Previews: Rambo: Last Blood Trailer, Ad Astra, More!

An abundance of film-related goodness in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the Rambo: Last Blood trailer, Ad Astra, Marriage Story, and more…

Rambo: Last Blood Trailer

Here is the latest Rambo: Last Blood trailer. Sylvester Stallone returns as iconic action hero John Rambo. The film, purportedly the last in the series which began in 1982, sees Rambo confront his past and exact revenge on one final mission. Directed by Adrian Grunberg, Rambo: Last Blood will be released in UK cinemas on 19th September 2019.

Ad Astra Trailer

Above is the new trailer for Ad Astra. Starring Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, and Ruth Negga, the film is about an astronaut who is sent to the outer edges of the solar system. The film’s success may be the bellwether for the direction that Disney takes 20th Century Fox, after some box office failures. Ad Astra will hit UK screens on 18th September 2019.

Marriage Story Poster

The first poster and teaser trailers for Noah Baumbach‘s Marriage Story are here. The film is about the breakup of a marriage and the impact on family. Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver lead the cast, which includes Laura Dern, Alan Alda, and Ray Liotta. Marriage Story will be released in selected cinemas and on Netflix this Autumn.

Underwater Trailer

Underwater is a new disaster movie about a group of underwater researchers who must scramble to safety after an earthquake hits their subterranean station. The cast is lead by Kristen Stewart, and also includes T.J. Miller and Vincent Cassel. Underwater is scheduled for release in UK cinemas on 10th January 2020.

Stardust First Look

Here is the very first image from the upcoming Stardust. The film is about a young David Bowie, who is about to embark on his first road trip to America. Johnny Flynn stars as Bowie, and is joined by Jena Malone and Marc Maron. Stardust does not yet have a release date.

Film Review: Tale of Tales

Tale of Tales

Director Matteo Garrone sumptuously depicts gothic stories in Tale of Tales. Both amusing and horrifying, Garrone captures the essence of the genre.

In one of the kingdoms, the Queen is desperate for a child, and will sacrifice anything to achieve this. In another, a King becomes obsessed by a flea. In a third, a King is enchanted by a beautiful voice, unaware of where it comes from…

Tale of Tales features three individual strands, which director and co-writer Matteo Garrone cuts between in lengthy sequences. Each of the stories concentrate on a different aspect. Nonetheless, there is an overarching theme of desire which runs through the film.

Each of the stories has an element of mystery to them. It is difficult to predict the outcome, which makes Tale of Tales an engaging film. There is some slack on the film; some of the sequences could have been trimmed slightly to keep momentum. Nevertheless, the stories themselves are intriguing. Moreover, the film has a mesmeric quality thanks in large part to its visuals.

Art direction in Tale of Tales is superb. The use of colour is striking, producing engorged imagery. Cinematography is also great; the film is distinct in its appearance. Sound design in Tale of Tales in suitably effective.

Performances in Garrone’s film are good overall. Toby Jones delights as the King of Highhills. Shirley Henderson is also memorable as Imma. Vincent Cassel appears to be having fun in an outlandish role, and Salma Hayek delivers a commanding performance.

The stories exhibited do not offer the cautionary redemption of many fairy tales. But this is Tale of Tales‘ charm; the film shines a light on the grotesque, inviting the audience to view the unfolding spectacle. Tale of Tales is a must-see for gothic fans, and should also enchant casual viewers.

Film Review: Trance

Trance

With abundant twists and turns, Danny Boyle’s psychological thriller Trance is absorbing and unpredictable.

Auctioneer Simon is taught the protocol in case of a heist at the prestigious auction house where he works. When an attempt is made to steal a valuable painting, Simon follows the routine. A run in with the criminals leaves him unable to remember what happened, and leaves the criminals demanding a painting…

Trance is a thriller which makes the viewer increasingly question everything they see as the film progresses. Director Danny Boyle plays with the audience’s perception, and keeps them guessing over the authenticity of what is being projected. The narrative blurs the line between actuality and the imagined. Trance has a number of layers which makes it unpredictable. It is this aspect that grips the viewer’s attention.

It is difficult to decipher the characters in Boyle’s film. This confusion enters the plot within the first twenty minutes or so. Viewers are never quite sure whether to take scenes or perceived motivations at face value. As elements of the narrative shift frequently and rapidly, it is difficult to know who to root for, particularly given the criminal nature of the activities.

The cinematography in Trance is a highlight. Use of lighting, particularly artificial lighting, really sets the mood. A number of the effects used in the film are also great. Boyle’s film uses music to good effect. Set in London, the depiction of the city has a level of authenticity often missing from other London-centred movies.

Performances from James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel are excellent. Given the ambiguous nature of the characters in the film, the actors do well to render their performances believable.

If you are looking for a film to switch off to, then Trance will not be for you. For everyone else, it is certainly recommended.

Trailer Round-Up

While the Oscar-nominated films may already be out or due for imminent release, there are plenty of films still to look forward to this year…

Trance

Following 2010’s immensely tense 127 Hours, Danny Boyle returns with Trance. The film is a psychological thriller featuring an art auctioneer, a missing painting, a hypnotherapist and a criminal gang. Starring James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson, Trance is released in UK cinemas on 27th March 2013.

To The Wonder

As the above trailer exhibits, To The Wonder is teeming with the kind of beautiful images we have come to expect from director Terrence Malick. Starring Ben Affleck as a man torn between Olga Kurylenko and Rachel McAdams, To The Wonder is released on 22nd February 2013.

Sammy’s Great Escape

Sammy does not seem to have aged a day! Sammy’s Great Escape appears to be the sequel to A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures. The first film had a definite environmentalist angle, so it will be interesting to see the spin of this new film. Sammy’s Great Escape is in UK cinemas from 15th February 2013.

The Place Beyond The Pines

Ryan Gosling reunites with Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance in The Place Beyond The Pines. The crime drama features an all-star cast including Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper and Ray Liotta. The Place Beyond The Pines is released in UK cinemas on 12th April 2013.

Film Review: The Monk

The Monk is one of those films that fall into the guilty pleasure category. Director Dominik Moll provides an entertaining ninety minutes of filmmaking.

Left on the doorstop of a monastery as a baby, Ambrosio is raised by the monks. Taking his vows as an adult, Capucin Ambrosio is well respected by his brothers at the monastery and the surrounding village. A recurring dream begins to torment him, not long before a new arrival joins the order…

The Monk is an adaptation of Matthew Lewis’ classic eighteenth-century text. Moll’s film brings to life the medieval era, with the haunting setting and some wonderful costumes. The use of colour is excellent, helping to create some striking contrasts. The special effects are hokey, but this adds to the film’s charm.

The Monk features all the traits of a gothic melodrama. The threat of the supernatural, duality, a preoccupation with transgression and ecclesiastical fervour are all showcased in the film. Given these themes, the narrative offers few real surprises. Nonetheless, the film sweeps viewers up in its exotic world.

Vincent Cassel is perfectly cast as Ambrosio. The actor brings a weight to the film, much of The Monk‘s tension is dependant on his stoic performance. Joséphine Japy brings an innocent quality to Antonia which is entirely necessary for the role.

The Monk is a wonderful slice of escapism. Even those with just a passing interest in the gothic should check it out.

The Monk was screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2011.

A Dangerous Method Trailer

Here is the trailer for David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, an adaptation of Christopher Hampton’s play about the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. The film, starring Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley and Vincent Cassel, due for release in the UK on 10th February 2012.

Report: London Film Festival Press Conferences – Week 2

The King’s Speech

Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter and director Tom Hooper attended the press conference for The King’s Speech. Helena commented that she was unaware of the extent of George VI’s speech impediment before coming to the project. She suggests that the film shows a “fresh angle on a very famous period of history, for us, the abdication. The abdication came very close to a proper crisis in the monarchy. So the pressure on him and, and the personal crisis – that was totally new to me”.

Helena also joked that she took the part so she indulge in being the queen. She states; “I’ve played a few queens lately and they are really enjoyable. I just do queens”. Geoffrey remarked that; “I’ve always had an intriguing, fascinating obsession with the whole dynasty of British royalty back a millennia and a bit… The House of Windsor, which is still with us, for me is the first sort of reality TV show”.

Colin mentioned that he had to do a lot of the research, even though it was the third time he had played someone with a stammer. He explained: “As anyone who has experienced it would probably have been able to tell me, it’s not going to be the same for everybody, it won’t feel the same. What you’re going every time, of course is, what you’re really playing is not stammering. That’s really what you’ve got to worry about, because that’s what the person is going through”.

Read the I Heart The Talkies review of The King’s Speech

Black Swan

The Black Swan press conference was attended by director Darren Aranofsky, producer Scott Franklin and stars Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel. Darren Aronofsky commented that it was difficult to penetrate the ballet world at the beginning of the project. He commented: “It took a very, very long time. And slowly but surely we met a few dancers that were interested in sharing their stories, and we did a lot of research”.

Darren explained that it was difficult to get parties interested in making Black Swan, despite his success with The Wrestler. “Because we had so little money” he states, “every single day was really difficult. There was never any easy days. Every day was like “Oh my gosh, we have to do all that today?””.

Vincent Cassel expressed that it was easy working with Natalie Portman. He explains; “She was very focused on the dancing, in a way – I have to say – that I was impressed with the amount of work that she put into the physical transformation”. Mila echoed these sentiments, saying Natalie was “fantastic to work with”.

Read the I Heart The Talkies review of Black Swan

Film Review: Black Swan

Psychological thriller Black Swan is an aural and visual feast. Despite the tension generated, the film is let down by the lack of depth, thematically speaking.

Ballet dancer Nina hopes to get the lead role in a new production of Swan Lake. She faces competition from new dancer Lilly, as well as the reservations of director Thomas. As she gets deeper into character, Nina starts to lose control…

Black Swan is at times a psychological thriller and at times a horror movie. Director Darren Aronofsky plays with audience perception; the state of Nina’s mind remains ambiguous, and we can never entirely trust what we are shown. Black Swan stops at this, however. There is no deeper exploration into Nina’s madness (real or perceived), and the overriding theme is simply the juxtaposing of opposites.

Black Swan is preoccupied with the idea of doubles. The production has the two versions of the swan; the white and black. Similarly, Nina and Lilly are rivals, but are incredibly similar in terms of looks. The primary focus of the film seems to be exhibiting striking contrast between light and dark, and what happens when these two adversaries collide.

Although this thematic preoccupation isn’t particularly groundbreaking, the film nevertheless is successful in generating a reaction from its audience. Black Swan is effective in provoking tension, and some of the graphic imagery can only be described as abject.

Aronofsky’s direction is flawless. Particularly striking is his use of hand-held camera in the dance scenes. Weaving through the dancers on stage, viewers are catapulted right into the action. The choreography is excellent, and coupled with the fluid camera the film parades a real sense of movement.

Black Swan promotes a highly stylised aesthetic. Some of the costumes are amazing, and the film exhibits a fantastic use of colour. For example, the dance rehearsal scenes are strikingly contrasted by the club scene; naturalistic colour and the emphasis on black and white are replaced by the vibrant flashing lights of the dance floor. Clint Mansell’s score combines well with the music from Swan Lake to accentuate the tension perfectly.

Natalie Portman gives a solid performance as Nina. Her disposition contrasts effectively with Mila Kunis’ Lilly. Vincent Cassel is well cast as Thomas, appearing sleazy but motivated in his work. Barbara Hershey is excellent as Nina’s controlling mother, while casting Winona Ryder as aging prima ballerina Beth was a stroke of genius.

Although the film looks and sounds fantastic, it is let down by a lack of sophistication in the narrative. Nevertheless, Black Swan is one of the most memorable films of the year.

Black Swan is being screened at the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival in October 2010.