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Trailers – Summary & Buzz: Film Openings USA –August 12 ,  2016…

Pete's Dragon (2016)

Pete’s Dragon

  • Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

rated-PG   –   Adventure | Family | Fantasyrated-thumbs-UP+DOWN_2

Metascore: 73/100 (12 reviews)
The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon.
Description: For years, old wood carver Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford) has delighted local children with his tales of the fierce dragon that resides deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. To his daughter, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), who works as a forest ranger, these stories are little more than tall tales…until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley). Pete is a mysterious 10-year-old with no family and no home who claims to live in the woods with a giant, green dragon named Elliott. And from Pete’s descriptions, Elliott seems remarkably similar to the dragon from Mr. Meacham’s stories. With the help of Natalie (Oona Laurence), an 11-year-old girl whose father Jack (Wes Bentley) owns the local lumber mill, Grace sets out to determine where Pete came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this dragon.

David Lowery


Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oakes Fegley, Oona Laurence

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‘Pete’s Dragon’: Review

By Tim Grierson | ScreenDaily

A boy’s best friend is his dragon, and in this remake of the 1977 Disney film, director David Lowery brings an intriguing, sometimes uneven air of lived-in magic to what is otherwise a sturdy but familiar tale of makeshift families and coming-of-age drama. ThisPete’s Dragon boasts a gentle, subdued tone, and the filmmaker behind the atmospheric indie Ain’t Them Bodies Saints has crafted a follow-up with the same folkloric quality, resulting in an undemanding but emotional movie that should play best with younger audiences, who may be put under its modest spell.

Amidst a cavalcade of big, spectacle-driven studio films,Pete’s Dragonpossesses an unpretentious sweetness.

Opening in the US and UK on August 12, Pete’s Dragon is Disney’s third major release this year to feature a young orphan paired with CG creatures; the studio no doubt hopes that the film’s theatrical grosses are closer to The Jungle Book (currently $938 million worldwide) than to The BFG (only $72 million currently). Pete’s Dragon somewhat resemblesThe BFG’s unhurried tone, which may cause Disney some concerns, not to mention the fact that the 1977 film isn’t exactly a beloved classic. But good reviews and a cast that includes Bryce Dallas Howard and Robert Redford should help bring out family audiences, giving kids one last event film before returning to school.

Set in an unspecified area of the Pacific Northwest in what appears to be the late 1970s or early 1980s, Pete’s Dragon introduces us to Pete (Oakes Fegley), a 10-year-old who has resided in the thick woods outside the town of Millhaven ever since he survived a car crash five years ago that claimed the lives of his parents. Spending his time hanging out with his dragon confidant Elliot, Pete is spotted by Grace (Howard), a friendly forest ranger who’s engaged to Jack (Wes Bentley), who operates a nearby lumber mill. Befriending Jack’s daughter Natalie (Oona Laurence), Pete feels torn between returning to civilization and spending his days with Elliot.

Lowery, who also co-wrote Pete’s Dragon, eschews the original’s musical numbers and broad comedy for a more thoughtful, sensitive look at death and connection. Still traumatized by his parents’ sad end, Pete has found in Elliot a safe haven, and so we understand why this impressionable child would prefer the untamed woods to the uncertainty of society.

Although the original Pete’s Dragon predates E.T., Lowery’s film recalls Spielberg’s film in its study of a relationship between a boy and an outsider who have become friends because they’re both misfits of sorts. Rendered through CG, the nonverbal Elliot is, unlike most onscreen dragons, furry instead of scaly, and he’s been given big puppy-dog eyes and a generally lovable manner that, with a few explosive exceptions, rarely wavers. If that limits Elliot’s chances to seem genuinely ferocious, or truly majestic, it’s on par with Lowery’s overall strategy to imbue the proceedings with a more genial, storybook-cosy vibe.

Sporting long, flowing hair and an almost feral spirit, Fegley isn’t riveting as Pete, but he manages to convey the confusion and panic that overtake the boy once he’s brought to Millhaven. To be sure, Pete’s shaky reintegration into society carries with it expected jokes and obstacles — he’s bewildered by certain household items and cultural norms — but by emphasizing the low-key stakes, Lowery and his young star focus on Pete’s internal struggle rather than going for dopey fish-out-of-water laughs.

As with Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, which was a Malick-ian crime drama set in Texas, Lowery shows an ability inPete’s Dragon to convey a sense of place with offhand gracefulness, utilizing Daniel Hart’s delicate score to enhance the movie’s timeless, ethereal qualities. Shot in New Zealand, this Pete’s Dragon seems to exist outside of a discernible place or era, which allows the story’s elemental, simplistic themes to emerge unadorned. Lowery expresses dismay at the despoiling of the natural world and the tendency for people to distrust what they don’t understand, and the understated life lessons float effortlessly out of the very fabric of the film. Pete’s Dragon sports an undeniably old-fashioned, even slightly square demeanour, but even when that aura feels a tad forced, Lowery’s loving care gives the movie a likeable, small-scale charm.

The adult actors haven’t been given complex roles, but Howard ably suggests Grace’s sincerity and decency, while Redford comfortably portrays her good-natured, twinkle-eyed father, who for years swore he saw a dragon in those woods when he was a boy. Karl Urban, playing Jack’s small-minded brother, can’t do much as the film’s de facto heavy who’s determined to make a fortune from capturing Elliot. His obsession leads to Pete’s Dragon’s perfunctory finale in which the kindly dragon must face deadly terror, but even here Lowery does his best to sidestep the predictability of such a resolution, seeking the quieter, more resonant moment that connects to his movie’s overall themes. Amidst a cavalcade of big, spectacle-driven studio films, Pete’s Dragon possesses an unpretentious sweetness in which the fantastical creature’s soft heart is mightier than his fiery breath.

THE BUZZ: A dragon could succeed where a BFG recently failed and find a huge audience, the first non-animated family movie since The Jungle Book to truly connect with families. The adaptation of the beloved children’s book serves as an introduction to Oakes Fegley, who plays the orphan Pete, and well as a career stepping stone for director/co-writer, David Lowery, who generated industry buzz with his crime/drama Aint Them Bodies Saints.

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

Florence Foster Jenkins

  • Paramount Pictures

rated-PG13   –   Biography | Comedy | Drama

Metascore: 69/100 (8 reviews)rated-thumbs-UP+DOWN_2
The story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice.
Summary: In 1940s New York, Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep), a New York heiress and socialite, obsessively pursued her dream of becoming a great singer. The voice she heard in her head was beautiful, but to everyone else it was hilariously awful. Her “husband” and manager, St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), an aristocratic English actor, was determined to protect his beloved Florence from the truth. But when Florence decided to give a public concert at Carnegie Hall, St. Clair knew he faced his greatest challenge.

Stephen Frears


Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson

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Film Review: Meryl Streep in ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’

By Guy Lodge | Variety

Meryl Streep sings — sort of — for her supper in Stephen Frears’ marshmallowy biopic of the famously inept soprano.

The show’s not over ’til the flat lady sings in “Florence Foster Jenkins,” Stephen Frears’ bright, bubbly and suitably ear-bursting biopic of surely the least gifted chanteuse ever to sell out Carnegie Hall. She sings rather early on, however, leaving Frears and screenwriter Nicholas Martin with few dramatic or comedic cards to play for the pic’s remaining 90 minutes — beyond the admittedly delicious spectacle of the ever-game Meryl Streep taking a musical meat cleaver to respectable operetta. Less rich and less rounded than “Marguerite,” the recent French arthouse hit drawn from Jenkins’ story, this good-humored confection — slyly fashioned as a reproach to more discerning culture critics — will nonetheless strike a chord with auds who thrilled to Streep’s comparably high-camp impersonation of Julia Child. Seventy-two years after her passing, expect Jenkins’ name to sell out a few more theaters from beyond the grave.

While Frears’ film hits theaters in Blighty this spring, U.S. viewers must wait until the tail end of summer — narrowly preceding the fall-fest influx of prestige fare, though presumably with an eye to launching Streep in the awards derby. Tickled as Jenkins no doubt would have been by such gilded possibilities, “Florence Foster Jenkins” is an audience picture first and foremost: one wholly sympathetic to its eponymous subject’s delusional drive to delight crowds with or without the requisite artistry. Where “Marguerite” wryly satirized the class privilege and bourgeois obsequiousness that enabled the celebrity of its fictionalized protagonist, “Jenkins” goes distinctly easy on her addled vanity, and even on the moneyed manipulations of St. Clair Bayfield (a top-form Hugh Grant), her craftier husband and manager.

Rather, Martin’s fast-and-loose script reserves most of its animus for anyone attempting to halt the tone-deaf diva’s progress through the concert-hall of 1940s Manhattan — making a toxic villain of New York Post critic Earl Wilson (a flamboyantly sneering Christian McKay), who dared to suggest her throttled-nightingale trill was, well, for the birds. Is buying acclaim morally acceptable if audience and performer alike are enjoying themselves? Is it charitable or cruelly condescending to applaud heartfelt ineptitude in a spirit of gleeful irony? These are questions with which the film, perhaps inadvertently, leaves viewers, though it’s having far too much fun with her to address them: Rather like Jenkins’ own cronies, the filmmakers are tamed into submission by her gauche gusto.

And why wouldn’t they be, when said gusto is filtered through the indefatigable performing presence of Streep? Once hailed as American cinema’s most meticulous thespian technician, the 19-time Oscar nominee has, if not at any cost to her eerie knack for verisimilitude, broadened into something of a high-volume barnstormer: Whether playing Margaret Thatcher or “Mamma Mia!,” her latter-day work is largely defined by its vivid, palpable eagerness to entertain. And while some have complained that Streep has a monopoly on plum screen roles for women her age, that very rafter-reaching enthusiasm makes her an ideal fit for Jenkins, even if incompetence can hardly come easily to her. (Viewers should know well by now that the star can more than capably hold a tune.) Streep certainly has a ball mimicking the scarcely human strangulations of Jenkins’ vocal technique, though her characterization skates graciously shy of belittling burlesque: There’s an empathetic ardor for performance at work here, one that deftly coaxes even bewildered viewers into her corner.

Frears gifts his star — with whom he has somehow never before collaborated, despite their mutually productive, down-for-whatever work ethic — with a dream of a movie-star entrance, as she’s lowered haphazardly from the ceiling in Jenkins’ signature tinselly angel wings and a torrent of beige chiffon. She’s introduced as the climactic star of a ropey supper-club variety show directed by St. Clair, a failed Shakespearean actor more aware than his wife of his creative shortcomings. He’s also sufficiently protective of what might kindly be termed Jenkins’ unorthodox talent to curb her vocal contributions to the show, though when she bullishly insists on staging a solo concert, he’s quick to her aid, lavishly bribing Metropolitan Opera conductor Carlo Edwards (David Haig) to act as her fawning vocal coach, and hiring baffled young pianist Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg, contributing his deft brand of dumbstruck aggravation from TV’s “The Big Bang Theory”) to accompany her tortured warbling.

Money, it turns out, may not buy you talent, but it can buy you a one-way illusion of it, as St. Clair wheedlingly selects and buys off appreciative high-society audiences, including a handful of hack critics for good measure. However, when a recording of one of her songs accidentally hits the radio airwaves — rapidly gaining in gobsmacked popularity, in what might be deemed the midcentury equivalent of going viral — the illusion becomes harder to control. Thanks to Grant’s spry, slippery turn, St. Clair might just be a more compelling character than his hilarious spouse: Whether he’s genuinely tricked himself into believing she deserves a platform, or whether his doting patronage is in fact the greatest performance of his own meagre career, is kept lithely in question throughout.

Their domestic relationship is likewise ambiguous. Though the marriage is rendered sexless by Jenkins’ long-term battle with syphilis — a detail the script presents with pleasing, smut-dodging sensitivity — there’s little evidence of physical connection between the two: To what degree Jenkins recognizes, or denies, her husband’s parallel relationship with bohemian beauty Kathleen (Rebecca Ferguson, spiky but underused) isn’t easy to determine.

Such complexities are planted in the early going, yet peter out in the film’s fluffily padded second half, which is concerned mostly with Jenkins’ inflated presence as a performer — yielding repeated scenes of Streep in full, gloriously broken cry, but doing little to unpick what makes her tick so brazenly out of time. Escalating tension over a potential critical crucifixion by Wilson’s pen isn’t enough to fire up this wispy material, though there are pleasurable sideshows here and there — chief among them the splendid Nina Arianda, on incandescent Judy Holliday-esque form as a Brooklyn bimbo who becomes an improbable Jenkins champion. Stray scenes forge a tender bond between Jenkins and McMoon, abetted by Helberg’s put-upon, hangdog charm and the actor’s own impressive ivory-tickling, but finally don’t ring entirely true; any implication that Jenkins identified a kindred spirit in this awkward outsider glides unquestioningly the woman’s exploitation of her elite social standing.

There again, “Florence Foster Jenkins” is best not scrutinized too closely — and luckily, Danny Cohen’s gleaming, high-key lensing and Alan Macdonald’s bustling, print-heavy production design give our eyes more than enough surface candy to consume while our ears are being comparatively assailed. (Alexandre Desplat’s score hardly gets a chance to make an impression between number after number of vigorous Streepscreeching.) While shooting, perhaps counter-intuitively, on widescreen, Frears’ mise-en-scene appears to subtly emulate the cluttered coziness of dinner-theater staging and styling, down to ornamental corner detailing over the closing credits — though editor Valerio Bonelli’s frequent screen-wipes might rep one cute touch too many. No one below the line, meanwhile, is enjoying themselves more than costume designer Consolata Boyle, who cloaks Streep in performance garb of chintztastic fabulousness, striking a balance between dowdy and diaphanous that is barely toned down for her fifty-shades-of-lavender daywear. It’s an appropriately subtle sartorial margin for a woman who, in her butterfly-filled head at least, was never off the stage.

THE BUZZ: Leave it to Meryl Streep to tackle unforgettable, challenging characters. This time, the acting legend takes on one of popular culture’s true cult figures from the early 20th century: a singer so incredibly bad that she became a viral sensation before the advent of social media. Fear not, all you terrible singers of the world: Streep might play you someday … and probably still sound better than you. – Bret

Sausage Party (2016)

Sausage Party

  • Columbia Pictures

rated-R   –   Animation | Adventure | Comedy

A sausage strives to discover the truth about his existence.
Summary: Life is good for all the food items that occupy the shelves at the local supermarket. Frank (Seth Rogen) the sausage, Brenda (Kristen Wiig) the hot dog bun, Teresa Taco and Sammy Bagel Jr. (Edward Norton) can’t wait to go home with a happy customer. Soon, their world comes crashing down as poor Frank learns the horrifying truth that he will eventually become a meal. After warning his pals about their similar fate, the panicked perishables devise a plan to escape from their human enemies.

Greg Tiernan | Conrad Vernon


Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Alistair Abell

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SXSW Film Review: ‘Sausage Party’

By Joe Leydon | Variety

A raunchy and witty animated comedy that definitely isn’t kids’ stuff.

For those of you who have ever envisioned Seth Rogen reconstituted as an anthropomorphic processed meat product — and you know who you are — “Sausage Party” may be savored as, if not a dream come true, then a drug-fueled hallucination without the potentially harmful side effects. A madcap crazy salad of industrial-strength raunch, Tex Avery-level visual inventiveness and, no kidding, seriocomic religious allegory, this computer-animated comedy about the secret lives of supermarket merchandise had its premiere as a “work-in-progress” at the SXSW Film Festival prior to a scheduled Aug. 12 theatrical release. Rough edges are glaringly apparent in the film’s current, not-quite-complete state — indeed, a handful of scenes remain represented only by hand-drawings — but it’s already obvious that Sony could have a mid-sized late-summer hit on its hands.

Naturally, many parents will not appreciate having to tell their young offspring who see trailers and TV spots that, yes, this is a cartoon, but, no, it most certainly is not kids’ stuff. (The MPAA folks haven’t officially weighed in yet, but the movie was aptly hyped at SXSW as “the first R-rated CG animated movie.”) Just as naturally, however, the allure of an animated feature that is far closer in tone and content to Zap Comix than Pixar will be impossible for many grown-ups — and most arrested adolescents — to resist. Working from a script credited to Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir, co-directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan immerse viewers in a world where food, beverages and sundry other items on supermarket shelves are sentient entities who yearn to selected by benevolent “giants” for transportation to the “promised land” they’ve long been promised.

Frank (voiced by Rogen), the most outspoken of the links in a package of sausages, eagerly awaits the happy day when he can nestle inside a sexy hot-dog bun (Kristen Wiig) and, ahem, cut the mustard. But the happy couple’s great expectations are upended by a shopping-cart collision that triggers a long after-shopping-hours journey toward rude awakenings, inconvenient truths and, during an extended climax, what very likely is the first food-on-food polysexual orgy in film history.

“Sausage Party” is something far short of Shavian in terms of sophisticated dialogue — really, there is just so much novelty value one can milk from repetitious fusillades of F-bombs launched by animated characters — but it is difficult to deny the hilarity quotient of a movie so exuberantly and unapologetically rude and crude. Racial, ethnic, sexual and sociopolitical stereotypes are shamelessly exaggerated and honed to satirical edges, so that a Jewish bagel (Edward Norton) and an Arabic flatbread (David Krumholtz) squabble about territorial incursions in the shopping aisles; a Sapphic taco (Salma Hayek) attempts to lure a reasonably straight innocent into a walk on the wild side; a diminutive sausage (Michael Cena) worries whether girth really is more important than length; and the most obnoxious character by far is … well, a douche (Nick Kroll). No, really.

Complications arise when Frank discovers the truth about what happens to edibles like himself once they’re carted out the door and taken home. And, more important, he learns that influential “non-perishables” have manufactured a mythos of a happily-ever-after afterlife just to keep the supermarket products from knowing anything about the nothingness that awaits them. Not at all surprisingly, those products don’t appreciate (or even believe) the bad news when Frank attempts to elevate their consciousness.

All of which suggests, with “Sausage Party” following “This Is the End” (which he also co-wrote with Goldberg), that Seth Rogen may be the most subversively sincere religious allegorist working in movies today. Better still, he can be pretty damn funny while spiking freewheeling zaniness with food for thought.

Note: The print screened at SXSW did not have closing credits, leaving an incomplete running time of 85 minutes.

THE BUZZ: Every major studio has an actor and/or director who seems to be able to make whatever project they choose; Seth Rogen certainly has sway at Sony, where he and his screenwriting pals enlisted animation vets Greg Tiernan (“Thomas & Friends”) and Conrad Vernon (Shrek 2) to helm the R-rated comedy we didn’t realize we needed so badly in our lives.

Hell or High Water (2016)

Hell or High Water

  • CBS Films

rated-R   –   Crime | Drama

rated-thumbs-UP+DOWN_2Metascore: 82/100 (9 reviews)
A divorced dad and his ex-con brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s farm in West Texas.
Summary: Two brothers—Toby (Chris Pine), a straight-living, divorced father trying to make a better life for his son; and Tanner (Ben Foster), a short-tempered ex-con with a loose trigger finger—come together to rob branch after branch of the bank that is foreclosing on their family land. The hold-ups are part of a last-ditch scheme to take back a future that powerful forces beyond their control have stolen from under their feet. Vengeance seems to be theirs until they find themselves in the crosshairs of a relentless, foul-mouthed Texas Ranger (Jeff Bridges) looking for one last triumph on the eve of his retirement. As the brothers plot a final bank heist to complete their plan, a showdown looms at the crossroads where the last honest law man and a pair of brothers with nothing to live for except family collide

David Mackenzie


Dale Dickey, Ben Foster, Chris Pine, William Sterchi

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Hell or High Water review – elegaic Texan  western that packs a dizzying punch

By  Peter Bradshaw The Guardian

Chris Pine and Ben Foster are bank-robbing brothers pursued by Jeff Bridges’s Texas ranger in a heavyweight, cynical thriller from Starred Up director David Mackenzie

Last year in the Cannes competition, actor-turned-screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivered us a cracking script for the Tex-Mex drug-lord drama Sicario. Now he repeats the trick with this rangy, violent, and cynical western set in Texas, showing in the Un Certain Regard sidebar. The director is David Mackenzie, the British film-maker whose last film was the much-admired prison drama Starred Up. This continues his winning streak.

Hell or High Water is a heist picture with a satirical edge that reminded me of Brecht’s dictum about robbing a bank being a waste of time compared to owning one; it’s also a gloomy reverie about the hostile Texan plain, comparable to the Coens’ No Country for Old Men, or Blood Simple. There’s also a vague sense memory of the 1960s western Lonely Are the Brave, with Kirk Douglas’s cowboy on the run.

Chris Pine and Ben Foster are two brothers, Toby and Tanner: one smart and one stupid, but both equally engaged in the high-risk business of robbing banks – early in the morning, taking only small-denomination untraceable bills, making it hardly worthwhile for the bank to press charges. Weirdly, they also stick to branches of one particular bank. Stranger still is that Toby could now theoretically be a rich man, having been the sole beneficiary of his late mother’s will, getting the property on which oil has been discovered but which he has actually made over in trust for his children, after his divorce, in financial conditions which at first glance make his new bank-robbing career even more baffling. Tanner is a career criminal whom his mother hated, so the bank heists could be Toby’s way of helping him out.

Meanwhile, Marcus – amusingly played by Jeff Bridges – is the Texas ranger on the boys’ trail, wearing the regulation plain shirt, white Stetson and sunglasses. His partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham) is a Native American in the same getup with whom Marcus does not scruple to make bad-taste jokes about ethnicity. Marcus is on the verge of a retirement that he doesn’t want, and takes a gloomy and almost elegiac pleasure in all the details of this last case; he and Alberto have many a scene in which they enter smalltown restaurants and order coffee with elaborate old-school courtesy from waitresses who are usually charmed, except for one who grumpily insists they have steak because that’s what everyone has, and still angrily remembers some out-of-towner in 1987 who tried to order “trout”.

The situation unwinds with a kind of brutal, desperate entropy as Tanner, who has never been under any illusions about how activities like his pan out in the end, tacitly accepts his own end. And it creates a new, interestingly pointed confrontation between Marcus and Toby.

Mackenzie’s direction and Giles Nuttgens’s cinematography create a kind of horizontal vertigo in the dizzying sweep of the landscape and there is a great soundtrack with original music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. It’s an action-thriller with punch; Bridges gives the characterisation ballast and heft and Pine and Foster bring a new, grizzled maturity to their performances.

THE BUZZ: Really intrigued by this contemporary take on a classic Western theme that finds both director David Mackenzie (Starred Up, Young Adam) and lead Chris Pine stretching their respective ranges. There’s discernible online buzz for the movie as well. – Arno

Anthropoid (2016)


  • Bleecker Street Media

rated-R   –   Biography | History | Thriller | War

Based on the extraordinary true story of Operation Anthropoid, the WWII mission to assassinate SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the main architect behind the Final Solution and the Reich’s third in command after Hitler and Himmler.
Summary: Anthropoid is based on the extraordinary true story of “Operation Anthropoid,” the code name for the Czechoslovakian operatives’ mission to assassinate SS officer Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich, the main architect behind the Final Solution, was the Reich’s third in command behind Hitler and Himmler and the leader of Nazi forces in Czechoslovakia. The film follows two soldiers from the Czechoslovakian army-in-exile, Josef Gabčík (Cillian Murphy) and Jan Kubis (Jamie Dornan), who are parachuted into their occupied homeland in December 1941. With limited intelligence and little equipment in a city under lock down, they must find a way to assassinate Heydrich, an operation that would change the face of Europe forever.

Sean Ellis


Jamie Dornan, Cillian Murphy, Brian Caspe, Karel Hermánek Jr.

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‘Anthropoid’ Karlovy Vary Review: Jamie Dornan Battles Nazis in Resistible Resistance Tale

Dornan and Cillian Murphy star as two real-life Czech resistance fighters — but a fascinating real-life story doesn’t guarantee an interesting movie

By Alonso Durald | The Wrap

Screening “Anthropoid” as the Opening Night film at the 51st annual Karlovy Vary International Film Festival was a shrewd move on the part of the filmmakers – where but the Czech Republic would audiences be so receptive of a film about the Czech resistance fighters who assassinated Reinhard Heydrich, the third most powerful man in the Nazi Party and the infamous “Butcher of Prague”?

As we have learned from far too many documentaries and fact-based narratives, however, a fascinating and heroic true story can only take the storyteller so far. There’s an extraordinary tale to be told here, one which “Anthropoid” occasionally succeeds in telling, but director Sean Ellis (who co-wrote with Anthony Frewin) only sporadically does it justice.

Jan Kubis (Jamie Dornan) and Josef Gabcik (Cillian Murphy) are two of seven resistance fighters who parachute into Czechoslovakia on orders from the exiled Czech government in London. The men arrive in Prague to find that their contact has been killed, and that what remains of the local resistance can fit comfortably in one room. Those remaining fighters are somewhat aghast at Jan and Josef’s marching orders: Operation Anthropoid, the assassination of Heydrich.

“Why don’t you just go ahead and kill Hitler?” asks one of them. “He’s just a few hundred kilometers down the road in a little village called Berlin!”

Determined to follow orders, this strained group of militants — including Ladislav (the strikingly dark-eyed Marcin Dorocinski, “The Pact”) and Uncle (Toby Jones, switching sides after playing a Nazi in the first two “Captain America” movies) — formulates a plan and assembles their weaponry. Along the way, the men fall in love, Jan with Marie (Charlotte Le Bon, “The Walk”), the daughter of the family that is housing the men, and Josef with Lenka (Anna Geislerová), who gets one of the film’s best scenes, scolding Josef and Jan for not treating her and Marie like equal partners in the Resistance, as she disassembles Josef’s revolver and points out that it needs cleaning.

This is sexy stuff — and probably the most romantic moment that transpires between either couple — but the presence of actual Czech actress Geislerová somewhat highlights the fact that she’s surrounded by a lot of UK and French-Canadian performers doing Mittel-European accents. (And those accents are of variable quality.) It’s like the film version of “Gorky Park,” where the presence of one Russian in the cast gave away the game that everyone else in the film was British or American.

Ellis and Frewin attempt some narrative risk by having the characters’ major goal — the assassination of Heydrich — happen midway through the film, focusing afterward on the brutal Nazi reprisals against the citizens of Prague and the attempts of the Resistance to remain hidden and possibly escape. It’s at this point that “Anthropoid” loses its footing, never quite regaining it until the film’s apparent reason for existence, an extended sequence in which the seven parachutists hide out in a church, keeping wave after wave of Nazi soldiers at bay. But by the time it arrives in the film, the story has lost its momentum, and it’s almost too little, too late.

Still, in and of itself, the sequence itself is devastatingly powerful, since these men are literally fighting to the finish, each one of them prepared to commit suicide rather than face capture, torture and the surrender of valuable intelligence. Ellis and editor Richard Mettler craft an agonizing and unforgettable finale; if their sense of pacing had been as sharp throughout, “Anthropoid” might have fulfilled its potential.


THE BUZZ: We debuted this trailer because of our love for Cillian Murphy and interest in this particular time in history; furthermore, think there’s much more to Jamie Dornan than Christian Grey. It’s the newest movie from director Sean Ellis, who has scored indie hits with Metro Manilaand Cashback.

Operation Chromite (2016)

Operation Chromite

  –   Action | Drama | History | War

A squad of soldiers fight in the Korean War’s crucial Battle of Incheon.

John H. Lee


Liam Neeson, Sean Dulake, Jung-jae Lee, Dean Dawson

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Edge of Winter (2016)

Edge of Winter

  • Vertical Entertainment

rated-R   –   Drama | Thriller

When two brothers are stranded by a brutal winter storm with an unpredictable father they barely know, the boys begin to suspect their supposed protector may be their biggest threat.
Summary: Recently divorced and laid off from his job, Elliot Baker (Joel Kinnaman) is desperate to spend more time bonding with his sons, Bradley (Tom Holland) and Caleb (Percy Hynes White). What starts as family day trip to teach his boys how to shoot turns into a nightmare when they become stranded. As they retreat to a desolate cabin, Elliot’s mounting fear of losing custody pushes him to the edge. The brothers quickly realize that the man responsible for keeping them safe has now become their biggest threat

Rob Connolly


Shaun Benson, Shiloh Fernandez, Patrick Garrow, Tom Holland

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THE BUZZ: When I first started watching “The Killing,” I was convinced that Joel Kinnaman was the killer because he seemed to have a dark secret. Obviously that wasn’t the case (spoiler alert!), but this added dimension to his character earned him a place on my favorite actors list. In my opinion, Kinnaman is at his best when playing characters with a hint of darkness. I’m looking forward to seeing him finally go over the edge. – Michelle

Ghost Team (2016)

Ghost Team

  • Orchard, The

rated-PG13   –   Comedy

A paranormal-obsessed man mounts his own investigation into the beyond with his depressed best friend, misfit nephew, a cable access medium and an overeager security guard.

Oliver Irving


Jon Heder, David Krumholtz, Justin Long, Melonie Diaz

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