Friday, June 28, 2013

Spoiler Guys Podcast: World War Z

Have you watched Brad Pitt peg it from the zombie apocalypse?

If so, then you can inject the latest dose (ha!) of the Spoiler Guys over on iTunes, or via Soundcloud below:

You can also read my review HERE, and my interview with director Marc Forster HERE.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

World War Z

When the end of the world is nigh, it’s always a good sign when your audience needs to share a nervous laugh.

Such was the case at my screening of WorldWar Z; the Brad Pitt vs. zombie apocalypse that is set to ravage screens across the globe. It was during one of the quiet, tautly tense moments that director Marc Forster creates so well, when someone in the audience tipped over a glass and shrieks of shock rippled through the crowd, followed by communal sheepish laughter.

It’s striking in film of such CGI-slathered, catastrophic spectacle that Forster and his producer/star Pitt are able to carve out moments of spooky calm. And this balance, of epic and intimate thrills creates some nightmarishly good moments of cinema.

The film is being spruiked far more as a ‘global pandemic’ drama than zombie thriller (one wonders what marketing stats drove that decision), so allow me to summarise it thusly: Pitt plays adoring father and recently decommissioned United Nations investigator Gerry Lane, a man who we glean has been in some pretty hairy situations around the world. So crucially hairy in fact, that he and his family are among the precious few airlifted to safety once the pandemic hits, in order for Gerry to be put straight into action figuring out what in zombie hell is going on.

Gerry’s investigation takes him to North Korea, Israel and, after a particularly horrific plane ride – it turns out zombies totally trump snakes on a plane - to a World Health Organisation site in Wales. Meanwhile, the global population is succumbing to the 12-second epileptic seizure-esque transformation into snarling, head-butting, kamikaze-rabid zombies. The head-butting is shown to particularly creepy effect; is it just me or is the idea of someone repeatedly slamming their noggin into a wall a brutally efficient way of evincing monstrosity?

Say what you will about the film’s budget blow out or the complete rewrite artistic license taken with Max Brooks’ oral history novel, World War Z makes for a thrilling trip to the cinema. Sure, the frequent status updates on Gerry’s family feel a little hokey, and despite the film’s stylistic verisimilitude, the decision to keep the action more family-friendly means World War Z never quite achieves the nihilistic heights of the analogous Children of Men. But Pitt bridges the divide commendably well. Gerry’s phone calls to his stoic wife (Mireille Enos) are as emotionally charged as his demeanor is cool, calm and collected under fire. It’s a potent combination - the family man and the soldier - and Pitt’s effortless command of the screen is in full effect.

So too are the skills of director Marc Forster: the filmmaking chameleon who has brought us the eclectic array of titles including Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland, Stranger than Fiction and Quantum of Solace. His vision for a ‘tsunami of zombies’ is terrifying to behold – especially in 3D – though it is his deftness at weaving the aforementioned quiet moments of tension that elevates World War Z above the mire of mindless CGI to craft scenes that leave you white-knuckling the edge of your seat. It’s also interesting the see Forster include brief glimpses of artworks and the US Constitution being salvaged; the broader ramifications of apocalypse have a chance to hit home in the face of such detail.

Six years in the making, World War Z might have almost missed the boat on the cultural zombie craze, but it does deliver a highly entertaining dose of big screen carnage, all set to a suitably portentous soundtrack by Muse. Throw Brad Pitt’s flowing locks into the mix and the apocalypse has never looked so good.

Australian release date: 20 June 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Spoiler Guys Podcast: Live at the Sydney Film Festival

Big thanks to everyone who came along to our Spoiler Guys Live recording at the Sydney Film Festval Hub!

We had a lot of fun discussing Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. I for one can't wait til Marc and Giles have caught up with Before Midnight so we can reunite with Jesse and Celine before too long.

In the meantime though, please head to iTunes to download the podcast, or catchup on Soundcloud:

Oh and as we had a live audience, we did play some video clips from the films, so if you want to watch while you listen, then please head to the Spoiler Guys website.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

TheVine: Mud

Matthew McConaughey makes mud look good.
That’s no real surprise, though the amount of time he takes to get shirtless in Mud may be a source of disappointment for fans of his six-pack. Instead McConaughey focuses on flexing his acting muscles in an impressively emotive performance as the titular mystery man hiding out on an island in the Mississippi.
Writer-director Jeff Nichols crafts a charming love letter to Huckleberry Finn with his modern day fable of life on the river. Told through the eyes of 14 year-old Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and his comically blunt, buck-toothed best friend Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), this boys’ own adventure begins when they lay claim to the ultimate tree house: a boat wedged in amongst the canopy after a flood. But when it turns out Mud has already taken up residence, the boys’ curiosity wins out over their wariness. Who is this tattooed, cigarette-chomping curio with a crucifix carved into the soles of his boots?
Hiding out from bounty hunters and separated from his love Juniper (a bruised and battered Reese Witherspoon) Mud’s relationship with Ellis echoes another beloved novel, Great Expectations, and the transactional to emotional bond that develops between Pip and the fugitive Magwitch. And like Pip, Ellis’ home life ain’t so grand; his parents (Sarah Paulson and Ray McKinnon) are breaking up, threatening his humble but idyllic life on the river, and breaking his quietly romantic spirit.
“You can’t trust love, Ellis,” his father warns, but that’s precisely what Ellis sets his heart on as he and Neckbone attempt to reunite Mud and Juniper.
After fraying our psyches with his nerve shattering sophomore effort Take Shelter, the warmth and guileless adventure Nichols creates on screen comes as a blessed relief. Which is not to say the film is without tension – though, if anything, it’s a little too blatantly foreshadowed – but Nichols wins you over with the richness of story and characters, to capture more than a mere tribute to Twain and Dickens: this has all the makings of a modern classic.
Shot on 35mm, the widescreen tableaux are gorgeously cinematic. The artfulness with which Nichols renders nature is enough to give you Tree of Life flashbacks, which are helped along by Sheridan’s presence in both films. And although McConaughey is receiving well-deserved accolades, Sheridan is the real discovery in Mud; his gentle earnestness and emotional nuance is as impressive as it is understated. Lofland too proves himself a pitch-perfect sidekick, and the pair effortlessly rival those benchmark performances in Stand By Me.
Nichols finds similar success with his supporting cast. Paulson and McKinnon present the conflicted angst of parents wanting to protect their son from an inevitable separation, while across the river, Sam Shepard brings his characteristic gravitas to the role of a reclusive neighbor. Witherspoon creates a convincing blue-collar Helen of Troy, and Nichols regular Michael Shannon brings an intriguing extra dimension to Neckbone’s life as his roustabout uncle.
It’s a crying shame most fourteen year olds wouldn’t bother with this film, for its portrayal of family and friendship is handled with such a deft touch that a few important truths have a chance to hit home. Instead, it’ll be with a sense of nostalgia that older audiences sink into Mud; an experience that will surely leave its mark.

Published on TheVine
Australian release date: 13 June 2013 (limited)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sydney Film Festival Closing Night 2013

Sunday night saw the Sydney Film Festival celebrate the end of its 60th year by bestowing the $60,000 Sydney Film Prize to Nicholas Windig Refn's Only God Forgives. This is the second win for Refn, who won the Official Competition back in 2009 with Bronson

I cannot wait to talk more about Only God Forgives; good lord what a spectacular looking, ghastly film! I think I'm still reeling. 

The other Sydney Film Festival winners for 2013:
FOXTEL Australian Documentary Prize at Sydney Film Festival 2013 awards $10,000 to Buckskin, directed by Dylan McDonald.
Dendy Award winner for Best Live Action Short is Perception, directed by Miranda Nation and produced by Lyn Norfor.

Rouben Mamoulian Award winner, sponsored by Dendy Cinemas: Damien Lyons, director of Record.
Yoram Gross Animation Award: Butterflies, directed by Isabel Peppard, produced by Warwick Burton.

I was again delighted to host the awards ceremony, this time joined by my fellow Spoiler Guy Giles Hardie. Here are some snaps from the night - see if you can pick the designer of my gorgeous orange dress: Gary Begini

Friday, June 14, 2013

Spoiler Guys Live at Sydney Film Festival Hub

Tonight the Spoiler Guys will be reviewing LIVE at the Sydney Film Festival Hub. We wanted to pick a film associated with this year's festival, and after asking listeners to vote in our poll we've landed on memory lane with Jesse and Celine.

If you're in Sydney, please come along to the Lower Town Hall at 6:30pm (RSVP on Facebook), or you can join us on Twitter and stay tuned for the podcast.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Spoiler Guys Podcast: The Hangover Part III

Download the latest Spoiler Guys episode to:

a) Hear which film will we be reviewing in our upcoming LIVE recording this Friday 14th June, 6:30pm at the Sydney Film Festival Hub

b) Hear how Marc managed to pay to see Hangover 3 and miss the funniest scene.

c) Hear us ponder just how violent a hangover might actually make this film funny (excepting Melissa McCarthy - she's awesome).

Head over to iTunes or join the 56,000 odd streaming via Soundcloud (craziness!):

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Limelight Magazine: Farewell, My Queen

Upstairs/downstairs costume dramas are a dime a dozen these days, but be sure to save some intrigue for Farewell, My Queen (Les Adieux à la Reine). This sumptuous yet grittily grounded drama sweeps audiences back into the Court of Versailles in 1789. Our guide is Sidonie Laborde (Léa Seydoux), the Queen’s (Diane Kruger) reader and fiercely loyal subject. We follow as she stomps, creeps, sleeps and falls within the gilded hallways, while outside the gates revolution is brewing.

Director Benoît Jacquot brings Chantal Thomas’s bestselling novel to stunning life. Yes, the production design and costuming are impeccable, but it is the life of Versailles that Jacquot captures: all the petty politics, positioning and preening. And that is simply a glorious sight to see.

We all know how the saga ends, so it is a testament to the screenplay and Seydoux’s performance that, from her angle, the story feels
so thrillingly immediate. Kruger impresses in her majestic turn as Marie-Antoinette; she effortlessly commands the screen in what is surely a career highlight. Even where the film begins to pull at bodices — in a love triangle of sorts between the Queen, Sidonie and La duchesse Gabrielle de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen) — Kruger’s blistering emotion captivates, and, more importantly, convinces.

4 Stars
Australian release date: 6 June 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Spoiler Guys Podcast: The Great Gatsby

I'm late to the party again! But by now I'm sure that means most have you have decided for yourselves if Baz Luhrmann's Gatsby is indeed great, so you can waste no time at all in heading over to iTunes to download our podcast, or stream via Soundcloud below:

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