Movie Review – I Am Paul Walker

The life of the late Paul Walker is told plainly in Adrian Buitenhuis’ new documentary.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Zachary Cruz-Tan

We all know of Paul Walker’s achievements as an actor, having starred in some of the most successful movies of our time. Some of us may also know that he was deeply fascinated by marine life and the preservation of the ocean. Maybe even fewer might know he was an avid car collector, a pricey hobby that turned the circumstances of his death into tragic irony. He seemed like a great guy, genuine, level-headed. I Am Paul Walker, the new documentary by Adrian Buitenhuis, recounts the man and the many things he did, though not always in exciting fashion.

It’s a real shame, because Mr. Walker was a complex figure, at least as detailed by the many relatives and friends who speak during the movie. He was primarily devoted to surfing, having grown up along the Californian coast, but his interests extended beyond the waves.

As a young boy, he was handsome and charismatic. He landed a few early acting roles alongside Michael Landon and Josh Brolin on Highway to Heaven. Then he decided to jeopardise his career by returning to his studies. He always dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. Then he acted again, this time as a strapping adult, and before he knew it he was a megastar, pulled away from the seas six months at a time.

He made millions very quickly but refused to succumb to the Hollywood life. Instead he’d vacation up in snowy mountains, go diving, wrestle Great Whites or revisit his love of surfing. The key to his appeal is that he never lost sight of who he was, even when fame propelled him above his reality.

All this is told simply and with great efficiency, but the movie is incredibly basic. It begins with Walker as a teen in 1988 and ends in 2013 with tears and regret. There’s home footage, standard interviews, serviceable music. Occasionally there’s a clip from one of his movies.

He strikes me as a man who always went back to his childhood, even when money and women flowed like a river around him. He treaded the line between fame and obscurity. Shouldn’t he deserve, I don’t know, something more than this film? For the life of me I can’t identify anything wrong with I Am Paul Walker. It’s perfectly vanilla. It tells the story it needs to and does it professionally. I’m just not sure it’s interesting enough. It needs to take risks, like he did.

I Am Paul Walker is available in Australian cinemas from 21 September 2018 

Image courtesy of The Backlot Films 

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Movie Review – McQueen

Alexander McQueen was a famed fashion designer who sadly took his own life in 2010. The documentary McQueen explores the enigma of this creative genius and the path that led him to despair and loneliness.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Elle Cahill

McQueen follows the short and tragic life of fashion designer Alexander McQueen, from his start as a tailor, all the way through his incredible shows and partnerships with major labels, until his death in 2010. It examines where his influences and inspirations came from, as well as the events that led him to suicide.

The documentary is not only for his fans, but also for those who are interested in visionaries of the modern world. McQueen was well-known for his daring take on fashion that made strong commentary on aspects of society. The documentary explores where McQueen got his ideas from, and how he translated this into runway fashion, with a determination to always top his last show.

Through the use of interviews with people who were close to McQueen, we begin to get an idea of the man who frequently shied away from the spotlight. Behind the scenes footage of his runway shows help to create an image of the chaotic world that he operated within, and personal videos and photographs of him also give a rare insight into the enigma that was McQueen.

As the documentary moves on, it slowly grows darker as the pressure of fame and fitting in to the modelling world began to impact McQueen. It also shows how fleeting life can be, and after a series of deaths of close loved ones, it all proved too much for McQueen.

McQueen is a brilliant documentary about an innovative fashion designer who was taken from this world too soon. Directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui have done a great job showcasing McQueen’s talent, while also exploring the underbelly of fame and the fashion industry.

McQueen is available in Australian cinemas from September 6 2018. 

Image courtesy of Madman Entertainment and © Salon Galahad Ltd 2018

 

Part 1: Revelation Perth International Film Festival 2018

The Revelation Perth International Film Festival is back for 2018! Screening from July 5-18, this is your chance to check out the latest and greatest in independent cinema. Featuring films and documentaries from Australia and all over the world, here’s a snippet of what’s on offer! Stay tuned for another sneak peak next week!

Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion and Disco
Documentary
USA

Sex, fashion and disco – need we say anymore?

Elle Cahill

Revelation FF Antonio Lopez July 2018
Sex, Fashion and Disco chronicles the crazy, wild ride that was fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez’s career. The documentary features interviews from some heavyweights in the fashion and film industry such as Grace Coddington (American Vogue creative director) and Jessica Lange (American Horror Story), as well as wild stories about Karl Lagerfield, Jerry Hall, Grace Jones and Andy Warhol.

Tales are told, and old times are reminisced upon with joy and laughter from an era when sexuality was an experiment and drugs went hand-in-hand with the fashion industry. There are some poignant moments, such as the racism issue in America that drove Lopez away in the late 60’s, and the impact that the AIDs epidemic had on the fashion industry that brought about a sense of seriousness to the documentary, but director James Crump doesn’t delve too deeply into these matters.

Sex, Fashion and Disco is intended to take the audience on a mad trip back in time to a period when irresponsibility was to be favoured, and the fashion industry was at its peak, and it certainly achieves this.


More Human Than Human
Documentary
Netherlands

What does it mean to live in the age of intelligent machines? Two documentarians set out to find out.

Rhys Pascoe

Revelation FF More Human Than Human July 2018
For over a century, science-fiction cinema has heralded a future populated with synthetic robots and artificial intelligence, from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049. In their 78-minute documentary More Human Than Human, filmmakers Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting attempt to condense this abundance of ideas into a single streamlined premise; could a robot replace a filmmaker?

In partnership with a robotics lab, Pallotta and Wolting set to work rigging up a ‘camera bot’ that can read faces, frame its subject and pose questions to the ‘interviewee’, which in this case is Pallotta. In parallel to this, the documentarians scour the globe for case studies relating to the current state of artificial intelligence, conducting interviews and learning more about current innovations in the field.

While this pattern – cutting between case studies and the unfolding lab project – helps to structure the film, the two strands don’t always mesh seamlessly. While the main premise is interesting, it doesn’t have the same pull as the varied experiments that are touched on to flesh out the runtime.

All told, this tidy film has something to say about a wide range of technological marvels, and should make even the most ardent technophile feel a little on edge next time they boot up their smartphone or laptop.


Lost Gully Road
Feature Film
Australia

A film about a girl on the run, a bag of money, a spiritual entity, some shady side characters and some flickering lights… confused yet?

Elle Cahill

Revelation FF Lost Gully Road

On the run, Lucy (Adele Perovic) goes into hiding in an isolated house in the middle of a forest. As the days trickle by, she quickly descends into boredom, with her only form of entertainment coming from the once a day phone call from her sister to give her an update on the “situation”. A spiritual entity soon makes its presence known, further adding to Lucy’s paranoia and the feeling of isolation.

This spiritual entity is portrayed in a very similar way to Olivier Assayas 2016’s Personal Shopper, and is further emphasised through flickering lights and voyeuristic POV shots, but it doesn’t quite achieve the thrill or scariness that I think was intended.

Perovic does well with the material provided, particularly during her interactions with the spiritual entity and the physicality she brings to those scenes. Without giving too much more away, director Donna McRae has attempted to use Lost Gully Road to comment on the female experience in a male-dominated world, and the issue of consent. Unfortunately for me, the film doesn’t quite hit the mark, but I can understand what McRae was trying to achieve.


[Censored]
Documentary
Australia

An Australian documentarian goes looking for shocking material of old. Surprisingly, she’s upset when she’s shocked by it…

Corey Hogan

Revelation FF censored July 2018
[Censored] is the hour-long final product of Sari Braithwaite’s delve into Canberra’s extensive archive of clips cut from international films by Australian censors between 1951 and 1978. She presents her findings as an essay documentary and think-piece, slicing thematically linked clips together and intercutting with the rules and regulations of the Australian Censorship Board, commentating with her own opinion on what was deemed unacceptable for audiences back in the day, and what would surely pass without the bat of an eyelash in more modern, unshackled times.

Cinephiles and historians will no doubt revel in the mouth-watering smorgasbord of never-before-seen clips surgically removed from hundreds of films of the era, ranging from timeless classics like Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, to lesser-known gems and even a (potentially) educational video featuring a childbirth. Braithwaite states upon commencing that her goal was to liberate these filmmakers’ artistic visions from the conservative fuddy-duddies intent on muffling creativity. At first, she is true to her word, highlighting the ridiculousness of cutting simple scenes of kisses between couples and verbal arguments that drop a few F-bombs. Soon though, she begins to question the necessity of sex scenes, nudity, and violence – in particular violence against women – and it is up to us as an audience to decide whether we agree with her more contemporary opinion, or if we can appreciate these clips as a time capsule in the context of their films and period.

Personally, I found Braithwaite’s approach decidedly closed-minded and loaded with bias, but no doubt there will be a large crowd who agree with and find poignancy in how off-put she is by the shocking content here. Considering the amount of these taboos we see unabashedly in everything we watch these days, perhaps it’s consuming so much distressing media at once that had Braithwaite sympathising with the censors. However you feel about the topic [Censored] is certainly provocative in one way or the other.

Images courtesy of Revelation Perth International Film Festival 2018

Movie Review – Tea with the Dames

In Tea with the Dames, Roger Michell gives us a snapshot into the lives of four impressive icons of the stage and screen.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Zachary Cruz-Tan 

Roger Michell’s Tea with the Dames is pretty much what you’d expect. It is a cordial documentary spent in the company of four utterly charming and gracefully weathered dames of the British Empire, who have spent their lives on the stage and screen and now appear on screen once again to speak candidly over cups of tea.

The ladies are Joan Plowright, who married the invincible Laurence Olivier in 1961 and retired in 2014 when her declining eyesight made acting impossible; Eileen Atkins, who surrendered a career in dance to recite Shakespeare; Maggie Smith, remembered by many as Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter movies; and Judi Dench, who reached cinema late in life and then gobbled it up.

According to an early blurb, all four women meet regularly to brush up on each other’s lives. This time, they’ve let the cameras and microphones in, an allowance they start regretting before the afternoon’s over.

It’s clear almost at once that they are immaculately private women. Their first conversation is awkward and quiet, with careful side-glances and uncomfortable silences. But as the day draws on and the talking moves from room to room, conversations begin to flow, sporadically prompted by Michell somewhere off-screen.

The women cover nothing of any real importance. Nothing that cannot be read off their Wikipedia pages or learned from old footage. They discuss their early days at The Old Vic, the magic and woes of marriage, growing old, the burden of superstardom. Sometimes they curse and other times they tease one another. You can tell they’ve had these conversations before, many times, and are tired of having to repeat themselves.

But they are tremendous sports, and brighten the camera as only such heroes can. It is precisely that they’ve known each other for decades that makes Tea with the Dames such a fascinating and enjoyable experience. Sometimes we’re not even interested in what they’re talking about, but the language they employ and the humour with which they deliver it endear us to their shared experiences.

There’s not much else to say about a documentary in which the characters do nothing but talk. I can only express how I felt while watching them, and I think I had a smile across my face for most of it. I certainly laughed a lot. And if you have an appreciation for beautiful, fiercely forthright ladies who know how to command the screen, you will too.

Tea with the Dames is available in Australian cinemas from June 7 

Image courtesy of Transmission Films

Aardman Animations – The Kings Of Claymation

Elle Cahill 

“Get off me cheese! Get off!”

When I was young, my mum would jokingly say this line while flapping her hands at us kids when we touched something we shouldn’t have. Needless to say, I was brought up on a healthy diet of Aardman Animations, first with the Wallace and Gromit short animations, and then their first feature film Chicken Run  – which is also endlessly quote-worthy.

Now, nearly 30 years since they first released Wallace and Gromit’s A Grand Day Out, their latest creation Early Man is due to hit cinemas. Despite its humble beginnings in Bristol, UK in 1972, Aardman Animations has continued to make breakthroughs, not only for stop-motion animation, but also for computer animated films, commercials and television programmes, all whilst staying true to their English roots and love of clay.

Founded by Peter Lord and David Sproxton, it wasn’t until 1976 that they produced their first piece of professional work. They continued to do small commissioned pieces of animation work for television programmes until 1989. After recruiting Nick Park in 1985, they were commissioned by Channel Four Television to create a series of five-minute animations called Lip Synch. This inspired the creation of similar content using clay figurines and stop-motion, including Park’s 1990 Academy Award-winning short film Creature Comforts.

From this point Aardman Animations cemented themselves as the leader in stop-motion animation. Their second Wallace and Gromit short film in 1993 The Wrong Trousers also went on to win the 1994 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, as did the third film A Close Shave which took home the same award in 1996.

Aardman Animations have continued to go from strength to strength. Whilst their output doesn’t match that of larger animation studios like Pixar and DreamWorks, they have continued to have box office success with each new offering – well, with the exception of 2006’s Flushed Away, but let’s sweep that one under the rug.

Aardman aren’t afraid of embracing new technology, and despite their love of the traditional clay aesthetic, the company’s willingness to test and adapt to new technology has kept them in front of their competitors. This can be seen more in their advertising division where, for example, they recently made VR projects for Google and BBC. Once tested in their advertising work, they will often integrate new technology into the making of their feature films in any way they can.

It’s this natural embrace of new technology that has also helped Aardman to be fearless in their different business pursuits. Apart from being the first British content producers to partner with iTunes, they also established a deal with YouTube where they made all their work available on the video sharing site, and in return YouTube regularly monitors and removes any videos of Aardman productions that aren’t uploaded by them. Another business milestone for Aardman was when they managed to crack the Chinese market in 2010 with their popular children’s show Shaun the Sheep, despite China’s resistance to Western content.

Aardman Animations continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible with stop-motion animation with each new film. They currently hold three Guinness World Records, including the record for the largest stop-motion animation set, and most plasticine used in a feature film (Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit used 2,844.9 kg of plasticine). To this day, Lord and Sproxton continue to have large creative roles in Aardman content and are the main driver’s behind ensuring that Aardman are always embracing new and upcoming technology. This formula certainly seems to be working for them, so it will be interesting to see where Aardman continues to move in the future.

Image courtesy of Aardman Animations & United International Pictures from Wallace & Gromit’s The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005). Source: IMDb 

Movie Review – Human Flow

An emotional rollercoaster on a treacherous journey; Human Flow puts a face to a worldwide epidemic, tracking various groups of migrants around the globe.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Elle Cahill

In his latest documentary Human Flow, famed Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei explores the growing epidemic of displaced migrants around the world. With Weiwei and his crew right on the front lines, we are thrust deep into the midst of the global refugee crisis, gaining access to the stories of individuals we would normally only see on the other side of the fence.

As you would expect, Human Flow isn’t exactly easy viewing. It’s heavy stuff that gives a voice to those who are desperately seeking a better life. When these people reach a dead end in their journey, and begin to doubt whether they should have risked everything to flee in the first place, it’s absolutely tragic. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of children involved in these journeys, and seeing them behave as everyday kids in horrible conditions really drives home the universality of being a kid.

But it’s not only it’s subject matter that makes Human Flow such a powerful and emotionally driven documentary; it’s also beautifully crafted, with stunning cinematography that captures all angles of the refugee lifestyle. Drone shots encapsulate the harsh landscapes and provide an inside look to war torn areas not often seen on film, while steadicam shots show the sheer size of the crowds journeying cross-country. There’s even footage from Weiwei’s phone that provides a more intimate perspective of the camp life.

Weiwei appears on camera himself during a couple of interactions with his interviewees, and even in these brief glimpses we get the sense that he genuinely cares about these people and this rampant issue.

Human Flow‘s only downfall is in trying to pack too much into two and a half hours. It offers an in-depth look into the international refugee crisis, but it’s almost too in-depth. We get whizzed around the world without being given an opportunity to take a break and really digest what we’ve seen, all of which culminates in a somewhat rushed conclusion.

Although it packs in too much, it still gets across its core messages and demonstrates there is no end in sight for the issues faced by countless refugees. Despite its lengthy run-time, it’s a real eye-opener as to why people all over the world are risking their lives to flee their countries. I’d encourage you to go see it for that education alone.

Human Flow is available in Australian cinemas from March 15 

Image courtesy of Roadshow Films

The Changing Face of the Oscars

Michael Philp 

The Oscars have changed remarkably over the past decade. Since the expansion of the Best Picture slot to include up to 10 nominees, there’s been a marked increase in the inclusion – and celebration – of films centred on diversity. This movement kicked up a notch last year with Moonlight’s win, but the Weinstein scandal last October appeared to throw those efforts into sharp relief. Last Monday, it was suddenly a lot more obvious that white men were winning, or even being nominated for, an award over their “diverse” colleagues.

For many of us, this year’s awards felt caught between the Academy’s old habits and the new wave of socially conscious, diversity-focused filmmaking. The Shape of Water won Best Picture, but it was up against mediocre Oscar bait that shouldn’t have had a chance in hell – namely The Post, but also Darkest Hour, and to a lesser extent Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. In previous years those films would have been serious contenders, and Darkest Hour probably would have won, but in 2018 the Academy has begun to move on from the kind of stodgy biopics that have been their bread-and-butter for the past century.

But of course, they haven’t entirely moved on, creating the clear division mentioned above. Everyone knew Gary Oldman was going to win Best Actor, even if the film around him wasn’t up to snuff. “It was a legacy award” went the chant, while an undefined contingent wondered when we might stop needing to say such things, and instead get to celebrate the work that we actually liked.

Which brings me to the films that sat right in the middle of the divide – the ones that half of us liked and half of us railed against. More specifically, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Our review praised it, but, personally, I found it distasteful and crass. No matter what you think of the film, it was fairly obvious why it was up there – if not, the “Times Up” pins, shining brightly against black suits, were a pretty good hint.

It is my sincerest hope that in the future we won’t need such glaring political statements to consider a film worthy of recognition. In the same vein, I hope next year we won’t have to take a mediocre biopic seriously. Beyond that, I hope we’ll eventually move past diversity showcases like Shape of Water (politics is fine, but “diversity is good” feels like such a no-brainer that I hope we outgrow it quickly). These aspects of the ceremony already feel outdated – there are richer conversations to be had, the Academy just needs to grow into them. For instance, in the future, we’ll hopefully see more films from people of Asian and Indian backgrounds. Statistically speaking they should be represented far better than they are, maybe one day we’ll examine that problem.

The divisions that we’re experiencing right now aren’t cause for alarm; they’re part of a natural process of correction. It is not that we shouldn’t celebrate white stories, but that they should have to earn their place, rather than being nominated by default. The Oscars are entering a period where they are hungry for exciting ideas from fresh filmmakers. They no longer blindly reflect the movie-going public, but are instead interested in how films function as modern art. You can criticise that approach as elitist, but I would urge you to recognise that the ultimate goal hasn’t changed – it is still to tell stories of everyday people doing extraordinary things. The difference is that the definition of everyday people has been broadened to include groups other than white men. What a world.

Image courtesy of Kevin Mazur/WireImage
Source: http://oscar.go.com/photos/2018/red-carpet-arrivals-2018/90th-annual-academy-awards-arrivals-129

90th Academy Awards

Zachary Cruz-Tan & Rhys Graeme-Drury

Another year, another predictably endless cascade of complaints. Such is the Academy Awards, which this year was more sullen and plain than any other I can recall. Jimmy Kimmel reprised his role as host and deftly shifted the focus of his comedy away from politics (apart from a few initial jabs at Harvey Weinstein) to the Oscars itself – promising a jet ski and vacation to the winner with the shortest speech – and channelled much of his humorous energy on Christopher Plummer, who of course absorbed it with immaculate sportsmanship.

Female empowerment was once again a highlight, with Best Actress winner Frances McDormand commanding the stage and inviting all the female nominees to rise with her. There was also an alarming amount of female presenters, as if the Academy’s idea of equality is to tilt the scale completely in the other direction. But in the midst of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, it was lovely to once again see stunningly simple fashion on display, particularly on Eiza González and in the elegance of Laura Dern (I’d love to know whose curtains Zendaya ripped and threw on herself).

As always, some winners were justified while others were not, and some nominees were completely forgotten altogether. Nine films were nominated for Best Picture, of which perhaps five were truly deserving. I was surprised that Kathryn Bigelow’s utterly masterful Detroit was not favoured in place of Joe Wright’s lukewarm Darkest Hour, a major misstep by the Academy who could’ve made further history by including two women in the Best Director category. In the end, The Shape of Water nudged out Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri for the trophy and its director, Guillermo del Toro, nabbed his very first Oscar.

Oh, and you know who also nabbed a first Oscar? Kobe Bryant. Yes, Kobe Bryant the sportsman, for his contributions to the animated short film Dear Basketball. He now has more Oscars than Alfred Hitchcock and Ralph Fiennes put together. It was the most shocking part of an event that was otherwise rather predictable and safe. But with so much going on right now, perhaps predictable and safe was the right way to go.

Of the winners, none was more deserving than cinematographer Roger Deakins, winning his first statuette at his scarcely believable fourteenth attempt. Taking to the stage with a shaky rock star swagger that wouldn’t look amiss on Mick Jagger, Deakins’ work has been overlooked by the Academy for far too long, and while a lot of the attention was heaped upon hot young newcomers like Greta Gerwig, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that some veterans who were long overdue an award didn’t go home empty-handed. Alongside del Toro and Deakins, Sam Rockwell was honoured for his performance in Three Billboards and of course, British thespian Gary Oldman, whose tearful Best Actor acceptance speech capped off a season filled with accolades.

Surprisingly, 2018 saw the Academy steer away from what one would consider typical ‘Oscar bait’. Aside from Oldman’s bellowing Prime Minister, the bulk of the wins went to genre films and filmmakers such as Get Out, del Toro, Jordan Peele and Blade Runner 2049. Has there ever been a year where genre fare has been so strongly represented?

All told, the 90th Academy Awards were a rather forgettable affair; Kimmel continues to be a solid host, the major categories were under lock and key well before the opening curtain and, with no major gaffes like 2017’s La La Land kerfuffle, the whole thing felt rather pedestrian. Still, maybe that’s what the industry needs; for the focus to remain firmly on the art, rather than controversy and calamity.

Image courtesy of Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com

Most Anticipated Films of 2018

Josip Knezevic

2018 is set to be a very impressive year! While I could write a small novel on the potential highlights, here’s just a few of 2018’s most anticipated films.

Avengers: Infinity War

You can’t talk about the year’s most anticipated films without mentioning what will most likely be the most ambitious Marvel film to date. Fans can’t seem to get enough of this stuff, happily rocking up to the cinemas year in and year out. While almost every Marvel film after the first Avengers was one too many for me, I’m secretly hoping Infinity War will bring back that giddy feeling I had while watching the original.

Infinity War faces a big challenge in having to balance a wide range of leads and personalities, with everyone from the Black Panther to Guardian of the Galaxy‘s Rocket Raccoon to be featured. If directors Anthony and Joe Russo get it right, as they did with Captain America: Civil War, then we’re in for a treat. Let’s pray they can pull it off!

The Predator

Before I went digging through the Internet to put together this list, I wasn’t even aware that a Predator (1987) sequel was headed our way. With Shane Black taking on writing and directing duties, I’m pretty excited to see the resurgence of my favourite action film, especially after the woeful 2010 reboot Predators. There isn’t a lot of detail out there on where the film intends to go in terms of narrative, but nevertheless, this is easily the most anticipated action flick of the year. Please be good. Please be good. Please be good.

The Irishman

Featuring the return of Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel and Al Pacino, The Irishman could be the most epic gangster movie of the past decade. Based on the life of mob hitman Frank Sheeran, The Irishman is set to be Netflix’s largest ever investment in a feature film. Considering Netflix recently put $90 million into Will Smith‘s action flop Bright that doesn’t mean much, but it will be interesting to see whether Netflix opts to do a cinematic release, particularly given Scorsese’s reputation. Either way, hopefully The Irishman will be everything we’ve been wanting to see since 2006’s The Departed, even if it doesn’t ended up reaching us until 2019.

The Incredibles 2

February 2018 - Most Anticipated Incredibles 2
With the original released way back in 2004, all of us are wondering why it’s taken this long for the arrival of a sequel. The Incredibles left us hanging in an unresolved battle, making a sequel an obvious move, and yet unnecessary instalments for other films have instead been pushed out in the meantime (e.g. Cars 3). Not much is known about what the second film will entail, but that hasn’t stopped me from setting my expectations incredibly high… here’s hoping it will reach those and then some.

Untitled Deadpool Sequel

Though the first Deadpool was not without it’s flaws, it was a gigantic leap in breaking down Hollywood studio barriers to releasing an R-Rated film. I can’t wait to see our favourite narcissistic anti-hero take to the screen again this year. What made the original so successful was its brand of humour, and its clear Ryan Reynolds knows it and enjoys it just as much as we all do.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Take one look at Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) in character as Freddie Mercury and you’ll be immediately hooked by the prospect of this biopic. Though production has been stalled and in contention for several years, with Sacha Baron Cohen showing interest in the lead role at one point, Bohemian Rhapsody is looking to be the biopic of 2018. Set to take place throughout the years of Queen’s early days up until their triumphant performance at 1985’s Live aid, let’s hope this film does the late front man proud.

 

Solo: A Star Wars Movie

Yes, another Star Wars movie is upon us. Given the polarising reactions of the last film, and the growing saturation of the series, my feelings towards this next one are mixed. On one hand, the character of Han Solo is by far the most enjoyable and fun to watch, plus this latest film features Donald Glover as a young Lando Calrissian. But when all is said and done, we’ll probably just get yet another Star Wars flick that fails to live up to the original trilogy.

 

Isle of Dogs

February 2018 - Most Anticipated Isle of Dogs

Wes Anderson. Japan. Dogs…

Isle of Dogs has me sold from the get go. I can’t wait for this one to be released – the thumbnail for the trailer alone looks like an art piece with various meticulously dressed dogs. Everything about it signals Anderson’s style, making it the most anticipated independent feature for 2018.

Images courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures & 20th Century Fox 

Classic Review – The Seventh Seal (1957)

Sixty years on, The Seventh Seal remains one of Sweden’s proudest treasures and one of cinema’s greatest films.

Zachary Cruz-Tan

The seventh seal refers of course to verses from the Book of Revelation in which God remains silent in heaven before judgement descends upon Jerusalem. And so, The Seventh Seal, one of Ingmar Bergman’s most lasting films, is about a knight who has just returned from the Crusades and grows bitter because God, in all His infinite wisdom, refuses to answer his prayers. It’s an uncompromising film that explores silence, loneliness, crisis of faith and perhaps most importantly, death.

In the film, death takes the form of a cloaked man with a cold white face, played with a cool detachment by Bengt Ekerot. He tells the knight, Antonius Block (Max von Sydow), that he has been at his side “for a long time” and has come to finally claim him. Antonius, stubborn and curious, invites Death to a game of chess, providing one of cinema’s most iconic and enduring images. If the knight prevails, death will pass him by. The game is returned to throughout the movie.

It’s fitting that death should hover over life in the shape of a lanky man during the period in which The Seventh Seal is set. The mood is hopelessly grim. The Crusades in the Holy Land are putting everyone’s faith in doubt, as is the Black Death, which is ravaging most of Europe.

It is a time when no one has the medical expertise to explain the plague, and so the afflicted, along with those who survive in small groups, believe it is the Lord’s reckoning. There is a scene in which Antonius and his squire, Jöns (the well-established Gunnar Björnstrand), attend an outdoor matinee that is interrupted by a procession of flagellants, and the monk who leads it suddenly erupts into a tirade of condemnation. It is a powerful scene that quite clearly depicts a religion on the brink of implosion. In almost every instance, Bergman reminds us that death is inescapable.

The core of The Seventh Seal lies in the fact that Antonius knows what Bergman is trying to teach us. He plays chess with Death not to escape his fate, but to postpone it, so that he can fulfil one good deed before the end and find meaning in his life. This he does, in the form of the actor Jof (Nils Poppe) and his innocent family, whose lives Antonius bargains for. In this way he is very much like Kanji Watanabe, the old man in Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru (1952), who learns he has cancer and decides to perform one significant act before he dies.

Bergman, who grew up under the strict fist of his religious father, would continue to deal with faith and God well into the latter half of his career, with films like The Virgin Spring (1960) and Through a Glass Darkly (1961). But The Seventh Seal remains his most immediate confrontation with God. It made stars of Max von Sydow and Bibi Andersson (who plays Jof’s wife and was dating Bergman at the time), and is widely considered one of the finest films ever made despite falling into obscurity in recent years.

Today it lives on in tributes and parodies, like the pictures of Charlie Chaplin and Michael Curtiz. Images of a scythe-wielding, hooded Grim Reaper can be found everywhere, from movies by Woody Allen to Peter Hewitt, the latter of whom quite memorably made Death play Twister. But it’s a little sad that Seventh Seal has been diluted for comedy. Here is a movie made very much in the mind of its director, filled with all his doubts. The magic of The Seventh Seal is that by the end, there is no closure, not for Bergman, not for us, and certainly not for Antonius Block. Such is faith.

Image courtesy of Roadshow Entertainment, IMDb & Svensk Filmindustri (SF)