MELANCHOLIA (15): On General Release Friday 30th September
Lars von Trier, the jolly prankster of film is back with his new film Melancholia, an epic meditation on depression, anxiety and madness set against the cheerful backdrop of the end of the world. In some ways, it’s the perfect companion piece to Terence Malick’s The Tree Of Life – both films feature lavish visual set pieces set to classical music but while Malick’s vision depicted the creation of the world, von Trier’s embraces its destruction.
It’s a film of two halves. In the first, Kirsten Dunst plays Justine, a seemingly happy bride arriving late to her wedding reception to Michael (Alexander Skarsgård). This angers her long-suffering sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her wealthy blowhard husband (Kiefer Sutherland) who have staged the wedding at their expansive country estate at great financial expense.
What follows is a complete disaster as the dysfunctional family threatens to implode under forced social convention. The wedding planner (a fantastic Udo Kier) is so disgusted that his plans have been disrupted that he covers his eyes, unable to even look at the bride and Justine’s father (John Hurt) is playful but unsupportive and delights in mocking the occasion’s over-formality much to the maitre d’s (Jesper Christiansen) chagrin.
Meanwhile Justine’s mother (Charlotte Rampling) is aggrieved to be there. Lips pursed she loudly declaims her hatred of weddings and is utterly disdainful of any sense of ceremony (“I wasn’t there when she had her first potty; I don’t need to be there now”). Justine’s boss (Stellan Skarsgård) also uses the wedding as an excuse to corner her about a new advertising tagline. All this causes Justine to completely unravel: her sunny disposition clouds over prompting her to vanish onto the ground’s golf course to take an impromptu leak, sulk in the bath during the cutting of the wedding cake and to sexually assault a minor guest. Read more
The Debt, a thriller about three Mossad operatives in the 60s on an undercover mission to capture a Nazi war criminal is released this week. We caught up with stars of the movie Helen Mirren and Jessica Chastain and the director John Madden (not the American football player).
What was the appeal for you?
Helen Mirren: Great story, you know, really interesting story. It’s a lovely role because we’re selfish and self interested and you want good roles to play. And then John Madden, who I’d worked with before on Prime Suspect – before he did Shakespeare In Love. But a great director, so that’s a combination you don’t say no to.
John Madden: Well, it’s extraordinarily compelling and challenging material. It’s thematically weighty. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to tell a story that is in one sense a very pure cinematic genre, the genre of thriller, but also one that actually allows a very complex emotional and psychological drama to unfold at the same time. Usually those things pull against each other in a project and you have to stop the thriller for a moment in order to fill in the character and catch up on who they really are. This film is very different in that way, you understand who these people are through the story that’s unfolding and it all pulls against itself in a very interesting way. So, an amazing challenge in terms of the material but a great opportunity as well.
Jessica Chastain: I was really excited when I read the script, with the character, because it’s rare I think to get a script where a woman is allowed to be very strong but at the same time vulnerable. It’s either like sometimes in a film, if the female role is strong that’s all she is. I felt with Rachel there was so much complexity and duality in her that was really exciting to explore. And of course working with John Madden, I was such a fan of his work and was so excited. I knew I would learn a lot from working with him. So, I was desperate to, and of course sharing a part with Helen Mirren. You can’t even get close to matching how brilliant she is, but I knew that I just wanted to be around her and just soak up her greatness. Read more
RED STATE (18): On General Release Friday 30th September
Kevin Smith has had a turbulent relationship with the press. A few years ago he declared that his films “aren’t made for critics”, he had a very public spat with potential distributors at Sundance and he recently personally cancelled a press screening for Red State which hardly endeared him further to a critical audience. That’s a shame as Smith’s early work (notably Clerks, Chasing Amy and Dogma) is brilliant, crackling with sharp dialogue and witty observations and even his lesser-regarded films have an idiosyncratic charm which make them hard to actively dislike.
So Red State’s national press show screening comes with a statement (or an apology?) from Smith stating that it wasn’t screened for US critics because they’re idiots and imploring UK critics to make up their own minds. It’s actually a nice touch – it reminds you that Smith really does care about film, that it was his passion before it simply became his job and re-humanises him in front of people who have only recently seen his furious Twitter ranting.
Red State is certainly a departure from his normal work. There’s no Jay & Silent Bob, no snoochie boochies here. Three horny high school kids (Michael Angarano, Nicholas Braun, Ronnie Connell) desperate to get lucky, respond to a classified advert they found on a mobile phone app for group sex with a 38 year old woman (Melissa Leo). Driving out to an isolated farmstead, they prepare to get down to business only to be drugged, bound and placed in cages for execution at the hands of a fire-and-brimstone preacher (Michael Parks) and his cult followers. Read more
But Adam Sandler had plenty of trouble with it when he was trying to protect his modesty on the set of “Jack and Jill”.
The comedy actor plays the role of warring twins in the forthcoming movie alongside Katie Holmes and Al Pacino, and for the scenes in which he was a woman he once was left embarrassed when the “tip” of his manhood was left on show.
He sad: “The biggest process was eliminating the giant camel toe. God has blessed me with a hose-like creature.
“I had one scene in a mini-skirt where the tip was showing. I’m not bragging! I’d put the outfit on and I’d look in the mirror and say, ‘All right, let’s go out there and be a lady!’
To gain experience for the role, Adam looked to his family, and he took parts of them all to make up the character.
That does not sound right.
He joked to Total Film magazine: “I’ve been mocking my grandmother, my mother and my sister since early childhood.
“So it’s a mixture of all the Sandler family, and hopefully when they see the movie, they’ll all stop talking to me.”
WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER? (15): On General Release Friday 30th September
Cosmopolitan Magazine has a lot to answer for. It’s shaped the world’s perception on sex and relationships for years (for good or for bad). It’s taken to a ludicrous extreme in What’s Your Number? a rom com which has occasionally extremely funny moments but which are too far and few between to really make it a cracker.
Anna Faris plays Ally, a woman who’s just split up with her boyfriend (Zachary Quinto) and has just been fired. With her younger sister’s (Ari Graynor) wedding day fast approaching, she thinks it’s time to take stock of her life. Reading an article in Cosmo, she learns that the average woman sleeps with 10.5 men in her lifetime and those who have slept with more than 20 often have trouble finding husbands.
That’s a problem for Ally as she’s already slept with 20 men and so in a bid not to increase her number, she enlists the help of her hunky womanising neighbour Colin (Chris Evans) in a bid to track down her exes to see if one of them was really the one that got away. In exchange, she agrees to let him hide in her flat while his one-night-stands leave. Read more
With controversial Nazi-gaffe prone director Lars Von Trier releasing Melancholia – a film which imagines the days leading up to the end of the world – tomorrow, we’ve trawled through the movie history books and dredged up the finest examples of apocalyptic action this side of Domesday. So quick! Get watching before the world’s leaders announce our imminent destruction and you are left wandering along a lonely beach damning the human race to hell. In no particular order…
Planet of the Apes (1968)
NOT the one with Mark Wahlberg but the one with chimp-chaser, Charlton Heston. After crash-landing their ship crash on a mysterious planet, two US astronauts wander about believing they are alone. Nope. The “damn dirty apes” who live there (some of whom appear to have been voiced by Stephen Fry) have locked up all the humans. This film manages to combine action, adventure and allegory into an ape-solutely brilliant bar of solid Hollywood gold.
28 Days Later (2002)
This blood splattered, low-budget zombie horror considers the implications of our endless meddling with DNA, monkeys and…stuff. So maybe it’s message got a bit lost in all the guts but it’s still a damn good watch. Featuring some of the best zombies since George A. Romero, Danny Boyle’s end of days zombie-fest makes it into our top ten with ease.
Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
If you haven’t seen Stanley Kubrick’s dark satire about those in power setting us on a course towards total destruction, you obviously won’t have “heard of cobalt thorium G”. Peter Sellars stuns in all of his three-roles – a masterclass in comic acting and a joy to watch.
The Debt has languished on the dusty shelves of Miramax for more than a year following the studio’s dissolution. While it’s nice to see the familiar logo back on the screen for possibly the last time, it unfortunately means that the studio goes out with more of a whimper than a bang as while it’s a competent and largely well-acted thriller, it does nothing to distinguish itself.
In 1965, a trio of Mossad operatives (Jessica Chastain, Martin Csokas and Sam Worthington) undertake a secret mission to capture a Nazi war criminal (Jesper Christiansen) but things don’t go quite according to plan. In the ‘present day’ of 1995, the three (played by Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and Ciaran Hinds respectively) struggle to cope when the truth about what really happened threatens to come out.
It’s a straightforward set up that plays on the strengths of its cast. Jessica Chastain is particularly excellent and rightly should become more of fixture on our screens (we’re due for a Chastain overload soon – The Tree Of Life is already out and The Help, Take Shelter and Coriolanus are all released very soon).
She’s got a tough job here as she has to play a younger version of Helen Mirren, an unenviable task for any actress. Fortunately she rises to the challenge and allows the strength, determination and vulnerability of her character to shine through – a particular highlight being her heart-stoppingly tense moments in a gynaecologist’s office. Read more
Ergh. If there’s one thing we don’t need it’s a sequel to the ridiculous pantomime that was Wanted, a glossy action adventure which saw unlikely protagonist James McAvoy taught to bend bullet trajectories by Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman.
There was also some guff about a loom of fate and a shadowy group of assassins called The Fraternity.
But what really decides sequels? Money. And even though it was utterly cack, it made $300m on a budget of only $75m so Universal are obviously interested in seeing how they can milk their cash cow. Angelina Jolie said she was interested in a sequel, so that put the brakes on the franchise for while but now it looks like writers Michael Brandt and Derek Haas have been rehired to work on the follow up.
The Wrap spoke to Haas and he said “We just always loved the Wanted world, and loved working with Universal and Timur Bekmambetov so we’re excited! Wanted 2 is going to take off right after the events that just happened; it’ll pick up Wesley a few years later and go back in for another round.”
He later expanded via Twitter that the sequel will be “Loom-less and Fox-less”, so that’s a no to that ridiculous plot device but also a definite no-no for Angelina Jolie’s particpation. But will James McAvoy be interested in signing up for round two?
It’s early days though as it hasn’t even been given the go-ahead. Consequently there’s no start date and no director attached so far. More news as it comes in.
No, it’s not a film version of the comic book superhero , it’s a film about a crew on a Soviet submarine during the Cold War. He’s replacing Andy Garcia who’s dropped out and will be joined William Fichter (always good) and Ed Harris on board.
Harris will play a Russian captain contending both with a rogue KGB unit and a supernatural force that’s trying to take over the vessel. Duchovny will play the leader of a Soviet special forces team on an undercover mission.
So it’s sort of like The Hunt For Red October but with a supernatural element. Hopefully, we won’t get any silly accents involved as although that might give us a bit of giggle, it’s probably not what they’re going for.
Shooting begins next month
Mud is starting to have quite the line-up. We’ve already got Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon heading up Jeff Nichols’ new project but now Michael Shannon, Sam Shepard, Sarah Paulson, Ray McKinnon, Joe Don Baker and Paul Sparks have all signed up too.
The plot sees Mud, a recluse who’s found hiding out in the Mississippi by two teenagers. They help him evade the police and reunite with the love his life Juniper – a task which is easier said than does as both cops and bounty hunters are hot on his trail.
Matthew McConaughey will play Mud and Witherspoon will play Juniper. It’s no big suprise to see Michael Shannon on the bill as he was in Nichols’ Shotgun Stories as well as the forthcoming Take Shelter (which is being featured at the London Film Festival and was a big hit on the summer’s festival circuit). He’ll play Galen, the uncle of one of the boys with Paulson and McKinnon as the parents of the other.
Meanwhile Baker and Sparks will play bounty hunters, while Shepard will be another recluse called Tom Blankenship.
Nichols will be directing from his own screenplay, which producer Lisa Maria Falcone says is, “a beautiful story with rich characters learning valuable lessons through life-changing circumstances.”
It’s pencilled in for a 2013 release date. In the mean time Take Shelter will hit cinemas on November 25th.