Mar 03 2014
The most talked-about film of 2013 is out today on blinkbox. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star as American astronauts on a routine mission in Earth’s orbit. When their shuttle is destroyed by a freak debris storm, they are left stranded in space with no little hope of getting home. As directed by Mexican maestro Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity plays like a non-stop 90 minute thrill ride that sees our protagonists constantly moving from perilous situation to perilous situation.
How good is Gravity? Good enough to win tonnes of awards at last night’s Oscars, including Best Director. This is truly cutting edge film-making that never puts technology and spectacle in front of telling a compelling story. If you haven’t seen this yet, make it a priority.
Philomena (Early Digital Release)
Steve Coogan co-writes, produces and stars in this touching comedic drama based on a true story. He plays Martin Sixsmith, a journalist and disgraced former spin-doctor for the Labour Party. Having burnt most of his professional bridges, he accepts an assignment to follow an avuncular old Irish woman in search of the son who was stolen from her fifty years ago.
While the interaction between Dench and Coogan is enjoyably humorous, the story behind Philomena’s experience in the Magdalene Laundries is deadly serious. The film manages to tread the fine line between being flippant and over-serious. The end result is an enjoyable and deeply moving film that deserves it’s Oscar nominations.
Bad Grandpa (New to Rent)
Johnny Knoxville reprises a familiar character from his TV days in this haywire comedy that owes more to Borat than it does to Jackass. He plays Irving Zisman: a foul-mouth, hard drinking, degenerate octogenarian who hits the road with his 8 year-old grandson. Apart from a threadbare plot that involves taking the boy across the country to be with his dad, there isn’t much of a story here. In fact, the narrative is just a decent excuse to move Knoxville between dozens of largely unconnected hidden camera pranks.
With the little boy in tow, a lot the pranks involve getting the public to react to Irving’s inappropriate behaviour. And we’re not going to lie: a lot of it is very funny. One scene sees Knoxville try to mail the young boy cross-country. When a post-office employee discover the child inside a cardboard box, she simply asks the kid whether he wants a blanket for his trip. Really strange.
The pranks get a bit samey as the film goes on but a killer finale inspired by Little Miss Sunshine is more than worth the price of a rental. Check it out!
Nymphomaniac Vol 1 and Nymphomaniac Vol 2 (Also in Cinemas)
Stellan Skarsgard is an old bachelor who happens upon an injured and unconscious woman in the streets. As he nurses her back to health, Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) recounts her tale to Skarsgard: a story about her life as a nymphomaniac, stretching back to her youth. As she recounts chapters of her sordid life, the old man attempts to connect with her experiences by comparing them to things he understands: things like music and fishing.
Directed by the Danish enfant terrible Lars von Trier, Nymphomaniac is a little bit on the pretentious side. However, its nudity is rarely gratuitous and doesn’t feel exploitative. Even at a combined 2 hour runtime, von Trier’s film is never boring, in part thanks to a revolving ensemble of actors that includes Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, Willem Dafoe and Jamie Bell.
If you’re in the mood for a daring and interesting film this week, put the kids to bed and take a punt on this.
Escape Plan (Early Digital Release)
Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger head up this high-concept prison escape film that would easily fit into either of their early careers. Stallone plays a ‘security consultant’ who makes his living breaking out of prisons and exposing their weaknesses. When he agrees to test out a secret high-tech government facility, he finds himself trapped and in deep trouble. Teaming up with a fellow inmate (Arnie), he must outsmart the prison’s cruel warden if he has any chance of escaping.
Joining the legendary action star is a quality cast that includes Amy Ryan, 50 Cent, Sam Neil, Vincent D’Onofrio and Jim Caviezel.
Escape Plan is fun little throwback to the films of the early 90s, and it’s precisely the kind of vehicle that lets Arnie and Sly do what they do best.
Liam Hemsworth, best known as Thor’s brother and Katniss Everdeen’s secret lover, is now becoming a star in his own right with this new corporate thriller. He plays a cocky young inventor living in New York City. When he crosses his millionaire boss Gary Oldman by stealing his credit card, he’s given two options: head to prison or go undercover at a rival company run by Oldman’s old mentor, Harrison Ford. Add to that some pressure from the FBI and suddenly, Hemsworth’s in one hell of a pickle.
If you’re a fan of John Grisham-style potboilers, you’ll enjoy what Paranoia has to offer.
Did we say Liam Hemworth was in a new film this week? Sorry, that’s a lie. He’s actually in two new movies.
In Empire State, he also plays a young upstart in NYC whose loyalties are being tested by opposing factions. This time, he’s an aspiring cop/security van driver who gets tempted into a life of crime. Approached by a group of thieves, he becomes the lynchpin of an elaborate scheme to rob his own company.
As you might have heard before, committing a crime is easy; getting away is the hard part. And with FBI agent Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson on his trail, it’s only a matter of time before justice catches up with him.
More more of the latest films, head over to our New Releases page