The ultimate sci-fi double bill: one of the most influential movies in the genre, followed by the sequel nobody knew they needed (and probably never thought was a idea in the first place).
First up, Ridley Scott’s brooding 1982 thriller BLADE RUNNER, set in a spectacularly imagined future Los Angeles, where a hired killer (Harrison Ford) is on the trail of a group of renegade androids. With its intense atmosphere, breathtaking visuals and lavishly eerie soundtrack by Vangelis, it’s an unforgettable big-screen experience.
Twenty-five years later, Denis Villeneuve (ARRIVAL, SICARIO) dared to tread on revered cinematic turf to create a sublime, hugely ambitious homage to the original, melding jaw-dropping cinematography with profound meditation on what it means to be human in a tense story set three decades after the events of the first film.
The Raid - Already being hailed as one of the best action films of the last decade after a handful of crowd-thrilling festival screenings, Welsh writer/director Gareth Evans’ martial arts blitzkrieg is a must-see for any self-respecting genre fan. Set in a grime-encrusted Indonesian tower block, THE RAID follows a rookie SWAT team on a floor-by-floor assault to take down a notorious mobster. Pencak Silat sensation Iko Uwais (who starred in Evans’ previous feature, MERANTAU) pinches Tony Jaa’s crown as martial arts cinema’s new poster-boy. This is jaw-dropping, lung-busting, utterly relentless stage combat at its very best.
Dredd - Based on the hugely popular sci-fi comic-book hero, Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is an elite law enforcer-cum-justice dispenser in the dystopian Mega City One, which sprawls across much of a post-apocalypse America.
Dredd is required to assess a rookie colleague with powerful psychic abilities (Olivia Thirlby), and the couple confront a gang led by the vicious Ma-Ma (Lena Headley) in a 200-storey slum called Peach Trees. This is where the gang manufacture Slo-Mo, a powerful psychotic drug that does just what it says on the tin. Outraged by the Judges’ capture of her head honcho, Ma-Ma locks down the entire block, leading to their increasingly desperate and violent efforts to exit intact with their prisoner.
Fargo - The Coen brothers' unique visual style and quirky sense of humour are superbly put to work in this blackly comic kidnap drama. In a cold and snowy Minnesota in 1987, debt-ridden car salesman Jerry (Macy) hires two thugs to kidnap his wife and collect a ransom from her rich father. When the hapless pair shoot a state trooper and two innocent bystanders, the local Police Chief's (McDormand in an Oscar-winning role) leads keep coming back to the suspicious-looking Jerry. Creating an array of intriguing characters, the Coens' script is a triumph of understated humour that earned them an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson are at their best in this blistering pitch-black comedy from Martin McDonagh (In Bruges). McDormand stars as the foul-mouthed, tough-as-nails Mildred Hayes, a grieving mother whose frustration boils over when the local police allow her daughter’s murder case to go cold. She publicly shames the town’s revered sheriff, William Willoughby (Harrelson), with three disused billboards, a sequence of bright red reminders that justice has not been served. The move stokes the ire of Willoughby’s thuggish, bigoted deputy (Rockwell), and so begins a violent, vicious circle of anger and revenge. From there, Three Billboards hurtles along an unpredictable but hugely rewarding narrative arc, veering between riotous laughter and sobering drama throughout. Sharply scripted and wonderfully acted, it’s one of the most accomplished contenders in this year’s awards race.
The Royal Tenenbaums - Royal Tenenbaum and his wife had three children - Chas, Richie and Margot - and then they separated. Chas started buying real estate in his early teens. Margot was a playwright and received a 50,000 dollar grant in ninth grade. Richie was a junior champion tennis player and won the U.S. Nationals three years in a row. Virtually all memory of the brilliance of the young Tenenbaums was subsequently erased by two decades of betrayal, failure and disaster, mostly considered to be their father's fault. The family tells of their sudden, unexpected reunion one recent winter.
The grand Budapest Hotel - Set in the interwar years, the film centres on the eponymous hotel, its savvy concierge Gustave (Fiennes) and his new lobby boy Zero Moustafa (newcomer Tony Revolori), who progresses from naive apprentice to Gustave’s trusted accomplice.
The guile of both is tested when one of Gustave’s most favoured guests (a heavily camouflaged Tilda Swinton) bequeaths him a priceless painting, thereby arousing the suspicions of Edward Norton’s detective Henckels.
Their ensuing adventures propel the story along at a heady pace and involve numerous roguish characters, many played by Anderson regulars including Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson. Glorious fun.