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CINEMA Film round-up

Reviews of The Mitchells vs The Machines, Beast Beast, The Artist’s Wife, Without Remorse, Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation and Aviva

The Mitchells vs The Machines (PG)
Directed by Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe
⭑⭑⭑⭑

 

 

IF YOU spend most of your family time trying to prise your children off their smartphones and social media, then this wonderfully rich and imaginative animated feature will speak to your inner despair.

Six years in the making, it follows the ordinary but dysfunctional Mitchells as they are forced to save the world from a robot apocalypse instigated by a megalomaniac AI personal assistant, a mobile, known as Pal (Olivia Colman).

At its heart this is also a film about families finding new ways to see and connect with each other as an old-school father and technophobe (Danny McBride) is at odds with his budding film-maker teenage daughter (Abbi Jacobson).

Spurred on by his wife (Maya Rudolph), he attempts to salvage their relationship during a road trip from hell.

Full of film nods and Easter eggs for ardent cinephiles, and fun and colourful visual gags for the kids, co-writers and directors Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe deliver a hugely entertaining and impressive debut feature which will make you rethink your growing dependence on your phones and AI systems like Alexa.

MARIA DUARTE

Available on demand.

Beast Beast (15)
Directed by Danny Madden
⭑⭑⭑

 

 

THIS coming-of-age drama interweaves the stories of three young people in a suburban US town as they pursue their passions. They lead to shocking results, in this promising debut feature by writer-director Danny Madden, based on Madden’s 2018 short film Krista.

It centres on high-school drama student Krista (newcomer Shirley Chen), new kid and skateboarder extraordinaire Nito (Jose Angeles) — who Krista falls for — and recently graduated Adam (Will Madden) who is desperate to make his new YouTube channel about firearms a viral sensation.

A slow-burning but captivating drama, driven by grounded and naturalistic performances from its talented young cast, it showcases the growing influence of social media and how easily good kids can veer off the rails into drugs, petty crime and down a dark and twisted path towards radicalised gun-toting.

Definitely worth a watch.

MD

Available on demand.

The Artist’s Wife
Directed by Tom Dolby
⭑⭑⭑

 

 

A WOMAN who has put her own artistic career and life on hold to support her celebrated abstract artist husband throughout their marriage undergoes more heartbreak and suffering when he is diagnosed with dementia in this complex drama, a tribute to those women who stand next to their men.

Inspired by his own mother’s experiences with his father as he struggled with Alzheimer’s, co-writer and director Tom Dolby delivers a poignant portrait of a carer and the sacrifices she willingly makes for her egotistical husband, which are difficult to comprehend.

Driven home by standout performances by Lena Olin and Bruce Dern as the formidable couple, it also refreshingly explores the experience of a woman entering the third act of her life and finally rediscovering herself and her artistic talent — and that it’s never too late for a do-over.

MD

Available on demand.

Without Remorse
Directed by Stefano Sollima
⭑⭑⭑

 

 

IN DEVELOPMENT in some form or other for nearly three decades, Paramount’s long-gestating attempt to adapt Tom Clancy’s anti-terrorism series finally limps its way to the screen, wearing the face of Michael B Jordan in the serviceable — but really nothing more — Without Remorse.

Jordan follows in the footsteps of Willem Dafoe and Liev Schrieber as black-ops wunderkind John Kelly, the death of whose wife in a botched assassination attempt sees him leading a clandestine mission in pursuit of those responsible and tasked with preventing their next attack.

Without Remorse feels unendingly creatively restrained and oh so very 2003, with Jordan and co-star Jodi Turner-Smith doing their best to keep the energy and the intensity alive.

But the weak script and stifled direction from Sollima do it no favours.

VAN CONNOR

Available on demand.

Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation
Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland
⭑⭑⭑⭑

 

 

 

TWO of the most iconic writers of the 20th century share the stage in Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s compelling and intriguing documentary, a handsomely crafted portrait of the decades-long friendship between literary heavyweight Truman Capote and iconic playwright Tennessee Williams.

Their personal writings are brought to life in narration by Zachary Quinto and Jim Parsons, with the former faring unquestionably better than his co-star, whose delivery descends all too easily — though, given Capote’s distinctive drawl, understandably — into impersonation.

It’s a temptation Truman & Tennessee generally avoids elsewhere, where the quiet and intimacy of Vreeland’s efforts shine through.

The lives of Capote and Williams are well-documented but Vreeland’s success comes instead in peeking behind the obvious narratives.

VC

Available on demand.

Aviva
Directed by Boaz Yakin
⭑⭑⭑⭑

 

 

ORIGINALLY set to premiere at South by South-west film festival, director Boaz Yakin comes up with a unique venture, in which Zina Zinchenko is the eponymous French artist whose long distance, email-based romance with New Yorker Eden (Tyler Phillips) sees her up sticks across the Atlantic in the name of love.

But the passage of time soon sees the baggage of their former lives unravel their present ones. By this point Aviva is played by the decidedly male Or Schraiber, while Eden has become female, played by Bobbi Jene Smith.

Driven by not only dual-gender, dual-actor casting but a format of dance-and-narration to boot, it’s fair to say you won’t have encountered anything quite like Aviva before.

Available on demand.

VC

 

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