The Showreel | 1 [feat. Ex Machina]

The Showreel is a weekly round up of new and interesting trailers. This week we have a thinking man’s sci-fi, a political documentary, a sword-swinging biblical epic and a run-of-the-mill action flick.

Ex Machina (2015) Dir. Alex Garland

“A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breath-taking female A.I.”

Coming from the writer of 28 Days Later, Sunshine and an interesting adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go, Alex Garland will be taking the helm as the writer/director on his first feature film and given his science fiction background there is a good chance it will be sparing in over exuberance and grounded in somewhat of a realistic future.

Domhnall Gleeson (Frank, About Time) will be very familiar to Irish audiences (he’s Brendan’s son) and along with his co-star Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, Drive), seems to be on the brink of international superstardom, with both linked to high profile roles in the new Star Wars series amongst many other strong film roles.

While Garland has shone with his writing, he is entering new territory by taking over the role of director and having worked with the likes of Danny Boyle on a number of films he should hopefully have learned a thing or two. There has been a significant lack of high concept science fiction in the last few years and with the trailer looking as interesting as it does let’s hope Garland can pull it off. Ex Machina should be hitting our cinema screens on 23rd January 2015.

 

Citizenfour (2014) Dir. Laura Poitras

 

“A documentarian and a reporter travel to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with Edward Snowden.”

Before the world had heard of Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who leaked thousands of classified documents about the American government’s global surveillance, filmmaker Laura Poitras had been given unprecedented access to the man that would become Enemy No.1 for the White House and a hero freedom fighter for the many who oppose the American government.

Award-winning director Laura Poitras has built quite a name for herself and Citizenfour marks the final part of a trilogy of documentaries (the others being My Country, My Country (2006) & The Oath (2010)) which look at the many facets of American foreign policy since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started in the aftermath of 9/11.

The trailer is sparse and simple, and the utterance of one of the journalists who says “sorry, I don’t know your name?” cleanly shows how early the director had contact with Edward Snowden, now probably the world’s most famous whistleblower. Citizenfour is currently on limited release.

 

 

Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) Dir. Ridley Scott

 

“The defiant leader Moses rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.”

Ridley Scott is no slouch when it comes to making blockbuster sandal and sword swinging historical epics with the likes of Gladiator (2000), Kingdom of Heaven (2005) and Robin Hood (2010) under his belt. This time the biblical story of Moses leading the Israelites across the Red Sea to safety from the Egyptians is the source material for Scott’s latest and the trailer shows the many set pieces which will undoubtedly deliver the action.

Christian Bale will lead the cast as Moses and the superb Joel Edgarton will play his once close ally and now nemesis Ramses. Supporting them is a fine cast including Sigourney Weaver (an old Scott favourite), Aaron Paul, John Turturro, Ben Mendleson (I’d watch any film with this guy in it!) and the ineffable Ben Kingsley.

It still remains to be seen how much religion will play in this film. That may be an odd thing to say considering it is based on a book from the Bible but religion is such a defining and separating factor that large productions are sometimes scared to over play the religion card versus abandoning the religious elements inherent to the script. Take two examples: Passion of the Christ was a full on religious overload whereas Darren Aronofsky’s Noah seemed to attempt to ignore the more overzealous religious factors of the source in favour of telling a straight out action story. In my opinion neither film really worked. It is dangerous territory to thread but with a director as experienced as Ridley Scott, Exodus: Gods and Kings should at least be entertaining. It is released in Ireland on 26th December 2014.

Dying of the Light (2014) Dir. Paul Schrader

 

“Veteran CIA agent Evan Lake has been ordered to retire. But when his protégé uncovers evidence that Lake’s nemesis, the terrorist Banir, has resurfaced, Lake goes rogue, embarking on a perilous, intercontinental mission to eliminate his sworn enemy.”

Ah, Nicolas Cage… the man actor enigma. On one hand you have Leaving Las Vegas (1995), Bad Lieutenant (2009), Adaptation (2002), on the other hand you have Season of the Witch (2011), Ghost Rider (2007), Next (2007). Such a versatile actor, so versatile in fact he can play a terrible, terrible actor very easily. It’s all based on the source material; in Bad Lieutenant he was working with the legendary Werner Herzog and on Adaptation it was Charlie Kaufman’s superb script. Granted rumours of tax problems may give a reason why he went for roles of no substance but big pay cheques but it is without doubt that when he wants to, under the right circumstances, he can blow you away.

With Paul Schrader as the writer/director of this spy-action-thriller, it’s hard to tell which Nicolas Cage we will get but working with the man who wrote Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980) and Affliction (1997) is a good place to start. Truth be told Schrader has proven himself more as a writer than a director over the years with his last outing as director being the atrocious The Canyons(2013) starring Lindsey Lohan.

In Dying of the Light Cage plays an ageing CIA agent who has scores to settle with a terrorist who seems to have taken part of his ear. Anton Yelchin is in support but other than that the cast is relatively light. It maybe cashing in on the success of the likes of Taken (2008), but Dying of the Light has something different to offer in the form of Nicolas Cage’s character suffering from an aggressive form of dementia which perhaps gives Cage a canvas to release the kind of performance we all know he is capable of. Unfortunately stories from the editing suite are not good with Cage, Yelchin and Schrader apparently not doing any publicity for the film due to creative differences with the film’s producers who are re-cutting the film as opposed to the director’s wishes. Dying of the Light is due for release (supposedly) in Ireland on the 8th of January 2015.

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