If you think of Crazy Rich Asians as My Big Fat Chinese Wedding you sort of get the picture. Take a handful of Chinese ‘deep’ cultural values of ‘Tradition’ and ‘Family’ and ‘Honour’ and juxtapose these with the American ‘shallow’ belief in ‘Follow Your Passion’; then add insane amounts of money, old and new, and you have the basis for the bananas plot.
Annie (Rose Byrne) lives with her boyfriend Duncan (Chris O’Dowd) and they find themselves in a deep rut, something she sort of know but lacks the chutzpah to do anything about, and something he seems too self-obsessed to realise. Actually, Duncan is obsessed with someone else: Tucker Crowe, an obscure American rocker who disappeared in the middle of a gig sometime in the 90s.
Mildred Hayes’ teenage daughter was recently raped and murdered in the small town of Ebbing, Missouri. She now brings up her son alone and becomes frustrated at the local police department’s lack of progress into the investigation of her daughter’s brutal death. Spotting a trio of unused roadside billboards on a quiet road in the town, she hits on the idea of renting them and keeping the case in the public eye by using advertisements to accuse local chief of police chief of neglecting the investigation.
This comedy is as black as the ace of spades, with Beria issuing detailed orders about the manner of the executions being carried out, and with an understandable air of paranoia amongst the scheming Politburo plotters, any of whom was at risk of being denounced and shipped off to Siberia or worse. The film has not gone down well in Russia, where the Ministry Of Culture has apparently considered banning it, an act worthy of Stalin himself.
Sally Potter has a history of making arty films dating back to her best-known work Orlando (1992), though she made her first super 8 film at the age of just fourteen. The Party is a low budget, black and white affair shot in a fortnight and restricted to just seven characters. The film works because Sally Potter’s script has a keen eye for middle class hypocrisy and pretentiousness, the sharp lines delivered by a classy cast.
When Jimmy is made redundant from his tunnelling job and needs money quickly to hire a lawyer to help him with a custody dispute over his young daughter Sadie, he comes up with a scheme to rob the cash-rich vault of the nearby Nascar racing track where he has been working. To access the safe they need the skills of Joe Bang (played by Daniel Craig), who is currently incarcerated in the local prison, who brings into the gang his redneck brothers, who are no criminal masterminds.
Catrin Cole (played by Gemma Arterton) appears married to a handsome but struggling artist/painter Ellis Cole (Jack Huston), and against his wishes decides to get a job in order to shore up the couple’s frail finances. She is hired as a writer to help the established writing team. Catrin is sent to investigate a potentially stirring tale of a pair of twin sisters who take their drink father’s boat to Dunkirk to help in the rescue, and concludes that, despite some serious issues, the material may make a flagship propaganda film.
This is the first feature from actor Jordan Peele, who both wrote and directed it. His acting career has veered between comedy and more serious fare, such as his role in the hard-boiled TV series Fargo. For his debut movie he has chosen horror as the genre, laced with just a touch of comedy to relieve the tension. Overall this is a terrific film, certainly one of the best, and most thoughtful, horror films to appear in the last few years.
A movie about cultures colliding, midlife crises, flailing careers, fear, hope, and love with Tom Hanks heading the cast – sounds like a winner. Unfortunately the major themes get burried deep under the Arabian sand in this mostly bland and uninspired movie.
Ricky Baker gets sent off to live on a farm as his last chance before being sent to juvie prison. New Zealand Child Services take him to live with new foster parents – ‘aunty’ Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and ‘uncle’ Hector (Sam Neill); Bella is the patient one with boundless love for the little boy and Hec is the grumpy one who hates the world and everyone in it. Just as it appears Ricky may sort of be settling in, things go wrong and Hec and Ricky end up on the run together through the New Zealand wilderness…