Ben Wheatley brings the big guns. Cristian Mungiu lays bare a world of systemic corruption. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch cut up a mysterious corpse. Yes, here's this week's new releases. Click on for our reviews of Free Fire, Graduation, The Autopsy of ...
Total Film Staff
Out on Friday 31 March
Ben Wheatley brings the big guns. Cristian Mungiu lays bare a world of systemic corruption. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch cut up a mysterious corpse.Yes, here's this week's new releases. Click on for our reviews of Free Fire, Graduation, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Man Down, Fear Eats the Soul, Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang, Whoâ€™s Gonna Love Me Now?, Donâ€™t Knock Twice, Smurfs: The Lost Village, The Void, and The Tickling Giants.Plus, come back on Thursday for our review of Ghost in the Shell.For the best movie reviews, subscribe to Total Film.
Brit director Ben Wheatley follows up High-Rise with another â€™70s showcase. Swapping a tower block for a warehouse, he boldly builds an entire film around the mother of all Mexican stand-offs. Any one-location movie is a risky proposition, but Wheatley and co-writer/co-editor Amy Jump double their difficulties by stripping backstory to the bare minimum and letting the bullets fly.Â To get some idea of the eardrum assault that is the Free Fire experience, picture True Romanceâ€™s magnificent ending stretched out to 90 minutes. It starts with two gangs arriving at a Massachusetts docks, circa 1978, for a major arms deal. In the red corner: Provisional IRA members Frank (Michael Smiley) and Chris (Cillian Murphy), joined by hired muscle Stevo (Sam Riley) and Bernie (Enzo Cilenti).Supplying 30 assault rifles is South African gun-runner Vernon (Sharlto Copley), with a manner so cocksure you just know heâ€™s getting a bullet from someone. His back-up includes Harry (an unrecognisable Jack Reynor) and Gordon (Noah Taylor). And somewhere in the middle, brokering the deal, is Armie Hammerâ€™s sharp-suited Ord, his associate Martin (Babou Ceesay) and Justine (Brie Larson), the lone lady amid this tidal wave of testosterone.Within minutes, it becomes clear this deal isnâ€™t going to end well â€“ the guns are the wrong sort and, worse still, Harry recognises Stevo from an unpleasant altercation the night before. Boys will be boys, of course, and itâ€™s only a matter of time before punches are thrown. Wheatley doesnâ€™t immediately pull out the big guns, though, letting tensions simmer until one bright spark canâ€™t resist it.When the caps start popping, itâ€™s an orgy of noise, dust, bullets and screams that feels like itâ€™ll never end. But Wheatley and Jump are smart enough to know that pumping lead for an hour-and-a-half simply wonâ€™t play. And so alliances are made and broken, as characters literally stagger from pillar to post, just as others realise the only way out is to call for back-up â€“ no mean feat when the only phone in the building is upstairs.Itâ€™s an intelligent piece of thriller engineering, oiled with â€™70s style and some wonderful lines (mostly spoken by Copley, who has a field day with phrases such as â€œbadinageâ€ and â€œredeem yourselfâ€). Itâ€™s also seasoned with some choice soundtrack cuts (John Denver gets an ironic airing, his twangy tones as memorable as Reservoir Dogsâ€™ use of â€˜Stuck in the Middle with Youâ€™ in one particularly horrific scene).True, Free Fireâ€™s assault on the senses will annoy some, and it arguably lacks the layers of some of Wheatleyâ€™s earlier films. But for those craving an old-school thriller with blood on its hands (for starters), this is one hot ticket.THE VERDICT: Loud, ripe, violent, bloody and blackly funny, Free Fire cocks its gun right in your face. See it â€“ and bring earplugs.Director: Ben Wheatley; Starring: Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Brie Larson, Sam Riley, Michael Smiley; Theatrical release: March 31, 2017James Mottram
Absorbing and intricately plotted, this family drama from Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) unfolds in a bleak Transylvanian town, where local surgeon Romeo (Adrian Titieni) fatefully compromises his moral principles to boost the exam grades of daughter Eliza (Maria-Victoria Dragus).Masterfully filmed in long takes, this slow-burner lays bare a world of systemic corruption.Director: Cristian Mungiu; Starring: Adrien Titieni, Maria-Victoria Dragus; Theatrical release: March 31, 2017Tom Dawson
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
This literal chiller sees Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch play father-son coroners with a mystery on their slab: a beautiful corpse whose innards reveal a centuries-old history of torture and terror.As stiffs return to life, AndrÃ© Ã˜vredal (Troll Hunter) ruthlessly ratchets the tension â€“ with no little assistance from Olwen Kelly, conveying menace without moving a muscle.Director: AndrÃ© Ã˜vredal; Starring: Brian Cox, Emile Hirsch, Ophelia Lovibond; Theatrical release: March 31, 2017Neil Smith
Director Dito Montiel reunites with his A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints star Shia LaBeouf for this tale of a troubled US Marine searching for his wife (Kate Mara) and son in a seemingly post-apocalyptic America.LaBeouf is committed, and itâ€™s fun seeing him go toe-to-toe with Gary Oldman (as his boss). But amid Montielâ€™s jigsaw-like structure lurk some generic revelations. Disappointing.Director: Dito Montiel; Starring: Shia Labeouf, Katie Mara, Jai Courtney; Theatrical release: March 31, 2017James Mottram
Fear Eats the Soul
Prejudice scalds and moral hypocrisy stings when a 60-yearold cleaning woman (Brigitte Mira) marries a thirtysomething immigrant (El Hedi ben Salem) in this devastating 1974 melodrama by Rainer Werner Fassbinder.The prolific auteur was a huge admirer of Douglas Sirk, and there are echoes here of All That Heaven Allows, but the intensity is all Fassbinder.Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder; Starring: Brigitte Mira, El Hedi Ben Salem, Barbara Valentin, Irm Hermann; Theatrical release: March 31, 2017Jamie Graham
Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang
Tearaway twins Zip (RaÃºl Rivas) and Zap (Daniel Cerezo) are packed off to a summer school thatâ€™s more like borstal, run by an eyepatched tyrant (Javier GutiÃ©rrez) with an anti-fun agenda.Glue-in-the-shampoo hijinks give way to a treasure hunt with some mild Indy Jones-esque peril. A wholesome kid-flick more suited to CBBC than the big screen.Director: Oskar Santos; Starring: Javier Gutierrez, RaÃºl Rivas, Claudia Vega; Theatrical release: March 31, 2017Matthew Leyland
Whoâ€™s Gonna Love Me Now?
Sibling documentarians Barak and Tomer Heymann craft this moving portrait of Saar Maoz, a London-based, gay Israeli Jew. Diagnosed HIV positive, heâ€™s preparing to reconcile with his religious family after 19 years.Juggling heartbreaking frankness with uplifting scenes of love and solidarity, this is a sensitive exploration of family, faith and opposing cultures.Directors: Barak Heymann, Tomer Heymann; Theatrical release: April 2, 2017Matt Looker
Donâ€™t Knock Twice
Inventive camerawork and a creepy (crawly) monster canâ€™t save this messy supernatural horror. Katee Sackhoff and Sing Streetâ€™s Lucy Boynton star as a mum and daughter fighting a witch in Wales.Director Caradog W. James conjures eerie reds, and Javier Botet (Mama) terrifies as the withered crone, but the filmâ€™s nonsensical mythology quickly unravels. Shame.Director: James Caradog; Starring: Katee Sackhoff, Lucy Boynton, Richard Mylan; Theatrical release: March 31, 2017Josh Winning
Smurfs: The Lost Village
Smurfette (Demi Lovato) addresses identity issues on a quest to a secret Smurfs enclave in this starry-voiced, all-animated adventure. Pity no original ideas await her as the plot loses focus in the garish fauna.Trollsâ€™ Poppy would gag on the sickly sweetness here, against which Gargamelâ€™s evil puns canâ€™t compete. â€œPrepare for Gar-mageddon!â€ Or worse: more Smurfs films.Director: Kelly Asbury; Starring: Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiella, Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi, Mandy Patinkin; Theatrical release: March 31, 2017Kevin Harley
A ragtag group cower in a near-deserted hospital, with cloaked figures amassing outside and a gateway to Hell yawning in the basementâ€¦Blending The Thing, Prince of Darkness, Hellraiser and Lovecraftian cosmic horror, this falls flat in suspense and characterisation, but ace â€™80s FX â€“ all liquefying latex â€“ will delight genre fans. Directors Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski are ones to watch.Directors: Jeremy Gilliespie, Steven Kostanski; Starring: Kathleen Munrow, Aaron Poole; Theatrical release: March 31, 2017Jamie Graham
In 2011, comedian Bassem Youssef began the life-threatening ride of creating Egyptâ€™s first satirical TV news show, as the Arab Spring brought huge upheavals to a country that had never known a free press.This funny-sad chronicle of how the â€˜Egyptian Jon Stewartâ€™ got squeezed between his 30 million-strong audience and various pissed-off presidents is both smart political primer and tense cautionary tale.Director: Sara Taksler; Theatrical release: March 31, 2017Kate Stables
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