I’m still a bit busy and distracted by various matters including the ongoing Los Angeles Film Fest and last night’s L.A. premiere of “Animal Kingdom,” an ultra-neo-noir Aussie crime drama/suspense film that’s a bit dour for my taste but which boasts some outstanding performances and characterization, and a dynamite third act that my mind is still reeling from. Nevertheless, I’ve got a couple of trailers here that promise some fairly provocative manners of death dealing of the more frivolous and, perhaps, fun variety. We’ll start with the Red Band trailer for “Predators” for the wanton monster bloodshed and destruction you demand and the F-word you expect. H/t Den of Geek.
Via Cinemablend, and on a somewhat higher plane — because how can the sight of Dame Helen Mirren wielding a machine and blowing shit up not be on a very high plane indeed — comes the non-superhero comic book adaptation “RED,” as in “Retired, extremely dangerous.” Yep, it’s the action movie first-wave baby boomers have all been waiting for. It’s also got Morgan Freeman, the beautiful Mary Louise Parker, an excessively MK-Ultra‘d John Malkovich, and some other bald dude from the eighties.
England’s Michael Powell was a rare twofer as a director – both a great visual stylist and one of filmmaking’s most adept and original storytellers. While movie history played some very nasty tricks on Powell, depriving him of his rightful status alongside such contemporaries as Alfred Hitchcock and David Lean, his cult continues to grow. Indeed, after a day or two watching this package of two rare films making their long-overdue DVD debuts, you might be joining me for some genius-spiked Kool-Aid.
The first of half of this stunning double bill is 1946’s “A Matter of Life and Death,” one of a number of classics Powell made with Emeric Pressburger, his long-time filmmaking partner with whom he shared writing, producing, and directing credits. Originally released in the U.S. as “Stairway to Heaven,” this post-war romantic fantasy features a young David Niven as a downed RAF pilot whose apparently impossible survival and subsequent love affair with a sweet-natured American (Kim Hunter) arouses celestial interference from the heavenly powers that be – or, perhaps, that what he’s imagining, as a brilliant neurologist (Powell/Pressburger favorite Roger Livesey) grows increasingly concerned about his apparent hallucinations. This might sound like familiar romantic comedy-drama material, but there is a reason this was Powell’s personal favorite of all his films. It is a cinematic brew so rich and strange that on some levels it feels like a rom-com “Pan’s Labyrinth”; this one sneaks up on you.
“Age of Consent” isn’t on the same exalted level, but despite a shaky start and some unfortunate choices, it’s still aces. This rapturous, and often very funny, 1969 tale of initially semi-platonic May-December love stars then-newcomer Helen Mirren (“The Queen,” “Prime Suspect”), as a 17-year-old Aussie island waif, and aging star James Mason as a painter in need of inspiration. Far less giggle or squirm inducing than you could possibly imagine, “Age of Consent” appears to have been the first major-studio film to feature significant nudity (provided, of course, by Ms. Mirren). Despite hitting it big in Australia, it was butchered for its worldwide release and has been almost impossible to see ever since. Fortunately, this DVD does Powell’s last feature proud, including charming reminiscences from the now Queen-aged Ms. Mirren and Powell’s close late-life friend and number one fan, Martin Scorsese.