In Cinemas: 'Son Of A Gun' (2014) + 'Ex Machina' (2015)
The first part of a Alicia Vikander-as-forbidden-fruit double bill this week, with writer-director Julius Avery's enjoyable feature debut, 'Son Of A Gun' (★★★★). Continuing the trend of young offender-centred crime dramas, as seen in the likes of 2013's 'Starred Up' and the acclaimed 'A Prophet', Brenton Thwaites is on hand as new prisoner JR who finds himself under the watchful eye of Ewan McGregor's commanding Brendan.
JR's new association takes him deep into mob life, allured by the thrall of attractive women and fast cars, but having to pay a necessary price through criminal actions. The tropes may be tried and tested but Avery's direction is taut, and he captures the action set pieces particularly well.
Well-known screenwriter Alex Garland ('28 Days Later', 'Never Let Me Go') makes the transition to director in his latest sci-fi drama, 'Ex Machina' (★★★). Domnhall Gleeson plays a computer programmer, Caleb, who wins an office sweepstakes to spend a week in the isolated retreat where his CEO (Oscar Isaac) resides. It transpires that Caleb's task for the week is to assess the behaviour of a humanoid robot, played by the aforementioned Alicia Vikander.
Garland considers themes of humanity and identity in this thought-provoking thriller, although much like another of his sci-fi creations - 2007's 'Sunshine' - the more horror-driven finale perhaps undermines its atmospheric build up. The writer-director acts somewhat heavy-handedly in his discussions of artificial intelligence but visually, his slick style emboldens the minimalist yet fascinating setting. Vikander is arguably the most impressive aspect of 'Ex Machina', becoming increasingly captivating as the film develops.
At Home: 'Gone Girl' (2014)
David Fincher's latest effort undeservedly felt little love at the recent Academy Award nominations - Rosamund Pike's well-deserved Best Actress nod being its sole recognition. Writer Gillian Flynn can feel particularly unfortunate for missing out on an Adapted Screenplay nomination, even in spite of criticisms that the film played too close to the book's twistings and turnings. Read our spoiler-free review here, and pick up the DVD/Blu-ray, out today in the UK.
Incoming: 'Jupiter Ascending' (2015)
The Wachowskis have had an up-and-down career, and their new film looks set to continue their inconsistent trend - a surprising screening at the ongoing Sundance Festival in Utah was not well received, while the film's initial eight month release delay hardly confers confidence in the product. The space opera of 'Jupiter Ascending' finally gets its release this month (Feb 6th in the UK and US) and we'll get to see what the likes of Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis can do in the sci-fi genre.
TV & Movie News
The Academy Award nominations were released recently, and we were pretty much all outraged that 'The LEGO Movie' didn't get a Best Animated Picture nod. Read the full list of nominations here.
Clint Eastwood's war biopic 'American Sniper' came away with numerous Oscar nominations, despite a significant backlash.
'Fantastic Four' sees its latest film iteration, with Josh Trank's reboot. The 'Chronicle' director has put together Kate Mara, Miles Teller, Jamie Bell, and Michael B Jordan as the titular four. Watch the teaser trailer above.
Slashfilm collates the movie trailers from last night's Superbowl, including 'Jurassic World' and 'Terminator Genisys'.
The National Television Awards took place last week, with winners including Danny Dyer and 'Mrs. Brown's Boys'. Urgh.
Drop us a line at film(at)fadedglamour.co.uk if you have something you think might be worth featuring in a future column.