Tag: Joel Edgerton

***2016 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | Midnight Special (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “The sci-fi spectacle is just a Trojan horse for some really intimate, internal story telling.”

Midnight 1
“You have no clue what you’re dealing with, do you?”

In just three movies, writer and director Jeff Nichols established himself as a new, unique voice of cinema about modern day, rural America, and what it means to be a family.  Shotgun Stories was a small story of loyalty, class struggle and standing up for something, even when you know winning is impossible.  Take Shelter took a possible paranoid schizophrenic and made an amazingly compelling and tragic story about the price you may pay by standing by those you love.  With Mud, Nichols took on coming of age with a story about a boy and a mysterious drifter, that was so much more than its pulpy plot may have indicated.  So when I saw that he had seemingly gone a lot bigger and more ambitious with the long awaited, long delayed Midnight Special, the wait only made me more intrigued and more excited.

Racing through back woods, Texas roads in the middle of the night, Roy (Michael Shannon) and Lucas (Joel Edgerton) are obviously trying their best to remain undetected.  It turns out, Roy has fled a cult and technically kidnapped his own son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher).  Cult leader, and Alton’s adopted father, Calvin (Sam Shepard) has sent goons on their tail, while the government is also in hot pursuit.  It turns out that Calvin’s cult is built around the visions and trance like ramblings of Alton, that also happen to contain top secret government information. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Midnight Special (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “The sci-fi spectacle is just a Trojan horse for some really intimate, internal story telling.”

Midnight 1
“You have no clue what you’re dealing with, do you?”

In just three movies, writer and director Jeff Nichols established himself as a new, unique voice of cinema about modern day, rural America, and what it means to be a family.  Shotgun Stories was a small story of loyalty, class struggle and standing up for something, even when you know winning is impossible.  Take Shelter took a possible paranoid schizophrenic and made an amazingly compelling and tragic story about the price you may pay by standing by those you love.  With Mud, Nichols took on coming of age with a story about a boy and a mysterious drifter, that was so much more than its pulpy plot may have indicated.  So when I saw that he had seemingly gone a lot bigger and more ambitious with the long awaited, long delayed Midnight Special, the wait only made me more intrigued and more excited.

Racing through back woods, Texas roads in the middle of the night, Roy (Michael Shannon) and Lucas (Joel Edgerton) are obviously trying their best to remain undetected.  It turns out, Roy has fled a cult and technically kidnapped his own son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher).  Cult leader, and Alton’s adopted father, Calvin (Sam Shepard) has sent goons on their tail, while the government is also in hot pursuit.  It turns out that Calvin’s cult is built around the visions and trance like ramblings of Alton, that also happen to contain top secret government information. (more…)

***2015 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | Black Mass (2015)

Black Mass 1

“It’s not what you do, it’s when and where you do it, and who you do it to or with. If nobody sees it, it didn’t happen.”

The underworld boss of South Boston for decades. On the run and on the FBI’s Most Wanted list for 16 years. The inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed. The subject of the awesome documentary, Whitey: United States v. James J Bulger. It was only a matter of time before a man this notorious got the biopic treatment. It almost seems to write itself. And it was that inevitability that made me a little reluctant to actually see the results. But I guess even the threat of a by the numbers, predictable and hackneyed execution wasn’t enough to keep me from eventually seeing the Whitey Bulger story get the Hollywood treatment. Because I just caved in and watched Black Mass.


In 70s Boston, Whitey Bulger’s (Johnny Depp) Winter Hill Gang controls all of the crime the city’s south. When former local boy, now FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) returns to town, he immediately tries to combine and exploit his childhood friendship with Bulger, Bulger’s brother Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his role within the FBI. Making Whitey an official informant, John is able to take down a gang with links to the mafia, who also happens to be the Winter Hill Gang’s only real rival in Bean Town. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Black Mass (2015)

Black Mass 1

“It’s not what you do, it’s when and where you do it, and who you do it to or with. If nobody sees it, it didn’t happen.”

The underworld boss of South Boston for decades. On the run and on the FBI’s Most Wanted list for 16 years. The inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed. The subject of the awesome documentary, Whitey: United States v. James J Bulger. It was only a matter of time before a man this notorious got the biopic treatment. It almost seems to write itself. And it was that inevitability that made me a little reluctant to actually see the results. But I guess even the threat of a by the numbers, predictable and hackneyed execution wasn’t enough to keep me from eventually seeing the Whitey Bulger story get the Hollywood treatment. Because I just caved in and watched Black Mass.


In 70s Boston, Whitey Bulger’s (Johnny Depp) Winter Hill Gang controls all of the crime the city’s south. When former local boy, now FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) returns to town, he immediately tries to combine and exploit his childhood friendship with Bulger, Bulger’s brother Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his role within the FBI. Making Whitey an official informant, John is able to take down a gang with links to the mafia, who also happens to be the Winter Hill Gang’s only real rival in Bean Town. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AUSSIE WEEK 2*** Erskineville Kings (1999)

Erskinville
“Things get locked up inside ya, you start building son character.”

Australian movies scare me.  As much as I know I should support local movies by seeing more of them, I’ve been bitten in the ass too many times.  The Aussie industry has a chip on its shoulder about making “movies” and is way too preoccupied with making “films”.  Almost like a legit movie can’t be too entertaining, because that would be pandering.  When I saw the trailer of Erskineville Kings, I was worried that’s what I was going to get.  But there was also something about that trailer that made me think it was worth taking a chance on.  Which turned out to be right.


Barky (Marty Denniss) has made a long journey home to Sydney for his father’s funeral.  Catching up with his friend Wayne (Joel Edgerton), it’s immediately obvious that Barky has been gone for a reason.  Every time Barky runs into another old acquaintance, including ex flame Lanny (Leah Vandenberg), the question of Barky’s older brother is always almost immediately brought up.  For some ominous reason, everyone is nervously anticipating what will go down when these two siblings are reunited.

When it happens, Barky’s brother (Hugh Jackman as Wace) is revealed to be the bitter, older brother.  Harbouring resentment from being left behind when their mother abandoned the family 15 odd years ago, left behind to look after their father when Barky decided to find work up north a couple of years ago.  Obviously the result of an abusive home, Barky and Wace have different ways of dealing with the past, repressing the past, and trying to convince themselves of better versions of the past.

Erskineville Kings was released just one year before Jackman would become a Hollywood star with the first ­X-Men movieBut watching this, it seems pretty obvious that his ascension to the A-list was just a formality.  As Wace, he gets by far the juiciest role in Erskineville Kings, and he grabs on with both hands.  While Barky is all quiet angst, Wace gets to be angry, he gets to be aggressive, he gets to be remorseful, he gets to be damaged.  And with that, Jackman steals the entire movie from the second he first appears on screen.

About halfway through, I realised something about Erskineville Kings.  It’s one of those movies that’s all about the journey, not the destination.  I kept assuming I was watching set up for what would happen once the brothers got to their father’s funeral and what would happen in the fallout from that event.  But it’s all about the tension in the lead up.  In the space of one long, hot afternoon in Sydney’s depressing outer suburbs, a lifetime of frustrations and resentment are brought out.

Erskineville Kings ticks all the clichéd Aussie movie drama boxes.  Middle class NIDA graduates pretending to be working class, blue collar blokes.  Everyone has to have a tragic past and their moments of happiness are few and far between.  But in the end, Erskineville Kings delivers these clichés in way that it’s all OK.  And at 80 minutes, it delivers them efficiently too.

Erskineville Kings
Directed BY – Alan White
Written By – Marty Denniss

MOVIE REVIEW | Animal Kingdom (2010)

Animal-Kingdom-Poster

“You know what the bush is about? It’s about massive trees that have been standing there for thousands of years… And bugs that’ll be dead before the minute’s out. It’s big trees and pissy little bugs. And everything knows its place in the scheme of things.”

As far as feature film debuts go, you could a lot worse than writer / director David Michod. When I wrote about The Rover, his second movie, I had to set it in context with his freshman effort, Animal Kingdom. I said, “To be an Australian whose debut movie gets Oscar attention is all but unheard of.” While I’d seen Animal Kingdom when it first came out and while I really liked it, I never felt compelled to see it again. But when I was recently on a plane and saw it on the in the in-flight entertainment, and having also just seen and loved The Rover a few weeks prior, I had to revisit Animal Kingdom.


Josh “J” (James Frecheville) is sitting on the couch next to his dead mother, watching Deal or No Deal.   When the paramedics arrive, we learn she’s died of a heroin overdose. Alone, J resorts to calling his estranged grandmother (Jacki Weaver in her Oscar nominated role as Janine ”Smurf” Cody). Soon, J is brought into her fold, along with his several bank robbing uncles. There’s Joel Edgerton as the cool headed Barry, Sullivan Stapleton as the cocaine fuelled loose cannon Craig, Luke Ford as the fresh faced, Darren, and Ben Mendelsohn as the sociopathic Andrew, AKA “Pope”. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Shotgun Stories (2007)

Shotgun Stories (2007)
When I wrote about Jeff Nichols’ latest movie Mud, I talked about liking, but being underwhelmed by his second movie, Take Shelter, despite the masses of critical praise it received.  But now that I’ve seen all three of his films to date, I think maybe Take Shelter just suffered from being my first, and me not fully understanding Nichols’ world.  Because after seeing Shotgun Stories, I think I get it, and I know I really like it.


Jeff Nichols recurring player Michael Shannon plays Son Hayes, one of three brothers, along with Kid, played by Barlow Jacobs and Boy, played by Douglas Ligon.  Their father dies and it turns out he was one virile son of a bitch, having sired another four sons with another woman.  When Son, Kid and Boy show up at his funeral for Son to basically tell the mourners that their father was a prick before spitting on his coffin, you get the idea that maybe these two sets of half brothers don’t make up one big, happy family.

Tension between the two families grows and so do their acts of retaliation.  One of things I like best about Shotgun Stories is the believable way things escalate.  Early on, small, almost understandable antagonistic acts get the ball rolling, and they build so incrementally, that once guns are being shoved in people’s faces and the odd skull gets caved in, you’re totally on board with everyone and it’s hard to even remember who started and if either side is in the wrong or being unreasonable.

Michael Shannon really does have a certain quality about him.  I’ve heard it referred to as creepy, but I think that’s a little unfair.  Don’t get me wrong, I think he can be mega creepy, but it’s not an innate quality.  What makes Michael Shannon so entertaining is his intensity.  The look of absolute commitment and focused attention in his eyes means you believe him as a heartless hit man in The Iceman, you believe him as caring uncle in Mud, you believe his schizophrenic madness in Take Shelter and you totally believe his abused son, dedicated brother in Shotgun Stories.

Wherever Jeff Nichols goes next, I hope he keeps building on the world of his first three films and I hope Michael Shannon’s role is major.   So far he’s one of only three people listed in the cast on the IMDB page for Nichols’ upcoming Midnight Special.  And one of the other two is Joel Edgerton.  So it looks like I should probably start getting stoked for that one right now.  It also looks like I should probably give Take Shelter another chance, because I am well and truly on board with whatever it is Nichols wants to say.

Shotgun Stories
Directed By – Jeff Nichols
Written By – Jeff Nichols