When a picture like Everest comes to the screen with “must-see-in-IMAX” aplomb and yet you know the ultimate demise and end of the characters and film, it makes it harder to swallow without a pang of sadness. The sheer intensity of the film Everest lies not in the grandeur of the spectacle being held, but in the way director Balthasar Kormåkur (The Deep) delves headfirst into the emotional core of the characters. Obviously, it’s to give the audience the most visceral effect when the storm and drama hits, but at its heart, it turns the true story/adventure film plotline on its head and becomes a non-typical disaster movie in its own right. Watching the entire group being slowly conquered by Mother Nature amidst their own back stories and life’s drama angles connects the audience to them immediately. Add to that a cast of intense actors like Josh Brolin, Keira Knightley, Jake Gyllenhaal and Robin Wright, and it becomes easy to identify with them on an even higher human level. You will leave feeling adrenalised and completely heartbroken, as well. I can’t even imagine what the feeling must be like from an IMAX point-of-view. Not for the faint of heart. ###-1/2
Next up comes comes yet another film in the Tween/Teen franchise category. You can’t stop the damn ball from rolling with these YA fan-fiction series turned cinema adaptations, so in just a year’s time comes the follow-up to Maze Runner, this time aptly titled…uh…The Scorch Trials, here in CAT, Las Pruebas. I can say that at least the film jumps into the action right off the bat. It’s a bit too bad that the action is lost to the viewer if they haven’t read or followed the book/film series already, but it’s a tad fun, at least. The premise is textbook. After escaping from the maze drama after the last film (book), protag Thomas (Dylan O’Brien of MTV’s Teen Wolf fame) lets curiosity get the better of him and discovers that nothing is at it seems in their protective shelter facility run by Mr. Janson. Throw in the leader of the malicious foes found in WCKD, abbrev. for the Killzone Experiment Dept. and you have a recipe for adventure. I will say, Patricia Clarkson always makes for an interesting bad lady. A dramatic escape by Thomas and his mates, the Gladers, leads to a Wizard of Oz on crack-like adventure with life-zapped zombies riddled with a virus, the infection and loss of one of the Gladers, deadly weather attacks, and basic running and hiding and jumping. All of this to arrive to safety…and prepare for more fighting. Sigh. What’s interesting to note is that while some jumps and pumps will certainly enliven certain audience members, it’s very far-fetched to believe most any teenager of this generation would even have the get-up-and-go and wherewithal to know how to survive in these conditions. What we have is a bit of a lame sequel here and obviously we’re getting another instalment soon. Again…sigh. ##-1/2
Anthony Hopkins is less seen these days, so when one of his movies comes across the screen, I take notice. What he did this piece besides a small paycheque to add to his retirement fund is a wee bit beyond me, but still he pulls it off with ease and simplicity…always a mark of a great actor. The film is Kidnapping Mr. Heineken, a rather silly albeit telling title for a film. The theatrical poster of the film certainly makes one think they’re in for a crime-ridden, historical shoot-em-up, and it slightly serves that purpose. But on the other hand, why are all these Australian and British actors portraying a group of Dutch thieves and kidnappers? Does Holland not have an acting community? That fact truly annoys me as a wannabe purist. When Ben Affleck played a Mexican in Argo, I wanted to vomit. Here, the mixture of all these actors not even attempting to feign a Dutch accent (nor Hopkins) is just a thing of sadness. It’s like Kevin Costner and his annoying American drawl in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves with a mostly British cast. Just awkward and convoluted. That said, the film is interesting in its factual telling of the kidnapping of beer magnate, tycoon and businessman Freddy Heineken, who passed just over a decade ago. The group of thugs however are simple (even family) men and have no idea what they are doing when they strike out with their kidnapping. As it turns out, they are later successful with the taking of the highest paid ransom at the time (about 16 million euros) but one-by-one succumb to the long arm of the law. This is a TV film that got wide distribution due to its cast but was probably best left alone after the 2011 film De Heineken ontvoering with Rutger Hauer had already told this story better. ##
Finally today, a little film that hit some film fest and received some indie distribution and this week has hit our shores. The film Eden is actually a French production and tells the story of Paul, a young lad in mid-Nineties Paris who is forging a career as a DJ while living at mum’s and hoping his American girlfriend will forgo NYC and stay in Paris. In all honesty, it’s a loose but quasi-true story of the popular rise of French house (the French Touch sound) which was heavily inspired by the garage house scene of early 90s NYC. It’s also a loose telling of how Daft Punk got started and the film received some much needed exposure when Daft Punk sold the rights to three of their earliest hits for the minimum allowance of just over 3500 bucks a song, inspiring other big name acts like Frankie Knuckles (R.I.P.) and Joe Smooth to do the same. The film was actually written and shot over three years ago but obtaining affordable song rights delayed its release. Any house music purist will see through the gritty drama and find some nice, groovy solace in this rise-and-fall story. ###
See you lovely people in a few days! Have a great one.