The dreamteam that is writer/director Edgar Wright and
actors/real-life-BBFs Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is finally reunited for a much-anticipated
third outing with The World’s End,
the final film in their so-called “Cornetto Trilogy”. After the unprecedented
success of their first collaboration in 2003 with the now cult classic zombie-rom-com
Shaun of the Dead, the team partnered
up again in 2007 for the bizzaro buddy-cop flick Hot Fuzz.
After a string of other work commitments – most
notably Wright’s directorial work on Scott
Pilgrim Vs. The World, and Pegg/Frost’s sci-fi road trip flick Paul – it’s certainly nice to have the
band back together after all these years.
Although the team are now close to middle age, their
latest offering still embraces youthful foolishness, but is perhaps comprised
of a deeper and more emotive feeling than their first two efforts.
The film centres on Gary Knight (played with devilish
charisma by Pegg), a recovering alcoholic loser whose life peaked in highschool
and has never wanted to grow up. Facing a crisis of self-doubt, Gary decides to
contact his old school friends Andy (Frost), Steven (Paddy Considine),
Peter (Eddie Marsan)
and Oliver (Martin Freeman) who have all moved on with their lives after
highschool. Somehow he convinces them all to return to their sleepy hometown of
Newton Haven in order to finish the 12-stop Golden Mile pub-crawl they failed
to complete 20 years ago as teens.
However, once the group arrives in Newton Haven, they
find that things aren’t quite like they remember, and they soon discover why. Quite
bluntly, almost all the residents of the village have been replaced by blue-blooded
robots called “Blanks”. The friends come to the conclusion that in order to
escape the town, they must finish the epic pub-crawl so the “Blanks” don’t
suspect anything. Of course that’s what you’d do, knock back a few pints and
wait for the whole thing to blow over.
Fans of Shaun of
the Dead and Hot Fuzz need not to
worry, The World’s End is just as
charming, delightful and bat-shit crazy as its predecessors. The characters are
all lovable, there are quirky running jokes to be had and geeky film references
galore. There are certainly some poignant moments in the film, as the friends
reminisce about their youth and question their futures; but for the film’s majority,
the main tone is set at laugh-out-loud, pitch-black British comedy.
Edgar Wright’s directing is, as always, full of energy
and wit. The use of rapid quick cuts is still a thrilling filmic device, and
will always be a signature for Wright along with his comic book like approach
to a story, a rocking 90s Brit-pop soundtrack and the wonderful British charm
that runs through all his films.
Although its apocalyptically huge ending does go a
little off the rails into the domain of the absolute impossible, The World’s End is definitely not a film
taking itself too seriously, and neither should we. It’s the perfect escape to
the end of the world that could be offered by Wright, Pegg and Frost, and
hopefully not the last time the band gets back together.
Although we may be suffering through a blistering cold
Melbourne winter, over in America the release of the Smith Western’s third
album, Soft Will, has been appropriately
welcomed in all its summery glory.
Will the Chicago four piece emulate iconic sounds of blissful summers and
atmospheric indie pop. The album is a
follow up to 2011’s ultra success Dye It
Blonde, which featured an array of simple and sweet tunes to fill long
However, like many talented buzzbands who formed
during indie’s peak years of 2007-2010, it was easy for the Smith Westerns to
get lost in a seemingly endless parade of mindless indie pop groups who flourished
on the vibes of wasted youth. Perhaps for the Smith Westerns the influences of
David Bowie, Oasis and 80’s alt-rock was what set them apart from the rest of
Similar to other indie surf pop bands like Best Coast,
Girls and The Drums, the themes that Smith Westerns explore in Soft Will focus on the lack of direction
in life and the inevitable heartbreak faced by twenty-somethings worldwide.
Each track melts into another like an icy pole on a hot
summer’s day. The naïve simplicity of the album’s opener, 3AM Spiritual, evokes a feeling of being dizzyingly in love, but
explodes in layered indie rock melodies towards the end, setting the tone for
the remainder of the album. The melancholic undertones of the instrumental XXIII induces the dread of childhood’s
end and, in its most beautiful moments, sounds like a possible closing track to
a Sofia Coppola film.
The woozy dreaminess of Fool Proof is a definite standout on Soft Will. With its swishing strings and distorted guitar strumming
it’s sweet and laidback, but a more up-tempo and danceable track. On the
tranquil track, Best Friend, lead
singer Cullen Omori croons, “you’re the one” over and over again as 70s
inspired layered guitar riffs play underneath.
Will’s first single, and most notable track, Varsitycloses the album (on LPs without the bonus tracks), and exhibits
some of the Smith Western’s most sunny and romantic sounds. The track’s
dreamlike youthfulness evokes imagery of running down suburban streets as the
sun sets on the horizon. The end of summer and perhaps the end of adolescence,
which may signal a change in the Smith Western’s mindset and possibly a more
mature sound for whatever comes next.
The Smith Westerns have reached a peak in their short
career with Soft Will, the ultimate
blissful and dreamy soundtrack to a summer that we can only dream of.
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen and Lasse
When Mads Mikkelsen accepted his Best Actor award at
the Cannes Film Festival last year for his heart wrenching performance in The Hunt, he declared “I’d like to share
this with all of you because you believe in what you do.” I suppose you’d need
a whole lot of courage and faith in a story when creating a film, especially one
in the vein of The Hunt.
Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg’s films are often considered
mirrors that reflect the true pains of life. His latest film, The Hunt, sees him tackle the
excruciatingly difficult subject matter of child sexual abuse and the
alienation that faces the accused, whether they are guilty or not.
One of Denmark’s greatest exports, Mads Mikkelsen, portrays
Lucas, a kindergarten teacher who is finally getting his life back on track
after a messy divorce. He has a new girlfriend, his teenage son Marcus (Lasse
Folgelstørm) wants to live with him and he has a solid circle of friends who go
on hunting weekends together.
Lucas’ life unravels when one of the children at the
Kindergarten (whom also happens to be his best friend’s daughter) wrongfully
accuses him of sexual abuse after a series of misunderstandings. The small Danish
community is quick to label Lucas as guilty without even him fully
understanding what he is being accused of. Friends turn their backs on him and
he is ostracised from the community, publically humiliated and abused.
At the centre of The
Hunt is a truly superb performance from Mads Mikkelsen, who always seems up
for the challenge of a difficult role, and has played everything from a Bond
villain to the Queen of Denmark’s lover to Hannibal Lecter. Mikkelsen is subtle
in his portrayal of Lucas as a regular man with real life problems, but the
humiliation and alienation he faces is handled with a sympathetic, committed
and compassionate performance.
The film’s dedication to focusing almost solely on
Lucas (there is barely a scene without him) is one of The Hunt’s strongest points. We know that Lucas is innocent, which
makes the destruction of his life so much more devastating and almost
unbearable to watch. Not to say that The
Hunt is unwatchable, but the constant blows to Lucas’ life seem to have no
end and there is barely a moment of relief from this tragedy. The ending is a
true shock (not to spoil anything) and will leave your heart racing long after
the credits roll.
Vinterberg has created a visually beautiful film with
sweeping Danish landscapes of forests and lakes, and the beautifully decorated
interiors that reflect a realistic middle-class community.
Hunt deliberately makes its audience feel uncomfortable, anguished and
helpless all at once. It tells one of the time’s oldest stories, the dangers of
prejudice and judgement, which places it akin to a classic like To Kill A Mockingbird. But The Hunt’s major difference is that we
know the entire time the accused is innocent, yet we are forced to watch
powerlessly as a decent man is isolated from all that he loves. The Hunt is a true modern masterpiece
that will break you heart and provoke you into questioning societies’ judgements
Writer: Roberto Orci, Alex Kaurtzman and Damon Lindelof
(Screenplay), and Gene Roddenberry (Created Original “Star Trek” TV series)
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch
In 2009 Trekkies rejoiced when king of the nerds, the
legendary producer/director/writer J.J. Abrams lived out of his childhood dream
and rebooted the classic Sci-Fi TV show Star
Trek into a sleek, sexy and sensational film.
The reboot delved into the development of lead
protagonists Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Commander Spock (Zachary
Quinto) and their fiery bromance, whilst also providing some solid supporting
characters, a thrilling storyline and breathtaking visual effects.
Abrams returns with his crew of space explorers in
2013 with Star Trek Into Darkness.
The film is direct sequel to its predecessor and begins with a typical chaotic
rush to save an alien world from destruction. From this very opening sequence
we know we’re in for one hell of a ride. We are immediately able to feel
connected to the crewmembers of the Starship Enterprise, almost as though we
are a part of their weird and wacky family.
However, the Universe does not stay saved for long and
we encounter a terrifying terrorist act on London by the sinister but
charismatic John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). When finally apprehended by Starfleet,
Harrison offers to help Kirk and Spock in uncovering a master plot to destroy
Earth, à la Lecter/Starling.
Cumberbatch portrays Harrison as a mysterious creature
full of charisma and steeliness, but his voice is so smooth and soothing that
every word he utters sounds like a line from a Shakespearean play.
Nevertheless, his villain is chilling, fascinating and holds firm ground
against the protagonists.
Abrams utilises his sleek style magnificently through Star Trek Into Darkness, with his
signature solar flares lighting up the screen giving a warm feel to the film’s
atmosphere. His team of writers and himself effortlessly chop and change
between moods, whether it’s an edge of your seat action sequence, heated
debates between two highly-strung intellectuals or a witty dose of comic relief
(usually served up by Scotty played by the ever charming Simon Pegg). For both
die-hard Trekkies and casual fans (like myself) there is certainly something in
Star Trek Into Darkness to please
The next project on the horizon for Abrams is a reboot
of the just as loved and epic Star Wars
franchise. If his reboot of Star Trek
is any indication, Abrams’ Star Wars
will be just as sleek, seductive and intelligent. Both franchises have legions
of fans and infinite worlds of possibilities to explore, so it will be a thrill
to see where Abram takes Star Wars.
As for Star Trek Into Darkness, one
does not have to be a devoted fan to the series and films to enjoy this
thrilling and hilarious ride through the universe. It is a film that delves
into our imaginations and exhibits some truly exciting prospects for the
future. Hopefully Abrams will be back post-Star
Wars to lead the adventures of the Starship Enterprise. Live long and
prosper, I say.
The iconic Australian radio station is asking people to cast their vote for their favourite songs of the last 20 years (1993-2012). It’s excruciatingly difficult, and makes my brain (and soul) hurt so much. There are so many great songs I’m sure I've left out….
My approach to choosing my Top 20 was to pick songs that weren’t necessarily my FAVOURITE song by an artist, but were songs that I felt were iconic, polarising and deserved to be in the countdown. I also had to take into account past countdowns and the public’s tendency to vote for more “popular” songs.