TL;DR This Week In Cinema; Eurovision Sans Music
Welcome to Beat's weekly rundown of what's hot in the coming seven days of cinematic releases.
This week, some of cinema's most revered elders return to the screen, alongside new Australian content, wartime propaganda and hot, juicy provocation.
With three of the five releases this week being Eurocentric, this could be an excellent opportunity to sneak some research for your next big overseas trip into your cinema experience (especially if you're of the British persuasion, as I am).
This goes doubly for those travelling solo, as one of our own homegrown talents has prepped a very special 'what-not-to-do' guide for the single backpacker...
In my mind, "Berlin Syndrome" should relate to a compulsion to party for three days straight. Not so in the mind of beloved Aussie director Cate Shortland.
The latest thriller from the director of Lore and Somersault pits listless backpacker Clare (Teresa Palmer) against German teacher Andy (Max Riemelt) who first seduces her, then holds her hostage. Naturally, Shortland’s langorous lensing has drawn critical praise, but honestly, it’s a tiring approach to a tiresome narrative.
Much as I’m grateful for Shortland’s successes (all power to Aussie directors, especially women), this genre exercise’s relentless grey, drained urban-decay aesthetic and anemic lead fail to captivate. The title robs the setup of tension, as does the immediately discomfiting Andy. How can Clare not see the dude’s a creeper from moment one?
There’s some remarkably suspenseful and violent sequences that make the draaaaagging 116min runtime bearable, but those who don’t already go in for Shortland’s style or ‘arthouse’ posturing have the unlocked cinema door available to them.
tl;dr Man, Disney went real hardcore on this remake.
GOING IN STYLE
Watching Michael Caine, Alan Arkin and Gordon Freeman debate the outcomes of The Bachelor is something I could get behind, even on a weekly basis. Watching them rob a bank? I'd say 'heck yes, obviously' if it weren't for the fact that this remake of a 1979 fish-out-of-water comedy is directed by Zach Braff.
There's a serious cognitive dissonance involved with any film that involves average-joe America ripping off the big banks. Firstly, stealing all the cash makes you the same kind of villain the bankers are, and the act doesn't hurt the banks as much as it hurts the banks' customers. But I digress - the more important point is that this film about a bunch of regular ol' mates bucking the system itself cost an estimated $25mil to make. That money doesn't come from thin air - it's a part of the system it purports to reject.
So in essence, rebelling against any system within the rules of that system is an excellent way of reinforcing its values, rather than demolishing them. And apparently it's not that funny anyway so who really gives a toss.
tl;dr Like RED but with less gunfights and no Helen Mirren. Booooooo.
Awwwww shit, dawg. This is my joint. You best believe I’m pumped as heck for this viciously allegorical, blackly comic, critically acclaimed cannibal nightmare. Whew, that sentence made me feel all tingly.
French auteur Julia Ducournau fires on all cylinders in her first feature, a bold and brutal coming-of-age tale following vegetarian Justine (Garance Marillier) as she joins a prestigious veterinary college. After a vicious hazing ritual, Justine uncovers pressing urges she's never felt before, and they all revolve around flesh.
Every critic that lasted the screening loved it, and it's yet another entry into the long list of Cannes submissions that have made queasy cinemagoers faint. Get it while it's warm and wriggling.
tl;dr Julia living deliciously errday
Picture The Breakfast Club at the back of a wedding. Except they're massive losers and you're stuck with them for two hours. Don't get me wrong, I barrack for the underdog as much as the next guy, but the underdog needs to be well written.
Unfortunately for Anna Kendrick, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson and (should-know-better-by-now) Stephen Merchant, that seems not to be the case for Table 19, a 'dramedy' that forces its audience to sit through the same gaudy, uninteresting wedding ceremony in which its heroes are dumped.
In the trailer, the unlikely ensemble tire of proceedings and wander into the woods, at which point my screenwriting mind begs for a) a Cabin In The Woods situation, b) so many bears, or c) a return to the wedding resulting in its complete and total demolition. But alas, I did not write this - the weedy brother from Transparent (Jay Duplass) and his brother (Mark Duplass) did.
tl;dr Look, the folks in the back row have done worse in the past...
Seriously? Another fucking WWII film? Another Dunkirk movie this year?! We're still feeling the impacts of the war-to-end-all-wars today, and nowhere more so than in our cinemas. Their Finest opts for the Oscarbait Argo route of blending the genres of war history, biography and Hollywood self-love. My own grandmother survived the London Blitz, and I still have no desire to see this film.
Lone Scherfig (An Education) directs YA stars Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin alongside the eminent Bill Nighy, all of whom are involved in a British Ministry of Information effort to paint a flattering picture of the Dunkirk evacuation. As London is pounded with bombs during the infamous Blitz, their production seeks to boost the crippled morale of the London populace.
While these young idealists advise us to keep calm and carry on, their producers seem oblivious to the context in which Their Finest is released - just as Britain prepares its messy divorce from its 1940 allies. Then again, should one be surprised at their judgement, considering they hired a screenwriter (Gaby Chiappe) whose main iMDB credit is Eastenders?
tl;dr Keep calm and carry on?
And now for THE VERDICT – maybe you only get to see one of these flicks on the big screen, and you don’t wanna waste that night out. So, drum roll please…
If you wanna back the locals this week, I can't really recommend Berlin Syndrome (especially not for a date flick). Instead, I'm feeling peckish, and I'm told the sweetbreads really can't be passed up. Give in to the urges, and order it bloody - my pick for the week is unquestionably Raw.
Until next week!