Author Archives: Doug Whelan

What you may need to know…

1. I’m not a big horror fan but this one caught my eye on the back of a screening yesterday at the SXSW festival, currently ongoing in Texas. Twitter exploded in a big ball of hype overnight, as it tends to now and again.

3. Hereditary received its world premiere in January at the Sundance film festival in Utah, and received ecstatic reviews. Variety says it will be right at home in the multiplex horror-film-of-the-week slot, but that first-time writer/director Ari Aster has crafted something sophisticated and artful that goes way beyond the genre’s perceived limitations.

4. The AV Club calls it “traumatically terrifying” and “pure emotional terrorism”.

5. There’s “our own” Gabriel Byrne, fresh from his lifetime achievement award at the IFTAs, and the always-dependable Toni Collette, who has quietly carved out a very respectable career for herself over the past 25 years. Her performance here has been touted as an early contender for next year’s awards season. It seems the success of Get Out (2017) has paved the way for genre fare to be taken more seriously by voters.

6. “Good” supernatural horror films are released every year, sure, but only occasionally do we get great ones – ones that will stand the test of time alongside your Exorcists, your Omens, your Shinings and your Blair Witches (yeah I went there – the last true original of the genre). Even when they do, they are almost always derivative, one way or another. It Follows from 2014, for example, was terrific in the teen horror sub-genre, but shamelessly (and beautifully) lifted its style and tone from John Carpenter’s Halloween. The Insidious series was fun, but descended into knowing parody as it went along. And so on.

7. Hereditary too looks derivative in that all those horror tropes that make the genre what it is (creepy kid, bockety house, scary old lady, family secret, possession, the list is endless), but if the reviews are anything to go by, Aster has expertly blended them with a worthy drama that’s as deep as it is wide.

8. Hereditary also comes with the promise of a “what it’s about…isn’t really what it’s about” type twist; sure to get it lots of attention this summer too, when it goes on wide release.

9. Not much else to say about it, other than it’s coming down the line and people are excited:

Doug’s verdict: Fetch my brown trousers.

Release: June (tbc)

What you may need to know:

1. Here comes Mute, the new film from Duncan Jones, the talented British director known for Moon (2009) and Source Code (2011), two of the best science fiction films of the past ten years.

2. He has described Mute as a spiritual sequel to Moon, in that it is set in the same universe. Eagle-eyed viewers should expect references, veiled or otherwise, to that stark, sorrowful knockout that coaxed the performance of a lifetime out of Sam Rockwell twice.

3. Jones followed those two up with video game adaptation Warcraft in 2016, which got a bit of a mauling. For that reason, some voices out there have urged viewers to manage their expectations regarding this latest outing.

4. Mute is set in Berlin of the future, a neon-soaked cyberpunk hellhole not unlike Blade Runner’s rain-soaked Los Angeles or the works of William Gibson. This town is populated by losers, psychos, criminals and misfits, including Alexander Skarsgård’s taciturn bartender Leo, whose search for his missing girlfriend (Seyneb Saleh) brings him into the orbit of two volatile American surgeons (Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux).

5. Mute is Jones’ Don Quixote. He tells Uproxx the film has been in the works for 16 years; even with the critical success he has (mostly) enjoyed, studios have turned his script down time and time again. The interview also simply describes Mute as “insane”, while Jones himself calls it “dark and weird”; make of that what you will.

6. Enter Netflix, which has both the money and the canvas to take creative risks like this. No matter how it turns out, it’s a shame a film with clearly such a strong visual element will never be seen in cinemas. The cinematic landscape is changing though; whether anybody likes it or not. So rather than a churlish refusal to embrace change (we’re looking at you, Christopher Nolan), Jones has opted to change with it. He has lamented, however, that the film will never get a Blu-ray release – or the packaging design possibilities that come with it.

7. I call it Don Quixote above, but Jones himself has called Mute “Casablanca of the future”; an evocative and alluring possibility – hence the stunning poster which loudly recalls that WW2 masterpiece. Someone should tell him though – we already got our Casablanca of the future in Barb Wire (1996) starring Pamela Anderson. No, really.

8. Going by Duncan Jones’ own word, Mute won’t be for everyone. That’s the point of it though. We complain that cinemas are overflowing with superhero and comic book films, which they are. Studios won’t go near anything that isn’t a guaranteed money-maker. It’s why you don’t see much from creatively idiosyncratic filmmakers, whose first objective is to challenge their audiences, outside of the festival circuits. Tastes will come back around eventually, but before they do we should embrace films like this whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Verdict: Shout it from the rooftops

Release: February 23.

What you may need to know.

1. The internet is moving at light speed currently, as illustrated by last night’s surprise SuperBowl “drop” of producer JJ Abrams’ latest entry into the Cloverfield franchise, in its entirety, on Netflix before anyone had even seen a trailer or a single still from it.

2. It was so quick, in fact, that while everyone was processing this information and mulling over it as a new media experiment in anti-marketing or audience sleight-of-hand (something Abrams has lots of form in), the first reviews came in to reveal that The Cloverfield Paradox is mostly garbage, and the surprise release was more than anything an emergency exit for an unmarketable mess of a film.

3. Amid the other mostly forgettable blockbuster previews rumbling out on SuperBowl night, the world finally gets to see a teaser for Solo: A Star Wars Story, Disney and LucasFilm’s latest entry into the Star Wars universe.

4. It’s been a troubled production, with original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller unceremoniously sacked near the END of filming last year, due to “creative differences” with LucasFilm boss Kathleen Kennedy. (“Ace Ventura in Space” was one insider’s description of what the duo were apparently shooting for. As great as that sounds, perhaps not the best route for an origin story of one of cinema’s most iconic and beloved heroes).

5. Journeyman director and old friend of LucasFilm Ron Howard, was drafted in to take the reins, and now we finally get to see a preview of what’s to come this May.

6. Plenty more of those Star Wars itches are being scratched in Solo. It revolves around young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and frenemy Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). Young Chewbacca is in there too of course (could he reasonably be called a puppiee in this?), while Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke and everyone’s best bud Woody Harrelson round out the cast.

7. Little is known about the plot, but this trailer has something of a Noir-ish feel, in contrast to Rogue One’s WW2 flavour. All eyes will be on Ehrenreich’s performance as Solo, who exhibited great comic timing in Hail Caesar! (2016) There’s a dash of the character’s brashness here for sure, but do people want to see something different, or a straight up Harrison Ford impersonation? Just as long as there isn’t some conspicuous reference to the infamous) “Han shoots first” scene.

8. Last week there was mostly apathy surrounding the movie, due to the controversy, plus the fact that it’s out so soon after divisive The Last Jedi (2017). I may be buying into the hype, but from this first look, it appears Ron Howard might have saved the day after all.

9. If Lord & Miller wanted to make ‘Ace Ventura in Space’ happen on their own time though, that would be just fine.

Verdict: Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.

Release: May 25

What You May Need To Know

1. I went through a whole denial-anger-acceptance thing watching this. First I was horrified, thinking my god, how could “They” possibly deem to sully a milestone of Antipodean culture like Crocodile Dundee (1984) by knocking out a snarky, decades-overdue sequel.

Then I thought, hang on a second, it’s Crocodile Dundee not The Godfather (1972). Who cares, let them do what they want.

3. THEN I thought, holy chozzwozza, this looks quite funny, and pretty great. Look at that cast! Russell Crowe hamming it up as a Murdoch-esque super villain? Sold. But does it look at little TOO good?

4. THEN I read up on it, and realised it’s not a film at all; it’s actually an extremely well-made viral advert for Tourism Australia, part of a campaign running with this weekend’s Super Bowl.

Doug’s verdict: Well played, everyone.

Release date: n/a

What you may need to know:

1. Hmm.

2. HMM.

3. Incredibly bad timing, or incredibly good timing?

4. Amid the scandal engulfing Hollywood currently (which, in fairness, has been brewing for 100 years), Louis CK has starred in, written and directed, practically in secret, this dangerously on-the-nose comedy drama about creepy old filmmakers, young women and the nature of complicity.

5. The thing is, even without the Weinstein drama, there’s all sorts going on between the lines here. Louis CK himself has been the subject of some pretty sleazy rumours over the past few years. The comedian Jen Kirkman has been most vocal about it, while also maintaining her own distance. Now more than ever, such accusations and allegations need to be taken very seriously so…yeah.

6. Louis is even more in Woody Allen mode than ever before here, so…oh for fu-

7. Look, it’s a film, it’s been made, it’s out later this year.

Verdict: Verdict? Really?

Release date: November TBC

What you may need to know…

1. Disney “dropped” the long-overdue trailer for The Last Jedi last night during Monday Night Football in the States.

2. The first teaser arrived in April, followed by a behind the scenes feature in July; this is the first that offers more firm plot details. Director Rian Johnson offered this caveat.

3. In terms of plot, it’s as you might have guessed. Rey (Daisy Ridley), last seen on Skellig Michael in Kerry, has begun her Jedi training with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill, looking decidedly Oliver Reed-esque). He seems concerned about just how powerful she is, as does Snoke (Andy Serkis), who hints that he’s more interested in her than in Kylo Ren (Adam Driver, angsty).

4. On Ren’s side, he’s still struggling with the Dark Side, as illustrated by his hesitation to blow his own mother’s ship to smithereens. Unless this is a big fake-out, it’s sad to see that Leia (Carrie Fisher) has been hastily written out of the film due to Fisher’s sudden death last year.

5. Could Rey and Ren be about to switch allegiances?

6. The cute little animal thingies are called Porgs. Presumably there’s a factory in China knocking out 5,000 Porgs an hour, of various sizes, to be shipped to Disney stores all over the world in time for Christmas. Gotta get those toys out there. Merchandising is the real reason Disney paid $4bn for LucasFilm back in 2012, after all.

7. It’s a good trailer, does the job. But to me it feels like there’s something off about Star Wars’ image at this stage. With the firing of Colin Trevorrow from Episode IX (2019), the firing of Lord & Miller from the untitled Han Solo Movie (2018), and various other changes and replacements, it feels like we’re getting to see the sausage made.

8. LucasFilm and Disney are so fiercely protective of Star Wars that they are unwilling to take a single risk. When this film finally arrives, it’s clear that the immensely talented Rian Johnson will have toed the line completely, and the finished product will have been audience tested again and again, edited by committee and approved by a zillion executives to push all the right nostalgia buttons and so on. Is it the directors they don’t trust, or the audience?

9. That’s not to say it won’t be good. You could interpret it as a return to the old studio system that Hollywood operated until the 1960s, where the producer had complete creative control and the director was a mere technician. Marvel (arguably) keep getting it right, after all. What that led to was an independent film revolution, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the whole “Hollywood is out of ideas” thing. Which it is, but it’s all part of the cycle.

10. Anyway, I shouldn’t complain. Yeah Star Wars!

Doug’s Verdict: Doesn’t matter. Will be huge no matter what.

Release Date: December 15

What you may need to know


The latest quirky oddity from that ever-so-aloof master of whimsy, Wes Anderson. He’s returning to the stop-motion animation style he employed for his adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) for this story of a near-future Japan in which all dogs are banished to live on a garbage island.

3. A young boy travels to the island to rescue his own best friend (sorry), and a positively Anderson-esque adventure ensues.

4. Animation aside, all of Anderson’s many trademarks are present and correct. These include the sprawling all-star cast (going by the poster, could it be his most sprawling and all-star to date?) delivering droll, sardonic dialogue, symmetrical angles, flat camera shots, unusual close-ups and cuts, the works.

5. People either love or hate Anderson’s shtick. I’ve found him hit and miss over the years. It’s often said that he cares more about the process than the finished product, hence the obsessive attention to detail on all of the above.

6. There’s no doubt he’s a brilliant storyteller though who has been out there on his own, with his own voice, right from the start. As such, anything he does is worth paying attention to, and if it ends up one of his less well-received outings, there will doubtless still be lots to love about it.

7. SO quirky

Doug’s verdict: So fetch

Release date:
March 23, 2018

What you may need to know

1. Here comes comedy royalty Armando Iannucci, creator of (among others) The Thick of It, In the Loop, Veep, The Day Today, Time Trumpet and more, with his second big-screen outing The Death of Stalin. It appears that one of the great satirists of our time has decided that the modern world is indeed beyond satire, so there is no point anymore.

2. Instead, he has assembled a remarkable cast to throw back to Moscow in the 1950s when, upon the death of soviet dictator Stalin, various factions within the Soviet Central Committee began squabbling over who could, should and would succeed him.

3. The film is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Fabien Nury.

4. Steve Buscemi plays Nikita Khrushchev, alongside Jeffrey Tambor, Paddy Considine, Jason Isaacs, Michael Palin, Simon Russell Beale and more as a host of real-life figures whose names we really couldn’t be bothered spelling out here.

5. As if it wasn’t perfectly obvious, that thing about modern life being beyond satire is even more accurate than you think. At a recent talk in Sydney, Iannucci revealed an unused story for The Thick of It was for a politician to walk to Westminster in order to seem “more relatable”, only to insist on a car following behind to carry his briefcase. The idea was eventually abandoned the idea because it seemed just a little too unrealistic.

6. Some months later, it emerged David Cameron was keen on cycling to the House of Commons…with a car following behind containing shoes and a clean shirt.

7. After that you can see why the decision was taken not to drag The Thick of It out any longer than it had to. Why waste time hanging politicians out to dry when they’re perfectly capable of doing it themselves?

8. Anyway, The Death of Stalin screens at the Toronto Film Festival next month, and will arrive in cinemas in October.

9. Speaking of Stalin, any excuse. “Not a lot of people” know about this historical TV drama with just about the greatest piece of casting you’ve ever seen.

Doug’s verdict: Potempting

Release Date: October 20

Is RTE Lol-ing At Its Own Since opening our doors in 2003, has delivered thousands of web and digital experiences, across a multitude of website platforms alarge enough to offer you the knowledge and expertise we’ve gained servicing the Corporate and loveparadesf Government sectors, yet small enough to care. .

As you may have heard, the original and biggest ‘Con took place in San Diego over the weekend, as illustrated by the steady flow of tentpole trailers rumbling onto the net Saturday night.

Some went down better than others, and some sank without trace.

Here goes with the highlights…

Ready Player One

1. Between Stranger Things, Star Wars, Trainspotting 2 and any one of a number of properties that have been dusted off over the past number of years, we are truly living in the age of hardcore nostalgia.

Here comes “cinematic game changer” Spielberg to hitch his wagon to that post with Ready Player One, an adaptation of Ernest Cline’s “holy grail of pop culture”.

3. Steady on lads. If Ready Player One was set in the run-down Ohio of the future glimpsed in the beginning, I’d be interested, but this hyperactive CG bonanza, complete with 80s references left, right and centre, makes this look like Attention Deficit Disorder: The Movie.

4. That said, it will be great to see Spielberg back in sci-fi territory for the first time in more than a decade. Let’s hope this is more Minority Report than War of the Worlds.

Release date: March 30, 2018

Thor: Ragnarok

1. Now this looks like a scream.

2. As we’ve noted before, Chris Hemsworth has showed himself to be a talented comic actor through the Marvel film series, so it’s good that New Zealand revelation Taika Waititi is behind the camera for his third standalone outing.

3. Much is made of the interplay between him and Mark Ruffalo (who may never star in his own Hulk movie due to rights issues between Marvel and Universal), while Cate Blanchett is having a ball as the villain, north of England accent and all. Sounds like she went from Coronation Street straight to Asgard.

Release date: October 27

Stranger Things 2

This is how you cut a trailer.

2. Rising tension, tease out the plot and promise to escalate the supernatural action to beyond expectations.

3. High-concept shows like Stranger Things tend to head south very quickly after promising debuts (Heroes, we’re looking at you), but a talented young cast, a good grip on the nostalgia meter and this outstanding teaser look like Stranger Things 2 has plenty to offer.

Release date: October 31

Star Trek Discovery

1. Disappointed by this trailer, both as a piece of work and in terms of the direction Star Trek seems to be taking. It’s quite unfocused, with little explanation of what’s going on and where in the ‘Trek universe this new series is set (it’s pre-Kirk era fyi).

2. It offers little in the way of plot, but not in an intriguing way, more of a messy way like they just flung together what they could with what they had and added a cod-philosophy monologue.

3. The redesigned Klingons look a bit silly, as do some of the VFX shots (that explosion near the start looks like it was rendered on an Amiga 500). And does every trailer need a sexy pop song over it these days?

4. Change and evolution is good, but this neither looks nor feels like Star Trek. Bring back the Borg, we say.

Release date: September 24.

Justice League

1. Every time Marvel makes it look easy with their latest teaser, DC aren’t far behind, continuing to flail about, slightly unsure of what they want their film series to look or feel like.

There is little hope that this won’t be a bloated mess, seeing as that’s what Zack Snyder’s movies always turn out to be.

3. The wild success of Wonder Woman put a bit of wind in the series’ sail, and there does seem to be a little wit here that was absent from the joyless Batman vs Superman.

Snyder has stepped back from production due to a personal tragedy, with Joss Whedon (The Avengers etc) overseeing post production. Whether that will save the film from itself remains to be seen.

Release date: November 17

WestWorld – Season 2

Finally, HBO presented an ever-so-teasery teaser for the second series of its ambitious/baffling (delete as appropriate) sci-fi fusion WestWorld.

2. The first run look and sounded extraordinary, featured flawless performances (in particular from Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton) and promised much with its (very) slow-burning storyline.

Jonathan Nolan would want to tighten things up for the next season though. Ambitious is good, challenging is good, but entertaining is a must too.

Release date: “Sometime in 2008.”

What you may need to know:

1. With Wimbledon currently taking place, no better time to serve this trailer for Borg/McEnroe, a Swedish-made drama exploring the rivalry between two of the greats of the game, John McEnroe (Shia LeBeouf) and Bjorn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason).

2. Their match in the 1980 Wimbledon final has been touted as one of the greatest games of tennis ever played. It was not, however, the one in which McEnroe heckled the umpire with his immortal “You cannot be serious” line. Some of his many on-court tantrums can be seen here.

3. Petulant spoilsport or perfectionist genius? That appears to the thrust of the film is about for LaBeouf’s character, contrasted with Borg’s lifetime in the game in Sweden under the tutelage of coach Lennart Bergelin, played by the always-great Stellan Skarsgård.

4. Naturally, Shia LaBeouf states he was attracted to the role of John McEnroe due a similarity between the pair: both misunderstood in their passion for what they do. Not sure McEnroe was ever on camera racially abusing a police officer, but there you go.

5. McEnroe did get in a bit of bother recently with his comments about Serena Williams though. While they were slightly taken out of context, the jist of it (which he did decline to walk back on even after getting all the stick) was while she’s probably the greatest female player of all time, she’d probably rank around the 700s in the men’s game. If ever there was a sweeping statement that proves why feminism exists, it’s that. “Look, she’s amazing, but there’s probably like 700 men better than her and that’s that.”

6. Which leads us nicely to the other tennis movie we’re getting this year….

That’s right, as is so often the case, Borg/McEnroe isn’t the only fact-based tennis movie we’re getting in 2017. Steve Carrell and Emma Stone will star later this year in Oscar-bait Battle of the Sexes. It tells the high-stakes 1973 exhibition match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, a milestone in the mainstream acceptance of women’s professional sport.

8. Until then, smouldering Bjorn Borg and over-excited McEnroe will have to do.

Doug’s Verdict: Advantage Stone

Release: September (both)