Wednesday, 16 August 2017

What's new in Odeon's this week : Thursday 17th August 2017.

Back in 1989, the then 26 year old American movie Producer, Director, Writer, Cinematographer and Editor Steven Soderbergh became the youngest filmmaker to take out the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival with his feature film debut 'Sex, Lies and Videotape' - and thereupon almost single handedly changed the face of independent cinema forever. Since then he has amassed a portfolio of feature films, short films and television series credits that amount to 43 Producer credits, 41 as Director, 26 as Cinematographer, nineteen as Editor and ten as Writer. He has also garnered 29 award wins and another 79 nominations, including a Best Director Academy Award for 2000's 'Traffic'. In 2013 Soderbergh announced in several interviews his intention to transition out of feature film making around about the time of his fiftieth birthday, because of the obstacles that filmmakers face in the current corporate Hollywood environment that he no longer could subscribe to. In early 2016 Soderbergh stated that he was coming out of self imposed retirement to Direct his NASCAR heist film 'Logan Lucky' (Previewed below) and that the film would be produced entirely by his own doing with no studio involved in anything other than theatrical distribution.

Below is a quick snapshot of some of Soderbergh's credits amassed so far throughout his prolific and illustrious career :-
 * 'Sex, Lies and Videotape' - released in 1989 - Director, Writer, Editor - starring James Spader and Andie McDowell.
* 'Schizopolis' - released in 1996 - Director, Writer, Editor, Cinematographer, Actor - starring Steven Soderbergh and Betsy Brantley.
* 'Out of Sight' - released in 1998 - Director - starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez.
* 'The Limey' - released in 1999 - Director - starring Terence Stamp and Lesley Anne Warren.
* 'Erin Brockovich' - released in 2000 - Director - starring Julia Roberts and Albert Finney.
* 'Traffic' - released in 2000 - Director and Cinematographer - starring Michael Douglas and Benicio del Toro.
* 'Ocean's Eleven' - released in 2001 - Director - starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon (and an ensemble supporting cast).
* 'Solaris' - released in 2002 - Director, Writer, Editor and Cinematographer - starring George Clooney and Natascha McElhone.
* 'Ocean's Twelve' - released in 2004 - Director and Cinematographer - starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon (and an ensemble supporting cast).
* 'Bubble' - released in 2005 - Director, Cinematographer, Editor - starring a cast of non-professional actors.
* 'The Good German' - released in 2006 - Director, Cinematographer and Editor - starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett.
* 'Ocean's Thirteen' - released in 2007 - Director and Cinematographer - starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon (and an ensemble supporting cast).
* 'Che' - released in 2008 - Director and Cinematographer - starring Benicio del Toro and Demian Bichir.
* 'The Girlfriend Experience' - released in 2009 - Director, Editor and Cinematographer - starring Sasha Grey.
* 'The Informant' - released in 2009 - Director and Cinematographer - starring Matt Damon and Scott Bakula.
* 'Contagion' - released in 2011 - Director and Cinematographer - starring Matt Damon, Jude Law and Marion Cotillard.
* 'Haywire' - released in 2011- Director, Editor and Cinematographer - starring Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, and Ewan McGregor.
* 'Magic Mike' - released in 2012 - Director, Editor and Cinematographer - starring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer and Matthew McConaughey.
* 'Side Effects' - released in 2013 - Director, Editor and Cinematographer - starring Channing Tatum, Jude Law, Rooney Mara and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
* 'Behind the Candelabra' - released in 2013 - Director, Editor and Cinematographer - starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas.
* 'Magic Mike XXL' - released in 2015 - Editor and Cinematographer - starring Channing Tatum, Andie McDowell and Jada Pinkett Smith.
* 'Logan Lucky' - released in 2017 - Director, Editor and Cinematographer - starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Daniel Craig.
* 'Mosaic' - to be released later in 2017 - Director - starring Garrett Hedlund and Sharon Stone.
* 'Unsane' - to be released in 2018 - Director, Editor and Cinematographer - starring Claire Foy and Juno Temple.
* and finally, Producer credits only on 'Pleasantville' (1998); 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind', 'Insomnia', 'Welcome to Collinwood' and 'Naqoyqatsi' (all 2002); 'Keane' (2004); 'Syriana', 'Good Night, and Good Luck', 'The Jacket' and 'Rumour Has It ...' (all 2005); 'Pu-239' and 'A Scanner Darkly' (all 2006); 'I'm Not There', 'Michael Collins' and 'Wind Chill' (all 2007); 'Playground' and 'A Solitary Man' (all 2009); 'We Need To Talk About Kevin' (2011); 'Citizenfour' and 'Da Sweet Blood of Jesus' (all 2014), and upcoming 'Ocean's Eight' (2018).

This week we have four new cinematic releases coming to an Odeon near you. We kick off with the big screen adaptation of an epic series of science fantasy novels by a prolific American author combing a modern day city with a parallel old West universe and a monolithic structure that guides them all. We then move to a heist movie of everyday down on their luck folk, looking for a reversal of fortune when an opportunity presents itself. Next up is a French dinner comedy drama that sees a well meaning host and an interloping guest both get more than they bargained for out of this dining experience, before rounding out with an English RomCom based loosely on a true story of a long established squatter, property developers and an American widow who comes to the aid of the squatter in more ways than one.

Whatever your taste in big screen film entertainment is this week - be it any of the four new releases 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 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 cinematic experience during the coming week.

'THE DARK TOWER' (Rated M) - this film started life way back in 1982 when prolific American author Stephen King first penned the initial book in a series of eight books titled 'The Dark Tower : The Gunslinger'. The series incorporates themes from a multitude of genres, including dark fantasy, science fantasy, horror, and Western. It describes a titular 'gunslinger' and his journey to protect the Dark Tower, the nature of which is both physical and metaphorical and which supports all realities. King's series was written over the ensuing years with the last instalment appearing in 2012. The series, and its use of the Dark Tower, expands upon Stephen King's multiverse and in so doing, brings together many of his other works. In addition to the eight novels of the series, many of King's other books relate to the story, introducing concepts and characters that come into being as the series continues. There have been various formats developed over the years to the series including comic books, audio books, an online game, talk of a television series and now a major film adaptation that has been on again off again since 2007 when J.J. Abrams was connected to the film for a number of years before handing over the baton to Ron Howard. In 2015 Danish Director Nikolaj Arcel was hired to helm the film that we have today. Costing US$60M to make, the film was released Stateside in early August to generally poor press having so far recouped US$55M.

Here then we  have Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last Gunslinger, who is locked in an age old battle with Walter O'Dim (aka The Man in Black) (Matthew McConaughey). The Gunslinger must prevent the Man in Black from destroying the Dark Tower, the key that holds the universe together, and does so with the aid of eleven year old lad named Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) who has had vision of a gunslinger and a man dressed in black. Jake discovers an abandoned house as seen in one of his visions in which he comes across a portal to another dimension - the post-apocalyptic Mid-World, and stepping through it encounters the last gunslinger who is pursuing the Man in Black who has been abducting children with psychic powers to harness their collective power to destroy the Dark Tower. Taking place in modern day New York City and the old West styled parallel universe, the fate of two worlds is at stake, leading the two men to go head to head and toe to toe in the ultimate battle of good versus evil. Also starring Jackie Earle Haley and Denis Haysbert.

'LOGAN LUCKY' (Rated M) - 'Behind the Candelabra' (the dramatisation of the last ten years in the life of Liberace starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas as released in 2013) was intended to be Steven Soderbergh's last film as a Director, but here he has been coaxed out of self imposed 'retirement' by a script that he noted was an 'anti-glam version of an Ocean's movie where nobody dresses nice. Nobody has nice stuff. They have no money. They have no technology. It's all rubber band technology'! And so having amassed an ensemble cast, here Soderbergh has crafted a film (on which he is Director, Cinematographer and Editor) that has met with widespread critical acclaim. Here, West Virginian siblings Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), sister Mellie (Riley Keough), and one armed brother Clyde (Adam Driver) set out to execute an elaborate robbery during the Coca-Cola 600 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina during Memorial Day weekend, and at the same time dispel an apparent curse on the family that saw Jimmy lose out a career as a major league football star thanks to a leg injury, and Clyde lose an arm during the Iraq War. Jimmy also enlists demolition and safe cracking expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) who they need to break out of prison to help them break into the track's underground cash retrieval system. Complications arise, however, when a mix-up forces the crew to pull off the heist during a popular NASCAR race while also trying to dodge a relentless FBI agent. Also starring Seth McFarland, Dwight Yoakham, Sebastian Stan, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank and Katherine Waterston. The film is released in the US this week too.

'MADAME' (Rated M) - this French Produced comedy drama is Written and Directed by French novelist, playwright, screenwriter and filmmaker Amanda Sthers. Here well networked and wealthy American couple Bob (Harvey Keitel) and Anne (Toni Collette) who live in a Paris mansion, decide to spice up their marriage a little by hosting a lavish dinner party for a small select gathering of their sophisticated international friends. Inviting ten guests to the party, Bob and Anne's son arrives home unexpectedly meaning now there will be thirteen people sat around the dinner table. Anne is superstitious, and so she asks her maid Maria (Rossy de Palma) to masquerade as a wealthy Spanish socialite and join the table for dinner so bringing the numbers up to a much more acceptable fourteen. Over the course of the evening, and with a few wines consumed Maria endears herself to a British art broker, David (Michael Smiley). This emerging romance will see Anne chasing Maria all over Paris while secretly devising a plot to undo this budding love affair.

'HAMPSTEAD' (Rated PG) - this RomCom is Directed by Joel Hopkins and is based on the real life story of one Harry Hallowes who in 2007 assumed squatters rights to a patch of English ground in the trendy and wealthy London suburb of Hampstead, on the Heath, where during his squat he even managed to legally dispense with a bunch of property developers from his makeshift camp and home. Here Harry is portrayed as Donald Horner (Brendan Gleeson) as a man living a frugal, yet contented life in the grounds of a long redundant hospital, quietly going about his own business unencumbered by all the trappings of modern society for the past seventeen years. Enter windowed American girl Emily Walters (Diane Keaton) a financially and socially struggling ex-pat who lends support in the most unexpected of ways when Donald is faced with eviction at the hands of developers who need his land. Also starring Lesley Manville, Simon Callow and James Norton, this film has so far garnered lacklustre Reviews.

With four new releases this week to tempt you out on a cool Winter evening, ranging from science fantasy Western, to down on their luck small time heist offering to a French dinner comedy drama to a RomCom set in a squat in a well to do London suburb, remember to share your movie going thoughts with your other like minded cinephiles 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-

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Birthday's to share this week : 13th - 19th August 2017.

Do you celebrate your Birthday this week?

Taika Waititi does on 16th August - check out my tribute to this Birthday Lad turning 42, 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 13th August
  • Paul Greengrass - Born 1955, turns 62 - Director | Writer | Producer
  • John Slattery - Born 1962, turns 55 - Actor | Director | Writer | Producer
  • Sebastian Stan - Born 1982, turns 35 - Actor  
Monday 14th August
  • Steve Martin - Born 1945, turns 72 - Actor | Writer | Producer | Singer | Songwriter 
  • Wim Wenders - Born 1945, turns 72 - Director | Producer | Writer | Actor 
  • Antonio Fargas - Born 1946, turns 71 - Actor 
  • Marcia Gay Harden - Born 1959, turns 58 - Actress
  • Halle Berry - Born 1966, turns 51 - Actress | Producer
  • Mila Kunis - Born 1983, turns 34 - Actress | Producer  
Tuesday 15th August
  • Debra Messing - Born 1968, turns 49 - Actress | Producer | Singer
  • Natasha Henstridge - Born 1974, turns 43 - Actress | Producer
  • Jennifer Lawrence - Born 1990, turns 27 - Actress | Producer
  • Nicolas Roeg - Born 1928, turns 89 - Director | Writer | Producer | Cinematographer
  • Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - Born 1963, turns 54 - Director | Producer | Writer
  • Rob Thomas - Born 1965, turns 52 - Writer | Producer | Director
  • Ben Affleck - Born 1972, turns 45 - Actor | Producer | Director | Writer  
Wednesday 16th August
  • James Cameron - Born 1954, turns 63 - Director | Producer | Writer | Editor 
  • Timothy Hutton - Born 1960, turns 57 - Actor | Director | Producer 
  • Steve Carell - Born 1962, turns 55 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Singer 
  • Taika Waititi - Born 1975, turns 42 - Actor | Director | Writer | Producer
  • Brendan Cowell - Born 1976, turns 41 - Actor | Writer | Producer | Director  
  • Angela Bassett - Born 1958, turns 59 - Actress | Producer | Director
  • Madonna (aka Madonna Ciccone) - Born 1958, turns 59 - Singer | Songwriter | Composer | Actress | Producer | Writer | Director
  • Rummer Willis - Born 1988, turns 29 - Actress 
Thursday 17th August
  • Robert De Niro - Born 1943, turns 74 - Actor | Producer | Director
  • Sean Penn - Born 1960, turns 57 - Actor | Producer | Director | Writer
  • Steven East - Born 1963, turns 54 - Odeon Online Blogger | Film Critic | Editor-in-Chief
  • Donnie Wahlberg - Born 1969, turns 48 - Actor | Producer | Director | Writer | Songwriter | Singer  
Friday 18th August
  • Roman Polanski - Born 1933, turns 84 - Director | Writer | Producer | Actor
  • Robert Redford - Born 1936, turns 81 - Actor | Producer | Director 
  • Denis Leary - Born 1957, turns 60 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Director | Singer
  • Edward Norton - Born 1969, turns 48 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Director
  • Christian Slater - Born 1969, turns 48 - Actor | Producer | Singer
  • Madeline Stowe - Born 1958, turns 59 - Actress 
Saturday 19th August
  • Jill St. John - Born 1940, turns 77 - Actress
  • Kyra Sedgwick - Born 1965, turns 52 - Actress | Producer | Director
  • Peter Gallagher - Born 1955, turns 62 - Actor
  • Kevin Dillon - Born 1965, turns 52 - Actor  
  • Matthew Perry - Born 1969, turns 48 - Actor | Producer | Writer 
Taika David Waititi aka Taika Cohen was born in Raukokore, a small settlement close to the East Cape in northeastern North Island, New Zealand and as a child was raised there and in Wellington. His mother is of Russian Jewish origin and is a teacher, and his father is Maori. Sometimes Waititi goes by his mother's surname of Cohen in his film and writing work. As a teenager Waititi attended Onslow College - a state co-ed secondary school in Johnsonville, Wellington. From there he attended the Victoria University of Wellington studying drama. In the Maori language Taika translates to 'Tiger'

Whilst at University Waititi was part of a quintet comedy ensemble, titled 'So You're a Man' with other members Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie. The show was a 1950's styled mockumentary guide to coping with manhood with the five Actors all playing in flesh coloured nude suits whilst playing the guitar. They met with some success and successfully toured throughout New Zealand and Australia being written up in both the Sydney and New York press. After the troupe disbanded he formed 'The Humourbeasts' with Jemaine Clement, and in 1999 they were awarded New Zealand's highest comedy accolade - The Billy T Award. Around about the same time Waititi begun his film and television acting career appearing in the low budget dark comedy Dunedin film 'Scarfies' in 1999, and then the award winning New Zealand road trip film 'Snakeskin' in 2001, and then the fifteen minute short film that same year, 'A New Way Home'.

In 2002 he scored a television gig on the comedy drama series 'The Strip' which aired over forty episodes between 2002 and 2003 with Waititi appearing in thirteen of those. Other television appearances would follow in 2003 in a single episode on both 'Revelations' and 'Freaky'. Around about the same time, Waititi turned this hand to Writing and Directing his own material. He launched onto the scene as a Director and Writer with the 21 minute short film 'John & Pogo' in 2002, and followed this up in 2004 with the twelve minute short film 'Two Cars, One Night' and the eight minute short 'Heinous Crime'. In 2005 he also Produced, and shared writing, Director and acting credits with Jemaine Clement in the 27 minute short horror comedy film 'What We Do in the Shadows : Interviews with Some Vampires'. In between time there was another short film acting role in 'Toy Boy' and then local RomCom 'Futile Attraction'.

2007 saw Waititi's big screen debut as Writer and Director with comedy romance offering 'Eagle vs Shark' in which he also starred alongside Jemaine Clement. The film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and picked up six award wins and four nominations in total from around the festival circuit. Later that year Waititi starred in one episode of the 22 episode over two seasons comedy musical television series 'Flight of the Conchords' which starred as its principal cast Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie. He also Directed four episodes and wrote two.

2010 saw a return to the big screen with his written, Directed and starring role in the coming of age comedy drama 'Boy'. At the time 'Boy' became the highest grossing New Zealand film at the local Box Office and broke records for its first week of Box Office takings. The film Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize, and in all took out thirteen award wins and nine nominations form around the worldwide festival circuit. Sketch comedy series 'Radiradirah' ran for one season over eight episodes, in which Waititi appeared in all.

The next few years saw Waitiki assuming the role of Consulting Producer on eleven episodes of the popular comedy teen series 'The Inbetweeners' of which he also Directed five episodes, a writing credit on the Nash Edgerton Co-Directed, Co-Written and Co-Starring six minute short film 'The Captain', and then a Director credit along with 41 others on the 42 minute omnibus of short films by auteur Directors based on dreams, titled '42 One Dream Rush'. There was also a further Director credit on six episodes on the two season comedy series 'Super City' and an acting credit too on the 2011 Martin Campbell Directed Superhero film 'Green Lantern' with Ryan Reynolds in the title role and also starring Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Tim Robbins, Temuera Morrison, Angela Bassett and Blake Lively.

2014 saw Waitiki Produce, Co-Direct, Co-Write and star in the full length feature film offering of his earlier 2005 short film 'What We Do in the Shadows' with frequent collaborator Jemaine Clement. This mockumentary horror comedy film about a group of vampires who live together in a Wellington house Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, cost US$1.6M to make and returned US$7M at the Box Office. Along the way the film picked up 25 award wins and another 18 nominations. A sequel is allegedly in development centering around the werewolves shown in the film, with the working title at this stage 'We're Wolves'. It was also announced toward the back end of last year that a police procedural comedy series is in the works based on the cops who had minor roles in the film. Called 'Paranormal Event Response Unit', the series will initially run for six episodes of thirty minutes and will air in New Zealand to begin with.

In 2016 Waitiki released his fourth feature film again taking a Producer credit as well as Writer, Director and Actor in 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' based on the Barry Crump book about a rebellious young boy Ricky (Julian Dennison) and his foster Uncle Hec (Sam Neill) who go missing in the New Zealand mountain wilderness prompting a national manhunt. The film Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, cost US$2.5M to make and grossed US$23M at the Box Office. The film garnered twenty award wins and a further 25 nominations from around the traps, and broke Box Office records for a New Zealand film in its opening weekend.

Next up for Waititi is his Hollywood debut in the Marvel Studio's third outing for 'Thor' in the big budget Superhero offering that will be the seventeenth film instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 'Thor : Ragnarock' stars an ensemble cast including Chris Hemsworth reprising his role as the crown prince of Asgard and his fifth outing as the character, with Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban, Anthony Hopkins, Mark Ruffalo reprising his role as Bruce Banner/Hulk, and Benedict Cumberbatch reprising his role as Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange. Waititi also has a role to play as Korg, a friend to Thor and a Kronan being with a body made of a durable silicon based substance that grants him superhuman strength, stamina and durability. Wiatiti plays the character through Mo-Cap performance. The film is due in cinemas in November this year.

All up Waititi has twenty-two Acting credits to his name, sixteen as Director, fifteen as Writer and nine as Producer. He has 57 award wins under his belt so far and 27 other nominations including an Academy Award nod for Best Live Action Short Film 'Two Cars, One Night'. Waititi is married to New Zealand film Producer Chelsea Winstanley and together they have a daughter born in 2012 - Te Kainga o Te Hinekahu Waititi. In 2017 he was awarded New Zealander of the Year. He is also an accomplished Director of television commercials with a prolific back catalogue for clients including Pot Noodle, Cadbury's Dairy Milk, Steinlager, Old Navy, Samsung, Tesco, The New Zealand Transport Agency and Air New Zealand, as well as number of music videos to his name too.

Taika Waititi - as well as a proven Writer, Producer, Director and Actor you also have fashion design, painting, photography and illustration within your Resume . . . is there anything you can't do? By his own admission he wants to do 'weird things and big budget things and no budget things', and at age 42 he can now say that he has accomplished all of these and more, with plenty more room for the weird stuff and now that he's broken into Hollywood, the big budget stuff too, and along the way doubtless small independent local fare too. We wish you well Taika, and we'll keep watching your exploits with interest. Happy Birthday to you from Odeon Online.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

What's new in Odeon's this week : Thursday 10th August 2017.

With the release this week of  'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets' as Reviewed below, French Director, Producer and Writer, Luc Besson, here once again puts his single minded approach to this epic Sci-Fi comic book adaptation that dates back to its first published edition in 1967 in 'Pilote' magazine, and continued in 21 subsequent volumes, a collection of short stories and an encyclopedia release up until 2010. Besson has an impressive track record of penning original screenplays and creative writing, Production credits and Director outings. In case you were unaware, here is a summary of some of his more notable achievements from the last 35 or so years of prolific screenwriting, creativity and making movies.

Director Credits - 28 in total to date, including :
*  'Subway' (1985, with Christopher Lambert and Isabelle Adjani), 'The Big Blue' (1988 with Jean Reno and Rosanna Arquette), 'La Femme Nikita' (1990 with Anne Parillaud and Marc Duret), 'Leon : The Professional' (1994 with Jean Reno and Natalie Portman), 'The Fifth Element' (1997 with Bruce Willis and Mila Jovovich), 'The Messenger : The Story of Joan of Arc' (1999 with Mila Jovovich and John Malkovich), 'Arthur and the Invisibles' (2006 with the voice work of Freddie Highmore and Mia Farrow and roles that they would reprise in two successive animated feature films in 2009 and 2010), 'The Lady' (2011 with Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis), 'The Family' (2013 with Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer), 'Lucy' (2015 with Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman) and 'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets' (2017 with Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan).

Writer Credits - 62 in total to date, including :
* 'Subway' (1985), 'Kamikaze' (1986), 'The Big Blue' (1988), 'La Femme Nikita' (1990), 'Leon : The Professional' (1994), 'The Fifth Element' (1997), 'The Messenger : The Story of Joan of Arc' (1999), 'Taxi', 'Taxi 2', Taxi 3' and 'Taxi 4' (1998, 2000, 2003 and 2007), 'Kiss of the Dragon' (2001), 'Wasabi' (2001), 'The Transporter', 'Transporter 2', 'Transporter 3' and 'The Transporter Refuelled' (2002, 2005, 2008 and 2015), 'Revolver' (2005), 'Bandidas' (2006), 'Taken', 'Taken 2' and 'Taken 3' (2008, 2012 and 2014), 'From Paris With Love' (2010), 'Colombiana' (2011), 'Lockout' (2012), 'The Family' (2013), '3 Days to Kill' (2014), 'Lucy' (2014), 'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets' (2017), and in the works are 'Lucy 2', 'Colombiana 2', 'Renegades' and 'Twice'.

Producer Credits - 89 in total to date, including :
'Subway' (1985), 'Kamikaze' (1986), 'The Big Blue' (1988), 'La Femme Nikita' (1990), 'Leon : The Professional' (1994), 'Nil By Mouth' (1997), 'The Messenger : The Story of Joan of Arc' (1999), 'Taxi', 'Taxi 2', Taxi 3' and 'Taxi 4' (1998, 2000, 2003 and 2007), 'Kiss of the Dragon' (2001), 'Wasabi' (2001), 'The Transporter', 'Transporter 2', 'Transporter 3' and 'The Transporter Refuelled' (2002, 2005, 2008 and 2015), 'Revolver' (2005), 'Three Burials' (2005), 'Colour Me Kubrick' (2005), 'Bandidas' (2006), 'Taken', 'Taken 2' and 'Taken 3' (2008, 2012 and 2014), 'I Love You Phillip Morris' (2009), '22 Bullets' (2010), 'Colombiana' (2011), 'Lockout' (2012), 'The Homesman' (2014), 'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets' (2017), and in the works are 'Lucy 2', 'Colombiana 2', 'Renegades', 'Manhunt', 'Twice' and 'Kursk', together with Producer credits on the television series of 'Transporter : The Series' (2012-2013 on ten episodes), 'No Limit' (2012-2013 on twelve episodes) and 'Taken' (2017 on nine episodes).

Turning attention then to this week, there are six new release films to tease, tempt and cajole you out to your local movie theatre. Starting off with an epic Sci-Fi space opera that is a passion project that has been in gestation since this noted French film Director was a comic book reading child himself way back in the day. We then turn to a heated post-Iraq war stand-off involving two US soldiers and an Iraqi sniper, with nothing but a pile of crumbling bricks separating them; followed up by a murder mystery in the Wintery depths of deepest Wyoming; and then an origin story in a successful horror franchise about a sinister doll with evil on its mind. We then wrap up with an two old ladies embarking on a road trip from England to France and the comedic (mis)adventures that befall them; and closing off with a thought provoking insightful documentary follow-up to an acclaimed 2006 doco highlighting the global climate change issue.

Whatever your taste in big screen film entertainment is this week - be it any of the six new releases 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 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 cinematic experience during the coming week.

'VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS' (Rated M) - here French film Director, Producer and Screenwriter Luc Besson whose more notable Directorial outings include 1990's 'Nikita', 1994's 'Leon : The Professional', 1997's 'The Fifth Element' and 2014's 'Lucy', here takes us along on his passion project that launched when he was but a child growing up on a diet of the French Sci-Fi comic book series 'Valérian and Laureline', written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières. In so doing, Besson independently crowd-sourced and personally funded this Sci-Fi action adventure space opera film and, with a production budget approaching about US$200M, it is both the most expensive European and independent film ever made. The film was released in the US on 21st July, in France on 26th July, has so far received mixed Reviews and clawed back US$88M of its budget outlay.

The film is set in the 28th century. Alpha is an ever expanding space station that over time has morphed into a giant city where millions of creatures from different planets live peacefully and exchange their knowledge, intelligence and cultures. It began as a space station around Earth and grew when many nations from Earth and races from other planets joined. Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are special space and time travelling agents of the human Police forces. When a dark force threatens the peaceful city, Valerian and Laureline, under assignment from the Minister of Defence, must race against time to identify the marauding menace and safeguard the future of Alpha that also jeopardises the future of the universe. Also starring Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke, Rutger Hauer, Herbie Hancock, John Goodman, Louis Leterrier, Elizabeth Debicki and Rihanna.

'THE WALL' (Rated MA15+) - this Iraq set post-war thriller is Directed by Doug Liman and stars just a handful of actors, most notably John Cena as US Staff Sergeant Shane Matthews who is sent out to the desert to investigate a pipeline construction site with his spotter Sergeant Allen Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). The pair keep watch over the site for close to 24 hours before determining that the site is all clear. As Matthews proceeds to clear up the radios from dead Security Guards, he is shot by an Iraqi sniper, Juba (Laith Nakli). As Issac goes to his rescue he too is shot in the leg, and his radio is badly damaged and his water bottle trashed too. Forced to take cover behind a crumbling stone wall, Isaac must do what he can to survive, radio for help, rescue his dying colleague out in open ground, and find out the location of the sniper sharpshooter and flush him out. Juba, however, has all the odds stacked in his favour. The film cost US$3M to make, and has so far recovered almost US$4M since its mid-May release in the US, and has received generally positive Reviews.

'WIND RIVER' (Rated MA15+) - Written and Directed by Taylor Sheridan in his Directorial debut, this film stars Jeremy Renner as Cory Lambert, a US Fish and Wildlife Service Agent who comes across a dead body in the Wyoming wilderness of the Wind River Indian Reservation. The FBI enlist rookie agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olson) to investigate but she is totally unprepared for the oppressiveness of the harsh Wyoming Winter, the isolation and the ruggedness of the landscape. She employs Cory as her tracker, and as they venture out into the wild beyond they do so into a world ravaged by violence and all the elements that nature can muster. Also starring Jon Bernthal, Gil Birmingham and Martin Sensmeier. The film Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January this year, had its Stateside release last week and has met with generally positive Reviews. Taylor Sheridan's previous writing credits include 'Sicario', 'Hell or High Water' and the follow up to 'Sicario' currently in post-production 'Soldado'.

'ANNABELLE : CREATION' (Rated MA15+) - this Supernatural horror film is Directed by David F. Sandberg and is a prequel to 2014's 'Annabelle' which was Directed by John. R. Leonetti, cost US$6.5M to make and raked in US$257M at the global Box Office - no wonder this franchise that includes the two previous 'Conjuring' films also from 2013 and 2016 is like an out of control steam train that just keeps rollin' on. Those first three films were made for a combined US$67M and together bought in a Box Office haul of US$895M. This is the origin story behind the possessed doll, Annabelle. Charting the story of Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia), a former dollmaker, and his wife Esther (Miranda Otto) whose daughter died twelve years previously in a tragic car accident. They decide to open their California farmhouse home to Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), a nun, and six young girls from an orphanage that has been closed down. The dollmakers possessed creation, Annabelle, soon turns the girls safe haven into a place of their worst nightmares. The film is released in the US this week too, and has received positive Reviews.

'THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES' (Rated M) - Written and Directed by Roger Goldby, this British road comedy offering was released in the UK in early March and has received very lacklustre Reviews at best. Starring Joan Collins as Helen, a former successful Hollywood Actress now seeing out her years and living in a retirement home in London, who pairs up with her friend Priscilla (Pauline Collins) to drive across to the west coast of France to attend the funeral of her ex-husband and former film Director, with the hope of rekindling some of those old Hollywood network types to revitalise her stalled career in the twilight of her years.  En route, the two women become romantically involved with a millionaire Italian artist, Alberto (Franco Nero), leaving Priscilla wondering what to do about her husband Frank back home (Ronald Pickup), and Helen wondering what might have been!

'AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL : TRUTH TO POWER' (Rated PG) - this documentary film Directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk surrounds former United States Vice President Al Gore's continuing mission to battle climate change. The sequel to the 2006 'An Inconvenient Truth' which cost US$1.5M to make and took US$50M at the Box Office and picked up two Academy Awards as well as highlighting the global campaign to educate the worlds citizens about climate change, this film addresses the progress made to tackle the problem, and Gore's worldwide efforts to persuade the government leaders around the globe to invest in renewable energy, culminating in the landmark signing of 2016's Paris Climate Agreement.

With six new releases this week to tempt you out on a cold Winter evening, ranging from epic effects laden Sci-Fi to supernatural horror to climate change doco to pinned down soldiers under intense sniper fire to murder mystery in the wilderness to two old lame ducks on a road trip, remember to share your movie going thoughts with your other like minded cinephiles 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-

Monday, 7 August 2017

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES : Tuesday 1st August 2017.

'WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES' which I saw last week has a long history on both the big and small screen as various derivatives of the 'Planet of the Apes' saga, but this last reboot of which this marks the third and supposedly final instalment has received widespread critical acclaim and commercial success. The original reintroduction to the franchise came in 2011 with 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' and was Directed by Rupert Wyatt for US$93M and grossed US$482M and starred James Franco, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, David Oyelowo and Andy Serkis as Caesar, the first intelligent ape. In 2014 its sequel 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' was Directed by Matt Reeves for US$209M and grossed US$711M worldwide and starred Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Keri Russell, and Andy Serkis as Caesar again and Toby Kebbell as Koba, a renegade lieutenant to Caesar. Now in 2017 we have 'War for the Planet of the Apes' Directed once again by Matt Reeves for US$150M and so far since its US release on 14th July has taken US$278M and stars Woody Harrelson as the main human protagonist and Andy Serkis again as Caesar. There are several likenesses with the fifth film in the original franchise series 'Battle for the Planet of the Apes' but this is not intended as a remake of that earlier 1973 film. 'War for the Planet of the Apes' has met with widespread critical acclaim with strong praise for the acting (Andy Serkis for his Mo-Cap performance especially), the storyline, the action scenes, the music score and the overall Direction.

And so to this gripping instalment. Set fifteen years or so after the outbreak of the Simian Flu, that infected and near wiped out the worlds human population and gave rise to ever increasingly intelligent apes, a rogue group of soldiers known as Alpha-Omega are patrolling through the undergrowth of a dense forest. As they progress it is clear that they are on a mission to seek out and destroy an ape colony. In the distance and up an embankment, the soldiers spy several apes keeping guard on horseback. They let loose with crossbow fire taking out three guards on horseback, before letting rip with the might of rocket launchers and automatic machine gun fire on the unsuspecting ape colony hidden amongst the trees. The apes muster themselves and have the higher ground advantage and give back as good as they get, but ultimately there are many casualties on both sides.

In the aftermath of the attack in which the apes gained the upper hand, there are four live soldiers remaining who are being held captive by the apes. Caesar (Andy Serkis) arrives, and it is clear from his entry that he is the revered leader of this clan of apes. He orders that the four men be released with a clear message to be delivered to their leader that he did not start the war, and that he wants peace between the apes and the humans. Soon after their release, Caesar's son, Blue Eyes (Max Lloyd-Jones) and Rocket (Terry Notary) a lieutenant to Caesar and close friend, return from a reconnaissance mission to find suitable safe haven for the apes to relocate to where they can establish themselves away from humankind and live in peace. They report that they have pinpointed a perfect place for them across the desert and with plenty of water.

Later that night after the injured apes have been attended to, a crack team of Alpha-Omega troops led by Colonel McCullough (Woody Harrelson) descend on the apes colony hidden behind a cascading waterfall. Caesar is alerted to their presence and quietly musters support to take them out, but not before the Colonel has killed Caesar's wife, Cornelia (Judy Greer) and his son, Blue Eyes. Caesar is distraught and the rage builds up inside him, wanting to exact his revenge on the humans for killing his family after he extended the hand of peace.

The next day, Caesar departs to seek out his revenge on the Colonel. He leaves his youngest son, Cornelius (Devyn Dalton) in the care of Blue Eye's mate, Lake (Sara Canning), and has every intention of going it alone while the clan make for their safe haven beyond the desert. However, Maurice (Karin Konoval) a wise and trusted Bornean oragutan, Rocket and Luca (Michael Adamthwaite) decide to accompany Caesar on his perilous journey, and reluctantly Caesar agrees.

En route they come across what seems to be an abandoned run down lakeside village. They split up and investigate and are greeted by a soldier type, who plays it all innocent before reaching for his gun, only to be shot dead by Caesar. They search through the soldiers hut and come across a young girl (Amiah Miller) cowering in her bed. She cannot speak. Maurice insists they they take her with them, for left alone she will surely die. The two share a connection when Maurice picks up a old rag doll from under the bed and gently hands it to the girl, who accepts it graciously.

In time Caesar, Maurice, Rocket, Luca and the girl make it to the Colonel's camp, but notice that it is being evacuated. Caesar learns from another captive ape that the Colonel has departed for the 'border' where a new Alpha-Omega camp is being established, but none of them know where the border is. They decide to follow behind the outgoing convoy of Alpha-Omega and along the way discover three human soldiers shot and left for dead and buried in the snow. Uncovering the bodies, one remains alive but like the young girl, cannot speak. He soon dies from his wounds. Caesar is left wondering why the Colonel would turn on his own?

Continuing their journey they meet up with another ape in an abandoned resort hotel. Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) can speak, and converses with Caesar that he has been living alone all these years keeping out of harms way, and that he originated from the Sierra Zoo before the Simian Flu pandemic. He learnt to speak human from his captors, who chided him and berated him calling him, Bad Ape! Bad Ape reveals that he knows the whereabouts of the border encampment, and reluctantly agrees to take them there.

Upon arriving at the Alpha-Omega camp Caesar and his party observe that there are hundreds of apes all being held captive. While checking out the facility, Luca is killed protecting Caesar by a patrol soldier, and in his anger and having proceeded alone is captured by Red (Ty Olsson) a lowland Gorilla and former follower of Koba as played by Toby Kebbell in the previous films, who now serves the Colonel against Caesar. In the camp compound Caesar comes to realise that many of the captive apes are from his own clan, including his young son Cornelius, and Lake. He witnesses them being forced into hard manual labour building a high fortified defensive wall and without any food or water.

The Colonel reveals to Caesar that the Simian Flu virus has mutated, causing the human survivors of the original strain to devolve becoming mute and reverting back to a primitive state. Caesar deduces that the Colonel is barricading himself into this heavily fortified remote mountainside hideaway to fend off the remains of the U.S. Army from the North, who want to eradicate him because of his beliefs in killing off any infected humans, including his own son, to stop the spread of the virus. The Colonel firmly believes that he is battling a 'Holy War' for the survival of humankind, before the world becomes an ape planet!

Caesar is tied to a cross at night in the freezing conditions and is then locked up in a solitary cell, and tortured with starvation and hard labour too. Maurice calls the young girl Nova, and she sneaks into the camp under cover of darkness and gives Caesar the rag doll, as well as food and water to revive and sustain him. Rocket allows himself to be captured as a distraction to Nova being found out. The next day when the Colonel inspects Caesar to determine if he still lives, he notices the rag doll in his cell. Asking where it came from, everyone is clueless, so the Colonel takes it with him. Caesar is strengthened by the food and water from Nova, and so hatches a plan with Rocket to effect an escape for all the apes using an underground tunnel that leads out of the camp. Maurice and Bad Ape co-ordinate and execute the escape plan setting free all apes. Caesar goes in search of the Colonel intent on killing him as his final act of revenge.

The camp then comes under attack by the US Army. As Caesar reaches the Colonel he sees that he has fallen victim to the virus that he was so intent on halting himself, and can no longer speak. Caesar pulls a gun to the weakened Colonel's temple, and sees the rag doll on the floor beneath the bed - the source of the virus infection. Caesar rethinks and pulls the gun away laying it to rest on the Colonel's bedside table and turns away. The Colonel picks up the gun, and shoots himself in the head.

As the camp comes under heavy attack from the US Army, Caesar needs to get away and save his own ape clan who while escaping have come under attack from the Alpha-Omega soldiers within the camp. Caesar sees his opportunity to blow up a fuel tanker which results in a cascading explosion that sees the defensive wall of the camp topple over the side of the mountain wiping out just about all of the Alpha-Omega troops, and allowing the US Army to claim a victory. Caesar effects his escape from the fireball mayhem through the tunnel, emerging beyond the perimeter.

As the US Army approach the now decimated Alpha-Omega camp and let out a collective rallying cry, they turn almost in unison to look at Caesar looking at them. Then, with a tremendous roar in the background, they observe a huge avalanche of snow and ice hurtling down on them from high above the mountain caused by the earlier attack commotion. They too are wiped out without a trace leaving Caesar and his clan looking on from the safety of high trees that they were able to escape too to evade the treacherous avalanche. In the aftermath of this, the apes regroup and Caesar leads them to beyond the desert and their safe haven, where the gathered clan rejoice in their new found freedom, the wide open spaces and the land of plenty.

This is a fitting end to the latest and most successful of this franchise reincarnation yet. The CGI and motion capture technology behind the anthropoids is quite stunning, making for a more realistic experience backed up by a smarter, stronger, layered sequel that for the third instalment in a series is unusual in itself. The film serves up raw emotion, gritty action, epic spectacle all underpinned by first rate believable performances, assured Direction and a story you can invest in. At over 140 minutes long however, perhaps just a tad too long, that said, the film moves along at a fast pace and never labours. Talk of a fourth film in this rebooted franchise has already been mooted. Catch it on the big screen while you can - you won't be disappointed.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Birthday's to share this week : 6th - 12th August 2017.

Do you celebrate your Birthday this week?

Charlize Theron does on 7th August - check out my tribute to this Birthday Girl turning 42, 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 6th August
  • Barbara Windsor - Born 1937, turns 80 - Actress | Writer
  • Michelle Yeoh - Born 1962, turns 55 - Actress | Producer | Writer
  • Vera Farmiga - Born 1973, turns 44 - Actress | Producer | Singer 
  • Melissa George - Born 1976, turns 41 - Actress  
  • M. Night Shyamalan - Born 1970, turns 47 - Director | Producer | Writer 
Monday 7th August
  • Tobin Bell - Born 1942, turns 75 - Actor | Producer
  • David Duchovny - Born 1960, turns 57 - Actor | Producer | Director | Writer
  • Michael Shannon - Born 1974, turns 43 - Actor | Producer
  • Charlize Theron - Born 1975, turns 42 - Actress | Producer
  • Abbie Cornish - Born 1982, turns 35 - Actress   
Tuesday 8th August
  • Donald P. Bellisario - Born 1935, turns 82 - Writer | Producer | Director
  • Dustin Hoffman - Born 1937, turns 80 - Actor | Producer | Director | Singer | Songwriter  
Wednesday 9th August
  • Sam Elliott - Born 1944, turns 73 - Actor | Producer
  • Eric Bana - Born 1968, turns 49 - Actor | Writer | Producer | Director
  • McG - Born 1968, turns 49 - Director | Producer | Writer
  • Daniel Henshall - Born 1982, turns 35 - Actor 
  • Bill Skarsgard - Born 1990, turns 27 - Actor
  • Melanie Griffith - Born 1957, turns 60 - Actress | Producer
  • Gillian Anderson - Born 1968, turns 49 - Actress | Producer | Director 
  • Rhona Mitra - Born 1976, turns 41 - Actress 
  • Audrey Tatou - Born 1976, turns 41 - Actress 
  • Anna Kendrick - Born 1985, turns 32 - Actress | Singer  
Thursday 10th August
  • Rosanna Arquette - Born 1959, turns 58 - Actress | Director | Producer | Writer
  • Antonio Banderas - Born 1960, turns 57 - Actor | Producer | Director | Writer | Singer
  • Justin Theroux - Born 1971, turns 46 - Actor | Writer | Producer | Director 
  • Brenton Thwaites - Born 1989, turns 28 - Actor | Producer  
Friday 11th August
  • Ian McDiarmid - Born 1944, turns 73 - Actor 
  • Chris Hemsworth - Born 1983, turns 34 - Actor 
  • Viola Davis - Born 1965, turns 52 - Actress | Producer  
Saturday 12th August
  • Cara Delevingne - Born 1992, turns 25 - Actress 
  • George Hamilton - Born 1939, turns 78 - Actor | Producer
  • Bruce Greenwood - Born 1956, turns 61 - Actor | Producer
  • Casey Affleck - Born 1975, turns 42 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Director | Editor
  • Lakeith Stanfield - Born 1991, turns 26 - Actor 
Charlize Theron was born in Benoni, in the Gauteng Province of South Africa (formerly at the time of her birth the Transvaal Province), to mother Gerda Jacoba Maritz and father Charles Jacobus Theron. She was raised on her parents farm in Benoni near Johannesburg. Her father had an alcohol problem and at age fifteen he turned on both the young teenage Theron and his wife. Physically attacking his wife, Theron's mother shot and killed her husband. The shooting was judged to be in self defence and she was acquitted of any crime. She attended Putfontein Primary School and at thirteen moved to a boarding school at the National School of the Arts in Johannesburg. At sixteen, she won a one year modelling contract at a competition which saw her relocate to Milan in Italy with her mother. After a year of modelling assignments across Europe, she moved Stateside with her mother living in New York City and Miami. In New York she attended the Joffrey Ballet School where she trained to be a ballet dancer where she appeared in 'Swan Lake' and 'The Nutcracker', but a subsequent knee injury put an end to that career aspiration. 

At nineteen years of age, she took a one way ticket to Los Angeles that her mother purchased for her as an ultimatum - either work out what you going to do with your life here or you can come home and sulk and feel sorry for yourself in South Africa! With every intention of getting a gig in the film business, she was picked up by a talent agent who saw Theron get into a heated outburst whilst trying to cash a cheque at a Hollywood Boulevard bank. That chance meeting led to various introductions to casting agents and time at an acting school. After her big screen debut in a non-speaking role in horror offering 'Children of the Corn III' she scored her first speaking gig as a hitwoman in the 1996  comedy crime film '2 Days in the Valley' alongside Jeff Daniels, James Spader, Eric Stolz, Danny Aiello and Teri Hatcher. Theron's role was praised, even if the film garnered average Reviews at best. 

Next up was the Tom Hanks Written, Directed and starring 'That Thing You Do!' and then made for television movie 'Hollywood Confidential', Taylor Hackford's 'The Devil's Advocate' with Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves, then Woody Allen's 'Celebrity' with Kenneth Branagh and Judy Davis. 'Mighty Joe Young' followed with Bill Paxton, Sci-Fi drama 'The Astronaut's Wife' alongside Johnny Depp, and then Lasse Hallstrom's 'The Cider House Rules' with Tobey Maguire and Michael Caine seeing out the nineties.

The new decade saw the John Frankenheimer Directed actioner 'Reindeer Games' with Ben Affleck; the James Gray Co-Written and Directed 'The Yards' with Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix; 'Men of Honour' with Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jnr.; and the Robert Redford Directed 'The Legend of Bagger Vance' with Will Smith and Matt Damon - all released in 2000. 2001 and 2002 saw 'Sweet November' with Keanu Reeves again, '15 Minutes' with Robert De Niro again, 'The Curse of the Jade Scorpion' with Woody Allen again, 'Trapped' with Kevin Bacon, and 'Waking Up in Reno' with Billy Bob Thornton and Patrick Swayze. 

Perhaps her breakout role came with 2003's Patty Jenkins Written and Directed 'Monster' in which Theron plays serial killer Aileen Wournos, a former prostitute who was executed in Florida in 2002 for killing six men in the late '80's and early '90's. Theron won much critical praise for her role garnering the Oscar win for Best Actress, the Golden Globe win for Best Actress, the SAG Award for Best Actress and a BAFTA nomination, amongst a haul of others totalling 30 wins and 25 nods in all. The film also starred Christina Ricci and Bruce Dern.

That same year saw the remake of the classic 'The Italian Job' for Director F. Gary Gray with Mark Wahlberg again, and Donald Sutherland, Jason Statham and Edward Norton; and then her turn as Actress Britt Ekland in the biographical 'The Life and Death of Peter Sellers' with Geoffrey Rush in the lead role; and then war time romantic drama 'Head in the Clouds' with Penelope Cruz and Stuart Townsend. 

2006 saw another highly acclaimed turn for Theron in 'North Country' for Director Niki Caro and starring alongside Jeremy Renner, Frances McDormand, Sean Bean, Woody Harrelson and Sissy Spacek. For her role as Josey Aimes Theron was nominated as Best Actress for the Academy Award, the Golden Globe, the BAFTA and the SAG Award as well as a heap of others.

Sci-Fi actioner 'Aeon Flux' came next in 2005 with Frances McDormand again; and then the Paul Haggis Written and Directed 'In the Valley of Elah' with Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin and Susan Sarandon. Actor Stuart Townsend Wrote and Directed 'Battle in Seattle' which also starred Woody Harrelson again, Ray Liotta, Channing Tatum, Connie Nielsen and Michelle Rodriguez, and this was followed up by 'Sleepwalking', Peter Berg's reluctant Superhero film 'Hancock' with Will Smith; 'The Burning Plain', and then John Hillcoat's post-apocalyptic adventure drama film 'The Road' with Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Robert Duvall seeing out the decade.

2011 brought 'Young Adult' for Director Jason Reitman for which Theron received further awards nominations including a Golden Globe nod; and then the Ridley Scott 'Alien' prequel 'Prometheus' with Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba.

'Snow White and the Hunstman' followed in 2012 with Theron playing Ravenna, the Evil Queen to Kristen Stewart's Snow White and Chris Hemsworth's The Huntsman. The film received mixed Reviews but took US$397M at the Box Office off a budget of US$170M and was therefore a commercial success spawning a sequel 'The Huntsman : Winter's War' being released in 2016 in which Theron reprised her role. The film fared less well critically and commercially than its predecessor bringing in US$165M form a US$115M budget outlay.

The Seth MacFarlane Written, Directed and starring romantic comedy Western, 'A Million Ways to Die in the West' came along in 2014, and then 'Dark Places' with Nicholas Hoult and Chloe Grace Moretz, and then George Miller's long awaited follow up to his earlier hugely successful and influential post-apocalyptic action adventure Sci-Fi offerings 'Mad Max' with 'Mad Max : Fury Road' alongside Tom Hardy as the titular Max Rockatansky with Theron playing Imperator Furiosa and with Nicholas Hoult again. The film made US$379M at the Box Office from its US$150M budget and won six Academy Awards and was nominated for four others, was nominated for two Golden Globes, won four BAFTA's and another three nominations amongst its total awards haul of 237 wins and another 209 nominations.

2016 saw the release of the Sean Penn Directed 'The Last Face' with Javier Bardem. The film was panned by Critics as too were Theron and Bardem's performances. This was followed by Theron applying her voice talents to the animated 'Kubo and the Two Strings' together with those of Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes and Rooney Mara amongst others. So far this year we have seen Theron in the F. Gary Gray Directed 'The Fate of the Furious' in which she pays cyberterrorist and criminal mastermind Cipher alongside Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Kurt Russell, Michelle Rodriguez and various others of note. The film made a staggering US$1.24B from its US$250M budget making it the eleventh highest grossing film of all time at the time of writing, and setting the record for the highest grossing opening weekend of all time at US$532M. And just released is 'Atomic Blonde' in which Theron plays double if not triple agent Lorraine Broughton in this cold war era action spy thriller.

Next up for Theron are 'Gringo' due in 2018 as Directed by Nash Edgerton and also starring Joel Edgerton, Sharlto Copley, David Oyelowo, Thandie Newton and Amanda Seyfried; in post-production is comedy about motherhood, 'Tully' for Director Jason Reitman; and in pre-production is 'Flarsky' for Director Jonathan Levine and also starring Seth Rogen.

All up Theron has 52 Acting credits to her name, and sixteen as Producer including on 2017 television series 'Girlboss' and 'Mindhunter'. She is the recipient of 56 award wins and another 96 nominations including the Oscar for 'Monster' and a nomination for 'North Country'; three Golden Globe nominations and the win also for 'Monster'; a Primetime Emmy nomination; two BAFTA nominations; three SAG nominations and the win for 'Monster' and a whole swathe of others from around the global awards circuit.

In 2007 Theron founded 'The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project' in an attempt to support African youth in the battle against HIV/AIDS. The project is committed to supporting community engaged organisations that address the key drivers of the disease through grant donations, networking and spotlighting their work to ultimately mobilise and empower them to prevent HIV. In 2008, Theron was named a UN Ambassador of Peace. She is also involved in women's rights organisations and has participated in pro-choice rallies, as well as being an active member of 'PETA' (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and a such is a supporter of animal rights. Theron is also a staunch supporter of same sex marriage and refuses to marry herself until such time as her country makes same sex marriage legal. In 2004 she signed a deal making her the spokeswoman for 'J'adore' advertising by Christian Dior, and in 2005 her image was used worldwide in print media advertising for Raymond Weil watches. Theron was in a long term relationship with Irish Actor Stuart Townsend whom she met on the set of 'Trapped' and worked with on subsequent films. The relationship ended in 2010 after eight years. In 2007 she became a US citizen and holds dual nationality with South Africa. She has two adopted children - a boy, Jackson in 2012, and a girl, August in 2015.

Charlize Theron - has been voted on numerous 'Top' lists multiple times including the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World, 100 Sexiest Women in the World, the Hot 100 Women, the Sexiest Woman Alive, Most Desirable Women, Top Earning Actresses; has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Afrikaans is her fist language and she learned English as teenager by watching American television; is as active in the causes she believes in as she is on the big screen both in front of the camera and increasingly behind it; is blonde, stunning and statuesque but happy to turn that upside down and inside out for her craft and has been recognised for it numerous times; and is now a bona fide action star in her own right thanks to the likes of 'Aeon Flux', 'Mad Max : Fury Road' and 'Atomic Blonde'. Plenty of achievements already, and lots more still to come - we'll keep watching Charlize, and in the meantime, Happy Birthday to you, from Odeon Online.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-