Alejandro Amenabar, the acclaimed Chilean-Spanish director, shot to fame with the blockbuster, Oscar-winning film The Others, though my personal favourite of his is Abre Los Ojos. After then directing the beautiful Oscar and Goya-winning film The Sea Inside and then crafting the most expensive Spanish-produced film ever, Agora, Amenabar fell in love, took some time off and then got back to work to create his latest film, the just-released Regression. Let it be said that I am a huge fan of forensic file cases and even series at times, mostly The X-Files to be honest. Watching this film at the screening last week, I thought at one point ‘Why is this like a long-ass (and slightly boring) episode of the Files or CSI, even?’ The simple plot is a detective (Ethan Hawke as Bruce Kenner) investigating the case of a simpleton who admits to sexually abusing his 17-year old daughter played by Emma Watson even though all signs point to other suspicions, on the Satanic side of things, in 1990 Minnesota. All the actors are fine in their roles but seemingly misplaced in a way. I’d like to say that they had fun with this material, but from his past work in chilly thrillers and after five years, Amenabar’s latest feels forced, though it’s nice to see the Based On True Events tag as the movie began. I remember these Satanic fears sweeping through the States when I was a child. I was bloody terrified as my parents loved to scare the fear of God in me, anyway. As I watched the actors (shout out to David Thewlis who is always so oddly yet perfectly-placed as a character actor) interplay their scenes I felt like I was watching a film that wasn’t fully fleshed-out before production began, though kudos to anyone who picks up on The Exorcist nod the director throws in a couple of times. That creepy face shot…ufff. In the US, the film was pulled from the summer schedule and instead put off until further notice. That smells fishy to me, but watching Hermione Granger play a variation on a theme she did in The Bling Ring does make it seem a tad fun. The jury’s still out on this one, I’m afraid. ###
Now onto yet another HitMan media production. The new Hitman:Agent 47 and yes, it is based on the video game series, really had a lot to work with…and though the fight sequences are engaging…what’s going on here? Following the game premise, we’re dealing with bioengineered assassins who are emotionless and the plot revolves around them searching for the creator of these revolutionary fighting machines and protection of his now adult, abandoned daughter, Katia (Hannah Ware). She has spent her life searching for details that would lead to her finding her dad, but when a man played by Zachary Quinto shows up claiming his presence is only there to protect her from an agent named only 47, all hell breaks loose. Let is be said that the film was to be part of Paul Walker’s filmography, as he was cast in the lead role only to be replaced after his death by Rupert Friend as 47. It’s not as if this film is a sequel to the 2007 Hitman film starring Timothy Elephant in the lead role. No, instead it’s a reboot and an unnecessary one, frankly. Obviously the success of the video games spurns these types of mediocre films, and though again I restate the fun I found with some of the chase and fight scenes slickly thrown in for good measure, that hardly makes for a great film, eh! Pass. ##
Lastly today, the latest piece starring Viggo Mortensen. A French production, Far from Men (Loin des Hommes) finds actor/writer/musician Mortensen playing Daru, a childless widower who teaches in a small school in mid-50s war-struggled Algeria. The cinematography of this film is absolutely stunning and certainly plays its own role in the film. When he is thrust with the responsibility of taking Mohamed (Reda Kateb) to the command post of the army as he is a prisoner after killing his cousin. What happens after changes everything for the two men, as they are forced to leave the school in a flight for their lives after being attacked. One drama after the other ensnares the two characters until they are captured by Algerian fighters and again, the story takes a different turn. The story itself is based on the novella series Kingdom and Exile by French Algerian author extraordinaire Albert Camus and like his existential work, it is hard not to ruminate on how this story from 60 years ago still has so much relevance now. The film, like the book, is truly moving even if sometimes a bit slow, and the music by Nick Cave is superb. There is something going on with Mortensen and his work over recent years diving into darker material and using his language skills that is fresh and innovative. Let it be known that this is a moving piece. ####
Have a great week, lovelies. Make it count!