With the early five star reviews of ‘Blade Runner 2049’ heralding this much anticipated release a ‘modern masterpiece’ we delved into the cinematic landscape to bring you the highlights of what else we can all look forward to on the big screen in the coming months. Here is The MALESTROM’s Autumn/Winter film selection.
Sicilian Ghost Story
With the London Film Festival kicking off this week, one film sure to garner plenty of attention and acclaim in equal measure, is that of ‘Sicilian Ghost Story’. Directed by Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza it’s based on real life events that occurred back in 1993 when 12-year-old boy Giuseppe Di Matteo was kidnapped by the Mafia and held against his will for over two years in order to send a message to his informer father.
The film takes the form of a gothic fairy tale and focuses on the coming of age story of a fictional character named Luna a schoolmate of Giuseppe’s who is by all accounts hopelessly in love with him. Concerned with his sudden disappearance having just declared her feelings, Luna is left frustrated by the seeming lack of effort to find his whereabouts and as Giuseppe’s predicament becomes more and more perilous the two characters become connected through a magical dream land.
The early reviews have been extremely promising and in much the same way that Pan’s Labyrinth merges fantasy with a deeper societal message, co-directors Grassadonia and Piazza who achieved critical success with their first venture ‘Salvo’ about a mafia hitman, appear to have hit the mark again.
Having established his status as one of the finest actors on the planet, the versatile Michael Fassbender has for his latest venture turned detective in the foreboding icy mountains of Norway. Starring in the film adaptation of the multi-million, best-selling crime novel by author Jo Nesbo of the same name, it’s a scandi-noir that’s set to cause a stir in Hollywood. Originally Martin Scorcese had been touted to direct, however that job in the end has fallen to Tomas Alfredson.
In this cinema version of the gruesome thriller, Fassbender plays the eponymous hard-drinking, grizzled detective, Harry Hole, on the trail of what he fears may be a serial killer in the icy wastelands of Norway. Just like in the book, the murderer strikes straight after the years’ first snowfall, randomly choosing a female target as a victim and of course in the most sinister of moves leaves a calling card in the shape of a snowman.
Fassbender working alongside Swedish actress Rebecca Fergus, sets about tracking down his murderer, and investigating years old cases, to help him uncover the identity of cold weather killer. With the brutality of each murder increasing and the killer toying with his pursuers, the ice-white backdrop of the Norwegian winter brings back the same haunting feeling of 2013’s Prisoners. In a much similar vein to The Killing, The Bridge and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, John Nesbo has written a series of books that really capture the essence of this ever so popular genre.
With the legendary actor Harry Dean Stanton’s recent passing, it seems fitting that his final role could see everyone’s favourite character actor, earn a posthumous Oscar for his performance in the beautifully made and soon to be released, Lucky.
Whilst this may be more suitable for the Indie film and art house crowd, there’s a sense Stanton might finally meet the wider audience his scene stealing support performances have always merited. Lucky is like an extension of Dean’s character Lyle at the end of The Straight Story. The film ironically and so pertinently explores the wistful last few days of a lonely and singularly crotchety old man. After waking up in a sparse one bed apartment, Lucky proceeds to do a full exercise routine outside in his shorts without a care in the world, before lighting the first cigarette of the day and ambling round the local arid town, putting the world to rights. A role that seems almost tailor made for Stanton’s talents.
Lucky then bumps into none other than David Lynch (the two worked together on a number of occasions) in the local bar and the two men set up a discussion that leads the old man into a series of subliminal, but simple life experiences that finally bring some humour and enlightenment to the last few days of his life. It’s not just a love letter to Stanton, but his career as a whole.
It’s a wonderful performance with echoes of Paris, Texas that could possibly see Harry Dean Stanton finally receive the recognition his storied career deserves. Lucky is released in the U.S this week with a UK date soon to be confirmed.
One trailer that’s just been released that’s been creating a fair amount of excitement in Hollywood is Annihilation, Alex Garland’s follow up to the brilliant, Ex Machina.
The film stars Natalie Portman heading up a team of female scientists who enter an environmental disaster zone known as Area X to search for her husband, Oscar Isaacs. The strange and surreal trailer has the intense feel of 2017’s Arrival, but with a greater sense of impending doom. The author of the original book, Jeff Vandermeer has already seen a final cut of the film and has nothing but praise for it.
“It’s actually more surreal than the novel. Visually, it’s amazing….and the ending is so mind-blowing”
Annihilation is scheduled for a February 2018 release, but we predict it will be bumped forward to this November/December to make it an Oscar contender, just like another film we flagged up earlier this Summer, ‘Made in America’ starring Tom Cruise, which was released two months ahead of schedule in the UK due to the considerable attention the trailer generated. Made in America is just about to knock Kingsman: The Golden Circle off the top spot in America too, which means the word of mouth has definitely spread about what could possibly be the most entertaining film of the year. Anyway take a look at the trailer for Annihilation.