Friday 25 September 2015

5 for Friday (September 25): Trailers, new releases and box office

It's an extremely frustrating week because many of the films most worth seeing are only getting a limited release. Worse still, the likes of Life and 99 Homes don't seem to be showing up on VOD and DVD/Blu-ray any time soon either. Still, there's always The Martian (pictured above) - Ridley Scott's much-hyped return to sci-fi - to look forward to...

1. 99 Homes
What is it? Andrew Garfield (Spider-Man) and Michael Shannon (General Zod in Man Of Steel) step away from their roles in superhero movies to take on an altogether more weighty subject: America's subprime mortgage crisis, which saw thousands of people lose their homes in the late 00s. When Floridian construction worker Dennis Nash (Garfield) has his family home repossessed, he ends up working for Rick Carver (Shannon), the greedy and ruthless real estate broker responsible for taking his house in the first place. Nash makes serious money but in so doing loses his soul and breaks the law.
Where can I see it in the UK? Just key cities, more's the pity. This is clearly a film that should be getting a far bigger release.
Critical consensus? An impressive 89 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
My take: Garfield, Laura Dern (who plays his mum), and Shannon are terrific actors one and all - better yet, the latter seems to be channeling Gordon Gekko in the trailer. In fact, the film has a kind of Wall Street/Glengarry Glen Ross evils-of-capitalism vibe about it which means we could in for a real treat.

2. The Martian
(from Wednesday)
What is it? Ridley Scott's highly-anticipated adaptation of the Andy Weir novel about an astronaut left behind on Mars after a manned mission to the red planet goes tits up. It boasts an all-star cast including Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Kristen Wiig.
Where can I see it in the UK? Like a Martian invasion of Earth, it's everywhere. (There are lots of previews before the film's official release on Wednesday too).
Critical consensus? An out-of-this-world 93 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
My take: Ridley Scott has done some terrible old guff in recent years (Robin Hood, Exodus: Gods And Kings) but he's still the man who made Alien and Blade Runner. Come Wednesday morning, I shall be first in line for a ticket.

3. Life
What is it? Director Anton Corbijn tells the story behind LIFE magazine's famous James Dean photo shoot from 1955, including the iconic shot of the actor in Times Square. The film follows the friendship between photographer Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson) and Dean (Dane DeHaan), then a rising Hollywood star just about to film East Of Eden, as they travel between Los Angeles, New York and Indiana. 
Where can I see it in the UK? Key cities only.
Critical consensus? A barely fresh 63 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
My take: Having been a world-renowned music photographer with a host of iconic album covers to his name, Corbijn knows a thing or two about Life's subject matter. On the strength of that and his last film - the underrated A Most Violent Year - I'm very much looking forward to this.

4. Orion: The Man Who Would Be King

What is it? Documentary chronicling the career of Orion, the mysterious masked singer who was a dead ringer for Elvis Presley. The Heartbreak Hotel superstar died just prior to Orion making his stage debut and it led many to wonder if he was really The King back from the dead. He wasn't; in reality, Orion was just an impersonator named Jimmy Ellis and part of a weird scheme to convince people of Presley's resurrection. Bonkers.
Where can I see it in the UK? It's getting a very limited release in key cities only. 
Critical consensus? Only three reviews up on Rotten Tomatoes, but two of them liked it a lot.
My take: Not really a case of truth being stranger than fiction (a fat chancer in a mask could never compete with a genuinely undead Elvis) but that shouldn't put you off Jeanie Finlay's fascinatingly odd film.   

5. Just Jim 
What is it? Craig Roberts - who you may remember as an actor in Submarine and the TV show Being Human - writes, directs and stars in this story about a nerdy Welsh teenager whose life is transformed by the arrival of Dean (Emile Hirsch), a cool and enigmatic American with more than a passing resemblance to the subject of this week's #3 movie (see above).  
Where can I see it in the UK? It's only getting a very limited release but is available now on the BFI Player.
Critical consensus? An encouraging 67 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
My take: I've enjoyed Roberts in everything I've seen him in and am keen to see how he works out as a writer and director. This has a sort of Play It Again, Sam vibe but I suspect it might be somewhat darker than Herbert Ross's 1972 film starring Woody Allen, and Jerry Lacy as Humphrey Bogart. 

Also on release this week...
Arcade Fire: The Reflektor Tapes 
Jawani Phir Nahi Ani
Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon
Kaun Kare Insaaf
Lessons In Love
Lost In Hong Kong
McFarland, USA
Mia Madre
Miss You Already 
Older Than Ireland
Whitey Bulger

UK box office top 10
1. Everest 
2. Legend 
3. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials 
4. The Visit 
5. Inside Out 
6. Straight Outta Compton 
7. Empire Strikes Back (Secret Cinema) 
8.  A Walk in the Woods 
9. Battle of Britain at 75
10. Bill 

US box office top 10
1. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
2. Black Mass
3. The Visit
4. The Perfect Guy
5. Everest
6. War Room
7. A Walk in the Woods
8. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
9. Straight Outta Compton
10. Grandma 

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