Saturday, 21 October 2017

Birthday's to share this week : 22nd - 28th October 2017.

Do you celebrate your Birthday this week?

Gwendoline Christie does on 28th October - check out my tribute to this Actress Birthday Girl turning 39, at the end of this feature.

Do you also share your birthday with a well known, highly regarded & famous Actor or Actress; share your special day with a Director, Producer, Writer, Cinematographer, Singer/Songwriter or Composer of repute; or share an interest in whoever might notch up another year in the coming seven days? Then, look no further! Whilst there will be too many to mention in this small but not insignificant and beautifully written and presented Blog, here are the more notable and noteworthy icons of the big screen, and the small screen, that you will recognise, and that you might just share your birthday with in the week ahead. If so, Happy Birthday to you from Odeon Online!

Sunday 22nd October
  • Derek Jacobi - Born 1938, turns 79 - Actor 
  • Christopher Lloyd - Born 1938, turns 79 - Actor
  • Jan de Bont - Born 1943, turns 74 - Cinematographer | Producer | Director 
  • Jeff Goldblum - Born 1952 turns 65 - Actor | Producer
  • John Howard - Born 1952, turns 65 - Actor 
  • Bill Condon - Born 1955, turns 52 - Director | Writer | Producer
  • Spike Jonze - Born 1969, turns 48 - Director | Producer | Actor | Writer | Cinematographer
  • Catherine Deneuve - Born 1943, turns 74 - Actress | Singer
  • Saffron Burrows - Born 1972, turns 45 - Actress 
  • Carmen Ejogo - Born 1973, turns 44 - Actress | Singer 
Monday 23rd October
  • Emilia Clarke - Born 1986, turns 31 - Actress
  • Alex Gibney - Born 1953, turns 64 - Producer | Director | Writer
  • Ang Lee - Born 1954, turns 63 - Director | Producer | Writer
  • Sam Raimi - Born 1959, turns 58 - Producer | Writer | Director | Actor 
  • Ryan Reynolds - Born 1976, turns 41 - Actor | Producer | Writer  
Tuesday 24th October
  • F. Murray Abraham - Born 1939, turns 78 - Actor 
  • Martin Campbell - Born 1943, turns 74 - Director | Producer 
  • Kevin Kline - Born 1947, turns 70 - Actor | Singer 
  • Jacqueline McKenzie - Born 1967, turns 50 - Actress | Writer | Director
Wednesday 25th October 
  • Gale Anne Hurd - Born 1955, turns 62 - Producer | Writer   
Thursday 26th October
  • Jaclyn Smith - Born 1945, turns 72 - Actress
  • Rosemary DeWitt - Born 1971, turns 46 - Actress 
  • Dylan McDermott - Born 1961, turns 56 - Actor | Director | Writer | Producer
  • Cary Elwes - Born 1962, turns 55 - Actor | Producer | Writer
  • Rupert Wyatt - Born 1972, turns 45 - Director | Writer | Producer
  • Seth MacFarlane - Born 1973, turns 44 - Writer | Producer | Director | Actor | Animator | Singer | Songwriter 
Friday 27th October
  • John Cleese - Born 1939, turns 78 - Actor | Writer | Producer 
  • Ivan Reitman - Born 1946, turns 71 - Producer | Director | Writer 
  • Roberto Benigni - Born 1952, turns 65 - Actor | Writer | Director | Producer  
Saturday 28th October
  • Kevin Macdonald - Born 1967, turns 50 - Director | Producer Writer 
  • Joaquin Phoenix - Born 1974, turns 43 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Singer
  • Lauren Holly - Born 1963, turns 54 - Actress | Producer 
  • Julia Roberts - Born 1967, turns 50 - Actress | Producer 
  • Gwendoline Christie - Born 1978, turns 39 - Actress 
Gwendoline Christie was born in Worthing, West Sussex, England to a housekeeping mother and a sales and marketing father. As a child she trained as a gymnast and had designs on turning this into her professional vocation in life, but a spinal injury ended that career aspiration so she turned to acting instead.  In 2005 she graduated from the Drama Centre London, a college of the University of the Arts London. 

Christie launched herself onto stage first appearing in various theatrical productions including 'Pravda' in 2006 at the Chichester Festival Theatre, then 'Mirandolina' at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre and then in 2007 in 'Cymbeline' at London's Barbican Theatre. In 2007 she gained her first role in the short 63 minute drama Sci-Fi film 'The Time Surgeon'. She then returned to the theatre for 'Giantbum', 'Skin Deep' and 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' at the West End Theatre Royal Haymarket in London all staged in 2009. That same year she secured a minor role in Terry Gilliam's 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus' alongside the likes of Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell, Christopher Plummer, Andrew Garfield and Tom Waits. She returned to the theatre once more in 2010 to appear in 'Dr. Faustus' again at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre, with her performance as Lucifer being described as a 'stand out'.

In 2010 she appeared in a single episode of the BBC Television series 'Seven Ages of Britain' covering the history of Britain's art and artefacts over the past two thousand years. Christie appeared in the seventh episode titled 'Age of Ambition' covering the period from 1914 through to the present day. In 2012 Christie was cast in her breakout role as Brienne of Tarth in the hugely popular and successful 'Game of Thrones' HBO Television series that has just seen season seven go to air with the concluding season eight be aired either in 2018 or 2019. Her character was first introduced during the second season, and is described as unusually tall, muscular and a plain looking woman. After appearing as a recurring cast member for two seasons, she was promoted to the main cast from season four onwards. 

Running concurrently Christie appeared in twenty-six episodes of the British science fantasy television series 'Wizards vs Aliens' which ran for three seasons over thirty-six episodes from late October 2012 through to late 2014. In the meantime, she was cast in a bit-part by Terry Gilliam again in 2013 'The Zero Theorem' with Christoph Waltz, Matt Damon, David Thewlis, Ben Whishaw, Peter Stormare, Tilda Swinton and Melanie Thierry. 

In 2015 Christie appeared as Commander Lyme in the final instalment in the 'Hunger Games' franchise of films - 'The Hunger Games : Mockingjay, Part 2'. The concluding film grossed US$654M off its production budget of US$160M and starred an ensemble cast including Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour-Hoffman and Julianne Moore. The four films in the series were made for a combined US$493M and grossed worldwide at the Box Office a total haul of US$2.97B. 

Also that same year, Christie appeared as Captain Phasma in 'Star Wars : The Force Awakens', the seventh film in the 'Star Wars' series. Directed by J.J. Abrams the film starred Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, John Bodega, Domhnall Gleeson, Daisy Ridley and Andy Serkis amongst others and grossed just short of US$2.1B at the global Box Office off a budget of US$259M making it the third highest grossing film of all time currently. Christie will reprise her role as Captain Phasma in the soon to be released eighth film titled 'Star Wars : The Last Jedi' due in December and Directed by Rian Johnson.  

Coming back down to Earth with a massive bump, Christie cameoed as herself in 2016's 'Absolutely Fabulous : The Movie' with Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley reprising the characters they made so famous in the hit televisions series of the same name - Eddy and Patsy respectively. 

2017 saw the mystery drama television series Co-Written and Co-Directed by Jane Campion 'Top of the Lake : China Girl' in which Christie plays Miranda Hilmarson, a Constable in the Sydney Police Force. This series is a sequel to a highly acclaimed 2013 production 'Top of the Lake' and sees Elizabeth Moss reprising her role from the first series joined by Nicole Kidman. 

This brings us up to date, with 'Star Wars : The Last Jedi' up next, then 'The Darkest Minds' due in September 2018 - a Sci-Fi thriller based on the Alexandra Bracken series of books concerning a disease that wipes out 98% of America's children, with the remaining 2% developing super powers and subsequently placed into internment camps. The story surrounds a sixteen year old girl who escapes and joins others on the run evading the government. Then there is 'The Women of Marwen' due in November 2018 and currently filming as Directed by Robert Zemeckis and also starring Steve Carell, Diane Kruger, Janelle Monae and Elza Gonzalez.

All up Christie has sixteen Acting credits to her name so far, and she has five award nominations, including a Saturn Award nod for Best Supporting Actress on 'Game of Thrones'. 

Gwendoline Christie - a statuesque 6'3" tall; trained in horsemanship, sword fighting and stage combat for her 'GOT' role; has been a mad keen fan of Madonna for as long as she can remember and was invited by the songstress to appear on stage with her at her Sydney gig in 2016. With your star beginning to now glow consistently brightly, in demand, and already acclaimed across stage, screen and television there is much to look forward to. Happy Birthday Gwendoline, from Odeon Online.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Friday, 20 October 2017

AMERICAN ASSASSIN : Tuesday 17th October 2017

'AMERICAN ASSASSIN' which I finally got around to seeing earlier this week is an action thriller based on series of books written by Vince Flynn, with 'American Assassin' being published in 2010. Although it is not the first book in the series of sixteen so far, rather the eleventh, it is a prequel novel that establishes Mitch Rapp as the main character cementing his back story and how he ultimately comes to be an undercover CIA Counter Terrorism Agent. Rapp's primary focus is uncovering and undermining terrorist attacks on the US, and he is an aggressive, opinionated Agent prepared to take measures that are more extreme than might be usually deemed commonly acceptable. His ongoing frustration with procedures, policy and red tape is a major theme throughout the entire series. Vince Flynn died in June 2013 aged 47, and ongoing books in the series are written by Kyle Mills. Antoine Fuqua was originally brought on to Direct, when CBS acquired the movie rights to the series of books back in 2008. Then Edward Zwick was announced to Direct, then Jeffrey Nachmanoff and finally Michael Cuesta, who delivers this film released in the US and Australia in mid-September at a budgeted cost of US$33M having taken as at mid-October US$55M. The lead character of Mitch Rapp was originally offered to Chris Hemsworth back in 2012 for US$10M but he turned it down due to scheduling conflicts. Then came along Gerard Butler, Matthew Fox and Colin Farrell with a much younger Dylan O'Brien being offered the gig in 2016.

And so this origin story potentially setting up a film franchise (think 'Jason Bourne' and 'Jack Reacher') introduces us to Mitch Rapp (Dylan O'Brien) who was orphaned at the age of fourteen when his parents were killed tragically in a car accident, and who in later years proposes marriage to his girlfriend only for her to be gunned down and killed moments later in a beachside Islamist terrorist attack somewhere on the Spanish coast. We then fast forward eighteen months, and now at the age of 23 Rapp is seeking revenge, and has been in training ever since that fateful day waiting to come face to face with the terrorists responsible.

Rapp uses his apartment as a makeshift gym to train hard and get super fit. He also uses it to frequent an Internet message board linked to the terrorist cell responsible for his girlfriends death. He is repeatedly quizzed about his knowledge of Islam and jihad to test his resolve to join forces with the cell in opposition of the US oppressor. He is granted a face to face meeting with the terrorist leader in which he aims to single handedly take out the cell - such has been the extent of his own self-training and preparedness over the last year or so. He arrives in Tripoli, is blindfolded and taken to a secret meeting point where he is tied to a chair. His blindfold is removed and his girlfriends killer sits in front of him. Before he can execute his own plan, the terrorist killer is shot through the head and US Special Forces descend on the building wiping out all those terrorist types in attendance. Rapp is angered by the fact that he was denied the opportunity to exact his vengeance out on the terrorist leader himself and repeatedly stabs the lifeless body before being man handled outta there by US soldiers.

Next we cut to a CIA Safe House in which Rapp has been holed up for questioning and observation for thirty days. Here Deputy CIA Director Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan) recognises Rapp's particular set of special skills which she describes as being 'off the chart' and as such a prime candidate for a Black Op's unit codenamed Orion.

Rapp is assigned to further training in the back woods of Virginia at the hands of former US Navy SEAL Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton) who is also a veteran of the Cold War, and well versed in all matters relating to covert operations, Black Op's, and deadly close quarter combat. He spends the following weeks training Rapp and other recruits in his ways - some of which succeed while many fall by the wayside and don't have what it takes.

Meanwhile, word filters down through intelligence channels to Kennedy and her superior, Director Thomas Stansfield (David Suchet) that weapons grade nuclear material has gone missing from a decommissioned Russian nuclear facility. The nuclear material appears to be en route to Iranian militants, who are none to pleased with their government's nuclear deal with the U.S.

Meanwhile, in a busy city square somewhere in Poland hiding in plain sight, while finalising the sale of the nuclear material, the plutonium is intercepted by a third party, who eliminates the sellers before disappearing into the crowd. Back in Virginia, Hurley sees television news footage about the incident in Poland and identifies the perpetrator as a former Navy SEAL and Orion operative believed to have been killed in action and now going by the codename 'Ghost' (Taylor Kitsch). Hurley's team, with latest recruit Rapp, is sent to Turkey to intercept the buyer 'Ghost' is working for.

In Istanbul, looking to conduct a quick sting operation to capture the buyer, Hurley's team now also joined by a deep undercover Orion Agent named Annika (Shiva Negar) is rumbled, and the attempted intercept of the all important trigger device is foiled. Rapp chases the buyer to his apartment, and after thwarting his bodyguard kills him too, and removes his laptop computer. The information they are able to download leads the team to Rome, where they identify the nuclear physicist necessary to craft the nuclear material into a functional nuclear device. While in Rome, Rapp comes to realise that Annika is an Iranian foreign agent. She tries to explain that she is working for the mainstream Iranian faction attempting to stop the hardline militants from acquiring nuclear capability, but is taken into CIA custody, and seen now as a threat. During a meeting between Hurley and an Iranian contact (Annika's uncle), Ghost ambushes them, kills the contact and captures Hurley.

At a CIA safe house in Rome, Annika is being moved under guard by two agents when Rapp intercepts the car she is travelling in and frees her. Recognising that with Hurley now captured the mission is now compromised and handed over to the CIA to work through, and his services are no longer required. However, Rapp has his own rebellious plans, and so working with Annika they locate the makeshift subterranean nuclear laboratory that Ghost and his team are using to complete the nuclear device. After secretly securing access to the tunnels, Rapp locates and frees a badly injured Hurley having been tortured by Ghost using a vice, a blowtorch, a pair of pliers and live electrical current.

In an explosion engineered by Rapp, Ghost is able to effect his getaway with the now armed nuclear device having taken out all of his team that weren't killed by the explosion. Annika is, however, captured by Ghost and she kills herself with his gun before he escapes onto a boat with the now counting down nuclear device. Based on an earlier conversation, Hurley deduces that Ghost intends to make a suicide attack against the U.S. Navy's Sixth Fleet which are engaged in exercises somewhere off the coast, based on his desire to die at sea.

Just as Ghosts boat is leaving the dockside, Rapp chases after it and leaps onto the deck. The two are engaged in close quarter hand to hand combat while being tossed about the cabin below deck as the boat gathers speed across a choppy sea. Eventually good overcomes evil and Rapp kills Ghost, leaving Rapp in control of a speeding boat with an armed nuclear weapon on board, and no way of disabling it. By now Hurley has been picked up by Navy helicopter and is following Rapp from the air. The Sixth Fleet are under orders to prepare for a nuclear detonation. Hurley, using a loudhailer calls down to Rapp to toss the nuclear device overboard, as they all stand a better chance of survival if the explosion occurs underwater. Rapp does so, and with a thirty or so second count down Rapp is airlifted onto the helicopter with Hurley, and off they fly in the opposite direction. Within seconds the nuclear device detonates causing a massive tsunami that inundates the Sixth Fleet ships, although they all mostly survive the blast to sail another day.

This is a fairly pedestrian by the numbers spy type thriller that we have seen executed just as well, if not better, hundreds of times before, usually by a gentlemen named Jason, Jack, James or John (read Bourne, Reacher, Bond and Wick respectively). The action when it comes is fast paced and well executed; but the plot treads familiar boards; the relationships between Rapp, Hurley and Kennedy are by the book; and it becomes all too predictable as it wears on. O'Brien and Keaton give solid enough performances and at well under two hours running time the film doesn't outstay its welcome. Given the closing scene of this film, and the fact that there are another fifteen books in the series so far, it is likely that we haven't seen the last of Mitch Rapp.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

What's new in Odeon's this week : Thursday 19th October 2017.

The 2017 Adelaide Film Festival drew to a close on Sunday evening 15th October after eleven days of showcasing the finest in local South Australian, national Australian and international films either recently released or in many cases receiving the Australian or worldwide Premier screening. This year there were ten feature films in Official Competition which included six Australian Premieres and features from around the festival circuit including Cannes and Toronto. They were Boris Khlebnikov’s 'Arrythmia', Mikhail Red’s 'Birdshot', Ofir Raul Graizer’s 'The Cakemaker', Luca Guadagnino’s 'Call Me By Your Name', John Cameron Mitchell’s 'How To Talk To Girls at Parties', Rungano Nyoni’s 'I Am Not A Witch', Mahommad Rasoulof’s 'A Man Of Integrity', Pedro Pinho’s 'The Nothing Factory', Joachim Trier’s 'Thelma', and Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or winner 'The Square'.

The closing night film this year was the Sophie Fiennes Directed documentary 'Grace Jones : Bloodlight and Bami'. IMDB summarises the noted film which also opened the Documentary section at TIFF earlier this year, as 'larger than life, wild, scary and androgynous - Grace Jones plays all these parts. Yet here we also discover her as a lover, daughter, mother, sister and even grandmother, as she submits herself to our gaze and allows us to understand what constitutes her mask.' It goes on to say 'in Jamaican patois, 'Bloodlight' is the red light that illuminates when an artist is recording and 'Bami' means bread, the substance of daily life. 'Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami' weaves together the layers of Grace Jones' public and private life, as she moves effortlessly between different facets: she is gypsy, artist and partying hedonist, warm and funny but also a fierce and tenacious businesswoman.'

In terms of official competition winners and grinners, these are :
2017 Adelaide Film Festival International Best Feature Fiction Award, presented to :
* 'I Am Not A Witch' closed TIFF this year, was shown in the Directors Fortnight at Cannes this year, and is the highly acclaimed Directorial debut of Zambian born Welsh raised Director and Screenwriter Rungano Nyoni. Telling the story of a nine year old orphan girl Shula (newcomer Maggie Mulubwa) who, following a banal incident in the village where she lives, is accused of witchcraft. After a hasty trial at which she is found guilty, she is banished and exiled to a camp in the middle of the nowhere desert, with mostly elderly women 'witches'. At the camp her initiation ceremony is where she is shown the rules surrounding her new life as a witch. Like the other resident witches, Shula is tied by a ribbon which is attached to a coil that is tethered to a large tree. She is told that should she ever cut the ribbon, she'll be cursed and transformed into a goat. Combining magic realism, social commentary and a deadpan sense of humour it is the talented cast of no-name Actors that persuaded the Jury, that this was the standout winner.

2017 Adelaide Film Festival Flinders University International Best Documentary Award, presented to :
* 'Taste of Cement' is Directed by Ziad Kailhoum in only his second documentary feature film outing, and was Written by him too. This film poignantly paints a picture of construction workers in exile. Described as an empathetic encounter with people who have lost their past and their future, locked in the recurring present. Here the Director has crafted a documentary of Syrian construction workers building new skyscrapers overlooking the city of Beirut out of the ruins created by the Lebanese civil war. At the same time their own homes are being bombed back in Syria. A curfew prohibits them from leaving the construction site after the days work is finished and so every night in their meagre and makeshift dwelling below the skyscraper the news from their homeland, the memories of the war and what they left behind plague them. Mute and imprisoned in the cement underground, they must endure until the new day arrives where the hammering and welding drowns out their nightmares, unable to construct any sort of life for themselves . . . only others, and in a country where they are alienated, unwanted and disenfranchised from society.

2017 AFTRS (Australian Film, Television and Radio School) International VR Award, presented to :
* 'Nothing Happens' Directed and Written by Michelle and Uri Kranot, this twelve minute animated short Virtual Reality film presents a new way of looking. It's a film about spectatorship, about watching and being watched. Its about being present.

Turning attention back to this week then, there are six new films to tease that movie going dollar from out of your wallet. We launch with a Norwegian set serial killer thriller chiller based on one of a hugely popular collection of novels; then we go to the mother of all cataclysmic climatic conditions that promises to wreak storm and tempest down on an unsuspecting world that only one humble man can prevent; before moving onto a Victorian England horror offering of murder most foul at the hands of a legendary creature. We then go to a RomCom  featuring a recently separated Mum of forty getting all jiggy with a twenty something year old lodger lad with far reaching consequences; and up next is a doco of the 1,200 mile pilgrimage of eleven Tibetans that takes seven months to traverse on foot, while lying down prone on the ground every seven or eight paces or so out of their faith and devotion to their God. We then wrap up with an animated feature of a young lads journey to connect with his long last Dad, and discovering more than he bargained for when he eventually does.

Whatever your taste in big screen film entertainment is this week - be it any of the six latest release films 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 in the meantime, enjoy your big screen Odeon experience during the coming week.

'THE SNOWMAN' (Rated MA15+) - here we have the first in what may turn out to be new film franchise for this Norwegian crime fighting detective Harry Hole, based on the Oslo Crime Squad character created by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo in the popular series of novels that have been translated into forty languages and having sold over thirty million copies worldwide. Harry Hole appears in eleven novels so far, first launched in 1997 with 'The Bat', taking us up to 2017 with the release of 'The Thirst'. 'The Snowman' upon which this film is based is the seventh book in the series and was published in 2007. This film is Directed by Tomas Alfredson, whose previous Directing credits include the acclaimed 'Let The Right One In' and 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'.

Research reveals that Harry Hole (here portrayed by Micahel Fassbender) is a brilliant and driven detective prone to using unorthodox methods in his work, a classic loose cannon in the police force. Hole is unmarried and he has few close friends. He frequently makes enemies among his colleagues who, nevertheless, grudgingly respect him. He is a chain smoker and heavy drinker, although for the most part has his reliance on alcohol under control. The effects of his problems however, sometimes bring him into repeated conflict with his superiors, and some colleagues. Hole is also one of just a handful in the force to have undertaken special interrogation techniques and firearms training with the FBI. In this story Hole investigates the disappearance of a female victim during the first snowfall of Winter. He soon deduces that a serial killer, known as 'The Snowman' may be responsible and active only during the season. He teams up with talented recruit Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) and together the pair must trawl through decades old cold cases to connect the dots to the latest killing spree if he is to thwart this elusive killer before another grisly murder is carried out. The film also stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer, J.K. Simmons, Toby Jones, Chloe Sevigny and James D'Arcy, has so far taken US$9M and has garnered less than favourable Reviews.

'GEOSTORM' (Rated M) - here Dean Devlin Co-Writes, Co-Produces and for the first time Directs this Sci-Fi disaster action film that was made for a budget of US$81M with principal photography beginning three years ago in October 2014. Come late 2015 and test screenings met with a generally poor response resulting in extensive reshoots occurring in late 2016 and into early 2017 with the added bonus of new Producer Jerry Bruckheimer coming on board to deliver the film that is released this week. Set in the near future when a bunch of satellites circle our planet controlling the weather conditions, it only takes an unforeseen malfunction to see the worlds climatic circumstances change with cataclysmic consequences. It takes Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) to don his space suit and launch himself headlong into the outer reaches to fix the problem with the satellites that he designed in the first place, before a storm event takes place like no other the world has ever seen. The film also stars Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Andy Garcia and Abbie Cornish.

'THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM' (Rated MA15+) - this British horror mystery film is Directed by Juan Carlos Medina, based on the 1994 novel 'Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem' written by Peter Ackroyd. The film had its world premier at TIFF way back in September 2016, and was only released in the UK on 1st September this year and now gets its limited Australian release this week. The story unfolds when a series of murders occurs in the Limehouse district of east London in Victorian England. These deaths shake the local community who believe that a mythical creature from the dark days - the legendary Golem - must be responsible. Leaving cryptic messages written in the blood of its victims, Scotland Yard assignes the case to Inspector Kildare (Bill Nighy), a seasoned detective, who is determined to crack the case. With a list of suspects narrowed down from a diary of the Golem's crimes supposedly hand written by the Golem itself, Kildare must rely of his sense of detection, the help of witnesses, and his instincts to bring the supposed Golem to justice and put an end to the murders. Also starring Eddie Marsan, Olivia Cooke, and Douglas Booth. The film has so far taken less than US$2M despite generally favourable Reviews.

'HOME AGAIN' (Rated M) - this RomCom is Directed by first timer Hallie Meyers-Shyer and Written by her too and stars Reece Witherspoon as Alice Kinney a recently separated mother of two young children who has relocated back to Los Angeles and moved in with her mother Lilian Stewart (Candice Bergen) and has designs on establishing her own interior design business. About to celebrate turning the BIG 4-Oh! Alice meets Harry, George and Teddy (Pico Alexander, Jon Rudnitski and Nat Wolff respectively) three aspiring film makers who all need some place to live. Alice decides to let the three men reside in the guesthouse temporarily, but complications soon begin to manifest themselves when Alice and Harry begin an affair and her new found freedom and happiness is on the verge of collapse when her ex-husband Austen (Michael Sheen) arrives on her doorstep carrying a suitcase. The film cost US$12M to make and has so far grossed US$30M and has garnered average Reviews since its Stateside release in early September.

'PATHS OF THE SOUL' (Rated PG) - this Chinese film was Written, Produced and Directed by Zhang Yang are premiered at TIFF back in 2015, before being presented an numerous film festivals on the circuit over the following two years or so. The film was released in China in June this year, and has been highly acclaimed by Critics and audiences alike. The film chronicles the journey of eleven ordinary Tibetans as they take the cross country pilgrimage of twelve hundred miles from their home village to Lhasa, prostrating themselves on the ground every seven or eight paces or so along a journey that lasts seven months. An extraordinary story of human devotion, faith and redemption featuring stunning vistas of Tibet through the seasons.

'THE SON OF BIGFOOT' (Rated PG) - is a Belgian and French co-produced CGI animated feature film Directed by acclaimed Belgian animator and CGI artist Ben Stassen, with Jeremy Degruson. This story tells of teenager Adam Harrison (Pappy Faulkner) who sets out on a journey to find his long lost father, only to discover that he is in fact the legendary Bigfoot. He has been in self imposed exile hiding in the forests for years to protect his family and himself from an unscrupulous company who want to exploit Bigfoot's DNA and conduct scientific experiments on him. As father and son begin to bond, young Adam discovers that like his father, he has been gifted with super powers that include being able to converse with animals. However, it's not long before the company who have been tracking Adam's whereabouts, close in on father and son with potentially dire consequences for them both. The film has met with critical acclaim for its top notch CGI animation, story telling, and production values. A film for kids of all ages.

With six new release films this week to tempt you out to your local Odeon, taking in a snowbound serial killer crime thriller; the mother of all weather conditions; a Victorian England horror mystery; a RomCom; a prostrating pilgrimage; and a family friendly animated feature suitable for kids of all ages. Remember to share your movie going thoughts with your other like minded cinephiles afterwards here at Odeon Online, and meanwhile, I'll see you sometime somewhere in the week ahead at your local Odeon.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Birthday's to share this week : 15th - 21st October 2017.

Do you celebrate your Birthday this week?

Viggo Mortensen does on 20th October - check out my tribute to this Actor, Author, Musician, Photographer, Painter and Poet Birthday Boy turning 59, at the end of this feature.

Do you also share your birthday with a well known, highly regarded & famous Actor or Actress; share your special day with a Director, Producer, Writer, Cinematographer, Singer/Songwriter or Composer of repute; or share an interest in whoever might notch up another year in the coming seven days? Then, look no further! Whilst there will be too many to mention in this small but not insignificant and beautifully written and presented Blog, here are the more notable and noteworthy icons of the big screen, and the small screen, that you will recognise, and that you might just share your birthday with in the week ahead. If so, Happy Birthday to you from Odeon Online!

Sunday 15th October
  • Tanya Roberts - Born 1955, turns 62 - Actress
  • Michael Caton-Jones - Born 1957, turns 60 - Director | Producer
  • Todd Solondz - Born 1959, turns 58 - Director | Writer
  • Dominic West - Born 1969, turns 48 - Actor | Director
Monday 16th October
  • Tim Robbins - Born 1958, turns 59 - Actor | Producer | Director | Writer | Singer | Songwriter
  • Gary Kemp - Born 1959, turns 58 - Songwriter | Actor 
  • Flea (aka Michael Peter Balzary) - Born 1962, turns 55 - Actor | Songwriter
  • Kenneth Lonergan - Born 1962, turns 55 - Writer | Director | Actor
  • Angela Lansbury - Born 1925, turns 92 - Actress | Producer | Singer  
Tuesday 17th October
  • Felicity Jones - Born 1983, turns 34 - Actress
  • Lawrence Bender - Born 1957, turns 60 - Producer | Actor
  • Rob Marshall - Born 1960, turns 57 - Director | Producer | Choreographer
  • Eminem (aka Marshall Bruce Mathers III) - Born 1972, turns 45 - Singer | Songwriter | Actor | Producer | Writer
  • Matthew Macfadyen - Born 1974, turns 43 - Actor 
Wednesday 18th October
  • Howard Shore - Born 1946, turns 71 - Composer | Songwriter | Orchestrator | Conductor
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme - Born 1960, turns 57 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Director 
  • Zac Efron - Born 1987, turns 30 - Actor | Singer  
  • Freida Pinto - Born 1984, turns 33 - Actress
Thursday 19th October
  • John le Carre - Born 1931, turns 86 - Writer | Producer | Actor
  • Michael Gambon - Born 1940, turns 77 - Actor
  • John Lithgow - Born 1945, turns 72 - Actor | Producer | Singer 
  • Jon Favreau - Born 1966, turns 51 - Actor | Producer | Director | Writer
  • Trey Parker - Born 1969, turns 48 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Director | Singer | Songwriter 
  • Jason Reitman - Born 1977, turns 40 - Director | Producer | Writer | Actor 
Friday 20th October
  • Timothy West - Born 1934, turns 83 - Actor 
  • Thomas Newman - Born 1955, turns 62 - Composer | Singer | Songwriter | Orchestrator | Conductor
  • Danny Boyle - Born 1956, turns 61 - Director | Producer | Writer
  • Viggo Mortensen - Born 1958, turns 59 - Actor | Producer | Singer | Songwriter  
  • Snoop Dog (aka Calvin Cordozar Broadus) - Born 1971, turns 46 - Actor | Singer | Songwriter | Producer | Composer | Writer | Director 
  • John Krasinski - Born 1979, turns 38 - Actor | Producer | Director | Writer | Singer
Saturday 21st October 
  • Ken Watanabe - Born 1959, turns 58 - Actor | Producer
  • Catherine Hardwicke - Born 1955, turns 62 - Director | Producer | Production Designer | Writer
Viggo Peter Mortensen Jnr. was born in New York City to mother Grace Atkinson, and father Viggo Peter Mortensen Snr. She is American, and he Danish. The couple met in Norway. The family moved to Venezuela , then onto Denmark and then Argentina, where the young Viggo attended primary school and where he became fluent in Spanish. At age eleven, his parents separated and so Viggo Jnr. returned to New York with his mother  where he spent his remaining childhood years attending Watertown High School, in New York and from where he graduated in 1976. He then went on to study at St. Lawrence University in New York graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in Spanish Studies and Politics. That was 1980, and thereafter he spent time living in Spain, Denmark and England where he took menial jobs to pay his way before returning to the US to take up an acting career.  He has two younger brothers, Walter and Charles, both of whom work as geologists. 

In 1984 Mortensen appeared in the television mini-series 'George Washington' with the likes of Beau Bridges, Robert Stack, Hal Holbrook, James Mason and Trevor Howard, and the following year appeared in a single episodes of the long running day time television serial 'Search for Tomorrow'. It was also in 1985 that the aspiring Actor gained this first feature film role in Peter Weir's 'Witness' alongside Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis, Lukas Haas and Danny Glover. This gave way to a single episode on 'Miami Vice' then a few movies seeing out the '80's including Renny Harlin's horror crime drama 'Prison', then 'Fresh Horses' with Molly Ringwood, Ben Stiller, and Andrew McCarthy and then 'Tripwire'

From 1990 Mortensen scored regular feature film work year on year kicking off with 'Leatherface : Texas Chainsaw Massacre III' and then action Western 'Young Guns II' with Keifer Sutherland, Emilio Estevez, Christian Slater, Lou Diamond Phillips and James Coburn. Horror thriller 'The Reflecting Skin' and then the Sean Penn Directed drama 'The Indian Runner' with David Morse, Charles Bronson, and Dennis Hopper. 'Ruby Cairo' with Liam Neeson, 'Boiling Point' with Wesley Snipes, 'The Young Americans' with Harvey Keitel, led to the Brian de Palma Directed 'Carlito's Way' with Al Pacino in 1993.

The years that followed upto the end of the decade saw Mortensen star in a host of 'B' grade movies whilst others shared more notable mainstream success. Included in the latter were Tony Scott's 'Crimson Tide' with Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington; Jane Campion's 'The Portrait of a Lady' with Nicole Kidman and John Malkovich; the Kevin Spacey Directed 'Albino Alligator' with Matt Dillon and Faye Dunaway; the Rob Cohen Directed 'Daylight' with Sylvester Stallone; Ridley Scott's 'G.I. Jane' with Demi Moore and Anne Bancroft; the remake of Hitchcock's 'Dial M for Murder' with 'A Perfect Murder' starring Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow; and Gus Van Sant's frame by frame remake of the classic Hitchcock thriller 'Psycho' with Vince Vaughn and Julianne Moore seeing out the '90's.

2000 saw comedy drama offering '28 Days' with Sandra Bullock and Dominic West, before what is best described as his breakout roll in 2001 as Aragorn in Peter Jackson's epic trilogy 'Lord of the Rings : The Fellowship of the Ring' which was followed up with 2002's 'Lord of the Rings : The Two Towers' and in 2003 by 'Lord of the Rings : The Return of the King'. The three films went on to huge commercial and critical success winning a combined sixteen Academy Awards plus another 425 award wins and 384 further nominations. In terms of worldwide Box Office the three films cost a total US$281M to bring J.R.R. Tolkien's books to the big screen, and raked in a combined US$2,92B.

Following the four year 'LOTR' trilogy hiatus, Mortensen remained in the saddle (literally) with the Joe Johnston Directed historical biographical action adventure offering 'Hidalgo' with Omar Sharif. His first collaboration with Director David Cronenberg came in 2005 with 'A History of Violence' also starring Ed Harris and Maria Bello. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards and walked away with another 37 award wins and 78 nods. Spanish historical adventure drama 'Alatriste' came next in 2006, followed by his second outing for Cronenberg with crime drama 'Eastern Promises' with Naomi Watts and Vincent Cassel for which Mortensen was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award from its total award haul of 28 wins and another 71 nominations.

Next up for Mortensen in 2008 was the Ed Harris, Co-Written, Directed and starring crime drama Western 'Appaloosa' with Renee Zellweger, Jeremy Irons and Timothy Spall, followed by WWII drama 'Good' with Jason Isaacs and Mark Strong. This in turn led to the Cormac McCarthy adaptation of his post-apocalyptic adventure drama 'The Road' as Directed to Critical acclaim by John Hillcoat and also starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall and Guy Pearce.

2011 saw Mortensen's third collaboration with David Cronenberg in the historical biographical drama 'A Dangerous Method' in which Mortensen plays Sigmund Freud opposite Michael Fassbender's Carl Jung. The film also starred Keira Knightley, and Vincent Cassel and collected 18 award wins and a further 28 nominations from around the traps. 'On the Road' followed a year later with an ensemble cast in the adventure drama film also starring Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Elisabeth Moss, Kirsten Dunst, Terrence Howard and Steve Buscemi. The Argentinian crime thriller 'Everybody Has a Plan' followed also in 2012, and then the romantic thriller 'The Two Faces of January' with Oscar Isaac and Kirsten Dunst in 2014.

2014 also saw the historical drama offering 'Juaja', and then the French drama film 'Far from Men'. This took us up to 2016 and Mortensen's turn in the highly regarded 'Captain Fantastic' as Written and Directed by Matt Ross and also starring Frank Langella, Steve Zahn and a cast of six child Actors all portraying Mortensen's somewhat dysfunctional children raised in remote woodlands totally isolated from the world for ten years, only to have to reintegrate into mainstream society as a result of the tragic and unexpected death of their mother. The film received generally positive Reviews and Mortensen was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA and SAG for his performance out of its total fourteen wins and 43 other nominations.

Next up for Mortensen is 'Unabomb' currently in pre-production and telling the story of an FBI Agent who leads an unconventional team on the hunt for notorious Theodore (Ted) John Kaczynski (aka 'The Unabomber') who between 1978 and 1995 killed three people and injured 23 others in a nationwide bombing campaign, and who is now serving eight consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.  In between time Mortensen established his own publishing company - 'The Perceval Press' to help other artists by publishing their works that may not ordinarily find a home in more mainstream traditional publishing houses. He also uses his own company to publish many of his own personal artistic projects in the areas of photography, poetry, music and literature. His credits as an author on numerous books of poetry, photography and painting extend from his initial collection of poems - 'Ten Last Night' released in 1993 that take in a further seventeen publications right up to 2015. He also combines his love of poetry with music and he also boasts an extensive discography taking in seventeen released CD's between 1994 and 2013.

All up Mortensen has 57 Acting credits to his name, three as Producer, three Soundtrack credits and one as Composer. He has 32 Award wins under his belt and a further 93 nominations including two Academy Awards and two BAFTA nominations for 'Captain Fantastic' and 'Eastern Promises', three Golden Globe nominations for 'Captain Fantastic', 'Eastern Promises' and 'A Dangerous Method', and four SAG nods for Captain Fantastic''Eastern Promises', 'LOTR : The Fellowship of the Ring' and 'The Two Towers' and a win for 'LOTR : The Return of the King'. 

Mortensen was married to Actress and Singer Exene Cervenka from mid 1987 through until 1992, becoming officially divorced in 1997. They have a son together, Henry Blake Mortensen born in January 1988. Since 2009, Mortensen has been romantically linked to Spanish Actress Ariadna Gil.

Viggo Mortensen - fluent in English, Spanish, Danish and French, understands Norwegian and Swedish and can converse in Italian; is a fan of soccer, baseball (the New York Mets), ice hockey (the Montreal Canadiens), American football (the New York Giants); is an accomplished horse rider; has appeared on numerous 'Top' lists over the years including 100 Sexiest Movie Stars, 15 Sexiest Men, 25 Most Intriguing People, the Hottest Hotties and 50 Most Beautiful People; and turned down the role of Aragorn until his son convince him to take it on . . . . thankfully he made the right decision! Known for his cleft chin, soft mellow voice and for portraying rugged anti-heroes with absolute conviction, you are acclaimed in a multitude of artistic endeavours, and you never disappoint. Happy Birthday to you Viggo, from Odeon Online.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Friday, 13 October 2017

BLADE RUNNER 2049 : Tuesday 10th October 2017

'BLADE RUNNER 2049' which I caught earlier in the week in 3D, is released 35 years after the original neo-noir Sci-Fi film 'Blade Runner' as Directed by Ridley Scott which upon release polarised critical opinion and took lacklustre Box Office takings of just US$34M from its US$28M production budget. Here then, and finally, we have the long awaited, eagerly anticipated, much hyped sequel, set thirty years after that first film. The intervening years have been kind to the original movie, now elevated to cult status with many Critics hailing the film as one of the best all time Science Fiction movies, also bringing to prominence the work of Philip K. Dick upon whose book 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' the film is loosely based. Starring Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah and M. Emmet Walsh, the film was nominated for two Academy Awards, one Golden Globe, won three BAFTA's and was nominated for a further five amongst its total haul of eleven wins and eighteen nominations. Set in a dystopian Los Angeles in 2019, 'Blade Runner' depicts a future in which bioengineered androids known as 'Replicants' are manufactured by a powerful company to work on off-world colonies. When a renegade group of Replicants led by Roy Batty escape back to Earth in an attempt to prolong their lives, burnt-out LA cop Rick Deckard reluctantly agrees to one last assignment to hunt them down and 'retire' them.

And so this film, which has been in development for approaching twenty years with Ridley Scott on again off again and various storylines coming and going, has finally landed with Director Denis Villeneuve at the helm, Roger Deakins on Cinematographer duty and Harrison Ford reprising his role as Rick Deckard all for a production budget of somewhere in the vicinity of US$175M. Released in the US and Australia last week, the film has so far taken US$93M at the Box Office and early Reviews of the film have met with widespread universal acclaim, with many Critics gushing about the production values, cinematography, CGI, music score, and performances of the principal cast.

Set in a dystopian Los Angeles of 2049, thirty years following the events of the original film, bioengineered humans called 'Replicants' have now been integrated into Earth's general population. Working for the LAPD, K (Ryan Gosling) a more up to date model who is programmed to obey orders and works as a Blade Runner, whose purpose is to hunt down older rogue Replicants and 'retire' them from service.

As the film opens we see K descending in his vehicle on what appears to be a farm where he 'retires' Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista) the farmer breeding synthetic protein maggots on a large scale. There, buried under a large dead tree, he discovers a military strong box which is taken back to LAPD for analysis. Inside there are human remains - carefully preserved bones and hair. Forensics reveal that the remains are of a female Replicant who died from complications from what appears to be an emergency Caesarian Section operation. Further examination reveals a tiny serial number engraved on a bone, revealing this to be definite Replicant remains. K is perplexed as pregnancy amongst Replicants was always believed to be impossible. Later, K returns to the farm for further examination. At the base of the tree he uncovers an engraving of a date which seems to correspond with a date in his own childhood memory about a hand engraved wooden horse which he hid in a redundant incinerator in the orphanage in which he was raised. Before leaving the farm, he torches it, destroying all evidence from those that might come afterwards.

Meanwhile K is ordered to destroy all evidence in relation to this case before word gets out, by his commanding officer Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright). She holds the belief that knowledge of Replicants being able to reproduce is dangerous to the new world order and could potentially incite war. K does not necessarily subscribe to this point of view, but he goes along with it. He visits the Headquarters of Replicant manufacturer Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) and is introduced to his Replicant Assistant Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) who helps him identify the body as Rachael, an experimental older model Replicant, but history is scant given the thirty years or so that have lapsed. There is a brief recorded transcript of a former Blade Runner Rick Deckard and Rachael, from which K deduces there was some romantic interest. Wallace who wants Rachels remains for his own analysis, orders Luv to steal the remains from LAPD and follow K as he goes in search of the child, from which he can then engineer Replicant reproduction for the expansion of his off-world operations beyond the nine worlds he currently inhabits.

K visits the orphanage in old Los Angeles where the child is thought to have been raised. There he meets Mister Cotton (Lennie James) who presides over hordes of young orphaned kids whom he sets to work stripping down electrical appliances for spare parts and salvage to sell. There his childhood memory comes rushing back, and searching the incinerator he finds his carefully wrapped up wooden horse, implying that his memory is in fact real, whereas all along he had believed these to be implants. While searching through the birth records for that year (2021) with his holographic female companion Joi (Ana de Armas) he comes across an anomaly in that twins were born that day with identical DNA except for the sex chromosome, but only the boy is listed as being still alive.

K seeks out Dr. Ana Stelline (Carla Juri) a prominent memory designer who advises him that it is illegal to programme Replicants with real human memories, leading K to deduce that he is in fact Rachel's son. K has the wooden horse analysed by Doc Badger (Barkhad Abdi) who finds traces of radiation that lead him to the apocalyptic landscape of old Los Angeles.

There he locates Deckard living the lonely life in an abandoned casino with nothing but books, Whisky and a loyal dog (real or otherwise) to occupy his time. Deckard tells K that he was forced to muddle up the birth records and was forced to leave a pregnant Rachel with the Replicant Freedom Movement to protect both her and their unborn child.

Luv arrives with several henchmen, having tracked K with a homing device planted in his pocket, and having previously killed Lieutenant Joshi. They intend to take Deckard hostage, who has being lying very low for the past thirty years, in the belief that he will lead them to his child to allow Wallace to engineer reproductive Replicants. Deckard and K put up a fight but are no match for the high tech fire power of Luv and her men.

They cart off Deckard, leaving K for dead only for him to be rescued by the Replicant Freedom Movement who take him to their safe house and nurse him back to some semblance of health and strength. Their leader Freysa (Hiam Abbass) tells K that Deckard's child is a girl, shattering K's hopes that he was their child. From this news K surmises that Ana Stelline must be Deckard's daughter given her abilities with implanting the memory into him. Freysa's instructions to K are to prevent Wallace from getting even remotely close to discovering the secrets of Replicant reproduction, by all and any means possible, even if it means taking out Deckard!

Deckard comes around in Wallace's plush HQ surroundings and refuses to co-operate with him, even when prompted to do so by a Replicant duplication of Rachael, which he dismisses because of her eye colour not being of her original green. Luv transports Deckard to one of Wallace's off world colony's to be interrogated and tortured for information that will lead Wallace to his child's whereabouts, even though Deckard really has no clue. K intercepts their fleet of three vehicles bringing down two security vehicles in a blaze of fire and smoke and forcing Luv's vehicle to crash land at the base of a dam, about to release a torrent water supply. Deckard is shackled to his seat while K and Luv fight it out in the rapidly rising waters. Ultimately K overcomes Luv and kills her, allowing Deckard and K to swim to safety. K says that he will report that Deckard drowned in the vehicle so safeguarding him from Wallace and other no good Replicants. K accompanies Deckard to Stelline's laboratory offices to meet his daughter. As Deckard gingerly enters and sees his daughter for the first time, a badly injured K waits outside reclining on the steps in the falling snow looking up.

I liked 'Blade Runner 2049' a lot! The film retains the all the touchstones that made the 1982 film such a classic, and expands upon them without diluting any of what has gone before. It both compliments the earlier film, and stands alone in its own right, and as a companion piece it has the continuity that melds the two films together from the giant neon advertising billboards promoting now defunct organisations 'Atari' and 'PanAm'; through to the Origami paper folding of Gaff (Edward James Olmos who reprises his role very briefly); through to recollections of Rachael. The film is visually stunning down to the smallest details, and the CGI enhances the already solidly smart storyline with visions of a dystopian neon lit, hologram filled future Los Angeles (where it now snows); an apocalyptic garbage dump wasteland that is San Diego; and all the future world gadgets, gizmo's, tech and Sci-Fi notions that you can imagine. A worthy sequel that Villeneuve has made worth waiting for, that will quickly become the cult classic that its predecessor has long since done so, with gritty and convincing performances from its cast, and top notch production values throughout. At a running time of over two and half hours, the film does not outstay its welcome, although it must be said that 'Blade Runner : The Final Cut' has a running time of under two hours.  Earlier this month Villeneuve reportedly said that a third film may be made if '2049' proved a success, and Ford commented that he would be happy to reprise his role if the script added up. Watch this space!

-Steve, at Odeon Online-