There is a great disparity between the posters and the trailers for Avengers: Age of Ultron.
In the build-up to today’s big reveal Marvel had released a number of bland and lazy character posters featuring each of our principal heroes in a standard hero pose set against a boring backdrop filled with Ultron drones. There’s also a one-sheet with all the Avengers that’s spent far too many hours in Adobe Photoshop:
Thankfully the trailers for Avengers: Age of Ultron have been anything but bland and lazy, and the third and supposedly (but probably not) final clip that was unveiled earlier today is no different.
When I sat down with Maika Monroe at a London hotel earlier last month, it quickly struck me that her demeanour was one I wasn’t used to seeing on her – specifically, she was relaxed.
This isn’t to say that Monroe is never like this of course – by all accounts she’s a charming, laid-back individual – but for the characters she plays in 2014 sleeper hit The Guest and new horror flick It Follows, relaxation is not a feeling that’s expressed too often.
Horror film It Follows centres around nineteen-year-old Jay (The Guest’s Maika Monroe) who after a sexual encounter with her new boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary) finds herself plagued by a mysterious, malevolent entity which relentlessly follows her.
I got the chance to sit down with the film’s writer-director David Robert Mitchell ahead of the film’s UK release, and here he tells me about avoiding the jump scares found in horror films today, how the film’s subtext originated, and much more. Have a read below.
Like the character he plays in Focus – the latest film from writer-director duo Glenn Ficarra and John Requa , of Crazy, Stupid, Love fame – Will Smith is in need of a big score. Disappointing films such as After Earth and A New York Winter’s Tale failed to make the best use of his talents and yielded poor critical and box office results in the process. Thankfully, though it only half succeeds in the tricky balancing act between the con and the romance, Focus at least clears the low bar of being better than Smith’s recent fare.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To celebrate the home entertainment release of Obvious Child, I’m giving three lucky readers a chance to win a copy on DVD.
To celebrate the home entertainment release of A Walk Among the Tombstones on January 19th, I’m giving three lucky readers a chance to win a copy on Blu-ray.
For as fun and entertaining as the films in Marvel’s cinematic universe have been thus far, one element almost all of them have lacked is a physically imposing and truly memorable villain. To clarify, this is not to say that Loki was underwhelming in Avengers Assemble, only that watching the Hulk dismantle him in 2.3 seconds (awesome as it was) felt just a little too easy.
What does it take to be the best?
It’s a question that all who strive to attain the highest levels of success ask themselves, and it’s a question that Whiplash – the superb sophomore feature from writer-director Damien Chazelle – poses in riveting, effective, and wonderfully ambiguous fashion.
Miles Teller stars as Andrew Neiman, an ambitious 19-year old drummer who’s determined to become one of the greats. That’s led him to the (fictional) Shaffer Conservatory of Music in New York, where infamous instructor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) presides over an award-winning jazz band. All appears to be going well when Andrew catches Fletcher’s eye and is promoted to his top tier ensemble. It’s then that the instructor’s verbal, emotional, and physically abusive teaching methods are made brutally clear, and as Andrew pushes himself to dangerous lengths to meet Fletcher’s demanding standards, the question for both mentor and student is how far is too far in the pursuit of greatness.
There are few filmmakers today whose work is as instantly recognisable as Tim Burton’s. A perusal of his recent back catalogue will reveal recurring themes, gothic aesthetics, and the same cadre of actors – most frequently Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter – often backed by a Danny Elfman score. Though there are a couple of Burton-isms here and there Big Eyes is very much unlike the director’s recent fare, a fine and surprisingly complex piece of work which suggests he should step out of his weird and wonderful comfort zone more often.
“Moves, and counter moves”.
That line of dialogue, softly spoken by Donald Sutherland’s increasingly despotic President Snow, pretty much sums up The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1. With no actual Hunger Games to speak of for the first time in the series, the highly anticipated sequel is light on action, trading spectacle for intimacy and bulging with fantastic performances and power plays of an altogether different sort than we’re used to as the long-foreshadowed revolution begins.
Almost every romantic comedy cliche is present and accounted for in Love, Rosie, a disappointing adaptation of Cecelia Ahern’s bestselling 2004 novel Where Rainbows End.
Directed by Christian Ditter, the film stars Lily Collins as the titular Rosie, who has been best friends with Alex (Sam Claflin) since childhood. Feelings begin to blossom between the pair in their teenage years but the mutual attraction is never admitted, and when an unplanned pregnancy befalls Rosie just as Alex heads to Boston to pursue his career, the two are forced to go their separate ways. The connection between them never dissipates though, and throughout the next twelve years their lives frequently intertwine.
When it was announced that Screen One at the Empire Leicester Square was to be taken down, the initial reaction was one of sadness. The venue had played hosts to a number of memorable film events, and this writer can definitely attest to its rich atmosphere. However in its stead comes a new IMAX screen – the 26th in the UK – and HeyUGuys were offered an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the customised installation.
As always, what immediately strikes you upon walking into an IMAX screening room is the sheer size. The 87-foot wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling curved IMAX screen comes in at a substantial 26.5m x 15.6m, and the room has a seating capacity of 727. Speaking of the seats, they’ve been upgraded to a lush leather that ensures a comfortable viewing experience.
Just last year audiences were treated to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which saw Ben Stiller undertake a world-traversing voyage to understand the meaning of life. This time it’s Simon Pegg trying to get in touch with his happy-self in Hector and the Search for Happiness. Based on French psychiatrist François Lelord’s best-selling novel of the same name, and directed by Peter Chelsom, Simon Pegg plays our dissatisfied protagonist Hector; a quirky psychiatrist who realises his methods aren’t helping his patients, and so embarks on a trip around the world in a bid to discover the secret of happiness.
Frank Grillo has made a career out of strong supporting roles, but that’s set to change. Earlier this year he earned praise for his performance in The Purge: Anarchy, and the actor also left an impression as Brock Rumlow in Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Comic book fans will know exactly what’s in store for the character, and the closing minutes of Winter Soldier all but confirm that we can look forward to seeing Grillo develop Rumlow further.
Ahead of the home entertainment release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we got a chance to quiz Grillo on how he’d like Rumlow to evolve in future instalments, other Marvel characters he’d like a chance to play, and his role in the upcoming remake of The Raid. Have a read below.
Ten years after he made his directorial bow with the well-received Garden State, Zach Braff is back behind the camera again for his sophomore effort Wish I Was Here. The film drew criticism from some quarters early on for its Kickstarter funding, but its safe to say that Braff’s unique vision wouldn’t have been realized had he gone the traditional studio route.
I got a chance to sit down with Braff ahead of the film’s UK release this week, and the former Scrubs star talked to us about his best and worst auditions, a cameo appearance from the late James Avery, and much more. Have a watch below.
Cinema has long held a fascination with memories, from the different ways they can be manipulated (Inception, Total Recall) to how crucial they can be in defining who we are (Memento, The Bourne Identity). Before I Go to Sleep slots into the latter grouping; As directed by Rowan Joffé it’s a well-performed and solidly engaging thriller, but it won’t be joining the distinguished pantheon the aforementioned films reside in any time soon.
Having previously teamed up for 2011’s Bad Teacher, director Jake Kasdan reunites with Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel for R-rated comedy Sex Tape. Though it starts strong and finishes well, script flaws mean it’s unfunny for the majority of its run time, squandering the potential of a great cast and an entertaining premise.
Though fans of Downton Abbey will already know of the blue-eyed Dan Stevens, many more will be introduced to the one-time Lord of the Manor in The Guest. Directed by Adam Wingard – who helmed 2013’s well-received horror You’re Next – Stevens stars as the titular ‘Guest’ David. Welcomed into an unsuspecting family’s home, he appears to be the perfect houseguest, all the while hiding a mysterious past.
It’s a superb breakthrough performance from Stevens, full of swagger and charm. There’s plenty more to look forward to from him this year too; we’ll next see him starring alongside Liam Neeson in this month’s A Walk Among the Tombstones, and he’ll be taking on the mantle of Sir Lancelot in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.
The Guest was the focus of our chats though, and Stevens spoke of playlists, the atmosphere on set, and how he’s going about picking future projects. Have a watch below.