As summer fades into autumn you’d be forgiven for thinking standards could slip. Worry not, whilst the budgets get smaller and explosions less frequent the quality doesn’t drop one bit.
ANNA KARENINA, based on Leo Tolstoy’s classic serial novel, starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson kicked off the month with class and distinction. Our own Jazmine described it as “… fabulous. Charming, engaging, entertaining, it comfortably fits its 2 hours 10 minutes running time. Every scene is key and packed to the brim with talent. Superb!”
Cinema audiences got another glimpse at MAN OF STEEL hero Henry Cavill in COLD LIGHT OF DAY. From director Mabrouk El Mechri (JCVD), with Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver on board, the film sees Cavill on the trace of a briefcase which is needed to save his family. Sound exciting? Well, our man Joe didn’t think so saying “THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY’s cardinal sin is that it’s so boring.”
RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION continued the series box office success taking over $200million worldwide off an estimated $65million budget. Not bad for a series that has been written off by critics since it debuted in 2002. Moving as far away from Paul W.S. Anderson is Paul Thomas Anderson’s THE MASTER. Starring Joacquin Phoenix as an ex-US Navy Officer who, ravaged by alcohol and violence, is taken under Lancaster Dodd’s (Philip Seymour Hoffman) wing, it is a fascinating character driven drama with Phoenix giving a “shocking performance… absolutely mesmerizing to watch”. PTA’s sixth film is also his sixth masterpiece.
Following 1995s ill-judged Stallone starring debacle DREDD arrived free of expectation – unless not being shit counts. Starring Karl Urban as the titular Judge it forced 3D on it’s audience, but satisfied those loyal to 2000AD’s source material. Indeed our own Joe feels it is “… a must see for any fan. This is no holds barred action and gore”.
Keeping with the theme of Law and Order, though more reality based, is END OF WATCH, David Ayer’s LA-based Cop drama starring Michael Pena and Jake Gyllenhaal. The generic synopsis of two cops being chased by a drug cartel hides the films strengths emphasised by Fordy’s feel that END OF WATCH is ” tender and hard hitting, original yet familiar – all of which can be summarized as a sublime piece of filmmaking.”
Rounding off September are two movies that couldn’t be more different in tone; the serious, time-travelling drama LOOPER and animated (attempted) laugh-fest HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA. Man of the moment Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a LOOPER – someone who kills those sent from thirty years in the future – faced with killing his future self, who hesitates; the resultant consequences change his world forever. Critical reaction lathered us with adjectives and superlatives to describe its brilliance with our man Dan amongst them describing it as “inventive, invigorating and inspired, a film that deserves to be talked about and discussed… modern-day classic.” The same can’t be said for HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA which THN’s Matt thought was “a slow starting, hit and miss affair with a complete lack of imagination.”
Following the hideous (and hideously successful) ALICE IN WONDERLAND Tim Burton was given carte blanche for his next Disney project, previously released short FRANKENWEENIE. Stretched to feature length Dan had some reservations but agreed it expanded the “original world immensely and I’m positive audiences will enjoy”. TAKEN 2, on the other hand, was universally panned on release and succeeded only in taking a load of money. THN’s verdict summed the film up as “a seriously flawed follow-up”; news of a TAKEN 3 soon followed.
Mid-October saw Ben Affleck’s directorial career excel further with ARGO. “A masterpiece through and through, ARGO is a film layered with great performances, confident and original directorial flourishesand above all, a script that is incredibly interesting, highly engaging, surprisingly funny, and chock full of escalating, edge of your seat tension!” Expect this to feature heavily come awards season, which probably won’t be the case for Martin McDonagh’s SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS. Ironically reviewed by our own Martin McDonagh it may be “an original comedy, bolstered by an elite group of actors, who clearly dedicate themselves to their respective roles” but the flouting of political correctness meant the brilliance was missed by many.
Heading into All Hallow’s Eve the obligatory horror film made an appearance in the form of SINISTER. From the producers of INSIDIOUS and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY it intrigued some, and made others run a mile, but THN are fans with the films “accelerating pace, natural dialogue and relatable characters engage the audience initially, before the narrative kicks in to overdrive, and viciously thrusts you into a world of metaphorical pain and anguish.” Not one for the kids then.
Rounding off the month is a detective re-imagined and a spy reinvented. ALEX CROSS brought James Patterson’s most famous creation to the screen for a third time with Tyler Perry taking the lead and an unrecognisable Matthew Fox playing antagonist. Rob Cohen’s film faltered horribly, an accusation that can’t be levelled at Sam Mendes homage to 50 years of Bond, SKYFALL. Sending Bond aficionado’s into a frenzy with “the smartest script to date and masterful direction of Sam Mendes, SKYFALL proves that even after 23 films, Bond is still relevant”. If that’s not a way to end part 5, I don’t know what is.
Following its premiere at Sundance, and Fox Searchlight’s subsequent purchase of distribution rights, THE SESSIONS wowed audiences during its limited release. Looking at the true story of Mark O’Brien’s attempts to lose his virginity before Polio takes his life it left Matt to describe it’s qualities as “In a word: brilliant.”.
Box Office Round-Up
SKYFALL dominates the September and October top 5, but there are a couple of surprises:
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA $143,826,412
TAKEN 2 $137,700,304
Keep it THN for the final part of our 2012 Rundown tomorrow and check out the other months here.