Review: Miles Ahead

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DIR: Don Cheadle • WRI: Steven Baigelman, Don Cheadle •  PRO: Don Cheadle, Pamela Hirsch, Darryl Porter, Daniel Wagner, Vince Wilburn Jr., Lenore Zerman • DOP: Roberto Schaefer • ED: John Axelrad, Kayla Emter • DES: Hannah Beachler • MUS: Robert Glasper • CAST: Don Cheadle, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Ewan McGregor

Don Cheadle takes to the directorial bandstand, and hits a serious career high note, in this groovin’, pitch perfect directorial debut. And just because he can, Cheadle gives a masterful riff performing as Miles Davis to boot. He plays Davis with velvet cool artistry; as a self-aware mythic figure and jaded artist who has lost the path, giving Davis a snaring temperamental core.

There’s loud knocking on the front door. It’s the mid 70’s. And after 5 years, cocooned away from public life Howard Hughes style, Miles Davis opens up the door. Dawning a blue velvet robe. Face concealed behind boxy gold tinted shades and a long fuzzy fro. Cigarette angling suavely off his lips, and speaking in a strained whisper of pure cool. Mile Davis might be the coolest cat that ever lived. And standing in front him, is this mousy, long-haired, cotton shirt, tie-wearing honky, Dave Brill (Ewan McGregor), who makes a strange Scottish bleating every time he opens his mouth. He says he’s with Rolling Stone, that he’s taken a long shot, after trailing some ominous lead to Davis’s front door, in precious search of an interview. But Rolling Stone’s mousey enthusiasm is all too much for Miles. So he socks Dave one clean in the face. Miles has lost his shit. He hasn’t made a record since god knows when; and is talking in riddles. All the better for Rolling Stone. If Dave can just manage to get a foot in the door, and a crack at an interview. And when he finally stumbles inside Davis’ house, it’s like a jazz-smitten version of a Manson den, and from here on out the vibes only get stranger and stranger.

Needless to say, Rolling Stone’s eager beaver journalist and Miles, get things off on a lighter note. Retreating to Miles basement getting coked up, swigging on a bottle of whiskey, talking jazz and life. Though just as a friendship is beginning to blossom, when the liquor is running low; Dave heads into the lion’s den, aka the party upstairs for a refill. And as fate would have it; through a series of mishaps, pretences and coincidences, this results in the theft of Miles’ new record material. Miles and Dave are driven together, dead set on the hunt to retrieve the elusive recording tape. Risking life and limb as we follow them into a Jazzy noir-tinged universe, of punch-ups, shady record producers, trumpets, trombones, as they chase tails, and memories down blind alleys.

Miles Ahead is a picture that’s totally self-aware, wearing its wholesome references on its sleeve. Everything from Preston Sturges comedies to ’70s Blaxploitation, laced with tinges of Hammett and Chandler. The movie plays out just like Davis’ music; it’s a narcotic jazzy improvisation of the man’s life. A madcap drunken drug-fuelled Odyssey shifting through different times, timelines and time zones. It’s a rollicking, at times farcical, anything but conventional biopic, (although it has a killer soundtrack). This isn’t trying to be a narrative mishmash/greatest hits of a person’s life type deal, this is something else. It isn’t so much the biopic of Miles Davis, as a compilation of the American myth of Miles Davis, the folktales, the Chinese whispers of a musical revolutionary. Which in the end is probably as much about our perception of Davis as it is about the essence of the man himself. A potent cocktail of fact, fiction, and the ominous space in-between; where the lines begin to blur.

Michael Lee

100 minutes
15A (See IFCO for details)

Miles Ahead is released 22nd April 2016

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Cinema Review: Iron Man 3

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DIR: Shane Black • WRI: Shane Black, Drew Pearce • PRO: Kevin Feige • DOP: John Toll • ED: Peter S Elliot, Jeffrey Ford • DES: Bill Brzeski • Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Jon Favreau, William Sadler, Rebecca Hall

After making his name with his ground breaking screenplay for 1987’s Lethal Weapon, Shane Black went on to achieve writing credits on films such as The Last Boy Scout, The Last Action Hero and The Long Kiss Goodnight. He then disappeared off the Hollywood radar for close to a decade, before returning in some style with his 2005 directorial debut, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Despite not being a major player at the box-office, this film re-established Black’s standing in the industry, and gave its stars Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer roles to die for. While Kilmer has only occasionally threatened to build on his performance under the stewardship of Black, the previously troublesome Downey Jr has seen his career going from strength to strength, to the point that he is now the face of two major franchises, Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes.

Along with last year’s Marvel Avengers Assemble, and his brief cameo in The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 3 marks Downey Jr’s fifth appearance as Tony Stark and his alter-ego, and with Black returning to the director’s chair instead of Jon Favreau, it is clear that the careers of both men have come full circle.

Having helped his fellow Avengers to defeat Loki and the Chitauri in New York City, Stark is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when a mysterious terrorist leader known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) announces himself to the world by committing a number of atrocities across the globe. His relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) becomes strained as a result, and with figures from his past re-surfacing in the shape of Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian and Rebecca Hall’s botanist, Dr Maya Hansen, matters quickly become complicated for Stark and those close to him.

Taking its cue from the ‘Extremis’ (a highly advanced virus created by Killian) story arc developed by Warren Ellis, Iron Man 3 has a tough act to follow after the overwhelming success of Marvel Avengers Assemble. In addition, the last stand alone adventure for the wisecracking superhero (Iron Man 2) was somewhat disjointed, despite being enjoyable in the most part, meaning that there were some necessary adjustments to be made this time around.

With all that in mind, it is pleasing to report that the latest chapter in the big-screen adventure of Tony Stark is consistently entertaining and gripping, making it arguably the finest film of the Iron Man series thus far. As ever, the chemistry between Downey Jr and Paltrow is right on the money, and Don Cheadle now looks fully comfortable in the combine roles of Colonel James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes and War Machine.

Upon taking control of the film, Black talked about taking a step away from the premise of Iron Man facing off against another giant robot, and certainly the threat this time is an altogether more human and real-world based kind of threat.

It is also significant that Stark is taken out of comfort zone for a large section of the film, as circumstances mean that he is stranded in Tennessee (when he is presumed dead), where he has to rely on all his ingenuity to repair damage of his own making.

With one $15 million dollar film to his name before taking on this task, there were some question marks about how Black would handle the pressure of a film with such a major budget. His handling of the major set-pieces is extremely efficient, though, and in unison with co-writer Drew Pearce, he has maintained the sharp wit that has been synonymous with his work over the past couple of decades.

This framework was established by Favreau (who reprises his role as former bodyguard turned head of security Happy Hogan) in the earlier films, and blossomed under Joss Whedon in last year’s superhero team up, which makes the decision to hire Black for this film all the more obvious.

If there was a criticism to be labelled at the film, it does become slightly overblown in the extended finale, but considering all that gone before it, the filmmakers had more than earned the right to turn outlandish during the final act.

Stepping up to the plate alongside reliable regulars Downey Jr, Paltrow and Cheadle, Pearce and Kingsley offer plenty of menace, while the often under-appreciated Hall also makes the best of the screen time she is afforded.

With a sequel to Marvel Avengers Assemble (those who are intrigued by that prospect should wait around the end credits) very much in the pipeline, this will not be the last we see of Tony Stark in his iron suit, and on the basis of this film, that can only be a good thing.

Daire Walsh

12A (see IFCO website for details)

130 mins
Iron Man 3 is released on 25th April 2013

Iron Man 3 – Official Website

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Cinema Review: Flight

 
DIR:Robert Zemeckis • WRI: John Gatins • PRO: Laurie MacDonald, Cherylanne Martin, Walter F. Parkes, Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis • DOP: Don Burgess • ED: Jeremiah O’Driscoll • DES:Nelson Coates • CAST: Denzel Washington, Melissa Leo, John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood

It’s rare to see a mainstream studio release as wildly schizophrenic as Robert Zemeckis’ maddeningly inconsistent Flight. It constantly flits between genres – serious addiction drama, black comedy, wacky stoner comedy, legal thriller, romance, aviation disaster thriller etc… For a while, the film’s offbeat tone is interesting, and threatens to do surprising things with its familiar setups. Alas, the film doesn’t coalesce into a satisfying whole.

 

Denzel Washington plays pilot Whip Whitaker, whom we meet indulging in post-coital alcohol and cocaine right before he takes command of a commercial flight. After sneaking a few more vodkas when the plane reaches cruising altitude, he decides to leave things in the hands of his co-pilot (Brian Geraghty) while he takes a nap. Unfortunately, a mechanical failure sends the plane into freefall and Whip is forced to make a miraculous emergency landing.

 

Said emergency landing is the film’s major set piece, and it represents the film’s first-act inciting incident. And it’s wonderfully directed – tense, coherent and surprising. Indeed it might be one of the better spectacle moments from recent mainstream cinema. It’s afterwards that the film shoots off in altogether less accomplished directions.

 

Despite the media hailing him as a hero, Whip is forced to confront his substance abuse issues after a toxicology report shows-up a predictably high blood alcohol level. Lawyer Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle) is called in by the pilot’s union to try and protect Whip during the inevitable investigation. Meanwhile, Whip also meets recovering addict Nicole (Kelly Reilly), and the two hit it off. Oh, and John Goodman plays a cartoonish drug dealer for some reason.

 

The fact that the film descends into broad farce every time Goodman is on screen is indicative of one of Flight’s major problems – it simply never settles on what it wants to be. As Whitaker’s situation becomes more desperate, and his addiction situation spirals out of control, it finally seems as if we’re about to be granted a familiar yet dark and uncompromising addiction study. Whit increasingly seems beyond help, and appears destined to be consumed by his self-destructive nature. Is it possible that the film is going to bypass convention and give us a genuinely devastating look at substance addiction?

 

Given the presence of militant sentimentalist Zemeckis (he of Forrest Gump and Castaway fame – Back to the Future is but a distant memory) in the director’s chair, it’s no spoiler to say that the film wearily conforms to crowd-pleasing formula. What’s most disappointing about this is that the film would undoubtedly have been more interesting had it tackled its themes and characters in a more confrontational manner. A climactic courtroom scene, for example, teases a potentially provocative and amoral ending. A redemptive reversal, alas, guarantees there’s no such luck.

 

The cast do relatively good job given the limiting material, and the magnificent first act set piece and a few moments of brief insight mean Flight is by no means worthless. It’s well-paced – 140 minutes fly by, if you’ll excuse the pun – and some moments of dark comedy are genuinely amusing. But a crippling identity crisis and reversion to sentimentality ensure that overall it is so much less satisfying than it could have, should have, would have been. Flight all-too-often comes crashing down when it should really be soaring.

Stephen McNeice

15A (see IFCO website for details)

138 mins

Flight is released on 1st February 2013

Flight – Official Website

 

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THE GUARD Is The Number 1 Independent Irish Film Of All Time

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THE GUARD has  overtaken THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY in the Irish box-office  to become the most successful independent Irish film of all time. Overtaking other successful Irish titles including IN BRUGES, VERONICA GUERIN & MAN ABOUT DOG, THE GUARD has now grossed over €4.13 million in Ireland. This figure is also significantly ahead of other heavy-weight films this year like THE HANGOVER 2, THE KINGS SPEECH, TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON and PIRATES OF THE CARRIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES.

THE GUARD is also finding audiences around the world and has been in the top 10 in the UK, Australia and New Zealand already this month. In the US, it has grown week on week and now in its sixth week with a box-office total of nearly $3m million and it has now expanded close to 200 screens in the US. With further releases planned for later this year in Germany, France, Italy and Holland, we expect  THE GUARD to become one of the most successful Irish film exports in recent times.

Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, the film is produced by his partners in Reprisal Films, Chris Clark and Flora Fernandez Marengo, along with Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe of Element Pictures (who also co-produced THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY). Element Pictures Distribution is distributing the film in Ireland.

Speaking on the phenomenal success of the film, writer-director John Michael McDonagh commented that ‘It’s been extremely satisfying for me that such a hard-drinking, whoring, drug-taking, anti-authoritarian character as Sergeant Gerry Boyle has struck so resounding a chord with Irish and International audiences.’

On behalf of Element Ed Guiney said ‘This is a landmark film for Irish cinema and we are delighted to be part of it. Its brilliant that it has hit so big at home but its also more important than ever that Irish film punches above its weight internationally – and its case proven with The Guard.’

James Hickey, Chief Executive, Irish Film Board said ‘This is great news for the Irish film industry.  We’re delighted to see an Irish film compete successfully with major Hollywood blockbusters here in Ireland and also achieving a strong audience response worldwide.  It’s a testament to the local and the international appeal of Irish film and the quality of filmmaking in Ireland.’

Speaking on behalf of Reprisal Films, Chris Clark and Flora Fernandez Marengo said: ‘We are thrilled that the Irish public have taken the film to their hearts in such numbers. To become the biggest Irish film of all time is an incredible honour for a British production company with its first feature! We thank John Michael McDonagh, our partner at Reprisal Films, for his incredible work as writer-director and we will always be in debt to Brendan Gleeson for his genius performance as Sergeant Gerry Boyle. ‘

THE GUARD is an Irish/UK co-production, backed by the Irish Film Board and Section 481 as well as International Financiers. It’s produced by Chris Clark and Flora Fernandez Marengo for Reprisal Films and Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe  for Element Pictures.

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'The Guard' at the centre of Sarajevo Storm

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John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard is at the centre of a storm that erupted at the Sarajevo Film Festival. Its international programmer Howard Feinstein has resigned over what he saw as a shift of its director Miro Purivatra and its creative director, his wife, Izeta Gradevic towards celebrating celebrity culture over filmmakers and cinema.

The evidence cited by Feinstein included his Q&A with Oscar winning director Susanne Bier taking place without a single photographer present as Angelina Jolie was receiving a ‘Heart of Sarajevo’ award at the same time, and also his fight to include The Guard in the festival’s Panorama section.

In an open letter written by Feinstein and published by indiewire.com he explains more about The Guard’s role in his creative differences with his employers.  Purivatra and Gradevic wanted both Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle to attend the festival but when only director John Michael McDonagh could make it Feinstein states that ‘unbelievably, management wanted to keep him only for the Open Air screening, so he could blow kisses. I had to fight to have him do a Q & A with the Panorama audience. This is that murky area in which cult of (perceived) celebrity and the qualitative characteristics of selections overlapped in a negative way.’

In the days that followed Izeta Gradevic released a statement on behalf of the Sarajevo Film Festival also published in full on indiewire.com  which did not refer to Feinstein’s open letter, but amazingly Feinstein’s airing of dirty linen didn’t stop there as he gets involved in a lengthy mud slinging match with a former employee of the festival in the comments section of the Gradevic statement.

To read Howard Feinstein’s open letter click here

To read Izeta Gradevic’s response click here

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Healthy Second Week US Box Office figures for 'The Guard'

Element Pictures’ The Guard took in $194,000 this past weekend August 5-7th in the US bringing its total to $309,000.  But once again it is its average revenue per screen that is worth shouting about. 

According to www.boxofficemojo.com, The Guard’s $10,211 average on 19 screens made it one of the most successful films last weekend.  New blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes topped the both total gross with $54 million and average revenue per screen with $14,803.

The only other films to beat The Guard’s average in the top 48 were thriller Gun Hill Road on 3 screens with $12,600 per screen, and Bellflower, a film written, directed, produced, edited by and starring Evan Glodell, on 2 screens with $12,000 per screen.

More evidence for The Guard that ‘if you screen it, they will come’.  We are looking forward to next Monday’s totals as it is released on more screens.

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'The Guard' to expand to 100 screens in the US in August

On the back of its incredible average revenue per screen figures last week at the US Box Office, see story here, independent Irish feature The Guard will open across 100 screens in 50 cities in the US in August.

 

Speaking on RTE Radio 1’s Morning Ireland, producer Ed Guiney revealed that Sony gave it a ‘platform release’ in L.A. and New York and last weekend’s numbers ‘gave them the confidence to think it could break out’.  Sony will then assess its success at the end of August which could lead to an even wider release.

 

Described by the LA Times as ‘not just a breath but a very funny gust of fresh air’ The Guard is still showing in Irish cinemas, for more details of where you can catch it click here.

 

To listen to Ed Guiney on Morning Ireland click here.

 

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'The Guard' is second at the US Box Office!!!….sort of

The Guard's Milkshake

Element Pictures The Guard phenomenal success continues as it comes second at the US Box Office in average revenue per screen in its opening weekend, trouncing blockbuster new releases such as Cowboys & Aliens and The Smurfs.

The Guard took in $80,400 across 4 screens according to www.boxofficemojo.com for an average of $20,100 per screen,  Joe Cornish’s (Joe from comedy duo Adam and Joe) sci-fi comedy Attack the Block also out on limited release in the US this week achieved $130,000 across 8 screen for $16,250 per screen. Topping the average revenue per screen chart this past weekend is The Future directed by Miranda July taking in an impressive $28,200 on its single screen.

All three films put Cowboys & Aliens to shame as it took in a measly $9,653 per screen but a respectable $36,200,000 in total.

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Brendan Gleeson wins New York Comedy Award

 

Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle have been given a lifetime membership to the legendary New York comedy club, the Friars Club, which boasts Barry Manilow, Frank Sinatra, Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg in its ranks.

The odd couple has been awarded the Best New Buddy Comedy Duo Award for their performances in The Guard, which has grossed over €2 million.

Jerry Lewis, abbot of the Friars Club, congratulated the pair, and referring to his own partnership with Dean Martin, joked, ‘I know a thing or two about buddy movies… Only one can be the pretty one, only one can be the smart one, and only one can get the girl. But when it’s done right, both get to be the funny one, which is why Don and Brendan have emerged as the Best New Comedy Duo… and well-deserved. Congratulations from one half of a great buddy team to the new buddy team!’

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‘The Guard’ K.O.s Transformers, Kung Fu Panda and the X-Men


The Guard's Milkshake

The Guard has drunk the milkshake of the Transformers, the Pirates Of The Caribbean, X-Men babies, and that Kung Fu fighting Panda. The Irish film’s gross box-office to date now reaches over 2 Million Euro, making it the biggest Irish release here since The Wind that Shakes the Barley and The Guard is now on its way to becoming one of the biggest film hits of the summer, all the while working a pair of purple y-fronts.

 

Directed by John Michael McDonagh, The Guard is a comedy-thriller starring Brendan Gleeson as an unorthodox Irish policeman who joins forces with a straitlaced FBI agent, played by Don Cheadle, to take on an international drug-smuggling gang.

 

For full list of cinemas showing The Guard log on to: http://www.theguard.ie/where-to-watch/

The Guard is released in the US on July 29th & in the UK on August 19th.

 

 

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'The Guard' is in hot pursuit of €1.5mill at the Irish Box Office

Darkly comic Irish thriller The Guard continues to storm the Irish box office with takings of €397,000 this past weekend taking its total past €1.42 million.

In a weekend that saw the final installment of  the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, break all time weekend records in North America this represents an extremely strong showing for an independent Irish feature.

The €410,000 showing earned it second place in Ireland behind the bespectacled wizard and it took in €94,000 yesterday Monday July 18th alone suggesting strong word of mouth.  It also came in at number 5 in the combined UK and Ireland box office totals.

Click here for full list of cinemas showing The Guard.

The Guard is released in the US on July 29th & in the UK on August 19th

Read our review of The Guard here

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'The Guard' is number 1 at Irish box office

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John Michael McDonagh’s comedy-thriller THE GUARD is a box-office smash with a weekend gross of over half a million euro, knocking BRIDESMAIDS from the coveted No 1 position. This is a fantastic result for an Irish film and its opening weekend results are comparable to other hugely successful Irish films such as MICHAEL COLLINS and IN BRUGES. THE GUARD also picked up Best Irish Feature award at the Galway Film Fleadh this weekend.

Speaking on the success of the film, Andrew Lowe of Element Pictures says that “We are thrilled that Irish people have flocked to see the Guard in such strong numbers. The international success of the Guard has been exciting but success at home is still the most gratifying. The film clearly has caught a zeitgeist and provides audiences with a welcome distraction and relief thanks to the genius of John Michael McDonagh and the brilliance of Brendan Gleeson”

THE GUARD is a comedy-thriller starring Brendan Gleeson as an unorthodox Irish policeman who joins forces with a straitlaced FBI agent, played by Don Cheadle, to take on an international drug-smuggling gang.

For full list of cinemas showing THE GUARD log on to: http://www.theguard.ie/where-to-watch/

THE GUARD is released in the US on July 29th & in the UK on August 19th

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The Guard

the_guard

 

DIR/WRI: John Michael McDonagh • PRO: Chris Clark, Flora Fernandez-Marengo, Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe • DOP: Larry Smith • ED: Chris Gill • DES: John Paul Kelly • CAST: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham

A potent mix of Western tropes, slick black comedy and American cop procedurals, The Guard may sound cluttered but is actually a fairly smooth concoction. It tells the story of a Garda dealing with drug runners and corruption in a modern, if still oddly timeless, Ireland. Brendan Gleeson excels as the main focus; his character-actor sensibilities complementing a leading-man flair, which has been too long dormant. Playing The General, or say Michael Collins, threatened to make him iconic, but the essaying of historical characters always dominates a role. With The Guard he is allowed to create a character from scratch and the nuances he brings to the role of Sgt. Gerry Boyle are a masterclass in how to combine pathos with biting humour. Don Cheadle’s straight-laced FBI agent is left to navigate the eccentricities of this man and provides the film with a charming fish-out-of-water dimension.

Occasionally ever so slightly self-satisfied, the film works due to its balance. Despite some heavy themes, it is never too bleak nor does its emotional core ever become too sentimental or cloying. A modern gem but not for the politically-correct crowd, that’s for sure.

Emmet O’Brien

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
The Guard is released on 8th July 2011

The Guard is in hot pursuit of €1.5million at the Irish Box Office click here to find out more.

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