TL;DR This Week In Cinema: A Trio Of Masters, A Trio Of Busters
Welcome to Beat's weekly rundown of what's hot in the coming seven days of cinematic releases. One movie for every day of the week this time around.
There's more Tom Hanks than you can poke a global conspiracy at this year, but there's also brand new Aussie drama, real crime, three-quarters of the Ghostbusters, and the return of three masters - Almodóvar, Anno and Chan.
Gosh, I spoil you.
Dan Brown is one of the most maligned figures in the literary world, with The Da Vinci Code getting the churchgoers real grumpy and Ron Howard's stilted adaptation evacuating cinemas. Angels & Demons improved on the formula, but enough to justify a third film?
Inferno wins points from me for referencing Dante Alighieri, a favourite of mine who gave the world its most compelling description of the biblical hellscape. Brown's latest pits cryptologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) against deceased transhumanist and post-mortem terrorist Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), who has crafted a virus capable of killing half the planet.
Upping the stakes doesn't always make for a more thrilling tale, but anyone who enjoys Hanks, puzzles and money shots of Italy will at least have something to cling to for the two-hour runtime.
tl;dr At least it can't possibly be worse than the game.
JOE CINQUE'S CONSOLATION
This Aussie drama hits home hard, depicting the circumstances in 1997 in which young engineer Joe Cinque (played by Jerome Meyer) was given a lethal injection by his suicidal lover, ANU law student Anu Singh (Maggie Naouri).
Himself an ANU graduate, director Sotiris Dounoukos makes his feature debut with an impassive, calculated look at the events leading to the macabre dinner party culminating in Cinque's death.
Shifting the focus from that of Helen Garner's novel, it's likely to surprise and intrigue the real crime fans (weirdos) and ask troubling questions of us as individuals: how well do we know ourselves? Our loved ones? How much do we trust our own thoughts?
tl;dr Pictured: everyone.
Here, he adapts Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro's short stories into the tender tale of a disappearing daughter, and 30 years of reflection from her mother (Emma Suárez).
Those after another thriller like The Skin I Live In aren't buying the right ticket, but Almodóvar's particular sensitivities and the apparently brilliant cast make this the drama pick of the week.
tl;dr There's only one proper solution to a missing daughter.
Our second true crime film this week, Masterminds takes quite a different tone. The trailer and the cast seemed promising enough - three of the four new Ghostbusters (apologies to Melissa McCarthy) backing Zach Galifianakis and Owen Wilson? Comedy gold waiting to happen.
But the response has been harsh! Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones are probably used to it from the GB fanboys, but at least that film got critical cred. It might be down to Jared Hess, who's produced little since 2004's Napoleon Dynamite.
Idiot plotting has this inherent danger - get too stoopid and you risk insulting your audience. Anyway, the most you'll get from this is some dumb fun.
tl;dr NEEDS MOAR HOLTZMAN.
I have to admit bias here - writer/co-director Hideaki Anno created Neon Genesis Evangelion, which in my mind remains one of the greatest achievements in the history of the moving image. As a fanboy, the thought of what he could bring to the mythos of Godzilla is drool-inducing.
It's also refreshing to see Godzilla return to the shores that birthed him. The beast is a uniquely Japanese creation, closely tied to historical events only they have had the misfortune to experience. How will it fare in a modern-day Tokyo, so many decades on?
My guess? With liberal doses of mass destruction, epileptic editing, self-doubt, psychoanalysis and screaming.
tl;dr The greatest monsters exist in your mind...
Remember Rush Hour? There were three of them (with a fourth one rumoured), pairing Skiptrace star and slapstick king Jackie Chan with bigmouth Chris Tucker. Then there was Shanghai Noon with Owen Wilson. Now having run out of flavour-of-the-moment buddy cop pairings, Hollywood has saddled Chan with old news Jackass alumni Johnny Knoxville.
And if RogerEbert.com is to be believed, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Though I can't say their nods to Skiptrace's damselling and homophobia have me particularly thrilled. The film sees a Hong Kong detective paired with an American gambler in an effort to take down a Chinese crimelord, in a journey that crosses the plains of Mongolia.
You know exactly what you're in for - an incompetent Yank cracking wise while Jackie freakin' Chan cracks heads. If nothing else, it's another opportunity to see the master at work, even if Americans just don't know how to shoot him right.
tl;dr Mongolia - the home of the noble yak.
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...
Masterminds is apparently disastrous, so this was a no-brainer. It's time to get monstrous with Shin Godzilla.
Until next week!