Godzilla and King Kong, monsters on the screen and at the box office, have kickstarted cinema attendance in Asia. The latest instalment in the Monster Universe franchise, Godzilla vs. Kong, debuted in the region on March 24, instantly pulling in fans in Hong Kong becoming the #1 movie.
The Warner Bros. distributed film surpassed box office expectations and achieved regional revenues in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India and Korea of US$25.2m on its opening weekend, with US$1.7m in Hong Kong. This made it the biggest industry opening in 2021 and local fans clearly fans were delighted that film’s final battle scene took place in Hong Kong.
It is clear that audiences are excited to return to theatres and to enjoy the biggest film titles on the big screen. Godzilla vs. Kong also made history being the biggest IMAX opening of the Monster Universe in 13 international territories including in India and Taiwan.
In China, where the film opened on March 26 and is distributed by Legendary Pictures, it took US$70.3m from 42,000 screens, with a 82% share of the box office. In the US, Godzilla vs. Kong opens in cinemas and debuts on HBO Max today (March 31). Other Warner Bros. films released during the pandemic include Tenet, Wonder Woman 1984, Tom & Jerry: The Movie, Academy Award-nominated Judas and the Black Messiah, with Mortal Kombat soon to debut.
From Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures comes the long-awaited showdown between two icons in the epic adventure Godzilla vs. Kong, directed by Adam Wingard. It stars Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown and Rebecca Hall.
Legends collide in Godzilla vs. Kong as these mythic adversaries meet in a spectacular battle for the ages, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Kong and his protectors undertake a perilous journey to find his true home, and with them is Jia, a young orphaned girl with whom he has formed a unique and powerful bond. But they unexpectedly find themselves in the path of an enraged Godzilla, cutting a swath of destruction across the globe. The initial confrontation between the two Titans – instigated by unseen forces – is only the beginning of the mystery that lies deep within the core of the Earth. www.godzillavskong.com
Calibre is a British Independent gem directed by Matt Palmer. The film starts off as a simple bonding holiday between two long time friends and ends up as a gripping thriller where the sense of isolation becomes overwhelming as edge of the seat twists and turns come thick and fast which leave the two main characters in a morale dilemma which becomes a route of no escape.
The simple premise starts off as a trip with Vaughn (Jack Lowden) and Marcus (Marcus McCann) to a remote Scottish town for a holiday before Vaughn gets married; it ends up being a tour de force of thrills and spills and moral deception. The story basically examines the true cost of friendship and loyalty if friends will truly remain ‘friends’ in some extreme situations.
The film starts very innocently but there is one single incident which occurs, which changes the entire trajectory of the story and the film. An unfortunate incident occurs, where in the immediate aftermath, both Marcus and Vaughn have decide to which is the best course of action to take.
They make a choice and this leads them into a darker web of lies and deception and deceit and in the end, they are basically trapped in this village, and as the lies and deceit, catch up to them, they are and they were placed in a very precarious situation.
Calibre is short and tense and frenetic and the sound and cinematography really captures the mood of the film. The isolation and the sense of foreboding is incredible as a once friendly town and its inhabitants seems to turn against them.
The film asks some morale questions and in the end, the viewer will end up questioning the decisions and choices which result in the shocking ending and what people will do to survive.
A Incredible Thriller ……in the Middle of Nowhere….
Night on earth is a classic cult comedy / drama where the small dramas of everyday life make for great film making and viewing. The film was directed the acclaimed auteur, Jim Jarmusch.
The beauty of this film is that it is set across the world on one night and is five separate stories involving five separate taxis in five separate cities, in obviously, five separate countries. The cities, Los Angeles, New York, Paris Rome and Helsinki.
This influential film is a classic because it inspired a sort of new wave of films which were in kind, collective short stories. Here, the short stories are all the same; each story has a Taxi driver dealing with a different assortment of passengers.
The first story is set in LA, where the cabbie ‘Corky’, Winona Ryder, picks up an Hollywood executive, played by Gena Rowlands. During the entire ride, Rowland’s character tries to convince ‘Corky’ to be an actress though to not much success; Corky is very happy and content doing what she does! Being a taxi driver and interacting with her passengers.
Another story is set in Rome, Italy, where has the famous Italian actor, Roberto Benigni, picks up a priest, and basically the priest confesses all of his sins and all the wrongdoings that he has done in his life with Roberto trying to become a sympathetic ear.
Another story is set in Helsinki, Finland, where it’s snowing and the driver, Mika, picks up three factory workers who seem to be telling tales of woe and sadness and Mika ends up trumping all their tales with his own sad story.
Another story is one from New York where the story focuses on an immigrant from East Germany who struggles understand the chaotic nature of the passengers who come into his taxi.
There is also a story in Paris where basically, two or three passengers, seem to underestimate their driver who is wiser than he seems.
The beauty of the film is that it shows that, all around the world, people are going through the same struggles for the same things. The film is enjoyable as it has a sense of empathy and pathos running throughout the entire film.
Another film dealing with the concept of misplaced loyalty which created a huge buzz is “Snowtown”. Based on a true story, this Australian Independent piece has garnered critical acclaim all around the world through word of mouth and its gritty dark nature and subject.
“Snowtown” deals with the true story of one of Australia’s most horrific crimes which occurred partly in the small town of “Snowtown.” Such was the nature of the crime that Snowtown is synonymous with its dark history and the community have even considered changing the name of the town to move on. The “cut off” nature of the community will definitely add to the sense of claustrophobia and the terrifying fact that, unspeakable and random crimes can occur in the middle of nowhere; where nothing happens………
Sometimes “horror” does not have to lie in the crimes themselves but in urban isolation and the mundanity of dead end lives……….
Directed by Mike Ott, “Littlerock” tells of cross cultural confusion, isolation and how simply someone can quickly come into your life and just as fast disappear yet leave a huge impact. The simple story tells of (Rintaro Sawamoto) and Atsuko (Atsuko Okatsuka), a brother and sister combination traveling across the United States and end up in Nowheresville, USA, namely Littlerock. A small dead-end town with little to nothing to keep the people who live there entertained.
The two Japanese visitors end up staying for a few days as their car has broken down. They slowly befriend the townspeople and become good friends with one of the local slackers Cory (Cory Zacharia). Stuck with nowhere to go, the two tourists adapt to the local lifestyle, hanging out, slacking and more hanging out.
Rintaro can speak basic english while his sister cannot speak nor understand but her good looks make her the object of attention.Rintaro decides to move on but Atsuko stays on due to a growing affection for the small town, slow paced lifestyle and some of the migrant workers she meets. The film focuses on relationships in a cross-cultural sense whereby even a language barrier does not prevent people from falling in love; it also shows how some people feel trapped and limited by small town life but are sometimes fearful to leave their small communities behind.A nice understated piece about the underlying human desire people have to connect.
One of the most talked about films of the past two decades, “We Need to Talk About Kevin” has finally been released to great acclaim and buzz around the world. Based on the hit book by Lionel Shriver, the film features one mother’s torment and guilt when her son commits an awful crime beyond the boundaries of normalcy and what begins as a routine family drama descends into a psychological thriller / horror.
The film stars Tilda Swinton and John C Reilly as the parents, whom it slowly dawns upon, that regardless of nurture or nature, some people are simply born with evil intent. Told in flash-backs, it shows the remnants of a once happy life and the impact and repercussions one person’s actions can have on everyone around them.
“We Need to Talk about Kevin” first featured at Cannes and has so far won great accolades including taking home the top prize at the “London Film Festival 2011″. Looks fascinating………
“SENNA” is the long-awaited biography / documentary on the fast life and times of F1 legend Aryton Senna; the Brazilian who lit up the racing world with his courage and bravery. Shot with archive footage from his go-karting days right till that fateful weekend in Imola in 1994, this piece tells his life story with old footage and does not feature present day interviews from those who knew him; so in a sense Senna’s life story is told from his own perspective…..
I barely follow F1 these days; but back in the day, I did watch the races and the names Senna, Prost, Hill, Mansell and many more featured regularly but Senna was always the star attraction….he constantly brought glory to his nation and himself and courted controversy…….
F1 drivers face their own mortality when they strap up to race, every second counts, any mistake can be fatal….Senna knew these risks yet faced them head on with full conviction…….
‘Les Misérables’ is a 2019 documentary like urban contemporary drama set in the heart of the beating pulse of Paris. The film was directed by Ladj Ly and is a searing observation of racism, class and social division.
The story is based on a real life incident and is set after the 2018 World Cup final. It follows the story of several teenagers who are living in the suburbs – Banlieues. The story is set in Montfermeil and shows the ethnic diversity of the area; this is also where Victor Hugo wrote his famous novel .
The film follows several officers as they go about their routine visits to the area and shows their relationship with the inhabitants of the area.
The film, basically shows the general tension between the police and the inhabitants of the area and it takes one or two minor events which explode into major one for the entire area and suburb to explode. It is shot as a searing documentary style film, which shows the simmering tensions which underlie French society, and specifically Paris.
There are no right or wrongs and the protagonists are trying to do their best in what are difficult circumstances to survive. The film is filled with misunderstandings and missed opportunities for reconciliation before the explosive ending.
Terrence Malick is a cinematic genius and here are some of his most famous films from the last few decade. His latest film is the World War 2 film, “A Hidden Life” which tells the true story of Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector, refuses to fight for the Nazis in World War II.
The film has been hailed as one of his best in recent years. With Malik’s latest release, this is a great time to reflect on his past films which stretch back over a few decades and come from the vivid imagination of this reclusive genius
‘THE TREE OF LIFE’
Starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Hunter McCracken, Laramie Eppler, Jessica Chastain, and Tye Sheridan
“The Tree of Life” with heavyweights Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. From what I know the film tells of a boy’s relationship with his parents from birth all the way to death. His mother nurtures him to be forgiving and full of grace while he suffers from a fraught and sometimes strained relationship with his father who teaches him the ways of the world. Quintessentially, everyone in life is influenced and affected by people around them, for better or for worse, everyone has choices and the film seeks to explore the interconnections of people, their strengths and of course, their flaws……
A simple enough story but Malick is a modern day artist whom normally weaves intricate storylines blended into stunning visuals. Malick normally takes his viewers into another world with his vivid imagination and the viewer for one will forever be grateful to have experienced such beautiful imagery…….
The Tree of Life has been in production for nearly ten years and it is a testament to the respect that Malick can garner that both Penn and Pitt signed on for this film. In a future post, I will comment on his past films such as the Thin Red Line, The New World and Days of Heaven…..
‘THE THIN RED LINE ‘
Starring Jim Cavizel, Ben Chaplin, Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, George Clooney, John Cusack, Jared Leto, John Savage and John Travolta.
“There’s only a thin red line between the sane and the mad.’
Tag Line “Everyman fights his own war…..”
The Thin Red Line is as far away from your average war film that you can imagine. Terrance Mallick took the famous semi-biographical book by James Jones and used it as a sweeping canvas for his vision of men at conflict with not just their percieved enemy but their own souls. TTRL is a stunningly poignant and moving poetic condemnation of the recklessness and insanity of war.
The film is set during the battle of Guadacanal during WW2 and the principal characters are Witt (Jim Caviezel) and Welsh (Sean Penn). The former views the world as a spirtual place and the island is a type of eden while the latter sees the world with cynical and worldly eyes. Even with all the death and destruction around him, Witt still desperately tries to hold onto his beliefs as his comrades become shells of their former selves due to some of the terrible things they have witnessed. For others like Welsh, war and killing is part of human nature, has been and always will be; a cycle of violence that can never truly end. The native Pacific islanders are tragically simply caught up in the fighting and their simple way of life is altered forever…….
The film presents the natural beauty of the island in stark contrast to all the chaos that is engulfing the tropical paradise with the men slowly realising their own mortality in what could essentially be their final resting place. TTRL focuses on the nature of mankind in an unspoiled natural ‘heaven’ on earth; where contemporary society itself comes to a percieved island paradise so must the worse manifestations of mankind.
The TTRl was Mallick’s first film after about twenty years and a whos who of Hollywood stars were literally falling over themselves to be involved. The stellar cast reflects the respect and esteem that is held for Mallick.There is actually a six hour cut which where people like Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Viggo Mortensen and Billy Bob Thorton are supposedly supposed to be in.
The film was unfortunately released at around the same time as “Saving Private Ryan” and was somewhat overshadowed by the latter. TTRL went onto to recieve several oscar nominations and took home top prize at the Berlin film festival.
‘DAYS OF HEAVEN’
Starring Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard and Linda Manz
Days of Heaven, a poignant love story, is one of the most beautiful films ever made. The scenery is simply stunning and cinematography will stay with you forever. I wish I saw this in the cinema…but I wasn’t born yet. This is one of Richard Gere’s first performances and how ironic it remains one of this best.
The simple story tells of a love triangle between Bill (Gere), Abby (Brooke Adams) and a richer farmer (Sam Shephard). Bill and Abby are lovers, at the turn of the twentieth century, who flee from Chicago and the midwest to build a better life. They find work on a farm where they pretend to be brother and sister; the rich farm owner soon meets abby and falls in love with her; soon they find out that the farm owner is dying and wishes to marry Abby before it is too late. Abby and Bill hope to eventually claim the dead farmers fortune; unfortunately circumstances change and a tragic love triangle ensues. A simple story but the canvas on which it plays out is simply beautiful and a sense of melancholy lingers throughout the entire film.
‘THE NEW WORLD‘
Starring Colin Farrell, Q’orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer and Christian Bale
A reinterpretation of the love story between Pocahantas and Captain John Smith and is a stunning visual feast for the eyes.
An incredible Australian film about the criminal underworld of Melbourne. Absolutely riveting and powerful……
Animal Kingdom tells of the ties that bind in an Australian gangland family in Melbourne. The old adage is that you dont choose your family rings true in this absolutely brilliant film. When 17 year Josh (James Frecheville) is left as an orphan right at the beginning of the film, he moves into his maternal grandmother’s home. This would be a pretty straight forward move but the only issue happens to be that the grandmother also is the head of Melbourne’s most wanted and violent criminal family.
The viewer is then taken on a roller coaster ride of emotions as you see Josh torn between following the straight and narrow or being loyal to his blood ties of his relatives whom he barely knows properly. Jackie Weaver deserved her oscar nomination with the amazing performance as the head of the family. Initially, she is seen as loving and warm to the new addition to her clan but as the police close in and the body count rises, she rapidly transforms into the ‘lioness’ out to protect her territory and loved ones at all costs.
This is a excellent little indie piece and offers a great insight into the mindset of members of a family who may not see eye to eye but stay together for the sake of survival. Another great performance from Guy Pearce who coincidently has starred in two Oscar best pictures in a row (Hurt Locker and The King’s Speech).
The film has now been turned into a successful TV series….