Ad Astra Dir: James Gray (2019) (USA)

Ad Astra   

アド・アストラAdo Asutora

Release Date: September 18th, 2020

Duration: 123 mins.

Director: James Gray

Writer: James Gray, Ethan Gross (Screenplay),

Starring: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Donald Sutherland, Liv Tyler, Kimmy Shields, John Finn, LisaGay Hamilton, Bobby Nish, Sean Blakemore, Kimberly Elise,

Website IMDB

Following on from his sure-footed performance as a cocksure stunt-double in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood, Brad Pitt takes the lead in another of 2019’s biggest films but dials down the flashiness to portray an ace astronaut who must confront a hostile environment and emotional states as he goes to the far edge of the Solar System in search of his father to stop a civilisation-ending disaster.

Pitt gives an understated performance as Major Roy McBride, a skilled but buttoned-up military man famous for having a pulse that never goes above 80 bpm.

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Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood Dir: Quentin Tarantino (2019) (USA)

Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Film Poster

Release Date: August 14th, 2019 (UK)

Duration: 161 mins.

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Writer: Quentin Tarantino (Screenplay)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley,

Website IMDB

Quentin Tarantino is, without a doubt, one of Hollywood’s best movie makers. He has cemented his place by making violent cinematic spectacles that are riffs on genre conventions replete with references and re-purposed iconic imagery from older genre films to synthesise entertaining experiences. The style is often the substance and it often feels like being in a closed world as thinly sketched characters act out their tales surrounded by callbacks to older entertainment. Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood feels like his most mature film to date because it is more of an open world. It speaks to more than just narrow sets of film fans as it relies upon and subverts the shared cultural memory of a wider audience who grew up with 50s and 60s Americana because the film is a melancholy love letter to a lost age in Hollywood where the transition from the fading allure of westerns to the glamorous swinging 60s was about to be knocked off course by the grisly fate of Sharon Tate, something that signalled the end of an era of innocence.

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Columbus Director: Kogonada (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018

Columbus   Columbus Film Poster

 Running Time: 114 mins.

Release Date: August 04th, 2017

Director: Kogonada

Writer: Kogonada (Screenplay)

Starring: John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Parker Posey, Rory Culkin, Eren Allegretti, 

IMDB

This had it’s Japanese premiere at the Osaka Asian Film Festival where I watched it and pretty much burst into tears at the end.

There are many artistic avenues available for taking audiences into the lives of others and film offers the most direct and intense of those experiences. You can enter another person’s life in ways that other art-forms cannot hope to achieve, talented film-makers getting audiences to parse the most complex of emotions with ease if the form they construct on screen is right. Columbus is a great example. The film is named after the titular town located in Indiana which is famous for having the largest collection of public buildings designed by Modernist architects such as I.M. Pei, John Carl Warnecke, and Richard Meier. Using the pleasures of architecture and pleasurable dialogue, director Kogonoda martials his sets and cinematic techniques to concisely get at the heart of complex set of relationships through great locations and a script full of neat symmetry for the main characters.

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Cold in July (2014)

Cold in July (2014)   Cold in July UK Poster

UK Release Date: June, 2014

Running Time: 109 mins.

Director: Jim Mickle

Writer: Jim Mickle, Nick Damici (Screenplay), Joe R. Lansdale (Story)

Starring: Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, Don Johnson, Nick Damici, Vinessa Shaw,

Director Jim Mickle and actor/writer Nick Damici have had a run of horror films with alternative zombie plague chiller Mulberry St (2006), downbeat and savage dystopian vampire film Stake Land (2010) and the remake of the Mexican cannibal film, We Are What We Are (2013), but here they trade genres opting to go for a pulpy thriller based on a novel by Joe R Lansdale.

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Nightcrawler (2014)

Nightcrawler (2014)   Nightcrawler Film Poster

UK Release Date: June, 2014

Running Time: 109 mins.

Director: Dan Gilroy

Writer: Dan Gilroy (Screenplay),

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russon, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed, Michael Hyatt, Price Carson,

The film begins with soaring optimistic music that tends to play when you have stories about The American Dream but the visuals subvert the cliches we expect. Instead of scenes suffused with sunlight and filled with beautiful smiling people our first images are of L.A. at night, bright neon lights and billboards, wide roads that stretch endlessly and crushingly heavy-looking black skies.

There is potential out there, but it will come from somewhere unexpected.

We soon meet our main protagonist chasing The American Dream.

Nightcrawler Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) 2

Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal), a gaunt ghoulish shadowy figure who is comfortable stalking the night. We catch him in the process of stealing manhole covers and other metal objects to sell for scrap. Within minutes of his introduction he will kill someone. By the end of the film many more will die as he tries to achieve his own success story through being a freelance crime journalist, recording death scenes from accidents and violent crime and selling them to TV news veteran Nina (Russo) so she can boost ratings for her middling local station.

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The Guest (2014)

The Guest (2014)   The Guest Film Poster

UK Release Date: September 05th, 2014

Running Time: 99 mins.

Director: Adam Wingard

Writer: Simon Barrett (Screenplay),

Starring: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Sheila Kelley, Lance Reddick, Brendan Meyer, Leland Orser, Tabatha Shaun,

Mumblegore film You’re Next (2013) put director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett firmly on the map with its blend of classy visuals and genre-mixing as a family came under siege from brutal masked killers in a home invasion horror meets black comedy film. They do much the same here in The Guest, a film which feels like a take on 80s style thrillers complete with glorious synth soundtrack with an added dose of slasher horror.

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ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL OF DALLAS 2014 PREVIEW

Asian Film Festival of Dallas

Fans of Asian films in America will be spoiled for choice in July because on the east coast of America there is the 8th annual Japan CUTS film festival which will be held at the Japan Society in New York City. Meanwhile, down south the 13th Asian Film Festival of Dallas will run from July 10th to July 17th with a selection of titles from Japan and Korea, Hong Kong and elsewhere.

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Blue Ruin (2013)

Blue Ruin   Blue Ruin Film Poster

Running Time: 90 mins.

Release Date: May 02nd, 2014 (UK Release)

Director: Jeremy Saulnier

Writer: Jeremy Saulnier (Screenplay),

Starring: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack, David W. Thompson, Sidne Anderson,

Blue Ruin has the sort of indie film genesis of legend. Two old friends, director Jeremy Saulnier and star Macon Blair, had long worked together but success had eluded them. This was their last shot at making a mark as filmmakers but they ran out of money when filming and so the director and his wife put their life-savings into the project and turned to Kickstarter. It turned out to be a good idea because Blue Ruin went on to gain good press at Cannes where it won the Fipresci Prize and a wide release (at least here in the UK). Blue Ruin is a pulpy slice of revenge narrative with an indie sensibility that twists a familiar story into something disturbing and shocking.

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All is Lost

All is Lost  All is Lost Film Poster

Running Time: 106 mins.

Release Date: February o8th, 2014

Director: J.C. Chandor

Writer: J.C. Chandor (Screenplay),

Starring: Robert Redford (Our Man)

All is Lost is the second feature from J.C. Chandor whose Oscar nominated debut, Margin Call (2011) was a star-studded, dialogue heavy Wall Street drama about the recent financial crisis. The two could not be more different…

“I’m sorry. I know this means little at this point, but I am. I tried. I think you would all agree that I tried. I am sorry. To be true, to be strong, to be kind, to love, to be right. But I wasn’t. All is lost here, except soul, and body. I fought till the end. I will miss you. I’m sorry.”

The film starts in the Indian Ocean where Our Man (Redford) is alone on a yacht 1,700 nautical miles from the Sumatra Straits. He awakes one morning to find water rushing into his cabin. Upon investigation he discovers that a cargo container has struck his boat and gouged a hole in the hull. Damage has also been done to his communication systems, which means that Our Man cannot contact anyone. He is alone and so he sets about repairing the damage under a clear sky and blazing sun but there is a storm on the horizon and he is racing to fix the damage to his ship and communications systems but new problems keep emerging…

all is lost

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