In Cinemas: 'Interstellar' (2014) + 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One' (2014)
Christopher Nolan has long established himself as a filmmaker who can marry grand ambition with critical and commercial success, and it appears he has done it again with his provocative sci-fi drama 'Interstellar' (★★★★). Starring the resurgent Matthew McConaughey as a single parent and former NASA test pilot, compelled to fulfil his dream of space travel but with other goals in mind - namely to save humanity from their impending starvation.
There are nods to several science fiction films, perhaps most notably '2001: A Space Odyssey', and 'Interstellar' is likely to maintain a place in the sci-fi elite. Unexpectedly, it also offers Nolan's wittiest film to date - the dry dialogue between the astronauts and their human counterparts is a wonderful complement to the melodrama. Occasionally convoluted, the film begins to spiral out of control towards its ending, reminiscent of the somewhat similar 'Sunshine', but the ride is frequently thrilling.
Going into 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' (★★★), it's inescapable to not think that you are actually going to be watching half a film. Perhaps what would be more surprising is the considerable change in format - gone is the formula based around the Games themselves, instead this film is something deeper. Picking up almost immediately from the previous instalment, 'Mockingjay Part 1' focusses more on a propaganda war - led by the captured Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) for the Capitol and Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss for the rebellion.
Both become reluctant symbols for their respective leaders, one tortured by inadvertently leaving the other behind in the Games arena, and the other physically tortured at the hands of the oppressive government. Katniss is seen as a catalyst for the rebellion, and while the pay-off is yet to come, Lawrence is allowed to shine on occasion on both the action and emotive fronts. Unfortunately, the emotional element is frequently overplayed, becoming more of a distraction than eliciting empathy.
At Home: Bjork: Biophilia Live (2014) + 'The Leftovers'
Music documentary 'Bjork: Biophilia Live' made its way to the small screen this week with its DVD release. Co-directed by Peter Strickland ('Berberian Sound Studio' and Nick Fenton, the vivid doc showcases the Icelandic singer in her pomp, as she runs through her experimental nature-based 'Biophilia' album in spectacular fashion. Also, out on DVD are the tandem of 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' and 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes', which we reviewed together in On Camera #6.
Jordan FG turned his eye to the now thankfully cancelled 'Dapper Laughs: On The Pull' as well as US drama 'The Leftovers' in his most recent Telly Text column - with special praise for the suspenseful latter, one of his favourite shows of the year.
TV & Movie News
The big news this week was the double whammy return of two popular movie franchises, with the appearance of trailers for 'Jurassic World' and 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'. While the former trailer didn't quite convince (watch on YouTube) that it would bring the magic of past glories, JJ Abrams' take on 'Star Wars' suggests promise even at this early stage. Watch the trailer below:
For those that have caught 'Interstellar', the add-on comic from Christopher Nolan and artist Sean Gordon Murphy may well be of interest.
'True Detective' rounded off its central cast for series two, with Taylor Kitsch and Rachel McAdams joining the previously announced Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn. Read more about their roles at TV Line.
Having cut her teeth as a director on the likes of 'Game Of Thrones' and 'Breaking Bad', Michelle Maclaren is taking the helm for the forthcoming 'Wonder Woman' film.
RIP director Mike Nichols (1931 - 2014) who passed away this week. (And also to cricketer Phil Hughes, who may not have anything to do with films or TV, but whose recent death particularly shocked us.)
Read previous On Camera columns here. Drop us a line at film(at)fadedglamour.co.uk if you have something you think might be worth featuring in a future column.