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Captive State review ambitious sci-fi thriller offers up uneven intrigue

Charmaine Blake

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“A jumble of themes and ideas jostle for space in an audacious, but often messy, film that takes a familiar alien invasion set-up and goes for broke

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Buried somewhere underneath the wreckage, theres a smart little sci-fi film pulsing at the centre of Captive State, a scrappy, unwieldy curio with plenty on its mind, coherence not necessarily included. Shot over two years ago and pushed around the release schedule, its a troubled project that feels troubled, with confused editing and clear structural issues clueing us in on its difficult journey to the screen. Its a frustrating experience but one that remains worthwhile because theres just enough of a glimmer of the film it could have been to make it worth watching the film it turned into instead.

Were presented with a familiar set-up: aliens have invaded Earth leading to destruction, division and plenty of dust. But unlike the majority of similar films that have come before, were then presented with an idea of what comes after. What if aliens stuck around? What if an uneasy arrangement was made with Earths governing bodies? And what if the invaders were now seen as the main legislative force whose presence had actually led to a statistically safer society? Its a fascinating conceit and one that raises a string of intriguing questions, some of which the film answers with skill.

Pitched somewhere between District 9 and The Purge, writer-director Rupert Wyatt, whose 2011 prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a surprisingly urgent and necessary blockbuster, focuses the action on Chicago and how the new world order affects a city already struggling with crime and economic disparity. His lead is Gabriel, played by Moonlights Ashton Sanders, existing in one of the poorer districts and working in a factory tasked with wiping data from digital devices, which have been outlawed. His brother Rafe (Jonathan Majors, a rising star after his charming turn in Sundance darling The Last Black Man in San Francisco) was leading a resistance against the state but after his death, Gabriel finds himself scrambling for an escape………………………………………………………………”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/mar/14/captive-state-review-ambitious-sci-fi-thriller-offers-up-uneven-intrigue

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New Movie Reviews

Amazing Grace review – Soul-shaking gospel from Aretha Franklin

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A spellbinding performance by the singer is captured in Sydney Pollacks 1972 film

“The 1970s may have been the heyday of the rock concert film, but the genre was frequently marred by questionable performances and legal squabbles. Whether its Led Zeppelin going off the boil in the wrangle-ridden The Song Remains the Same or the Rolling Stones finding themselves stars of an unfolding horror movie in the Maysless Gimme Shelter, these movies are fraught with strife. Its significant that the most celebrated concert film of all, Martin Scorseses The Last Waltz, captured the Band as they were splitting up, cementing the genres long-standing funereal affiliations and serving as inspiration for Rob Reiners nail-in-the-coffin mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap.

The story of Amazing Grace, centring on Aretha Franklins two-night performance in 1972 which led to the biggest selling live gospel album of all time, is no less troubled. Apparently inspired by the financial success of Mike Wadleighs festival behemoth Woodstock, and with an eye on increasingly synergistic film/music/TV markets, Warners enlisted Oscar winner Sydney Pollack to direct multi-camera 16mm footage of the 29-year-old Franklin recording her next album at the New Temple Missionary Baptist church in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, with his background in drama rather than music docs, Pollack failed to use clapperboards or markers, making it virtually impossible to synch the resulting picture with the recorded sound. Not even lip readers, who were reportedly enlisted to sift through hours of silent film, could solve the problem.

Instead, the footage languished in…………………………………………………………”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/may/12/amazing-grace-film-review-aretha-franklin-sydney-pollack

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New Movie Reviews

High Life Robert Pattinson Movie Review

Charmaine Blake

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An astronaut on an odyssey to a distant black hole faces the challenges of parenting and existential panic in Claire Denis mysterious drama

“Claire Deniss deep-space trauma High Life is an Old Testament parable catapulted forward into the 23rd century, a primal scene in a pressurised cabin of sci-fi pessimism, suppressed horror and denied panic. As if in a recurring dream, Denis brings us repeatedly to the image of a cream-panelled spaceship corridor that curves sharply around to the right; the area is at first pristine and then, as the years go by, shabby and derelict, stained with what may be body fluids. And what is around that corner?

This is a bizarre new creationist myth for those of us who ever wondered in childhood, and then forgot to wonder, about the taboo-breaking involved in propagating a race from just two people in the Garden of Eden, or two species representatives in the ark. It is also a tale of imperial expansion and sexual beings under pressure, just as in earlier Denis movies such as Beau Travail (1999) or White Material (2009); this is written by Denis with Jean-Pol Fargeau, Geoff Cox and Nick Laird, shot with luminous mystery by cinematographer Yorick Le Saux, with an eerie musical score by Stuart Staples of the band Tindersticks.

At its centre is Monte, played by Robert Pattinson, who is evidently all alone on a spaceship that exterior shots reveal to be shaped entirely without the elegant streamlined curves of a craft designed for purposeful travel. It is huge and rectangular, suspended in space like a clunking great container unit full of rubbish. Actually, Monte isnt entirely alone. He has a tiny infant with him called Willow, whom he tends to and talks to conscientiously but unsmilingly.

Pure
Pure radioactive strangeness Juliette Binoche and Robert Pattinson. Photograph: Allstar/Alcatraz Films

Denis creates a grippingly unreadable dynamic right here. There is something adorable in the trusting baby and the adults care, and yet nothing else around speaks of gentleness and love. Its not at all clear, in fact, that Monte is capable of love, or if events have not rendered the emotion of love obsolete…………………………………………………………….”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/may/08/high-life-review-robert-pattinson-claire-denis-juliette-binoche

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New Movie Reviews

Netflix’s ‘Someone Great’ is a coming-of-age rom-com for twenty-somethings

Charmaine Blake

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“When Rolling Stone calls, aspiring music journalist Jenny (Gina Rodriguez) knows you have to answer even if it means moving across the country to San Francisco and jeopardizing her relationship with Nate (Lakeith Stanfield), her boyfriend of nine years.

In Netflix original Someone Great, Jenny is left heartbroken when Nate decides they should end the relationship. In hopes of leaving New York City with better final memories, Jenny gets together with her two best friends Erin (DeWanda Wise) and Blair (Brittany Snow)to have one last hurrah at the exclusive Neon Classic concert.

Someone Great

RELEASE DATE: 4/19/2019
DIRECTOR: Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
STREAMING: Netflix
The coming-of-age film explores turning 30 and saying goodbye to people and places that no longer belong in your life.

Someone Great tells a tale about life transitions and the growing pains that come with getting older. Its a coming-of-age story for twenty-somethings; its about turning 30, transitioning out of your twenties, and saying goodbye to people and places that no longer belong in your life. Someone Great is heart-wrenching because its relatable and challenges viewers with the concept that sometimes the best decision for yourself is the hardest one to make…………………………………………………………..”

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/upstream/someone-great-netflix-review/

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