Victoria and Abdul – Brand New Trailer!

After Elizabeth II, Queen Victoria is probably Britain’s most beloved monarch. With a reign that spanned almost as long as our current ruler, and overseeing a large portion of the Industrial Revolution, she was a woman of many talents and opinions, as well as having a no nonsense attitude that riled up many of her advisers.

The trailer for Victoria and Abdul attempts to capture that opinion of her, whilst also trying to inject several veins of humour into someone who many people view as a dour Queen.

The film itself tells the story of Abdul, a young man from India who is sent to Britain in order to present the Queen with a gift from colonised India, only for him to start working in the Palace’s employ and eventually becoming Victoria’s friend.

The film claims to be based on a true story, but that ultimately remains to be seen…

Victoria and Abdul is in cinemas September 2017!

Wilson – Review

The problem with Wilson, the second of Daniel Clowes’ graphic novels to be turned into a motion picture – his Ghost World was filmed by Terry Zwigoff in 2001- is that its curmudgeonly hero, known only by one name and played by Woody Harrelson, is essentially unrooted in recognisable reality. Wilson lives alone with his dog and has rejected the idea that life can deliver upon the promise of youth. Instead, he mocks strangers who pet his dog instead of talking to him and seats himself next to people just to start a conversation. Wilson was married once but his wife, Pippi, left him and had an abortion. Wilson only has one friend, but he is moving away to St Louis. Wilson bonds with a disgruntled shopper at a pet store and bumps her car to get a date. She rejects him, but then he gets another date, Alta (Margo Martindale) whom he prejudges on the basis of her looks. He would rather be with a beautiful person who is screwed up rather than an adjusted person who has made her peace with life.

There is no shortage of incident in Wilson as he sits by his father’s death bed and watches him pass, tries to connect with an old school buddy, Olson (David Warshofsky) who is more screwed up than he is and drives in the middle lane in an old station wagon, annoying fellow motorists. Wilson doesn’t like the internet – though he doesn’t read books or watch TV either. However, Alta shows him the benefits of the triple-w, finding his ex-wife’s sister and starting him down the path of locating his ex-wife (Laura Dern) whom he imagines is still turning tricks on the street.

When he meets Pippi, who has changed her name to Lynn and is working in a restaurant, he makes a life-changing discovery, one which I am not tempted to spoil.

Wilson’s desire to connect drives the film along – it packs a lot into 94 minutes – and it gets him into trouble. However, it plays like a false concept. Why can’t Wilson be properly counter-cultural? How does he pay for food and utilities? If he doesn’t need to work but loves both company and community, why does he not volunteer in a soup kitchen? Wilson’s narration book-ends the film but he is unreliable. Although he doesn’t admit it, he enjoys being a provocateur and is addicted to upsetting the people around him. Even when he tries to be convivial, it sounds like an insult.

Appearing in almost every scene, Harrelson tackles each set piece as if gnawing vigorously at a chew toy – and he gets through quite a few, metaphorically speaking. It is a committed performance – critic code for saying he doesn’t ever make Wilson seem lovable – but he doesn’t have much competition. At one point, we see Pippi-Lynn fight with her WASP-ish sister (Cheryl Hines) – punches are thrown, crockery broken – and we ask ourselves ‘is this entertainment?’

Director Craig Johnson has greater tonal control over this material than he showed in his previous film, The Skeleton Twins, but at best the film is only good for a few mild chuckles. Wilson is given a second chance – he loved his dog unconditionally, after all – and the film goes into interesting darker territory in the fourth act. The weird message of the movie is that for non-violent folks with boundary issues, prison can work wonders. This is not feel-good stuff.

Wilson is out 9th June

Chris Pine – Wonder Woman Interview

It has become one of the biggest hyped films of the year. Following on from a tepid marketing campaign, controversial screenings (more on that later,) and great reviews for a DC film, Wonder Woman is now an exciting and kick-arse film that we can’t wait to see.

The film revolves around a young warrior princess who is asked to help fight in World War 1 after the battle invades her home island.

With Gal Gadot and Chris Pines, directed by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman is a much watch film.

To celebrate the release of Wonder Woman, here’s a fantastic interview with lead actor Chris Pine!

What previous exposure did you have to the world of Wonder Woman?

None, really.  I often find the best thing you can do is to treat the script as your bible.  The architect of that bible is essentially your director saying, “This is the story I want to get across.”  My job is to fall in love with Diana / Wonder Woman, and that’s what I tried to do on screen.  Which wasn’t all that hard.

What drew you to the project and character?

What drew me to Wonder Woman was our director, Patty Jenkins.  When I first met with Patty, we had a two-hour conversation about everything, from film to ‘80s pop culture, and I just fell in love with her.  I thought her take on the material and her energy was exactly what I wanted to be involved with, and I signed up because of her.

What did Patty tell you about your character, Steve Trevor?

She told me what she wanted the character to be, and how she wanted me to play off of Gal, both of which I enjoyed and aligned with my strengths.  I thought I could bring something to the table.

Once you started filming, how did you find Patty to work with?

Patty is highly, highly facile at reading and communicating human psychology, which is to say she’s a great actor’s director.  For me at least, that’s the hunt you have to go on, because film is a director’s medium.  So you have to find someone you can trust in a deep way, above and beyond how they’re going to put an image together. They must also clue in to how you work to get the best out of you. That’s a very rare quality but Patty has it.

 What can you tell us about Steve Trevor?

Steve Trevor is an American pilot and spy working on behalf of the English forces to penetrate the German high command.  He comes across a very dangerous weapon, which he smuggles out of enemy territory.  In the midst of all this he meets Diana from this island called Themyscira.  She’s never seen a man before and doesn’t know anything about the real world and the war that’s going on.

Steve, who is a hyper, morally hollowed-out realist, meets the hyper-idealist, wide-eyed, bushy-tailed neophyte, Diana, and he learns a little bit about hope, and she learns a little bit about being a human being.

What was it like when you first saw Gal Gadot in that Wonder Woman costume.

I don’t mean to sound chauvinistic, but Gal is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen.  She also has a great sense of humor, intelligence, professionalism and the ability to not take herself so seriously. It’s a pretty incredible combination.

All of that is crucial in creating the character Wonder Woman and bring the Diana-Steve love story to life.  That is at the heart of the film, and it’s fantastic.

You don’t shy away from physical roles.  Did you do any kind of special training for Steve Trevor?

I started doing a workout that was really more about keeping me as limber and mobile as possible, because that helps me deal with a 15-hour shoot day, during which you’re sometimes repeating an action over and over again.  That was my special prep.

Gal gets all the fun, fancy action stuff, so I would try to come up with ways to fight and take a beating.  My favorite movie heroes are played by guys like Bruce Willis and Harrison Ford, who are old school brawlers. So I like to make my action scenes look as non-choreographed as possible.

What was it like filming on Italy’s Amalfi Coast?

I worked a week and then went traveling throughout Italy and had a blast. I toured the Amalfi Coast and went to Naples, Herculaneum and Capri, and toured Vatican City.

When Steve Trevor has to ditch his plane near Themyscira, he has his first encounter with a world populated solely by women.  What was your experience working opposite dozens of women portraying the Amazons?

It was like nothing I’d experienced before.  On set there were over 70 women from all over the world—many of them highly trained MMA fighters or CrossFit trainers, as well as a boxing champion, Ann Wolfe—plus, of course, Gal, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright and all the other actresses portraying the Amazons.  It was a wonderful and unexpected environment, with husbands coming to set to watch their wives work, while the guys held the babies.

 What was your most memorable moment on the set?

I call it the “Casablanca Moment,” where Steve confesses his undying love to Diana before they part ways. Filming the scene was just stunning.  We were shooting on an airfield, with huge spotlights, wet cement and the setting of a World War.  It was just insanely cool.  Poor Gal was freezing, but it was just magical.

What do you hope audiences take away from the film when they see it in the cinema?

Wonder Woman marries a great romance with a huge action adventure.   There’s some really great character work done by incredibly talented actors.  And if you’re there for the spectacle, you won’t be disappointed.

Wonder Woman is out 1st June!


After The Storm – Review

Whilst any recollection of 2017’s Academy Awards will forever be marred by an unprecedented blunder, its selection of nominees for Best Picture remain a diverse array of emotionally charged and technically accomplished films. Amidst the glitz of La La Land, or the deafening horror within Hacksaw Ridge, one film firmly stood its ground: Manchester By The Sea. A relatively quiet, yet emotionally raw depiction, of unparalleled grief (caused by a tragic accident). It’s authentic and emotional power alone, propelled the film’s narrative ahead. Similarly, Palme d’Or winner Hirokazu Koreeda returns with After The Storm, possessing a narrative which smartly subverts the ‘dysfunctional family’ archetype, whilst portraying life in all of its wonderful mundanity. Tragedy has struck a family, but with Koreeda, it isn’t generated by an unlikely event depicted within Kenneth Lonergan’s Academy Award winner. It is a painfully authentic depiction of family life – tranquillity abruptly concluded.

In the fifteen years that have passed since novelist Ryota Shinoda (Hiroshi Abe) published an award-winning debut, life has dealt him a poor hand indeed. In addition to struggling with a sophomore slump, Ryota’s marriage has tragically dissolved (and with it, a precious relationship with his son, Shingo), his father has died and in order to pay exceedingly expensive child support bills, he is forced to work as an underpaid private detective. Unsatisfied with the course of his life, Ryota attempts to rekindle his fractured relationships, and become a reliable father once more. And upon a visit to his mother’s home, Ryota is given his chance, when the dysfunctional family find themselves trapped, upon the breakout of a dangerous storm.

Considering After The Storm’s tent-pole (UK) release date, one might expect some bang for your buck. Perhaps a sequel to 2014’s Into The Storm? Thank heavens, no. In fact, what surprised me most about Hirokazu Koreeda’s continuation of the Japanese realist film, is its silence. Tragedy may have struck the life of our protagonist and his family, but Koreeda’s characters deal with their pain through an occasional glance, or the odd sentence which is quietly devastating. We aren’t treated to another sequence in which “a stoic man loses his s**t behind the wheel of his car”. Instead, Koreeda indulges within protracted, gentle scenes, allowing the anguish felt by many of his characters to be released slowly, over the course of the film’s near two hour running time. The film may drag at times, yet without this deliberate running time, the ultimate end point for the characters would be rendered meaningless for audiences, due to a lack of essential character development.

And despite the archetypes that may apply to them, Koreeda’s rich characters are multi-layered, complex human beings. Each possesses their own unique Achilles heel. Some are unable to admit painful truths, or are crushed by the weight of life’s expectations – “They say great talent blooms late. But you’re taking too long to bloom.” And their anguish shows, yet is masterfully controlled by a talented cast. In one emotionally stirring sequence, Ryota’s desperation to provide Shingo (Taiyo Yoshizawa) with a pair of football shoes is so great, that he deliberately damages them, in order to receive a discount. It may only be a short sequence, but it is one of the many gestures within After The Storm that conveys far more raw emotion, than its character’s dialogue, ever could.

After The Storm’s cast are superb, yet it is Hiroshi Abe and his crafting of Ryota, which truly impresses. Whilst the first act predominantly focusses upon Ryota’s occupation, this isn’t The Big Sleep, or Chinatown. But it isn’t an accident either. Clearly, Ryota endeavours to help people. And his investment within these countless cases of infidelity and general depravity, only indicate that Ryota’s interest is cathartic. His repressed feelings of anger and sorrow can clearly be found within the lives of his clients, for whom he solves their case. He solves similar problems to his own, which momentarily alleviates his pain. His almost-permanent haggard complexion is lifted with a brief smile, revealing the joyful soul he once was. Abe doesn’t rely on bodily contortions or odd vocal decisions. Instead, his performance shows great restraint, especially during sequences in which melodrama might threaten to take over.

After The Storm’s first act may reek of family drama cliché, yet it is Koreeda’s unique decision to stage his final hour as a confined, intimate character study (brought upon by the arrival of a potentially deadly storm), which forces his characters to address their inherent faults and fractured relationships. The result is a quietly moving drama, which possesses some of the finest dialogue and character development, in recent years.

After The Storm is released in UK cinemas from Friday, June 2nd 2017. 

Sundance London – 2017 Line-Up

With the sun on Cannes finally set, we’re very much in the mood for film festivals and the wonderful cinematic delights it brings. Of the many to choose from, the next one on our lips is The Sundance Film Festival, making it’s way to the Picturehouse Central tomorrow in London following it’s main January event in native Utah. Let’s have a look at this year’s roster.

First, we have Miguel Arteta’s Beatriz at Dinner, starring Salma Hayek as a hollistic medicine practitioner who attends a wealthy client’s dinner party after her car breaks down. The recently released trailer for the film got a lot of positive reception, and Arteta has a knack for small but enjoyable comedies. It’ll surely be great, after all, what else can you expect from the man behind Cedar Rapids, Youth in Revolt and…Um…Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Oh boy…

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Any how, next up we have the The Big Sick, directed by Michael Showalter – The comedic genius behind Wet Hot American Summer – and focusing on a couple who deal with their cultural as their relationship grows. I’ll trust anything that man makes, especially anything with Paul Rudd. I mean, this doesn’t have Paul Rudd, but it’s got a great cast of fresher faces who are bound to be brilliant.

Up next is The Incredible Jessica James, a title that becomes addictive to say after you jumped back and forth from the IMDb page a few times. It stars Jessica Williams the titular playwright who starts an interesting new friendship (With Chris O’Dowd) while on the rebound from a break up. Then there’s the hilariously titled Bitch, about a young woman who completely snaps under pressure and takes on the persona of a vicious dog, forcing her family to band together and try to ease her through this difficult period. Don’t judge, we’ve all been there. And now we come to the most important film of the event…

Okay, it’s not the most important film, I’m just a huge Jon Hamm fan. That would be Marjorie Prime, the tale of an elderly woman who gets to revisit her deceased husband via a service that creates androids replicating the dead (In this case, Jon Hamm, as I’m sure we will actually do to him when he dies so as to preserve the greatness). It’s a fascinating concept with a great cast. It’s about time Hamm started making great movies. With Baby Driver on the horizon, we might just be able to forget about Keeping Up with the Joneses.

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LaKeith Stanfield is really making a name for himself as of late, already starring in hit films like Straight Outta Compton, Short Term 12, Get Out, and the series Atlanta, plus another film in this year’s festival (The Incredible Jessica James), and now he’s hitting the streets of Brooklyn in Crown Heights. It tells the story of a man wrongly convicted for murder, and his best friend will stop at nothing to prove his innocence. Then there’s action thriller Bushwick, starring Brittany Snow as a young woman who discovers her home town has been taken over by the Texas military, and must depend on a war veteran (Dave Bautista) to survive, and finally the festival will close with A Ghost Story. Directed by David Lowery, it stars Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in an eery tale that explores love, loss and the after life as a white sheeted ghost returns to visit his wife. Following this screening, there’ll be an exclusive In Conversation event with Lowery, titled I Get Overwhelmed: From Saints to Ghosts, featuring a screening of his past film Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, also starring Mara and Affleck. Friendly reminded that this man also made Pete’s Dragon. Yeah, let that one sit with you.

There’s some great documentary features to check out as well as a slew of great shorts (Including Kristen Stewart’s directorial debut Come Swim), and a heap of exciting events to check out Sundance London.

Be at the Picturehouse Central from June 1st-4th for an amazing film experience.
Check out full time programme here.


Wind River – Brand New Trailer!

Hawkeye and The Scarlet Witch are back together for drama Wind River that has nothing to do with Marvel but we’re psyched anyway!

Wind River revolves around a rookie agent of the FBI who finds herself having to rely on the aid of a local game tracker. He has a secret but his ties with the community make him an assett. Together, they’ll solve a mysterious murder of a local girl on a Native American Reservation.

The film is written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, who did Hell or High Water, which means it is going to be incredible! What do you think?

Wind River is out later this year!