Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New Releases (20/11/2014)

In cinemas this week: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Dark Horse, Maps to the Stars, The Good Lie and Rock the Casbah.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 - After seemingly destroying the Games for good, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) finds herself recovering in District 13, with her mother and sister and leaders of the Panem rebellion. District 13 is led by President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), who along with her allies including Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Katniss’ mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) and publicity representative Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), attempts to convince Katniss to become the beacon of hope for the rebellion. She is distraught having learned that her fellow Games competitor Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) has been captured by the Capitol’s tyrannical President Snow (Donald Sutherland), and by the horrors she discovers have been afflicted on District 12 and beyond. Her reactions to the atrocities and military-escorted contact with enemy forces are then broadcast around Panem, including the Capitol, who retaliates with their own propaganda broadcast in an attempt to intimidate Katniss and quash the strengthening rebellion.

The Dark Horse - Starring an extraordinary NZ cast; Cliff Curtis (Whale Rider and Boy), James Rolleston (Boy) and Kirk Torrance (Outrageous Fortune) The Dark Horse is an inspiring true story based on the life of a charismatic, brilliant but little-known New Zealand Hero and chess champion - Genesis Potini, aka Gen. It is an emotionally-charged, provocative drama about a man who searches for the courage to lead, despite his own adversities - finding purpose and hope in passing on his gift to the children in his community. Curtis is terrific as a bipolar ex-chessmaster who takes some troubled youngsters under his tutelage and teaches them that the tiny world of chess offers many paths, and not everyone needs to follow the one assigned by their circumstances. Really quite affecting. ★★★1/2

Maps to the Stars - With this tale of a secret-filled Hollywood family on the verge of implosion, director David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises, A History of Violence) forges both a wicked social satire and a very human ghost story from our celebrity-obsessed culture. Meet the Weiss family, who are making their way in a sun-soaked Southern California rife with money, dreams, fame, envy, angst, yearning - and relentless hauntings. Stafford Weiss (John Cusack) is a famed TV self-help therapist, whose "Hour of Personal Power" has brought him an A-list celebrity clientele, including Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore, Cannes-winner for her performance). Meanwhile, Cristina Weiss (Olivia Williams) has her work cut out managing the career of their disaffected child-star son, Benjie (Evan Bird), a fresh graduate of rehab at age 13.

The Good Lie - They were known simply as "The Lost Boys." Orphaned by the brutal Civil war in Sudan that began in 1983, these young victims traveled as many as a thousand miles on foot in search of safety. Fifteen years later, a humanitarian effort would bring 3600 lost boys and girls to America. In The Good Lie Philippe Falardeau, (writer and director of the Oscar- nominated Foreign Language film Monsieur Lazhar) brings the story of their survival and triumph to life. Sudanese actors Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal, and newcomer Nyakuoth Weil, many of whom were also children of war, star alongside Academy Award-winner Reese Witherspoon and Corey Stoll.  

Weekly Recommendation - The Dark Horse is my pick of the two that I have seen, but I can imagine when Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2 are viewed together, they will prove to be much more satisfying. As a once David Cronenberg fan - his last two have been disappointing - I am looking forward to Maps to the Stars, and I adored Falardeau's last film Monsieur Lazhar son I am intrigued by The Good Lie.  

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