Monday, 22 May 2017

ALIEN : COVENANT : Tuesday 16th May 2017.

'ALIEN : COVENANT' which I saw last week is a franchise that was launched 38 years ago by an up & coming Director, Ridley Scott. Here, he is back with his Science Fiction horror touchstone that began with only his second feature film Directorial outing, 'Alien' back in 1979 that has so far seen six films under the 'Alien' banner and two spin offs with the 'Alien vs. Predator' franchise. This highly anticipated prequel to the events leading up to that seminal 1979 film, is the second in the prequel series that Scott relaunched in his 2012 film 'Prometheus', and the third film out of the six that he has Directed. Scott has confirmed already that the Screenplay for the third prequel is written and he hopes to begin shooting what is currently reported as being 'Alien : Awakening' sometime in 2018. The Director has no intention it seems of letting go of the franchise he created having stated that 'Alien : Covenant' would be the first of three more films before linking up with original 'Alien', starting a new trilogy of Sci-Fi films. Made for US$97M the film has so far grossed US$118M, and went on release in the US only a few days ago on 19th May.

The film opens up with a prologue set in the past with Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) the trillionaire founder and CEO of Weyland Corporation that funded the earlier Prometheus expedition, in discussion with David (Michael Fassbender) the new synthetic prototype android created by Weyland who was a crew member aboard the ill fated Prometheus. They discuss the meaning of existence and creation from an expansive pristine room overlooking mountain terrain in the distance. Weyland tells David that's one day they will explore the Universe together in search of mankind's creator.

We then fast forward to 2104 where the crew of the colony ship 'Covenant' containing terraforming expert Daniels (Katherine Waterston); her husband Jacob Branson (James Franco) the Captain of the ship; Christopher Oram (Billy Crudup) the First Mate; Tennessee Faris (Danny McBride) the Chief Pilot; Sergeant Lope (Damien Bachir) the Head of Security; and Walter (Michael Fassbender) a synthetic android and an identical yet upgraded version of his David android from the previous film, are en route to remote planet Origae-6. The crew are all in stasis sleep, being overseen by Walter, who is also the guardian of two thousand or so sleeping colonists and a thousand embryo's all destined to kick start the population once they reach their Origae-6 destination, still a number of years in travel time away. When a seismic burst from a passing planet hits the ship causing damage to its retractable solar panels and hence its power source, Walter gives the onboard computer the order to wake the crew. In the confusion that ensues the pod containing Captain Jacob Branson malfunctions and he dies, with his wife looking on. As the crew set about repairing the damage and normality is resumed, the crew congregate over a moment of much needed levity as First Mate Oram steps up to take charge following the Captains death.

Whilst repairs are ongoing to the damaged solar panel, a human radio transmission message is intercepted  from a nearby hitherto unknown planet. Oram decides that they need to investigate as their early investigations seem to indicate that the uncharted planet might be capable of sustaining human life and may be a better option than Origae-6. Daniels disagrees, and has a private conversation with her new Captain expressing her reservations about exploring this alternative world, fearing the unknown and despite the first impressions of its attractiveness.

And so an exploratory mission is launched onto the planet from whence the radio signal originated. The Covenant stays in orbit, while the expedition team descend to the surface in a landing vehicle. Biologist Karine Oram (Carmen Ejogo), wife of the newly appointed Captain, and Ledward (Benjamin Rigby) head off to collect ecological samples, while the others go off in search of the suspected crashed Engineer ship which Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and David piloted ten years before following the doomed Prometheus mission.

As the two parties head off in different directions, two security team members in each group become infected by microscopic alien spores. Within no time, Ledward starts convulsing and contorting in pain. Karine Oram senses that something is not quite right and helps him back to the landing vehicle and radios ahead to Maggie Faris (Amy Seimetz) to prepare the medical bay for quarantine. Once inside Ledward's condition worsens, and then a Neomorph erupts from his back, killing him. It grows quickly and attacks Karine, killing her too. Faris meanwhile sends out a distress warning to the others, which is overheard by the crew left on the Covenant who all start to panic about the events unfolding on the landing vehicle. Faris tries to shoot the alien creature, and in her panic hits a number of gas cylinders causing them to explode in a ball of flame which destroys the landing vehicle. As the party returning from tracking the signal approach the carnage, so the second security team member, Hallett (Nathaniel Dean) who was also infected by alien spores has another Neomorph burst from his throat, killing him too.

As the remaining on ground crew attempt to contact the Covenant, they are attacked by two Neomorph's under cover of darkness killing Ankor (Alexander England) another from the security detail. The crew manage to kill one of the Neomorph's and Walter comes to the rescue of Daniel's by punching at an advancing Neomorph but sacrificing his hand in the process. David then emerges out of the darkness and leads the surviving crew members to a place of safety - a deserted alien city full of petrified corpses. David explains this away by stating that the Engineer ship released inadvertently a bioweapon wiping out the native populace, and then crashed killing Elizabeth Shaw. Meanwhile inside their supposed safe haven, the surviving Neomorph kills and decapitates another crew member, Rosenthal (Tess Haubrich).

Captain Oram searching for the missing Rosenthal, comes across David who is attempting to communicate with the Neomorph. Because David is synthetic, he is safe from attack by the alien creature. As Oram has the alien in his laser sights David asks him not to shoot, but Oram does killing the Neomorph. David is outraged, and upon Oram's demands reveals his activities that have been keeping him busy these past ten years. He has been experimenting and creating early Neomorph's that have evolved over time. He leads Oram into a chamber and reveals several eggs that have continued his experimentation process, urging Oram to take a closer look - for the contents therein are harmless enough! At which points a facehugger erupts from the egg and secures itself firmly on Oram's head implanting an embryo inside. Sometime later Oram comes round as a Xenomorph bursts from his chest, so killing him.

Walter then confronts David having discovered the truth behind his experiments. David wiped out the Engineers population by deliberately releasing the bioweapons, and murdered Shaw as a means of advancing his experiments - as evidenced in graphic pencil drawings made by David as a means of his record keeping. A fight breaks out between the two synthetic androids and David overpowers and disables Walter, who then captures Daniels who has also discovered the grisly secrets of David's past ten years. Walter regenerates himself and the two androids fight once more, allowing Daniels to escape to the approaching Covenant rescue vehicle. The Xenomorph that burst from Oram's chest is by now fully grown and goes in pursuit of the escaping Daniels and Lope. As Tennessee arrives in a rescue landing vehicle, so Daniels, Lope and the victorious Walter make it abroad just as the attacking Xenomorph jumps onto the lander as it takes off.  Mayhem ensues as Daniels tethers herself onto the outside of the lander, which by now is in flight, and goes head to head with the alien eventually capturing it and dispensing with it overboard with the aid of a crane.

Lope meanwhile became implanted with an embryo which burst forth after the rescue lander docked with the Covenant, and in growing mature quickly dispenses with Ricks and Upworth (Jussie Smollett and Callie Hernandez respectively). With Tennessee, Daniels and Walter being the only surviving crew members and an unidentified lifeform on board, its up to the two humans to flush out the marauding alien and kill it, or be killed. They successfully do flush it out, corner it and launch it into space impaled on the jaws of mega truck.

Safe from any further alien activity the Covenant returns to complete its original mission. Tennessee is put into cryosleep, leaving Walter to put Daniels into stasis, but in doing so a terrible secret is revealed that Daniels only discovers as her cryosleep pod is closed, and she is put to sleep.

'Alien : Covenant' is a worthy follow up that answers many of the questions left wanting after the end of 'Prometheus', but still leaves plenty of room for manoeuvre in upcoming instalments to keep this prequel franchise alive and fresh . . . hopefully! The film moves along at a good pace once the necessary first introductory scenes are dealt with and we get to the know the characters, their traits, their reason for being and we get down and dirty on the alien planet. That's when the thrills, the tension and the blood and gore come into their own and Scott knows when to turn it on and show some restraint too. The story here too begins to make a lot more sense than its predecessor, which when coupled with our man eating facehugging chestbusting alien crustaceans will please fans of the series. But, for me what the film picked up in Michael Fassbender's dual performances as Walter and David, was let down by the less noteworthy relatable crew members who for the most part are just alien fodder. Even Waterstone as the kick-ass Ripley wannabe, looks the part but just failed to reach her mark as Sigourney Weaver did so well in the first two most noteworthy films. Despite that, and the final action set piece where the alien succumbs to the wrath of Daniels and Tennessee which is a little lame by Scott's and Cameron's earlier climatic endings, the film is a return to form for the franchise and well worth the price of your ticket.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Birthday's to share this week : 21st - 27th May 2017

Do you celebrate your Birthday this week?

Jacki Weaver does on 25th May - check out my tribute to this Birthday Girl turning 70, 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 21st May
  • Mr. T (aka Laurence Tureaud) - Born 1952, turns 65 - Actor 
  • Judge Reinhold - Born 1957, turns 60 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Director
  • Nick Cassavetes - Born 1959, turns 58 - Actor | Director | Writer | Producer  
Monday 22nd May
  • Gary Sweet - Born 1957, turns 60 - Actor
  • Maggie Q - Born 1979, turns 38 - Actress | Producer  
Tuesday 23rd May
  • Joan Collins - Born 1933, turns 84 - Actress | Producer | Singer
  • Melissa McBride - Born 1965, turns 52 - Actress
  • Drew Carey - Born 1958, turns 59 - Actor | Television Personality | Producer | Writer | Director
  • Tom Tykwer - Born 1965, turns 52 - Director | Producer | Writer | Composer | Songwriter  
  • John Ortiz - Born 1968, turns 49 - Actor | Producer
Wednesday 24th May
  • James Cosmo - Born 1948, turns 69 - Actor 
  • Roger Deakins - Born 1949, turns 68 - Cinematographer | Cameraman
  • Jim Broadbent - Born 1949, turns 68 - Actor | Writer
  • Alfred Molina - Born 1953, turns 64 - Actor | Producer
  • John C. Reilly - Born 1965, turns 52 - Actor | Writer | Producer | Singer
  • Priscilla Presley - Born 1945, turns 72 - Actress | Producer
  • Kristin Scott Thomas - Born 1960, turns 57 - Actress | Director  
Thursday 25th May
  • Jacki Weaver - Born 1947, turns 70 - Actress 
  • Octavia Spencer - Born 1970, turns 47 - Actress | Producer | Writer | Director 
  • Ian McKellen - Born 1939, turns 78 - Actor | Writer | Producer | Singer
  • Frank Oz - Born 1944, turns 73 - Actor | Director | Producer | Singer | Writer
  • Mike Myers - Born 1963, turns 54 - Actor | Writer | Producer | Singer | Songwriter | Director
  • Neil Marshall - Born 1970, turns 47 - Director | Producer | Writer | Editor
  • Cillian Murphy - Born 1976, turns 41 - Actor | Producer
Friday 26th May
  • Alex Garland - Born 1970, turns 47 - Writer | Producer | Director
  • Matt Stone - Born 1971, turns 46 - Actor | Writer | Producer | Director | Singer | Songwriter
  • Pam Grier - Born 1949, turns 68 - Actress | 
  • Helena Bonham Carter - Born 1966, turns 51 - Actress | Singer   
Saturday 27th May
  • Louis Gossett Jnr. - Born 1936, turns 81 - Actor | Producer
  • Joseph Fiennes - Born 1970, turns 47 - Actor | Director | Producer
  • Paul Bettany - Born 1971, turns 46 - Actor | Writer | Producer | Director 
Jacqueline Ruth Weaver was born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia to mother Edith Simpson and father Arthur, a Sydney based solicitor. She attended Hornsby Girls High School, in Sydney's Upper North Shore, and then gained a scholarship to study sociology at University, but instead chose to pursue a career in acting. She began her acting career on the stage in 1962 in a production of 'A Wish is a Dream' followed up in 1963 in 'Once Upon a Surfie'. In 1964, she gained her first role on the made for television film 'Split Level' and in 1966 she first appeared in the ABC Television children's science fantasy series 'Wandjina!' and then on nine episodes of the long running police procedural television series 'Homicide' in 1967. Single episodes on television series 'Riptide', 'Division 4', 'Woobinda, Animal Doctor', 'The Godfathers' and 'Spyforce' all came before her first big screen role in 1971. 

Her debut feature film appearance came in 1971 in 'Stork' based on the David Williamson play, and for which Weaver won her first Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actress. From here there was no looking back for the young Actress with numerous roles on the big screen, small screen and stage throughout the '70's. More notable roles came in the form of 'Alvin Purple' in 1973, 'Petersen' in 1974, Peter Weir's critically acclaimed 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' in 1975, 'Caddie' in 1976 for which Weaver won her second Best Actress Award at the Australian Film Institute Awards. In between time there were episodes on TV series including 'Matlock Police', 'The Last of the Australians', 'Water Under the Bridge' and stage appearances in 'Love's Labour's Lost', 'The Seagull' and 'A Streetcar Named Desire'.

The '80's and '90's were leaner times for Weaver with sporadic film and television appearances only, with the likes of 'Squizzy Taylor' in 1982, 'The Perfectionist' in 1987, 'Cosi' in 1996, and TV mini-series 'The Challenge'. There was stage work during this time that included 'The Real Thing', 'Blithe Spirit', 'Emerald City', 'Away' and 'After the Ball'.

2007 saw television film 'Hammer Bay', then 'Three Blind Mice' before her Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated performance in David Michod's Written and Directed 2010 Melbourne crime family drama 'Animal Kingdom' in which Weaver stars as family matriarch Janine 'Smurf' Cody alongside Guy Pearce, Joel Edgerton and Ben Mendelsohn. The film won a total of 38 awards and a further 55 nominations. 'Summer Coda' followed that same year with Rachael Taylor, Alex Dimitriades and Susie Porter.

RomCom 'The Five-Year Engagement' with Jason Segel, Emily Blunt and Chris Pratt came next in 2012 and served as Weaver's Hollywood debut film, with the highly acclaimed David O'Russell Written and Directed 'Silver Linings Playbook' coming next, with Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, for which Weaver gained her second Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. All up the film picked up 88 award wins and another 145 nominations and returned US$237M from its US$21M budget outlay.

2013 saw psychological thriller 'Stoker' with Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode, Dermot Mulroney and Mia Wasikowska, then historical drama film about the events that unfolded following the assassination of John F. Kennedy 'Parkland' with Billy Bob Thornton, Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti, James Badge Dale with Weaver starring as Marguerite Oswald, the mother of infamous assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. A change of pace and genre followed with 2013 horror offering 'Haunt'. 

The next year, 2014, saw drama thriller 'Reclaim' with John Cusack, Ryan Phillippe and Louis Guzman, then black comedy horror offering 'The Voices' with Ryan Reynolds, Anna Kendrick and Gemma Arterton; then Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight' with Colin Firth and Emma Stone and to follow 'Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks' with Gena Rowlands. 'The Last Cab to Darwin' followed in 2015, as did Sci-Fi romantic drama 'Equals' with Nicholas Hoult, Kristen Stewart and Guy Pearce.

2016 saw Aussie outback murder mystery 'Goldstone' with David Wenham, Aaron Pedersen, Alex Russell and David Gulpilil with television film 'Sister Cities' following. Coming up and yet to be released in Australia is 'Polka King' with Jack Black; Netflix Produced crime thriller 'Small Crimes' with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Robert Forster and Gary Cole; 'The Disaster Artist' with an all star cast recounting the making of Tommy Wiseau's infamous 2003 film 'The Room''Zeroville' Directed and Starring James Franco with Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Dave Franco and Megan Fox; cheerleading retirees comedy 'Poms' with Diane Keaton in pre-production currently; and in post-production are 'Irreplaceable You' with Christopher Walken, Steve Coogan, Michael Huisman and Gugu Mbatha-Raw; with comedy 'Life of the Party' due in 2018 with Melissa McCarthy. Currently filming and due for release in 2018 is 'Widows' for Director Steve McQueen with Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, Viola Davis, Daniel Kaluuya, Liam Neeson and Robert Duvall.

In between this filmic output there has been television series and mini-series 'Gracepoint', 'Secret City', and 'Blunt Talk' over the last few years and further stage appearances most notably with the Sydney Theatre Company in 'A Hard God', 'Entertaining Mr. Sloane' and 'Uncle Vanya' with Cate Blanchett. This brings us up to date. All up, Weaver has 72 acting credits to her name and she is the recipient of twenty award wins and a further 31 nominations, including two Oscar and one Golden Globe nod. Weaver was married to David Price from 1966 to 1970, to Max Hensser from 1975 to 1977, to radio and television personality Derryn Hinch from 1983 to 1996 and again from 1997 until 1998 and most recently to actor Sean Taylor whom she married in 2003. She has a son Dylan, born in 1969, with her partner at the time John Walters.

Jacki Weaver - has been in the film, stage and television business for six decades spanning fifty-one years; has a second bite of the cherry in the last ten years and is making the most of her critical acclaim; is short in stature barely reaching five feet tall, yet is big in personality and gives it all to the characters she portrays; is more in demand now than she ever was; and continues to surprise and delight us with her roles and film choices. Happy 70th Birthday to you Jacki, from Odeon Online.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

What's new in Odeon's this week : Thursday 18th May 2017.

With the release this week of Guy Ritchie's 'King Arthur : Legend of the Sword' as Previewed below, this sets in place yet another Arthurian legend inspired big screen epic that began a hundred years ago with the forty minute short drama film inspired by the story of The Holy Grail - 'The Knights of the Square Table'. Since then there has been a plethora of King Arthur, Holy Grail, Knights of the Round Table, Camelot, Sir Lancelot, Merlin films, animated features and television series inspired fare that continues right up to the present day. Below are some of those more memorable Arthurian legend offerings that might be worth checking out :-
* 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court' - released in 1921 and based on Mark Twain's book, Directed by Emmett J. Flynn, and starring Charles Clary as King Arthur.
* 'A Connecticut Yankee' - released in 1931 and also based on Mark Twain's book, Directed by David Butler and starring William Farnum as King Arthur with Maureen O'Sullivan and Myrna Loy.
*  'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court' - released in 1949 and based on Mark Twain's book, Directed by Tay Garnett and starring Sir Cedric Hardwicke as King Arthur with Bing Crosby.
* 'Knights of the Round Table' - released in 1953, Directed by Richard Thorpe, and starring Mel Ferrer as King Arthur with Stanley Baker, Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner and Desmond Llewelyn.
* 'Siege of the Saxons' - released in 1963 and Directed by Nathan H. Juran and starring Mark Dignam as King Arthur.
* 'Camelot' - released in 1967, Directed by Joshua Logan and starring Richard Harris as King Arthur, with Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero and Lionel Jeffries.
* 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' - released in 1975, Directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones and starring Graham Chapman as King Arthur with John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Connie Booth and Neil Innes.
* 'Excalibur' - released in 1981, Directed by John Boorman and starring Nigel Terry as King Arthur with Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart, Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, and Ciaran Hinds.
* 'A Kid in King Arthur's Court' - released in 1995 and based on Mark Twain's book, Produced by Walt Disney Studios and Directed by Michael Gottlieb, and starring Joss Ackland as King Arthur with Daniel Craig, Kate Winslet, Art Mallick and Ron Moody.
* 'First Knight' - released in 1995, Directed by Jerry Zucker and starring Sean Connery as King Arthur with Richard Gere, John Gielgud, Ben Cross, Liam Cunningham and Julia Ormond.
* 'Prince Valiant' - released in 1997 and Directed by Anthony Hickox and starring Edward Fox as King Arthur with Katherine Heigl, Joanna Lumley, and Ron Perlman. This was an updated version of the earlier 1954 film of the same name that featured Jason Mason, Janet Leigh, Robert Wagner, Sterling Hayden and Debra Paget.
* 'A Knight in Camelot' - released in 1998 and based on Mark Twain's book, Directed by Roger Young and starring Michael York as King Arthur with Whoopi Goldberg, Ian Richardson and Amanda Donohoe.
* 'King Arthur' - released in 2004, Directed by Antoine Fuqua, and starring Clive Owen as King Arthur with Ioan Gruffudd, Mads Mikkelsen, Joel Edgerton, Hugh Dancy, Ray Winstone, Stephen Dillane, Stellan Skarsgard and Keira Knightley.

This week with six new cinematic releases to tempt you out to your local movie theatre, we kick off with a gun-fu heavy assassin actioner sequel to a surprise hit of a few years ago, that ramps up the action and the body count a notch further and has already proved successful with audiences and Critics alike. We then have another big screen retelling of Arthurian legend that is an alternative origin story for this King interlaced with all the fantasy, action and effects that money can buy.  On the other side of that coin we have an Aussie Sci-Fi made on a shoestring budget by comparison that looks a gazillion dollars more expensive that it actually was and has already received much critical praise - Hollywood beware! Then we move to a historical drama set in India at the time of their independence, and the six months leading up to the partitioning of that country as told form the point of the view of the English Lord and Lady Viceroy tasked with overseeing that transition process. We return then to an Aussie drama based on a landmark true legal story that unfolded fifteen or so years ago, featuring one childs sexual abuse at the hands of her teacher, and the Anglican Church who tried to cover it up. Then we wrap up the week with a story of how an elderly mans life is changed by the sudden re-emergenece of his life experiences of some fifty years ago, and whether at this late stage in his life he can get over the resurfaced guilt and regret, and live out his life in peace and acceptance.

With such a rich, colourful and varied choice of new release films coming to a cinema near you in the week ahead, be sure to share your movie going thoughts, opinions and observations when you have sat through your film entertainment of choice over the coming seven days. Simply record your succinct, relevant and unbiased views of any of the films Previewed below, or those Reviewed and Previewed here previously, in the Comments section below this or any other Post. We'd love to hear from you, and meanwhile, enjoy your film.

'JOHN WICK : CHAPTER 2' (Rated MA15+) - the character of John Wick as played by Keanu Reeves first burst onto our screens all guns blazing in 2014 and proved to be a critical success, whilst grossing US$89M off its US$20M budget. It was therefore inevitable that a sequel would follow, and now in 2017 our titular forced out of retirement hitman seeking vengeance and justice down the barrel of a gun, is back. Keanu Reeves reprises the role he so successfully made his own from the get-go, and Director Chad Stahelski is back in the chair with this film that saw its initial release in the US in early February, has so far made US$165M from its US$40M budget and has received much critical praise.

Set four days following the end of the first film, John Wick attempts to settle back down to a quiet life of retirement. But his best laid plans are thwarted when he is visited by Italian gangster Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) who presents John with a 'gold marker' which binds him to an earlier commitment for a past favour granted. When John refuses, his home is promptly blown to pieces. Consulting with Winston (Ian McShane) at New Yorks' Continental Hotel, John accepts the task, which is to take out Santino's sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini) who sits on the council of high level crime lords, so that he can take her place. Following her death Santino places a US$7M bounty on the head of John as a smoke screen to avenge her death leading every assassin in the known universe to come out to kill John and claim the reward. With John ultimately needing to take out Santino and his henchmen, a number of strict rules in the Assassins codebook will be broken, leading John to go on the run without the support of those that have been closest to him. Also starring Laurence Fishburn, Ruby Rose, Common, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, Peter Stormare and Franco Nero. Director Chad Stahelski has already stated that a third film in the series in currently in the works, which will lead on from where this instalment ends.

'KING ARTHUR : LEGEND OF THE SWORD' (Rated M) - Directed, Co-Produced and Co-Written for the screen by Guy Ritchie, this big screen, sharp dialogue, effects filled, action heavy retelling of the Arthurian legend came at a budget cost of US$175M and has so far taken US$47M since its release last week in the US, and has so far garnered average Reviews only. The story here tells of Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana), King of the Britons who is slain by his brother Vortigern (Jude Law), leaving Uther's young son an orphan to drift down stream all the way to Londonium where he is rescued and named Arthur who grows up to be Charlie Hunnam. Arthur grows up poor on the streets but has the smarts and the fighting skills to survive, while his Uncle Vortigern rules. When a twist of fate leads him to pull the mythical sword Excalibur from a stone, Arthur comes to realise his true purpose and his destiny to overcome his Uncle, claim his rightful throne and lead the people of England. Also starring Djimon Hounsou, Aiden Gillen and the already maligned soccer ace David Beckham in a cameo role. This is reported to be the first in a franchise of six films . . . depending on Box Office success no doubt.

'THE OSIRIS CHILD : SCIENCE FICTION VOLUME ONE' (Rated MA15+) - this low budget Australian Sci-Fi actioner Directed and Written by Shane Abbess goes on limited release across Australia this week. Having already received much positive press for punching well above its weight in terms of production values, storyline, visual effects and the performances from the principle cast, this little Aussie offering is said to give similar Hollywood big budget action epics a lesson or two in how less can be more! Set in a time of interplanetary colonisation, Sy Lombrok (Kellan Lutz) is a drifter with a damaged past who by necessity forms an unlikely partnership with Kane Sommerville (Daniel McPherson) a lieutenant for an off-world military contractor, known as Exor. The pair set off to rescue Kane's daughter Indi (Teagan Croft) in a race against time and against the bad guys with the threat of an imminent global disaster brought about by Exor also weighing them down heavily. Starring Isabel Lucas, Rachel Griffiths and Temuera Morrison too.

'VICEROY'S HOUSE' (Rated PG) - the house in question here, was the residence in Delhi of the British rulers of India. In 1947, after three hundred or so years of rule, that reign was coming to an end. For six months in the lead up to independence, Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville) the great grandson of Queen Victoria, was put in charge of overseeing that transition. Here this story as Directed, Co-Produced and Co-Written by Gurinda Chadha, unfolds as the upstairs of the house occupied by the Lord and his Lady (Gillian Anderson) and their daughter Pamela (Lily Travers), whilst downstairs lived some five hundred or so Hindu, Seikh and Muslim servants. As the political power players of the day wrangle over the birth of the new nation, fierce conflicts of opinion ensue resulting in the partition of the country so forming a new State - Pakistan, whilst all is also not well in the the Viceroy household either. Also starring Michael Gambon as Lord Ismay, this film was released in the UK in early March and has received generally favourable Reviews.

'DON'T TELL' (Rated M) - based on the book of the same name by lawyer Stephen Roche, this gripping true story of child sex abuse at the hands of a teacher, is Australia's version to the Best Picture Academy Award Winner 'Spotlight' and is Directed by Tori Garrett. Telling the 2001 story of how a young woman broke her many years of silence into sexual abuse as an eleven year old at the noted Toowoomba Prep. School in Queensland by her Boarding House Master, and the courtroom battle that followed with the Anglican Church and the School where the abuse occurred. With the help of lawyer Stephen Roche (Aden Young), the woman known only as Lyndal (Sara West) took up the case against the School in Toowoomba and the Anglican Archdiocese in what is now considered a landmark hearing and the instigator of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Also starring Rachel Griffiths as psychologist Joy Conolly, Jack Thompson as Lyndal's Barrister Bob Myers, Susie Porter and Martin Sacks as Lyndal's parents Sue and Tony respectively, Julia McKenzie as Jean Dalton, the Barrister acting on behalf of the School and Gyton Grantley as Kevin Guy, the Boarding House Master at the School who abused Lyndal.

'THE SENSE OF AN ENDING' (Rated M) - based on the 2011 Booker Prize winning novel of the same name by Julian Barnes and Directed by Ritesh Batra, this drama film was released in the US in early-March, in the UK in mid-April and now in mid-May arrives in Australia, having garnered generally positive Reviews along the way. Here Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent) is an elderly small business owner and divorcee, who is stuck in the hum drum routine world that offers the comfort of predictability and familiarity. One day however, a registered letter arrives advising him that he is a beneficiary in the Last Will and Testament of the mother of a girl he dated at University some fifty years ago. This sets off a chain of events that causes Tony to look back on his life, his memories, his own history coming away with a sense of guilt and regret over his past actions all those years ago and whether at his stage in life he can overcome those emotions so that he can make the most of what time he has left. Also starring Charlotte Rampling, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode, Joe Alwyn, Harriet Walter and Michelle Dockery.

Six new films to choose from in the coming week, together with those out currently on general release as Reviewed and Previewed between these humble pages previously. Covering almost all genres, there is sure to be something to please even the most discerning film going taste buds. Remember to share your thoughts with us here when you have sat through your big screen entertainment of choice, and in the meantime, I'll see you somewhere, sometime in the week ahead at your local Odeon.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Birthday's to share this week : 14th - 20th May 2017.

Do you celebrate your Birthday this week?

Tim Roth does on 14th May - check out my tribute to this Birthday Lad turning 56, 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 14th May
  • Francesca Annis - Born 1945, turns 72 - Actress
  • Cate Blanchett - Born 1969, turns 48 - Actress | Producer | Director
  • Sofia Coppola - Born 1971, turns 46 - Director | Producer | Writer | Actress
  • George Lucas - Born 1944, turns 73 - Producer | Writer | Director | Editor 
  • Robert Zemeckis - Born 1952, turns 65 - Director | Producer | Writer
  • Tim Roth - Born 1961, turns 56 - Actor | Producer | Director  
  • Danny Huston - Born 1962, turns 55 - Actor | Director
Monday 15th May
  • Chaz Palminteri - Born 1952, turns 65 - Actor | Writer | Producer | Director
  • Grant Heslov - Born 1963, turns 54 - Actor | Producer | Writer | Director  
Tuesday 16th May
  • Danny Trejo - Born 1944, turns 73 - Actor | Producer
  • Pierce Brosnan - Born 1953, turns 64 - Actor | Producer 
  • Jim Sturgess - Born 1978, turns 39 - Actor | Singer
  • Debra Winger - Born 1955, turns 62 - Actress | Producer  
  • Tori Spelling - Born 1973, turns 44 - Actress | Producer | Writer | Singer
Wednesday 17th May
  • Trent Reznor - Born 1965, turns 52 - Composer | Songwriter | Actor | Writer  
Thursday 18th May
  • Hugh Keays-Byrne - Born 1947, turns 70 - Actor | Director
  • Yun-Fat Chow - Born 1955, turns 62 - Actor | Writer
  • Miriam Margolyes - Born 1941, turns 76 - Actress 
  • Tina Fey - Born 1970, turns 47 - Actress | Writer | Producer | Singer  
Friday 19th May
  • Grace Jones - Born 1948, turns 69 - Singer | Songwriter | Actress
  • Claudia Karvan - Born 1972, turns 45 - Actress | Writer | Producer 
  • James Fox - Born 1939, turns 78 - Actor
  • Peter Mayhew - Born 1944, turns 73 - Actor 
  • Morten Tyldum - Born 1967, turns 50 - Director | Producer  
Saturday 20th May
  • Anton Corbijn - Born 1955, turns 62 - Director | Photographer
  • Timothy Olyphant - Born 1968, turns 49 - Actor | Producer
  • Louis Theroux - Born 1970, turns 47 - Writer | Producer | Television Personality
  • Cher (aka Cheryl Sarkisian) - Born 1946, turns 71 - Singer | Actress | Producer 
Timothy Simon Roth was born in the south London suburb of Dulwich to mother Ann, a painter and teacher and father Ernie, a Fleet Street journalist, painter and a member of the British Communist Party until sometime in the '70's. His father was born with the surname of 'Smith' in Brooklyn, New York and he later changed his surname to 'Roth' as used most commonly by those of German and Jewish decent in the 1940's out of support for the Holocaust victims, and because the English were less welcomed in the countries to which he travelled with his work.  The young Tim attended the boys grammar Strand School in south London's Tulse Hill area before studying sculpture at London's Camberwell College of Art from which he dropped out to pursue an acting career instead.

At the age of 21 Roth scored his screen debut in the made for television film 'Made in Britain' playing white supremacy skinhead Trevor in 1982. Next up was another made for television film 'Meantime' in 1984 as Directed by Mike Leigh and also starring Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina. More of the same followed in 1985 with the Agatha Christie whodunit 'Murder with Mirrors' starring also Bette Davis, John Mills and Leo McKern, an then 'Coppers' in 1988. In between time there were feature films including Stephen Frears 'The Hit' with Jim Broadbent and Terrence Stamp, 'A World Apart', 'To Kill a Priest' with Ed Harris, Christopher Lambert, Timothy Spall and Pete Postlethwaite, and then closing out the decade was Peter Greenaway's 'The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover' with Helen Mirren, Michael Gambon and Ciaran Hinds. In 1986 he also starred in 'King of the Ghetto' - a four part BBC2 television series about racial tensions in London's East End in the '80's.

The new decade launched with Robert Altman's 'Vincent & Theo' in which Roth starred as Vincent Van Gogh and later that same year Tom Stoppard's 'Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead' with Gary Oldman playing Rosencrantz and Roth playing Guildenstern alongside Richard Dreyfus and Iain Glen. 'Jumping at the Boneyard' followed in 1991 with Samuel L. Jackson. In 1992 maverick Writer and Director Quentin Tarantino cast Roth in his debut film 'Reservoir Dogs' as Mr. Orange, which kicked off a collaboration that has spanned up until QT's latest offering, taking in 1994's 'Pulp Fiction' and 1995's 'Four Rooms'. It was 'Reservoir Dogs' that really exposed Roth to an American audience, from which he has never looked back.

The rest of the '90's saw the likes of 'Bodies, Rest & Motion'; period piece 'The Perfect Husband'; Brooklyn Soviet Jewish crime drama 'Little Odessa'; then 'Captives';  Scottish historical biographical adventure film 'Rob Roy' with Liam Neeson, John Hurt, Brian Cox, Eric Stoltz and Jessica Lange; Woody Allen's 'Everyone Says I Love You' with Goldie Hawn, Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts and Edward Norton; 'Gridlock'd' with Tupac Shakur and Thandie Newton; 1930's Harlem set gangster film 'Hoodlum' with Laurence Fishburn, Andy Garcia and Vanessa Williams; murder mystery 'Deceiver'; fantasy romance offering 'Animals with the Tollkeeper' with Rod Steiger, John Turturro and Mickey Rooney; and then in 1998 'The Legend of 1900'

In 1999 Roth Directed his first feature film - 'The War Zone' a grim and gritty look inside an English family plagued by incest and sexual violence. The firm starred Ray Winstone, Tilda Swinton and Freddie Cunliffe and received much critical acclaim for its portrayal of the subject matter and picked up nine award wins and ten more nominations.

The 2000's clicked over with Roland Joffe's historical biographical drama 'Vatel'; Nora Ephron's 'Lucky Numbers' with John Travolta; Tim Burtons' reimagining of 'Planet of the Apes' as General Thade; Werner Herzog's 'Invincible'; a new spin on 'The Three Musketeers' with 'The Musketeer'; English Civil War drama 'To Kill a King' with Roth portraying Oliver Cromwell; John Sayles American political satire 'Silver City'; Wim Wenders road movie drama 'Don't Come Knocking'; gambling crime drama 'Easy Money' featuring an ensemble cast; Francis Ford Coppola's 'Youth Without Youth'; Michael Haneke's English language remake of his own earlier 1997 Austrian version of 'Funny Games' with Naomi Watts; and Louis Leterrier's Directed second film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe 'The Incredible Hulk'.

'Pete Smalls Is Dead' opened up 2010 with Peter Dinklage and Steve Buscemi, followed up by 'Arbitrage' in 2012 with Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon; 'Broken' with Cillian Murphy and comedy crime thriller 'The Liability' both that same year. In 2013 espionage thriller 'Mobius' was released and this was followed by 'Grace of Monaco' with Nicole Kidman as Grace and Roth as Prince Rainier. In time for the 2014 World Cup 'United Passions' was released about FIFA - footballs governing body, with Roth playing FIFA President Sepp Blatter who was the eighth President of the Association from 1998 through until 2015. 'October Gale' came later that year as did highly acclaimed historical biographical drama 'Selma' with David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Oprah Winfrey, and Tom Wilkinson. Mexican drug cartel drama '600 Miles', then 'Chronic' and then first person actioner 'Hardcore Henry' with Roth playing Henry's father. Action comedy 'Mr. Right' with Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick and then Quentin Tarantino's post American Civil War Western 'The Hateful Eight' featuring an ensemble cast that included Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Michael Madsen, Walton Goggins, Bruce Dern, Damian Bichir, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Zoe Bell.

Bringing us up to date is just released in the USA '1 Mile To You'. In between time there have been notable television series appearances on 48 episodes of 'Lie to Me' with Roth playing the lead character of Dr. Cal Lightman in this mystery crime drama series in which Roth is a world leading expert in facial expressions and involuntary body language. The series ran for three season from 2009. There was also the two part television mini-series 'Sea Wolf' in 2009, the six part historical mini-series 'Klondike' in 2014, and the three part mini-series 'Rillington Place' with Roth playing the role of John Christie the infamous 1940's and early '50's London serial killer.

Next up for Roth is an appearance on the next season of acclaimed television series 'Twin Peaks' which picks up 25 years after the events of the first two series, and due to go to air later this year. Currently in post-production is 'The Jesuit' - an action crime drama offering with Ron Perlman, Brian Cox, Neal McDonough and Paz Vega; gambling debt crime comedy 'The Brits Are Coming' also in post-production with Uma Thurman, Stephen Fry, Maggie Q and Sofia Vergara and 'The Padre' currently filming and due in 2018 with Nick Nolte and Luis Guzman.

All up Roth has one hundred Acting credits to his name, three as Producer and one as Director. In his time he has been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award and a Golden Globe for 'Rob Roy' but he did win the BAFTA for his performance. All up Roth has accumulated a total eighteen award wins and a further 22 nominations. Roth has been married to Niki Butler since 1993 with whom he has two sons - Timothy born in 1995 and Michael born in 1996. He has an older son Jack who is also an Actor, born in 1984 to Lori Baker. Roth survived years of child sexual abuse at the hands of his paternal grandfather which he didn't reveal until the time of his Directorial debut with the release of 'The War Zone' which dealt with similar issues within a family.

Tim Roth - part of 'The Brit Pack' back in the '80's with Gary Oldman, Daniel Day-Lewis, Colin Firth and Paul McGann; has an ever increasing number of tattoos marking significant events in his life; often plays in historical dramas; often plays in Quentin Tarantino films (four and counting) but missed out in 'Inglourious Basterds' due to scheduling conflicts; often plays slightly twisted unhinged characters; is often convinced that he'll never score an acting gig again in between roles; and despite his London accent can do various accents very well which has helped him secure many a film with European and American auteur Directors. Never dull, never predictable, never repetitive, Happy Birthday to you Tim from Odeon Online.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Friday, 12 May 2017

GET OUT : Tuesday 9th May 2017.

'GET OUT', made for just US$4.5M this comedy horror film is Written, Co-Produced and Directed by Jordan Peele in his debut in the Directors chair, and has so far grossed US$207M and has received much critical acclaim. Jordan Peele is one half of the Comedy Central sketch series pairing of Key & Peele. His film, seen as a satire on racism in the United States in the present day, points at the underbelly of middle class conservatives interwoven with an effective horror story, stands now as the highest grossing film Directed by a black film maker, and has also claimed the spot previously occupied by 1999's 'The Blair Witch Project' as the highest grossing debut film based on an original screenplay in Hollywood history. Not bad credentials at all!

The film opens up with a black guy, Andre Hayworth (LaKeith Stanfield) speaking on his mobile phone while walking down a leafy suburban street late at night. A white car approaches him, with loud music blaring out of the window, and an unseen driver. The car circles around and approaches from behind a nervous looking Andre, who is clearly out of his comfort zone. Andre crosses the street keen to avoid any confrontation, and is then beaten over the head by an unknown assailant and dragged back towards the white car - drivers side door and rear boot open. Bundled up, unconscious in the boot of the car, it speeds off into the night.

Some months later, we are introduced to black photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and his white girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). They have been together for five months now, and they are preparing to visit Allison's parents at their country estate for the weekend. Chris expresses some concern that Allison has not yet told her parents that he is black, but quickly dismisses his concerns when she reassures him that they are non-racial progressive thinking types who would have voted for Obama a third time given the chance. They load up the car and head on out driving in the clear light of day, chatting, laughing and joking most of the way.

Upon arriving at the country estate of parents Dean Armitage (Bradley Whitford) a retired neurosurgeon and Missy Armitage (Catherine Keener) a psychiatrist and hypnotherapist and brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) the family  attempt to allay any fears that Chris may have about their concerns of an inter-racial relationship. Pretty soon, however, Chris notices the black groundsman Walter (Marcus Henderson) and black housekeeper Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and how their behaviour seems very strange and distant, let alone the fact that an all white family have black servants about the place, in this day and age!

Later that night when Chris can't sleep, and craving a cigarette, he ventures outside. Upon re-entering the house, attempting to be quiet, he walks past a lounge room in which Missy is sitting drinking tea. She invites Chris in to sit down opposite him, holding her cup and saucer in one hand and stirring it with a teaspoon with the other. The sound of the spoon stirring is repetitive and Missy keeps on stirring, while she questions Chris about his mother who was killed in a hit and run accident when he was just eleven.

While they talk, although Chris doesn't realise it, he is hypnotised by Missy to the rhythmic sounds of a spoon stirring a tea cup. He is paralysed to the chair, and Missy orders his conscious mind to a place she refers to as 'the sunken place'. Chris wakes up the next morning from a deep sleep, not knowing how he got fully clothed into bed, realising that Missy had hypnotised him to get him off the cigarettes, or so he at first believes.

The next day at the Armitage household is an annual lawn party held for all white close friends to attend. The guests are all mostly elderly and they take more than an active interest in Chris, asking blatant questions about his ethnicity, race, culture, which needless to say uneases Chris. He notices a black guest who introduces himself as Logan King and who is accompanied by an elderly white lady. Chris notices some bizarre behaviour by Logan and senses that the two have met before, but chooses to say nothing. He secretly attempts to take a photograph of Logan with his mobile phone but the flash from the camera sets Logan off with a nosebleed and then a hysterical confrontation at which Logan yells 'get out' at Chris. Dean shrugs off the episode as a epileptic seizure and when Logan re-emerges from a room with Missy, it is as though nothing ever happened! Chris however, is not so sure.

As the afternoon wears on, Chris and Rose walk the grounds away from the party guests. Chris has become concerned about the strange goings on and persuades Rose that they should leave that night. Meanwhile, Dean holds an auction in their absence, with a large framed portrait sized picture of  Chris by his side. The winning bid for Chris goes to Jim Hudson (Stephen Root) a blind art dealer who is aware of Chris' keen eye for photography. Meanwhile Chris has been able to reach out to his good friend Rod Williams (Lil Rel Howery) who works for the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) and who is also dog minding and house sitting for Chris and Rose while they are away.  Chris tells Rod of his observations and sends the photograph of Logan over for Rod to do some investigative work.

While packing up in readiness to leave, Rod advises Chris that Logan (LaKeith Stanfield) is in fact Andre Hayworth who vanished mysteriously six months ago, and who is both known to them. While Rose's back is turned, Chris notices a closet door left ajar and sticks his head inside to investigate. Inside he uncovers a shoe box of photographs of Rose up close and personal with what appear to black boyfriends - lots of individual pictures of her and black men. Chris's need to leave takes on a new sense of urgency. As he attempts to do so and Rose seems to fumble for her missing car keys, so his exit from the house is blocked by Dean, Missy, Jeremy, and Rose. Missy gives a simple command and Chris crashes to the floor totally incapacitated.

Chris comes round strapped to a chair, in front of a old television screen, which blurts out a video explaining why he is tied to the chair and the next steps for him. It seems that the family have developed a method of transplanting the brains of their older family and friends into the bodies of younger black people, that are pre-selected by Rose and prepared by hypnosis by Missy. Hence Walter, Georgina and Logan's strange behaviours. Jim Hudson purchased Chris for this purpose, so that he can be the host and regain his sight.

Whilst Dean is prepping Jim Hudson for the brain transplant in his own private home surgery, Jeremy is sent to collect Chris. Chris however, has an ace up his sleeve and is able to out fox Missy's hypnotic commands when Jeremy least expected it and is able to effect his escape, but not before dispensing with several family members. As Chris exists the house in Jeremy's car, he mows down Georgina, and in his childhood guilt over the death of his mother in a hit and run accident, goes back to check on the downed housekeeper. He loads her into the car, and she quickly comes round turning on Chris, causing him to crash the car into a tree, so killing Georgina on impact.

Rose who has been locked way in her bedroom, surfing the internet for her next unsuspecting black boyfriend, hears the commotion and appears at the front door brandishing a shotgun as she and Walter go in pursuit of an already injured, shaken and unhinged Chris. For what happens next, you'll just have to watch the film.

It's easy to see why this film has garnered so much positive press and the record breaking Box Office receipts it has. The film is at once a smart and relevant satire coupled with sharp wit and a modern horror story that delivers a thought provoking, effective and entertaining package. The first half of the film slowly sets the tone amidst racial jibes and effective hints that something may be amiss at the Armitage Estate, or maybe Chris is just over reacting being the minority in the room and therefore on edge anyhow. But the second half lets loose with the nightmare that awaits Chris as the tension builds to its bloody, brutal and emotional climax, at which point the comedy drops away to full blown horror, ending with a comedic note as the screen fades to black. A clever film, very well told, that sets Jordan Peele up there as a Writer/Director to watch out for based on the calibre of this inaugural offering.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-