A new trailer for Ghost In The Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson

Wednesday, 15 February, 2017

A new trailer for Ghost In The Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson as a cyborg policewoman who is pursuing a computer hacker. Set about thirty years in the future, the film is based on the book of the same name, by Japanese manga artist Masamune Shirow.

The film opens in Australian cinemas on 30 March.

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Under the Skin

Tuesday, 3 June, 2014

3 and a half stars
Under the Skin scene

Men being lured, one by one, into a van by an alien who intends to lead them to their demise, probably could not be said to be all that clever. However when said alien has assumed the earthly form of US actor Scarlett Johansson, and calls herself Laura, perhaps this lack of regard for their well being is understandable.

Laura, and a male cohort who rides a motorcycle, travel about Scotland in search of human victims, who they harvest for skin. After Laura meets a lonely, disfigured man though, she begins to take pity on people, and much to the annoyance of her counterpart, decides to try and assimilate herself into the human race.

Often dark, and at times disturbing, Under the Skin, trailer, the latest feature by British director Jonathan Glazer (“Sexy Beast”, “Birth”), is an intriguing work. If you can make sense of the plot, then this is Kubrick influenced science fiction you may enjoy. Otherwise as lost as the seductive lead, in the Scottish Highlands, you might well become.

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Wednesday, 14 May, 2014

3 stars

While others might be fazed, US cook Carl (Jon Favreau) doesn’t allow the loss of his job as head chef at a highly regarded restaurant to hinder his desire to do what he loves, as he takes his skills mobile, after buying a truck he can work from in Chef, trailer, also directed by Favreau (“Iron Man”, “Cowboys & Aliens”).

His new circumstances, partly the result of a spat the novice social media user had with an influential food critic, are more than just an opportunity to try something new culinary wise though, it is also a chance to reconnect with ten year old son, Percy (Emjay Anthony), who Carl has seen little of since his divorce from Inez (Sofía Vergara).

Combining a blend of crowd pleasing elements, father and son bonding, the striving towards a shared goal, and a road trip, “Chef” is however a story with more good intentions than substance. That’s not to say it lacks in spice, or for that matter an array of mouth watering dishes, it’s just not much filling, despite the smorgasbord proportions.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Wednesday, 9 April, 2014

3 and a half stars
Captain America: The Winter Soldier scene

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), the diminutive man who was transformed into the far sturdier Captain America as part of a World War II experiment, probably wouldn’t have had the chance read George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984”. Even if he had, it couldn’t possibly have prepared him for the state of surveillance some latter day leaders had in mind.

Corrupt government official Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) is determined to implement a security program that will endanger more people than it claims to protect. Working with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Captain America sets about trying to thwart Pierce’s plan.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, trailer, co-directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, ticks over at breathless pace, yet still takes the time to flesh out a little of Steve Rogers’ character, while the story’s parallels with the world we live in today are blunt. Despite the sometimes heavy overtones, as escapist fare there isn’t too much to fault here.

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Friday, 24 January, 2014

4 and a half stars
Her scene

If you’re going to have a relationship with your smartphone, and look around, many people would already seem to be, then surely you’d want your indispensable electronic partner to be akin to Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), as depicted in Her, trailer, the latest feature of US director Spike Jonze (“Adaptation.”, “Where the Wild Things Are”).

As the world’s first artificially intelligent phone operating system, she’s smart, agreeable, consoling, and as eager to please as she is to learn. For Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), who is coming to terms with a divorce, Samantha is a veritable boon. It doesn’t take long though for both to form an usually close, and hitherto unheard of, bond.

Set in a hazy metropolis in the not too distant future, “Her” presents a vision of a technology dependent world devoid of joie de vivre, where love has become a commodity, and personal interactions are scarce. Here’s the question though, Samantha and Theodore share a love that may not be conventional, but does that make it any less real?

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Iron Man 2

Friday, 30 April, 2010

3 stars

The premise

Despite making his first appearance in 1963, Iron Man hasn’t enjoyed quite the same profile of other superheroes. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, and Spider-Man instantly come to mind, but Iron Man?

Created by comic book writer Stan Lee (Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk), he is the doppelganger of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), an ordinary man who has no special powers, aside from great talent as an engineer.

Iron Man is comparable to Batman, crime fighting alter ego of Bruce Wayne. Like Wayne, Stark is a billionaire, heads a large company, and is a playboy to boot. Unlike Wayne, Stark’s superhero-like abilities come from a powered iron suit he has designed and built.

Iron Man 2, the movie adaptation of the comic book series, picks up the story shortly after events of 2008’s Iron Man. Stark, having publicly revealed his identity, is now resisting pressure from the US military to share the technology of his suit.

The play

Meanwhile in Russia, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), who also goes by the name “Whiplash”, is quietly developing his own variation of the iron suit, along with plans to usurp Iron Man, who he thinks has become arrogant and over confident.

Venko makes himself known in spectacular fashion while Stark is competing in a car race in Monaco. Donning his iron suit however, Stark manages to overcome Venko, who is promptly imprisoned. It is later revealed that he has died in custody.

In-fact Venko’s death was faked by Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), whose company competes with Stark’s, and Hammer soon succeeds in persuading Venko to work with him. And how could he not be won over by the lure of unlimited resources with which to develop his suit idea?

Before long Venko has created a platoon of drones based on his iron man like suit, and together with Hammer, is preparing for a final confrontation with Iron Man…

The wrap

If you’re looking for high speed stunts, explosions, and battles between good guys who are hopelessly out-numbered by villains obsessed with world domination, and their invincible side-kick robots, then “Iron Man 2” is for you. Otherwise the formula is more than a little flat.

The film also suffers from what seems to be an over abundance of improvisation, particularly in regards to many of the actors’ lines (hey, did I really say that?). And then there is the overly convoluted plot, there’s a number of disparate threads to grab hold, and make sense, of.

An example of this is the puzzling – though not entirely unwelcome – inclusion of Scarlett Johansson as some sort of secret “triple” (to use Stark’s words) agent, whose only real role however seems to be to distract him.

While I won’t spoil the ending too much for you, it’s more than apparent that this isn’t the last of the Iron Man films… hopefully though the next installment in the series will be a little more engaging.

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Another lost Stanley Kubrick film idea may see the light of day

Monday, 19 April, 2010

Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell are said to have been cast in a film, “Lunatic at Large”, that Stanley Kubrick originally planned to produce almost 50 years ago.

Production Weekly broke the news on Twitter last night, reporting that the project is based on an original story by Kubrick and pulp writer Jim Thompson. The film-maker was set to shoot the movie in the early 1960s, but withdrew after being offered the chance to direct Roman epic Spartacus by its star, Kirk Douglas. Thompson and Kubrick’s work was completed in the late 50s, and the film is set in 1956 New York. It centres on an ex-carnival worker with serious anger-management issues and a nervous, attractive barfly he picks up.

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Carla Bruni is Woody Allen’s newest muse

Friday, 27 November, 2009

Move over Scarlett Johansson. Carla Bruni, as in wife of the French President, is now inspiring Woody Allen’s film making.

She is a quintessential Minor Woody Allen Character: sexy, wealthy, European in that luxury-hotel sense that he adores, liberated in a pre-feminist sort of way, with creative aspirations that are preposterous but which powerful, besotted men might well indulge in the hope of getting inside her exquisitely tailored culottes.

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Lost in the storyline, a story

Monday, 30 March, 2009

Lost in Translation makes it onto the list of Five great films where nothing much happens… but are they any less enthralling?

Talking of Lost in Translation, I stumbled upon a IMBd discussion about a “mystery man” who was seen in Charlotte’s (Scarlett Johansson) hotel room at one point (when she was supposed to be alone).

Clearly a goof, but it’s piqued my curiosity now.

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Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Thursday, 1 January, 2009

4.5 stars

What a premise director Woody Allen dangles before us here. The prospect of a ménage à trois featuring Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall, and then Scarlett with Penélope Cruz. A ploy to get the punters in perhaps? Well, no, not quite.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona is an attempt to define love, and what we want from it. And what a quest that is. By curtain fall we discover (or rediscover) that what works for one person (or possibly even a couple…) doesn’t fly for the next person.

Perhaps a plan would help? Is love (and marriage) a duty, an obligation? Or should we go with the flow and see if we can (ever) find something that suits?

And sometimes all we may ever come to know is what we don’t want.

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