moment is actually an extremely moving one.

Notable Characters:
While everyone shines in their own way, this film wouldn’t exist as it does without the phenomenal pairing of Doug Jones and Sally Hawkins. The pair deliver something challenging, both for themselves as actors and to audiences, foregoing one of an actor’s main tools of conveying feeling, thought, opinion, etc. They also overcome the absurdity factor effortlessly and at no point did I question the relationship between these two.

Highlighted Quote:
“The only thing I recognise when I look in the mirror are these eyes in this old man’s face”

In A Few Words:
“An undeniably beautiful, heartrending love story and one of Del Toro’s most mature releases to date”

Total Score:

5/5

Cinema City Film Quiz #205

[14 January 2018]


Winning Team:
Hungry Hungry Hemsworths
Genre – Chris, Luke and Liam licence themselves for a board game when acting dries up

Runners Up:
We Thor’t Of A Clever Pun But Decided To Keep It Loki
Genre – Liam Hemsworth plays Chris Hemsworth’s brother Luke in a body swap comedy with ghosts
One Out Of Three Ain’t Bad
Genre – Slightly depressing documentary about the Hemsworth brothers
The Special Round Shoulda Been About Hiddleston
Genre – Self-explanatory really
Thor And His Expendable Brothers
Genre – Generic blockbuster
Thor A-Heard A Rush Of Wind
Genre – Super gran who whips Thor’s arse
Mocking Thor: That’s Just Loki
Genre – Homoerotic futuristic rom com
And The Oscar For Shittiest Team Name Goes To..
Genre – Thriller


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What is the name of the theme park in Jurassic World?
JURASSIC WORLD
2. What is the name of the main British secret agent in Dr No?
JAMES BOND
3. How many Bridget Jones films have been made to date?
THREE
4. What colour is Paddington’s uncle’s hat in the film of the same name?
RED
5. Who directed Dunkirk?
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN
6. Who played the role of Captain Phillips in the film of the same name?
TOM HANKS
7. What is the name of Hercules’ love interest in the Disney animated film of the same name?
MEG / MEGARA
8. The following quote is from which film, “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads”?
BACK TO THE FUTURE
9. The characters Jack, Danny and Wendy Torrance all appear in which film?
THE SHINING
10. How many members make up The Avengers central team in the film of the same name?
SIX (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye)


ROUND II: Filming [The Hemsworths]
1. Chris Hemsworth plays the father of which original series character in Star Trek? Leonard McCoy? Spock? James Kirk?
JAMES KIRK
2. What is the subtitle of the sequel to Snow White And The Huntsman? Origins? Winter’s War? And The Ice Queen?
WINTER’S WAR
3. Who directed In The Heart Of The Sea? Ron Howard? Justin Kurzel? Peter Weir?
RON HOWARD
4. How many friends visit the cabin in The Cabin In The Woods? 4? 5? 6?
FIVE
5. What was the main poster tagline for the 2012 remake of Red Dawn? Welcome to the home of the brave? Ready for enemies, foreign and domestic? Desperate times call for desperate measures?
WELCOME TO THE HOME OF THE BRAVE
6. Which of the following did not star in Paranoia with Liam Hemsworth in 2013? Harrison Ford? Gary Oldman? Samuel L Jackson?
SAMUEL L JACKSON
7. How many directors worked on The Hunger Games saga? 2? 3? 4?
TWO (Gary Ross / Francis Lawrence)
8. What is the name of the agency set up by the UN in Independence Day: Resurgence? United Space Defense? Earth Defense Force? Earth Space Defense?
EARTH SPACE DEFENSE
9. In Rush, which Formula One team does Hunt join when Fittipaldi leaves? Ferrari? Lotus? McLaren?
MCLAREN
10. Luke Hemsworth cameos as an Asgardian actor playing Thor in Thor: Ragnarok. True or False?
TRUE


ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Martin Sheen cameos as his character from Apocalypse Now in which Charlie Sheen film?
HOT SHOTS! PART DEUX
2. The following quote is from which film, “Nothing shocks me, I’m a scientist”?
INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM
3. Who directed Pride & Prejudice (2005), Atonement and Pan?
JOE WRIGHT
4. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou was released in which year?
2004
5. Who played the role of Odysseus in Troy?
SEAN BEAN
6. How many people do we see Ripley kill in The Talented Mr Ripley?
THREE (Dickie / Freddie / Peter)
7. The following is the poster tagline for which 2007 film, “Big cops. Small Town. Moderate violence”?
HOT FUZZ
8. Which film starred Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon and Ben Affleck?
GONE GIRL
9. What is the full title of Clint Eastwood’s Sully, starring Tom Hanks?
SULLY: MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON
10. The Truman Show, 12 Years A Slave and Straight Outta Compton all featured which actor?
PAUL GIAMATTI


ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. What is the subtitle for Ghost In The Shell 2? Inhuman? Interference? Innocence?
INNOCENCE
2. Who played the lead roles in Brian De Palma’s 1989 film Casualties Of War? Sean Penn & Michael J Fox? Patrick Swayze & Tim Robbins? Matthew Broderick & Emilio Estevez?
SEAN PENN & MICHAEL J FOX
3. Which of the following Disney animated films has yet to receive a live-action remake? Cinderella? Alice In Wonderland? Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs?
SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS
4. Which of the following did not appear in The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford? Sam Rockwell? Ben Foster? Jeremy Renner?
BEN FOSTER
5. Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, was released in which year? 2015? 2016? 2017?
2015
6. The following is the poster tagline for which film, “Party like a mother?” Big Momma’s House 2? Rough Night? Bad Moms?
BAD MOMS
7. What event uncovers Mothra’s egg in Mothra vs Godzilla? Typhoon? Earthquake? A nuclear bomb test?
TYPHOON
8. The giant bronze statue of Talos attacks the lead characters in which of the following films based on Greek mythology? Jason And The Argonauts? Immortals? Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief?
JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS
9. Who directed Boyhood? Doug Liman? Ron Howard? Richard Linklater?
RICHARD LINKLATER
10. John Williams has composed musical scores for all but three Steven Spielberg films to date. True or False?
TRUE (The Colour Purple, Bridge Of Spies, Ready Player One)


BOUNS IMAGE ROUND
Screenshots: Out Of Africa / Death Becomes Her / Artificial Intelligence / Doubt
Poster: The Deer Hunter
Actor: Meryl Streep


DARKEST HOUR

It Takes The Power Of Leadership To Unite A Nation

Director
Joe Wright

Starring
Gary Oldman
Lily James
Kristin Scott Thomas
Stephen Dillane
Ben Mendelsohn
Ronald Pickup



Set during the early days of World War II, the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlin [Pickup] is being crucified in parliament for his seemingly weak challenging of the Nazi forces sweeping through Europe. Through a vote of no confidence, he is pressured to step down and while personal friend of the King, Lord Halifax [Dillane] seems the right choice, he refuses, leaving the only candidate that both major parties will deal with being Winston Churchill [Oldman]. Churchill is a gruff, rambling oddity with the enormous task of leading the country through an escalating and, from their perspective, failing conflict. With his appointment as Prime Minister confirmed, he sets out leading the country but his unorthodox methods and bullish manner rile his superiors, his colleagues and leaders of other foreign nations. Seemingly, the main question posed by this feature is, will he be able to lead Britain to victory?

I must confess, despite Gary Oldman being one of my all-time favourite actors, I had immediate concerns regarding this release. Owing to the political climate in Britain over the last decade or two (indeed much of the Western world) there has been a worrying rise in adoption and warping of figures and events to instil some nostalgia for a past that never was. And of all the figures of this island’s past, Winston Churchill is one of the trickier, more divisive ones. Up until World War II the man was not exceptionally liked and seen as something of an over-the-hill failure, it’s only because he saw Britain through one of its most desperate times that he is galvanised in the public eye and as such the British public have a split view on the man himself. Subsequently, any major biopic was in clear danger of being jingoistic, flag-waving, patriotic nonsense but to my surprise, much like Dunkirk, there is only a hint of these detrimental elements with a helpful doses of charm and sobering relatability.

As with all biopics, the central performance is paramount and while Oldman may seem like an unorthodox choice, he is absolutely amazing in the role, wonderfully humanising Churchill, elevating him from the caricatures, mythology and propaganda. Part of this complete immersion is achieved by the genuinely breath-taking make-up. All too often ageing prosthetics or altering an actor’s facial contours to mirror that of a historical figure get lost in an uncanny valley, which, while achieving the initial desired effect, takes you out of the story. Oldman’s performance is so blisteringly committed that you often forget about the acting – as it were – and see only the performance. The fact that these methods work equally from extreme distance and under extreme close-up is a genuine testament to the craft. But this is merely one half of the role and it would be all too easy to credit all positives to the external accoutrement. What Oldman brings to this character is far more important, from his diction, the cadence and delivery, his posture and the way he moves, everything is about creating something other than another side of Gary Oldman. The supporting characters largely get short thrift in terms of importance and prominence, settling on either side of a line between those who support or hinder the lead; but this is typical of these features, so there isn’t really much to comment on there. Stephen Dillane delivers with reserved sincerity, as does Ronald Pickup. The two relative standouts for me were Kristin Scott Thomas as Clementine Churchill, the ever constant support and compass and Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI, whose initial contempt for the Prime Minister is palpable but softens over time.

Another delightful surprise was the amount of creativity present. High-profile period pieces almost always excel when it comes to production design elements, such as costumes, locations, set, hair, make-up, etc but on top of that, the nuance of the composition, camera movement and direction was a welcome treat. At the same time, the sound design was all very pleasing, specifically the score, which has a buoyancy to it, despite the subject matter; keeping things relatively light.

This release, however, is not without its flaws and one of the biggest problems is the narrative flow itself. Much like The King’s Speech, Darkest Hour ends without seeing the story to fruition, we celebrate the rise of the man but not the full extent of trials and tribulations he encountered. One could argue that is the unfortunate and restricting nature of cinema (as opposed to serialised television) but while the film doesn’t feel like it drags or lingers on any one superfluous element, what is presented feels like it could be leaner or used the runtime to cover a wider period of time. Furthermore, the film itself never really says much of anything, robbing the film of any tension. It’s very unlikely audiences will side with a Nazi invasion and while Churchill’s foaming fury might come off as overzealous or war-hungry, we know through hindsight that he was right to fight the Nazis rather than appeal to them. But again, this is an unfortunate pitfall of these types of feature.

For someone who expected this to be a dire release, I was honestly shocked to learn that it is a capable, entertaining and extremely well-acted feature and one more than deserving of attention and praise.


Release Date:
12th January 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
When trying to highlight a single scene which encapsulates the wealth of talent involved in making this feature, it’s very easy to point to the scene wherein Churchill is desperate and alone in a very small room, connected by telephone to the American President. His voice shakes, he creaks back and forth in a small wooden chair and all the while the voice on the other end of the crackly phone line regretfully explains he is not in a legal position to assist. The earnest despondency is rather cutting and extremely well shot, edited and scored.

Notable Characters:
One character I haven’t mentioned much at all is that of Churchill’s newly appointed secretary, Elizabeth Layton, played by Lily James. She is obviously the audience surrogate, in the same way that Traudl Junge was in Der Untergang. But unlike Traudl, Layton’s involvement and impact on the story is pretty weak and underdeveloped. Rather than chastise James directly, who performs admirably with what she’s given, the script simply doesn’t give her much in the way of personality or presence.

Highlighted Quote:
“The public need to be led, not misled, not to figure it out for themselves”

In A Few Words:
“A well-handled biopic which largely succeeds because of the components that bring it to life and the cordoned-off section of the subject’s life that is explored”

Total Score:

4/5

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD

J Paul Getty Had A Fortune, Everyone Else Paid The Price

Director
Ridley Scott

Starring
Michelle Williams
Mark Wahlberg
Christopher Plummer
Charlie Plummer
Romain Duris



The story opens in 1973 with the kidnapping of sixteen year old JP “Paul” Getty III played by Charlie Plummer. This news is received in contrasting ways by the boy’s mother and grandfather respectively. His mother, Gail Getty [Williams], initially dismisses the phone call as a flippant joke before the severity of the matter hits home and she pleads that there she cannot pay the $17 million ransom. The boy’s grandfather, JP Getty, the oil tycoon branded as the richest man to ever live (portrayed by Christopher Plummer) on the other hand, dismisses the notification, fixated on the opening market rates. Through flashbacks we learn of the relationship between Paul and his grandfather and the rift that formed between them all in the subsequent years. Ignoring Gail’s calls, Getty appears on national television and explains that he will not pay a penny for his grandson’s return, explaining that if he were to pay up, his other fourteen grandchildren would be targeted. Behind the scenes, Getty hires ex CIA operative Fletcher Chace and tasks him to get his grandson back while keeping Gail occupied and away from him.

This type of release is exactly what one would expect of someone of Scott’s achievements and years. A release firing on all cylinders both in front of and behind the screen. From the opening scenes it is apparent how rich and beautiful this entire film will be thanks to Dariusz Wolski exquisite, lavish, dark cinematography; evocative of films of the period but also reflecting the mood and tonality of the characters occupying the shots. The production design is just as wonderful with a great sense of period from the costumes, to the sets, the hair and make-up, etc. On top of that, the pacing, editing and direction all come together masterfully to create scenes of marvellous tension and unease. In truth, everything Scott should be producing at this stage in his career should have a starting point of at least the technical quality of this release.

Loosely based on real events, All The Money In The World boils down to a very straight forward narrative, almost a taught, tense family drama masquerading as a thriller. This is in no way a slight against the film as what we end up is a pleasing and captivating tale but I think audiences come into this kind of release expecting a series of elaborate twists and turns but often the most engrossing thing can be interesting characters driving a simple plot thread. In that regard, it’s no surprise that the central draw for this film are the performances. Charlie Plummer performs decently as Paul expressing fear and frailty but also a surprising amount of resilience and ingenuity which keeps his character from being a whiney spoilt rich kid that we can neither relate to nor root for. Equally, Romain Duris as Cinquanta, the criminal go-between, gives a great performance feeling indicative of a young Vincent Cassel. But the film is ultimately led by three powerful performances. Michelle Williams plays Gail in a refreshing manner, while she is suffering and displays a drained fragility, the true core of her character is one of strength, intelligence and steadfast determination. There’s also the classic issue of the two Wahlbergs; specifically which one will turn up, the soft-voiced, bemused-looking, underwhelming Wahlberg or the transformative, commanding, outstanding Wahlberg. Thankfully Chace is the latter, a nice pairing for Williams’ role, with equal determination and strength of commitment. It’s all too easy to write a former intelligence agency character as an unstoppable, infallible being but when one is presented with a believable individual who acts with an air of experience and a genuine moral centre, you generate a truly compelling individual. Again, thankfully, Wahlberg was able to channel this with maturity and brings to this life calm, steady individual.

As far as a character study goes, JP Getty is a fascinating individual; a man of money, success and a sociopathic darkness. At times he shows genuine affection for his own flesh and blood and it is evident that he would do anything for their shared happiness and success. Other times he is the most unscrupulously pragmatic individual, always looking for the bottom end, the best deal and the most beneficial move for him and him alone. It takes a very capable actor to channel that complexity and Christopher Plummer is more than a perfect choice for the role. Both stern and warm, calculating and reactionary, in command yet helpless. It is, however, quite impossible to talk about this film without addressing what could have been. I will admit that unless you are specifically looking for the differences between the original shots and the reshoots, you would be hard-pressed to identify the seams but the fact remains that a key role in this film was shot with a completely different individual in place. The only thing I’ll say about Kevin Spacey is that based on the handful of shots from the pulled trailer, under all those questionable prosthetics, they should have cast Plummer from the get go and I can’t imagine any way in which another actor pretending to be a man of his years would be able to improve upon what made it into the final cut.

While it doesn’t break new ground in terms of how this kind of story is told, what is offered up is extremely pleasing, housing some very interesting characterisation and portrayals.


Release Date:
5th January 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
**spoilers**
After Paul is sold to a different organisation, one clearly more experienced, financed and intent on getting their money, he uses an impressive amount of ingenuity to escape his captors. Weak and desperate, he runs along the roadside before being picked up by the police. Feeling the ordeal is finally over, he asks to use a telephone. At this point, the audience will be divided in two, those who know what’s coming and those who don’t; either way, the execution is crushing enough that one is not robbed of satisfaction. Getting through to his mother, Paul asks where he is but before he can relay any useful information, his captors appear and hang the phone up, as it is immediately evident that the police are being paid off by the mafia.

Notable Characters:
As much as this film gets right there are a few glaring issues which bring it down from a five out of five – from the occasional convenient development to the lack of originality, rarely stepping outside of the genre trappings. One of the biggest points of neglect is the role of Paul’s father, John Paul Getty Jr. I’ll admit there isn’t much space in the runtime to really analyse who this man is and what happened to him but his inclusion ranges from unimportant to pivotal, to the point that, while he’s admittedly a pawn, his presence is unusual and feels underutilised.

Highlighted Quote:
“There’s a purity in things that I have never found in people”

In A Few Words:
“A very capable and pleasing classic thriller with standout central performances, muddied only by minor infractions and developments behind the scenes”

Total Score:

4/5

Reviews 2018

[01 August 2018] Ant-Man And The Wasp (2018)

[25 July 2018] Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

[06 July 2018] Incredibles 2 (2018)

[18 June 2018] Ocean’s 8 (2018)

[06 June 2018] Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

[24 May 2018] Solo (2018)

[15 May 2018] Deadpool 2 (2018)

[26 April 2018] Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

[10 April 2018] Mary And The Witch’s Flower [Meari To Majo No Hana メアリと魔女の花] (2017)

[05 April 2018] A Quiet Place (2018)

[30 March 2018] Isle Of Dogs (2018)

[28 March 2018] Ready Player One (2018)

[23 March 2018] A Wrinkle In Time (2018)

[22 March 2018] Pacific Rim Uprising (2018)

[14 March 2018] Tomb Raider (2018)

[12 March 2018] Annihilation (2018)

[13 February 2018] Black Panther (2018)

[05 February 2018] I, Tonya (2017)

[02 February 2018] Phantom Thread (2017)

[19 January 2018] Coco (2017)

[18 January 2018] The Post (2017)

[15 January 2018] The Shape Of Water (2017)

[12 January 2018] Darkest Hour (2017)

[04 January 2018] All The Money In The World (2017)