Jun 14

"The Hummingbird Project" written by Gregory Mann


(Release Info London schedule; June 14th, 2919, Cineworld Greenwich, The O2, Peninsula Square, London SE10 0DX, United Kingdom, 21:10pm)



"The Hummingbird Project"



From director Kim Nguyen comes a modern-day 'David & Goliath' story that is equal parts financial thriller and human drama, excavating the pitfalls and perils of two men who risk everything in order to have it all.

Cousins from New York, Vincent Zaleski (Jesse Eisenberg) and Anton Zaleski (Alexander Skarsgård) are players in the high-stakes game of 'High Frequency Trading', where winning is measured in milliseconds. Their dream? To build a fiber-optic cable straight line between Kansas and New Jersey, making them millions. But nothing is straightforward for this flawed pair. Anton is the brains, Vincent is the hustler, and together they push each other and everyone around them to breaking point on their quixotic adventure. Constantly breathing down their necks is their old boss Eva Torres (Salma Hayek) a powerful, intoxicating and manipulative trader who will stop at nothing to come between them and beat them at their own game. No matter what the cost, Vincent and Anton are determined to cut through America, only to find redemption at the end of their line, not through money, but through family and reconnecting to the land.

Cousins from New York, Vincent and Anton are players in the high-stakes game of high frequency trading, where winning is measured in milliseconds. Vincent is the hustler and Anton is the brains; together they push each other and everyone around them in their quixotic quest to attain 'The Ultimate American Dream'. Embarking on 'The Herculean' task of installing a fiber-optic cable in a straight line between Kansas and New Jersey, so they can yield faster trades and greater riches, the cousins clash with their rapacious former boss, Eva Torres, a hedge-fund manager who tries to beat them at their own game using a rival technology. Racing against time, navigating heavy machinery, stubborn landowners, and the elements, Vincent and Anton move mountains to cut through America and get rich faster, only to find redemption and renewal at the end of the line. The film exposes the ruthless edge of our increasingly digital world.  

"The Hummingbird Project" speaks to the ridiculousness of our monetary pursuits; and the humanity behind getting rich quick. The film takes this massive, real-world concept of high frequency trading and placed two unique and unusual people in the middle of it. The story centers on high-frequency trader cousins Vincent and Anton, second-generation 'Eastern European New Yorkers' who leave their 'Wall Street' trading-floor jobs to construct a fiber-optic line stretching from 'The Midwest' to 'The East Coast', guaranteeing faster trades. The film's title suggests an inconceivable task, laying a cable in the earth that can transfer data from Kansas to New York in the time it takes a hummingbird to flap it's wings. Much of "​The Hummingbird Project​'s" story plays out on the open road, with Vincent and his hired crew of diggers and drillers troubleshooting the line as it stretches across the American heartland. With Vincent in the field wheeling and dealing over land rights, boring through granite mountains to keep the project heading in a straight line, his cousin Anton barricades himself in hotel rooms around the country, writing algorithmic code to outpace Eva Torres microwave-tower technology. It's also an immigrant's tale set in the digital age, telling the story of second-generation cousins of 'Eastern European' descent who are trying to attain 'The American Dream' after successful careers on 'Wall Street'. After burning it all down on the trading floor, Vincent and Anton strive for an event greater net worth.

Vincent and Anton Zaleski have risen through the ranks of the financial sector as trader and quant, respectively. At the story's outset, they find themselves frustrated not only with their jobs but also their positions in life. Fast-talking and entrepreneurial, Vincent wants to get rich quick and take down his competition, including his former boss Eva Torres, who will stop at nothing in her own right to implement and patent the technology for faster trades. Vincent is a salesman who wins arguments by talking around his opponent, if he pauses to think, he could be vulnerable to counter-argument. He spends most of the movie living in the delusion that his project will be flawless, as he tries to convince people to invest in his vision. He literally can't afford to take a breath. Anton, in contrast, is an introverted quant more comfortable crunching numbers at a computer terminal, quietly longing for a simple country life far from the madness of the financial sector. In an early scene, after finding an investor to fund their fiber-optic scheme, Vincent and Anton quit their jobs in Eva's firm and brazenly embark on the adventure of a lifetime; trying to beat the very system that shaped them.

Vincent rents drilling machinery and negotiates land rights while Anton perfects the algorithm that will hopefully yield them untold riches. Vincent is the salesman of the operation who's more ambitious than he's thoughtful. He doesn't just want to succeed in the financial system, he wants to beat it by going around the establishment. He's interested in winning regardless of the consequences to him or the world around him, and while he's a smart guy, he doesn't always think before he speaks. Without his cousin Anton, he would probably be selling fake 'Gucci' handbags on the streets of New York City. Skittish and reserved in the face of Vincent's brash, live-wire determination, Anton is a balding husband and father who happens to be a math genius, capable of seeing order in the chaotic flow of numbers and data that course across his computer terminal in a given second. He's socially awkward and probably on 'The Spectrum'. His goal in life is to be around the people he can tolerate, and there's not that many, basically his wife and kids, and Vincent, who's his best friend and cousin, as well as Anton's connection to the outside world. He can shelter Anton in a way that allows him to focus strictly on writing code and coming up with new algorithms. At it's heart a 'David & Goliath' story, Vincent and Anton are the underdogs who come up against a much stronger adversary in the form of their one-time employer Eva Torres. Symbolizing rapacious capitalism at it's most extreme, the flashy, foul-mouthed Eva will stop at nothing to gain the competitive edge over her former underlings.

'The Hummingbird Project' reaches it's apotheosis when Vincent, suffering from a serious illness, finds himself negotiating drilling rights with an obstinate Amish farmer who won't yield his land, giving Eva the advantage in their race for speedier trades. By pushing himself to the extreme, and finding himself pitted against a 'Luddite', Vincent discovers that his relentless pursuit of financial gain is an untenable and even unhealthy pursuit. Vincent begins the story with what he believes is his purpose in life but his journey of discovery switches course at a certain point and becomes more about realigning his priorities. The stakes of the journey are resolved but they're completely different than when his journey started. At ​'The Hummingbird Projec​t's' conclusion, Vincent and Anton discover that the object of their pursuit, whether money in specific or 'The American Dream' in general, isn't exactly what they thought it was when they set out on their epic journey. As Vincent and Anton come to learn, sometimes we're blown off course from what we're truly meant to achieve in life. The cousins also realize they're inconspicuous in the face of rapid-fire change, this week's hot technology will be irrelevant before the next big thing comes along, whether neutrino messaging, microwave drones, or something as yet undiscovered. But does it really matter in the grand scheme of things?

By 2010.financial companies were spending $2.2 billion on trading infrastructure, the high-speed servers that process trades and the fiber-optic cables that link them in a globe spanning network. One company specializing in trading infrastructure is 'Spread Networks', founded in 2010 with the mission of providing Internet connectivity between Chicago and New York City at close to the speed of light, using so-called dark fiber, or optical fibers, to make faster trades. The first fiber-optic line planted by 'Spread Networks' ran 827 miles, from 'The Chicago Mercantile Exchange', where futures and options are traded, to 'The Nasdaq Data Center' in Carteret, New Jersey, costing $300 million to construct. By October 2012, 'Spread' announced improvements to their line, decreasing the round-trip time from 13.1 milliseconds to 12.98 milliseconds, giving Spread traders a slight advantage over the average round-trip of 14.5 milliseconds. Because glass has a higher refractive index than air, the round-trip time for fiber-optic transmission is 50 percent faster than microwave towers, the technology used by 'The Hummingbird Project​'s' Eva Torres in her battle to outwit and out-earn 'The Zaleskis'. The result became 'IEX', or 'Investors Exchange', a transparent stock exchange that has gone on to trade 229.2 million shares at a collective value of nearly $11 billion.

It's a story about the ​people behind trading algorithms and fiber-optic lines, the speed demons who take an unethical approach to high frequency trading, discovering in their pursuit of vast wealth that their lives are not made richer in the process. A cautionary tale for our cutting-edge times, the project positions two scheming underdogs up against the behemoth of global capitalism, symbolized by the ruthless and merciless hedge fund manager Eva Torres. She's the most unique person in the business. She wants to get to places before anyone else and break new ground in technology so she can stay ahead of the game. It's not just about the money for her, this is a movie about obsessions, and Eva's obsession is devouring and co-opting genius. Playing out like a high-stakes thriller that substitutes the trading floor for 'The American Terrain', ​'The Hummingbird Project' becomes a glorified arms race across the country, over hills, rivers, highways, and private farmland, to implement the new technology before Eva can erect her own. She's a woman who's very content in her life, not some robot. You can see the passion in what she does. When things get dangerous, there are tantrums. But she's also heavily focused on strategy, she doesn't take a lot of time to indulge in drama. Eva wants to be intimidating toward people but she dresses simply, in a way that's not distracting. So many women her age are afraid of getting old, but Eva embraces it and even owns it, making a statement of her power through her hair. She's smart, she's fearless, she's a woman, and she's Latina, so she has to be tougher than everyone else.

The film includes a voice of sanity and reason in the form of chief engineer Mark Vega (Michael Mando), the project manager of Vincent's vision, who maneuvers and operates the heavy equipment in the field. If Vincent is the mouth of the operation and Anton is the brains, Mark is the heart of the project in that he has to make sure as chief engineer that everything is steady and stable; including Vincent. They're digging this elaborate straight line across the country and someone has to stay level-headed, that responsibility falls on Mark. He joins Vincent's team because he sees this as an opportunity to create something bigger than himself. A kind of bromance develops along the way between Mark and Vincent; at the end of the movie Mark discovers his true purpose, more than finishing the fiber-optic line, is to save Vincent's life. A good portion of ​'The Hummingbird Project' involves heavy machinery, in particular the directional-drilling equipment Vincent must track down and place in the hands of Mark Vega in order to facilitate his dream of laying a 1,000-mile cable between Kansas and New Jersey. Mark Vega has a profound bond with Vincent Zaleski; even when the wheeling and dealing character is at his lowest ebb, Vega sees a human being, working tirelessly to get the job done while at the same time helping to keep his cousin going. Mark is drawn to the humanity in Vincent, he understands his desire to want to leave his mark on the earth, but there's also an underdog quality that Mark relates to, and wants to see through.

This film is based on the 2012 ​'Wired' article 'Raging Bulls: How Wall Street Got Addicted To Light-Speed Trading'. One such consultants help make the project more comprehensible to a general audience, including a high-frequency trading expert accustomed to dealing with billion-dollar money flows on a daily basis in his former career as a 'Wall Street' options trader, is ​Haim Bodek, a former 'Goldman Sachs' trader. After working at 'Goldman Sachs' in the late '90s, where he was a successful options trader, and 'UBS', where he was the global head of volatility trading, Bodek formed his own high frequency company called 'Trading Machines', which at the height of it's success in the early 2000s accounted for half a percentage of all 'U.S.' options trading, a huge number for such a small firm. When 'Trading Machines' began losing money, Bodek set about reverse-engineering his own algorithms in an effort to find out why he was hemorrhaging cash. What he discovered alarmed him: traders were rigging the game by manipulating the order in which trades were placed electronically, an especially shrewd trader could effectively jump the line and profit in the millions without anyone knowing. Bodek tipped off 'The Securities And Exchange Commission' on the practice, outfoxing his corrupt rivals by exposing what became known as the largest heist in 'Wall Street History'. Nicknamed 'The Edward Snowden Of Finance' by 'The Russians', Bodek was quickly blackballed by the industry for blowing the whistle on high frequency trading.

Bodek is instrumental in helping shape the characters of Vincent and Anton Zaleski, having known and worked with traders and quants for much of his 'Wall Street' career. Vincent and Anton are two individuals who think they can beat the system. What's so interesting about this movie is through it's characters you realize this way of living is not designed for human beings, who are plugged into lunar and sun cycles. Those cycles are slow; 29 days, 24 hours. Like Vincent Zaleski discovers, our obsession with milliseconds is bound to make people sick. Sometimes it's better to slow down; you'll get more mileage out of life when you do. While ambitious in scope and a powerful commentary on the absurdity of our financial institutions, at it's core ​"The Hummingbird Project" is character-driven. This is the rare story about something timely and important in which the characters propel the plot. 'Wall Street' is a zero-sum game. There are winners and losers, and if you're a loser, you've no one to blame but yourself, you simply aren't good enough. Someone else is smarter, faster.

At once a high-stakes financial thriller with a gripping cautionary tale on the perils of rapacious greed, and thoughtful human drama about reclaiming life's essentials, "The Hummingbird Project" is a story for our up-to-the-minute times; where a millisecond can determine fortune or failure, and the next big technological advancement could wipe out today's way of doing things almost instantly. This film is about the amazing premise of people digging thousand-mile long tunnels to try and shave a couple of milliseconds off of the time it took to make their stock market trades. We've this haunting image in our head of stock market hustlers struggling to walk through swamps and muddy forests in their expensive suits, putting their sanity on the line all for the good old dollar. It's about quantum physics experts, fiber optic physicists, highly specialized tunnel digging experts who dig hundred-mile-long, four-inch-wide tunnels for a living. High frequency trading experts dealing with billion dollar  money flows on a daily basis. Boy, what a ride. In retrospect, there's something about bringing forward what seems to be a metaphoric world, when in fact most of what's in the script is, in some way, true to life.

"The Hummingbird Project" builds on a growing body of work that's global in scope and scale yet intimate in its examination of ordinary people living in extraordinary times, often at the mercy of nature, who connect and conspire amid hurdles ranging from technology, time and distance to warfare and climate. The film is fascinated by the idea of finance professionals digging thousand-mile-long tunnels to try and eliminate milliseconds from their stock-market trades. This is a relatable and very human struggle; one that's rooted as much in the natural world as the digital realm. It's about speed-obsessed quants, the physicists, engineers and mathematicians-turned-financiers who generate more than half of all 'U.S.' stock trading. In the pursuit of market-beating returns, sending a signal at faster than light speed provides the ultimate edge; a way to make trades in the past, the financial equivalent of betting on a horse after it has been run. One of the underlying themes of the film is the elasticity of time, similar to the way Einstein explains 'Relativity'. There's something about our experience of time that's so different depending on our emotional status. Things are becoming so fast-paced that we're losing our sense of reality, and we feel it.














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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.