TL;DR This Week In Cinema: Going Rogue
Welcome to the Beat's weekly rundown of what's hot in the coming seven days of cinematic releases. This week, Disney beats everyone to the punch, with what is shaping up to be the biggest screen event of the year.
I, too, intend to punch first by getting a few more of these big ol' Boxing Day launches out of the way. I'm dosing you out another three so that you can still fit in next week's offering before the Xmas feasting.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla), a man dedicated to both the original franchise and to taking risks, is helming the most practical-effect-loaded Star Wars movie since the first, and one that's dark, dirty and violent. I am actually shaking with excitement.
And I'm far from the only one. With a cast that includes Felicity Jones, Alan Tudyk, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker and Mads Mikkelsen, some seriously stellar crew (Aussie DoP Greig Fraser among them), this is the undisputed unmissable film of the week.
Oops, column spoilers, I guess. Like you didn't know.
tl;dr TWO THUMBS UP
THE WASTED TIMES
This fascinating trailer has me pumped for this Chinese meta-noir set against the backdrop of war-torn Shanghai in the 1930s, in which a local crime lord attempts to forge an alliance with the invading Japanese military.
It stars one of China's Four Dan Actresses, Zhang Ziyi, known to Western audiences as "the actress who should never have been cast as a geisha", as well as featuring in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, House Of Flying Daggers, Hero and next year's very exciting God Particle.
Zhang is an excellent actress and the film's time-hopping structure and bleakly exquisite cinematography make it a prime fit for those after something new from our largest neighbour.
PATERSON (Thursday December 22)
Speaking of the Sith, here's the patricidal Adam Driver starring as... a driver. Of buses. In Paterson, New Jersey. Sound thrilling? Wait - it's by Jim Jarmusch, master of the mundane and true modern poet.
His latest is doubling down on the trials of the everyday; a slight jump from his last flick, an observation of the everyday trials of a pair of vampyric immortals. (If you haven't seen it, RUN, GO, NOW.)
Naturally, Paterson is drenched in critical acclaim, and will be well worth a trip to the cinema for anyone in need of some quotidian elevation.
tl;dr Everyday of a bus driver's life brings new challenges.
GIMME DANGER (Boxing Day preview)
The true king of rock'n'roll, Jim Osterberg (better known as Iggy Pop), tells all in Jarmusch's second film this month, a documentary about The Stooges and how they tore the music world a new one.
Every word out of Iggy's mouth is one to hang on, and the stories alone are enough to carry you through Jarmusch's characteristically unvarnished approach. While I personally found it a tad too plain, Jarmusch wants his subject as the focus, and his purity is worthy of praise.
Unfamiliar with The Stooges? Get Fun House, get Raw Power, get your shirt off and get to this movie.
tl;dr It's important to grow old with dignity.
JANIS: LITTLE GIRL BLUE (Boxing Day preview)
Speaking of rock legends, if Iggy Pop is the king, Janis Joplin may very well have been the queen, having forged a place for women in rock music almost entirely on her lonesome.
For Janis and Iggy to be sharing the stage on Boxing Day is a brilliant coincidence, and the best Xmas present any rock'n'roll fan could ask for. Vale Joplin.
tl;dr It's the giving season.
RED DOG: TRUE BLUE (Boxing Day preview)
It would be very, very difficult to find a film I'm less keen on come Boxing Day.
I'm happy for director Kriv Stenders and the international success of an Aussie film, but I really struggle to care about Red Dog and any film about the good ol' Aussie Outback that fails to cast a single indigenous actor.
Whitewashing: we do it too, and just as thoroughly as Hollywood. Also the film is funded by mining. Also the original dog is dead.
tl;dr Red Dog: as True Blue as the White Australia Policy.
And now for THE VERDICT - maybe you only get to see one of these flicks on the big screen, and you don't wanna waste that night out. So, drum roll please...
Without a shadow of a doubt, this Thursday is the day to join the rebellion. Give in to the (Disney) Empire, to the superweapon that is the Star Wars franchise, and to the magnetic Force of Gareth Edwards' Rogue One.
Until next week!