TL;DR This Week In Cinema: Nick Cave, Louis Theroux, Tom Hanks and More
Welcome to the Beat's weekly rundown of what's hot in the coming seven days of cinematic releases. This just in: TOO MANY MOVIES. There's nine films coming out on Thursday, and I am but one man.
As such, your recommended dose of five is below, and it's a shame, really, given I have had to skip four. The first two honourable mentions are Aussie flicks deserving of your attention, and the others include a thrilling documentary about equal rights and possibly the strangest (and, according to some, worst) thing Kevin Smith has ever made.
One More Time With Feeling - a worldwide release doco about Nick Cave's latest album, and how his family grieves his lost son.
The Queen Of Ireland - documentary about Rory O'Neill, AKA Panti Bliss, a drag queen central to Ireland's struggle for equal marriage rights.
Aragorn himself tries to raise his kids in the ranger ways in this quirky drama about a survivalist family unit dealing with - yep - the loss of the matriarch. It's Little Miss Sunshine meets Doomsday Preppers!
Viggo Mortensen is, naturally, receiving huge praise for his turn as Ben, a man raising his five children in the wilderness, away from society. Educating the kids himself, he lectures on dialectical materialism, the value of fight training, and the use of firearms for hunting and personal protection. When the burial wishes of his wife, played by Trin Miller, are not met by her father (Frank Langella), Ben takes the kids on a cross-country road trip to honour her memory, putting him in direct conflict with his wife's disapproving family.
While some see this as an intriguing look at outsider ideologies, others find the film's lack of judgment more questionable. Is that worthy discussion lost amongst the whimsy? See for yourself.
tl;dr There's no such thing as normal.
MY SCIENTOLOGY MOVIE
While we're on the subject of cults... much like this year's spectacular Tickled, renegade documentarian Louis Theroux's latest sees the filmmaker under observation and attack by their subject.
Theroux takes a leaf out of Joshua Oppenheimer's book (if you haven't seen The Act Of Killing, stop what you're doing and watch it now) by hiring actors to recreate the circumstances in which ex-Scientologists were initiated into the church, drawing the ire of the organisation and leading them out of the shadows to take him on.
It's the result of 15 years waiting, after Theroux's last attempt was curtailed by the church's North Korean-style attempts at shaping the narrative. This latest effort is typically ballsy, deadpan and revelatory.
tl;dr YOU CAN'T HIDE FOREVER, TOM.
While we're on the subject of Toms... those hoping for an in-depth look into the scaring techniques of one big blue individual should look elsewhere. This is a serious film for serious people.
The great Tom Hanks, under the direction of chair whisperer Clint Eastwood, takes on the role of US Airways pilot Chesley Sullenberger, who manages to avert disaster by crash-landing a fully-laden passenger flight into the Hudson River. Soon after, his life comes under scrutiny from a press hungry for controversy.
For the first time in a while, it may be possible to watch an Eastwood film with politics put aside. He's a formidable director, and a screenplay referred to as "a verbal gunfight" should awaken his Western sensibilities.
tl;dr They picked the right man for a water landing.
THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS
Man, these guys must have been pissed when they found out about Zootopia. Probably not that mad, though, as they do share cast members - the brilliant Jenny Slate features in both, the lucky devil, along with Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Ellie Kemper, Albert Brooks, Lake Bell and Dana Carvey (one half of Wayne & Garth).
The creators of Despicable Me have a lot to answer for, but their trailers have been promising, particularly owing to an inventive dachschund (Hannibal Buress) and a metalhead poodle who act as standout unexpected choices. Any kids movie that cranks a System Of A Down track about orgies is fine by me.
Big, undemanding fun. Bring the kids, get a dachshund, have a great life.
tl;dr This dude gets it.
A BEAUTIFUL PLANET
Reading the news is depressing, so why not engage with the terrifying triviality of all our tiny struggles by examining our beautiful blue planet from the outside? (And hey, it can still look damn fine from the inside.)
Jennifer Lawrence lends her polished vocal cords to this stunningly shot documentary hosted by the folks at the International Space Station - a shining beacon of unity rivalled only by the utopian ideals of Star Trek.
I mean, if this don't do it for you, I don't even know. There's a wholly fictional universe you could try?
tl;dr Like Planet Earth with drone cameras and new narration.
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...
If you're a Nick Cave fan - and god help you if you aren't - One More Time With Feeling can't be missed. It's your first glimpse of the album and a truly intimate encounter with a legend of our music scene. While parents take their younguns off to The Secret Life Of Pets, I recommend you check out Girl Asleep for whimsical fun (and Aussie support) and/or My Scientology Movie to have your conspiracy senses tickled yet again.
Until next week!