Saturday, 22 October 2016

Birthday's to share this week : 23rd-29th October 2016

Do you celebrate your Birthday this week?

Emilia Clarke does on 23rd October - check out my tribute to this Birthday Girl turning 30, 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 23rd October
  • Emilia Clarke - Born 1986, turns 30 - Actress
  • Alex Gibney - Born 1953, turns 63 - Director | Producer | Writer
  • Ang Lee - Born 1954, turns 62 - Director | Producer | Writer
  • Sam Raimi - Born 1959, turns 57 - Director | Producer | Writer | Actor
  • Ryan Reynolds - Born 1976, turns 40 - Actor | Producer  
Monday 24th October
  • F. Murray Abraham - Born 1939, turns 77 - Actor
  • Martin Campbell - Born 1943, turns 73 - Director | Producer
  • Kevin Kline - Born 1947, turns 69 - Actor | Singer  
Tuesday 25th October
  • Adam Goldberg - Born 1970, turns 46 - Actor | Producer | Director | Writer | Editor
  • Gale Anne Hurd - Born 1955, turns 61 - Producer | Writer  
Wednesday 26th October
  • Jaclyn Smith - Born 1945, turns 71 - Actress
  • Rosemarie DeWitt - Born 1971, turns 45 - Actress
  • Dylan McDermott - Born 1961, turns 55 - Actor
  • Cary Elwes - Born 1962, turns 54 - Actor | Producer | Writer 
  • Seth MacFarlane - Born 1973, turns 43 - Actor | Producer | Director | Writer | Singer | Songwriter | Animator
  • Jon Heder - Born 1977, turns 39 - Actor | Producer  
Thursday 27th October
  • John Cleese - Born 1939, turns 77 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Singer | Director
  • Ivan Reitman - Born 1946, turns 70 - Producer | Director | Writer
  • Roberto Benigni - Born 1952, turns 64 - Director | Writer | Actor | Singer 
Friday 28th October
  • Dennis Franz - Born 1944, turns 72 - Actor | Writer
  • Kevin MacDonald - Born 1967, turns 49 - Director | Producer | Writer
  • Joaquin Phoenix - Born 1974, turns 42 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Singer
  • Julia Roberts - Born 1967, turns 49 - Actress | Producer  
Saturday 29th October
  • Kate Jackson - Born 1948, turns 68 - Actress | Producer
  • Winona Ryder - Born 1971, turns 45 - Actress | Producer
  • Robert Hardy - Born 1925, turns 91 - Actor
  • Richard Dreyfuss - Born 1947, turns 69 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Singer
  • Rufus Sewell - Born 1967, turns 49 - Actor
  • Ben Foster - Born 1980, turns 36 - Actor | Producer   
Emilia Isabelle Euphemia Rose Clarke was born in London, England where she grew up in Berkshire with her business woman mother, theatre sound engineer father and her brother. The young Emilia's interest in Acting were first sparked at age just three when her mother took her along to a theatre production of the musical 'Show Boat' which her father has worked on. She was educated at the independent Roman Catholic Rye St. Antony Girls School in Headington, Oxford, and then the co-deucational independent boarding St. Edward's School in Oxford. From there she attended the Drama Centre London, affiliated to the University of the Arts, London who's other notable alumni include Michael Fassbender, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Tom Hardy, Paul Bettany, Russell Brand and her 'Game of Thrones' Co-Star Gwendoline Christie. She graduated in 2009.

Whilst at St. Edward's Clarke appeared in two school plays, ten whilst at the Drama Centre London, and the Los Angeles Company of Angels production of 'Sense'. She gained her first small screen role on an episode of the BBC's 'Doctors' in 2009, and followed this up with the made for television movie for the SyFy Channel 'Triassic Attack' in 2010.

Her big screen debut came in 2012 in 'Spike Island' about the English alternative rock band 'The Stone Roses' gig on Spike Island, Cheshire, England in May 1990 and a group of friends who attempt, in the lead up to that gig, to get to the concert venue without transport, and to gain entry without tickets. This was followed up that same year with the twelve minute short film 'Shackled'.

2013 saw the black comedy crime caper film 'Dom Hemingway' as Written and Directed by Richard Shepard and starring Jude Law in the title role with Richard E. Grant and Damian Bichir. 'Terminator : Genisys' came next in 2015 with Clarke playing Sarah Connor to Jason Clarke as John Connor, Jai Courtney as Kyle Reece and Arnold Schwarzenegger as a re-programmed T-800 Terminator. Despite the film grossing over US$440M off its US$155M budget, a further instalment has been put on hold indefinitely, and Clarke has stated earlier this year that she would not be returning to the franchise.

'Me Before You' came earlier this year alongside Sam Claflin, which whilst earning a worldwide gross of US$207M from its US#20M budget and therefore a commercial success, received average critical acclaim only, although the performances of its two leads were generally praised. Clarke played alongside her 'Game of Thrones' Co-Star Charles Dance.

In the meantime and perhaps most significantly, Clarke has appeared in all six seasons so far broadcast of the hugely popular and much lauded 'Game of Thrones' television series for HBO. Playing the character of Daenerys Targaryen (aka 'Stormborn', 'The Mother of Dragons' and 'Khaleesi') - she is one of the shows most popular characters, and is set to return for season seven. She has won several awards and been nominated multiple times for her role in the cult series. Added to the demands of filming ten episodes per season for now six full televised seasons  on 'Game of Thrones', Clarke has appeared in single episodes of 'Futurama' and 'Robot Chicken', and starred in a Broadway production of 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' in the role of Holly Golightly made famous by Audrey Hepburn in the classic 1961 film.

Next up is 'Above Suspicion' for Director Phillip Noyce with Jack Huston, Johnny Knoxville, and Thora Birch currently in post-production and due in 2017; 'Voice from the Stone' with Marton Csokas also due in 2017; the comedy 'Set It Up' due next year too, and in development for Director Oliver Hirschbiegel is WWI drama 'The Guns of August' with Charles Dance and Helena Bonham Carter also attached. All up Clarke has fifteen Acting credits to her name, she has four award wins so far and a further 22 nominations including three Prime Time Emmy nods for 'Game of Thrones' in 2013, 2015 and 2016 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

Emilia Clarke - skilled at singing (ballads, blues, jazz and cabaret); athletic (rowing, swimming, running, tennis, skiing and sailing); has been ranked highly on numerous 'Top Lists' in the last five years including the #1 'Sexiest Woman Alive', 'Most Desirable Woman' and 'Most Beautiful Face', and for all her short time in the big and small screen acting business has left her mark that continues to keep her in demand, in the spotlight and her star shining brightly. Happy 30th Birthday to you Emilia, from Odeon Online.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Thursday, 20 October 2016

INFERNO : Tuesday 18th October 2016

'INFERNO' which I saw this week was written by Dan Brown, and he has so far had two other Robert Langdon adaptations committed to the big screen - 'The Da Vinci Code' in 2006 which made US$758M from its US$125M budget outlay, and 'Angels and Demons' in 2009 which returned US$486M from its US$150M budget. 'Inferno' is the third movie outing for Harvard Professor of Symbology, Robert Langdon and the fourth book of the series. 'The Lost Symbol' - the third book in the series was skipped over as it was thought by those all knowing Studio Exec's that 'Inferno' would make a more compelling transition to the cinema screen. The Langdon character is reprised once again by Tom Hanks and with Director Ron Howard at the helm. David Koepp wrote the screenplay. The film was made for US$75M and has so far made US$50M ahead of its US release date on 28th October.

The film opens up with a lone man being chased on foot by three assailants. He disappears up a bell tower and upon reaching the top with no where to turn he steps out on to the ledge overlooking the cobbled streets below of Florence. The three men chasing after him emerge, the man is caught, he turns inwards to face the men, some words are exchanged, and the man leans back and plummets to his death onto the street below. We then cut to a hospital bed where a semi-conscious Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is hooked up to a drip, heart monitors and his head bandaged. He is having visions of Hell, the plague, ravaged bodies, violence and death and rivers of blood but all in a modern day setting. He comes around and is greeted by Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) who advises him that he was admitted muttering the words 'very sorry' over and over again and with a bullet wound to the head that is likely to have caused temporary amnesia. Langdon has no recollection of the events that caused him to end up in the hospital bed, and in Florence of all places which he recognises instantly from his bedroom window.

Whilst Langdon is still in pain from his head wound and experiencing ongoing visions which he is seemingly caught in the middle of, Vayentha (Ana Ularu) an assassin, arrives at the hospital in police uniform and makes for the room where Langdon is in recovery. A hospital orderly is gunned down, and in the melee Brooks acts upon her survival instincts and gets herself and Langdon out of the hospital just in time to evade the rapid gunfire at the hand of the disguised assassin. The pair flee to Brooks' apartment where Langdon sleeps. When he wakes he freshens up but still has little memory of the events that brought him to Florence. Rummaging through his old bloodied clothes he comes across an object that he has never seen before, that requires his thumb print to open the stainless steel tube. Reluctantly the pair agree to open it revealing a 'Faraday Pointer' - a miniature projector - which reveals an image of Botticelli's late 15th Century Map of Hell which is based on Dante's 14th Century epic dark masterpiece 'Inferno'. But within the map on closer inspection are certain adjustments, hidden letters and a clue pointing to Betrand Zorbrist (Ben Foster) - the man who fell to his death at the beginning of the film.

Zorbrist it turns out was a billionaire geneticist who believed that the world is overpopulated and that rigorous measures are necessary to reduce the ever increasing population, which he sees as a modern plague. Through his seminars he has captured the interest of a group of followers around the world, and Langdon deduces that Zorbrist had created a virus capable of reducing the global populace by more than 50% - sustainable levels for a fresh start! By now the pair have been traced by the local authorities and the assassin once again, but again Langdon and Brooks manage to evade capture on foot. With Langdon's intimate knowledge of Dante, and of Florence the two embark on a cat and mouse game across the city's secret passageways, hidden vaults and network of tunnels and chambers all the while unlocking other clues as the clock counts down to the release of the virus in some hidden and secure place.

The pair are pursued at every turn by both Christoph Bouchard (Omar Sy) who claims to be working for the World Health Organisation, and Elizabeth Sinskey (Sidse Babett Knudsen) who heads up the WHO and is well known to Langdon. All the while Langdon's memory is coming back to him in flashback. In the meantime, Harry Sims (Irrfan Khan) heads up 'The Consortium' - a very special and secretive interest group who conduct dirty deeds for vast sums of money for the worlds wealthiest clients, no questions asked and confidentiality guaranteed. Sims is in possession of a video recorded by Zorbrist to be played only after the virus has been released, but since his client is dead, Sims plays the video recording, revealing the magnitude of what his client was planning. Sims approaches Sinskey with the knowledge of Zorbrist's final message, and the pair agree to work together to track down Langdon who is the only one capable of uncovering the puzzle and locating the virus stash before it is released. Bouchard however, gets to Langdon and Brooks first and wins them over with tall tales of Sinskey and how she has her own agenda for the virus.

Sims, using his own very particular set of skills tracks down Langdon who has now been captured by Bouchard, and Brooks has made off, but not before Brooks has revealed to Langdon that she was in fact Zorbrist's lover and his accomplice in the plan to release the virus, but the whereabouts of it were not known even to her. She needed him to reveal the location by following the clues and using his expert knowledge, and has since made off, evading capture by Bouchard, so ensuring the virus will be released as planned. In a run down building Sims quickly dispenses with Bouchard freeing Langdon to continue the chase for the virus. After an explanation of how Sims fits into the equation, Langdon reveals that the virus is in fact in Istanbul in the Hagia Sophia, and so the pair make off with  Sinskey in a private jet. We further learn that Langdon and Sinskey have romantic history and that she in fact asked Langdon with help in deciphering the meanings hidden in the Faraday Pointer. Langdon was kidnapped by The Consortium and given a memory loss drug and the whole hospital episode was a ruse, aimed at keeping Langdon off the scent.

The virus is hanging in a plastic bag dangling in the waters of the 6th Century Basilica Cistern close by to the Hagia Sophia. With a once a year music festival taking place within the Cistern and the gathered orchestra in place and well dressed on lookers filling the Basilica, the WHO Team, Sims, Sinskey and Langdon head down to search out the virus bag. So too do Brooks and two other enlisted foot soldiers intent on detonating two bombs in close proximity to the bag that when ruptured with aerosolize the virus. Needless to say its get pretty hairy in the closing minutes as bodies flay about in the shallow waters of the ancient Cistern and the virus is contained. It doesn't end well for the antagonists or Sims, leaving Langdon and Sinskey to return to the respective lives wondering what might have been if they had their time over again, and leaving the world's population in tact at almost eight billion and counting!

For me, after the novelty of seeing Robert Langdon in 'The Da Vinci Code' and then 'Angels and Demons' which were far better introductory films to the world of symbols, imagery, and iconology, I went in to the theatre with higher expectations and came out underwhelmed! In 'Inferno' we have a pedestrian, predictable, popcorn offering that sees the same old same old regurgitated again for the sake of some historic ancient landmarks whilst making light work of Langdon's particular set of skills to thwart a dead mans evil plot. There are too a number of liberties with the story as written by Dan Brown in his book, which I guess is Hollywood's poetic license at work here, but those that have read his page turning unputdownable novels as I have, are likely to pick up on this too. The story here takes a while to get into gear and then when it does it takes its foot off the peddle and meanders along in a by the numbers offering that make this the least engaging of the three films so far. Disappointing, particularly for another Hanks/Howard collaboration, but maybe for half the budget of its predecessors therein lies your answer? Wait for the DVD or BluRay to watch in the comfort of your own home and save yourself the price of a ticket.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

What's new in Odeon's this week : Thursday 20th October 2016.

Not many people will have heard of Jim Grant, but a good many will have heard of Lee Child - the pseudonym under which Jim Grant writes his acclaimed and hugely popular 'Jack Reacher' series of books. With the release of the second Jack Reacher film this week 'Never Look Back' with Tom Cruise in the title role once again, it looks like this franchise has legs, and so I thought a little Jack Reacher synopsis was in order. The character of Jack Reacher first hit the book stands in 1997 with 'Killing Floor', followed up by a book every year since, except 2010 when two books were published. With 'Night School' due for imminent release, this marks the 21st novel in the long running history of this former Major in the US Military Police Corp now turned drifter, odd job man, and investigator of suspicious and often dangerous situations, more often than not across the USA from urban to rural locations, and occasionally overseas. Two books have so far made it to the big screen - the first Jack Reacher outing in 2012 based on 'One Shot' published in 2005, and 'Never Go Back' published in 2013. In addition, there has also been a collection of novella's and short stories which in all to date make up 32 publications featuring the character, including the yet to be released 'Night School'. To date Lee Child has sold over seventy million Jack Reacher novels putting the character firmly in the billion dollar brand category.  Lee Child has won numerous awards for his writing efforts about the exploits of his created character.

This week then, we have six new movies coming to a big screen near you. Starting off with a sequel to a very popular fictional character from a very popular series of books reprised by a popular Actor now establishing what could be a popular new franchise. Then a period piece framed around the Hollywood of yesteryear from an acclaimed and prolific Writer, Director and Actor once again with his trademark all star cast. Next up is an action comedy putting a new spin on a tried & tested formula that we have seen before that sees a meddling couple get in over their heads with a pair of highly trained secret agents; before moving onto a young models burgeoning career in over drive but at what cost ultimately to herself and those around her in this horror thriller that has split audience opinion. Sticking with the horror theme, we move to mid-'60's LA for an origin prequel about a board game that conjures up all sorts of nasties from the other side for this young family in mourning, before wrapping up with an acclaimed Australian supernatural coming of age story from a first time Director.

With more great choices as Previewed here, Reviewed previously and those others still out on general release it's a week of action, drama, jump scares with a little comedy thrown in for good measure. When you have sat through your movie of choice, remember that you are encouraged to share your moviegoing views and opinions by leaving your Comment below this or any other Post. We'd love to hear form you, and in the meantime, enjoy your film.

'JACK REACHER : NEVER GO BACK' (Rated M) - the character of Jack Reacher first burst onto our cinema screens in 2012 as portrayed by Tom Cruise in the title role. Based on the best selling series of books by Lee Child, that first outing was based on Child's 2005 book in the series 'One Shot' as Directed by Christopher McQuarrie and Co-Produced by Cruise for US$60M with a worldwide Box Office take of over US$218M, and generally positive critical Reviews too. Now in 2016 Jack Reacher is back and Tom Cruise is reprising his role in Lee Child's 2013 novel adaptation 'Never Go Back'. Once again Co-Produced by Tom Cruise but Directed and Co-Written for the screen by Edward Zwick this time, the film was made for US$96M.

Set four years after the events of that first film, Jack Reacher returns to his old military base to meet with Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) who has been working with Reacher on various cases across the country that have required his particular set of skills. Upon arriving he quickly learns that Major Turner has been accused of treason. Seeking to uncover the truth behind a major governmental conspiracy, and that Turner is innocent, he goes on the run in order to clear his name, that of Turner's whilst uncovering a secret from his past, that could change his future forever.

'CAFE SOCIETY' (Rated M) - marking Woody Allen's 47th film as Director, 'Cafe Society' was Written by him, and he provides the narration for the film too. Made at a cost of US$30M this is Allen's most expensive film to date. The film Premiered at Cannes earlier this year, was released Stateside in mid-July and so far has garnered critical praise. Set in the 1930's, Bobby Dorman (Jesse Eisenberg) leaves his home in the Bronx for all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood hoping to make it big in the movies.  He lands a job with his powerful talent agent uncle Phil Stern (Steve Carell) where he quickly falls for his secretary Vonnie (Kristen Stewart) who is tasked with introducing young Bobby to Hollywood. Coming to realise that Vonnie is Phil's mistress, Bobby returns to the Bronx heartbroken, and lands a job in a nightclub and in time Bobby meets the new love of his life, Veronica  Hayes (Blake Lively) and they eventually marry. All goes well, until Phil and Vonnie visit New York and Bobby's nightclub when old feelings are reignited. Also starring Parker Posey, Corey Stoll and Ken Stott.

'KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES' (Rated PG) - this action comedy offering from Director Greg Mottola sees the perfect and beautiful neighbourhood couple Mr. and Mrs. Jones (Tim, as played by John Hamm, and Natalie, as played by Gal Gadot) channelling a certain 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith' (John as played by Brad Pitt and Jane as played by Angelina Jolie from 2005) - a couple of highly trained and elite government secret agents living in suburbia whose neighbours Jeff and Karen Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher respectively) suspect that there may be more to their perfect neighbours lives than meets the eye. The Gaffney's soon become entangled in a web of international intrigue and espionage with their perfect neighbours, that certainly brightens up their otherwise mundane lives but puts them straight in the path of danger, destruction and death all in the name of Uncle Sam - and doubtless with hilarious results!

'NEON DEMON' (Rated R18+) - Directed, Co-Produced, written for the screen and based on a story by Danish Nicolas Winding Refn, this horror thriller costs just US$7M to make, competed at Cannes this year for the Palme D'Or and divided audiences. The film was released back in June in the US, France and Denmark and has so far grossed just under US$4M. Starring Elle Fanning as  Jesse who shortly after her sixteenth birthday ups sticks and relocates herself to Los Angeles to pursue a career, fame and fortune as a model. Her modelling agency believes in her, telling the young Jesse she has the natural beauty and ability to go all the way to the top, but she quickly incurs the wrath of those other models within the agency and the industry at large for her fresh faced looks and natural beauty. As Jesses's career starts to take off, those other models almost are cast aside as yesterdays news and has-beens, leaving the new 'it girl' to learn new skills to ensure she maintains her position at the top of the heap and overcome the adversity thrown at her by her jealous rivals. Also starring Christina Hendricks, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee and Keanu Reeves. This film has polarised audiences for all its extreme, gut wrenching craziness.

'OUIJA : ORIGIN OF EVIL' (Rated M) - in 2014 Stiles White in his Directorial debut brought us 'Ouija' which was panned by the critics, but it nonetheless returned US$104M from its initial US$5M budget outlay, making a follow-up a sure thing. Now two short years later and we have that follow-up in the form of a prequel to that earlier horror thriller film - hence 'Origin of Evil'. Made for US$6M this time and Directed and Co-Written by Mike Flanagan, here we are transported back to the mid-60's Los Angeles where widowed mother and her family run scam seances to earn a crust. Upon discovering a Ouija game board Doris Zander (Lulu Wilson) sees this as a way to connect with her deceased father. As the game gets underway, a dark figure manifests itself, and Doris is possessed by an evil spirit. Doris' new 'friends' from another world try to pass into this world and claim the young girl for their own. This results in the family having to play the Ouija game for themselves, confront their worst fears and rescue Doris from unthinkable malevolent forces if their lives are ever to be returned to some sort of normalcy.

'BOYS IN THE TREES' (Rated M) - Written, Directed and Edited by first timer Nicholas Verso this Australian supernatural thriller is set on Halloween 1997, and for some it's the final day of High School. Celebrating their passing of childhood into adulthood Corey (Tony Wallace), Jango (Justin Holborow) and their skater gang mates 'The Gromits' run wild with their new found freedom and the prospect of what lies ahead in their lives. When a bullied old schoolmate and former friend Jonah (Gulliver McGrath) is harassed by the other Gromits, Corey's plans for an evening of wild adventure take a different turn. With Jonah persuading Corey to walk him home, the pair step into a realm of supernatural fears, dark secrets, and old nightmares that cloud what's real and what is imagined, before they emerge at the other end with the scariest prospect facing us all - real life and everything it throws at us. Also starring Mitzi Ruhlmann as Romany. Critically acclaimed, this debut feature for Melbourne Director Verso shot mostly in the suburbs of Adelaide, has been well received at both the Toronto and Venice Film Festivals, and for a local production is one to watch out for.

Six new filmic offerings to coerce you out to your local Odeon in the coming week then offering horror, thriller, drama, action, comedy and supernatural themes to give you plenty of choice once more. Share your thoughts when you have sat through your movie of choice, and in the meantime, I'll see you at the Odeon sometime in the week ahead.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Birthday's to share this week : 16th-22nd October 2016.

Do you celebrate your Birthday this week?

Jon Favreau does on 19th October - check out my tribute to this Birthday Lad turning 50, 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 16th October
  • Angela Lansbury - Born 1925, turns 91 - Actress | Producer | Singer
  • Tim Robbins - Born 1958, turns 58 - Actor | Writer | Producer | Director | Singer | Songwriter
  • Gary Kemp - Born 1959, turns 57 - Actor | Singer | Songwriter  
Monday 17th October
  • Lawrence Bender - Born 1957, turns 59 - Producer | Actor
  • Rob Marshall - Born 1960, turns 56 - Director | Producer | Choreographer
  • Eminem (aka Marshall Bruce Mathers III) - Singer | Songwriter | Producer | Actor
  • Matthew Macfadyen - Born 1974, turns 42 - Actor
  • Margot Kidder - Born 1948, turns 68 - Actress
  • Felicity Jones - Born 1983, turns 33 - Actress  
Tuesday 18th October
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme - Born 1960, turns 56 - Actor | Writer | Producer | Director
  • Zac Efron - Born 1987, turns 29 - Actor | Producer | Singer  
Wednesday 19th October
  • Michael Gambon - Born 1940, turns 76 - Actor
  • John Lithgow - Born 1945, turns 71 -  Actor | Producer | Singer
  • Jon Favreau - Born 1966, turns 50 - Director | Producer | Writer | Actor
  • Trey Parker - Born 1969, turns 47 - Writer | Producer | Director | Actor | Animator | Singer | Songwriter | Composer 
Thursday 20th October
  • Timothy West - Born 1934, turns 82 - Actor
  • Thomas Newman - Born 1955, turns 61 - Composer | Songwriter | Musician
  • Danny Boyle - Born 1956, turns 60 - Director | Producer | Writer
  • Viggo Mortensen - Born 1958, turns 58 - Actor | Producer
  • Snoop Dogg (aka Calvin Cordozar Broadus) - Born 1971, turns 45 - Singer | Songwriter | Composer | Writer | Actor | Producer  
Friday 21st October
  • Ken Watanabe - Born 1959, turns 57 - Actor | Producer
  • Catherine Hardwick - Born 1955, turns 61 - Director | Producer | Writer | Production Designer
  • Carrie Fisher - Born 1956, turns 60 - Actress | Writer | Singer
Saturday 22nd October
  • Catherine Deneuve - Born 1943, turns 73 - Actress | Singer
  • Saffron Burrows - Born 1972, turns 44 - Actress
  • Christopher Lloyd - Born 1938, turns 78 - Actor
  • Derek Jacobi - Born 1938, turns 78 - Actor
  • Jan de Bont - Born 1943, turns 73 - Director | Producer | Cinematographer
  • Jeff Goldblum - Born 1952, turns 64 - Actor | Producer
  • John Howard - Born 1952, turns 64 - Actor
  • Bill Condon - Born 1955, turns 61 - Director | Producer | Writer
  • Spike Jonze - Born 1969, turns 47 - Director | Producer | Writer | Actor | Cameraman
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson - Born 1975, turns 41 - Actor | Television Personality  
Jonathan Kolia Favreau was born in Flushing, Queens, New York to mother Madeleine - an elementary school teacher who died in 1979 from leukaemia, and father Charles Favreau - a special needs education teacher. Favreau graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in 1984, and attended Queens College at the City University of New York from 1984 through to 1987 before dropping out. For a short time he worked for the New York based global investment bank, securities trading and brokerage company Bear Sterns on Wall Street, before returning to Queens College in early 1988. By that Summer he dropped out for good before completing his degree, and headed to Chicago to chase down a career in comedy. There he honed his craft at the ImprovOlympic Theatre and Training Centre, and the Improv Institute which subsequently closed its doors in 1994.

His first big screen role came as a Chicago cab driver in 'Folks' in 1992 for Director Ted Kotcheff with Tom Seleck and Don Ameche. This was followed up with an uncredited extra role in the Danny DeVito Directed and starring 'Hoffa' with Jack Nicholson in the title role. In 1993 he gained his first significant role in 'Rudy' alongside Sean Astin in the lead role as Daniel E. Roettiger and Favreau playing D-Bob in this sports-bio set in the college football world of the University of Notre Dame in the mid-'70's. On set he met Vince Vaughn who had a small role to play in the film. In 1994 he starred in 'PCU' (Port Chester University) alongside Jeremy Piven and David Spade, and then Joel Schumacher's 'Batman Forever' with Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carey and Chris O'Donnell. 'Notes from Underground' followed that same year in 1995. In the meantime there had been appearances on the likes of 'Seinfeld', 'Chicago Hope', ' The Larry Sanders Show' and 'Fallen Angels'.

1996 saw his debut as a Screenwriter with his penned 'Swingers' with Favreau playing alongside Vince Vaughn, and Directed by Doug Liman. 'Swingers' was made for just US$200K and grossed close to US$5M. Before the end of the decade came 'Persons Unknown', 'Dogtown', end of the world Sci-Fi action drama 'Deep Impact', Peter Berg's 'Very Bad Things' and television series appearances on 'Tracey Takes On . . .', 'Friends' and made for television movies 'Desert Breeze' and 'Rocky Marciano' with Favreau playing the lead role as the undefeated world heavyweight boxing champion.

The new decade launched with 'Love & Sex', 'The Replacements' and this his Directorial debut with 'Made' in 2001 in which he also starred, wrote and Produced, and hired his mate Vince Vaughn to star alongside. The film received positive Reviews and just about recovered its US$5M budget outlay from the worldwide Box Office. Marvel's 'Daredevil' with Ben Affleck came next in 2003, then 'The Big Empty' and then his second outing as Director with the Christmas themed 'Elf'. 'Something's Gotta Give' with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, and then 'Wimbledon', 'The Break Up' with Vince Vaughn and former 'Friends' Co-Star Jennifer Aniston. In the meantime Favreau Directed 'Zathura' - the follow-up to 'Jumanji' which whilst faring reasonably well critically, did less so commercially.

2008 saw Favreau Direct, Co-Produce and star in the first outing for Marvel's 'Iron Man' with Robert Downey Jnr. in the lead role. This first film in the hugely successful and popular franchise returned US$586M from its US$140M budget. He followed this success up again in 2010 with 'Iron Man 2' making US$624M from its US$200M budget, and in 2013 acted as Executive Producer on Shane Black's 'Iron Man 3' and reprised his role as Happy Hogan, now Head of Security for Stark Industries. This third instalment made US$1.22B from its US$200M budget costs.

Three RomCom's followed in quick succession with 'Four Christmases', 'I Love You, Man' and 'Couples Retreat' - the first and last of these both with regular stablemate Vince Vaughn, before the Sci-Fi Western 'Cowboys and Aliens' Directed and Co-Produced by Favreau with Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford starring.

There were then support acting gigs in 'John Carter', 'People Like Us', 'Identity Thief', 'The Wolf of Wall Street' and 'Entourage' with his turn as Writer, Producer. Director and Star in 'Chef' in 2014. In the meantime he took an Executive Producer credit on the hugely successful 'The Avengers' in 2012, on last years 'Avengers : The Age of Ultron' and the upcoming 'Avengers : Infinity War Parts 1 & 2' due on 4th May 2018 and 3rd May 2019 respectively.

Bringing us up to date this year there has been crime drama 'Term Life' with Vince Vaughn again, his highly acclaimed live action/CGI retelling of Disney's classic 'The Jungle Book' which Favreau Directed, Co-Produced and lent his voice talents to and which grossed US$967M from its US$175M budget. Next up is his reprisal of his 'Iron Man' role as Happy Hogan in 'Spider-Man : Homecoming', and the recently announced Disney live action/CGI remakes of 'The Lion King' and 'The Jungle Book 2' with Favreau set to Direct both. Television Sci-Fi drama comedy series 'Orville' is due in 2017 with Favreau as Executive Producer. Meanwhile, he has lent his voice talents to 'Rocket Power', 'Dilbert', 'Buzz Lightyear of Star Command', 'Family Guy', 'Rugrats', 'Open Season', 'Robot Chicken', 'G-Force', 'Zookeeper', 'Star Wars : The Clone Wars' and 'The Jungle Book', and he has appeared on episodes of 'My Name is Earl', 'Monk' and 'The King of Queens'.

All up Favreau has 65 Acting credits to his name, 22 Producer credits, twenty as Director and six as Writer. He has three awards wins and eight other nominations. He married physician Joya Tillem in late 2000 with whom he has three children - Max (born in July 2001), Madeleine (born in April 2003) and Brighton Rose (born in August 2006). Looking purely at his Marvel adaptations which he has either Directed or Co-Produced, the combined worldwide gross Box Office receipts amount to close to US$5.35B and add to that 'The Jungle Book' then this sum rises to close to US$6.32B . . . that's a pretty good track record methinks!

Jon Favreau - he Stars, he Produces, he Directs and he Writes; is as equally comfortable making big action epics or small independent features; and now seemingly at ease too with the latest cutting edge moviemaking technology to further enhance our cinematic experience. A proven track record of keeping us entertained on the big screen and the small screen, in front of the camera and behind it, and we just keep coming back for more - Happy 50th Birthday to you Jon, from Odeon Online.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Friday, 14 October 2016

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN : Wednesday 12th October 2016.

The psychological thriller drama 'THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN' which I saw in the week is based on the best selling book of the same name by British author Paula Hawkins. The book was Hawkins debut, and it remained on the New York Times Best Seller list for 13 weeks upon release in early 2015, and by August this year had sold eleven million copies worldwide. Now coming to a big screen near you, the book has been adapted for the big screen by Erin Cressida Wilson and Directed by Tate Taylor (who most recently brought us the James Brown bio-pic 'Get On Up' and before that 'The Help') for a budget of US$45M, and having so far taken US$50M since its premier in London in late September and its US release on 7th October.

Starring Emily Blunt as Rachel Watson (the girl on the train!) - a divorcee with a drink problem who left her husband Tom (Justin Theroux) after she caught him cheating on her with their real estate agent Anna Boyd (Rebecca Fergusson). Before their marriage came to an end, we learn through various flashbacks that Rachel was prone to getting into the drink after which she would invariably black-out with little recollection of the events that occurred during her drunken stupor. It would take her husband to recount her antics after the fact, and she claims that this led to their separation, Tom drifting off the matrimonial path with another, plus the fact that she is unable to bear children.

She travels to and from work every day on a train, always sits by the window and gazes out as she passes her former home that Tom now occupies with his new wife Anna and their young daughter Evie. She is bitter, as she drinks from her water bottle that is secretly filled with gin or vodka, and doodles pencil drawings in her note book. Tom's neighbours are Scott and Megan Hipwell (Luke Evans and Haley Bennett respectively) who seem to have the perfect, loving, caring marriage that Rachel fantasises about to the point of obsession from the window of her passing train. The reality is however, something quite different, as Scott is controlling, aggressive and the typical Alpha male, whereas Megan is detached, resentful and carrying on with various other men behind Scottt's back - including her shrink - Dr. Kamal Abdic (Edgar Ramirez).

One day however, en route to work gazing out of her window seat she witnesses something suspicious and shocking - Megan and Abdic kissing and embracing on the balcony of her home, which turns her image of their prefect life into a tailspin. How could Megan do such a thing, how could she betray her loving husband, and who is that man she was with? After another day on the turps, she confronts Megan on the way home from work in a tunnel under the railway line, only to wake some hours later in her room covered in blood and with no memory of how she got there, the cause of the blood, the head injury she has sustained and the bruising to her upper body.

Subsequently it is made known that Megan is missing and is later presumed dead. Rachel is questioned by Detective Sergeant Riley (Allison Janney) who suspects that she may be covering something up because of her recent activity, including allegedly stalking her ex-husband and his new family, harassing them with incessant phone calls, and that she was actually fired from her place of work a year ago because of her drinking problem, despite the fact that she travels into 'work' everyday on the train, masquerading that she is still gainfully employed. Rachel claims she has no memory of any events surrounding the time of Megan's disappearance and whilst the Detective remains unconvinced, she needs evidence . . . which she doesn't have.

Rachel, approaches Scott under the guises that she and Megan were friends and that Megan confided in her about an affair, to which Scott puts two and two together and determines that the other man is Abdic. Rachel identifies Abdic as the man she saw on the balcony earlier with Megan. Rachel then schedules an appointment with Abdic and speaks to him of her failed relationship with Tom and her drunken actions at an office party hosted by his boss Martha (Lisa Kudrow) that resulted in him getting fired.

Later, having another martini before returning home, gradually Rachel has flashbacks of that evening in the tunnel. She returns to that same place and has visions of Anna and Tom in the tunnel and shouting abuse at Anna before being set upon and beaten up at which point she blacks out. Anna becomes increasingly suspicious of Rachel after seeing her in the neighbourhood several times and in close proximity to her former home, but the Detective dismisses these thoughts on the grounds again of needing hard evidence, and Tom too downplays that Rachel could have any involvement in Megans's disappearance.

Megan's partially decomposed body is found later on in the woods and it is determined in the autopsy that she was pregnant but the baby was neither Scott's or Abdic's. Scott therefore becomes a prime suspect and confronts Rachel with his knowledge that the two in fact had never met, and that Rachel was conspiring against him. He's not happy and he vents his anger on Rachel, but leaves before any real harm is done. Later, Rachel runs into Martha on the train and decides to confront Martha with an apology for her behaviour at that ill fated office party that led to her then husband Tom being fired. Martha is rather taken aback by her apology stating that her behaviour had nothing to do with it - she fell ill and was taken into a back room to recover - all perfectly innocent and acceptable. The reason why Tom was fired was because he 'couldn't keep his dick in his pants'. At this point it dawns on Rachel that Tom was manipulating her memories for his own gain and to cover up for his abuse of her, and not the other way around as she has believed all this time.

Anna meanwhile has become increasingly suspicious of her husband Tom, and tries to hack into his computer but fails repeatedly. She finds an old mobile phone in his brief case with voice mail messages and text messages to and from Megan. Anna deduces that Tom was in fact having an affair with Megan, who used to babysit for Tom and Anna until a short time ago before Megan broke off the arrangement rather abruptly, much to Anna's surprise at the time. Rachel comes to realise that Megan was in fact pregnant with Tom's baby and that Megan had told Abdic this news in confidence, and what she saw on the balcony that day was misinterpreted by her. More memories come flooding back to Rachel who now has clarity of vision about what happened in the tunnel that evening.

It seems that Rachel mistook Megan for Anna that evening in the tunnel, as she was walking towards Tom's car parked at the other end. It was Tom that beat up Rachel, which fuelled with alcohol caused her to black out, before driving off with Megan in his car. At this point they drive to the woods where Megan confronts Tom with the news that she is pregnant with his child. Tom is enraged and commands that Megan aborts the pregnancy as not only does he not want another child but can also ill afford another child, and he does not want the news of their affair surfacing. Megan is perplexed at this news and they argue, resulting in Tom physically shoving Megan off her feet causing her to fall backwards knocking her head on a rock. In a state of semi consciousness, Tom finishes off the job with a few well aimed blows to the head with another rock. To see how Tom gets his comeuppance you'll just have to see for yourself.

I was expecting more from this film I have to say. It jumps around all over the place, which I understand is the format of the book, but it makes for disjointed viewing here. Aside from Emily Blunt's performance, the remaining cast as strong as they are, are very one dimensional and difficult to warm to. There are parallel's here to be drawn with 'Gone Girl' which is a far superior film. If you have read the book then doubtless you'll flock to the movie theatre to see how the pages transfer to the big screen, but, you can wait to see it on your own small screen in the comfort of your own home on a Friday night with a pizza and a bottle 'o' red and save yourself the price of a ticket. The film has some redeeming features, most notably Blunt's performance as the downtrodden alcoholic neurotic fantasising voyeur, but the rest is fairly predictable and ho-hum!

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

What's new in Odeon's this week : Thursday 13th October 2016.

Dan Brown is an American author of thriller adventure fiction, who has sold over 200 million books and had his works translated into 52 languages. His first book was released in 1998 - 'Digital Fortress' a stand alone novel about government surveillance of electronically stored information on the private lives of citizens, and the possible civil liberties and ethical implications of using such technology. This stand alone novel was followed up in 2001 by 'Deception Point' another stand alone story of a meteorite found within the Arctic Circle that may provide proof of extraterrestrial life, and attempts by the antagonists to prevent the evidence against it from becoming public. In 2000 Brown first introduced us to the character of Robert Langdon - a Harvard Professor of Symbology and Religious Iconology in 'Angels & Demons' which was subsequently made into a film in 2009, interestingly after the second novel in the Robert Langdon series 'The Da Vinci Code' which as a book was released in 2003 and as a film in 2006. Brown penned 'The Lost Symbol' next and that book was published in 2009 but was overlooked for the Hollywood treatment in skipping to 'Inferno' - the fourth novel in the Robert Langdon series, which is released this week and Previewed as below. So far all three instalments have been Directed by Ron Howard, with Tom Hanks in the lead role as Robert Langdon. A fifth book in the series is due for release in September 2017 titled 'Origin'. Brown's Robert Langdon books have been international best sellers, and the first two films in the series have grossed over US$1.2B.

This week then we have five new movies coming to your local Odeon, kicking off with the third big screen adaptation from a series of books by an acclaimed author featuring an acclaimed character portrayed by an acclaimed Actor at the hands of an acclaimed Director involving ancient mysteries, curious symbols, a game of cat and mouse, and a life or death situation confronting half the planet. This is followed up by a true crime telling of a late 90's heist that is just too far fetched to be believed - but it really happened, perhaps with a little comedic poetic licence thrown in for good measure here. We then turn attention to an Asian action adventure featuring an unlikely buddy pairing brought together to thwart an evil foe and rescue a maiden in distress, before returning home to our own Aussie backyard and another true crime telling of a pre-meditated partially publicised murder that went ahead when those that could have prevented it . . . chose not to! We then wrap up with a Spanish foreign language film from another acclaimed Director, about a mothers quest to reconnect with her estranged daughter.

When you have sat through your film of choice this week, feel free to drop us a line or two here at Odeon Online, by leaving your own critique in the Comments section below this or any other Post. We'd love to hear from you, and in the meantime, enjoy your movie experience.

'INFERNO' (Rated M) - Dan Brown, the author upon which this film is based, has so far had two other Robert Langdon adaptations committed to the big screen - 'The Da Vinci Code' in 2006 which made US$758M from its US$125M budget outlay, and 'Angels and Demons' in 2009 which returned US$486M from its US$150M budget. 'Inferno' is the third movie outing for Harvard Professor of Symbology, Robert Langdon as reprised once again by Tom Hanks and with Director Ron Howard at the helm. David Koepp wrote the screenplay.

This time we see Langdon waking up in a hospital in Italy with no recollection of how he got there or where he is. He also has no explanation for the origin of a macabre object found stashed away in his belongings. Eventually he teams up with young doctor, Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) whom Langdon hopes will help him recover his lost memory, but when a threat against his life eventuates the two are propelled into breakneck chase across Florence. Armed with the just a few meagre clues pointing to Dante's 14th Century epic dark masterpiece 'Inferno', Langdon and Brooks race against time to solve the puzzle which may or may not help them save the world from they threat of a virus capable of wiping out half the global population - as planted by transhumanist scientist Betrand Zorbrist (Ben Foster). Also starring Omar Sy and Irrfan Khan.

'MASTERMINDS' (Rated M) - based on the real life North Carolina Loomis Fargo Robbery that occurred in 1997 netting a haul of US$17.3M for its band of misfits (the second largest cash robbery in US history at that time), this crime comedy caper film is Directed by Jared Hess and features a strong cast for its US$25M budget. Here David Scott Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis) is a truck driver for armoured security company Loomis Fargo. Ghantt is stuck in a dead beat job, driving around other peoples hard earned cash for living. He strikes up a relationship with co-worker Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig) who persuades him that there is more to life that driving an armoured truck and to think about the possibilities of what lies inside the truck. Pretty soon, a harebrained scheme is devised with the aid of Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson), and lo and behold Ghantt pulls off the heist of a lifetime with over US$17M to show for it. Handing over his stash of cash to his accomplices who have turned the tables on him, Ghantt is double crossed while his former no-good partners in crime go on a wild spending spree leaving a trail of evidence for the authorities to follow. Evading the authorities and the intentions of hit man Mike McKinney (Jason Sudeikis), Ghantt now needs to turn the tide against those he once trusted. Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones also star so reuniting three of this years 'Ghostbusters' ensemble.

'SKIPTRACE' (Rated M) - this Hong Kong/Chinese/American Co-Production is Directed by Renny Harlin who knows how to create an action movie (think 'Die Hard 2', 'The Long Kiss Goodnight', 'Driven', 'Cliffhanger' and 'Deep Blue Sea') and here he teams up legendary Jackie Chan as Hong Kong Detective Bennie Chan who has been on the hunt for notorious underworld mobster Matador, believed to be Victor Wong (Winston Chao) for over ten years now since killing his young partner. When his partners daughter Samantha (Fan Bingbing) lands herself in hot water with Wong's syndicate, Chan must seek out American gambling con-man Connor Watts (Johnny Knoxville) who aside from gambling his way through China's casinos, was witness to a murder in Wong's Macau casino. What follows in a web of intrigue and a race across various countries that sees the pair travel from Russia, to Mongolia, to the Gobi Desert and back to Hong Kong with both the Russian and Chinese mob on their tails. The film opened big in China and has since taken a haul of US$134M.

'JOE CINQUE'S CONSOLATION' (Rated M) - this film adaptation of the non-fiction book by Australian author Helen Garner was published in 2004 and tells the story of her presence at the trials of Australian National University student Anu Singh (Maggie Naouri), and her friend and fellow student Madhavi Rao (Sacha Joseph), who plotted to kill her engineer boyfriend Joe Cinque (Jerome Meyer) by lacing his coffee with Rohypnol and administering a lethal dose of heroine. Singh believed that Cinque had made her ill in the first place so she plots her revenge, which as time passes becomes more macabre and more public. The murder occurred in October 1997 at a dinner party at which some of the guests were aware of the plan to murder Cinque, but chose to do nothing about it, or to forewarn the victim. Directed by Sotiris Dounoukos, this true crime film will leave you asking questions and debating the subject matter long after the credits have rolled.

'JULIETA' (Rated MA15+) - marking Pedro Almodovar's 20th Directed feature film, 'Julieta' is a Spanish production also Produced and Written for the screen by Almodovar based on three short stories from the book 'Runaway' by Alice Munro published in 2004. This film is Spain's entry into the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 2017 Academy Awards, and was in competition for the Palme D'Or at this years Cannes Film Festival. Telling the story of Julieta (Adriana Ugarte as the younger, and Emma Suarez as the older) ) who is about to relocate herself from Madrid to Portugal, she runs into Bea (Michelle Jenner) unexpectedly - the childhood friend of her daughter Anita. Bea tells her that her estranged daughter is living in Switzerland and has three children. With this news she decides not to leave Madrid with her boyfriend Lorenzo (Dario Grandinetti) but to rent another apartment in the block in which she raised Anita and commit to writing a ledger that explains the events that led to their separation and estrangement, in the hope that Anita will re-establish contact.

Five films this week to satisfy most tastes if you like action adventure, action comedy, true crime, foreign language and family drama then there is something to quench your film going thirst. When you have sat through your movie of choice in the week ahead, drop us a line here at Odeon Online by sharing your thoughts with your like minded cinephiles. In the meantime, I'll see you at the Odeon.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-.