Words Sarah Kidd
Everybody likes a good drama; a film that has a little emotion, a little feel good factor and a protagonist that despite his flaws an audience will end up rooting for by the end credits.
The Way Back is that kinda film.
Originally scheduled for release back in October last year, the new Ben Affleck vehicle has now been given a March release date. Whether this will work in their favour in regard to box office takings or not considering some of the recent issues in larger countries remains to be seen.
Nevertheless, director Gavin O’Connor [The Accountant] delivers a palatable movie, that – while it offers up nothing new – is very balanced, a touch of humour thrown in for good measure.
Ben Affleck plays Jack Cunningham, a construction worker who it is soon revealed has a liking for alcohol. Separated from his wife, he spends most of his time at the bar when not at work but is endeavouring to keep a stable connection with both his sibling and mother despite their obvious concerns for his habit.
Approached by the local high school to coach the basketball team (a small group of kids who haven’t won a game in so long that it is just accepted as the standard) due to the fact he is a bit of a home town hero in that area of sport as well as a former student, the film follows the journey of both Jack and the boys.
Written by Brad Ingelsby, the story starts out with a softer approach to addressing Cunningham’s alcohol problems, slowing ramping it up in regard to consequences as the movie progresses. The repetitive nature of one particular scene however, where Cunningham sits at home rehearsing a phone call he needs to make, provides some insight into the ritualistic elements of addiction that in time proves to be one of the hardest things for most people to break away from.
While Cunningham’s addiction is not hidden it is not dwelled upon either; it is an integral part of the protagonist’s character, his major flaw and the cause of his downfalls, but he is high functioning. He continues to carry on going to work while also coaching the team.
The basketball team bring about their own charms, from the Casanova-type who is hilariously taught a lesson about respect through to a more in-depth storyline between a boy and his father, one that Cunningham it would seem, can relate to.
While there are no major plot twists, information is introduced throughout the movie that fills in the holes in Cunningham’s character and gives the viewer an insight into what has brought him to this pivotal point in his life.
The way back itself however is not one of redemption but of evolution. Cunningham along with many of the people around him learning to grow through embracing past mistakes rather than trying to correct them as some words and actions just can not be taken back.
The project itself was one that was deeply personal for Affleck, the actor citing it as a form of therapy following his own stint in rehab. This does seem to have coloured his performance, Affleck turning in a character study that is realistic with none of the usual Hollywood bravado filter.
A solid movie, The Way Back may come across as standard fare, but scratch beneath the surface and there is actually a bit of a small carat diamond hiding underneath.
Words Glenn Blomfield
Soon this year’s International Comedy Festival season will kick off. As a precursor, we got to see five nominees for the Billy T James award, shinning stars of NZ comedy take the stage, having the opportunity to be the new participants of winning the coveted ‘Billy T James Award’, a seal of NZ comedy gold approval. Five finalist nominees, have a ten minute stand up show each in front of a live audience, they will be judged, the winner will be later announced. The five nominees are Lana Walters, Josh Davies, Brynley Stent, James Mustapic, and Ray O’Leary. All of them are also part of the comedy line up in the upcoming comedy festival.
MC for the evening was previous Billy T James nominee, Kura Forrester, taking the task of setting the mood and livening the audience announcing each nominee for the evening. Kura graced the stage with welcoming confidence, heartening the room with relaxed laughter priming us for the acts to come. We were definitely in safe hands, happy to be there and laughing ready for more comedy.
First to hit the stage was Josh Davies, using his near blindness disability as his comedy act, exploring his world which may seem uncomfortable to laugh at, he had us laughing along with the craziness and irony of his view of the world. Definitely funny and insightful.
Next was Ray O’Leary, awkward and oddly relatable wit, dressed in what maybe his grand dads suit, his weird and odd views on the world have you giggling and laughing out loud. His quirkiness draws you in, he reminds me of ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ a character from a cult comedy film. Very Funny man.
Things took a change when Brynley Stent took the stage, the only sketch act of the evening, using normal situations that take you on crazy journeys, silly and absurdly wonderful, you’re not sure how to take it, though you can’t help but laugh. Unique and awkward, comedy combo.
Storming the stage comes openly proclaiming his gayness James Mustapic, meek in stature, large in comedy bravado. Using his stand up as a ‘coming out’, his personal anxieties, his life, being gay, and how her see the world growing up. James was hysterical and lyrical.
Final nominee Lana Walters, stand up act using her personal problems as comedic expression. She is accessible, and a breath of fresh air, in using her uncomfortableness for funny enjoyment.
A special guest round up for the evening show, was Tom Sainsbury, using his funny awareness of fellow New Zealanders, from his travels of the country scouring the internet of kiwi news and comment sections, holding a mirror up to of the vey funny lives we live, and views we have on our daily lives in Aoteroa. Who would of thought the Tauranga Travel website would be treasure trove of hysterical comments, and the local council and peoples responses to the absurdity we live in?
Overall very funny and enjoyable evening. NZ comedy is in very safe hands. Everyone in tonights show, was worth the show’s admission alone. Sure there were some stand outs, but each one of them deserves to be seen and heard during the upcoming Comedy festival. Support the local talent and get amongst it.
“Going into watching this documentary was for me the fascination of why we as humans take on such a quest”
Words Glenn Blomfield
The documentary is about the 3100 mile self transcendent marathon, created by Sri Chinmoy a Guru that found enlightenment through the meditation of running. Lets get this into some perspective, 3100 miles is 4989km, the mind boggles at running that amount of distance.
The runners have 52 days to complete the distance, they must cover 60 miles per day, that is 96 1/2km a day. Running around a half mile (0.80km) block. A day of running is from 6am to midnight,18hrs a day on feet. Most consume 10,000 calories per day.
Now get this, there is no prize money, there is a trophy for the winner. This all takes place in Queens, New York City. Temperatures can be around 90 degrees Fahrenheit, extreme hot conditions, running in all weather conditions. With that information, and a perspective of what a 3100 mile event is, the big question that lingers on the mind is the “why”? The documentary attempts to answer that question, but the “why” is not a simple answer.
“The runners have 52 days to complete the distance, they must cover 60 miles per day”
As the reviewer, has some type of insight and understanding, as I myself have run what is known as Ultra-marathon, as of writing this, recently completing a 104km Ultra-marathon. Yes it does pale in comparison to 3100miles. But the question that often asked of me is the ‘Why’, and it certainly is not an easy or simple question to answer. Something I even question myself. So going into watching this documentary was for me the fascination of why we as humans take on such quest.
The film focus around a runner Ashprihanal Aalto a Finnish runner, who has a very nondiscript delivering papers, he lives a very humble frugal existence in a one room shack abode. He lives life through meditation. He has run the self transcendent 3100miles, an incredible 13 times, 8 x winner, holds the world record for the fastest 3100miles. He certainly is not the physical specimen of a runner, small in stature. Nor does he follow any athletic training nutrition regime.
What makes him so remarkable is, and what the documentary attempts to reveal, is through his meditation, spiritual focus and mindfulness, Ashprihanal Aalto runs on mental agility. Running this type of distance, becomes about the person on a spiritual self journey as you go to such extremes.
It is not about the body anymore it is about the mental toughness. You run not to win a race, but to go beyond yourself. A more transcendent self, a spiritual awakening, by the end you definitely will be a changed person. The documentary helps enlighten those questions with some other cultural examples.
In Japan Mt Hiei, an ancient order of Buddhist monks traverse up to 60 miles a day for 1000 days in quest of enlightenment. The practice is known as Sennichi Kaihogyo (circling the mountain). Mt. Hiei is strewn with graves of failures. The long walking hike is described as ‘praying with feet’. In contrast Navajo Native Americans consider running as prayer.
Making a spiritual connection with the land. African hunters tracking their prey, can be running for a day, it is part of life and their cultural survival.
Will this make you a ultra-marathon runner? I cant answer nor can this documentary answer that for you, it is your ‘why’ to find out. As for me I will be heading out for a run soon
From running long distances, I know of the suffering and the pain. There is no plan that can avoid this, experiencing exhaustion, heat, but you will not give up. I cannot fathom running 3100miles, the documentary does put perspective on the ‘why’. It fascinates me to be able to run beyond perception and find yourself. With that in mind, the film puts a new perspective on running, something hidden with a spiritual enlightenment.
Win Tickets to The Invisible Man, an edge-of-your-seat thriller that will have you checking over your shoulders. In cinemas February 27.
What you can’t see can hurt you. Emmy Award®-winner Elisabeth Moss (Us, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale) stars in a thrilling modern tale of obsession inspired by Universal’s classic monster character.
Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass (Moss) escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister (Harriet Dyer, NBC’s The InBetween), their childhood friend (Aldis Hodge, Straight Outta Compton) and his teenage daughter (Storm Reid, HBO’s Euphoria). Win one of five double passes by registering your name and phone number to go into the draw on Monday March 2nd. Email email@example.com and you could be a winner!
But when Cecilia’s abusive ex (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House) commits suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, Cecilia suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of eerie coincidences turns lethal, threatening the lives of those she loves, Cecilia’s sanity begins to unravel as she desperately tries to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.
THE INVISIBLE MAN appears in cinemas February 27.
Words Wal Reid
With the #MeToo movement spurred by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment scandals, long time feminist filmmaker Michal Aviad’s gritty drama about a young Israeli mother returning to the work force and putting up with her boss’s sexual advances, is as topical as it is provocative – Does any of this smack of familiarity?
“It’s a polarising subject that is overly reported time after time in the news. The sexualisation of women in the work force”
It’s a polarising subject that is overly reported time after time in the news. The sexualisation of women in the work force. The premise revolves around young Mum Orna, (played by the brilliant Liron Ben Shlush) the mother of three lives a frugal existence while her husband struggles to start his own restaurant. Her fragmented narrative matches the movie’s pace and the mood of the picture, unfurling its lucid storyline.
To help fund her family, Orna returns to the workplace landing a job with Benny, expertly played by Menashe Noy who is a successful real estate developer. His character epitomises the macho Svengali-like predatory boss, who under the guise of an ‘helping angel’ is nothing further from the truth. To be honest, I just wanted to throttle the guy.
While she embraces her new job and tries to balance its demands with her home life, she begins to experience escalating sexual harassment from Benny which compromises her belief system and relationship with her husband Ofer (McMafia’s Oshri Cohen). Under the strain of the tense work place situation, Shlush delivers her performance with gusto while duping the audience into believing her character, this respite in the film helps her gather some much needed self-confidence.
I thought her performance was well handled and she has a pensive dead-pan expression that would leave Garbo for dead (if she was still alive) Now and then I found the film meandering but not to the point of finding myself switching off. I mean it was an easy watch so that’s a big thumbs up (short attention span here) that coupled with its surprisingly redemptive outlook was another reason to like this.
The film delivers. It’s job exposing the underbelly of a sexist society while tapping into the sentiment of the viewer. This simple truth resonated with myself even though it was subtitled, it’s message engaging. It is a powerful reminder that not all is well with the world, however, the film’s sanguine ending should serve as a timely reminder that now and then, we can restore our faith in humanity.
words Wal Reid
The Legendary “Empress of Soul” Gladys Knight, breezed into Auckland last night under the radar for the start of her New Zealand Tour. As a youngster I fondly remember watching her on our old black & white television set. Gladys Knight & The Pips’ music piped through the feeble non-existent tv speakers, it seemed a world away. I know I’m showing my age here, but so too, were most of the crowd – it was definitely a generation thing.
Her emotive music and soulful voice has transcended the decades, she even bagged a Grammy Award for her solo work on the 1989 James Bond theme song License To Kill. She quietly mentioned she “nearly didn’t record this song” as she doesn’t “like guns”. However, there was no going ‘undercover’ tonight for the legendary RnB Diva, she had the crowd dancing in the aisles and out their seats. The band played with a hiss and a roar, but that only incited the crowd as her backing singers tore down the roof, especially on Carole King’s (You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman.
“Donned in muted sparkly black attire, her outfit trailing her as the band played in her slipstream. “I love you, I love you, I love you,” she screamed over the cheering of the crowd”
Tonight the seven-time Grammy Award-winner wasted no time leaving an indelible mark on the auspicious Civic Theatre. It was incredible seeing her live strutting the stage but her voice, her God-given talent, ageless, flawlessly singing as if a role she was born to fulfil. Probably doesn’t hurt she looks ten younger than her stated years as well. She shared her earliest memory singing as a four year old adding, “back then you got whipped” she recalled. One of her most well known songs I Heard It Through the Grapevine almost never made it. “I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ means you weren’t there”, further adding. “It’s gossip, as Mama would say”.
As her career came on the rise in the early ’50s, she released numerous songs to her name. Her breakout hit Every Beat of My Heart was followed by a string of successful singles before the release of Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye)—a soulful album which earned Knight her first Grammy Award. Then another for her smash hit Midnight Train to Georgia, before picking up another for her collaboration with Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Dionne Warwick for the iconic hit tune That’s What Friends Are For.
Donned in muted sparkly black attire, her outfit trailing her as the band played in her slipstream. “I love you, I love you, I love you,” she screamed over the cheering of the crowd. Her narrative in-between songs was like taking a guided tour. The colourful raconteur rattled off story after story, of her amazing life surrounded by the calibre of talented people like vocalist James Ingram & “little brother” Marvin Gaye. Song writer Jim Weatherly also featured as his song Midnight Train To Georgia was received with raucous applause.
“Hard to believe she has quinquagenarian-plus fan boys and fan girls, but they revelled and screeched their way through her set like teenagers seeing their idol for the first time”
Her rambunctious outlook added a maternal warmth, as she found her way into the hearts of the audience – how could you not warm to her? “I’ve waited a long time for this night,” she proceeded to tell the crowd. It was her first tour of the country in over two decades, so there was generous leeway given on the crowd’s behalf since her last visit here. With her nine-piece band in tow, she performed most of the hits she is known the world over, including Ed Sheeran’s earworm Perfect & Sam Smith’s beautiful Stay With Me. Both given the ‘Gladys’ treatment to the delightful squeals of the audience.
Hard to believe she has quinquagenarian-plus fan boys and fan girls, but they revelled and screeched their way through her set like teenagers seeing their idol for the first time. Her band were absolutely stunning, tight, soulful and robotically in sync. If you want ‘church’ Gladys will give it to you. You want to hear the hits and more, Gladys has that covered also. Today’s RnB/Soul singers lack that vital ingredient; the style and vibe of those austere times emulated through her music. You can’t replicate that unless you’ve lived through it. She waxed lyrical about the importance of “communication”, “you’ve got to have the grit and the meat to make it real” she implored. It was a lesson in life as much as it was an engaging music concert, but I think all of us were just in awe at witnessing this living legend sing her song – and that you can never replicate either.
- Love Overboard(Gladys Knight & The Pips song
- Nitty Gritty / Shake Your Body Down to the Ground
- Every Beat of My Heart(Johnny Otis cover)
- Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me(Jim Weatherly cover)
- Stay With Me(Sam Smith cover)
- Save the Overtime (For Me)(Gladys Knight & The Pips song)
- Never Too Much(Luther Vandross cover)
- Part Time Love(David Gates cover)
- I’ve Got to Use My Imagination(Gladys Knight & The Pips song)
- I Heard It Through the Grapevine(Gladys Knight & The Pips song)
- Licence to Kill
- Midnight Train to Georgia(Jim Weatherly cover)
- If I Could
- Why I Love You(Major cover)
- One Hundred Ways(James Ingram cover)
- (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman(Carole King cover)
- The Way We Were(Barbra Streisand cover)
- Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)(Jim Weatherly cover)
- Baby Don’t Change Your Mind(Gladys Knight & The Pips song)
Words Sarah Kidd
No one can deny that the DC Universe has struggled in the world of film; compared to Marvel and its legion of devoted followers who appreciate the cohesiveness and continuity of their blockbuster movies, DC struggles to pick a direction and stick to it.
Suicide Squad had its charms, but ultimately failed to live up to expectations. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn however, quickly gained both notoriety and praise; her look in the film soon adopted as the latest trend for Halloween parties across the globe. Cue spin-off.
So, how does Birds of Prey fare?
Admittedly not too bad at all. Taking into account that the film is a continuation of Harley Quinn’s adventures specifically – which means that instead of sharing the screen with juggernauts like Will Smith, she is predominantly the main focus – will play a part in determining the enjoyment level of the viewer.
Despite Quinns’ style of speaking, which can become a little irritating at times, Robbie otherwise delivers a solid performance, once again capturing the characteristics viewers have already come to know and expect from her portrayal of Quinn while adding a few more nuances to her already colourful persona.
“Despite Quinns’ style of speaking, which can become a little irritating at times, Robbie otherwise delivers a solid performance”
Where Robbie (who also produced the film) truly shines is in the physical arena, her movement when handling weapons, participating in fight scenes right down to how she curls up on a couch with a bowl of fruit-loops are all so wonderfully fluid that it draws the viewer into her character with a natural ease.
Throughout the film, Quinn narrates certain events or points of interest, this does start to wear a little thin, especially when the momentum of the film is broken in order to tell the backstory of a character, or to retrace the steps of what led to a particular part in the timeline. Still it is a point of difference and thankfully is not used too excessively.
So, Harley Quinn is back in Gotham, sans the Joker who has kicked her out. Keeping quiet about her current relationship status, Quinn proceeds to roll about Gotham taking full advantage of her immunity from retribution and basically behaving badly, which she is very good at. That is however until one night after overhearing people mocking her ongoing trials and tribulations with her man, she decides to announce to the city she is single by blowing up the ACME chemical plant where she first pledged her love to the Joker (apparently Batman was taking the night off, as despite Quinn almost destroying a quarter of the city, the bat is nowhere to be seen)
Cue the introduction of Black Canary (Jurnee Smollet-Bell), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) over the course of the plot, complete with back stories that fold themselves into the timeline somewhat awkwardly, but they get the job done. Of course, there has to be a villain, Birds of Prey offering up two in the form of Ewan McGregor as Roman Sionis/Black Mask and his psychotically creepy henchman Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina).
Birds of Prey is a restricted movie, and as such it contains violence that while not excessively nausea inducing, does include a few scenes that will make people wince. It was also a little disturbing that many seemed to find the beginning of one particular scene where Sionis publicly degrades a woman somewhat amusing; perhaps it was his slightly camp demeanor in which he did it … It should be noted though that there is an unnerving undercurrent to the scenes of violence featured in the movie.
“How it will stand the test of time against both the previous and any future DC cinematic offerings, remains to be seen”
While the female characters carry out theirs in a kick-ass girl kinda way, with a sense of cartoonish fun to them, a few of the scenes featuring Sionis have a far more realistic and sadistic nature to them, especially when the violence is aimed at his female victims. Written this way to truly set him apart as the bad guy? Possibly, but it is a little uncomfortable to say the least.
The film is of course called Birds of Prey, so the expectation being that at some point we see the female leads join together to become a tour de force; however, when they finally do, it seems rather anticlimactic, leaving some wondering if director Cathy Yan actually got the incredibly long film title the wrong way around.
Birds of Prey is indeed a bit of fun, and if audience members are already fans of films of a similar ilk, then this too will be a win for them. It’s bright, it’s loud, the pace keeps the storyline moving in the right direction for the majority of the film and there are some memorable performances from Robbie, McGregor, Smollett-Bell and a Hyena called Bruce. The soundtrack is none too shabby either, however some of the tracks used have already been featured in several films over the last couple of years and do feel a little tired.
It would be hard to vehemently dislike Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) but how it will stand the test of time against both the previous and any future DC cinematic offerings, remains to be seen.
Byron Bay Blues festival is lifting the curtain on round two of their exciting line-up for 2020.
After confirming the likes of Dave Matthews Band, Crowded House and Patti Smith and her Band on our first line-up, we’ve added a string of new acts, including Lenny Kravitz, Jimmie Vaughan, The Waterboys, Eagles of Death Metal, Ani DiFranco, and many more.
GET TO KNOW THE NEW ACTS HITTING THE BLUESFEST STAGE NEXT EASTER!
Grammy Award-winning Rock musician Lenny Kravitz made the albums ‘Let Love Rule’, ‘Mama Said’ and ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’. Over a musical career spanning 20 years, he has transcended genre with his unique soul, rock and funk influences. Are you ready to “Fly Away”?
Living legend Jimmie Vaughan is an American blues-rock guitarist and singer who hails from Austin. As a founding member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, he was one of the leading Texas guitarists of the ’70s and ’80s. Are you “Tuff Enuff” for Jimmie Vaughn’s gritty, hard-grooving performance?
With their cross-pollination of literate, soulful rock n’ roll and folk traditions of the British Isles, the Waterboys have tread a multitude of musical paths since singer-songwriter Mike Scott formed the group in London in the early ’80s, and continue to blur genres with 2019 album ‘Where The Action Is’.
EAGLES OF DEATH METAL
The collaboration of lifelong friends Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme, Eagles of Death Metal bring to the stage a revved-up blend of garage rock, boogie rock and hard rock, with elements of glam rock, blues rock and swamp rock thrown in. Rock out to ‘Peace Love Death Metal’!
Ani Di Franco has never been afraid to push boundaries. The iconic singer, songwriter, activist and poet hit the world stage over twenty-five years ago. She has released more than 20 albums on her own record label, Righteous Babe, which gives her massive creative freedom.
AMADOU & MARIAM
A musical husband-and-wife duo who got their start in Mali, Amadou & Mariam bring the magic every time. The pair met at the Bamako Institute for the Young Blind in 1975, married in 1980, and have been releasing albums, touring and playing festivals around the globe. We dare you not to dance to their uniquely African beat!
THE ALLMAN BETTS BAND
Family tradition runs deep with the Allman Betts Band who follow in the footsteps of their groundbreaking fathers. Celebrating the founding of the Allman Brothers Band just over 50 years ago, Devon Allman and Duane Betts keep the southern rock torch burning, with a mix of classic Allmans tunes and new tracks.
Italian musician Adelmo Fornaciari, known to the world by his nickname Zucchero (‘Sugar’), is an award-winning songwriter with a string of hits. His unique blend of blues, Italian ballads and R&B has seen him play with legends like Bono, Sheryl Crow, Eric Clapton and Macy Gray. Don’t miss the Father of Italian blues!
CORY HENRY & THE FUNK APOSTLES
A former member of Bluesfest favourites, Snarky Puppy, Cory Henry’s multi-instrumentalist skills are astounding. It’s funk, it’s blues, it’s R’n’B, it’s gospel, it’s soul and it’s rock! Cory Henry & the Funk Apostles breathe fresh air into all these genres. You won’t want to miss this funk explosion!
Yola is setting the music scene on alight with her debut album ‘Walk Through Fire’ establishing her as the new Queen of Country Soul. The album is a genre-bending release bursting with Yola’s powerful vocals that capture tales of heartbreak and loves lost. One of the most exciting emerging British artists in music today – Yola is one to watch!
Instrumentalist turned singer-songwriter Tal Wilkenfeld breaks new ground with new album ‘Love Remains’. Having toured as a bassist with the likes of Jeff Beck, Mick Jagger, Prince and The Allman Bros, Tal has honed her craft as a singer in her own right. A true musician!
Joachim Cooder grew up playing music with his father Ry Cooder, touring and recording with icons including Johnny Cash, John Lee Hooker and the Buena Vista Social Club. He has solidified his reputation as a lyrical drummer, composing film scores, and now writing and singing his own songs like “Country Blues”. Come on all you good time people!
STEVE ‘N’ SEAGULLS
Finnish Roots music collective Steve ‘n’ Seagulls have a penchant for turning hard rock, metal, and grunge classics into front-porch jamborees. You can’t mistake the quintet’s signature hillbilly metal sound which has endeared them to fans worldwide. We promise you’ll be on your feet falling in love with bluegrass all over again!
DON’T MISS OUT ON WHAT’S SHAPING UP TO BE THE BEST BLUESFEST YET!
What do you get if you get LOTR’s star Elijah Wood, Canadian actor Stephen McHattie and our own Madeleine Sami in a Horror film? lead Kiwi director Ant Timpson’s deranged comic thriller about a father-son reunion that goes very, very south could explain it.
Don’t miss the New Zealand screening of this blackly comic, dark movie that should have fans of this genre reeling with glee. Starts in Kiwi cinemas February 20th, the debut directorial film for Timpson is set to become a cinematic hit.
So the story premise goes – After receiving a cryptic letter from his estranged father, Norval (Elijah Wood) travels to his dad’s oceanfront home for what he hopes will be a positive experience. If only he’d known the dark truth about his old man beforehand. Stephen McHattie, Martin Donovan and Michael Smiley co-star in this gory, gross-out, black comedy that’s the directorial debut of producer Ant Timpson (The Greasy Strangler, The ABCs of Death).
“Norval’s (Elijah Wood) life has been, to put it lightly, difficult. Currently living home with his mother, the troubled young man is coming off alcohol-related struggles. So when he receives an unexpected letter from his estranged father requesting a visit, Norval catches a bus up to his dad’s secluded and scenic waterfront home.
Maybe reconnecting with his father will give Norval the emotional fulfillment he’s been lacking. Before long, though, he notices something off about his dad, an uneasy feeling triggered by inappropriate comments and a possible over-dependence on booze. Norval quickly realizes that his hope of father/son bonding is doomed. Instead of a family reunion, he finds himself in waking nightmare.” (Tribeca Film Festival)
We are giving away five double passes to this film on our Facebook page, alternatively, send us an email and tell us why you should go see the film. It’s that easy. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to win!
In Cinemas February 20th
2019 Rating: R16, Violence, sexual references & offensive language 93 mins
Words Mike Beck
With a penchant for the spectacle, Roland Emmerich’s latest effort is a period piece adapted from events during the Second World War. Midway is a tour-de-force big-budget extravaganza, given a larger than life treatment in a way that only Emmerich knows how.
With screen credits that run long & strong in the disaster film genre, fans of Emmerich (Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, White House Down etc) won’t be let down with more of the same with Midway. Based on WWII conflicts between Japan & the United States, the film recounts the battle strategies & war-gaming from the late 1930’s to early 40’s, delivered stylistically to make you feel like you’re a player inside a chess game of big boys toys.
“This is typical Emmerich though; a hard focus on the spectacle, an affinity for elaborate action sequences”
The literally explosive battle sequences suggest much money has been put into bringing Midway’s visual effects laden tale together. The CG era enables battleships to come to their demise in ways never before seen, while dogfights are intricately & expertly rendered, with live-action & SFX blended brilliantly. No expense has been spared with casting either, as Ed Skrein (superhero pilot Dick Best), Patrick Wilson (Ed Layton) & Aaron Eckhart (Jimmy Doolittle) mix it with veterans Woody Harrelson (Nimitz) & Dennis Quaid (‘Bull’ Halsey). In this Top Gun style tale, they have all the right moves.
Midway does maintain its pacing at breakneck, with even the quieter moments driven along with a modern brooding soundtrack. This is perhaps intrusive & distracting at times; breaking the illusion of the time in which it is set, plus the lack of space and dynamics, particularly in pivotal dialogue driven scenes.
This is typical Emmerich though; a hard focus on the spectacle, an affinity for elaborate action sequences, with characters portrayed & played out as iconic hero’s tailor-made for the Hollywood system. Although based on historic figures with key involvement in one chapter of WWII, the storytelling & tone of Midway doesn’t make clear whether it is a pro or anti-war film. The tropes of honour, bravery, dignity & pride give the film a ‘Cowboys vs Indians’ matinee sensibility.
There’s another war film occupying our big-screens at present. 1917, by Sam Mendes, is very much the anti-thesis of Midway, set during the Great War, told in an intimate way with effects of a whole other kind. If you get to the cinema often & you’re a war film fan, go see them both. Midway will show you just what happens when fire meets fire, but for the cinephiles, Mendes’ film is something else.