Cinemas & Home Entertainment this week…
GRIM PICKINGS this week includes key dates to dismember with one of the finest Australian films in recent years opening in cinemas while a polarising though incredibly successful superhero effort infects home entertainment.
Thursday January 17th
M. Night Shyamalan’s highly anticipated threequel has been garnering mixed reviews among critics, citing that it’s unnecessarily drawn-out, disjointed and ultimately a disappointment, proceed with caution. Following the conclusion of SPLIT, GLASS finds Dunn pursuing Crumb’s superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.
Australia gets the high concept film it’s long deserved with this stunning, emotional and uplifting adaptation of Colin Thiele beloved novella, STORM BOY. When Kingley (Geoffrey Rush) starts to see images from his past that he can’t explain, he is forced to remember his long-forgotten childhood, growing up on an isolated coastline with his father (Jai Courtney). He recounts to his grand-daughter (Morgana Davies) the story of how, as a boy (Finn Little), he rescued and raised an extraordinary orphaned pelican, Mr Percival. Their remarkable adventures and very special bond has a profound effect on all their lives.
Wednesday January 16th
Based on the critically acclaimed and record-breaking theatre production, GHOST STORIES, this British anthology horror is written and directed by the playwrights themselves Jeremy Dyson & Andy Nyman. A perfect concoction of subversive humour and horror abound in this beautifully stylized and perfectly realized adaptation of the stage show. Professor Phillip Goodman (Nyman) devotes his life to exposing phoney psychics and fraudulent supernatural shenanigans. His skepticism soon gets put to the test when he receives news of three chilling and inexplicable cases — disturbing visions in an abandoned asylum, a car accident deep in the woods and the spirit of an unborn child. Even scarier — each of the macabre stories seems to have a sinister connection to the professor’s own life.
Following his turn in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, Tom Hardy returns to big screen comic book realm with another role that allows him to stay partially concealed from audiences…bless him. Despite its poor critical reception and somewhat dividing audience opinion, VENOM made a lot of bank, so much in fact that the sequel is already in development. Eddie Brock (Hardy) is a broken man after he loses everything including his job and fiancée. Just when his life is at its lowest, he becomes host to an alien symbiote which results in extraordinary superpowers – transforming him into Venom. Will these powers be enough for this new lethal protector to defeat great evil forces, especially against the far stronger and more weaponized symbiote rival, Riot? Sony Pictures’s 4K Ultra-HD and Blu-ray releases come loaded with Special Features including multiple production featurettes, deleted/extended scenes, music videos and a ‘Venom Mode’ that features insightful pop-ups throughout the film!
ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL
DEADPOOL 2 returns with an interestingly reworked narrative and slightly neutered but we dug this shameless cash-grab of a remix. To kick off the holiday season audiences of almost all ages will soon be able to enjoy the Merc (Ryan Reynolds) with the Mouth’s reimagining of DEADPOOL 2 filtered through the prism of childlike innocence.
Bart Layton, the documentarian responsible for 2012’s incredible THE IMPOSTER, directs his first narrative feature that is funnily enough based on an extraordinary true story. Four friends (Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, and Jared Abrahamson) living an ordinary existence who brazenly attempt to execute one of the most audacious art heists in US history. But not everything is as it seems, and as the daring theft unfolds through each of their perspectives, each of them start to question whether their attempts to inject excitement and purpose into their lives is simply a misguided attempt at achieving the American Dream.
From comic to co-star, Kevin Hart (RIDE ALONG, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE) has proven a viable box office name in the past five odd years so the time could not be riper for him to take the lead in NIGHT SCHOOL. Under the expert comedy craftsmanship of director Malcolm D. Lee (GIRLS TRIP, UNDERCOVER BROTHER) and with a strong supporting cast that includes Tiffany Haddish (THE LAST O.G.), Rob Riggle (DUMB AND DUMBER TO) and Mary Lynn Rajskub (WILSON), Hart shines in a role that’s tailored to his brand of humour. NIGHT SCHOOL is a welcome return to the style of comedy we were more familiar with in the 80s & 90s, a little dumber and a whole lot funnier, where laughs are paramount and drama is secondary. A man’s life (Hart) takes an unexpected turn when he accidentally blows up his place of employment. Forced to attend night school to get his GED, he must now deal with a group of misfit students and a feisty teacher (Haddish) who doesn’t think he’s too bright. Universal Pictures’s Blu-ray includes both the Theatrical and Director’s Cut of the film along with commentary, deleted scenes, gag reel and a host of production featurettes!
Aussie Kodi Smit-McPhee (LET ME IN, SLOW WEST) gives a career best performance in this high-concept yet genuinely heartfelt survival adventure. Visually spectacular with a throughly engaging narrative, ALPHA possesses a rare wonderment and as such transcends the current blockbuster to potentially become a modern classic. While on his first hunt with his tribe’s most elite group, a young man is injured and must learn to survive alone in the wilderness. Reluctantly taming a lone wolf abandoned by its pack, the pair learn to rely on each other and become unlikely allies, enduring countless dangers and overwhelming odds in order to find their way home before winter arrives. Sony Pictures’s Blu-ray releases contains two cuts of the film: Theatrical & Director’s Cut along with deleted scenes and four production featurettes.
Grim Pickings is written weekly by Jarret Gahan.