FlixChatter Review: Last Night In Soho (2021)

lastnightinsoho-poster

Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Terence Stamp, Diana Rigg

Known for stylish, action-comedic films, British director Edgar Wright has added another bullet point to his ever versatile and growing oeuvre. This time, it’s the psychological horror/thriller genre with his latest film, Last Night in Soho. Though one might argue that 2004’s Shaun of the Dead fills that part of his resume, Last Night in Soho has an air of seriousness and intrigue that harkens back to early Polanski and Nicholas Roeg, two of the most genre-defying auteurs of their time, thus making this somewhat new territory.

lastnightinsoho-thomasin

Last Night in Soho focuses on young timid student Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie), who has psychic abilities. Having lost her mother early in life, she is able to “see” her at times. Living with her grandmother in a small rural town, she gets accepted to a venerable fashion school in London where her naivete of the big city and big city characters becomes overwhelming. Paired with a jealous, malicious and bullying roommate, Eloise sets out to find a place of her own. She finds an apartment in the Soho district of London, an area historically known for its red-light district and gangsters. Her psychic nature make her hypersensitive to her new environment and she starts to experience visions of a former tenant from the ‘60s: Sandy, a young aspiring and beautiful singer (Anya Taylor-Joy) in her dreams. At first, she is energized and inspired by these visions of late 60s Soho nightlife as well as Sandy’s style and beauty. But the visions take a darker turn and start intruding into her waking life. They get more and more terrifying by the day, making her question her sense of reality and sanity…

lastnightinsoho-anya-taylorjoy

A direct follow up to this year’s excellent documentary The Sparks Brothers (previously reviewed here at FlixChatter), Wright’s flamboyant style, fast pacing and atmospherics are all here but in much more subdued quantities. Co-written with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, Wright’s story keeps things simple, yet is undulated with dreamlike and precisely choreographed sequences, full of color and sound that is at times Baz Luhrman, rather than new wave cinema. Wright seems to have taken inspiration from Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and Nicholas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973), in exhibiting first-person psychological horror with decent results. 

lastnightinsoho-thomasin-still

It all somehow works. Thomasin McKenzie, who dazzled in Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace (2018), is brilliantly cast. Her performance makes the child-like and self-doubting Eloise completely believable – conjuring a touch of Mia Farrow’s Rosemary and a sure sign of a promising dramatic acting career. Anya Taylor-Joy is fine as usual as the 60s singing vixen Sandy. Terence Stamp is cleverly creepy as an elderly stranger seemingly with ties to Sandy’s history. And most notably, Diana Rigg, in her final film performance, is sharp as Eloise’s crusty old landlady. There’s no shortage of acting chops here.

lastnightinsoho-diana-rigg

Deft in its pacing, performances and atmospherics, the film satisfies in most respects. However, the fantastical in Last Night in Soho, with its musical interludes, gothic romance and time travel element relegate it to the realm of a fantasy film not unlike Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak (2015). It might be too stylish for its own good but that is to be expected from Wright, whose resume includes Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010) and Baby Driver (2017). However, that sensibility shouldn’t cause one to dismiss the film. Bottom line is it’s just not that scary and maybe it shouldn’t be. It’s an engaging and watchable thriller with twists and turns enough to give M. Night Shyamalan a run for his money. Warts and all, Last Night in Soho is imperfect but highly  generous in giving us Thomasin McKenzie’s excellent performance. In this case, that is quite good enough. 

3Reels
Vince_review


So did you see LAST NIGHT IN SOHO? Let us know what you think!

FlixChatter Review: THE DRY (2021)

thedry-poster

Directed by: Robert Connolly
Starring: Eric Bana, Genevieve O’Reilly, Keir O’Donnell, John Polson, Bebe Bettencourt

There is a lonesome vastness in the Australian countryside; flat landscapes, aged trees sporadically placed within view and oblique farmland ravaged by a drought. These are the opening scenes from Robert Connolly’s The Dry, effectively setting the tone for this brooding but highly entertaining whodunnit based on the book by Jane Harper.

Federal Agent Aaron Falk (Eric Bana) returns to his hometown of Kiewarra, a small farming town a few hours from Melbourne, after his boyhood best friend Luke dies with his family in a presumed murder suicide. Luke’s parents however, aren’t satisfied with the local inquest’s findings and requests Aaron to investigate them further. Reluctantly, he agrees and with the help of a local sergeant, starts looking into the circumstances of Luke’s death. Run-ins with the locals reveal Falk being somewhat of a pariah and that 20 plus years ago was at the center of one of the town’s darkest chapters. To say more would be denying you all the fun…

thedry-eric-bana

Robert Connolly’s direction is precise and compact. Shots and dialogue are as efficient as they come and effectively guide us through the labyrinth of this whodunnit. The film does not try to be too smart to mislead us outright but rather walks us through story. While looking for clues and clichés, The Dry avoids the latter and paves the path for us to follow whether it be dead-end, U-Turn or fork in the road. 

The film has understated performances throughout. Bana is very good as usual and channels something between a much reserved John Robie (from Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief) and Jake Gittes (Chinatown), less cynical but adequately scarred by personal trauma. Keir O’Donnell is fine as Sergeant Raco as are the other supporting players including Genevieve O’Reilly as childhood friend Gretchen. 

Harry Cripps and Connolly’s screenplay is tight and not over the top like other films of the genre. The film’s tone remained consistent throughout but also managed to sprinkle in subtle lighthearted moments (especially the scenes with Raco). While following the tried and true double narrative style, it still managed to avoid the clichés that could’ve turned this very good film into a mediocre one. 

Stefan Duscio’s non-flashy cinematography also helped propel the story forward by using the Australian setting as an essential character of the story. The drought-plagued landscape somehow manages to parallel our own pandemic-changed world with its sense of isolation. Regardless, The Dry is an atmospheric film without shouting itself out.

thedry-australia-keiwarra

While maybe not quite a classic, The Dry is indeed a very good, taut thriller that deserves a good viewing or even a few… Good direction, a well-written script, great performances and excellent cinematography make The Dry interesting, entertaining and engrossing. 

And it kept me guessing.

4/5 stars
Vince_review


So did you see THE DRY? Let us know what you think!

Five for the Fifth: JUNE 2013 edition

fiveforthefifth

Hello folks, welcome to the 6th Five for the Fifth of the year!

As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

Wahlberg_2Guns1. Today Mark Wahlberg turns 42! It’s funny how I first noticed this Boston-native when he was still Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch. Well, he’s certainly has come a long way from that as he’s now been quite a force to be reckoned with as a movie star, even garnering critical reception with not one but TWO Oscar nominations for The Departed and The Fighter.

Now, I haven’t seen any of his latest films, I mean Broken City and Pain & Gain just didn’t appeal to me. I might rent the later as it looks pretty hilarious. Interestingly enough, Wahlberg’s latest films have consist of him being paired with another movie star. Russell Crowe in Broken City, Dwayne Johnson in Pain & Gain, and now he’s paired up with Denzel Washington in what appears to be an action comedy where he & Denzel played A DEA agent and an undercover Naval Intelligence officer being set up by the mob.

Check out the trailer:

Looks like it’s more of a rental for me. I’ve only seen about 10 of Wahlberg’s movies so far, and I think my favorites are The Fighter and The Other Guys, yes I know, it couldn’t be more different from each other, but I actually think Wahlberg’s quite fun to watch in comedies, though generally he doesn’t really have much range, ahah.

So what’s YOUR favorite Mark Wahlberg’s movie? Will you be watching 2 Guns?

……


2. Now, for my second question, I’m actually borrowing from the Twitter #MTOS series (Movie Talks on Sunday) which you should absolutely follow if you haven’t already. This past weekend, the focus was on Christopher Nolan, hosted by @Pandadeer. I particularly like this question:

Nolan is known for returning to the same pool of actors; who would you like to see added to it?

Nolan_TDKRCast
Nolan with his Batman posse

I like Andrew’s answer below, esp. one about Lazenby:

Recently Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain have joined Nolan’s upcoming sci-fi film Interstellar. Though of course he still has his regular go-to actor Michael Caine in his cast. Now these would be my top 5 wishlist for Nolan to consider: Richard Armitage, Clive Owen, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch and Helen Mirren.

What about you? Which actors would you like to see working with Chris Nolan?


3. It’s been a while since I talk about Bond on this blog! Well, there have been some developments on Bond 24. As you might’ve read on Terrence’s Movie News Monday, Sam Mendes is expected to return in the director’s chair for both Bond 24 and Bond 25, so probably until the end of Daniel Craig’s reign as Bond.

Mendes_Cruz_Bond24

Now, we’ve also got news that Spanish beauty Penelope Cruz has been cast as Bond girl! Wow, so they’re upping the ante as far as getting more quality performers in Bond movies. I mean, Cruz is an Oscar winner for Vicky Cristina Barcelona and has been nominated three times for an Academy Award. Funny that Daniel Craig is probably the first Bond ever to be seduced by a team of husband and wife, ahah. Cruz’s real-life hubby Javier Bardem sort of put the moves on Bond in Skyfall, remember? 😀

Well, most of you might not know this, but this won’t be Cruz’ first time appearing with a Bond actor. As a Timothy Dalton fanatic, I also noticed her brief appearance as Dalton’s girl in the British miniseries FRAMED back in 1992. As Lola Del Moreno, her character name is almost Bond Girl-ish too, no? It’s a great crime/thriller series if you haven’t seen it, fantastic performance by Dalton and David Morrissey.

Dalton_Cruz_Framed

In any case, what’s your thoughts on Mendes coming back and Cruz as the next Bond girl?


4. Now this is a film that wasn’t on my radar previously but boy, I love the pairing of Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall in this intriguing crime drama CLOSED CIRCUIT.

ClosedCircuit

Martin and Claudia are lawyers — and ex-lovers — who find themselves put at risk after they join the defense team for an international terrorist’s trial.

I was quite impressed with director John Crowley, who did this great indie Boy A with Andrew Garfield (which could be his breakthrough role) and Peter Mullan. We’ve also got the script by Steve Knight (Amazing Grace, Eastern Promises) and a slew of great character actors Ciarán Hinds, Riz Ahmed, Anne-Marie Duff, Julia Stiles and Jim Broadbent. I was VERY impressed by Ahmed in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, so I’m looking forward to seeing him in another film.

What do you think of this  movie? Does it appeal to you?


5. Now, last but not least. Time for some TV updates. Yes, I know I’m quite terrible with keeping up with TV shows, but with Karl Urban, this just might be the new show I’d be [trying] to watch regularly this Fall.

AlmostHumanFOX

We’ve got some detailed synopsis from Teaser-trailer.com:

The year is 2048. John Kennes (Urban), a cop who survived one of the most catastrophic attacks ever made against the police department, wakes up from a 17-month coma, he can’t remember much – except that his partner was killed. Because of the attack he lost one of his legs and is now outfitted with a highly sophisticated synthetic appendage.

Now by mandate, every cop must partner with a robot. And despite his passionate aversion to androids, John is paired up with Dorian (Michael Ealy), a discontinued android with unexpected emotional responses. Although such responses were deemed flaws, it is in these ‘flaws’ that John relates to Dorian most. After all, John is part-machine now, and Dorian is part-human. John and Dorian’s understanding of each other not only complements them, it connects them.


This definitely looks very promising and the set pieces looks pretty sleek. I do realize that with a lot of these shows, the premise and promo seems to be more compelling right off the bat. The show’s created by the same folks behind the popular FOX sci-fi Fringe, J.H. Wyman & J.J. Abrams.

I’ll definitely give this one a shot. I mean a futuristic sci-fi + Karl Urban already sounds like a winner to me 😀

Well, now my last question to you is two-fold: Are you excited about this show? Otherwise, what’s the TV show you’re looking forward to most this coming Fall season?


That’s it for the JUNE 2013 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these subjects.

Five For The Fifth – February 2012 Edition

Hello folks, welcome to the February 2012 edition of Five of the Fifth!

As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here. So let’s get started, shall we?

1. Well today’s the biggest night of football, I know my hubby will park himself on the sofa and watch Giants and Patriots battle it out at the Superbowl XLVI. You can’t say that I’m a fan of team sporting events nor sport movies for that matter, I can count with my hands how many sports-related or specifically American football movies that I enjoyed. I did like Rudy when I saw it in high school with my brother, but not so much because of the football part, but I just love the underdog story. I also like Jerry Maguire more for the relationship of Tom Cruise’s title role with his client and his loyal assistant-turned-girlfriend.

Another fun one I remember is The Replacements... no I’m not saying it’s the greatest football movies ever, in fact it’s kind of a screwball but pretty enjoyable. Keanu Reeves plays a washed-up quarterback who’s recruited as part of the replacement team during a pro football strike. It even got Gene Hackman as the coach who believe in the unlikely if not preposterous players that include a Welsh former soccer player called ‘The Leg’ (Rhys Ifans) and a crazy defense lineman played by Jon Favreau. This dance scene done to the Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive is a hoot, always puts a smile on my face every time I watched it.


So what’s your favorite football movie(s)? 


2. The box office results hasn’t been posted yet but as of last Friday, Daniel Radcliffe’s horror flick The Woman in Black and the superhero-themed sci-fi Chronicle are on a tight race. Chronicle tells the story of three high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery. It’s done in a low budget, shaky cam movie ala Paranormal Activity, which also has mostly unknown cast. From what I’ve been reading lately, it sounds like an interesting entry into the whole superhero genre, some even call it a deconstruction of the conventional superhero mythology.

My matey Scott @ Front Room Cinema made up a top 10 list of alternative superhero movies last Thursday, and my favorite of all of them remains to be Unbreakable, which is also my favorite M. Night Shyamalan’s work. It’s one of those rare films that despite the ‘whoa’ ending, it’s still rewarding to watch it several times over as there’s always something new you discover and appreciate. I might give Chronicle a rent, I always like a fresh new take of the oft-told plot of ordinary folks acquiring extraordinary superpowers.

So what’s your favorite alternative superhero movie? Or if you happen to see Chronicle already, what did you think? 


3.  Ok time for some casting news. Last week, they announced a couple of duo casting I like. One of them is Rebecca Hall and Eric Bana in an untitled thriller by John Crowley (Boy A, Is Anybody There). I quite like Boy A, it’s an understated indie drama that shows the would-be Spider-man Andrew Garfield that he’s got some serious acting chops.

The plot for this upcoming project is quite intriguing… Hall and Bana will play former lovers who must work together on the defense team during a terrorist trial (per THR). I certainly like the cast, both aren’t A-listers yet, not sure why as they’re both not only gorgeous but massively talented.

So which casting news that you’re thrilled about from the past week?


4. Now, another two duo casting I like feature two actors whose stars are quickly rising: Jessica Chastain and Joel Edgerton. Edgerton is another Aussie on my watch-list after his terrific performance in Warrior, and you already know from this post that I adore Chastain.

Now the projects are quite peculiar, they’re signing on to a double feature films called The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Hersa New York-based couple going through a rough patch in their marriage. His will follow the events from the perspective of the husband, a restaurant owner; Hers will tell the tale from the wife’s point of view as she heads back to college. According to SlashFilm, these two films are intended as standalone features based on a script by Ned Benson (In Defiance of Gravity).

So what do you think about this project? Would you watch a double feature like this one?


5.The Oscars is taking place in a couple of weeks, and since 1991, the Academy Awards ceremonies has made the Kodak Theater its permanent home. But soon that won’t be the case as the company has since filed bankruptcy and won’t be able to make the $4 million annual payment to retain that name on the building.

Per Reuters, last Wednesday the 131-year company asked a U.S. bankruptcy court judge to allow it to get out of its $75 million naming rights deal with the real estate company behind the complex. THR also reported last December that the Oscar ceremonies might actually move to another spot entirely after 2013. It’s kind of sad what’s happening to Kodak, given their crucial role in the entertainment industry and long-standing relationship with film makers for decades.

So what do you think about the Kodak predicament… and what sponsor do you think would replace the theater name? 


Well, that’s it for the February edition of Five for the Fifth. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all!

Happy Birthday Eric Bana!

One of my favorite Aussie actors Eric Bana turns 42 today! I just want to pay a quick tribute to the handsome and talented actor who began his career as a stand-up comedian, he even had his own TV show The Eric Bana Show Live in Australia.

The first time I saw him was in Ang Lee’s Hulk, and I immediately took notice. The film tanked but that was hardly his fault as he made a terrific Bruce Banner with his sympathetic portrayal of the Marvel hero. The following year, 2003, he was cast in the Wolfgang Petersen’s swords & sandals flick Troy as the valiant and righteous Hector. Apparently Brad Pitt recommended him to the producers after he liked Bana’s performance in a crime biopic Chopper, his feature film debut. Thanks Brad, as Bana really was the best thing about the movie for me.

The movie itself was just ok, nowhere near the ‘epic’ quality that was Gladiator, but some scenes stood out to me (mostly when Bana’s on screen really). One of them is this fantastic duel between the two bitter enemies. The ending broke my heart, especially when Achilles dishonored his body 😦 He may have been the legendary Greek warrior, but because of Bana’s affecting performance, I will always root for Prince Hector!

Bana can be seen in the upcoming thriller Hanna, alongside Cate Blanchett and Saiorse Ronan, due out next April.

Upcoming Flix Spotlight: HANNA

Saiorse Ronan as Hanna

Please, please, don’t ever confuse this with Hannah Montana [shudders], which is what you’ll get when you google this title. No, not even close. This is an upcoming thriller from Joe Wright, the director of Pride & Prejudice and Atonement, tackling yet another genre after last year’s music-themed biopic drama The Soloist. When I first heard about this a few months ago, only Saiorse Ronan and Eric Bana had been cast, but now I learned that my favorite actress Cate Blanchett is also involved, yay!

Here’s the gist of the story from Collider: Hanna (Ronan) is a teenage girl. Uniquely, she has the strength, the stamina, and the smarts of a solider; these come from being raised by her father (Bana), an ex-CIA man, in the wilds of Finland. Living a life unlike any other teenager, her upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin. The turning point in her adolescence is a sharp one; sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys stealthily across Europe while eluding agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative with secrets of her own (Blanchett). As she nears her ultimate target, Hanna faces startling revelations about her existence and unexpected questions about her humanity.

Blanchett & Bana, what a duo!

The La Femme Nikita-esque plot is intriguing and the cast certainly appeals to me. Bana and Blanchett are on my Top Ten Aussie Actors list, and Ronan really impressed me in Atonement. In fact, I often think that she has the potential to have Blanchett’s career, as she’s no doubt one of the most talented young actors working today. Jason Flemyng, Tom Hollander, and Olivia Williams rounded up the excellent cast.

Apparently this movie was one of the significant deal at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. According to Deadline.com, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group (SPWAG) bought most key territories of the foreign distribution of Hanna, while Focus Features will handle the domestic US distribution. Sony did that based on 1 minute and a half of footage and a look at the script. SPWAG was the same studio that took a chance in Neill Blomkamp’s debut District 9, and will distribute Terrence Malik’s upcoming fantasy drama The Tree of Life.

Below is the theatrical trailer. It’s due out 8 April 2011.


What do you think folks, would you watch it?

Pitt/Aniston for Time Traveller’s Wife? Say it ain’t so!

TimeTravelersThe Time Traveller’s Wife is one of my must-see flicks before year’s end, mostly because it’s got Eric Bana as the lead. So I was flabbergasted when I read this bit from Digital Spy that Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were the couple screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin had in mind when he wrote the script. Well, apparently he wrote the adaptation from Audrey Niffenegger’s novel before their divorce in 2005, but still!

Speaking to OK magazine, he said: “I thought they would be perfect for this film. I just saw them as a perfect version of Henry and Clare. I just found them equally attractive and equally compelling, and in terms of the Hollywood arena at that time, they were as good a couple as you could find. I was writing it in my mind for them.”

Meh, I’m glad it didn’t turn out that way as I wouldn’t have been at all excited to see it with the two of them as the lead. Regardless of their relationship and love life drama, I don’t think much of either of them as an actor. I’m probably in the minority here, but I’ve never been a fan of Pitt nor do I fathom what all the fuss is about the guy. There are a plethora of better looking and far more talented actors than he, but like Rod Stewart says, some guys have all the luck. As for Aniston, well let’s just say she will forever be ‘Rachel Green’ as she can’t ever seem to shake that role out of her psyche, no matter what character she plays!

In any case, I think the movie will be much better with Bana and Rachel McAdams on board, whom Rubin labeled “wonderful embodiments of who I envisioned would be on screen.” Judging from its trailer, I think both of them are perfect for the roles.