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Natalie Portman Reacts To 'Whitewashing' Casting Criticisms Of New Film 'Annihilation'


Natalie Portman Jennifer Jason Leigh Alex Garland

Natalie Portman and her Annihilation co-star Jennifer Jason Leigh have both spoken out over the ‘whitewashing’ controversy that has engulfed their casting in the film, saying that they had no idea their characters were not white in the original books.

Annihilation, which is out on February 23rd in the United States, is a science fiction based around Portman’s character Lena, a biologist working in a secret natural disaster zone. It’s an adaptation of the first book of the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer, published in 2014.

However, it’s not revealed until the second book of the series, ‘Authority’, that Lena is revealed to be of “Asian heritage”. Furthermore, Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character as the government psychologist Dr Ventress is described as being half-Native American and half-white.

Continue reading: Natalie Portman Reacts To 'Whitewashing' Casting Criticisms Of New Film 'Annihilation'

The Laws Of Nature Don't Apply In 'Annihilation'


When a biologist’s husband disappears his wife must undertake a dangerous mission into the unknown to save him. From the writer and director of ‘Ex-Machina’, Alex Garland, ‘Annihilation’ hits theatres in February.

After a group of soldiers enter an environmental disaster zone known as Area X only one makes it home alive. But his homecoming is shot-lived and soon it is up to his wife Lena (Natalie Portman) to save his life.

Natalie Portman in ‘Annihilation’

Continue: The Laws Of Nature Don't Apply In 'Annihilation'

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Review

Good

Expectations are a problem with this year's Secret Cinema event. After the jaw-dropping, goosebump-inducing surprises of both 2014's Back to the Future and 2015's Star Wars, this immersive take on Danny Boyle's classic zombie movie feels rather undercooked. But there's a lot of fun to be had (if not many scares) spending several hours trying to survive in a world overrun by the undead.

The set-up is very clever: you are given an appointment at an NSH hospital in a secret London location, and told to wear scrubs or protective clothing. On arrival you're handed a surgical mask and ordered here and there for interviews, physical examinations and eventually an oral vaccination that seems to make everything go blurry and then pitch black. When you "wake up" all hell has broken loose, and you are sent running through a series of blood-drenched corridors and stairwells, encountering characters and settings from the film as zombies lunge from every corner. In the safe zone, food and drink is for sale, and you get a chance to relax a bit, play a game, have a dance. Finally, you're led into an inventively themed cinema to watch the 2002 film as on-screen elements are performed around you.

Through all of this, medical and military officials harshly shout instructions at you, while TV screens show news reports of chaos on the streets. Combined with the dimly lit post-apocalyptic setting, the atmosphere is enjoyably claustrophobic, only broken by the nagging sense that money is draining out of your wallet at an alarming rate. Not only is the ticket £67 (or £134 for a "premium experience"), but there are things to buy at every point, from the scrubs or coveralls to pricey cocktails served in small bottles or coffee mugs and a relatively slim selection of restaurant-priced food options.

Continue reading: Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Review

'Ex Machina' Reigns With Four Wins At The British Independent Film Awards


Alex Garland Domhnall Gleeson Tom Hardy Saoirse Ronan

While the world is waiting with bated breath for the nominations for the Oscars and Golden Globes, the UK is celebrating their independent success as Alex Garland's sci-fi drama 'Ex Machina' takes home four awards at the Moët British Independent Film Awards.

Ex MachinaEx Machina wins big at the BIFAs

It's the innovative independent films that really shape the international film industry, and it's important that they're recognised for their efforts. Starring Domhnall Gleeson, 'Ex Machina' proved to be a huge hit and took home awards for Best British Independent Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Outstanding Achievement in Craft which went to visual effects artist Andrew Whitehurst. As part of a BIFA screening event, the film will be shown at selected cinemas on December 13th 2015.

Continue reading: 'Ex Machina' Reigns With Four Wins At The British Independent Film Awards

Alex Garland's 'Ex_Machina' Touches A Real Nerve


Alex Garland Domhnall Gleeson

'Ex Machina' is the directing debut of writer Alex Garland, who burst onto the cinematic scene in 2000 with Danny Boyle's adaptation of his novel 'The Beach'. Since then, he has explored sci-fi themes in screenplays for '28 Days Later', 'Sunshine', 'Never Let Me Go' and 'Dredd'. But 'Ex Machina' is a completely new approach for him.

'Ex_Machina' comes from writer/director Alex Garland
'Ex_Machina' comes from writer/director Alex Garland

The film is set, he says, "10 minutes into the future", exploring technology that is possible but doesn't quite exist yet. With just three characters, it's a contained exploration of artificial intelligence, a subtle story that features one of Garland's trademark genre twists, but never boils over into his usual riotous mayhem.

Continue reading: Alex Garland's 'Ex_Machina' Touches A Real Nerve

Ex Machina Review


Excellent

Slick and seductive, this exploration of artificial intelligence may essentially only have three characters, but it's complex, provocative and thoroughly engaging. After writing screenplays for films like 28 Days Later and Never Let Me Go, Alex Garland moves easily into the director's role, telling a superbly atmospheric story that twists and turns in subtle ways to both draw us in and freak us out. And the cast adds even more depth to the interaction.

Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is one of the smartest geeks at a technology mega-corporation, and he's thrilled when he wins a competition to spend two weeks with company founder Nathan (Oscar Isaac) at his vast isolated estate somewhere in the far reaches of what looks like Scandinavia. Once there, Nathan assigns Caleb to evaluate his latest invention, a robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander), and see if she passes the Turing Test: does Caleb remember that he's interacting with a computer? As Ava and Caleb check each other out, the heavy-drinking Nathan watches perhaps a bit too closely. Caleb begins to realise that he's never out of view, and Ava warns him not to trust Nathan. Then strange power cuts begin to hint that something else is going on here.

Where this goes is surprising because most of Garland's scripts and novels escalate to scenes of outrageous horror. But this story remains controlled and internalised; even when it gets violent, it remains emotionally resonant. And these three characters are fascinating (the fourth person in the house is Nathan's mute sushi chef, played by Sonoya Mizuno). Their conversations are packed with subtext, continually shifting the power while making us wonder who's really in control here. And the actors play them with earthy authenticity. Vikander has an uncanny humanity even though 80 percent of her body is a special effect. Gleeson is thoroughly likeable, easy to identify with as he falls into the rabbit hole. And Isaac is simply magnetic in the way he combines Nathan's groovy laid-back attitude with something vaguely sinister.

Continue reading: Ex Machina Review

Ex-Machina Trailer


Winning first prize in a competition, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is sent to meet the CEO and creator of the company he works for. Arriving at the mysterious private home of the illusive Nathan (Oscar Isaac), Caleb believes that he may have a chance to relax and get to know the man that created the company, and possibly earn a promotion at some point in the future. What he soon realises, is that Nathan has organised this event in order for Caleb to serve as a test subject, used to monitor the progress on of the greatest achievement of mankind to date - a fully functioning AI named Ava (Alicia Vikander). As Caleb realises what is going on, he steadily begins to learn about the meaning of being human, all through his interaction with what will soon be mankind's replacement. 

Continue: Ex-Machina Trailer

Ex-Machina Trailer


Sometimes, a competition can reward you with more than you bargained for. When a 24-year-old coder for the world’s largest investment company wins the chance to spend a week with the companies CEO, he has no idea what is in store for him. Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) travels into the middle of nowhere to find the retreat of CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac), but he soon discovers that the contest has actually entered him into an insane experiment, rather than offering him a reward. Steadily, it is revealed that Nathan has actually developed the world’s first AI, and from there, the world will never be the same again. 

Continue: Ex-Machina Trailer

Dredd Review


Excellent
If you can still remember Sylvester Stallone's ridiculous 1995 sci-fi action romp Judge Dredd, don't worry. This is not a remake. It's a film actually based on the graphic novels themselves, so it has a completely different style of characters and setting. Leaner and much meaner, it's also one of the most textured and intelligent futuristic bloodbaths in ages.

It's the not-so-distant future, and 800 million people are crammed into the only remaining inhabitable area in North America, a mega-city that covers the East Coast. With so many people, crime is out of control, so cops and lawyers have been replaced with judges who arrest, try and execute criminals on the spot. Dredd (Urban) is a particularly efficient judge, assigned one day to take trainee Anderson (Thirlby) with him for evaluation. But they walk into a nasty gang war in a 200-storey tower block, where snarling gang boss Ma-Ma (Headey) locks them in and starts hunting them down. And while Dredd and Anderson have to be careful not to kill the block's innocent residents, Ma-ma doesn't care how many people die.

Continue reading: Dredd Review

Alex Garland

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Alex Garland Movies

The Laws Of Nature Don't Apply In 'Annihilation'  Trailer

The Laws Of Nature Don't Apply In 'Annihilation' Trailer

When a biologist’s husband disappears his wife must undertake a dangerous mission into the unknown...

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Expectations are a problem with this year's Secret Cinema event. After the jaw-dropping, goosebump-inducing surprises...

Ex Machina Movie Review

Ex Machina Movie Review

Slick and seductive, this exploration of artificial intelligence may essentially only have three characters, but...

Ex-Machina Trailer

Ex-Machina Trailer

Winning first prize in a competition, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is sent to meet the CEO...

Ex-Machina Trailer

Ex-Machina Trailer

Sometimes, a competition can reward you with more than you bargained for. When a 24-year-old...

Dredd Movie Review

Dredd Movie Review

If you can still remember Sylvester Stallone's ridiculous 1995 sci-fi action romp Judge Dredd, don't...

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