The blog of Amon Warmann: Film journalist.

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Film Review | Project Almanac

Project Almanac

★★★½☆

Cinema has seen plenty of found footage and time travel films, but rarely have the two concepts been combined. Enter Project Almanac; Produced by Michael Bay and directed by Dean Israelite, it works well as an entertaining teen movie without doing anything revolutionary with the aforementioned narrative devices.

Project Almanac centers on David Raskin (Jonny Weston), a 17-year-old science whiz who is desperate to get into MIT. The answer may lie in his deceased father’s old belongings, as David discovers an old video clip of his seventh birthday party which unexplainably features glimpses of his current self, along with blueprints for a time travel device his father was working on. Together with fellow classmates Quinn (Sam Lerner), Allen (Adam Le), his sister Christina (an underused Virginia Gardner) and high school hottie Jessie (Sofia Black-D’Elia), the group construct the device and begin putting it to use but it doesn’t take long before their actions in the past start producing dangerous consequences in the present.

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Film Review | Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending

★★☆☆☆

“From the creators of The Matrix” is a quote that has accompanied the Wachowskis in each of the trailers and posters for their subsequent films, and with good reason. The 1999 sci-fi is still one of the best of the genre, and having struggled since then a case could be made that the sibling directors peaked too soon. Indeed, Jupiter Ascending does little to change that notion, as it can best be described as a beautiful failure.

Mila Kunis plays the titular Jupiter, a lowly cleaner who lives with her Russian family and dreams of escaping her mundane life. Unbeknownst to Jupiter, her genetic code means she’s next in line for ownership of a number of planets, including Earth. Naturally there are other interested parties who want Jupiter out of the way, and when an attempt on her life is thwarted by half-man half-wolf warrior Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), she’s introduced to a new world.

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Film Review | Selma

Selma

★★★★★

In some ways, the absence of “I Have a Dream” from Selma, incredibly only the first feature film to give the biopic treatment to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, is symbolic of the film as a whole. It’s the four words the civil right leader is most known for, but director Ava DuVernay is interested in far more than just compelling oratory.

Selma focuses its gaze on a three-month period in 1965 when King (David Oyelowo) led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights for African-American citizens. The first act sets up the shrewd tactics necessary to induce change; Having campaigned in Albany for nine months with no results, it’s decided that Selma is the place to stage the protest, the county already a fervent breeding ground of racial inequality and therefore more likely to garner media attention. While the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) work diligently to force President Lyndon B. Johnson (an effective Tom Wilkinson) into action, the film also offers up an examination of how the civil rights movement affected its leader, both at home and as a man.

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Film Review | Trash

Trash 2

★★★½☆

Like the rummagers on which his latest film is centred on, Stephen Daldry has long had a talent for picking out diamonds in the rough. The three time Academy Award nominated director discovered a young Jamie Bell for his debut feature Billy Elliot, and he struck gold again when he cast Thomas Horn in 2011’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. His aptitude for scouting young thespians has served him well once more in Trash, an enjoyable adaptation of Andy Mulligan’s novel.

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Interview | Director Stephen Daldry Discusses Trash

Stephen Daldry

Though his latest film is only the fifth in Stephen Daldry’s 16-year career, it’s not for lack of projects. Indeed, between pre-production on new Netflix television series The Crown, an upcoming adaptation of stage-musical Wicked, and at least two stage productions due to play this year, he’s arguably Britain’s busiest director.

The topic of our chat was Trash, which focuses on three Brazilian teenagers who become embroiled in a major scandal when they stumble across a sought-after wallet with incriminating contents.

In the interview, Daldry talks about casting and working with the young actors, collaborating with talented editor Elliot Graham, and much more. Hit the jump to have a watch.

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Film Review | A Most Violent Year

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★★★★☆

If there’s one thing which is clear about writer-director J. C. Chandor by now, it’s that he likes to switch it up. His debut feature Margin Call was a talky, deservedly Oscar-nominated financial drama with dialogue to spare. It was followed by the Robert Redford-starring All is Lost, a survivalist drama with hardly any speech at all. For his third feature Chandor has once again opted for something completely different, fashioning a sharp and sophisticated film about the heating oil industry that may be his most satisfying work to date.

Set in a wintery 1981 New York, A Most Violent Year follows Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac), a Latin-American immigrant who, along with his wife Anna (Jessica Chastain), has his sights set on closing a deal that will expand his heating oil company and give him the edge over his competitors. For that to happen, Abel will have to overcome some potentially crippling external obstacles; His drivers are getting assaulted by thugs who are then stealing fuel from his trucks, the local D.A. (David Oyelowo) is mounting a case against him, and a shadowy figure looms outside his new home. Even as the screws tighten though, Abel is determined to go about his business in the right way.

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Competition | Win ‘Obvious Child’ on DVD

Obvious Child Final 2D Packshot

To celebrate the home entertainment release of Obvious Child, I’m giving three lucky readers a chance to win a copy on DVD.

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