Film Review: The Current War

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s The Current War is a well performed and visually pleasing historical drama. The film engages viewers throughout, building tension in an admirable way.

In the late 19th century, the US is still lit by fire. Inventor Thomas Edison is certain his direct current system is the way to provide electric light to America. Entrepreneur George Westinghouse and his alternate current system compete with Edison to light up the country…

Focusing on the rivalry between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse in the late 19th century and the race to connect the US to electricity, The Current War takes place at a very exciting moment in history. Screenwriter Michael Mitnick’s narrative chooses to view the race through the rivalry of these two men, with some focus on other key players. 

Film is a historical drama, focusing on key moments in a thirteen-year span. There are some moments of levity, but for the most part The Current War is a serious affair. The film is suitably earnest, although some later moments are not quite as tense as director may have hoped for. The narrative tells us something about these two characters, even if it is not immediately clear. Initially posits the two protagonists as distinct entities; the inventor who wants to do good against the entrepreneur who wants to make money. Predictably, the film is not quite as simple as this, and subverts initial expectations. 

Gomez-Rejon shows some visual flair with his direction. Panning and tracking shots are frequent, perhaps hoping to replicate frenetic setting. The art direction and costumes are wonderful. There is a rich use of colour, and some striking contrasts which are most appealing. Performances solid throughout. Michael Shannon and Benedict Cumberbatch are great as the protagonists. Nicholas Hoult and Matthew Macfadyen stand out in supporting roles. Katherine Waterston is also good in a minor role. 

The Current War should prove rewarding for those with a rudimentary knowledge of the events. Those with more expertise should still find the film most enjoyable. 

Previews: Ad Astra Poster, The Current War, More!

Lots to see in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Ad Astra poster, The Current War, Pain And Glory, and more…

Ad Astra Poster

Here is the brand new Ad Astra poster. The film, directed by James Gray, is about an astronaut who travels to the edge of the solar system to find his missing father. Brad Pitt heads the cast, and is joined by Tommy Lee Jones and Ruth Negga. Ad Astra launches onto UK screens on 18th September 2019.

The Current War Trailer

Above is the trailer for the forthcoming The Current War. Set in the late 19th century, the film is about the rivalry between Thomas Edison and entrepreneur George Westinghouse. The enviable cast includes Michael Shannon, Benedict Cumberbatch, Katherine Waterston, Nicholas Hoult, and Tom Holland. Counting Martin Scorsese as an executive producer, The Current War hits UK cinemas on 26th July 2019.

Pain And Glory Trailer

Here is the latest trailer for Pain And Glory. Directed by Pedro Almodóvar (The Skin I Live In, I’m So Excited), the film is about an ageing film director and a series of re-encounters. The film, which stars Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz, will be released in UK cinemas on 23rd August 2019.

21 Bridges Poster

21 Bridges is an upcoming thriller with quite a cast. The film stars Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, Taylor Kitsch, Stephan James, and J.K. Simmons. 21 Bridges is a thriller about a New York detective involved in a city-wide manhunt for a pair of cop killers. The film is set for release in UK cinemas on 27th September 2019.

BFI August Season

There is plenty to look forward to at the BFI Southbank this August, leading with a season of Cary Grant films. Classics such as The Philadelphia Story, His Girl Friday, and Notorious will be screened in August. Other highlights include a preview of Pain And Glory and a Q&A with Pedro Almodóvar, and a preview of Netflix’s upcoming The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance television series. More details of the full programme can be found here.

Film Review: The Favourite

Yorgos Lanthimos hits the target once more with the brilliant The Favourite. The film is Lanthimos’ most enjoyable to date. 

It is the early 18th century, and England is at war with France. Queen Anne, in an ailing state, is guided by her friend and confidant Lady Sarah. When Lady Sarah’s cousin arrives, there is an upheaval at court…

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos with a screenplay by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, The Favourite is a superb film. Set in the court of Queen Anne, the film mixes social manoeuvring with political intrigue. It plays for laughs, but there is much texture to proceedings. The Favourite still radiates the darkness of Lanthimos’ other films, but it is delivered in a subtler format. This works incredibly well.

The Favourite focuses on characters vying for the attention of the queen. The main characters in the film are very well drawn. They are multi-faceted, with each showing shades of grey. The film could have easily painted everyone as irredeemable, yet there is much more nuance than this. It is surprisingly moving at times, thanks to the script and great performances.

As a comedy, The Favourite is very, very funny. Humour is derived from multiple sources. The script is incredibly funny; there are great lines, and great delivery. There is also slapstick humour which is at times absurdist. The ballroom scene in particular is a joy. Lanthimos’ trademark dark humour is present here, but the scriptwriters inject some very dry, British humour that complements it ever so well.

Performances in the film are great all round. Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz are perfect in their respective roles. Coleman adds depth and heart to the character, which could have easily appeared a mere caricature in the wrong hands. Emma Stone is wonderful; sometimes it is a simple expression from her that can generate a great laugh. Nicholas Hoult is also a revelation in a supporting role.

Lanthimos and cinematographer Robbie Ryan have created quite the aesthetic in The Favourite. Some shots could just as well be oil paintings. Ryan makes the most the location, such as the sweeping halls of the palace. The soundtrack is fantastic, particularly when it is juxtaposed with some absurd imagery. Sandy Powell’s costumes are sublime.

The Favourite is a world away from other period romps. Lanthimos’ film is hilarious, consuming, and at times touching.

The Favourite is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2018.

Previews: Spectre Vlog, Legend Trailer and more

Plenty to see in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the latest Spectre vlog, the Legend trailer, plus a first look at Macbeth

Spectre Vlog

In this latest Spectre vlog, director Sam Mendes and members of the crew discuss a car chase sequence from the upcoming James Bond movie. You can check out the Spectre trailer here, and more Spectre vlogs are available on the James Bond channel. Spectre hits the big screen 6th November 2015.

Legend Trailer 

Legend is not a remake of the 1985 fantasy classic of the same name. This version of Legend is about the notorious Kray twins. Written and directed by Brian Hegeland, the film stars Tom Hardy as both Kray twins. Legend is set for release in the UK on 11th September 2015.

Aloha Clip

Wedding Crashers‘ stars Rachel McAdams and Bradley Cooper reunite in this clip from Aloha. Cameron Crowe directs an all-star cast, which also includes Bill Murray, Emma Stone and Jay Baruchel. Aloha will hit UK screens on 4th September 2015.

Mad Max: Fury Road Trailer

The final trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road arrives two weeks before the film’s release. A combination of new and already-released footage, the trailer suggests that the film will be a crazy ride. Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult, Mad Max: Fury Road will be released in cinemas on 14th May 2015.

Macbeth First Look

Macbeth

Here is one of the first images released from the new film adaptation of Macbeth. Starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, Macbeth is due to make its world premiere at next month’s Cannes Film Festival. The film is scheduled to open in the UK in October 2015.

Poltergeist Featurette

Sam Raimi discusses his horror remake of Poltergeist in the above featurette. Remakes have been a prominent feature of the horror genre for several years now, so this new version of Poltergeist is no surprise. Starring Sam Rockwell and Jared Harris, Poltergeist will hit UK screens on 22nd May 2015.

Moomins on the Riviera Trailer

The Moomins holiday in style in this film adaptation of the comic strips. The English-language version of Moomins on the Riviera features the voices of Russell Tovey and Tracy Ann Oberman. The animated film will be released in UK cinemas on 22nd May 2015.

Magic Mike XXL Poster

Magic Mike XXL Poster

The latest series of posters for Magic Mike sequel Magic Mike XXL makes no secret of how viewers are being enticed. Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello are among those who have returned for the second instalment, alongside newcomers Elizabeth Banks and Amber Heard. Magic Mike XXL will thrust its way on to UK screens on 3rd July 2015.

What Happened, Miss Simone? Trailer

New documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? focuses on legendary singer Nina Simone. The film features previously unheard audio tapes, plus interviews with family members and friends. What Happened, Miss Simone? will make its debut on Netflix on 26th June 2015.

Stuff To Look At

This week we have plenty of clips and trailers for next year’s releases, including Inherent Vice, Jupiter Ascending and A Little Chaos

A Little Chaos

Period drama A Little Chaos is about the unlikely landscape architect of the Palace of Versailles. Directed, co-writtend and starring Alan Rickman, the film focuses on Kate Winslet’s Madame Sabine de Barra. A Little Chaos is out in cinemas on 17th April 2015.

Inherent Vice

Here is a brief clip from the upcoming Inherent Vice. Paul Thomas Anderson’s film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, and Reese Witherspoon among others. Inherent Vice is released in UK cinemas on 30th January 2015.

Mad Max: Fury Road

This Mad Max: Fury Road trailer caused quite a storm when it was unleashed last week. From the trailer at least, the film is striking on a visual level. Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult, Mad Max: Fury Road hits the big screen on 15th May 2015.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry and Clark Duke return for time-travelling comedy sequel Hot Tub Time Machine 2. After the success of the first film, the group venture into the future, as well as the distant past in this instalment. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is released in UK cinemas on 10th April 2015.

Jupiter Ascending

Here is an extended V spot for upcoming science fiction blockbuster Jupiter Ascending. I can’t get over Channing Tatum’s ears. Also starring Mila Kunis and Eddie Redmayne, Jupiter Ascending hits UK screens on 6th February 2015.

The Last Five Years

Based on the theatre show, The Last Five Years is a musical which tells the story of a five-year relationship. Anna Kendrick once again shows off her vocal skills, following Pitch Perfect and the upcoming Into The Woods. The Last Five Years is scheduled for release in Spring 2015.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel sees the cast from the first film reunited, along with newcomer Richard Gere. This follow-up sees Dev Patel’s Sonny open a second hotel. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is set for release on 26th February 2015.

Film Review: Jack the Giant Slayer

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER

Jack the Giant Slayer is an entertaining family adventure. Although it does not reinvent the wheel, Bryan Singer’s film does the job of creating an enjoyable viewing experience.

As a young boy, Jack is told about the war between humans and giants, which was won by Erik the Great. As an adult, Jack unwittingly opens a gateway between Earth and the world of the giants…

Based on the well-known fairy tale, Jack the Giant Slayer is a formulaic film. But this does not mean that it isn’t entertaining. Director Bryan Singer does a good job of balancing the elements of adventure; action, quest, peril, consequence, as well as some romance thrown in.

Jack the Giant Slayer follows in the footsteps of the recent Hansel and Gretal: Witch Hunters in making a familiar fairy tale into an action-heavy adventure. Singer’s film works better however, as it clearly knows the audience it is aimed at. The plot and level of action clearly aim to appeal to a family audience.

Jack is a likeable protagonist. He is confident without being arrogant and modest without being wet. It is a shame that the princess is so passive, especially in comparison to Jack. In this sense, the film harks back to old fairy tales. The princess and the pauper theme really emphasises the class aspect. Jack cannot win her hand without rescuing her; he is not worthy on his own merits. Jack the Giant Slayer is quite old fashioned on both these counts.

Production design is solid. The film makes the most of its lush landscapes, and 3D is utilised well. Nicholas Hoult makes a good unassuming hero. Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci appear to be having fun in their respective roles.

Jack the Giant Slayer is a fun romp which will satisfy most viewers.

 

Trailer Round-Up

A bumper post of trailers to round off the week, with Epic, Jack the Giant Slayer and more…

Epic

What more do you want from an animated film than talking animals and a fun dog? Epic is the new animated feature from the makers of Rio and Ice Age. The film is due for release in May 2013.

Jack the Giant Slayer

The fairy tale gets a twist in Jack the Giant Slayer. Starring Nicholas Hoult and Ewan McGregor, Jack the Giant Slayer has a touch of Lord of the Rings to it. The film will be released on 22 March 2013.

Zero Dark Thirty

Following the success of Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow returns with Zero Dark Thirty. The film tells the story of Osama Bin Laden’s pursuit and capture. Starring Jessica Chastain and Joel Edgerton, Zero Dark Thirty is out on 25th January 2013.

Oz The Great and Powerful

Treasure! Broken dolls! Lots of emerald! Munchkins! Fireworks! Michelle Williams looking lovely! A hot slice monkey in a uniform! Oz The Great and Powerful looks enchanting from this first trailer. The film is due for release on 8th March 2013.

Les Miserables

This film version of Les Miserables looks like an all-star spectacular. Starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried, the film is sure to pique the interest of fans of the musical as well as those less familiar with it. Les Miserables hits cinemas on 11th January 2013.

Lincoln

This trailer is ripe with the scent of Oscar nominations. Directed by Steven Spielberg, Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Abraham Lincoln in this sumptuous-looking historical drama. Lincoln is out in cinemas on 25th January 2013.