Friday, 18 May 2018

CHAPPAQUIDDICK : Tuesday 15th May 2018.

'CHAPPAQUIDDICK' which I saw this week is an American drama film based on the real life events surrounding the 1969 Chappaquiddick Incident. Directed by John Curran whose most recent Directorial outing was the 2013 Robyn Davidson Western Australian adapted story 'Tracks' with Mia Wasikowska, he here Directs this account of the true story which is described as 'a single-vehicle car accident that occurred on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, on Friday, July 18, 1969. The late night accident was caused by Senator Ted Kennedy's negligence, and resulted in the death of his 28-year-old passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, who was trapped inside the vehicle'. Further it states that 'according to his testimony, Kennedy accidentally drove his car off the one-lane bridge and into a tidal channel. He swam free, left the scene, and did not report the accident to the police for ten hours; Kopechne died inside the fully submerged car. The next day, the car with Kopechne's body inside was recovered by a diver, minutes before Kennedy reported the accident to local authorities. Kennedy pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of a crash causing personal injury, and later received a two-month suspended jail sentence'. The film Premiered at TIFF last September, had its US release in early April, and went on general release in Australia last week, having so far grossed US$17M at the Box Office off the back of a US$14M Production Budget, and garnered generally positive Reviews along the way.

Through factual accounts, laid out in the inquest from the investigations in 1969, the film examines the mysterious events and subsequent fall out around the drowning of aspiring political strategist and Kennedy insider Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara) after Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) drove his car off the infamous Dike Bridge on Chappaquiddick Island. It is July 18th 1969, coincidentally, just two days after the Apollo 11 took off for the Moon landing that saw Neil Armstrong step foot on the surface on 21st July.

The US Senator for Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy following a televised interview, calls his cousin (and his 'fixer') Joe Gargan (Ed Helms) to organise a number of hotel rooms on Martha's Vineyard for the affectionately named 'Bolier Room Girls' (a team of female staff members who worked in Senator Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 Presidential campaign, and who were now in turn loyal to Ted's campaign). Ted Kennedy drives by car and short ferry boat crossing to Chappaquiddick Island where he teams up with Joe and Attorney General Paul Markham (Jim Gaffigan) for a yacht race, in which he comes in ninth place due to a misguided tack. After the race he goes to a beach house with Joe, Paul, the Boiler Room Girls, one of whom is Mary Jo Kopechne, and various other friends and staffers for dinner and drinks.

Kennedy later leaves the party with Mary Jo driving a 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88. After a brief stop under the stars to chat about the legacy of the Kennedy clan and the expectations he must live up to, he attempted to cross the Dike Bridge (which did not have any safety railings at the time). Kennedy lost control of his vehicle on a blind bend approaching the bridge and crashed in to the Poucha Pond inlet, which was a tidal channel on Chappaquiddick Island. Kennedy escaped from the overturned vehicle, and, by his own account, dived below the surface several times, attempting without success to reach and rescue Kopechne. Ultimately, he swam to shore and left the scene, with Kopechne still trapped inside the vehicle gasping for air and unable to get out of the upturned vehicle.

Soaked through, he walks back to the beach house, and speaks in private with Joe and Paul, saying that his Presidential campaign has just ended. They drive to the scene of the accident and both dive in and try in vain to recover Mary Jo, but to no avail, with Kennedy looking on, distraught, from the bridge. Joe and Paul commandeer a row boat tied up nearby and ferry Kennedy across the water to nearby Edgartown insisting that he turn himself into the Police immediately. Instead, upon arrival back on the mainland, he heads to his hotel room, where he washes, suits up and calls his father Joe Kennedy Snr. (Bruce Dern) who is in very ill health and explains what just happened. Barely able to speak having suffered a stroke, Joe mutters one word down the phone to his son - 'alibi'! He wanders around making sure he is seen by another hotel guest at 2:20am and then retires to his room where he attempts to sleep. The next morning, the vehicle is discovered where it landed by a father and son out on an early morning fishing trip off the bridge. They alert the police straight away who arrive within minutes.

The local Chief of Police and the Fire Department recover Kopechne's body from the vehicle, and quickly discover that the car is registered to Ted Kennedy. Joe and Paul come to the realisation that Ted has not yet turned himself in, and further insist that he must do so. Agreeing, albeit somewhat reluctantly, Kennedy makes a call from a private pay phone where no one can listen in, or overhear, to mobilise his legal team and then he and Paul go to the Edgartown Police Department, and wait for the return of Police Chief Arena (John Fiore).

After reading a prepared statement to Chief Arena which he asks not be released to the already awaiting Press, Kennedy travels to the Kennedy Compound (a six acre waterfront property on Cape Cod along Nantucket Sound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts). There he meets with his wheelchair bound disabled father Joe who registers his disappointment with his son for bringing his family into disrepute.

Later Kennedy meets with his legal team headed up by Robert McNamara (Clancy Brown) who attempt to show Kennedy in a sympathetic light to gain national favour, despite some very questionable decisions by the Senator. Fortunately, the historic Moon landing is about to happen which is likely to deflect the national headlines away from the Chappaquiddick Incident buying the legal team much needed time to gather their thoughts and devise a PR plan to defuse the whole sorry matter.

Things however, soon backfire as a result of holes in Kennedy's written statement, it being leaked to the Press by an over zealous Police Chief, faux medical diagnosis, stating initially that Mary Jo was driving, and him choosing to wear a neck brace to Mary Jo's funeral in an attempt to retrieve some of his tarnished image - an act that he was much ridiculed for. Joe becomes increasingly frustrated and angered by Kennedy and his actions, believing that it lessens the death of Kopechne and has turned the whole issue into a circus. As Joe attempts to resign, Kennedy asks that he drafts his resignation speech which he intends to read out over a live national television broadcast later that night.

Finally, Joe can see that Kennedy is doing the right thing and agrees. The Kennedy's Presidential Advisor and speechwriter Ted Sorensen (Taylor Nichols) writes an apologetic speech for Kennedy concurrently, which the Senator decides to read over the television broadcast instead of Gargan's resignation speech. As the credits roll, we learn that a week following the incident, Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of the accident and was given a suspended sentence of two months in jail, denying that he was driving whilst under the influence of alcohol and that there was any impropriety between he and Kopechne. We further learn that he did not run for President in 1972 or 1976, but did run in 1980 in which he was defeated. He would later go on to serve in the US Senate up until the time of death in 2009 having begun his political career in 1962.

This film leaves you exiting the movie theatre with more questions than it answered, but nonetheless it is an intriguing story than moves along at a sober pace as it explores the hours and days immediately following this tragedy, and the at times farcical manner in which Kennedy tries to deal with it. Jason Clarke's central role as the troubled, emotional, battling with his conflicted conscience Senator Kennedy as his political aspirations gradually implode, is first rate and a convincing nuanced performance. As this incident occurred 48 years ago now, I would doubt that anyone under the age of 35 at least would have a clue about Chappaquiddick and what happened on that fateful night in 1969, especially given the overshadowing Moon landing event. So in this respect this history lesson is one that deservedly needs to be told, even though there may be a sprinkling of Hollywood poetic license wrapped up in this cautionary tale of how the power of privilege and entitlement can so easily outweigh tragedy and loss. A little more of Mary Jo's back story would have served the film well, given that her untimely death is the reason, albeit a tragic one, for the whole unfortunate series of events, and whilst Kate Mara's screen time is well delivered, more would have been beneficial in fleshing out her history as a Boiler Room Girl perhaps. Worth seeing for sure, and not necessarily on the big screen, but for a slow burning based on a true event story of the much troubled yet highly regarded Kennedy family, on which much has been written, filmed and speculated over the years, you can't go far wrong with this solid well scripted, attention to detail, thought provoking offering.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

What's new in Odeon's this week : Thursday 17th May 2018.

The 71st Cannes Film Festival runs this year from 8th to 19th May inclusive with Australia's very own Cate Blanchett named as the Jury President for those twenty-one feature films competing for the prestigious Palme d'Or. This year the opening film is by Iranian Director and Screenwriter Asghar Farhadi with his Spanish language psychological thriller 'Everybody Know's' starring Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Ricardo Darin and Barbara Lennie. The closing film and screening out of competition is Terry Gilliam's lifetime in gestation on again off again passion project 'The Man Who Killed Don Quixote' starring Jonathan Pryce, Adam Driver, Stellan Skarsgard, and Olga Kurylenko.

Of the twenty-one films in main competition for the Palme d'Or there are entries from far and wide ranging from Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, South Korea, Lebanon, Japan, Egypt, Kazakhstan, France, Italy and the USA, with nothing this year from the UK or Australia. Included in this list are : 'Burning' from South Korea and starring Steven Yuen; 'BlacKkKlansman' from the USA, Directed by Spike Lee and starring Adam Driver, Topher Grace and Harry Belafonte; 'Everybody Knows' as previously mentioned; 'Under the Silver Lake' from the USA and starring Andrew Garfield, Topher Grace, and Riley Keough; 'The Image Book' a French/Swiss Co-Production Directed by Jean-Luc Godard. Judges for this award also include Ava DuVernay, Lea Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, Denis Villeneuve and Andrey Zvyagintsev.

There are eighteen films in the Un Certain Regard category this year, overseen by Jury President Benicio del Toro spanning an equally diverse geographical spread as the above category and also taking in Kenya, India, Ukraine, Belgium, Germany and Argentina. Included in this list are : 'Angel Face' from France starring Marion Cotillard; 'Donbass' from the Ukraine and the opening film in this selected category; 'The Dead and the Others' from Portugal; 'Rafiki' from Kenya; 'Girl' from Belgium; 'Long Day's Journey into Night' from China; 'Manto' from India; and 'Die, Monster, Die' from Argentina.

Those films being screened out of competition include the Kevin Connolly Directed biographical drama 'Gotti' about the life of New York City mobster John Gotti (John Travolta) and his son. The film also stars Kelly Preston and Stacy Keach. Then there is the Lars von Trier Directed 'The House That Jack Built' starring Matt Dillon as Jack, a highly intelligent serial killer over the course of twelve years. Also starring Bruno Ganz, Uma Thurman and Riley Keough. Terry Gilliam's 'The Man Who Killed Don Quixote' screens as the closing night film, and Ron Howard's 'Solo : A Star Wars Story' the second standalone film in the Star Wars Universe charting the early years and the rise to intergalactic notoriety of one Hans Solo (Alden Ehrenreich).

For more details, go to : festival-cannes.com

This week we have five new movies coming to your local Odeon. We launch with another Marvel character who first emerged onto our screens all foul mouthed, heavily opinionated, guns blazing and almost indestructible just two years ago and here that Superhero is back for a second time to save a young mutant lad from a time travelling cyber assassin, whilst rounding up a new cadre of colleagues to help save the world. We then switch to a post apocalyptic zombie drama about one mans race against time to save his infant daughter from a deadly virus that he is already infected with. Next up is a fantasy drama about a young teenager who lives in a make believe world inhabited by giants that only she can see, but to her they are very real, and must be killed. We then move to a WWII drama that sees a German Officer falling for a young Jewish maid who is also a Secret Agent, and the choices he must make, and the consequences of his decisions. Wrapping up the week is a French foreign language RomCom about a woman going through a mid-life crisis of a failed marriage, no job and about to become a Grandmother, finding salvation and given a second chance by a old flame from her dim and distant past.

Whatever your taste in big screen film entertainment is this week - be it any of the five latest release new movies as Previewed below, or those doing the rounds currently on general release and as Reviewed and Previewed in previous Blog Posts here at Odeon Online, you are here cordially invited to share your movie going thoughts, opinions and observations by leaving your relevant, succinct and appropriate views in the Comments section below this or any other Post. We'd love to hear from you, and meanwhile, enjoy your big screen Odeon outing during the week ahead.

'DEADPOOL 2' (Rated MA15+) - based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name who first appeared in the 1991 publication of 'The New Mutants', here we have the sequel to the Critically and financially successful 2016 antihero Superhero film 'Deadpool' which off the back of a budget of US$58M grossed worldwide US$783M and collected 28 award wins and another 75 nominations from around the awards circuit. Despite the first films success, plans were already underway for a follow up film even before the release of the initial 'Deadpool' introductory instalment, with 'Deadpool 3' already in development. That first film was Directed by Tim Miller, although he did not return for this segment due to creative differences with Co-Producer, Co-Writer and Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds. Instead David Leitch signed on to Direct (whose previous Directorial outings include 'Atomic Blonde' and the upcoming 2019 'Fast & Furious' spin off 'Hobbs & Shaw'). Although a Marvel Comics character, Deadpool does not belong in the world of The Avengers or the MCU, but rather sits within the 'X-Men' franchise, and as such this is intended to be the eleventh film in that series.

And so Ryan Reynolds returns as Wade Wilson/Deadpool as the wisecracking potty mouthed physically scarred practically invincible mercenary who forms a team of mutants known as 'X-Force' to protect young mutant lad Russell (Julian Denison who made his last appearance in 2016's New Zealand feature 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople') from a time travelling cybernetic mutant soldier named Nathan Summers aka Cable (Josh Brolin, enjoying his second outing in as many weeks as a Marvel antagonist hot on the heels of his portrayal as Thanos in 'Avengers : Infinity War'). Joining Deadpool on the newly formed X-Force are Bedlam (Terry Crews who can generate electricity at will), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan, an alien with martial arts skills), Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgard who has acidic breath), Neena Thurman aka Domino (Zazie Beetz who can manipulate luck) teamed up with Colossus (Stefan Kapicic who can transform his body into organic steel) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand who can detonate atomic bursts from her body). T.J.Miller returns as Weasel, Wade Wilsons best friend and owner of the bar often frequented by Wilson and other like minded mercenaries, as does Morena Baccarin return as Vanessa as Wilsons love interest. If this second instalment is up there with the first, then this will be a must watch, and is sure to do well.

'CARGO' (Rated MA15+) - this Australian post-apocalyptic zombie thriller is written by Yolanda Ramke and is Co-Directed by her and Ben Howling and is based on their own 2013 Sydney shortfilm festival 'Tropfest' seven minute film entry of the same name. The film first Premiered at the Adelaide Film Festival back in October last year and now gets its limited release in theatres in Australia as well as on Netflix. Starring Martin Freeman as Andy Rose who following a violent pandemic is holed up on a houseboat with with Kay Caine (Susie Porter) and their one year old child, Rosie. When an unexpected violent attack kills Kay and leaves Andy infected with a killer virus that will turn him into one of the walking dead within 48 hours, he embarks on a perilous journey to find salvation for his daughter - an Aboriginal tribe and a young indigenous girl being the only means of safe passage into that remote community, but the girl also has her own agenda. Also starring Anthony Hayes, Caren Pistorius, David Gulpilil and Kris McQuade.

'I KILL GIANTS' (Rated PG) - this fantasy drama film is helmed by first time feature film Danish Director Anders Walter who picked up an Academy Award in 2013 for Best Live Action Short Film, 'Helium'. The story is based on the limited series American comic book of the same name released over seven issues from July 2008 onwards and written by Joe Kelly and illustrated by J.M. Ken Nimura. The film Premiered at Toronto in September last year and went on general release in the US in late march and has so far taken just US$184K at the Box Office despite its generally favourable press. Here twelve year old Barbara Thorson (Madison Wolfe) flees from reality, choosing to reside in her imaginary world of fantasy and magic, where she fights with giants to protect her beachside New Jersey hometown, and kills them. Her family does not understand her, her peers at school do not like her and she is bullied, and she irritates the teachers, except for newly arrived school psychologist Mrs. Molle (Zoe Saldana) who takes it upon herself to discover more about young Barbara's 'condition'. Only Sofia (Sydney Wade) recently moved into the neighbourhood and of a similar age, tries to make friends with her, understand her and show some empathy. Also starring Imogen Poots as Barbara's older sister, Karen. Wolfe's performance has in particular been praised.

'THE EXCEPTION' (Rated MA15+) - in his Directorial debut British David Leveaux adapts the 2003 novel by Alan Judd 'The Kaiser's Last Kiss' which was Premiered at TIFF in September 2016, was released in the US in June 2017, the UK in October 2017 and now only gets a limited theatrical release in Australia. The film has so far met with mixed or average Reviews and a Box Office take of just US$804K. It is the early days of WWII and German Officer Stefan Brandt (Jai Courtney) is given a mission to investigate exiled German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II (Christopher Plummer). The Kaiser lives in a remote mansion near Utrecht in the Netherlands, and as Germany is taking over Holland, the country's authorities are concerned that Dutch spies may be monitoring the Kaiser. As Brandt begins to infiltrate the Kaiser's life in search of clues, he finds himself drawn into an unexpected and passionate romance with Mieke de Jong (Lily James), one of the Kaiser's maids. But Mieke in time reveals that she is secretly Jewish, and furthermore that she is a British Secret Service Agent. When SS Commander Heinrich Himmler (Eddie Marsan) pays a visit, Brandt must choose between protecting his love and toeing the Nazi party line. Also starring Janet McTeer, Ben Daniels, Mark Dexter and Kris Cuppens.

'AURORE' (Rated M) - in only her second feature length Directorial outing, this French foreign language romantic comedy film (aka 'I Got Life' and 'Fifty Springtimes') was also Co-Written for the screen based on an original idea by Blandine Lenoir and has received generally positive Reviews. Here she crafts the story of Aurore (Agnes Jaoui) a woman in her fifties, menopausal, separated from her husband, loses her job, and finds out that she is about to become a grandmother. Realising that she is being pushed to the very edge of society, she unexpectedly rediscovers a love from her much younger days. Picking herself up by her coat tails, Aurore decides to rebel against the cards she has been dealt and instead grasp this new opportunity to make a new life for herself. Also starring Sarah Suco, Pascale Arbillot, Thibault de Montalembert and Lou Roy-Lecollinet.

With five new release films out this week to tempt you out to your local Odeon, remember to share your movie going thoughts with your other like minded cinephile friends afterwards here at Odeon Online. In the meantime, I'll see you sometime somewhere in the week ahead at your local Odeon.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Friday, 11 May 2018

BREATH : Tuesday 8th May 2018.

'BREATH' which I saw earlier this week is an Australian film Directed, Co-Produced, Co-Written for the screen and stars Aussie Simon Baker, who is perhaps best known for his lead roles in TV's long running series 'The Guardian' and 'The Mentalist'. Based on multi-award winning author Tim Winton's international best selling book of the same name, the film saw its Premier at TIFF back in September last year, went on release in Australia last week, and in the US in early June. Based and filmed in and around the Western Australian coastal town of Denmark in the Great Southern Region, and the Directorial debut for Simon Baker, Tim Winton who also collaborated on the Screenplay stated that 'The Great Southern region has had an enormous impact on my life and work so I'm very pleased this film is being shot on the beaches and streets and forests that inspired the book'.

Set in the early 1970's in a remote Western Australian town, the film charts the story of two young impressionable teenage lads Bruce 'Pikelet' Pike (Samson Coulter) and Ivan 'Loonie' Loon, (Ben Spence) who by accident discover a love of surfing and of the ocean. Pikelet is the more grounded, caring, responsible and respectful young teenager of the two, who comes from a stable family unit, a supportive mother (Rachael Blake) and father (Richard Roxburgh), a good home, and attends school dutifully. His best mate Loonie on the other hand is a rebellious, devil may care, opinionated, outspoken bulletproof wild child who from time to time gets beaten up by his Dad.

When they are first introduced to the surf down at a secluded beach by a bunch of older surfer dudes, they are aghast at the motion of the water and the surfers almost 'dancing on water'. From that time they are hooked, and their first self teaching lessons are on old styrofoam boards that they carve a hole into and insert a fin which they seal with melted candle wax. Such is their enthusiasm to give it a go. They soon yearn to graduate to proper fibreglass boards, and through working odd jobs save up enough cash to purchase two well worn second hand boards from a dubious local.

And out they go, soon getting noticed for their commitment and enthusiastic approach by Sando (Simon Baker) a somewhat dishevelled surfer who makes big wave riding look like a walk in the park. Sando offers the boys a ride home in his truck and offers to let them stash their boards at his place which is just down the road to save them from lugging their cumbersome boards to and from home everyday on their bikes. Initially, they take Sando for just another local hippie surfer type living in a ramshackle beach hut tucked away in a clearing in the forest.

At Sando's place they are also introduced to Eva (Elizabeth Debicki) - Sando's partner. Initially she is moody, unwelcoming and distant, saying that she is from Utah while limping back up the stairs. Sando meanwhile, takes the two young lads under this wing as a mentor, picking them up and dropping them off at their homes for surfing trips to a different spot when conditions permit, teaching them about different surf breaks, the ocean currents, wave conditions, surfing techniques and the philosophy. He even gifts the boys a wetsuit each.

One day when returning to collect their boards at Sando's place, Eva placed a box containing old surfing magazines with Sando on the front cover of numerous publications. They come to realise that Sando was a former international surf champion, a fact that he is keen to gloss over. At the same time, Sando reveals that Eva was a former down hill ski champion, who suffered a very bad knee injury which put an end to her skiing career, for which she is still undergoing surgical treatment. This explains her frosty temperament.

As the year progresses, Pikelet continues to attend school responsibly but is often distracted by thoughts of his new found love of surfing, and the advances of Queenie (Miranda Frangou) a girlfriend, of sorts, although that relationship is somewhat one sided. Loonie breaks his arm as  a result of being thrown down the stairs at home by his father. This puts him out of the surfing action for six weeks, and sidelined while Sando and Pikelet live the surfing dream. One day while out in a particularly big surf break alone, Sando challenges Pikelet to a right of passage to which the young lad gingerly agrees and ultimately proves himself, while a dejected Loonie looks on secretly from the beach.

As Sando continues to take his two young charges out to often remote and more dangerous surf breaks so Pikelet becomes increasingly mindful of the associated dangers, despite the 'encouragement' offered by their mentor. Loonie on the other hand is completely reckless and fearless almost to the point of self destruction which garners him more favour with Sando. This leads Sando to take a leave of absence with Loonie to explore the surf breaks and beaches of Thailand, leaving Pikelet stranded at home.

With Eva home alone, Pikelet soon forms a close bond with her, offering him another right of passage into manhood which becomes a regular thing while Sando is away. He becomes more infatuated with Eva even saying that he loves her, which she shrugs off instantly saying that it's the sex that he's in love with, and that he's way too young to even know the meaning of the word. On their last encounter Pikelet notices Eva starring in the mirror and stroking her stomach, which he has noticed is somewhat bulging. He asks if she is pregnant to which she responds positively. Is it mine he asks, to which she responds with a no, but Pikelet is unconvinced. He runs off to take solace in the surf, in which he is dumped on by a giant wave and loses his board - one given to him by Sando previously.

Later, Sando and Loonie have returned from their surfing odyssey, and meeting Pikelet out of school, Sando announces that he is going to be a father. Pikelet congratulates him, in a stilted manner as though he suspects that Sando knows more than he is letting on. Sando says that his board was retrieved 25kms out to sea by a fishing boat and returned to him, and that surf is going to be up on Sunday morning and that he'll pick up the boys at dawn and to be ready. On the morning Loonie is sat next to Sando in the truck, keenly awaiting for the arrival of Pikelet. When he shows he declines to join them, sparking their derision, to which he retorts that just because he declines does not make him fearful or any less of a surfer, and they should accept that he has the right.

A closing voiceover of a now adult Pikelet says that he lost contact with his good friend Loonie but had heard that he wound up dead, face down in the surf with a bullet in the back of his head as a result of a drug deal gone wrong, and despite his chosen path, he still misses his friend.

'Breath' is a film about surfing, without is being about surfing. Sure there are some memorable scenes featuring vast walls of water down which Sando, Pikelet and Loonie cascade down, and equally impressive shots of the breaking waves taken looking upwards from under the water. Surfing is the glue that binds the central characters together and gives them reason to be united in their pursuit of their favoured pastime. But this is more a film about two young impressionable boys growing up in the early '70's and how their lives are changed forever by two adults, making this a personal, emotional and thoughtful coming of age story with heart and soul, rendering it relatable and believable. For his Directorial debut Simon Baker scores highly and reveals what a multi-talented artist he is both in front of the camera and behind it too. The two other central characters of Pikelet and Loonie are played with much future promise by the two young aspiring first time Actors Coulter and Spence, who bring a grounded realism to their performances that is nuanced and considered. Certainly worth the price of your ticket and worth seeing on the big screen for the surfing shots and the rugged beauty of some of Australia's fine coastal waters, but also too for the engaging story.

This film merits four claps of the clapperboard, out of a possible five.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

What's new in Odeon's this week : Thursday 10th May 2018.

In April, the world bid a fond farewell to number of stars of the silver screen and the small screen. In brief, shown below, is my passing tribute to those stars who leave an indelible mark on the entertainment industry, and in particular the world of film and television. May you all Rest In Peace, and thanks for the memories.

*  Michael Anderson : Born 30th January 1920, died 25th April 2018, aged 98. Michael Joseph Anderson Snr. was an English Director most notably known for Directing the WWII real life drama 'The Dam Busters' in 1955, the classic 'Around the World in 80 Days' in 1956, and the Sci-Fi film 'Logan's Run' in 1976. His other films worthy of note included the 1956 version of the George Orwell classic '1984', 'The Quilter Memorandum', 'Orca', 'Millennium' and 'The New Adventures of Pinocchio' which was to be his last full length feature film in 1999. All up Anderson had 43 Directing credits to his name, twelve as Assistant Director, two Acting and two Producer credits also. He had three Award wins to his name and another nine nominations including the Best Director Academy Award and Golden Globe nods for 'Around the World in 80 Days', which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1957 as well a four other wins at that years Oscar's. At the time of his death, Anderson was the oldest living nominee for an Academy Award for Best Director, and the only surviving Director whose film won a Best Picture award in the 1950s.
* R. Lee Ermey : Born 24th March 1944, died 15th April 2018, aged 74. Ronald Lee Ermey was an American Actor, Voice Actor and a US Marine Corps Staff Sergeant and an honorary gunnery Sergeant. He joined the US Marine Corp in 1961, aged 17 training in San Diego, California before serving time in Okinawa, Japan and then in Vietnam in 1968/69 before being medically discharged in 1972. His first feature film break came in 1978 in the Vietnam War drama 'The Boys in Company C' playing a Marine drill instructor. This was followed up a year later with Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam epic 'Apocalypse Now' playing a chopper pilot as well as acting as a technical advisor given his experiences in country. The role for which he is perhaps best known was Stanley Kubrick's 1987 Vietnam opus 'Full Metal Jacket' as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman for which Ermey received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor. His other big screen appearances in films of note included 'Mississippi Burning', 'Toy Soldiers', 'Sommersby', 'Body Snatchers', 'On Deadly Ground', 'Murder in the First', 'Leaving Las Vegas', 'Se7en', 'Dead Man Walking', 'The Frighteners', 'The Salton Sea', 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (2003 remake) and its 2006 prequel. Ermey also lent his voice talents to 'Starship Troopers', 'Toy Story', 'Toy Story 2' and 'Toy Story 3', 'X-Men : The Last Stand' and 'The Watch'. In the meantime there were television appearance on the likes of 'Miami Vice', 'The X-Files', 'The Simpsons', 'Family Guy', 'House', 'Law & Order : SVU' and 'Kung Fu Panda : Legends of Awesomeness', as well as numerous voice appearances on video games and television commercial endorsements. All up Ermey had 124 Acting credits to his name and he was the recipient of two award wins and another four nominations. He was a Board Member for the NRA (National Rifle Association) and Co-Founder of the Bravery Brewing Company.
* Verne Troyer : Born 1st January 1969, died 21st April 2018, aged 49. Verne Jay Troyer was an American Actor, Comedian and stuntman who's best known performance was as 'Mini-Me' in the 'Austin Powers : The Spy Who Shagged Me' second instalment in this film franchise and in the third film 'Austin Powers in Goldmember'. He garnered fame for his diminutive stature, measuring just 81cms (2 feet 8 inches) tall due to a rare genetic disorder known as cartilage-hair hypopiasia that clinically manifests itself as short limbed dwarfism. This condition made Troyer one of the world's shortest men. His big screen debut came in 1994 in 'Baby's Day Out' which was followed by regular work in the ensuing years in film and television including more notably, 'Jingle All The Way', 'Volcano', 'Men In Black', 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas', 'Mighty Joe Young', 'How The Grinch Stole Christmas', 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone', 'The Love Guru' and 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus'. Troyer had accumulated 58 Acting credits throughout his career and had picked up two award wins and four nominations.

In the week ahead we have four new films to tease you out to your local Odeon, kicking off with the real life telling of a scandal that rocked a high ranking political figure, his acclaimed family and the Presidential system in the US in the late '60's/early '70's. We then turn to a dramedy of a mother of three young kids who is gifted a Nanny to help her sleep, rest, cope and gain back some semblance of life from the never ending demands of motherhood. This is followed up by a comedy of a recently divorced mother who goes back to College to complete her Degree having put her life on hold for the sake of her soon to be ex-husband and her College age daughter, only thing is, she ends up in the same school and in the same class as her daughter, and so begins a whole new life of rediscovery, adventure and antics. We then wrap up with a murder mystery whodunnit where the patriarch of the family is poisoned in his bed and the immediate family are all prime suspects playing out in the great tradition of that acclaimed British female mystery crime writer who has had plenty of her works committed to the big and small screen.

Whatever your taste in big screen film entertainment is this week - be it any of the four latest release new movies as Previewed below, or those doing the rounds currently on general release and as Reviewed and Previewed in previous Blog Posts here at Odeon Online, you are here cordially invited to share your movie going thoughts, opinions and observations by leaving your relevant, succinct and appropriate views in the Comments section below this or any other Post. We'd love to hear from you, and meanwhile, enjoy your big screen Odeon outing during the week ahead.

'CHAPPAQUIDDICK' (Rated M) - this American drama film based on the real life events surrounding the 1969 Chappaquiddick Incident is Directed by John Curran whose most recent Directorial outing was the 2013 Robyn Davidson Western Australian adapted story 'Tracks' with Mia Wasikowska. Now, he Directs this account of the story which is described as 'a single-vehicle car accident that occurred on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, on Friday, July 18, 1969. The late night accident was caused by Senator Ted Kennedy's negligence, and resulted in the death of his 28-year-old passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, who was trapped inside the vehicle'. Further it states that 'according to his testimony, Kennedy accidentally drove his car off the one-lane bridge and into a tidal channel. He swam free, left the scene, and did not report the accident to the police for ten hours; Kopechne died inside the fully submerged car. The next day, the car with Kopechne's body inside was recovered by a diver, minutes before Kennedy reported the accident to local authorities. Kennedy pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of a crash causing personal injury, and later received a two-month suspended jail sentence'. The film Premiered at TIFF last September, had its US release in early April, and goes on general release in Australia this week, having so far grossed US$17M at the Box Office and garnered generally positive Reviews along the way.

Through factual accounts, laid out in the inquest from the investigations in 1969, the film examines the mysterious events and subsequent fall out around the drowning of aspiring political strategist and Kennedy insider Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara) after Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) drove his car off the infamous Dike Bridge on Chappaquiddick Island. The incident ultimately changed the course of presidential history, intimately exposing the long arm of political influence and power held by one of America's most celebrated families, and the vulnerability (and political implosion) of Ted Kennedy, the youngest son, in the shadow of his family's troubled and famed legacy. These events more than likely contributed to Ted Kennedy's decision not to run for President in the 1972 and 1976 campaigns. The film also stars Clancy Brown, Bruce Dern, Ed Helms and Olivia Thirlby.

'TULLY' (Rated M) - this American drama comedy offering is Directed by Jason Reitman whose previous Directing credits include 'Juno', 'Up in the Air' and 'Thank-you for Smoking' amongst others, and is Written by Diablo Cody whose previous Writing credits include 'Juno', 'Young Adult' and 'Ricky and the Flash' also amongst others. The film Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival back in January this year, went on general release in the US last week, and here in Australia this week. This film tells the story of the mother of three young kids Marlo (Charlize Theron, who it is reported gained nearly 23 kilos for her role over a period of about fifteen weeks, and ate around the clock to keep the weight on. It took her a year and a half to take the weight off once filming concluded), who is gifted a nighttime Nanny by her brother, to help her sleep and cope with the trials and tribulations of raising a demanding young family that includes a new born. Reluctant to take advantage at first, Marlo soon gives in and forms a unique relationship with the thoughtful, caring and at times challenging young Nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis). The film also stars Mark Duplass as Craig (Marlo's brother) and Ron Livingstone as Drew (Marlo's husband).

'LIFE OF THE PARTY' (Rated M) - here we have an American comedy film Co-Written and Co-Produced by the real life married couple of Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy and Directed by Ben Falcone in his third Directorial outing with his wife after 2014's 'Tammy' and 2016's 'The Boss'. The story here surrounds long time dedicated wife Deanna (Melissa McCarthy) who is suddenly and abruptly dumped by her husband Dan (Matt Walsh), seeking a divorce. Whilst Deanna has no regrets about bringing up her daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) and being a stay at home Mum, she does regret never finishing her Degree. So, Deanna decides to go back to College, and plunges headlong into the same school and same class as her daughter, who remains totally unconvinced that this is a good idea. Needless to say new adventures and new experiences await as Deanna gets reacquainted with all the fun, freedom, frolics and frat boys that College life can muster. Sounds like a hoot! Also starring Gillian Jacobs, Maya Rudolph, Jacki Weaver and Julie Bowen. Released in the US, UK and Australia this week.

'CROOKED HOUSE' (Rated PG) - Agatha Christie seems to be back in vogue right now, with this big screen adaptation of her 1949 novel of the same name, following on from Ken Branagh's reworking of 'Murder on the Orient Express' late last year and his reported re-adaptation of 'Death on the Nile'. This British murder mystery is Directed and Co-Written for the screen by Frenchman Gilles Paquet-Brenner. In this detective story, former Foreign Office diplomat Charles Hayward (Max Irons) has returned from Cairo to London to become a private detective. When Aristide Leonides (Gino Picciano), a wealthy and ruthless business tycoon, is poisoned in his own bed, Detective Hayward is invited to solve the crime by his former lover and before the Scotland Yard Detectives arrive on the scene and potentially expose hidden and dark family secrets. As the investigation deepens he must confront the shocking realisation that one of the key suspects is Aristede's beautiful granddaughter, his employer and former lover; and must remain focused and alert to navigate the sultry Sophia de Havilland (Stefani Martini) and the rest of her hostile family. Also starring Glenn Close, Gillian Anderson, Julian Sands, Terence Stamp and Christina Hendricks.

With four new release films out this week to tempt you out to your local Odeon, remember to share your movie going thoughts with your other like minded cinephile friends afterwards here at Odeon Online. In the meantime, I'll see you sometime somewhere in the week ahead at your local Odeon.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Friday, 4 May 2018

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR - Monday 30th April 2018.

'AVENGERS : INFINITY WAR' which I caught earlier in the week has arrived, finally, into our cinemas after much hype, eager anticipation, and huge expectations. This is the 19th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the sequel to 2013 'The Avengers' which grossed US$1.52B off the back of a US$200M Budget outlay, and 2015's 'Avengers : Age Of Ultron' which grossed US$1.4B off a Budget of US$267M. Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo who also Directed 'Captain America : Winter Soldier', and 'Captain America : Civil War', as well as the post-credits sequence that rounded out 'Ant-Man' and featuring a huge A-List ensemble cast, the like of which has quite possibly never before been seen on the big screen to such an extent. The Russo Brothers are also Directing the as yet unnamed sequel to this film which is due for release in early May 2019 and which was shot back to back over a twelve month period from January 2017 through January 2018. The film cost somewhere northward of US$300M to make and is one of the most expensive films ever made, and Marvel's most costly to date. In its opening weekend the film took US$641M making it the highest grossing opening film of all time, with the tally standing at US$858M at the time of posting.

Here all The Avengers we have come to know, love and respect from the previous two instalments and their own stand alone films, plus a few ring-ins must unite two years following the events of 'Captain America : Civil War' and following on directly from the closing scene in 'Thor : Ragnarok'. Here we see the ship that Thor commandeered from The Grandmaster to take the survivors of a destroyed Asgard to the relative safe haven of Earth, all but destroyed by Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his 'children' Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), Cull Obsidian (Terry Notary), Proxima Midnight (Carrie Coon) and Corvus Glaive (Michael James Shaw). All around are dead Asgardians save for a captive Thor (Chris Hemsworth) held in a vice like head grip by Thanos, an injured Heimdall (Idris Elba), a right as rain Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).

Thanos is already in possession of the first of six all powerful Infinity Stones, having secured the Power Stone already. He knows that someone on board the stricken ship has the Tesseract, which holds the Space Stone, and he is determined to get his hands on it. Thanos kills Heimdall but not before the revered sentry of Asgard summons the Bifrost sending Hulk back to Earth.

At this Loki tries to bargain with Thanos giving up the Tesseract in exchange for sparing Thor's life, but ultimately the Titan crushes Loki's throat with a single hand, squeezing all life from him, watched on by a helpless Thor. Thanos now armed with two Infinity Stones departs the stricken ship with his children, destroying it in the process.

Back down on Earth, Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong) are going about their daily business in Strange's New York residence the Sanctum Sanctorum when crashing through the window and through the grand staircase of the household lands Hulk who has now reverted to Bruce Banner, via the Bifrost. Banner announces to an unsuspecting Strange and Wong that Thanos is coming and he's hellbent on destroying half the known universe. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr.) is contacted by Strange and their introductory encounter is a little strained, but distraction is provided by Maw and Obsidian who arrive via a giant rotating circular spaceship to take possession of Doctor Strange's Time Stone, which he ain't gonna give up for anyone!

A battle ensues in the streets of downtown New York which Peter Parker (Tom Holland) gets involved in too, swinging into action as our favourite web slinger, Spider-Man. With five Avengers against two Thanos thugs, the odds would be stacked in favour of the former, but not so. Maw takes Strange prisoner aboard his ship with the aim of removing the Time Stone, followed in hot pursuit by Iron Man and Spider-Man. Before doing so, Banner urges Tony Stark to contact Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) using the cell phone given to him after the pair fell out following the events of 'Captain America : Civil War'. Stark was reluctantly about to do so before the attack, and now he is gone heading into deep space somewhere. Banner retrieves the phone after the battle, and calls Rogers.

Meanwhile up in Scotland, seemingly away from the fray living their private lives Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olson) and Vision (Paul Bettany) are ambushed by Midnight and Glaive seeking to retrieve the Mind Stone from Vision's forehead. Coming to the rescue just in the nick of time are Rogers, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie), who jet off to the new Avengers facility to meet with James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle). Vision offers to sacrifice himself by having Wanda Maximoff summons her powers to destroy the Mind Stone rather than letting it fall into the hands of Thanos. Rogers however, suggests an alternative strategy. That they fly to Wakanda as the only place equipped with the technology to remove the Mind Stone safely so allowing Vision to live, and Rogers has some connections there too.

In the meantime, somewhere in deep space The Guardians of the Galaxy have responded to a distress call from the stricken Asgardian ship, and rescue Thor. Following rather protracted introductions with a few laugh out loud one-liners, Thor surmises that Thanos is in pursuit of the Reality Stone, which is in the possession of The Collector (Benicio del Toro) located on Knowhere. Rocket (the Racoon, voiced by Bradley Copper)  and Groot (an extraterrestrial tree like humanoid voiced by Vin Diesel) accompany Thor to Nidavellir to locate a weapon that is capable of killing Thanos. There they find the industrial planet shut down, the lights are off and nobody's at home. Except for Eltri (Peter Dinklage) a weapons forger who crafted Thor's hammer Mjolnir. To forge a new weapon for Thor means restarting the giant turbines now frozen that heat the furnace that melts the metal to create The Stormbreaker, a magical battle axe with similar properties to Mjolnir. Job done, Thor, Rocket and Groot get outta there.

In the intervening period Peter Quill/Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) arrive on Knowhere, but after Thanos has arrived and has his giant foot resting menacingly on The Collectors chest, with the Reality Stone already embedded in his gauntlet with the others. Gamora confronts Thanos, for she is his adoptive daughter, and she reluctantly reveals the location of the Soul Stone to save her adoptive sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) from torture at the hands of Thanos. Thanos and Gamora travel to the planet Vormir where Red Skull (Ross Marquand replacing Hugo Weaving) is the keeper of the Stone, which can only be retrieved by sacrificing someone he loves. With a tear in his eye and a heavy heart, Thanos throws Gamora over a steep cliff where she falls to her death, so securing him the Soul Stone.

Nebula is able to effect her escape from the clutches of Thanos, and establish contact with the remaining Guardians asking them to rendezvous with her on the now destroyed home planet of Thanos, Titan. Meanwhile Stark and Strange are are able to over power Maw with the help of Spider-Man and eject him out of the ship floating to his death in infinite space. They crash land the now stricken ship on Titan where they meet Quill, Drax and Mantis. After the initial introductions are dispensed with, they hatch a plan to relieve Thanos of his Infinity Gauntlet.

Thanos duly arrives and during a momentary lapse of concentration, Mantis subdues him using her empathic powers. Nebula draws the conclusion that Thanos has killed Gamora which he admits to while under the spell of Mantis. Quill, however, becomes enraged at this revelation and lashes out at Thanos breaking the hold that Mantis had on him. Quickly, Thanos gains the upper hand and overpowers the entire group, including the three Avengers (Spider-Man was hastily inducted as an bona fide Avenger by Stark after the trio dispensed with Maw) and impaling Iron Man with a long blade. Strange gives up the Time Stone in exchange for him sparing the life of Stark. Thanos departs for Earth.

Back on Earth in Wakanda, Rogers in reunited with an exiled Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). The Avengers seek that Shuri (Letitia Wright) extracts the Mind Stone from Vision using their cutting edge technology to save his life in the process. But time is ticking away and the army of Thanos is anticipated imminently. The army invades trying to break through the Wakandan force field. The Avengers, together with T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) mount a defensive attack together with the might and strength of the Wakandan forces. Thor, Rocket and Groot arrive and join the fray. Midnight, Obsidian and Glaive leading the charge of the invading army are killed in battle and their army flees when they succumb to the wrath of Thor and his new Stormbreaker Axe.

Thanos arrives, and at Vision's insistence Maximoff destroys his Mind Stone shattering it into a thousand fragments, preventing Thanos from securing the final Infinity Stone to complete the full set of brightly coloured all powerful gems. With the Avengers scattered having failed in their attempts to overpower Thanos, the Titan shows empathy towards Maximoff before activating the Time Stone and reversing her most recent actions to the time just a few minutes before. Vision lives, with the Mind Stone in tact, which Thanos plucks from his forehead, killing Vision in the process once and for all. At that Thor appears and impales Thanos with his Stormbreaker Axe. Just when you thought you could breathe a sigh of relief Thanos activates the now complete Infinity Gauntlet and is teleported off this little blue planet.

Thanos plans for the universe are thrown into motion with a click of his fingers as life begins to disintegrate quickly. Those first to disappear like ash in the wind are the likes of Strange and Parker, and Drax, Quill and Mantis still on Titan, then T'Challa, Barnes, Groot, Maximoff and Wilson in Wakanda. Stark and Nebula remain intact on Titan, as do Banner, Rogers, Thor, Okoye (Danai Gurira), Rhodes, Rocket and Romanoff on the battlefield of Wakanda. Meanwhile, Thanos has arrived on his home planet, walks into his mountain top home from home and watches a sun setting on another day as he recovers from his injury.

In the post credit sequence, we see Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) driving through a busy street when a car in front spins randomly out of control and collides with theirs. Getting out to investigate Hill sees that the car is driverless, just as a helicopter flying overhead spins recklessly out of control smashing into an office tower. Looking on, Hill begins to disintegrate, and as Fury sends a distress signal so he too begins to disintegrate.

The 'Avengers : Infinity War' is a movie of epic proportions and it certainly helps if you have sat through the previous instalments of the MCU that feature those characters portrayed in this film. This is not intended to be a standalone instalment, but rather a continuation and a culmination of the previous ten years, eighteen films and several MCU tie-ins and cross-overs. Directors the Russo brothers under the watchful gaze of Marvel Studios Producer Kevin Feige, have crafted a film that delivers on many levels - the action set pieces, of which there are plenty, are delivered effectively and expertly on a grand scale, there are moments of emotion and there are laugh out loud one liners too. Never does the ego of one Superhero get in the way of another, and each character is given sufficient latitude and screen time to advance their story arc just a little further without it being repetitive. Josh Brolin as Thanos gives a convincing performance as a giant of a man whose universe crushing outwardly persona gives way on more than one occasion to inner emotion and a level of thinking that reveal more than a cardboard cut out of an intergalactic arch villain. As for the rest of the cast, they too can be hardly faulted - after all we know them all well and have seen them conquer Earth based enemies and otherworldly foe too, but this time, have they met their match - it sure looks like it! As the closing credits says 'Thanos will be back' - one year from now. This fact of course may disappoint some viewers expecting closure, as will the death of several of their favoured characters, the omission of some others (most notably Hawkeye, Ant-Man or Valkyrie), the fact that every otherworldly planet visited has a breathable atmosphere and appears to have a temperate climate, and the elongated running time may be too big an ask for some. My advice however, if you are a follower of the MCU, then watch this film on the biggest screen and be prepared to sit through two and a half hours of solid Marvel movie entertainment at its biggest, boldest and brashest - you won't be disappointed.
-Steve, at Odeon Online-