TL;DR This Week In Cinema: Gods And Monsters, Magic And Misery
Welcome to Beat's weekly rundown of what's hot in the coming seven days of cinematic releases. That's right, we're back! After May's trailer BONANZA, I'm reining this beast in to a sedate and reasonable pace at five films a week, as is tradition.
American summer releases are slowing down, and June's off to a gradual start with three Hollywood releases slowly replacing the more lucrative Civil War reruns. So, of course, Palace and Dendy are doing their level best to make you less like cultureless swine.
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Jodie Foster directs George Clooney and Julia Roberts in a '70s-style thriller where a disgruntled young investor takes a famous Wall Street investment guru hostage live on air. As Rolling Stone's Peter Travers put it, "Hating on Wall St is the new national pastime," so you can bet that Foster will have no qualms in going straight for the jugular.
That said, critical response has been measured - despite a stellar cast, it's received middle-of-the-road reviews. It may simply be that the thriller has too much weight to it, given that its themes are still so relevant to the American audience of today.
tl;dr Jodie Foster's mad as hell and she's not gonna take it anymore.
NOW YOU SEE ME 2
2013's star-studded Now You See Me was another example of a decent concept let down by a poorly drafted screenplay. Too slick for its own good, and with a weak twist ending that left no doubt of a sequel, this feels sadly inevitable.
The Four Horsemen - Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco and Lizzy Caplan (subbing in for Isla Fisher) - have been welcomed into a secret magic society and grown in power; but despite their abilities, they are blackmailed into pulling off a massive heist for tech magnate Daniel Radcliffe, with Morgan Freeman still in hot pursuit.
There'll be tasty CGI magic aplenty, but don't expect the writers to turn over a new leaf. More of the same cynical, moneygrubbing blandness.
tl;dr Not so much magic as a cheap trick.
QUEEN OF THE DESERT
Considered to be madcap German wunderkind Werner Herzog's most mainstream cinematic effort to date, Queen Of The Desert sees Nicole Kidman fill the shoes of renowned explorer, traveler and archaeologist Gertrude Bell.
Kidman is said to carry herself well, as does co-star Robert Pattinson as the legendary T.E. Lawrence, but the film itself is considered a dull affair despite the epic romance of its setting.
So what have we learned? If you're a director known for being wild, provocative and dangerous, don't settle for simple fare.
tl;dr Sorry Nicole, there can be only one Queen of the Desert.
Most films with God in the title have, of late, been overtly biased brainwashing exercises, so it's nice to see someone approaching the topic of religion with a more even hand. This Italian comedy about an atheist surgeon whose son is convinced to join the clergy by a charimsatic priest was a box-office smash at home, and now seeks an international audience.
Marco Giallini's acerbic, silver-tongued surgeon is a wonderfully acidic protagonist, and the inevitable confrontation between him and the charming Don Pietro (Alessandro Gassman) should prove hilarious.
Just as long as the whole thing doesn't resolve with everyone singing about Jesus.
tl;dr We all know there's only one god.
THE MEASURE OF A MAN
Easily the most critically acclaimed release of the week, this French flick picked up Best Actor for Vincent Lindon at 2015's Cannes Film Festival for his character study of a man beaten down by unemployment and systemic corruption.
Stéphane Brizé layers misery upon misery on her protagonist, who goes through recurring humiliations after accepting a job below his capabilities - one that begins to challenge his moral standing.
Frighteningly, with Australia's political situation being what it is, this European drama may very soon feel uncomfortably close to home.
tl;dr The true measure of a man is knowing not to half-ass two things, but to whole-ass one thing.
And now for THE VERDICT - maybe you only get the chance to see one of these flicks on the big screen, and you don't wanna waste that night out. So, drum roll please...
Money Monster and The Measure Of A Man deal with the harsh economic truths we're having to face. They're two sides of the same coin - the story of the wealthy, and the story of the everyman. If stomaching hard truth is not what you seek in a night out, then God Willing has the goods.
Until next week!