After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to tell a true story from half a century ago, finding unnerving present-day resonance in the details. Using exhaustive research, they recount the events surrounding the Detroit riots for the first time, with characters who feel achingly real. It's so impeccably assembled that it carries a strong punch to the gut.
It kicked off in July 1967 when white police raided a peaceful party, brutally arresting the blacks in attendance. People hit the streets in protest, and the officials cracked down. Caught up in this, aspiring Motown singer Larry (Algee Smith) and his pal Fred (Jacob Latimore) take refuge in the Algiers Motel, where they meet some other men (including Anthony Mackie and Jason Mitchell) and two white girls (Hannah Murray and Kaitlyn Dever). Thinking they heard shots fired, local cop Krauss (Will Poulter) and his partners (Jack Reynor and Ben O'Toole) charge in, lining everyone up and menacing them brutally. Caught in the middle, security guard Melvin (John Boyega) tries to diffuse the situation without further aggravating these viciously bigoted policemen.
The film opens with a lucid prologue tracing the roots of America's racial tensions in the continued segregation between inner-cities and suburbs, creating a police state with whites marginalising blacks. Bigelow's direction and Boal's script then recount events journalistically, throwing the audience right into the situation without character back-stories. This makes everything feel urgent and dangerous, a situation in which absolutely anything can happen. So when it leads to murder, we're deeply horrified.
Continue reading: Detroit Review
Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley (High-Rise) is using a group of wildly offbeat characters to play a hilarious riff on Tarantino-style dialogue and violence. So while there's not much to it, the actors have plenty of grist to bring their roles to life. Which makes the film funny and intense all the way through, even if there's no emotional connection at all.
The entire film is set in a warehouse in 1978 Boston, where Justine (Brie Larson), Chris (Cillian Murphy) and Frank (Michael Smiley) have gone with their drivers Stevo and Bernie (Jack Reynor and Enzo Cilenti) to buy a cache of guns from the swaggering Ord (Armie Hammer) and his mercurial arms dealer Vernon (Sharlto Copley), who has brought ex-Black Panther Martin (Babou Ceesay) as some muscle, plus bickering drivers Harry and Gordon (Jack Reynor and Noah Taylor). All of them greet each other tensely, but they make the deal with a bit of offhanded banter and wary respect. But just as they're all getting ready to leave, Stevo and Harry spot each other. And both are still feeling wounded after the nasty encounter they had last night.
What follows is an explosion of utterly pointless violence. All of these people are nervous and trigger-happy, so it doesn't take much to set them off. The carnage that follows isn't like most movies, because people don't get shot and just lie on the ground; they crawl off injured, regroup and rejoin the fray. Alliances shift, and every moment of panic leads to even more chaos. And right in the middle, there's a bag of cash and a crate of rifles that everyone has an eye on. Wheatley stages this in real-time, with a steady flow of jaggedly witty conversation between the gunshots and constant sight-gags in the action mayhem.
Continue reading: Free Fire Review
Enzo Cilenti, Michael Smiley, Ben Wheatley, Armie Hammer, Sam Riley, Cillian Murphy, Babou Ceesay, Sharlto Copley and Jack Reynor at the BFI London Film Festival Closing Night Gala of 'Free Fire' at the Odeon Leicester Square, London, United Kingdom - Sunday 16th October 2016
A buoyant celebration of the power of music, this is the third blissfully entertaining musical romance from John Carney, who also wrote and directed Once and Begin Again. Set in the 1980s, this brightly comical film is packed with fabulous songs, both real hits from the period and fantastic pastiche numbers. And it's vividly performed by a fresh cast.
It's set in 1985 Dublin, where 15-year-old Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is furious when his parents (Aidan Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy) transfer him to a local catholic school due to financial trouble. Conor's adored older stoner-rocker brother Brendan (Jack Reynor) is still living at home, while their younger sister Ann (Kelly Thornton) observes the craziness of her family with wry detachment. Then Conor falls for sexy bad girl Raphina (Lucy Boynton), trying to impress her by telling her that he's in a rock band. So now he really needs to create one. He gathers some other outcasts at his new school, and they become Sing Street, trying to write some "futurist" songs. But finding their own sound is tricky.
As this scrappy band comes together, they take inspiration from the music around them, including pop bands like Duran Duran, The Cure and Spandau Ballet. Their own songs and clothing hilariously echo these styles as they try to find a way to connect with their audience while expressing themselves artistically. And the songs are fiendishly catchy, each accompanied by a hand-made music video that cleverly traces the boys' passion for music and their coming-of-age as artists in their own right, all within the context of the period. At the centre, Conor's journey is twisty, complex and hugely resonant. Walsh-Peelo is a very likeable actor who's thoroughly believable as a young guy trying desperately to act grown up, despite the terrible examples of his bickering parents and slacker brother.
Continue reading: Sing Street Review
Shakespeare's Scottish play returns to the big screen with earthy energy, visual style and roaring performances. Acclaimed Australian filmmaker Justin Kurzel (Snowtown) takes an artistic approach that makes terrific use of sweeping landscapes and harsh weather, which allows the cast to put their guts into their roles. Yet while the film looks absolutely amazing, the sound mix is so muddled that anyone unfamiliar with the play will find it difficult to follow.
Michael Fassbender plays Macbeth, an 11th century general who has just triumphed on the Highland battlefield but is struggling internally after he and Lady Macbeth (Marion Cotillard) lost their infant child. So when three witches tell him that he is destined to become king, his wife encourages him to make it happen sooner rather than later. In secret, Macbeth murders King Duncan (David Thewlis) and pins the blame on his son Malcolm (Jack Reynor), who flees in fear, raising suspicion. Now on the throne, King and Queen Macbeth are overwhelmed by paranoia about any hint of a threat to their power, raising distrust of loyal friends like Banquo (Paddy Considine) and Duncan's defender Macduff (Sean Harris). Meanwhile, Malcolm has raised an army in England and is coming back to claim his title.
This is one of Shakespeare's bleakest, leanest plays, and Kurzel gives it an intriguingly expansive tone by setting most of the action outdoors in the elements rather than in shadowy castle corridors. In addition to adding a gritty, muddy kick, this allows the battle sequences to take on a Lord of the Rings-scale intensity. So the effect of this violence on the characters is that much more resonant. Lady Macbeth turns inward, tormenting herself in an extended dream sequence, while Macbeth goes the other way, killing anyone who seems even remotely shifty. But of course they also understand that their ambition and guilt are causing these extreme reactions.
Continue reading: Macbeth Review
After a long, hard battle, a Scottish Thane learns of a prophesy that will change his life forever. Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) is confronted by three witches, who inform him that he shall one day be king, and that no man born by a woman shall ever kill him. When another of their prophecies comes true, he confronts his wife (Marion Cotillard), who convinces him that he must murder King Duncan (David Thewlis). From there, Macbeth falls into the darkest depths of the human soul, as he betrays those he loves for power, and abandons his friends for the love of prophesies.
Continue: Macbeth - Teaser Trailer
Although it takes a breezy, sometimes silly approach to a fragment of a true story, this British period film has enough charm to keep audiences entertained, thanks to its lively cast and ambitious recreation of historical events. Director Julian Jarrold (Kinky Boots) may be largely fictionalising what happened to real people on VE Day 70 years ago, but he certainly knows how to have some fun at the same time. And the film has some intriguing things to say about how the world has changed since then.
Victory in Europe was declared on May 8th 1945, and the streets of London filled with disorderly celebrations. Watching all of this from within Buckingham Palace, the teen princesses Elizabeth and Margaret (Sarah Gadon and Bel Powley) are desperate to get out there and mingle with the crowd. Their parents, King George VI and Queen Elzabeth (Rupert Everett and Emily Watson), reluctantly agree to let them leave with two military escorts (Jack Laskey and Jack Gordon). But they soon lose their chaperones in the party atmosphere in The Ritz. The ditzy Margaret heads off into the night visiting a string of parties, while Elizabeth tries to track her down, assisted by a helpful stranger, airman Jack (Jack Reynor), an anti-royalist who has no idea who this young woman actually is.
First of all, it's intriguing to remember that in 1945 people in the streets wouldn't have recognised the princesses, especially since they had essentially been locked out of view for the previous seven years. This is inconceivable now, as is the idea of revellers filling the streets celebrating victory in a war, because no generation since has had a war end on a remotely positive note. These kinds of themes add subtext to what is otherwise a frothy romp punctuated by moments of silly slapstick. Jarrold recreates the evening beautifully on-screen, with a real sense of the club-lined streets of Mayfair, the drug dens of Soho, the flag-waving crowds going wild in Trafalgar Square, and the bombed-out city returning to life.
Continue reading: A Royal Night Out Review
Even the lighter moments in this dark Irish drama are tinged with sadness, including a scene in which a tormented mother and son escape through dancing together ... to the strains of Soft Cell's Tainted Love. But the film is anchored by such a solid performance by Jack Reynor (Transformers: Age of Extinction) that it's definitely worth a look.
Reynor plays John, a young guy in Dublin working extra shifts as a cab driver to support his alcoholic mother Jean (Toni Collette) and his younger brother Kit (Harry Nagle), who has been institutionalised with Down's Syndrome and is never visited by his mum, not even on his 18th birthday. But then she's too busy drinking herself into serious illness. John's only support comes from his best pal Sean (Will Poulter), who has problems of his own as his ex (Maria Carlton) is demanding cash to support their young child. When Sean opts to move abroad to find work, John decides to get his mother into rehab, consulting a counsellor (Michael Smiley) who tells him that she will require a lot more than the one week the state can provide.
Things take a bizarre turn from here that isn't very clearly defined, but then writer-director Gerard Barrett isn't interested in explaining all of the details, mainly because he's telling the story from John's frazzled perspective. John lives through all of this a moment at a time, so the past is irrelevant, he seeks brief moments of joy wherever he can find them, and he just gets on with the job at hand, however freaky it may be. Through all of this, Barrett keeps things intense and unsettling, never quite letting the audience get its balance. This bold approach makes us feel almost as overwhelmed as John does.
Continue reading: Glassland Review
Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth are distinctly unworldly despite their prestigious education as young women, but when World War 2 comes to an end in 1945, even their parents King George and Queen Elizabeth can't deny them the chance to celebrate. And so it is that the girls are allowed to venture out into London, to join the men and women of the country in their parties - albeit going incognito and on the one condition that they are chaperoned by two soldiers. As it turns out, it's impossible to hide their identity for long and soon everyone knows that the future Queen of England and her sister are out fraternising with soldiers - and their royal parents are faced with worry when they are out much later than they should have been.
Continue: A Royal Night Out Trailer
Gerard Barrett, Jack Reynor and Aisling Franciosi - Gerard Barrett, Aisling Franciosi, and Jack Reynor launch the programme for JDIFF 2015 at The Academy, Dublin, Ireland - 25.02.15. - Dublin, Ireland - Wednesday 25th February 2015
With each film in the Transformer saga, Michael Bay makes it clear that all he's interested in are massive metallic special effects bashing into each other and usually exploding. Because otherwise this is a vacuous thriller without any characters to speak of, no sense of plot coherence and an appallingly simplistic sense of geography. There's plenty in this franchise to enjoy (just watch the original 2007 film again), but Bay takes everything so seriously that only die-hard fans will have any fun this time.
The story picks up five years after the cataclysmic Transformers' battle in Chicago, as Texas inventor and overprotective single dad Cade (Mark Wahlberg) builds gadgets in his rural barn, oblivious to the fact that his 17-year-old daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) is secretly seeing 20-year-old Shane (Jack Reynor). Luckily, Shane is a race driver, so he's handy to have around when black ops agents commanded by shadowy CIA director Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) raid Cade's farm looking for an old truck that turns out to actually be Optimus Prime in hiding. This sparks a return to Chicago for more mayhem, followed by a hop to Beijing and Hong Kong, where Optimus Prime and a handful of remaining good-guy Autobots take on the villainous Lockdown. Helped of course by Cade, Tessa and Shane, plus billionaire inventor Joshua (Stanley Tucci).
The new gimmick this time is dinosaurs, building on a prologue showing the real reason they went extinct. This comes back in the climactic battle in the form of Dinobots, ancient Transformers that will have fanboys squirming in their seats with joy while everyone else yawns and looks at their watches, astounded that Bay has somehow managed to stretch this paper-thin story out over nearly three hours of metal-on-metal chaos. As in the earlier films, the action is quite literally cartoonish, purely animated mayhem that's not easy to decipher. At least the humans help keep it vaguely approachable, as they provide running commentary in their dialogue and bounce through the air like plastic action figures who never get hurt.
Continue reading: Transformers: Age Of Extinction Review
Taking place after the events of 'Transformers: Dark Of The Moon', we see a new part of the Transformers story in 'Transformers: Age Of Extinction' where the human race must rebuild from a great battle between the Autobots and Sentinel Prime. However a new evil force is at hand attempting to change history, which will send Earth into a new crisis. New human friends will help Optimus Prime and the Autobots face their most difficult task yet, on an amazing journey around the planet that will decide who will win between good and evil.
'Transformers: Age Of Extinction' will see a new live action cast featuring Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yeager, Nicola Peltz as Cade's daughter Tessa Yeager, Stanley Tucci, Li Bingbing, Kelsey Grammer, Sophia Myles, T.J. Miller, Jack Reynor and Titus Welliver. Peter Cullen will once again voice Optimus Prime.
Michael Bay reprised his role as director for this instalment of the franchise. The film is written by Ehren Kruger, who wrote the previous two Transformers films 'Revenge Of The Fallen' and 'Dark Of The Moon'. 'Age Of Extinction' also has the same producers as the previous three films Don Murphy, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo Di Bonaventura and Ian Bryce.
Continue: Transformers: Age Of Extinction Trailer
After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...
Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...
It's 1978 Boston and an unlikely gang made up of Justine (Brie Larson), Stevo (Sam...
A buoyant celebration of the power of music, this is the third blissfully entertaining musical...
Shakespeare's Scottish play returns to the big screen with earthy energy, visual style and roaring...
After a long, hard battle, a Scottish Thane learns of a prophesy that will change...
Although it takes a breezy, sometimes silly approach to a fragment of a true story,...
Even the lighter moments in this dark Irish drama are tinged with sadness, including a...
Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth are distinctly unworldly despite their prestigious education as young women,...
With each film in the Transformer saga, Michael Bay makes it clear that all he's...
Taking place after the events of 'Transformers: Dark Of The Moon', we see a new...