Jan 30

"Alita: Battle Angel" written by Gregory Mann


(Release Info London schedule; February 6th, 2019, Cineworld, 5-6 Leicester Square, 11:00 AM)




"Alita: Battle Angel"



From filmmaker James Cameron comes "Alita: Battle Angel", an epic adventure of hope and empowerment, based upon 'The Manga Gaphic Novel Series' by Yukito Kishiro. When Alita (Rosa Salazar) awakens with no memory of who she's in a future world she does not recognize, she's taken in by Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate cyberphysician who realizes that somewhere in this abandoned cyborg core is the heart and soul of a young woman with an extraordinary past. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of 'Iron City', Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious history while her street-smart new friend Hugo (Keean Johnson) offers instead to help trigger her memories. But it's only when the deadly and corrupt forces that run the city, headed by Vector (Mahershala Ali), come after Ido and Alita that she discovers a clue to her past; she has unique fighting abilities ingrained in her that those in power will stop at nothing to control. If she can stay out of their grasp, she could be the key to saving her friends, her family and the world she’s grown.

'The 23rd Century', Earth underwent 'The Fall', a shattering war that halted all technological progress  and left in it's wake a society where every last shred of tech is repurposed and the strong prey on the weak. The story takes place 300 years after a huge war has devastated the planet and a plague weapon left only a tiny percentage of human survivors. The heart of life on Earth beats in 'Iron City', a rich melting pot of survivors; a city full of ordinary people and cybernetically-enhanced humans living side-by-side in the shadow of 'Zalem', the apex of civilization at the time. 'Zalem' is the last of 'The Great Sky Cities'. 'Iron City' may be an oppressed factory town, cranking out goods for the invisible elites who live in the sky, but it has it's own color and energy, it's thrills and it's aspirants. But 'Iron City' remained as essentially a giant refugee camp. It’s full of all these people trying to get to 'Zalem', to get to the land of opportunity and dreams that they can see but always seems just of reach. It's a world in which cybernetic body parts are routinely melded with human bodies and brains to create cyborgs of all shapes, sizes and abilities. And now it's about to get an unlikely hero, a teenage cyborg who emerges from a junkyard to discover her identity and become a source of buoyant hope.

When Alita re-awakens to a brand-new life in 'Iron City', she goes through a series of intense transformations. She begins as a nearly blank-slate, devoid of memories, so that even the sour tang of an orange peel electrifies her taste receptors. With no clear identity, she wonders if she's just an insignificant girl who has no real purpose, no real family, even as she begins to forge fledgling bonds. Then, when she discovers the body that's intended to be hers; the so-called 'Berserker' body that has faculties the likes of which 'Iron City' has never seen, Alita has to contend with a whole different idea of her destiny. Ultimately, Alita realizes she's definitely not going to be an insignificant girl, and she refuses to be just the weapon of destruction that 'The Berserker' body is created for. Instead, she turns herself into a passion-fueled instrument for justice. A massive casting search ensued to find someone who could embody all this; a diminutive person with a mammoth persona, with both high-flying moves and the sheer force of a bright and openhearted spirit. After all, tiny Alita must stand up to 13-foot tall cyborg brutes, so the audience has to trust not only in her battle virtuosity but in her growing confidence and determination to both understand the vastness of her power and use it wisely. It's a sleek, iridescent work of biomechanical art with a complex network of neuronal connections that morphs to her subconsicous. Alita’s body change is a kind of metaphor.

Alita comes to feel deeply grateful to Dr. Ido, the brilliant cyberphysician who uses his medical training to help the needy of 'Iron City', even while prowling the night as a hunter-warrior. The mesmerizing adventure begins as Ido do makes a scrapyard find that will change his life and 'Iron City' forever, the discarded cyber-core of a girl whose body may be broken but her human brain is still barely pulsing with life. Ido cannot abandon her. He begins to restore this mysterious cyborg and discovers a second chance at fatherhood, a chance to watch her learn, grow and taste the wondrous pleasures of life for the first time with wide-eyed excitement. It's Ido who, in trying to assuage his own emotional pain over the loss of his own daughter, gives Alita a warm, loving home where she's free to explore her true self. Ido tries in some ways to control her but also learns to trust her and let her go, believing that she will make the right choices. They go through all of the moments that a father and daughter go through; the struggling, the love, that moment of the bird leaving the nest. Alita replaces a piece of Ido’s broken heart and in return he gives her life. But the sweet, curious girl Ido names Alita hides many secrets. When Alita inadvertently reveals she possesses unique long lost fighting skills, it becomes clear she must carve out her own destiny. For even if the art of the battle was long ago hardwired into her, Alita must discover in her soul the reasons to fight.  

Hugo has to be a hustler to survive in this tough, tough world. He could have gone the route his father did as a factory worker, but he’s driven by the hope of getting to 'Zalem', which has led him to do things he isn’t proud of. Even so, there’s a lot of good to Hugo. He’s passionate, open-minded and when he puts his mind to something, he expects to accomplish it. As it turns out, Hugo is also a 'Jacker', an 'Iron City' outlaw who takes cybernetic body parts by force; a dark truth he tries to keep from Alita. Hugo believes jacking is his way to 'Zalem', but when he falls in love with Alita, he's no longer sure if 'Zalem' is worth it to him. Hugo certainly doesn’t expect to fall for a cyborg, but Alita’s exuberance about the world is intoxicating. When he teaches her to play street 'Motorball', only to watch her excel beyond his wildest fantasies, his heart takes off racing. 'Motorball' is Hugo’s game, so when he sees her incredible talent, it blows him away. But he also sees such a pure soul in Alita. Hugo may not have the enhanced physicality of a cyborg, but he has his own skills. He knows every secret alley and shortcut in 'Iron City'. Then there’s Hugo’s gyrobike, an amped-up, aggressive, single-wheeled version of a motorcycle.

The more Alita reveals about who she's, the more she also develops enemies across 'Iron City'. One of the first to recoil in her presence is Dr. Ido’s ex-wife, Chiren (Jennifer Connelly), also a skilled cyberphysician, but one who has turned grief into the pursuit of money and power in the high-stakes world of 'Motorball'. Chiren is aghast to see that the body Ido used to give Alita a new chance at life was the one they designed for their now-deceased daughter. Chiren was born in 'Zalem' so she sees returning there as a kind of magic balm for her life, a way to escape her memories of grief and loss in 'Iron City'. She wants to be transported away with every part of her being and there’s no way she’s going to surrender to existence in 'Iron City'. Her extreme drive is a measure of her desperation and bitterness. In an indelible moment, Chiren’s iced-over heart almost cracks when she first catches sight of Alita. Chiren immediately perceives Alita as a threat because she brings up all this pain she doesn’t want to confront. And she also starts to realize that Alita is going to disrupt 'Iron City' and challenge all the institutions that still exist there. Chiren cannot fully hold at bay the feelings Alita spurs in her. She experiences something like a thaw when she realizes she’s trying to kill someone who looks like her deceased daughter. It’s a moment when Chiren recognize she’s become all that she abhors. And from that moment forward, things move in a different direction.

Chiren has allied herself with one of the darkest forces in 'Iron City'; Vector, who has amassed great influence as the city’s top broker of cyborg parts. Vector, who's 100% human, views himself as an elite and looks down upon the striving masses of 'Iron City'. Vector has fully absorbed that only way to win in 'Iron City' is to prey upon the weak. He’d rather be a king in hell than be at the bottom of the totem pole in heaven. His need to stay on top makes Alita an immediate adversary. Vector will do anything in his power to not lose his status. He craves control, and Alita’s way too much of a wild card. Still, though Vector lives better than most in 'Iron City', the truth is that he’s given up his freedom in exchange, allowing himself to be overtaken by the mysterious Nova (Eiza González), an entity on Zalem with the ability to inhabit Vector’s body. Vector is a villain but it turns out he’s really just following orders. The plans are all being dictated by Nova and Vector is sadly just his pawn. Alita soon learns she is not the only cyborg in 'Iron City'. In fact, large portions of Iron City’s denizens have cyborg parts. But what she does not know is that she will become the target of the city’s most feared cyborg, the colossal Grewishka (Jackie Earle Haley).

A fallen star of the 'Motorball' games, raised in the sewers of 'Iron City', Grewishka has never known anything but darkness and fighting for whatever he can get, which along with his super-charged frame of parts, makes him the ultimate henchman for Vector. His body goes through several iterations; growing larger and larger each time he must be rebuilt, becoming a massive metal gargoyle, but always plastered with his synthetic face, a reminder of the human within. The only way that he actually derives happiness is through having this enormous, powerful body and the only way he can find self-esteem is by abusing others. That psychology runs deep in him. Also posing a grave danger to Alita is the total replacement cyborg Zapan (Ed Skrein), with his sleek, high-tech body replete with synthetic skin. Zapan is most renowned for his 'Damascus Blade', an ancient 'URM'-built sword that can slice through armor like butter. He's an ostentatious, almost theatrical person. Most hunter-warriors are dirty and rusty, but Zapan prides himself on his ornate body.  He’s a dangerous mix of ego and insecurity.

From the earliest stages of imagining "Alita", the film puts audiences inside the tumult of 'Iron City', a 26th Century city reeling from war 300 years prior and but also pulsing with life. 'Iron City' is much more a character itself. The film also envisions a deeply layered place of abundant contrasts, at once a cyborg-filled 'Wild West' of rampant crime and bounty hunters, but also a place where Alita experiences the thrill of discovery, love, elation, street life and the inspiration to change the city for the better. No matter how tough times have become in 'Iron City', the human instinct for fun, for art, for achievement and for joy still runs rampant. 'Iron City' is the place that people have come from all over the world to find sanctuary. So it’s an ad hoc kind of slum superimposed on the high-tech world that existed there before the war. It’s dangerous but it also has this amazing, chaotic energy. 'Iron City' also evokes a whole history of evolution and devolution, with hints of sophisticated technology falling into disarray. You can feel the disparity between the technology that's created before the war but is still in use, and the living conditions that people now enjoy. 'Iron City' is presented as an equatorial city, somewhere in 'South America', though more a melting pot than representative of a singular nation.

'Iron City' has a futuristic culture unlike any you’ve seen before.We’ve seen so much rain-slicked, neon-lit sci-fi and the fact is, you can't top 'Blade Runner' in that regard. The film creates a dusty, sundrenched look that suggests that life goes on in this place despite the oppression people are living. If there's one obsession that unites the people of 'Iron City' it's 'Motorball'; the glam and brutal gladiatorial sport whose champions are the heroes of an otherwise desperate city. The game takes place on rocket-propelled wheels, as hulking cyborgs fitted with chains, spikes, blades and armor race at 100-mph through the hairpin turns of a trap-filled track designed to damage cyborg parts. Those who win at 'Motorball' not only attain rock star status in 'Iron City' but a chance to ascend to 'Zalem' forever. Everyone in 'Iron City' watches 'Motorball'. Kids play street 'Motorball', which is how Alita is first introduced to the sport. Later, with her 'Berserker' body, Alita tries out for the 2nd League; the minors of 'Iron City Motorball'. It’s all new to Alita but she eventually becomes the 'LeBron James' of 'Motorball'. 'Motorball' is just a game, but things quickly turn from a game to a hunt sequence as the cyborgs try to annihilate Alita.   

Even when a cyborg’s body has been damaged beyond repair, the human brain can live on and be connected to a new body, which is why Dr. Ido is able to save Alita. But Alita has no clue who she's, where she comes from, or what her life story. When Ido rebuilds her, Alita has no memory. She’s completely open and curious about a world that’s new to her. But as she finds out more about herself, she becomes a more complex character, one who's not only looking for who she was but must decide who she wants to be. Alita’s innate fearlessness, programmed into her long ago when she was built on the human space colony known as 'URM' ('United Republic Of Mars'). Alita has no fear for herself. It doesn’t matter how big or menacing an opponent, she just goes right at it. So this is about Alita’s bonds, betrayals and all she learns about human nature. At the center is always Alita’s human journey. And that’s also what Alita realizes. She may have lost much of her memory, but she has found her humanity, which is what counts. At it's core, this is the story of a girl who gets a second chance at life, and decides this time it will be about following her heart.

Based on 'The Graphic Novel Series' by Yukito Kishiro, "Alita: Battle Angel"  re-imagines a mythical post-apocalyptical world as a photo-real city full not only of behemoth cyborgs, furiously fast sports spectacles and dark justice but also of compelling human stories. "Alita: Battle Angel" is a result of many combined imaginations synching up, but most of all it's meant to be Alita’s vision of 'Iron City'. You see this story through Alita’s eyes, eyes that have an innocence to them and see the beauty in things. The film creates something that feels very tactile, that’s immersive, that has unexpected moments, all the things you anticipate in a James Cameron movie. The fervor, risk-taking and fusing of mind and machine, that drove the making of Alita echo what Alita discovers about pouring your all into what you do. “Alita: Battle Angel" pushes a character to a place that’s pretty unique in film history. You not only come to believe in Alita as a human being, but you really get to feel like you are part of her experiences in this rich, new world of 'Iron City'. Plunging the audience full-bore into Alita’s deeply felt experiences of beauty and chaos after being reborn in Ido’s clinic is always central to the vision of the film.

It's a fresh vision of the future mixed with thunderous action and themes of exploration, curiosity, self-discovery and a yearning for freedom. The tale of a young amnesiac cyborg, a universal story of discovery and identity and what really matters. The attraction is more the humanity of the story than it's 26th Century setting. The history of 'Iron City', and the gleaming presence of the paradisiacal 'Zalem' looming over it, so close yet ever unattainable, is rich with metaphors. Today, the cutting edge of medical prosthetics research is pioneering new ways for the human brain to both directly control and sense artificial limbs. But what if the fusion of mind and machine make such a quantum leap that it could grant humans the promise not just of restoration but of total reinvention? People have to replace limbs due to the effects of the worldwide plague. Then, it's a normal way of life for people to have replacement parts. There are no bad connotations to being a cyborg, it can even be a sign of wealth. The highest-end cyborgs are what are known a 'Total Replacements'. That’s when all you've left is an organic, human brain but your entire body has been replaced by parts that are stronger, faster, whatever you aspire to. 

With "Alita: Battle Angel" comes a total sensorial immersion into a world of unbridled imagination, breathless action and visceral emotion. It's a combination of mutual zeal for world-building and empowered female heroines to push the possibilities of visual story-craft into a new zone. We're already living in an early iteration of a machine-reliant cyborg society. Even before the internet, we couldn’t live without electricity or technology, which makes us similar to cyborgs. We just accept it and try to live our lives, as cyborgs do in 'Iron City'. It only puts the emphasis on how can we be more human. Audiences emerges from theaters with an emotional connection to Alita and the movie rather than wondering how the immediacy of this photo-real world of the imagination was achieved. Times change, but many things stay the same. The film is sets hundreds of years in the future, but if you look back at life 400 years before today, people still sat in a chair to eat breakfast in the morning, just as we do.












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  • (Release Info London schedule; November 14th, 2019, Genesis Cinéma, 93-95 Mile End Rd, Bethnal Green, London E1 4UJ, United Kingdom, 18:10) "The Nightingale" "The Nightingale" is a meditation on the consequences of violence and the price of seeking vengeance. Set during the colonization of Australia in 1825, the film follows Clare Carroll (Aisling Franciosi), a 21-year-old Irish convict. Having served her 7- year sentence, she's desperate to be free of her abusive master, Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin) who refuses to release her from his charge. Clare’s husband Aidan (Michael Sheasby) retaliates and she becomes the victim of a harrowing crime at the hands of 'The Lieutenant' and his cronies. When British authorities fail to deliver justice, Clare decides to pursue Hawkins, who leaves his post suddenly to secure a captaincy up north. Unable to find compatriots for her journey, she's forced to enlist the help of a young Aboriginal tracker Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) who grudgingly takes her through the rugged wilderness to track down Hawkins. The terrain and the prevailing hostilities are frightening, as fighting between the original inhabitants of the land and it's colonisers plays out in what's now known as 'The Black War'. Clare and Billy are hostile towards each other from the outset, both suffering their own traumas and mutual distrust, but as their journey leads them deeper into the wilderness, they must learn to find empathy for one another, while weighing the true cost of revenge. At the heart of the story is Clare, 21, an Irish female convict. Convicts generally came from terribly poor backgrounds, stealing for survival. A theft of a loaf of  bread, or a coat, could see a person being transported for 7 years as an  indentured slave to a free settler or soldier, their poverty ensuring permanent exile. She has served her time, and is now trying to secure her freedom and start a new life as a free settler with her husband Aidan and baby Brigid in this new world. But Hawkins is unnecessarily withholding her release, preventing her from fleeing the violence and despair of the situation She's an indentured servant for Lieutenant Hawkins, who took her from prison to serve out her remaining sentence at his barracks, and Hawkins  uses and abuses Clare sexually, a fact she keeps hidden from her husband  out of shame and fear. Clare has a beautiful voice, a thread of purity in this bleak place, and is sometimes called on to sing for the men. To them she's their little nightingale. Female convicts, were often treated badly by their masters, as is the case with Hawkins, the officer in charge of Clare’s fate. It's this abuse and loss of everything she holds dear, that serves as the trigger for Clare’s revenge, seeing her take a life-threatening journey, from the south of the island to the north. This is during a period known as The Black War’, and the land is not safe to travel, nor easy to navigate, with huge tracks of rugged wilderness. The character of Clare has to possess a fierce tenacity and a steely strength, character traits that came from close research into the era. In the convict prison in Richmond, Tasmania, a plaque on the wall explains that women inmates were put in solitary confinement  for three weeks straight, no light, freezing cold, on a sandstone floor with a hessian sack. They're put in for talking back to  their masters,  or  getting drunk, or other  very  minor  crimes. They would be released after 21 days to go back to that same master, and they would deliberately commit another crime so that they could be put back into solitary  confinement. To be poor in 'The Georgian' era is not seen as an economic problem but a moral weakness. So convicts are viewed with next to no compassion. And female convicts are seen as worse than male convicts, because  women are meant to be a symbol of purity. And 'The Irish' are seen by 'The English' as 'The Scum Of The Earth'. Why would a  woman  do that? What's so bad about that  situation that they would prefer total deprivation? The answer is rape, beatings, physical and psychological abuse. Clare shows how resilient so many women are and how resilient women can be has her flaws, she’s  not always likeable, but she’s  incredibly resilient and powerful;  a fully-formed human being as a lead female character. Lieutenant Hawkins is a lower middle class lieutenant, who, perhaps because of his class, perhaps due to  who he's,  has not risen to his much desired rank  of  captain. He's intelligent, handsome, but driven by blind ambition, and profoundly damaged by his past. He expects to shortly be promoted by his superior in Launceston, and when this is compromised by his own behaviour,  he lashes out violently at those  around him, then sets off to take  control of his own future. Hawkins demonstrates physical and psychological cruelty to his men, as well as to civilians. He's amongst other things a rapist, who commit acts of sexual violence. It's about power and, in Hawkins’ case, rage. To build up a character like Hawkins, you've to understand the first-hand accounts of Tasmania in the period, as well as contemporary psychological texts, which led him to identify Hawkins as suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. Hawkins has a profound lack of empathy, and genuinely thinks that it’s his right to have more, to be  recognized and raised  up, and he  uses people  around him to  get what  he  thinks he needs, but he’ll never be happy or satisfied. He’s a man who has a very difficult upbringing. When all his power is taken away, his rage is directed out onto the feminine, at Clare; or whoever's around. In his complex relationship with Clare, signs of fragility and possibility can perhaps be briefly glimpsed. Hawkins spent his life  thinking that women weren’t as good as men. At the time, men were generally thought to be the stronger and the better sex, and that’s something that's so deeply embedded in his being. He struggles to see the world as it really is, and as it should be. The character of Hawkin is damaged. To exact her revenge, Clare must head towards Launceston, in the north east of Tasmania,  but will have no chance  of surviving in the rugged terrain  unless she pairs with the character of Billy, a young 'Aboriginal' man who acts as her tracker, or guide. Billy, also 21, a 'Letteremairrener' man, who as a child watched his uncles, brothers and father killed in front of him by 'The British'. Billy has experienced forced assimilation and slavery, so he speaks English, When Clare offers him a shilling now and a shilling once he tracks down her quarry, Billy is drawn not just by the money, but by traveling north, a trip that will see him returning to his country, and potentially finding his mother and aunts, who disappeared when the men of the family were killed. He has suffered greatly too, a result of the terrible treatment of his people by the invaders, and although the pair are  initially distrustful and openly hostile  towards each other, through the physical and psychological challenges of their journey, they come some of the way to understand and support each  other. 'Mangana The Black Bird', is  Billy’s totem, an animal  that's his  medicin, his way  towards healing, and the animal that gives him most strength. Clare and Billy  begin by  treating each other badly, and any  steps that move in the opposite direction towards understanding and care are earned as the story unfolds. We cannot imagine what it would've been like for Billy to see his family murdered, then to be brought up by the people who had done the deed, but that was common for 'Aboriginal' people across Australia. It's unfathomable, but the film explores more than that; Billy’s tenacity, his will to survive. Ultimately, it's a story of him coming home to  himself.  Sergeant Ruse (Damon Herriman) is Lieutenant Hawkins right hand man and attack dog. He has the qualities of a traditional drill sergeant; we see him speaking to the soldiers underneath him in an aggressive and belittling way. He’s not a pleasant human being. Around his men and civilians, Ruse  projects a domineering alpha male  persona, but that all changes when he’s around Hawkins. Hawkins is not only his superior, Ruse genuinely respects him. Ruse likes the hard, cruel line that Hawkins takes, so they’re very similar characters, but around Hawkins there’s a sycophantic version of Ruse that emerges. He wishes he could be Hawkins, but second-best to that's being able to perform whatever Hawkins demands. Jago  (Harry Greenwood) is a young ensign, new to  the army. Unlike Ruse, he has come  from the  middle classes; and despite his entry level position, he's an ensign, which is an officer’s rank not a soldier’s. He's in effect Ruse’s superior because of this, but struggles to gain any sort of authority in this environment, a fish out of  water. He’s  on his first tour, and doesn’t really know anything about how  the army works or  how soldiers operate, so he’s flying by the seat of his pants. He’s thrust into possibly the worst penal colony in the world, Tasmania, and not even the larger 'Hobart Colony' but a small outpost, under the command of Hawkins, who’s a hard boss at the best of times. Jago initially looks up to Hawkins, but as the film unfolds the relationship changes as he’s exposed to the disturbing things that both Hawkins and Ruse do. Aidan (Michael Sheasby), Clare’s husband, represents both the hope of love, and the perils of revenge and violence. He has a fierce love for Clare and for his baby, Brigid, but he’s a very instinctual, gut-driven person. He can tell that something’s not right with Clare, and decides to confront it, with terrible consequences. In this world  that’s so dark and violent, they've an  unadulterated love for each other. The energy and care between them provides important moments of light. Tasmania is a place of extraordinary natural splendour, sitting alone at the bottom of the world, but for some there's a haunting quality to the island, which lent itself perfectly to the mood of "The Nightingale". 'The Landscape' emerges as another powerful character in the film, with it's own areas of light and darkness. As you learn more about the history of the  place, that only heightens your awareness  of the terrible things that  happened there. There's a deep, longstanding culture in Tasmania, but for the arriving 'British', there's nothing there that they're used to, so it became frightening and alienating. 'The British' characters are continuously in a state of fight orflight; they never know  what’s around the  corner. Suddenly the demons of history started to emerge. It’s definitely something the film is aware of from Aidan’s perspective; a sense of pure  fear. In line with  eschewing standard iconic views of the island, the film avoids using equipment such as drones for capturing the landscapes in a glorified way. What also sets Tasmania apart is that the majority of it's forests has been preserved, and a large amount is 'World Heritage' or 'National Parks', so the film enters those areas, make it feel real, and showcase the beauty. But it’s a scene about Clare and her relentless drive, and the emotion of wanting to cross a dangerous river because her revenge is driving her, and so we take the lead from the character’s  motivations. Through the characters of Clare and Billy, the film asks; how can human beings retain their compassion,  humanity and courage in a brutal environnt In looking at the futility of violence and revenge, the film carries a striking message of anti- violence and  forgiveness. Clare and Billy have endured extreme suffering and loss. They’re broken when they meet, and therefore have a very hard time trusting and respecting each other at a basic human level. When they go on their physical journey together, they’re put through a series of tests; nature beats them down, and finally they open up to each other. They make the idea of living a bit more bearable for each other. Billy for Clare provides a sense of hope for life. In this environment where  things are brutal and violent and there are so many obstacles they've to overcome to get what they desire, the fact that there’s a correlation, a mutual understanding, is something that takes them a long time to realise, but when they do it’s the most beautifully poetic relationship, so authentic and human. Feeling for 'The Aboriginal People' wasn’t part of their psyche. So, we’re  judging these characters, in that  sense, but the audience have to see how the characters are motivated and we've to show the brutality to put the audience in Clare’s shoes. What Clare  learns, and what the audience sees, it that the shining light from the beginning to the end is hope. All the characters are yearning for lightness, for something more, in this brutal reality. Through Clare and Billy’s  journey, despite  the horrific things they’re exposed to, there are moments of lightness and humanity. Despite the situations we’re faced with in life you can communicate with and understand someone. That’s at the core of the film; despite the terrible things that people do and experience, they do go on, they continue to live. "The Nightingale" is set in  'Van  Diemen’s Land' (now Tasmania), 'The Australian  Island State' off the far south east coast of the mainland. A fledgling 'British' penal colony was established in Tasmania in 1803, following on from the Sydney penal colony established on the mainland 15 years  earlier. Setting the film in 1825 Tasmania isn't an intellectual choice to make a period film, but something to remove the story from the present day, and in doing so allowing it's universal themes to take precedence. Tasmania was the most brutal of the Australian  colonies, known as hell on earth  through the western world at the time. Repeat offenders sent there; the rapists, murderers, hardened criminals. And severe punishments are devised for them to strike fear in the hearts of those back in Britain, to deter them  from crime. Women on the other hand who’d often  committed minor crimes are sent to Tasmania to even the gender balance. They're outnumbered 8 to 1. You can imagine what kind of an environment that would set up for women. It's not a good place or time for them. And in terms of 'The Aboriginal Invasion', what happened in Tasmania is often considered the worst attempted annihilation by the British of 'The Aboriginal' people and everything they hold dear. Many Australians know what happened in certain parts of the country during that time, and other people don't. A lot  of people outside Australia know  nothing or very little about it. We can not go into this part of our history and water it down. Like many other countries that have been colonized, the indigenous people of Australia were  subject to horrendous treatment by  the colonizers. 'The Aboriginal People' lived through two 'Ice  Ages Evidence' uncovered in one of the latest Tasmanian archaeological digs dates back 42,000 years. Besides the massacres and taking land away that happened, similar to anywhere else in Australia where 'Aboriginal' people were invaded and colonized, kids were taken away from families and put in Tasmanian orphanages. When they're old enough, they’d be used as cheap  labour on farms. It wasn’t uncommon  for 'Aboriginal'  people to be working  in all sorts of jobs, and a lot of 'Aboriginal' people in Tasmania today are here because they survived by mingling in with white fellas, right across the state. Violence against women is as relevant now as it has ever been. This is a story about  violence. In  particular the fallout of violence from a  feminine perspective. The colonization of Australia was a time of inherent violence; towards 'Aboriginal' people, towards women, and towards the  land itself, which was  wrenched from  it's first inhabitants. Colonization by nature is a brutal act. For this reason, this a current story despite being set in the past. And the arrogance that drives it lives on in the modern world. The film features graphic and potentially triggering acts of sexual violence towards women and violence motivated by racism. "The Nightingale" presents complex issues, and the film doesn’t attempt to offer neat solutions to systemic issues of race, misogyny, sexual violence, or classism. Nothing depicted in this film is fictional. The story itself is fictional, but the events are based in historical fact. The film deals with a story of colonization and  violence that some people say didn't happen, so it's really important that  things are accurate. The story of "The Nightingale" is important because  it’s a  history that was never told, about what 'Aboriginal' people went through in this time. It's a dark story and there will be tears, but it will touch  people. The film presents the opportunity to open up an honest dialogue about cycles of violence, the repercussions of colonialism, and in experiencing our own discomfort to reflect on humanity and the importance of empathy for our survival. All the concerns about violence, towards women, towards indigenous people, towards nature, the repercussions of colonization, they're very much in our mentality and in the way we live now, but by placing something in the past, you can give people a distance from it, so they can see it without feeling like they're being attacked. Everything is relevant now. This is a story set nearly 200 years ago and we’re still dealing with the same crimes against women. It’s a mythical film, in the true sense of the word. It’s visually astounding. Not as in something that never existed, but a story that deals with very universal themes, things that happen everywhere in the world, to all of us. "The Nightingale" questions the state of the world. What are the alternatives to violence and revenge? How do we retain our humanity in dark times? We do not have all the answers to the question of violence. But they lie in our humanity, in the empathy we hold for ourselves and others.
  • (Release Info London schedule; November 14th, 2019, Everyman Broadgate, Finsbury Ave, London EC2M 2PF, United Kingdom, 21:00 pm) "Le Mans '66" From James Mangold comes a film inspired by a true-life drama about a powerful friendship that forever changed racing history. In 1959, Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) is on top of the world after winning the most difficult race in all of motorsports, 'The 24 Hours Of Le Mans'. But his greatest triumph is followed quickly by a crushing blow, the fearless Texan is told by doctors that a grave heart condition will prevent him from ever racing again. Endlessly resourceful, Shelby reinvents himself as a car designer and salesman working out of a warehouse space in 'Venice Beach' with a team of engineers and mechanics that includes hot-tempered test driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale). A champion British race car driver and a devoted family man, Miles is brilliant behind the wheel, but he’s also blunt, arrogant and unwilling to compromise. After Shelby vehicles make a strong showing at 'Le Mans' against Italy’s venerable Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone), 'Ford Motor Company' recruits the firebrand visionary to design the ultimate race car, a machine that can beat even 'Ferrari' on the unforgiving French track. Determined to succeed against overwhelming odds, Shelby, Miles and their ragtag crew battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to develop a revolutionary vehicle that will outshine every competitor. But their tireless efforts take a difficult toll; for these bold men, victory comes at a price. The film opens with Shelby’s victory at 'Le Mans' and his subsequent diagnosis, before moving forward in time to 1963, when 'Ford Motor Co.', once the industry leader, is trailing in sales behind 'U.S.' competitor 'General Motors'. 'Marketing Executive' Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal) suggests that if Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) wants to appeal to the young people of the day looking to buy their first cars, the company should focus on speed, if Ford has winning race cars, their consumer automobiles would become that much more attractive by association. Since no company produced faster or sexier cars than Enzo Ferrari, an acquisition of 'The European' carmaker seems like the answer. An envoy of top executives is dispatched to Ferrari headquarters to negotiate the purchase of 'The European' carmaker only to return to Michigan empty-handed. Outraged, Ford immediately places his right-hand man, senior vice president Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas), in charge of a new high-tech race car division, 'Ford Advanced Vehicles', tasked with quickly building a car that will beat Ferrari at their own game, defeating them at 'The Mount Everest Of Motor Racing', 'Fhe 24 Hours Of Le Mans'. 'The FAV' team builds the exciting-looking 'GT40 Mark I', but it's first outing at 'Le Mans' in 1964 ends miserably. All three models fail to finish the race while Ferrari’s place first, second, and third. Finishing fourth is the 'Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe', a fact that Ford II doesn’t fail to notice. Ford II hires Shelby to develop, test and ultimately oversee the corporation’s entire racing program, but Shelby’s lead test driver Ken Miles complicates the relationship. The outspoken Miles quickly makes an enemy of Beebe, who does his best to manipulate Shelby and box-out Miles at every turn. Still, against impossible odds and virtually non-stop corporate interference, Shelby and his team, which also includes chief engineer Phil Remington (Ray McKinnon), and young British mechanic Charlie Agapiou (Jack McMullen) build one of the greatest race cars ever produced; 'The Ford GT40 MKII'. The vehicle changed the perception of both Ford, and America itself, when it takes part in one of the most infamous racing showdowns in history, the 1966 running of 'Le Mans'. The most challenging sequence to capture by far is the restaging of the 1966 running of 'The 24 Hours At Le Mans' race. The last 40 minutes of the film is this race predominantly, and you really feel like you're hunkered down and living in the race. The film loves that idea of racing for 24 hours to start to dawn on you, to feel what that really would be like trying to drive faster than any man for longer than you ever can stay awake. The magic of that, of driving 200 miles per hour in the most cutting-edge race-car prototypes on a series of French country roads over and over again through day, night, rain, sleet, dawn, dusk, doing that for 24 straight hours in one vehicle seemed like the most powerful thing we could try to convey. The central drama turns on the heated relationship between renegades Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles. Like legendary car racer and sports car builder Carroll Shelby, whose creations included 'The Shelby Cobra' and 'Shelby Daytona', as well as modified race-worthy editions of Ford’s legendary 'Mustang' series, 'The Shelby Mustang' celebrity status stretches back decades. Shelby had been a great driver and had kind of hit the pinnacle of that. Because of this heart condition, he’d lost his great love. He does wear a cowboy hat, but he wears it selectively in key scenes where it intentionally is supposed to seem a bit over-the-top along with his crocodile cowboy boots. He's really on the cusp of fading into oblivion and just being another guy hustling trying to sell cars to people. This Ford opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for him. The stakes are incredibly huge for him as they're for Ken Miles. Miles drove tanks in 'World War II' before finding his way onto the race track. Shelby just feels Miles is indispensable to this mission, and Ken is known for not suffering fools. He's irascible and not afraid to speak his mind and did not want to just fall into step with everybody else. If he thinks an idea is stupid, he’d tell you, and he has very little political skill or diplomatic skill. In terms of costume, Miles spends much of his time wearing a racing suit and coveralls. They refer to him as a beatnik, even though he never dressed as a beatnick. And so he's a constant source of frustration to Shelby because he couldn’t get out of his own way. But Shelby really needed him to help build the car and to then subsequently drive it at 'Le Mans'. It's one of the most legendary tales in the history of motorsports. Carroll Shelby, working closely with his spirited test driver Ken Miles, develops a revolutionary car that bests a fleet of vehicles built by Italian racing legend Enzo Ferrari at the 1966 running of 'The 24 Hours Of LeMans'. This is the story of a group of unconventional thinkers who overcome incredible odds to achieve something extraordinary through sheer inventiveness, determination and force of will. The film offerers the opportunity to stage thrilling racing sequences that essentially puts the audience inside the cars with these fearless drivers, and the chance to chronicle the turbulent friendship between Shelby and Miles. Both had quite distinct, larger-than-life personalities, Shelby, tough yet eminently likable; Miles, prickly and unfiltered, but they're united by a passion for innovation and an abiding love for racing. Quite simply, Shelby and Miles are driven to excel, even if it means putting their lives on the line every time they got behind the wheel. They understand each other at the most profound level. When Shelby’s confronted with the fact that he can’t race anymore, he reinvents himself from a driver into a car salesman and designer, and Ken becomes a vessel for Shelby’s dreams. But Ken can’t quite filter himself or control himself in corporate situations or publicity situations. He just says whatever he thinks, so Shelby takes on this role of protector or spokesman for Ken. They've a very symbiotic relationship. One fills in where the other leaves off. Lee Iacocca, who, from his humble roots as the son of Italian immigrants in Allentown, Pennsylvania, becomes a legend in the automotive business, reviving 'U.S.' automaker 'Chrysler' during the 1980s. His strength comes from his intensity. It comes from his intellect. When he's at Ford, Iacocca has the presence of mind to understand that there's a whole generation of 17-year-olds with money in their pocket who are interested in rock ’n’ roll and sex and moving fast, and the stale, stagnant repetition of reproducing 1950s cars is failing Ford. Lee Iacocca is the flashiest exec on the team. He’s got a good shark skin suit, mohair suits, little slivery ties, ultra ’60s. Mollie Miles (Caitriona Balfe) is Ken’s wife, and mother to their young son, Peter (Noah Jupe). Even though she’s a stay-at-home mom in the film, she’s very much an equal partner in the relationship. She wears old 'Wranglers' from the 1960s and cotton sweaters or shirts. She's’s a little rough around the edges with his personality and his people skills may not be that great. But this is where their relationship is strong. She tells him when he needs to pull up his boot straps and to also encourage him. There’s this real sense that they’re a team who supports each other. Detroit auto legend Henry Ford II is 'The CEO Of Ford Motor Company' from 1960 to 1979. It’s a classic story of man versus machine, man versus man, and man versus himself. It touches upon a lot of the points of a sports story, but at the same time the historical story that’s being told here's a good one. A lot of the cars that we know now, and a lot of the advancements we’ve seen with technology, starts with this period. By contrast, they’re ample archival images of Henry Ford II available to create a full picture of the auto titan’s fashion style. The film outfits Ford himself in classic 'Brooks Brothers' suits. Old money, button-down shirts, blue blazer, it’s recreating what they really wore. And he always wore navy blue with plain navy blue ties. His clothes are very traditional. Leo Beebe, is 'The Ford Motors Company' executive who's given control over Ford’s racing program. He has a shadier color palette, a little bit darker, a little bit oiler. Like his father, Peter Miles is completely consumed with the sport of car racing. Peter is a happy boy, but he’s also a kid whose dad could die at any point in a race. From an early age, he’s been brought into the racing world and wants to be a racer when he’s older just like his dad. It’s all he’s ever known. Phil Remington is the chief engineer at 'Shelby American'. A technical genius who can fix or fabricate anything, Remington is a key partner to Carroll Shelby in helping develop 'The Ford GT40 MKII' that takes on Ferrari at 'Le Mans'. Charlie Agapiou works with Ken Miles at Miles foreign car repair shop in Hollywood before joining him at Shelby’s shop in Venice in early 1963. Ken is something of a father figure to young Charlie. The challenge is how to navigate this story so that audiences feel the love and camaraderie and energy of these drivers and designers and mechanics and pit crew, but it doesn’t depend upon a cliché kind of victory. Whereas the Ford executives are sort of cool, wearing blues, grays, silvers, the Ferrari people are more old world. Their wardrobe is primarily browns, creams, knit ties, vests. The film gets deep enough into these unique characters, the winning and the losing of the races is secondary to the winning and the losing of their lives. One can believe that they’re characters who represent the last of an old school, brave, humble, gracious, male prototype. This is an inflection point in both of their lives. The goal in an age of incredibly computer-enhanced action movies, is that there's something profoundly analog and real and gritty about the film and the sexiness of these beasts, the cars, their engines, the danger. These characters are riding in a thin aluminum shell at 200 miles an hour around a track. The miracle that's their daring and their survival under these circumstances is something that the film tries to convey. This film is about the epic rivalry between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari and the scrappy team of upstarts that Ford hires to help him in his quest. Both the classic 1966 sports drama "Grand Prix" and Steve McQueen’s 1971 film "Le Mans" served as references. It's about characters striving for excellence, trying to push against the onset of corporate market-tested group-think. It’s an essential struggle in 'The 21st Century' in our country, the risk-taking and daring and leaps of instinct that are required to invent a lot of the things that define our country are things that we’re almost too frightened to do anymore. The film creates a naturalistic portrait of what life is like for Shelby and Miles. In a modern era when 'CG' spectacle has come to define many blockbuster films, it's critical to take a grounded approach to the action in "Le Mans ‘66" to both more accurately depict the 1960s and to help the audience understand what these drivers experienced as they're pushing themselves, and their cars, to the limit. This isn’t Carroll Shelby’s whole story or Ken Miles’ whole story. This is about a hugely defining moment in their lives that shaped all they're to be. People really connect with this idea of trying to do an excellent job at whatever your job is with the challenge of dealing with oversight and corporate management and the corporate tendency to round every corner that’s a little sharp and to soften any blow that could offend somebody. We all miss the world when it's just a little more raw and prone to taking a risk. The reason the story is so legendary is because these misfits challenged God and won, didn’t they? God was Ferrari. He was a monster, a Goliath of reputation and style, legendary in the racing community. And this little band of misfits, with Ford’s backing but in spite of Ford’s interference, they did it. This is an incredibly compelling film because it’s about the behind-the-scenes conflicts and choices of passionate, competitive, driven, larger-than-life people caught in the very moment the American landscape is changing from the optimism of the post war 1950s and early 1960s to the more cynical late 1960s and ’70s. The visual inspiration comes more from the films of the ’60s and ’70s, rather than contemporary interpretations of race car films, no exaggerated movement, keeping it intimate with the use of close-ups and always maintaining a character’s point-of-view. The film sticks to camera techniques of the period. The production design follows suit and is much in sync with realism and plausibility and keeping the audience in the magic trick of this world that has been created. You’re both hearing and seeing the bolts rattling in the chassis of the car. You’re feeling the vibration of the engine. You’re understanding how hard they’re pushing this vehicle and how close to exploding it's. Today, we've computer-aided design. We can postulate with much greater accuracy what’s going to work. There was no way with a pencil and an abacus you could know that. You just had to build the car and drive the car and see if it just blew up around you. It’s a big, emotional, distinctive theatrical experience that embraces all of the reasons we want to sit in a movie theater. We want to be invested. We want to be moved, to cry to laugh, to be inspired. This movie is all of that.
  • In Gotham City, mentally-troubled comedian Arthur Fleck embarks on a downward-spiral of social revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his infamous alter-ego: "The Joker". “What do you get when you cross a mentally ill loner with a society that abandons him and treats him like trash? You get what you f****n’ deserve!” The big question asked by Todd Phillips’ Joker. The answer; an in-depth character study unveiling the myth behind one of pop culture’s most twisted creations. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this film upon its release. People state that it mishandles the representation of mental health and that it’s a dangerous film which could potentially insight violence. I believe Phoenix and Phillips handle Arthur’s descent into madness with great nuance and with masterful direction. The same controversy surrounded one of the film’s clear influences; Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. Robert DeNiro’s portrayal of Travis Bickle represented the disillusionment and PTSD of war veterans and how society abandoned them and people still regard it as a masterpiece and one of Scorsese’s finest films. The time and setting are irrelevant as the issues and society depicted in period-time Gotham wreak of Trump’s America which has been embodied by Thomas Wayne. This is an angry film with so much to say. One of the reasons why I loved this film is not only is it a great genre film (calling it a genre insults the quality) but a modern-day masterpiece which will be dissected for years to come. As for Joaquin Phoenix’s performance, it’s pretty much self-explanatory. It’s a masterclass in physical and emotional artistry, we truly see an actor pushing his body and mind to its limits. It does not overshadow the magnificent work achieved by the late Heath Ledger, but is in fact a deeper psychological study to the myth behind the character. The use of the unreliable narrator only adds to Arthur’s fragile state of mind and a masterstroke by Phillips. Overall, yes this film is controversial and yes this film is a commentary on today’s society but with Hildur Guônadóttir’s haunting and mesmerising score and an all-time, Oscar-winning performance from Phoenix and Phillips has crafted one of the best films of the past ten years.