Friday film reviews

Friday film reviews

Macbeth

Friday film reviews

The Scottish play bares its teeth and draws blood in Australian director Justin Kurzel’s muscular and unflinching adaptation that accentuates the carnage as the doomed title character is undone by paternal grief and naked ambition.

Shot on location in England and Scotland, this Macbeth is rugged and raw, stripped bare of some of Shakespeare’s lyrical text for the sake of dramatic expediency and visual spectacle.

Purists may gnash their teeth at some of the alterations in Jacob Koskoff, Todd Louiso and Michael Lesslie’s script.

The film opens with a funeral rather than the hurlyburly of the weird sisters, and Lady Macbeth is a brittle porcelain doll, likely to crack at the slightest emotional jolt, rather than a demented dynamo behind her husband’s ascension to the throne.

Kurzel chooses to linger on the slow-motion cut and thrust of swords scything through flesh in expertly staged battle sequences that emphasize the title character’s credentials as a fearless warrior.

Michael Fassbender is front and centre throughout as the Thane of Glamis, whose encounter with a quartet of prophetic hags sets him on his ill-fated course to self-annihilation.

With its high body count and explosions of viscera, Macbeth is a battered and bruised reworking of a classic text, punctuated by moments of directorial brio.

Fassbender delivers a mesmerising lead performance of snarling intensity that overwhelms everyone else on screen, not least Marion Cotillard as his wife in mourning, who doesn’t always seem comfortable with the iambic pentameter.

A cold, earthy colour palette reflects the icy blast of an ill wind that whips through every frame including majestic castle interiors where the scheming and treachery reach a horrifying crescendo.

By shooting on location in challenging conditions, Kurzel compels us to shudder in our seats and seek shelter from the raging storm of the lead character’s internal conflict.

However, there’s nowhere to hide from the double toil and trouble.

Star Rating: 9/10

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 92%

The Martian

In space, everyone can hear you scream and whenever Ridley Scott is nestled in the director’s chair, you can be certain his actors will be issuing bloodcurdling shrieks.

The life expectancy of characters in Scott’s testosterone-fuelled films can often be measured in hours rather than days or years.

So it comes as no surprise that in the opening 15 minutes of The Martian, adapted from the bestselling novel by Andy Weir, the director apparently puts his leading man in mortal danger during a ferocious sandstorm on the red planet.

Unusually, the hero survives and draws upon his scientific knowledge to manufacture water and oxygen to sustain his solitary existence until a rescue mission can be mustered.

The Martian bears obvious similarities to the Oscar-winning thriller Gravity in both set-up and execution, and Scott employs the 3D format to dazzling effect in turbo-charged action sequences.

However, this is primarily a meditation on the endurance of the human spirit and in these quieter moments, Drew Goddard’s lean script and lead actor Damon hold us spellbound.

“I’m not going to die here,” Mark tells himself as he faces each obstacle with gritty determination, raising his spirits (and ours) with flashes of humour including a running joke about Commander Lewis’ disco-heavy music collection.

Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski envisages Mars as a vast, barren landscape of shifting red sand.

As Mark’s oxygen supply depletes, we hold our breath with the lead character, hoping for a miracle 140 million miles from home.

Star Rating: 8/10

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 93%

The Intern

Friday film reviews

In an increasingly impersonal age, which gauges success by page impressions and numbers of followers on social media platforms, boardrooms are being led by young, ambitious tech-savvy entrepreneurs, who made their first millions when they were still at university.

The wisdom and experience of an older generation, who toiled for decades before the first modem crackled noisily to life, are often overlooked in this global marketplace.

Filmmaker Nancy Meyers reminds us that there is life after 60 in The Intern, a frothy exploration of romantic travails set in the offices of a thriving dot-com fashion business.

As she bridges the divide between the old-fashioned ideals of a bygone era and the relentless 24-hour bombardment of information of the present day, the writer-director sketches a touching friendship between a 70-year-old widower and a high-flying young executive.

The Intern bears the thumbprints of Meyers’ earlier pictures, including What Women Want, Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated.

Tearful self-discovery is accessorized with broad humour, and Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway catalyse a winning screen partnership.

Unfortunately, Jules and Matt’s marriage isn’t scripted with the same amount of care or emotional depth, despite the best efforts of Holm to verbalise the frustrations of his house husband.

A hysterical centrepiece sequence, laden with Ocean’s Eleven references, belongs to a different film entirely but suggests that you’re never too old to break the law for a good reason.

Star Rating: 6/10

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 58%

In Selected Cinemas…

99 Ghosthunters

A young boy befriends a ghost and embarks on a spooky adventure full of scares and self-discovery in this family-friendly romp directed by Tobi Baumann. Eleven-year-old Tom Thompson (Milo Parker) lives with his parents Phil (Christian Ulmen) and Patricia (Julia Koschitz) and his older sister Lola (Ruby O Fee).

The boy is a scaredy-cat and doesn’t want to venture into the basement of his home in case something nasty lurks in the darkness. It transpires that a green spectre called Hugo (voiced by Bastian Pastewka) is resident in the basement. Hugo is totally harmless and needs Tom’s help to get rid of an Ice Ghost, which chased him out of his old house.

If Hugo can’t return to his former dwelling, he will vanish forever. Little Tom joins forces with Hetty Cuminseed (Anke Engelke), a top operative from the Central Ghosthunting Institute, to banish the malevolent Ice Ghost before the next full moon.

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: N/A

The Walk

Director Robert Zemeckis employs the visually stunning motion-capture technology he honed on The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol for this dramatisation of French daredevil Philippe Petit’s incredible walk along a wire strung between the two towers of the World Trade Center on August 7, 1974.

Philippe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) hones his circus skills on the streets of the French capital, where he meets his first accomplice, Annie Allix (Charlotte Le Bon). A newspaper article about the construction of the World Trade Center fires Philippe’s imagination and he concocts a hare-brained scheme to traverse the 140 feet of air between the two buildings.

Circus ringmaster Papa Rudy (Sir Ben Kingsley) helps Philippe to prepare for the physical rigours before the wire walker flies to the Big Apple with Annie, official photographer Jean-Louis (Clement Sibony) and Jean-Francois (Cesar Domboy), who is afraid of heights.

Philippe adds some American insiders to the team, who will simultaneously break into the two buildings and secure a wire under the cover of darkness so Philippe can begin his record-breaking walk as the sun rises over the city.

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 87%

The Who: Live in Hyde Park

In June 2015, The Who played a 50th Anniversary Tour finale at Hyde Park in London in front of an audience of thousands of adoring fans.

This concert film relives that momentous occasion, capturing a set list of greatest hits that includes Baba O’Riley, I Can See For Miles, My Generation, Pinball Wizard, See Me Feel Me, Who Are You and Won’t Get Fooled Again. In additional, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, Iggy Pop, Robert Plant and Johnny Marr share their stories of the band’s colourful history.

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: N/A%

Sicario

Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is part of the FBI’s Special Weapons and Tactics team, which is at the forefront of the war against drugs on American soil.

Flanked by her partner Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya), Kate storms a safe house on the Mexican border and uncovers dozens of rotting corpses of various informants and witnesses.

The mission ends in bloodshed and the deaths of two officers. Soon after, a government agent named Matt (Josh Brolin) asks Kate to join his top secret task force, which intends to cripple the cartel from the top down. Haunted by the loss of men under her command, Kate signs up and she heads to El Paso for her briefing, where she learns that she will be venturing onto Mexican soil and extracting an informant from Ciudad Juarez.

A Colombian former prosecutor called Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) lends his expertise to the mission. Bullets fly and Kate’s conscience is spattered in blood. She must decide if she is willing to sacrifice her ideals in order to bring down one of the cartels, even if it means breaking the law that she vowed to uphold.

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 93%

The Importance of Being Earnest

David Suchet purses his lips and heaves his bosom as the indomitable Lady Bracknell in this live broadcast of Oscar Wilde’s razor-sharp satire on Victorian manners from the stage of the Vaudeville Theatre in London’s West End. Subtitled A Trivial Comedy For Serious People, the story centres on bachelor best friends Algernon Moncrieff (Philip Cumbus) and John Worthing (Michael Benz) who adopt different identities as they swan between dual lives in the city and country. The ruse becomes hilariously complicated when the men court Cecily Cardew (Imogen Doel) and Gwendolen Fairfax (Emily Barber) respectively.

One little white lies stacks upon another as Algernon and John attempt to win the hearts of the women, while fending off questions from Gwendolen’s formidable mother, Lady Bracknell.

Directed by Adrian Noble, the performance is enhanced with additional backstage footage and cast interviews, which are exclusive to this cinema event.

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: N/A

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