Into The Storm – How Did They Do That? The Sloth takes you behind the scenes.

INTOSTORM_UK_BD_3D_ORING-0There are certain films you watch thinking ‘how did they do that?’ or, more precisely, ‘how did they persuade anybody to do that?’. Into The Storm, a disaster movie to end all apocalyptic weather disaster movies, is one of them. Frankly, if The Sloth were a Hollywood actor and our agent proposed we shoot a movie involving tornadoes, hurricanes and torrential rain, we’d get ourselves a new agent. Fortunately, star Sarah Wayne Callies and director Steven Quale are made of sterner stuff. Brave or foolish? The Sloth found out…

Stephen, can you take me through what went into creating these massive tornadoes onscreen, in terms of both on-set effects and working with visual effects companies to bring them to life digitally? 

As I did the research for this film, I found that tornadoes can be radically different. There are the really thin and narrow rope tornadoes. And then you’ve got the more traditional tornado, which we’re most familiar with.  And then you have these mile-wide or two mile-wide wedge tornadoes, which are enormous tornadoes that can spin with rotational speeds as high as 300 miles-per-hour.

Then there is a fourth one, actually, the fire tornado, which is probably one of the most spectacular things in the film. It’s an absolutely true phenomenon, and it looks almost exactly like we depict it with our digital simulation.

Then, the difficult part was how do you create all that and do it in a photorealistic manner?  So we took all our reference footage and showed it to the visual effects companies.  These are probably some of the most difficult visual effects to accomplish because everybody knows what clouds look like, and everybody knows what trees look like blowing in the wind.  It took a lot of effort and time, and many passes at watching it and tweaking it, because the way they create these tornadoes is through really complicated math procedures.

The big challenge was trying to use the artistic and the scientific methods, and having those two meld together. What we found was that to make the effects feel as real as possible, we had to have our principal photography shot in an overcast situation. So the solution was to get these giant construction cranes and put these silk screens on them, basically.  Instead of having the silks be white, which you normally would use to bounce light off of, Brian Pearson, the cinematographer, came up with the idea of making the silks dark grey, like storm cloud color, so that dark grey light would bounce and block the sun, and create an overcast look directly over the actors.

Then the challenge for the actors was to endure the high speed of these hundred-mile-an-hour fans that are blowing in their faces.  And when you stand in front of a rain tower that’s pouring rain on you, it’s bearable; you can deal with it.  The problem is when you combine the two, now suddenly those raindrops are like projectiles going a hundred miles-an-hour, hitting you, like little needles hitting your face.’

You shot the movie using a variety of cameras, from SteadiCams to security cameras and iPhones.  You even have cameras on the Titus, the storm-chasing vehicle in the film.  What did you want to achieve using this shooting technique? 

‘Interestingly enough, my take on this was that we have cameras and point-of-view shots that would traditionally be considered part of a ‘found footage’ movie.  But I didn’t want that to be distracting for the audience. The irony of this film is that the entire movie was shot handheld.  We didn’t have camera dollies or cranes or any of those techniques that you’d normally use in a movie.  But the audience doesn’t notice.  About halfway into it, you forget about the cameras and the ‘found footage’ aspect; it just becomes a movie.  And we did that intentionally.

The biggest nightmare was trying to keep the cameras dry with all the rain pouring in, but the camera department did a wonderful job.’

Sarah, what was it like for you to work on such a stunt-heavy film?  Did you do those stunts for real?

‘Oh, yeah.  That was a part of the draw of the film for me. I showed up on the first day and they harnessed me up onto the wire and an hour later, we were just playing like children.  The one thing they wouldn’t let me do is the fall just because insurance companies at a certain point stand up and say, ‘You can’t drop our female lead 20 feet onto concrete.  We’re not going let you do it.’  I said, ‘Okay, fine.’

Part of the thing that’s great about that kind of work is there’s just no acting involved.  Somebody puts you on a wire and yanks you backwards, there’s a hundred-mile-an-hour fan and a rain tower in your face, you don’t have to act scared.  [Laughs]  You’re right there.  You’re scared.  It’s pure adrenaline.  And it was fun.  It was really, really fun.  The stunt coordinator and I talked about it afterwards.  I was like, ‘Dude, let’s do a movie like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon where we just fly through the whole thing.’  [Laughs]  I absolutely loved it.’

How about the special effects?  I understand that the rain and the wind machines were there for about half the shoot?

‘Yeah.  I read scripts differently now, which is to say I now look at a script and say, ‘Wait.  I’m wet for how long? There’s how much rain in this thing?’  I just read the script and thought it was a great story and it wasn’t until we were actually in prep and I was breaking it down that I thought, ‘Wait a minute.  I’m going to be soaked to the skin for 45 days out of this filming.’

We had hundred-mile-an-hour fans, which you can’t really fathom.  The first time they turned it on in front of me in a scene it blew me 20 feet off my mark.  You could literally lean your full body weight into it and it would hold you up.  And then they’d throw dirt and leaves into it so there’d be debris flying around.  Then they turned the rain towers on and it certainly wasn’t comfortable, but, again, it saved us the indignity of trying to act like you’re in a tornado.  You’re just there.’

Sarah, looking back at the experience, do you have an experience that was particularly memorable for you? 

[Laughs] ‘Yeah.  It’s not particularly serious but Richard (Armitage) and I were doing a scene in the weather van where we were both indoors but soaked to the skin.  Then I took a deep breath and said, ‘Does it smell like a barn in here?’

He had on a cheap wool suit because his character would wear a cheap wool and when it got wet, he smelled like a wet sheep.  And they can hear this conversation over the earphones.  And the makeup artist came in and handed me a tube of Chap Stick that was bacon-flavored and said, ‘Put this on,’ and closed the door.

So, I was sitting there with my pig-smelling lips.  Richard was here with his sheep-smelling suit and for the rest of the day, every time they cut, he would just turn to me and go, ‘Baaah!’

And we all think actors are overpaid… Now you’ve heard the theory straight from the horses’s mouth, let’s see the reality with a special behind the scenes video clip: 

0


Into The Storm is available on Blu Ray and DVD on 15 December 214.

 

Electricity. Fits And New Starts.

electricityWhat’s your reaction to the phrase ‘model turned actress’?  We’re guessing a groan, maybe some gratuitous eyerolling – generally expressions of derision. So how will Agyness Deyn, the latest high profile model turned actress, fare against those expectations?

Agyness plays Lancashire lass Lilly, a twenty something epileptic. Lilly takes pills every day but they fail to control her fits. We see her in sequined dress and heavy make up on her way to a night out, but she never makes it to her destination, collapsing in convulsions on the pavement to the consternation of bypassers, awaking in hospital covered in a fresh assortment of painful bruises.

But the fits aren’t Lilly’s only concern. Her younger brother, Mikey, has gone missing in London. Worried for his wellbeing, Lilly decides to travel down and look for him (in London! It’s quite big…). Arriving in King’s Cross, a striking, gawky figure in rainbow colours, she may as well have ‘naive’ tattoeed across her forehead. Sure enough, within 24 hours she’s duped and robbed by a homeless woman she’d initially taken pity on. Luckily, not everyone is as merciless. Picked off the pavement after yet another seizure by young professional Mel (Leonora Crichlow), she recognises Lilly’s vulnerability underneath her feisty exterior and insists Lilly stay with her. The two soon become friends and Lilly’s search for Mikey continues.

So, let’s get straight to the point, is Agyness any good? Yes, she’s stunningly good. You didn’t expect that, did you? Watching her, she simply IS Lilly, there is no hint of a ‘performance’, she fully inhabits a wildly complex character with complete naturalism. And that’s just as well because the entire film hangs on her (thankfully broad) shoulders. Part family drama, part detective thriller, part insight into the horror of living with such a debilitating condition, Electricity is an emotionally engaging, thoughtful film that is a pleasure to watch. Hats off, Agyness, The Sloth looks forward to seeing what you do next.

UK release 12 December

These Final Hours – The SaltyPopcorn Review

The Sloth likes to keep you one cinematic step ahead. We’ve therefore asked our Aussie friends, SaltyPopcorn.com.au, to start bringing you the best of new Australian cinema. Don’t miss out on great titles that might not make it to UK cinemas, stick them on your DVD list instead. Here’s SaltyPopcorns’s editor, Jason King, to kick things off:

final

REVIEW BY JASON KING from WWW.SALTYPOPCORN.COM.AU

THESE FINAL HOURS is a preapocalyptic piece of joy. Meteors will hit the planet in an extinction level event, everyone will die, the end. Western Australia has about 12hrs left and has mostly come to the acceptance of this. There is no Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck to the rescue with a spiffy Aerosmith soundtrack. There is imminent death and destruction and the end of mankind. These final hours are spent with one guy, James, a normal twenty something party dude (a much hotter version of me in my 20s :).

James is by no means perfect, he has two girlfriends going, one pregnant. He even leaves the pregnant one to go to his other party girl in these 12hrs. He takes drugs, drink drives and does a lot of things someone in this time of their lives does (although drink driving is bad mmmmmkay). But this does not make him a bad person. Given, the drink driving is probably due to impending doom and the fact that most of the planet is in a state of anarchy for the final hours of life. What would you do? James is petrified, he wants to be so messed up he won’t feel a thing, or will overdose prior to the end.

On the way to his “other” girlfriend, James has his awesome car stolen from him and is nearly macheted to an early death. In trying to steal someone else’s car he hears the screams of a kidnapped young girl, Rose, I am thinking maybe 12yrs old. Some dirty, loser pedophiles have kidnapped her and intend to go out in the world off their faces and… (you get it). James’ conscience kicks in and he has to decide: save his ass or do the right thing. And so begins the awakening and salvation of James’ soul. James and Rose form the oddest of couples in a 12hr dash to get Rose to her father and get James to his girlfriend.

This is a wise movie, it doesn’t need Hollywood budgets and huge special effects, it deals with the human condition in a doomed setting. They know they aren’t going to make it, every character you meet is dealing with their own impending death. This makes for an incredible bunch of characters and scenarios. People pray, commit suicide, slaughter, party to death and basically go mental. The visuals of a lady walking down the road with a “god” message painted on her was very striking. The party is incredibly well done, a perfect scenario – the end of days party with no holds barred, everyone off their face, Russian roulette, more drugs than can be imagined, a random shooting – to which 12yr old Rose walks in. What then happens with her there is incredible, I am so glad director Zak Hilditch went there, that would never happen in a U.S. film, but it suited the tone and theme and she got some  life experience in her last day (probably not what you are thinking – see the movie, I have given enough plot away!!)

Director Zak Hilditch (Plum Roll, The Toll) gives us an epic disaster film on a budget and brings more character development and real characters to the screen than most. The budget is used to its last lowly dime to wring out a film that looks like it was made for ten times the cost. The sets are used well and the party got a lot of attention. There is the effective use of coloured filters to just make you swelter with the characters, you can feel the Australian heat mixed with the planet about to burn up and you can almost feel the tyres on vehicles and sneaker tread melting into the asphalt.

The acting is superb, cannot fault anyone. Nathan Phillips (as James) will break onto the international market after this. He was slaughtered in the first WOLF CREEK but I am pretty sure he can give Worthington a run for roles after this one. I will say I had one annoyance from him, I know the world is about to end, and the stress levels are high but his forehead is in stress scrunch throughout, like it is paralysed in a knot

James’ bad boy is perfectly complimented with the pure innocence of youth, naivety and cuteness from Angourie Rice’s Rose. What an incredible little actress. She was amazing, one bad thing that stood out – the epic crying scene – so obviously a fake cry. I know this can be hard to film and get out of a child actor but it was noticeable. Also the supporting actors, all brilliant. Dan Henshall was epic – certain scenes from him had me in stitches, I have seen plenty of people like him at festivals, I am just stoked none of them had a gun. Also Kathryn Beck’s Vicky was great, so unlikable you immediately knew she was one of James’ mistakes in life. 

I could babble on and on about this film. It is one of the best films from Australia in years, it will hold your attention from go to woe. Brilliant!

Australian DVD release 8 December

 

St Vincent. Everybody Needs Good Neighbours.

o-ST-VINCENT-POSTER-900.jpgThe Sloth had almost forgotten Bill Murray starred in Ghostbusters. How long ago does that feel? For so many years now he’s been the go-to actor for misanthropic anti-heroes. St Vincent is no exception.

Bill plays Vin. Vin is a misanthropic curmudgeon who lives alone with his cat and a permanent glass of bourbon. He gets ‘serviced’ at regular intervals by Daka (Naomi Watts) a Russian ‘lady-of-the-night’ who works at the local girly bar and is also having his baby. Vin’s preferred solitude is rudely interrupted by the arrival of divorced new neighbour Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and her school age son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher).  Finding himself locked out of home when he returns from school one day, Oliver invites himself into Vin’s home to wait for his mum. Eyeing him suspiciously, Vin feeds him sardines and crackers whilst mentally totting up a babysitting invoice. Oliver needs an after school babysitter, Vin needs money and so begins a relationship of convenience.

Now you don’t need a crystal ball to figure the grumpy old man and the naive young boy will soon form an unlikely (likely…) bond. And that Vin’s misanthropy is a façade hiding pain at a very deep level.  And that the relationship of convenience will soon become genuine.

On paper St Vincent is hugely clichéd. Take the character roll call. We have: The Grumpy Curmudgeon; The Tart With A Heart; The Underdog Kid; The Divorced Single Mom; all present and correct. And the familiar themes of father figures and growing up. But it also detours down genuinely touching side alleys. Adding in the sheer force of Mr Murray’s marvellous cycnicism – if you cut him, would he not bleed caustic acid? – it quickly sucks you in with sheer watchableness.  What’s not to like about Vin shamelessley forcing a juvenile to mow his woeful excuse for a lawn whilst he reclines with booze ‘n’ fags? When The Sloth grows up, we want to be a foul tempered alcoholic who swears at cold callers and exploits child labour. Much more fun.

UK release 5 December

Get Santa. A Decent Christmas Movie! Snow Joke!

Quad_AW_[26815] Get SantaNow don’t groan. Christmas movies are as intrinsically Christmas as mince pies, eggnog and arguments. The trouble is, most of them are hardly what you would call ‘classics’ so normally, The Sloth wouldn’t give them the time of day. So we were gobsmackingly astounded to discover we DIDN’T HATE Get Santa.

It’s present day (present – geddit?!?! Ohhhh, never mind. We really don’t know why we bother) somewhere in the London suburbs. Santa (Jim Broadbent) has crash landed his sleigh and taken refuge in the garden shed of a house belonging to Steve (Rafe Spall) and his son Tom (Kit Connor).  Discovered by a delighted Tom, he and Santa are having a fine old chat until Steve, hearing voices, attempts to throw Santa out in disgust, convinced he is basically a raving, drunken loony.

Luckily, Santa talks him round, otherwise we’d have a very short film. And soon Steve and Tom are roped into a race against time to find Santa’s sleigh, track down his troupe of reindeer who scarpered upon impact and are now roaming free around London, and save Christmas. Obviously, this doesn’t prove an easy task, not least by Santa getting himself arrested and thrown in the slammer at HM’s pleasure.

The joy here is in the lashings of surreal, very British humour, setting the fantasy of Santa and all his little helper accoutrements against a prosaically suburban background. Frankly, if you don’t find the notion of Santa banged up in Lambeth prison, disguised under white dreadlocks and the new ‘gansta’ name ‘Mad Jimmy Claws’ a delight, then we give up. It’s one of those rare things, a family film that is as much sweet natured fun for adults as it is for kids. If a small child in your festive charge needs entertaining this Christmas, trust us, you could do far, far worse.

UK release 5 December

Top five classic romantic movies to snuggle up to

Please welcome back The Sloth’s special guests Lovestruck.com who are in festive mood.

It’s that time of the year when all we want to do is dive onto the sofa, lock the door and snuggle up with our other halves with a glass of mulled wine in one hand and a mince pie – or three (ahem) – in the other. With Christmas just around the corner there are a host of classic love flicks showing on the TV and plenty to be watched on demand. Here at Lovestruck.com, we love a good love story and here are our top winter warmers:

Love-actually-posterLove Actually (2003). No list of festive rom coms would be complete without Richard Curtis’ classic, which features the intertwining love stories of multiple characters played by a seriously top notch cast (including High Grant, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy and Alan Rickman) over the Christmas season. From the Prime Minister, to the boy with a crush on his classmate, there is something for everyone to relate to – and it will leave you feeling on a festive high. Our top quote – Prime Minister: “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling that love is actually all around.”

Poster - Breakfast at Tiffany's_01Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). This American comedy, starring Audrey Hepburn as the awesome Holly Golightly, is an all time gem and we’re pretty sure you must have seen it already (and it’s always worth revisiting) but if you haven’t – this is one for as soon as you have a film-sized window in your diary. Ditsy and delightful Holly charms the whole of New York including her neighbour: struggling writer Paul Varjak (George Peppard). One of the most iconic movie kisses of all time sees them embrace down a rainy New York alley at the end. Our top quote – Paul: “People do fall in love. People do belong to each other, because that’s the only chance that anyone’s got for true happiness.”

beauty_and_the_beast_1991Beauty and The Beast (1991). They say Disney films are for kids but quite frankly, this is right up there with our fave romantic flicks of all time. Paige O’Hara voices the sassy and smart Belle, who is captured and kept imprisoned by the brutish Beast (voiced by Robby Benson), a prince magically transformed into a monster as punishment for his arrogance. As they spend time together, Bells starts to see beyond his looks to the man beneath. This was the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture Oscar and it dazzles with fabulous tunes and stunning visuals. Our top quote – Gaston: “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you had feelings for this monster Belle.” Belle: “He’s no monster Gaston, you are.”

gineGone With The Wind (1939). Still the highest grossing movie of all time, this flick tells of the tempestuous coupling between Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) and strong-willed Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh). We’d be open-mouthed if you’d not seen it already and, even if you have, we’re sure it’s time for another showing because more than 70 years on, it still sweeps you up into the golden age of Hollywood. This is one love story to seriously get your teeth stuck into. Our top quote – Rhett: ”Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

theholidayThe Holiday (2006). A dead cert to get you into the holiday spirit. When two women, played by Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, swap homes on a whim for the holiday season after bad break-ups with their boyfriends, they discover more about themselves and find love on the way. With an awesome cast (also featuring Jude Law and Jack Black), it never fails to disappoint. Our top quote – Miles: “It’s Christmas Eve and we’re going to celebrate being young and being alive.”

What other films would you add to our list? Do you have festive classics that you watch every year? Tell us @lovestruck

LOVESTRUCK R LOGO WHITE

5 Creepy Movie Characters

The Sloth didn’t sleep well last night.  Something went bump at 1.30am, waking us in panic. We grabbed the nearest improvised weapon to hand (a wooden puppet with a wobbly head – admittedly of limited use, but we’d left our Kalashnikov in the garage) and crept downstairs, ruing the fact our phone was out of charge.

The reason for our terror? We’d been watching The Fall pre-bedtime so were convinced a balaclavaed Jamie Dornan was sniffing our pants in the kitchen.  An interesting image for two reasons i) such an image could as easily apply to Mr Dornan’s upcoming turn as Christian Grey in 50 Shades – clearly not a man afraid of typecasting and ii) it highlighted a proliferation of unsavoury types currently parading across our screens. From Dornan’s own personal Gallery of Miscreants to Jake Gyllenhaal’s skin-crawling Nightcrawler, Louis Bloom; to Rosamund Pike’s Amazing Amy, whose morals and sanity have long Gone Girl, we’re loving Hollywood’s current turn to The Dark Side. Here are 5 more memorable movie creepsters from the past.

one hour1) Seymour Parrish, One Hour Photo. The much missed Robin Williams is primarily remembered for his services to comedy, but The Sloth most admired his turn as an obsessive stalker preying on a suburban family. It’s always the quiet ones…

 

 

javier

2) Anton Chigurh, No Country For Old Men. King of the bad haircut, Javier Bardem’s uber-villain simply has to stand and stare with his bolt gun and a thousand shivers run down a thousand spines. A technique partially reprised later for his white fright-wigged Silva in Skyfall.

 

dennis3) Frank Booth, Blue Velvet. Were we a lazy Sloth (oh, IRONY!) we could simply list 5 David Lynch films and leave this post there. But we’re not, so we’ll nominate Dennis Hopper’s gas mask wearing psychopath as a sadistically disturbed highlight.

 

 

tom_cruise_hair_smile_respect_magnolia_film4) Frank T McCay, Magnolia. Creepsters don’t always hide their light under a bushel. In arguably his best ever performance, Tom Cruise’s megalomaniac, misogynistic self-help guru dispensing seminars of ladykilling ‘advice’ to wannabe pick-up artists becomes even more disturbing after recent news stories surrounding Julien Blanc.

 

Frank5) Frank, Donnie Darko. (NB Are you sensing some kind of pattern emerging? No? Just us?)  Frankly (there it is again…), the entire film is essentially one long, surreal nightmare, but the intermittent, hallucinogenic images of Frank (gaahhh!!!!) the pyscho-bunny should come with a government mental health warning. Watch at your sanity’s peril.

Who are your favourite creepsters? Let us know.

Nightcrawler. How Low Can You Go?

nightcrawler-posterThose of a nervous disposition, The Sloth strongly recommends you look away now. Nightcrawler sees Jake Gyllenhaal play Louis Bloom, one of the most memorably creepy characters to hit the screen for quite some time.

An unemployed loner with intense ambition, Louis’ manic stare and spouting of management-speak clichés learnt online lead most who meet him to give him a wide berth. Unable to find normal employment, Louis chances upon lone shark cameramen filming a car crash on an LA freeway, to sell the images to TV networks. Seeing the same footage on the following morning’s news, Louis decides this could be the vocation for him.

Acquiring a basic video camera, police radio interceptor and hapless assistant Rick (Riz Ahmed), Louis is soon hot footing it to accident scenes and jamming his lens into the faces of the dying and injured. Peddling his ill-gotten wares to a local TV station, he encounters hard-bitten director of news Nina Romina (Rene Russo) who, valuing ratings over morals, urges Louis to bring her footage of “victims that are white, well off, injured at the hands of the poor or minorities.” Her wish is Louis’ command and, being a resourceful type, he doesn’t stop there. Being first on the scene means he can ‘dress’ his ‘set’ as he wishes – dead body not quite in the best light? No matter, Louis will move it. And soon he graduates to not just videoing the news but orchestrating its creation – no matter the cost.

Jake Gyllenhaal is extraordinarily good as Louis. Gaunt, haunted and obsessive, we’ve no idea what gutter he crawled out of, but he’s so disconcertingly real it simply doesn’t matter. A timely and deeply, darkly troubling satire, Nightcrawler looks at our increasing appetite for ghoulish news stories and asks just how low can we go in the quest for TV ratings? Perhaps the most disturbing aspect is just how plausible some of it seems.

UK release 31 October 2014

My Old Lady

my_old_lady_posterThe Sloth finds it very hard to think ‘Kevin Kline’ without picturing him squishing ketchupy chips up a stuttering Michael Palin’s nose. But perhaps that’s just us. My Old Lady contains neither chips, nor ketchup nor a stuttering Michael Palin. Boo…

Kevin plays Mathias Gold, an American who has inherited a Parisian apartment from his recently deceased father. Broke and seeing it as the answer to his money troubles, a bouyant Mathias arrives in Paris to find the apartment comes complete with elderly resident Mathilde Girard (Maggie Smith). For the apartment is subject to the French real estate practice of viager, entitling Mme Girard to live there and receive monthly ‘pension’payments from Mathias until her death. Mathias is no longer bouyant, particularly after reassurances from Mme’s doctor that, whilst in her 90’s, she is in excellent health and certain to live for quite some time.

But Mme Girard is not his only bugbear.  Her daughter, Chloé Girard (Kristin Scott Thomas – duh, who did you expect? It’s set in France, she’s legally obliged to it), quickly arrives on the scene and seizes up Mathias’ less than charitable feelings towards her mother. Upon Mathias’ proposal to sell the apartment, all out war ensues between the two sides.

My Old Lady is based on a play and it shows.  All focus is on the dialogue and the characters, often set in the oppressive dark of the gloomy Parisian apartment. Starting out as a dry comedy, the sarcastic, desparing Mathias trading insults with the school-marmy Mme Girard, it soon develops into a more serious drama as revelations about the characters pasts come to the surface. It’s not perfect, it drags a little in places, but when you have three actors of this calibre, what more do you need to do but put them in a room together? Maggie Smith could read the phone book and The Sloth would be interested. One for a pensive, rainy afternoon.

UK release 21 November

Get On Up

get_on_upChadwick Boseman is a name we’re not too familiar with on this side of the pond, the topics of his previous cinematic outings Draft Day (football in the American, rugby-with-shoulder-pads sense) and 42 (baseball) being somewhat US-centric. Hopefully that’s all about to change for in Get On Up he proves, yet again, that he’s a cracking actor.

A portrait of legendary soul singer James Brown, Get On Up doesn’t stick to the usual chronological biopic rules, instead it skips about through place and time.  One minute we’re watching him flying into the middle of a warzone to play to troops in Vietnam, dodging bullets and exclaiming “they tried to kill James Brown!” (gotta love a starry ego), the next we’re experiencing his shockingly unhappy childhood  - living literally in a shack in the woods with an abusive father and abused mother – the next we’re with a drunk James, falling apart towards the end of his career, holding a room full of terrified accountants to ransom with a shotgun.

Dipping about here and there might be disorienting but it does highlight how, regardless of place or time, that starry ego was always fully functioning. There clearly was one thing at the center of James’ world and that was James. Oh, and music, but primarily James. One thing Get On Up doesn’t do is shy away from his rampant, strutting, preening, selfish narcissism. Whether regally referring to himself in the third person or viciously verbally abusing his long suffering band, it made us wonder what comes first, the star or the ego?

Anchored by an extraordinary performance by Mr Boseman in the title role, Get On Up makes for striking viewing. When biopics often present their subjects in a hallowed light, it’s good to see one that doesn’t pull any punches. Mr Brown may have indeed contributed some astounding music to the world, but that genius came at a bit of a cost.

UK release 21 November