Hitting Australian cinemas on Thursday 23rd February there are six releases, though Paddy Considine's well-received debut film, Tyrannosaur, is only being released in Melbourne, I understand. Still, here in Sydney we have a less than impressive line-up - A pair of action films, Contraband and Killer Elite, the Best Picture-nominated Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (perhaps the worst reviewed Best Picture nominee ever, though having not yet seen it, I have to reserve judgement), Gone, a suspense thriller starring Amanda Seyfried, and Late Bloomers, a comedy/drama for the old-timers.
Tyrannosaur - Joseph (Peter Mullan) is an unemployed widower with a drinking problem, a man crippled by his own violent temperament and furious anger. Hannah (Olivia Colman) is a Christian worker at a charity shop, a respectable woman who seems wholesome and happy. When circumstances brings the pair together, Hannah appears as Joseph's guardian angel, tempering his fury and offering him warmth, kindness and acceptance. As their relationship develops, Hannah's own secrets are revealed - her husband (Eddie Marsan) is violent and abusive - and Joseph emerges as her unlikely saviour. With striking performances and a deeply felt story, this is actor-turned writer/director Paddy Considine's debut film.
Contraband - Chris Farrday (Mark Wahlberg) long ago abandoned his life of crime, but after his brother-in-law, Andy (Caleb Landry Jones), botches a drug deal for his ruthless boss, Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), Chris is forced back into doing what he does best - running contraband to settle Andy's debt. Chris is a legendary smuggler and quickly assembles a crew with the help of his best friend, Sebastian (Ben Foster), for one final run to Panama and back, hoping to return with millions of dollars in counterfeit bills. Things quickly fall apart and with only hours to reach the cash, Chris must use his rsuty skills to successfully navigate a treacherous criminal network of brutal drug lords, cops and hit men before his wife, Kate (Kate Beckinsale), and sons become their target. Just writing this, the plot sounds convoluted - and reports are that there is nothing particularly special about Contraband.
Killer Elite - Australian director Gary McKendry’s debut feature (which has an unfathomable budget of $66 million) is based on the ‘The Feather Men’, Ranulph Fiennes’ expose of the SAS’s role in a late 60’s war in Oman. The events have been shifted to the 80’s with one of the world’s elite operatives, Danny Bryce (Statham), hired by a vengeful oil Sheikh, who is holding his mentor and partner, Hunter (Robert De Niro) hostage. He is assigned to hunt down and assassinate three ex-SAS men who had been involved in the killing of his sons during the devastating war. But, they must look like accidents, and there must be a recorded confession along the way. Killer Elite is a pointless, disposable action vehicle, which features a never-ending stream of nonsensical action sequences, an abundance of genre clichés, unlikeable and unconvincing characters, a bloated running time (it drags terribly near the end, and actually has several false endings), an emotionless romantic subplot, and one of the worst screen beards of all time (owned by Dominic Purcell). I really wasn't a fan - but for an alternative opinion, check out my buddy's review at http://
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Oskar is convinced that his father (Tom Hanks), who died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, has left a final message for him hidden somewhere in the city. Feeling disconnected from his grieving mother (Sandra Bullock) and driven by a relentlessly active mind that refuses to believe in things that can't be observed, Oskar begins searching New York City for the lack that fits a mysterious key he found in his father's closet. His journey through the five boroughs takes him beyond his own loss to a greater understanding of the observable world around him. It has been very poorly received, but was a shock nominee for Best Picture (picking up just one other nomination - Best Supporting Actor for Max Von Sydow) Now, I feel like it must be seen.
Gone - In the new suspense thriller Gone, Jill Parrish (Amanda Seyfried) comes home from a night shift to discover her sister Molly has been abducted. Jill, who had escaped from a kidnapper a year before, is convinced that the same serial killer has come back for her sister. Afraid that Molly will be dead by sundown, Jill embarks on a chase to find the killer, expose his secrets and save her sister. Hmm, it might have some thrills, but Amanda Seyfried is rarely involved in quality films, and then there is the film's title. No reports yet.
Weekly Recommendation: I actually don't feel comfortable recommending any of these films. I don't know enough about Late Bloomers, though I think it will appeal more to an older audience, or Gone. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is an interesting one, because it is a Best Pic nominee, yet it has received very mixed reviews. Seems to be a love/hate dynamic. Fans of the novel will no doubt give it a go. From what I have heard about Tyrannosaur, it is the only one that is a sure bet - but alas, that one is exclusive to Melbourne cinemagoers. If you haven't seen The Grey, then I strongly recommend giving it a go over this lot.