Dec 18, 2017

Reelview Film Review - Justice League (2017) 3.5/5


Edited: Dec 18, 2017


So it's finally here! DC's Justice League is undoubtedly one of the most in demand graphic novels to be brought to life on the silver screen to join the DCU (DC Universe). After the huge success of Wonder Woman earlier this year, Justice League and the team behind it had a lot of pressure to get this film just right.




In Batman vs Superman, we saw the man of steel take his final breath at the hands of Lex Luthor's creation, Doomsday. We now see the return of Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) along with many others of the population of planet earth learning to live in a world without Superman (Henry Cavill). Crime rates have risen and people have lost all hope. Bruce and Diana soon realise that there is a much greater evil heading their way. Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds). The two heroes unite once again to seek out others to form a team so they can save the world. After all "You can't save the world alone".


With some help from Bruce's butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons) and some Wayne Enterprises technology, the two heroes set out to recruit the nerdy loner that is Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) , also known as The Flash, half machine half man hybrid Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and the one and only Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), the sea king we all know to be Aquaman.




The first thing we see in the film is a video recording of Superman being interviewed by a child asking him about being a superhero. The recorded video (filmed before Superman's demise) shows a very close shot of our hero trying to answer questions before then pausing while the camera is still rolling, leaving us as the audience to sit and focus on Superman's face while deep in thought. This is where my first critical thought came into my mind. While watching this I was sat thinking to myself "Has Superman had botox?" Yes you will probably know what I am about to say as it's been all over the internet and in a lot of articles in magazines and pretty much every other review. The terrible CGI in an attempt to cover up the actor's moustache. I'm sure many of you will know that during the time Henry Cavill was shooting scenes for Justice League, he was also bound to another contract at the same time. In this other contract he had been instructed not to shave off the moustache. So the 'brilliant' CGI team behind the Justice League were left to manage the situation. Well....They didn't. You can even see the outline of the amazing moustache if you look close enough. It did make me chuckle. I try not to critisize CGI too much in films as I know it takes a lot of hard work to be able to achieve great CGI results for films, games etc and I also know that it's something I'd be completely useless at. But unfortunately this was so hard not to miss. This awful attempt to cover up some facial hair was the one talking point that took over the entire film in all media. Which in my opinion really isn't fair. Just because the graphics in this instance may have been a bit of a blunder, it doesn't mean that the whole film was ruined.


So lets discuss the heroes that form our favourite DC comics team. We had previously seen plenty of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman from previous films (Man Of Steel, Batman vs Superman and Wonder Woman) so we already know what we feel about those actors in those roles. Personally I think those three couldn't have been cast any better. I really like Ben Affleck's Batman. When he was first cast I was a little unsure, but he is actually now my favourite version of the Gotham hero. It was great to see a lighter side to the man behind the Gotham bat, a rather amusing example of this was when meeting Barry Allen the youngster asked Wayne "So what's your superpower?" To which we see Affleck's character reply with the simple response "I'm rich." What was great about Batman/Bruce this time around was that the audience got to see much more of the bond between him and household butler Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons). The two men were often sharing scenes in the batcave working together at the helm to keep the team together and remain focused on their mission. We even saw them sharing a little banter such as Alfred commenting of the severity of the impending attack on earth by saying "one misses the day when one's biggest concerns were exploding wind up penguins" A very clever nod to the well known batman villain Oswald Cobblepot or better known as The Penguin.


Justice League was completely dominated by the amazing Wonder Woman. She was awesome! I loved her in her own film and even more so in this one, not only because she was an absolute force to be reckoned with while in battle, but also because we got to see a more vulnerable side to Gadot's amazon princess. After seeing her at the beginning of the film fighting crime in a bank and working in a museum talking to a colleague saying she was doing "nothing very interesting" over the weekend, we then learn that she is afraid to lead and take charge when given the opportunity to do so. She is hiding behind a lot of raw emotion and dealing with her inner demons following the death of her love Steve Trevor (portrayed by actor Chris Pine) in her own debut film. Yet we still see Diana at her strongest in this film. Her courage to fight to protect the ones she vows to protect sees her through. She also becomes the voice of reason and takes on a mother figure role when the new recruits join the Justice League. She does so by helping them to build up their confidence to be able to fight alongside her and Batman. Particularly when we see her reaching out to new league member Victor Stone. Stone, doubts himself in many ways after being rebuilt as a machine by his father in an attempt to save his life after an terrible accident some time ago. Later on in the film Diana mutters under her breath "I work with children" which is of course, her stating the obvious lack of maturity from her 'co-workers'.


As I have already mentioned him let move onto Cyborg. This version of Cyborg/Victor Stone is portrayed by Ray Fisher. Fisher is an American stage actor who is best known for his comedy role in 'The Good, The Bad and The Confused'. We saw a brief introduction to Cyborg in a small snippet of video footage within the Batman vs Superman film. Now this is the one character I was least looking forward to seeing in the Justice League film. I love the graphic novels but Cyborg is not a character I can favour. So I did have very little expectations for this character. I really was proven wrong. Fisher's version of the well known comic book hero was rather captivating, his back story is well known but it was quite emotional to see it in more depth in this film. Not only did I learn to like the character of Victor Stone but I also really enjoyed Cyborg too. We see so much more to the character than ever before with his abilities to become a computer and also a weapon. It's quite interesting to see how he learns bit by bit to control his not so human half with cannons for hands and being able to fly I think Cyborg will be an interesting hero to watch grow over time. Especially as his own solo film has now been announced.


Let's move onto The Flash. Barry Allen himself. I love this character and again when Ezra Miller was cast as the scarlet speedster for this film, I did feel my mood drop a little. The only film I had seen Miller appear in before this one was the Harry Potter spin off 'Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them'. Which he was great in but wasn't The Flash that I wanted to see on the big screen. Not only that, my biggest reason for originally doubting him in this role was because the announcement of his casting was around the same time that Grant Gustin's version of Barry Allen had just hit our tv screens in the CW series 'The Flash'. I loved Gustin's version of the flash immediately and found it hard to accept someone else (Other than John Wesley Shipp) filling those speedy shoes. Again I was completely wrong about my concerns with this casting choice. It actually turned out that I thought that Ezra Miller's flash was brilliant! His version of a young, inexperienced and immature Barry Allen was just what the film and the DC universe needed. He brought a lot of the comedy value to the film with statements including him telling Bruce Wayne that the flash suit was for his extreme ice dancing hobby and shouting out rather loudly "Oh awesome, that's the Bat signal! That's your...! oh shh (holds finger to mouth) sorry, that mean's we have to go now" while talking to Bruce and Diana after seeing the call for Batman for the first time. Unfortunately this is where I have to refer to the not so great CGI. The flash's suit looked awesome and battered like it was still a working progress which was great to see. But on the other hand, when watching scenes of Miller's Flash in battle or even just running, the effects really let him down. It was pretty clear that a treadmill was used during the filming of his scenes, which yes is fair enough, but it just didn't look like much effort had been made at all in covering that up. Also I remember watching one scene where we see him running and his legs are flaying around everywhere, which was actually quite amusing but not very professional for a huge film such as this one. One other complaint that I have about the Flash was a scene was completely cut which the audience had seen in the trailer for the film. This was a scene where Barry Allen is appearing to gently touch a glass panel which then shatters in front of him due to the effect of the speed force within his body. This can be said for quite a lot of the scenes that the trailer had promised us. Many were removed from the theatrical cut.


The last of our new heroes is Jason Momoa's Aquaman. Also known as Arthur Curry and the King of Atlantis. I think Momoa is great at what he does, but he does appear to be a bit of a one trick pony, playing similar roles on screen. The badass, the hard man, the one you really don't want to get into an argument with. It was great to see him speak with a light hearted american accent as he is mostly known for speaking Dothraki in his role as the very serious Khal Drogo in the TV series Game Of Thrones. I have read the Aquaman comic books and I am quite fond of them and he is nothing at all like the Arthur Curry that I know and love. The thing with this character is that he is often portrayed as rubbish or weakest member of the Justice League and I think because of this they wanted him seen in a different light for the film. A beefy, tribal tattooed, long haired ladies man type of specimen. Yes Aquaman can be appealing on the eye I suppose and he is somewhat muscular and to be honest I liked the metallic suit. I can see why they chose this appearance for Aquaman in this film because of those reasons but that does not explain the country bumpkin (sorry, not politically correct I know) phrases and mannerisms of Momoa's sea king. I mean is he a cowboy dressed as a fish or is he the king of Atlantis looking to work on a cattle ranch in his spare time? (No offence to cattle ranch workers or home owners at all, you all work very hard, but this is not Aquaman!). I really liked seeing Jason Momoa in a comedy type role in some scenes of the film, it makes a change from what we are used to seeing from him and this was great, but why on earth was he made to say "ma, maaaaan!", "Yeeeeee Hoooooo!" and "Dressed like a bat, I dig it" when seeing Bruce Wayne in his suit for the first time. It's not all negative for Mr Curry though. He shares a scene underwater in Atlantis with his soon to be queen Mera as they fight the villain Steppenwolf to protect the mother box that is hidden under the sea. I thought Amber Heard looked amazing as Mera. She looked almost identical to her animated counterpart in the books. Her character is not one to be messed with so it's good to see her warning Aquaman of the seriousness of the situation and how important it is for him to step up as the king of Atlantis. His first scene where we see him in action as Aquaman was fantastic. We see him use his trident to stop an impending flood of water heading towards the rest of the league while in a tunnel during battle. What an entrance! I am very intrigued to see how Momoa's character will develop in his own standalone feature and despite the quirks I wasn't so keen on during Justice League I actually did like the character.


I may have rambled on a fair amount about our newly formed team of heroes but I can't forget the smaller characters either. As mentioned previously in my review it was great to see more of Irons' Alfred but also the return of JK Simmons as Commissioner James Gordon. Unfortunately there still wasn't enough of him though. One moment that I thought may have been significant in the film was when Gordon can be seen discussing a big case with another officer explaining that he will deal with it. Why this particular officer? Why not have it said behind closed doors? Could this be the introduction of detective Joe West? The adopted father to Barry Allen from the comics. We will have to wait and see in the Flashpoint movie.

Another background character included Amy Adam's Lois Lane, a front runner in Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman but we saw a lot less of the daily planet reporter this time around. The most memorable scene we see her in is when she is brought in by Batman as "the big guns" to calm a newly resurrected Clark Kent.


So the villain of this film. Steppenwolf. The god in search of his beloved motherboxes to bring them together and then destroy the planet. Voiced by Ciaran Hinds the character wasn't brilliant. He looked the part with his horns on his helmet very much like Ares who we saw in Wonder Woman. But there's not much more that I can say about him. His minions which were flying creepy looking zombie soldiers did most of his work for him in finding the mother boxes. Every now and again we'd see Steppenwolf actually fight his own battles. Plus the big showdown at the end. The only point where this villain stood out for me was at the beginning of the film where he is seen taunting the Amazons in Themyscira. And that's not for anything that he did or said, but at that point I really loved the scenes where the Amazon women are in battle with him and his flying zombies. The scenes were so thrilling and well choreographed that it really grabbed my attention. Other than that I thought that Steppenwolf was a bit of a 'meh' character.


Lastly I want to mention about the films end credit scenes. SPOILER ALERT! There were not one but two end credit scenes. The first we didn't have to wait too long to see. It showed Superman and The Flash standing on what appeared to be a runway joking with each other about which one of them is the fastest. They are then seen speeding off into a blur before the scene goes black. Roll on some more credits and we get the big one! This scene I did actually know about before going to see the film and it was one I was so excited to see on the big screen. As it started I sat in my seat flapping my hands with excitement like a performing sea lion as I continued to watch. The scene starts with an officer in a prison walking up to a cell which was for Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenburg) only for the officer to find a crazy mad man in Luthor's place. We then see a boat with people on board only to then see Lex Luthor and some of his guards talking to someone about a plan to destroy our beloved heroes. And who was he talking to? Slade Wilson in full costume! Deathstroke himself! Many people have been waiting for the appearance of this character for quite some time. Particularly fans of the CW's Arrow. The TV series based on the life of Oliver Queen as the Green Arrow (played by Stephen Amell) has already seen one version of Deathstroke which is a character that many grew fond of. We have seen the portrayal of the character from actor Manu Bennett in this series so people are rather intrigued to see just how the role will play out with the casting of Joe Manganiello. Only time will tell.


Lets round this up then. I really loved this film, I liked the story, the characters, the costumes and if it were just based on that I would be giving Justice League a full score of 5 out of 5. But because I was able to find a fair amount of flaws and let downs with it I am not able to give it a top score. It is definitely one that I do recommend to watch and I cannot wait to be able to own it on release to go with the rest of my nerdy comic book film collection to be able to watch it time and time again.


This review is currently on my own review website

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  • (Release Info London schedule; November 25th, 2019, Curzon Aldgate, 2 Goodman's Fields, Whitechapel, London E1 8PS, United Kingdom, 6:14 pm) "Knives Out" "Knives Out" is a fun, modern-day murder mystery where everyone is a suspect. When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday, the inquisitive and debonair Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is mysteriously enlisted to investigate. From Harlan’s dysfunctional family to his devoted staff, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan’s untimely death. "Knives Out" is a witty and stylish whodunnit guaranteed to keep audiences guessing until the very end. The recipe is a classic. Take one group of entitled eccentrics, mix with a handful of their faithful staff, add one dead body, and set to boil in an over-polished yet mystifying mansion under the watchful eye of a master sleuth until a murderer appears, ready to serve a lifetime of incarceration. This delicious scenario gets a thoroughly modern makeover, pierced through by a lacerating wit and a razor-sharp take on '21st Century' social mores and family bonds. It’s also one that will keep you guessing till it's final frames. Channeling the spirit of Hercule Poirot by way of Colonel Sanders, "Knives Out" features Benoit Blanc, a Southern-fried private investigator who finds himself at the center of a modern-day murder mystery worthy of Agatha Christie. Following the death of world famous writer and family patriarch Harlan Thrombey, Blanc, partnering with Lieutenant Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield) and Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan), proceeds to interview the Thrombey clan, an all-star ensemble of grieving misfits united by their solemn love of the old man’s now readily available fortune. With a wound to Harlan’s neck and a knife still in his cold hand, the case, for Lieutenant Elliott and Trooper Wagner at least, looks like a suicide. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The world famous Benoit Blanc, the last of the gentleman sleuths, rightly suspects foul play. And as Blanc and the local lawmen begin questioning 'The Thrombey' family and their staff, it quickly becomes clear that not one suspect has a story that even begins to clear their name. Fortunately, Blanc has a secret weapon in Marta (Ana de Armas), the late patriarch’s Latina caregiver and possibly the last person to see him alive, a doe-eyed innocent, beloved by all. A young woman, incapable of telling a lie without losing her lunch, she proves a useful, if conflicted, ally for Blanc, as he chips away at each Thrombey’s potential motive, dubious alibi, and even more rickety sense of self. Filing their greed, personal grievances and motives to a fine point, Blanc watches as the family proceeds to slowly devour one another, right up until the final shocking reveal, when all of their assumptions about themselves and each other are finally upended. The film opens with a cast of modern day characters who are startlingly real; characters who could reflect the sprawling, mess of family life today, while navigating the social, political and class divides of the times. When you've a labyrinth of so many different characters, and so many different motives and all these twists and turns, even if you've the basic structure of it down, there’s a lot of math that you still have to do. The film wants the pleasures of the questioning at the beginning, the eccentric detective, the big scene at the end where the whole thing gets laid out, all the stuff we love about mysteries, but also to use the mechanics of a thriller to pull you into all that’s really going on in this family. The key is making all those mechanics invisible to the audience, so they’re just on this fun ride. At the center of the "Knives Out" storm is it's victim, Harlan Thrombey, a fabulously successful writer of mystery novels who has amassed a fortune, a loyal following of readers and a coterie of deadbeat relatives, by the strength of his creativity and hard work. But so too is Thrombey a man who, in his later years, has come to regret the consequences that his exorbitant wealth has had on his loved ones. Harlan’s final night is among the favorite scene in the movie. It covers so many different tones. It goes from funny, to scary, to sad, all in a few moments. Benoit Blanc is a different kind of lawman, the decidedly offbeat, world famous private detective. He's a genteel Southern gumshoe who sets each member of the Thrombey family just off-balance enough so that the pieces of the complex puzzle surrounding Harlan Thrombey’s death fall into place. Whether it’s 'Poirot', 'Columbo', 'Mrs. Marple' or whoever, one of the big unifying elements among movie detectives is that there’s always something about them that makes you not quite take them seriously. Benoit Blanc is a fun, flawed character. The character is based on 'The Civil War' historian and writer, Shelby Foote, who has this beautiful, lyrical accent. To find Harlan Thrombey’s killer, Benoit Blanc joins forces with two local lawmen, Lieutenant Elliott, a man all but ready to rule Thrombey’s death a suicide until the last of the gentleman sleuths gives him pause to reconsider, his partner, Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan). Lieutenant Elliott is a consummate by-the-book professional who's none too convinced by Blanc’s unconventional investigations but just wants to see if Blanc’s suspicions could have some kind of truth to them. Elliot can be very funny but he’s always got this genuineness to him that make him a great foil for Benoit Blanc. As Blanc and Elliott sift through clues, their assistant, Trooper Wagner, struggles to keep up with the case’s never-ending twists and turns. There's a reason why the character hasn’t passed the detective test. But since he’s one of the few characters in the film who's clearly not a suspect. The magic of the story is that we quickly learn that absolutely everyone in the family has a reason to see Harlan Thrombey die and absolutely everybody has a skeleton in their closet. So many suspects. So little time. Why it’s enough to make poor Trooper Wagner’s head spin. In an effort to facilitate further investigations into the unfortunate demise of Harlan Thrombey, please consider the notes below regarding the primary suspects in this most tragic matter. Surely, it can’t be that hard to pick the real killer out of this bunch? As the mystery and mutual suspicion surrounding Harlan Thrombey’s death deepens, his salivating family awaits the arrival of one man and one man only; Alan (Frank Oz), the family lawyer, who will reveal the contents of Harlan’s final will. Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis), née Thrombey, Harlan's eldest daughter, is a chip off the old block. A driven, self-made businesswoman, she shares much in common with her deceased father. She has just lost her father so there's a lot of sadness there. But she’s also the eldest sibling, so she feels the pressure to step up and become the new family elder. She's a strong woman who's reeling with grief and wrestling with a sense of duty to her father’s legacy. And she immediately, and perhaps suspiciously, resists Blanc’s sudden intrusion into their family’s affairs. At the same time, she’s funny, warm and deeply intelligent. Richard (Don Johnson), Linda’s dashing husband, second-in-command at her successful real estate business and second class citizen in their marriage, has enjoyed the privileges that wealth brings. But while having married into 'The Thrombeys' once seemed full of advantages, Richard now faces some of the downsides, including being a suspect in his father-in-law’s murder. He's a very smarmy dude and has such a blast with it. The only son of Linda and Richard Drysdale, Ransom (Chris Evans) is an aimless, spoiled, trust fund kid; the defiant black sheep of the family who loves nothing more than calling the clan out on their self-serving hypocrisy. Ransom is a man who’s been born with everything, except a moral compass. He’s cynical, arrogant and he’s got one of the most dangerous qualities a person can have; he thinks nothing is ever his fault and he always believes he’s the victim. It comes from the fact that he feels so much pressure and heavy expectation from his family. Ransom handles it by aiming to disappoint people before they can even ask anything of him. And when he arrives at the Thrombey mansion, it’s kind of like a big, dark rain cloud coming in. Harlan’s youngest son, Walt (Michael Shannon), who suffers from an ever so slight inferiority complex, had hoped to prove himself to his father and the world at large, by running the family publishing business. But when his plans for a major expansion are shot down by Harlan's refusal to cooperate, could it possibly have left him contemplating a new career, in murder? Harlan Thrombey’s trusted caregiver, Marta, the hardworking daughter of undocumented immigrants, may be closer to Harlan than anyone in his family, a bond she hopes will keep her own lengthy list of secrets, safe. Marta always felt she had to be discreet about who she really is, an outsider whose status as one of the family soon shifts to that of potential suspect in the wake of the old man’s death. 'The Thrombey' family can be casually racist and classist and other than Harlan, Marta suspects that they don’t really care about her. But nothing Marta does in the story comes out of hate or vengeance. She's someone trying to survive and to navigate her way out of a crazy situation the best possible way she can. Marta is the discovery of this movie and people are going to be blown away by her. The widow of Harlan’s deceased son, Joni Thrombey (Toni Collette) lives in California where she struggles to keep her 'New Age' lifestyle-biz, Flam, afloat. Indeed, due to her dire financial circumstances, Joni and her unwitting daughter Meg (Katherine Langford) have grown a little too accustomed to living off of big daddy Harlan’s largesse. Yup, say what you will about the purity of this woman’s chakras, she’s as big a suspect as anyone else. She truly wants to be all about bringing positivity and good energy and trying to help people live their best lives. But much as she wants to believe in all that, when Harlan withdraws his material support her world falls apart. Could simply being married to Walt Thrombey drive a woman to murder? Well, Donna (Riki Lindhome) is someone who just under the surface seems like she’s about to snap at any moment. Donna is someone who thought her life was going to be perfect when she married Walt Thrombey. She now realizes that perfection isn’t coming, yet she’s holding on as hard as she can. Walt and Donna’s rebellious son, Jacob (Jaeden Martell), is an outlier among 'The Thrombeys', a prep school bad boy, alt-right internet troll, and youngest member of the family clan. But what exactly does this teenager get up to when he isn’t online? The only daughter of Toni Collette’s Joni, Meg (Katherine Langford) is a progressive, perpetual college student who's scandalized and embarrassed by her mother. Meg represents a new generation of Thrombeys, more clued-in to the world around her. What really intrigues about Meg is that she’s the one who tries to be a bridge between 'The Thrombey' family and Marta. Meg has a different perspective from the other characters as a 20-something with views that are relatable to a lot of young people today. Rounding out 'The Thrombey' clan is the family’s eldest member, dear old Nana Thrombey (K. Callan). Indeed, she’s so old that no one even knows her age. Nana is a woman of few words. But has she been quietly witnessing everything? To give each member a look as distinctive as 'The Thrombey' mansion, the film creates something very modern, yet each character is completely distinct. We've to understand who the characters are and how they live. Starting with Harlan Thrombey, the film crafts a trademark look with the loud, rebellious combo of plaid jacket and pink shirt. So it’s a look that speaks to Harlan’s wealth and occupation, but also to his more human side. Benoit Blanc’s elegant look involved more of a process. Initially, the film envisions him in a dapper white linen suit. Later in the film the look becomes more understated, but with subtle nods to Blanc’s Southern heritage. He’s a bit eccentric and flowery, he has floral ties and a matching handkerchief and floral touches on his socks, but it’s never over the top. For Linda and Richard Drysdale the film choses luxurious fabrics and boldly confident, yet classic looks. Linda wears the most blaring hues along with ostentatiously expensive jewelry. We've a lot of bright pink and turquoise for Linda; those are colors which in a film you’d usually think are too loud, but it's perfect for this character. For Richard it's all about the cashmere. His character isn’t flashy, but he definitely likes expensive things and he’s very, very pulled together. Linda’s brother Walt is the antithesis of a fashionista. Walt's character is the son who hasn’t really succeeded, so his look is more disheveled and everything's a little awkward and off. Joni, brings a woozy gust of California into the mansion. Her look follows the tone of her lifestyle brand, light, airy and flowy. The film puts Joni in all this diaphanous clothing, billowing silks and soft pastels, and every fitting is incredible. Ransom brakes out the kind of in-crowd couture pieces a trust funder would wear with casual disdain, including a luxurious, long cashmere coat. Ransom is rich, eccentric and he doesn't care about anything. He’s the kind of person who throws his very elegant, very expensive coat on the floor. That really plays to a character who disrespects the money, the house, and everyone in it. Marta is a working class outsider who stands apart from 'The Thrombey' family, while also attempting to fit in. She looks like an ordinary person who's trying to support her family. She’s not the type who wears a nurse uniform or scrubs. She wears casual, functional clothes that show she has become comfortable as part of Harlan Thrombey’s world, but there’s also a hint of someone who hasn’t been able to have much of a life outside of work. The house is an outward mirror of the kind of world Harlan liked to create in his books. A house that pays homage to the genre, yet be unique to the films contemporary vision. Because Harlan’s house plays such an important role in the film, the question is always how you can keep it visually interesting at every turn and give it real scope. The idea is that with each level you go up, things get stranger and stranger, each room getting more eccentric and more colorful than the last until you reach Harlan's domain. 'The 3rd' floor is comprised of Harlan's hallway, bedroom and study, and all three of those are built on a stage to give maximum flexibility for the key sequences on the night of Harlan’s death. Another period mansion provided one of the film’s most memorable interiors; Harlan’s library. Here the film works with a balconied space featuring two-story bookshelves and wrought iron railings, going so far as to design comic-tinged book titles and covers. As a finishing touch, the film suspends from the ceiling an eye-popping sculpture made from glistening, crossed knives that becomes the centerpiece of the film. While the rooms features plush furnishings, rich brocades, ornately carved wood, imposing portraits, marble fireplaces and stunning antiques, the sophisticated, museum-like ambiance is constantly undercut by a slew of shocking knickknacks. From medieval armor and bizarre theater props to bloody portraits, many of these unconventional items are sourced from around the globe, while others are custom-created. One of the most fun things about "Knives Out" is that every time you walked into a new room, there are wild treasures everywhere. The closer you get to any object, the more you’d realize something is just a little bit off. It reflects the whole tone of the movie, where you think you're in this beautiful estate with a family that has everything, but then you realize there's something amiss with them. The house has a remarkable ability to snap you right into the time, place, and the spirit of the material. So it’s all a little bit twisted. The script presents all these wild characters and different possibilities for the crime, and then it keeps throwing you for a loop. With each character, there's a reason to be invested in them and equally, a reason to distrust them. A big part of the fun in a story like this is questioning your own judgement and moral barometer as things get complicated. It's a perfect dysfunctional family comedy because there are characters from every generation. It’s one of those movies that will be really fun to see with your own dysfunctional family. The film puts all the characters on firm ground and then he pulls that ground away from them, so you never know where the story is going. It's an enjoyable ride. It makes you laugh and it surprises you, but that it might also make you think. The film brings in so many things that we’re dealing with in our lives today. "Knives Out" does it in a way where you never stop feeling entertained. This is a really fun, modern movie full of clues and complications and family dynamics. Agatha Christie’s stories weren’t message-y, but if you look at her characters, they're very much about British society at the time. That tends to get lost today when you see all those butlers and colonels. You forget that at the time those were very fresh references to the different strata of the society. This film is a chance to use this genre to look at contemporary America and the types of people we’re familiar with right now was exciting. But then you’re taken aback because you’re so invested in these characters, and the movie becomes a much deeper, wilder ride than you're anticipating. "Knives Out" feels incredibly contemporary because it’s so fast-moving, complex and tightly.
  • (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.