’71 Review | TIFF 2014

by     Posted 6 days ago

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It’s incredibly exciting to watch emerging talent in movies.  It usually comes in a film that’s completely flying under the radar, you manage to catch it, and then you reach that wonderful position where you get to champion artists.  For a film critic, that feeling is the best, and Yann Demange’s ’71 is a film worth cheering for.  The movie itself is actually grim and intense, but that’s because it’s so damn effective thanks to Demange’s brilliant direction, Gregory Burke’s script, Tat Radcliffe’s cinematography, and Chris Wyatt’s editing.  And at the center is Jack O’Connell, who proves that his past success was no fluke.  He’s the real deal in a movie that’s too daring for Hollywood and all the better for it.

Director David Mackenzie Talks STARRED UP, Full Cast and Crew Rehearsals, Shooting in Sequence, Filming in a Real Prison, Working with Jack O’Connell and More

by     Posted 22 days ago

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At this point, director David Mackenzie has eight feature films to his name, a BAFTA win and he snagged the Prize of the Guild of German Art House Cinemas at the Berlin International Film Festival two times, but he’s still looking to keep things fresh and shake up his process a bit.  His latest film, Starred Up, features Jack O’Connell as Eric, an extremely violent 19-year-old kid who’s prematurely transferred to the same adult prison that his father’s in.

With Starred Up set to begin its limited theatrical run on August 27th in New York City, Mackenzie took the time to talk to us about some of the new methods he used while making it, namely shooting it in sequence and also filming the rehearsals, which didn’t just involve the cast, but the crew, too.  Hit the jump for more on that, Mackenzie’s experience shooting in a former prison, casting O’Connell, having two editors working on the cut while he was in production and more.  You can also click here to read about the Robert the Bruce movie he’s working on.

STARRED UP Review

by     Posted 22 days ago

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[This is a re-post of my review from the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.  Starred Up opens today in limited release and is also available on VOD.]

In movies, a father/son bond can be repaired in various ways: A game of catch, a cross-country road trip, or a death in the family to name a few. Starred Up finds a new one by putting the reconciliation inside a prison, and showing the attempts of a father to protect his reckless son from getting murdered by other inmates. Supported by excellent performances from Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn, director David Mackenzie and screenwriter Jonathan Asser have removed the schmaltz from the father/son story by taking two men who aren’t just estranged; they’re both violent and dangerous in a volatile environment. The filmmakers then proceed to further expand the story by offering the son different support structures and choices that further complicate his familial relationship.

Director David Mackenzie Wants Jack O’Connell for His Robert the Bruce Film

by     Posted 23 days ago

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Jack O’Connell
has been around and working steadily for quite a while, but he’s only first becoming a familiar name now and odds are, it’s partially because he delivers an outstanding performance in the upcoming release, Starred Up.  The film is the latest from Perfect Sense and Hallam Foe director, David Mackenzie, and stars O’Connell as a violent 19-year-old who’s prematurely transferred to an adult prison.

That one just hit iTunes and VOD today and will also make its way into select theaters tomorrow, but that won’t mark the end of Mackenzie and O’Connell’s time working together.  While discussing what it took to make Starred Up, Mackenzie also teased that he’s got a new film brewing and he’s interested in giving O’Connell a major role in it.  Hit the jump for more.

First ’71 Trailer: Jack O’Connell Tries to Find His Way Home

by     Posted 30 days ago

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One of the best films I saw at this year’s Berlin Film Festival was ’71, which is the feature directorial debut of Yann Demange (whose credits include some high-profile and acclaimed British television series like Top Boy, Criminal Justice, Secret Diary of a Call Girl).  The film is set in Belfast in 1971 and it’s about a young British soldier (Jack O’Connell) that’s accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot.  Trapped behind enemy lines, he’s unable to tell friend from foe, and we follow as he tries to find his way home, while the locals battle for supremacy.  One of the reasons the film is so powerful is that it doesn’t portray any character or side in absolutes.  Each person we meet along the way has depth, and Demange doesn’t pull any punches when depicting the violence of the times.

With ’71 doesn’t yet have a release date in America, the film opens in the U.K. on October 10th and the first trailer has landed online.  What’s great about the ‘71 trailer is that it sells you on the story and action without ruining any of the twists and turns.  Hit the jump to check it out.

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 65 days ago

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As the supplements suggest, 300: Rise of an Empire is not a straight sequel to Frank Miller and Zack Snyder’s 300, as it can also be described as a prequel, sidequel, and probably some other words that have been invented to describe modern spin-off films that don’t pick up after the last film ended.  Rise of an Empire is meant to be like a glove to the first film, as it surrounds the original narrative with new material.  The results are a film that doesn’t totally work on its own terms, but does offer a delicious scene-stealing performance from Eva Green.  My 300: Rise of an Empire Blu-ray review follows after the jump. 

New UNBROKEN Trailer and Images Starring Jack O’Connell as Olympian and War Hero Louis Zamperini

by     Posted 70 days ago

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Universal has released a new Unbroken trailer online along with a batch of new images.  Angelina Jolie‘s film tells the incredibly true story of Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell), a former Olympian and WWII bombardier whose plane crashed at sea in 1943.  Zamperini and two crewmates floated adrift for 47 days and 2000 miles, eventually finding themselves caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a POW camp where Zamperini was targeted by a sadistic overseer.  O’Connell looks good and the cinematography is very pretty, but this trailer also features people shouting platitudes like “You can take it, you can make it,” and “A moment of pain is worth a lifetime of glory.”  It looks like prime Oscar-bait, and while it turn out to be a good movie, the sappy tone of the trailer makes me feel like the film should be called “Unbroken: It Will Inspire the Living Shit out of You“.

Hit the jump to check out the Unbroken trailer and images.  The film opens December 25th, and also stars Domhnall Gleeson, Miyavi, Garrett Hedlund, and Finn Wittrock.

STARRED UP: Check out the Trailer and Poster for the Prison Drama Starring Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn

by     Posted 71 days ago

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Tribeca film has released the Starred Up trailer and poster.  The drama centers on Eric (Jack O’Connell), a 19-year-old who has been in the prison system most of his life, but is now incarcerated in a penitentiary for adults.  Once inside, he must confront his violent tendencies and a renewed relationship with his estranged father (Ben Menedelsohn).  I really liked the film when I saw it at TIFF, and this trailer does a good job of highlighting O’Connell’s excellent performance without giving away too much of the plot.  This is definitely an indie to keep on your radar when it’s released next month.

Hit the jump to check out the Starred Up trailer and poster.  The film hits iTunes on August 26th and will be released in theaters on August 29th.  Starred Up also stars Rupert Friend.

Irons and Miller Join HIGH-RISE; Sarsgaard and Ryder to Lead EXPERIMENTER; Galifianakis Has TULIP FEVER; Butler Set for DEN OF THIEVES

by     Posted 127 days ago

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We have a few casting stories for you this morning.  Briefly:

  • Jeremy Irons and Sienna Miller will join Tom Hiddleston in Ben Wheatley‘s adaptation of J.G. Ballard‘s High-Rise.
  • Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder will lead the biopic Experimenter, The Stanley Milgram Story.
  • Zach Galifanakis has signed on to Justin Chadwick‘s period romance Tulip Fever.
  • Gerard Butler is set to star in the heist drama Den of Thieves.

Hit the jump for more details on these casting bits.

Joe Cornish Set to Direct SECTION 6, a Universal Spy Thriller Starring Jack O’Connell

by     Posted 184 days ago

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Joe Cornish has beaten out competing directors David MacKenzie and Tom Hooper for Universal’s spy thriller, Section 6.  After a bidding war that resulted in the studio’s winning seven-figure purchase, the search for a director turned into a rather lengthy process.  That search is now over with Cornish on board, and Jack O’Connell starring as a young protege.  Here’s the logline: “The historical spy thriller follows the World War I-era formation of British intelligence agency MI6 and its first director, Sir George Mansfield Cummings, who served as the inspiration for M in the James Bond series.”  (Via The Wrap)

Jack O’Connell and Callan Mulvey Talk 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE, Filming in Bulgaria, 3D, and More

by     Posted 192 days ago

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Now playing in theaters is director Noam Murro’s 300: Rise of an Empire.  In the sequel to Zack Snyder’s 300, Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), and Artemisia (Eva Green), the vengeful commander of the Persian navy.  The film also stars Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, David Wenham, Igal Nao, Callan Mulvey, Jack O’Connell, and Andrew Tiernan.  I’ve seen the film twice now and am happy to report the sequel kicks ass.  The fight scenes are extremely well done, the 3D actually adds to the story, and Eva Green’s performance is worth the price of admission.  It also might have the best sex scene of 2014, and it’s only February.  While many might have wondered if we needed a sequel to 300, I’m very happy they made it.

At the Los Angeles press day I landed an exclusive video interview with Jack O’Connell and Callan Mulvey.  They talked about their reaction to the finished film, the use of 3D, what it was like filming in Bulgaria, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to watch.

Watch a New Featurette about the Villains of 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE

by     Posted 203 days ago

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With director Noam Murro’s 300: Rise of an Empire opening March 7th, WB. has released a new featurette that focuses on the villains.  In the sequel to Zack Snyder’s 300, Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), and Artemisia (Eva Green), the vengeful commander of the Persian navy.  The film also stars Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, David Wenham, Igal Nao, Callan Mulvey, Jack O’Connell, and Andrew Tiernan.

I caught a screening a few days ago and am happy to report the sequel kicks a lot of ass.  The fight scenes are extremely well done, the 3D actually adds to the story, and Eva Green’s performance is worth the price of admission.  While many might have wondered if we needed a sequel to 300, I’m very happy they made it.  Hit the jump to watch the featurette and here’s all our previous coverage on the film.

Jack O’Connell in Negotiations to Star in SECTION 6; Colin Quinn Joins TRAINWRECK; PAUL BLART: MALL COP Sequel Fills out Its Cast

by     Posted 209 days ago

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Here’s today’s latest casting news:

  • Jack O’Connell is in final negotiations star in Universal’s spy thriller Station 6 as the younger lead.
  • Colin Quinn is the latest performer to join Amy Schumer in Judd Apatow’s next directorial effort, Trainwreck.
  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 will add David Henrie, Eduardo Verastegui, Nicholas Turturro, and Gary Valentine, with Molly Shannon and Raini Rodriguez in negotiations to star alongside Kevin James.

Hit the jump for more.

Over 40 New Images from 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE Starring Eva Green, Sullivan Stapleton, Lena Headey, and Rodrigo Santoro

by     Posted 209 days ago

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Warner Bros. has released a slew of new high-resolution images from director Noam Murro’s upcoming stylish actioner 300: Rise of an Empire.  The story takes place before, during, and after the events of director Zack Snyder‘s 2006 film 300, centering on the naval battles between Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) and Artemisia (Eva Green) and the latter’s control over Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro).  These new images give us a look at the expanded 300 universe, from Xerxes’ origin to the intense naval battles between Artemisia’s army and Themistokles’ crew.  We also get a brief look behind-the-scenes by way of a few official set photos, confirming that there is indeed a lot of blue screen involved in bringing Rise of an Empire to life.

Hit the jump to check out the images.  The film also stars Lena Headey, Jack O’Connell, Hans Matheson, David Wenham, Igal Nao, and Andrew Tiernan300: Rise of an Empire opens in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D on March 7th.

Jack O’Connell Talks ’71, How It’s Not Just an Action Thriller, 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE, Angelina Jolie’s UNBROKEN, and More

by     Posted 213 days ago

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One of the best films I saw at this year’s Berlin Film Festival was ’71, which is the feature directorial debut of Yann Demange (whose credits include some high-profile and acclaimed British television series like Top Boy, Criminal Justice, Secret Diary of a Call Girl).  The film is set in Belfast in 1971 and it’s about a young British soldier (Jack O’Connell ) that’s accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot.  Trapped behind enemy lines, he’s unable to tell friend from foe, and we follow as he tries to find his way home, while the locals battle for supremacy.  One of the reasons the film is so powerful is that it doesn’t portray any character or side in absolutes.  Each person we meet along the way has depth, and Demange doesn’t pull any punches when depicting the violence of the times.  It’s a great film that I hope finds domestic distribution.

While in Berlin, I was able to participate in a roundtable interview with Jack O’Connell.  He talked about how he got involved in the project, how the film isn’t just an action thriller, what he knew about the conflict prior to filming, the strong visuals of the film, how he got into acting, future projects like 300: Rise of an Empire and Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, and a lot more.   Hit the jump for what he had to say.

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