New: Images From Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes: Cesar with a sawn-off! Apes on horses! Gary Oldman! DOTPOTA actually seems like it might be that rarest of beasts; a franchise follow-up that’s actually decent.
Watch: First trailer for Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes: There’s really not a huge amount to say about this first look at DOTPOTA (which is a handily-pronounceable acronym of a title), other than it’s rather low on apes, but high on doomy BRRRM sounds - d’you think Nolan and Zimmer knew what effect they’d have on the film trailer when they introduced them in Inception? However, by the looks of it, humanity still has machine guns and Gary Oldman, so how the hell could we ever lose to a bunch of monkeys?
Based on a ‘true story’ (everybody roll your eyes and take it with a pinch of Hollywood salt), Lawless is a Depression-era gangster film-centered around the three legendary Bondurant brothers Jack (Shia LaBeouf), Howard (Jason Clarke) and Forrest (Tom Hardy). Fuelled by the belief that they are invincible since surviving an illness which killed their parents, they rule the prohibited moonshine bootlegging business until Special Deputy Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) steps on to the scene. So far then, we are treading on themes already covered in The Untouchables and the original Scarface, but relocated to a more of a deep south backdrop. So what should Lawless have that these films don’t?
As Forrest’s character says early on in the film, "It is not the violence that sets a man apart; it’s the distance he’s prepared to go". This sums up the film perfectly; it tries to show just how lawless these times are with extreme acts of violence on both the bootleggers and the authorities who try and get in their way. But it falls short because (perhaps I’m being cynical here), I’ve got so used to violent films at it really is a case of ‘just another guy getting his balls chopped off’. All of its plotlines are based on macho brawls that end up being cliches: from the runt-of-the-litter scenarios that Jack has to overcome to the no-nonsense Chicago gangster Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman), these are all variations of stories we have seen before.
The one character who stands out though is that of the eldest brother Forrest. Still beefed up from his role as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, Hardy is proving to be another formidable contender in the contemporary leading man stakes a la Gosling and Fassbender. He shows his character to be both intimidating enough for the police to be afraid of him, but also emotionally detached and even a bit socially awkward. My only quibble is, as with his portrayal Bane, the accent Hardy uses means it’s easier to mistake his line and just hear monosyllabic grunts (not to mention when he purposefully growls, that is just downright laughable).
Nonetheless, his is definitely the character you are most intrigued by and, in comparison, Forrest makes the other brothers seem like add-ons to fill the film out. And that leads me to another criticism; I know this film is about the boys but the female storylines just aren’t expanded on enough. For instance, there is no repercussions of Bertha’s (Mia Wasikowska) rebellion from the church and her relationship with her father is never properly explored. It’s like director John Hillcoat and writer Nick Cave (yes, that one) tried to cram too much into the the film at the beginning but realised it’s too long and cut it short. In fact, the whole film ends too abruptly and is ham-fisted in its conclusion. Perhaps there is a director’s cut somewhere in an editing room which gives the whole film time to breath.
Stylistically and acting-wise though, the film is top notch. The murky colour scheme of greys and browns is similar to Hillcoat’s previous film The Road, adding to the gloom and giving Lawless a period authenticity. Shia La Boeuf is back to playing more of a lose character, similar to the one he played so long ago in Holes, which suits him far more than his action hero stint in the Transformers franchise. Guy Pearce still remains one of my favourite and most underrated actors as he is simply so malleable and no two characters played by him are ever too similar, whilst Jessica Chastain who pulls off the challenge of holding her own next to Tom Hardy. Lawless may have some flaws, but on the whole it is not a bad film. It’s just one that you might feel like you’ve seen a handful of times before.
WATCH/// THE FINAL TRAILER FOR THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
Oh yes. It’s almost here. With the viral campaign kicking off yesterday, the final trailer for The Dark Knight Rises has been unveiled and it’s just as excitement inducing as you might expect. All the major players are seen; Christian Bale, Tom Hardy (who sounds a lot clear than previous footage), Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard and Morgan Freeman, as well as some mouth-watering action, ominous dialogue and a proper look at Batman’s new ride…
And the prize for best alliterative film title goes to…
Whilst providing a few multiplex punters with a bit of a tongue-twister at the ticket booth, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has undoubtedly been one of the most awaited films of the year, certainly to cinema connoisseurs. A dream cast, a skilled hot-property director (those familiar with Tomas Alfredson's directing style in Let The Right One In will be infinitely more comfortable going into this) and a highly acclaimed source material (John Le Carre's novel of the same name). What could go wrong?
Well not a lot really. As expected, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is one of the films of the year; a tense, twisting, slow burning, measured (oh boy, it’s measured as hell) spy thriller with enough intrigue and double crossing to fill at least three Bond films. On the surface it may appear like dour Oscar bait; which is a fair accusation, as it ain’t a feel-good film, and if it doesn’t garner at least a nomination or two, something is wrong with the universe. But hand over your pennies and you’ll experience a spy film that slowly unfurls with revelations and investigation replacing rooftop fights, shootouts on city streets and shakeycam; a proper whodunnit.
For the uninitiated, George Smiley (Gary Oldman), previously dismissed from his position from The Circus, is reinstated by the bigwigs to hunt out the mole in the organisation’s upper echelons. Enlisting his protege (Benedict Cumberbatch playing Peter Guillam) and old friend (Roger Lloyd-Pack as Mendel) to assist him, Smiley’s task leads him through botched missions, missing agents, double deals, a drunken Christmas party and more flashbacks than a Vietnam vet. It’s an engaging chess match of a film, one that requires full attention at all times. But if you do get lost in the espionage and intrigue, you can always just marvel at the stunning cinematography (up there with The Tree Of Life for the most sumptuous looking film of the year).
Truly, there isn’t a bad performance in the film. Yes, some characters do just have to sit around looking shady and little else, but even then they’re damn fine. Smiley may be a career best for Oldman, who’s been playing louder flashier characters for decades now (Sirius Black from Harry Potter, Commissioner Gordon from Batman, Stansfield in Leon, Zorg in The Fifth Element), but reins it all in for the mousy, ice-cool retired spy. An Oscar nomination is a must. Colin Firth shakes off the stigma of the terrible King’s Speech to give us what could be described as the anti-Bond; smug, lecherous and just a bit despicable. Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy's superb performances will no doubt bolster their fledgling repuations, whilst Mark Strong has another hit to add to his increasingly great CV as betrayed agent Jim Prideaux. John Hurt's good as ever, but that goes without saying; he's good in everything. Even the smaller roles have fantastic turns; Stephen Graham sneaks in almost unnoticed as office drone Jerry Westerby, Kathy Burke pops up in what turns out to be quite a pivotal character, and Simon Burney has good fun with the odious MP Oliver Lacon.
Few complaints can be levelled at Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Its labyrinthine plotting and slow-pacing will not be for everyone. The generation brought up on Bourne and Daniel Craig-era Bond will be lost in this bygone world of asking questions without kicking ass in the process, not parkouring across the city and without impossibly beautiful romantic interests who just happen to be scientists/spies etc. But Tinker Tailor Soldier Spyis ultimately rewarding experience for those who immerse themselves in its world. Plus, it’s the only film where you can see Sherlock beating up Bane. How can you refuse?
NEW TINKER TAILOR SOLDER SPY POSTER UNVEILED
I don’t there’s a film being released this year that we here at Hitsville are more excited about than Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (maybe Drive). With a cast including Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Tom Hardy and Colin Firth amongst others, there’s little chance of TTSS being anything less than great.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is released on September 16th.