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The Lost City of Z - DVD Review

The Lost City of Z

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

JAMES Gray’s The Lost City of Z offers up the fascinating true story of Colonel Percival Fawcett’s obsessive quest to find a mythical place in the deepest, darkest depths of Amazonia during the early to mid-1900s. But while consistently fascinating, it’s curiously restrained both in terms of performance and pacing.

By adopting an old fashioned approach to the storytelling, Gray allows room for strong character building and emotional complexity. Yet this also negates the film’s capacity to thrill, with only a handful of sequences capable of sending the pulse racing (in terms of excitement or fear) when you kind of feel there should be more.

Rather, his film examines the psychology of an adventurer as much as the derring-do, yet also fails to deliver a lead character enigmatic enough to make the journey as engrossing as it could have been.

Charlie Hunnam’s Col Fawcett is a reserved man rather than a risk-taking adventurer in the Indiana Jones mould. He’s aware of the consequence of failure, as much because of the stain it will leave on an already soiled family legacy, but also on the family he has sacrificed in order to pursue personal honour and obsession.

Hence, he’s very much restrained, both emotionally and physically. Hunnam adopts a posh monotone that can sometimes render his dialogue difficult to hear. And it suffocates his ability to create a true flesh and blood character. Whether this was in keeping with the man himself, or an artistic choice, is a moot point given the way it strips such a pivotal character of much charisma.

Robert Pattinson, as one of his fellow explorers, and Tom Holland, as his son who eventually grows old enough to join him on one adventure, fare much better – injecting enough emotion, whether in the way of comic sarcasm or frustrated passion, to enable both of their characters to resonate more fully.

Hunnam’s performance aside, Gray also struggles with the film’s pacing. His exploration scenes, while beautifully shot by Darius Khondji, lack any real urgency despite the impending threat posed both by hostile, possibly ‘murderous savages’ and the jungle wildlife (which extends to snakes and piranhas).

By adopting a more brooding, psychological approach, Gray seems to be nodding more to the filmmaking style of Coppola’s Apocalypse Now or Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo than anything anywhere near approaching the adrenaline-rush of a Spielberg or Abrams. At well over two hours, this can make the journey seem quite ponderous at times.

But that’s not to dismiss entirely the film’s beauty or its ability to make you think about the cost – both emotional and physical – of pursuing a dream. Gray’s film serves as much as a cautionary tale about the dangers of obsession as it does a stark reminder of man’s capacity for destruction and tyranny in the pursuit of wealth or progress.

The Lost City of Z is therefore a film that fascinates more than it grips. It keeps you watching even though it leaves you emotionally detached. As such, it has the feel of an honourable failure rather than the old school classic it might have been.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 140mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: July ??, 2017

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow - Preview

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Preview by Jack Foley

MARCELLO Mastroianni (A Special Day) and Sophia Loren (El Cid) show off their natural chemistry to perfection in Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, 1964 Academy Award®-winner for Best Foreign Film which is set for release on Blu-ray, DVD and digital on July 24, 2017.

This quintessentially Italian classic is comprised of three comedy vignettes that stand as a wry comment on Italian society. In the first, the stars are an impoverished married couple in Naples that, when Loren brushes with the law, find they must keep her permanently pregnant in order for her to avoid prison.

In Milan, we observe a bored and wealthy woman having an affair with a writer with whom she dreams of running away, that is until the day he crashes her Rolls Royce…

The climax of the movie features one of the most famous striptease scenes of all time, when a call girl in Rome takes up a vow of abstinence but only after turning the head of a naïve young man preparing for the priesthood.

Special features include documentaries on both the director and the leading lady with appearances from Woody Allen, Giorgio Armani, Clint Eastwood, Mike Leigh and Ken Loach. Don’t miss this release of one of the most popular Italian films of all time.

Win Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow on Blu-ray

To celebrate the release of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow on Blu-ray and DVD from July 24, 2017, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 2 copies on Blu-ray. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow?

Simply send the answer to Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Beauty & The Beast (2017) - DVD Review

Beauty & The Beast

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

DISNEY’S continuing mission to transform its classic animated titles into live-action movies continues apace with Beauty & The Beast. But while certainly easy on the eye, Bill Condon’s movie is only a partial success.

First and foremost, the film delivers everything you’d expect from this classic tale, from ear-pleasing songs to robustly delivered messages about love, appearance and dreaming big. It’s well acted, boasts some top-drawer special effects and will tick all the right boxes for all those Disney loving princes and princesses among you.

But there are times, too, when the film feels like its trying too hard, whether in being overly politically correct or mixing tones. It feels very much like Disney is trying to have its cake and eat it.

The story will be familiar to anyone who has seen the classic 1991 animated title. The beast of the title is a selfish bachelor (Dan Stevens, formerly of Downton Abbey), whose greedy excess results in a curse being placed upon him whereby he is transformed into a bad-tempered creature. The only thing that can break the spell is the love of a good woman; but this can only be achieved before a rose in his west wing sheds all of its petals.

As the years pass, Beast and his castle are forgotten… until a local beauty, Belle (Emma Watson), ventures inside in an attempt to retrieve her recently captured father (Kevin Kline), who happened upon the isolated location while on his way to the market. Volunteering to swap places with her beloved dad, Belle is imprisoned by the moody Beast, but slowly finds a way into his heart as they bond over a shared passion for books and culinary delights. Will true love prevail before it’s too late? Or will the nearby villagers, led by the egotistical Gaston (Luke Evans), come between them?

Driven by the songs of composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman, Beauty & The Beast certainly doesn’t skimp on eye-catching spectacle or Disney classic storytelling tradition. Indeed, it adheres fairly strictly to the core elements of the story.

Where it deviates slightly, it tends to get into trouble. Much has been made of Josh Gad’s Le Fou, who represents the first openly gay character in a Disney film. But aside from being history-making in that respect, the decision seems a curious one that is arguably unnecessary within the context of a film that boasts equal appeal to very young children as it does older Disney enthusiasts.

Gad is fine in the role, camping it up to full effect, but his big reveal comes during a blink and you may miss it dance finale despite being hinted at throughout. The gesture feels tokenistic. But it does pose a wider question surrounding the portrayal of any kind of sexuality in family movies.

That being said, there are several other moments when the film veers towards the camp, with Condon delivering some unapologetically big scenes that owe more to Broadway spectacle than the film’s animated roots.

But he also knows how to deliver a rousing set piece, with several of the big sequences delivered with an intensity that may also set younger pulses racing (from an encounter with wolves to the final face-off between Gaston and Beast). It can create an uneven tone but keeps viewers on their toes.

One final problem lies with the film’s pacing, which starts off well before becoming a little bogged down during the middle section. It seems to take an age before the romance between Belle and Beast is allowed to develop. Again, younger minds may start to wonder.

That being said, the film does work on its own terms. As well as being camp and intense, it can be rousing, romantic and fun. And the climactic tussle is fairly emotional.

Watson is a competent Belle, Stevens does well to create an endearing Beast beneath the prosthetics and CG, while the likes of Sir Ian McKellen, as a cantankerous clock; Ewan McGregor, as an optimistic candelabra, and Evans, as a ridiculously chauvinistic villain, all seem to be having the type of fun that translates well to the audience.

Without ever scaling the heights of last year’s The Jungle Book, Beauty & The Beast is an efficient crowd-pleaser that makes it easy enough to overlook its flaws (especially if you’re part of its target audience).

Certificate: PG
Running time: 129mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: July 17, 2017

London Heist - Preview

London Heist

Preview by Jack Foley

LONDON’S criminal underworld is in for the shock of its life this summer as career, crime and personal revenge collide to explosive effect in London Heist, coming to DVD and digital download from July 17, 2017, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

Craig Fairbrass (The Bank Job, Rise Of The Footsoldier) is Jack Cregan, career criminal, family man and vicious armed robber, on a mission for revenge following his father’s brutal murder.

The shattering revelations that follow force Jack to pull off one last dangerous robbery on his way to exacting a brutal revenge on all those involved.

Directed by the BAFTA-nominated Mark McQueen, London Heist is a gripping revenge thriller set against the backdrop of the gritty streets of London and the hedonistic glamour of Spain’s seductive Costa Del Sol.

With a supporting cast that also includes James Cosmo (TV’s Game of Thrones), Steven Berkoff (The Krays), Nick Moran (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) and Roland Manookian (The Business), London Heist will quite literally kick off your summer in explosive style.

Win London Heist on DVD

To celebrate the release of London Heist on DVD from July 17, 2017, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 3 copies. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs London Heist?

Simply send the answer to London Heist competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Dries - Preview

Dries

Preview by Jack Foley

DESCRIBED by the New York Times as “one of fashion’s most cerebral designers”, Dries Van Noten is an awe-inspiring, enduring fashion designer whose career has spanned more than 25-years and whose creativity is limitless.

Now, for the first time ever, the inspirational Belgian fashion designer has granted a filmmaker unlimited access behind the scenes to follow his creative process and his fulfilling home life in Dries, a new feature length documentary that arrives on DVD and on demand on July 17, 2017 courtesy of Dogwoof.

For an entire year Reiner Holzemer documented the precise steps that Dries takes to conceive of four collections, the rich fabrics, embroidery and prints exclusive to his designs. As well as the emblematic fashion shows that bring his collections to the world and have become cult ‘must sees’ at Paris Fashion Week.

This fascinating intimate portrait offers an insight into the life, mind and creative heart of a master fashion designer who, for more than 25 years, has remained independent in a landscape of fashion consolidation and globalization.

Win Dries on DVD

To celebrate the release of Dries on DVD and on demand from July 17, 2017, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 3 copies on DVD. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs Dries?

Simply send the answer to Dries competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Logan - Hugh Jackman DVD interview

Logan

Compiled by Jack Foley

HUGH Jackman is known for his long-running role as Logan/Wolverine in the X-Men film series and its Wolverine spin-off, as well as for his lead roles in films as diverse as Kate & Leopold, Van Helsing, The Prestige, The Fountain, Australia, Les Misérables and Prisoners.

His work in Les Misérables earned him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and his first Golden Globe Award. In Broadway theatre, Jackman won a Tony Award for his role in The Boy From Oz. A four-time host of the Tony Awards themselves, he won an Emmy Award for one of these appearances. Jackman also hosted the 81st Academy Awards in 2009.

In Logan, from director James Mangold, he returns as his iconic superhero character in a tough and moving final chapter…

Q. What do you remember of your last day on the Logan shoot?
Hugh Jackman: What I remember most was that we had a lot of lightning issues. We were at 10,000 feet and if there was lightning within three miles of the shoot an alarm went off and we had to stop. But there were these pockets of lightning and then it’d be blue sky, so we were always stopping and it was really frustrating. We had real issues with the light in the mountains and we were losing the sun but still Jim [Mangold] came up to me and said: “Let’s just stay here for a bit. I have got everything I need but this has been 17 years for you. I am going to tell everyone that I am leaving the camera on, that I need just one more angle, but really I just want you to have a half an hour where you haven’t got people yelling and you can enjoy it. Just take your time.” That was a great gift for me.

Q. How did you feel at the end?
Hugh Jackman: I am not really good with goodbyes. Even when I do a show that lasts a year, with 400 performances, people come in for that last show and they are crying even before the curtain goes up. I am like: “Come on, guys, we have got a show to do!” I am not really comfortable with that but I do remember that final day on Logan just looking around at all the people, and seeing the core people who had been there for a long time. Also, it was somewhat of a revelation to me on this film that it was a smaller core group than ever before.

It actually took fewer people who really believed more and fought more. And in that core group are seven or eight people, from studio producers to Jim and Patrick [Stewart]. We were all in sync from the beginning. I am sure there were people on the outside who were thinking we were nuts. But I was looking at our core group. And that really hit me. Seventeen years is a long time. You only go to school for 12 years. And remember how long that seems (laughs)?

Q. What does the character of Logan mean to you?
Hugh Jackman: It [X-Men] was my first film in America. You could make a very good argument that I wouldn’t have had any career at all if it weren’t for these films. I was doing Oklahoma! at the Royal National Theatre when I got cast, so I would like to think that I would be working in some shape or form, but this has been the backbone. It has allowed me to do many, many things. Plus, I have always loved the character. It has been very special to me, especially this film, which is probably even more personal because it was the last one. Logan and I are very, very different people but this character has taught me stuff. It’s been great therapy, getting all my anger issues out over the years. Really. I recommend it to everyone. My wife went to a spa recently and she said there was a Wolverine therapy. She said, ‘It’s not called that but we basically had to run to the top of the mountain and yell and scream.’ It’s some gestalt therapy. I said, ‘Yeah, that’s basically what I do every two years!’

Q. Did you think of John Cleese in Fawlty Towers when you were smashing up that car in Logan?
Hugh Jackman: Yes, I did think that [laughs]. We’d already shot the scene but then Jim Mangold said: “Do one more and think of all the stuff that’s happened, with Charles and this and that, just go for it. Take that spade and hit the crap out of that f—king car.” I’m like: “Did you check with the producers?” And he goes: “No. Okay, let’s roll.” It was so awesome. I highly recommend that. That was great therapy. I actually didn’t think that scene would make the movie. I just thought he was doing that for me but it turned out great.

Q. Were you surprised about how much leeway the studio gave you with pushing the action?
Hugh Jackman: Yeah. Jim and I came up with the idea when we were talking about Shane, The Wrestler, Unforgiven. We weren’t worried about the rating. We had a pretty good feeling that it would end up being R but we wanted to make a movie about the ramifications of violence. We were pretty sure it was going to have to be violent in order to unsettle the audience but we wanted an adult movie.

I went into a meeting with the guys at Fox. I actually asked them to a meeting off the lot because I needed them to know that I was being serious here. I said: “I fully understand if you say no. I get it. This is not my money and it’s your jobs and it is also a brand you guys have built over many, many years but I am only really interested in doing this film.” They immediately said yes even though I fully expected them to say no. I am not saying there weren’t a few fights along the way — over the title and a few things like that — but their courage was immense. People say that it happened because of Deadpool’s success, but we were talking two years before that movie came out. So they should get recognition for their courage. I knew that this was a movie that the character deserved and the fans deserved and that people would love.

Logan

Q. And if they’d said no, you’d have walked away from the character?
Hugh Jackman: Yes. And I told them that. I knew that it was the last one for me but as soon as I had that idea, this surge of excitement came. I felt this adrenalin and there was no way I was going to compromise that because it was something I knew I would live with for the rest of my life. I wanted to make a movie that my grandkids, if they asked me: “Which one shall I watch, granddad?” I would say: “Watch this one. This is the definitive movie.”

Q. Was it hard to show such an aged and tired Logan?
Hugh Jackman: I wanted it. The scars I thought were a really cool idea. I thought it was really important. It’s cool. At the end of the day you look quite crap and then you take off your make up and go: “Oh, actually, I’m not doing too bad!’ [laughs]

Q. How important is family in this film?
Hugh Jackman: Jim Mangold said to me: “This is a character who is terrified of intimacy, so let’s surround him with family.” We had the idea of Patrick losing his mind and having dementia. And we were a year into it before Jim had the idea of Laura [X-23] and three different generations. It’s a perfect narrative structure, really. That’s all Jim Mangold. We all have families and everyone knows that there is nothing more rewarding or more frustrating or annoying or inconvenient as family. You are forced into relationships with people you may never have had a relationship with by choice. They can make you mad like no one else can make you mad but it is also in the end what makes life worth living.

Q. How much does the story reflect the situation in the world today, with the Mexico wall for example?
Hugh Jackman: The X-Men comic book series has always been about tolerance and diversity. And that’s since 1963/1964 when the first comic came out and when it was an allegory for the Civil Rights movement — Malcolm X being Magneto and Martin Luther King being Charles Xavier.

So, it always had aspirations to talk about the world and it has always been relevant. It always will be relevant. But I think there is a good case to say that it’s more relevant now. And yet our film doesn’t propose easy answers and nor does it ask easy questions. I remember from high school the Robert Frost poem [Mending Wall] that says: “Good fences make good neighbours.” This is a question that has been around for ages. Should you just look after your own? Is it better just to wave over the fence or are we to be inclusive? Personally, I am all for inclusion. I find it interesting. A sign of growth or humanity for me is that you genuinely care for more people.

So, I really respect the Nelson Mandelas, the Dalai Lamas because their circle of care is so huge. They care not just for their own country but for the whole world. That seems to me the greatest thing. X-Men has always been political and relevant.

Q. As a father would you let your own kids watch Logan?
Hugh Jackman: I have an almost 17-year-old. That’s fine. My 11-year- old, she was on set. And it’s not about the violence or swearing. To be honest, at 11 they’ve probably heard everything. When we made this movie I really had Unforgiven in my head. And when I went back to watch it, it’s actually not overly violent. It just has adult themes and that’s something that Jim and I talked about. If we were going to be R-rated, we wanted it to be because of the maturity of the storyline and thematic more than just the graphic violence.

Logan

Q. For you, what is an acceptable age for a child to see this movie?
Hugh Jackman: When I grew up my father was like: “If it says 18 you have got to be 18. You can’t be 17 and 300 days.” It was a nightmare. I didn’t see Star Wars! I was the only kid who didn’t see Star Wars because you had to be 12 in Australia at the time. And it came out when I was 11 so I waited a year to watch Star Wars. I was like: “Oh, dad, please!” So, it’s a film-by-film and a kid-by- kid basis. I don’t think you can put a definitive age on these things.

Q. In one of the scenes you fight against a clone. Was that difficult to shoot?
Hugh Jackman: Yes, because I really wanted to establish a different physicality for both characters. I wanted it to be clear to the audience that one was the embodiment of pure rage and destruction. But it was really weird because I actually fought my stunt double, Dan Stevens, who I have worked with for years and that had never happened before. Usually, it’s either him or me on screen. And when we were filming I accidentally clocked him on about the third take, right on the jaw, and I saw that look in his eyes saying: “You do not pay me enough to smack me in the face!” Anyway, four takes later I happened to get smacked in the face [laughs]. But he is an Aussie so I was like: “Fair enough, buddy!” And he said: “I have waited a long time to do that!”

Q. Can you talk about the surgery you had on your nose?
Hugh Jackman: Basal cell carcinoma. This is my sixth now. For anyone who has been to Australia, it is as common as freckles. I grew up not wearing sunscreen, being in the sun and getting burnt. I have English parents so it was a bad cocktail. English skin is not meant to be in Australia without sunscreen. Basal cell is the least dangerous form of skin cancer. No one has ever died from it in the history of the world. It is just something I have to keep an eye on and have check ups.

Q. Are you strict with your kids’ use of social media?
Hugh Jackman: Yes. I am probably in the middle in terms of strictness. We all make mistakes as teenagers and now those mistakes are recorded and I just constantly say there’s no such thing as private. “Live your life as though there is no such thing as private.” Socrates said 2,000 years ago that you should never say privately what you wouldn’t say publicly. So it’s not new advice but it is all the more dangerous now and because of my position it becomes even more elevated. They are on social media but I tell them they can only follow people they know, and only people we know can follow them. Because of me, people maybe look to befriend them. I also tell them that I am going to look at their phone. I do it randomly. They are young. They will make mistakes. But I don’t want them to make mistakes that they are going to live with for years.

Q. How do you feel going from Logan onto The Greatest Showman?
Hugh Jackman: Both movies are very personal to me. It took us seven years to get a green light for The Greatest Showman. I can’t tell you how many workshops and sessions and meetings, rehearsals, recording and studio sessions we had to get that. It’s a really sweet moment for me to be able to do complete opposites. These are opposite characters and require me to use all the different skills I have learnt over many years. It is a movie musical with all original music.

Prior to La La Land, there hadn’t been one for 22 years. Actually, the guys who won the Oscar [for La La Land], Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, wrote the music and were hired on our movie before anyone really knew who they were. That is gratifying. I love La La Land and I love that audiences are opening up to musicals. And people who would never go to a musical are going along. With The Greatest Showman we tell the story as if P.T. Barnum were telling the story of his life! You can argue that his story was the start of the American Dream.

Read our review of Logan

Logan is available on Digital Download on 24th June and on Blu-ray™ and DVD on July 10, 2017, from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Logan - DVD Review

Logan

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

IT’S not often that a film embedded in a franchise is allowed to break from its shackles to offer something genuinely different… which makes Logan, the final outing for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, even more remarkable.

But far from seeking to tie things up in a manner that would please the studio at the expense of the fans, James Mangold’s film opts for the opposite, thereby delivering a love letter to Wolverine’s followers who have stuck with the character through the highs and lows of both X-Men and stand-alone spin-off films.

Logan is a messy, violent, foul-mouthed finale that self-consciously eschews many of its superhero traits in favour of both classic American road movie genre troupes and – most obviously – Westerns. It’s emotionally complex, too, providing plenty of room for its core characters to exist and – most crucially – suffer. And it’s bleak as hell. But in an appropriate way.

Set sometime in the future, when there have been no new Mutants reported, the film picks up as Logan, aka Wolverine (a beat-up, emotionally down Jackman) is carving out a living as a limo driver near the Mexican border and caring for an ailing Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), whose bouts of dementia, if uncontrolled by medicine, gives rise to brain seizures that cause telekinetic earthquakes all around him.

Living with them is a fellow mutant named Caliban (Stephen Merchant), another character attempting to atone for past sins. But their world is shattered by the arrival of Laura (newcomer Dafne Keen), a young girl who appears to have similar abilities to Wolverine (right down to his claws), who is being pursued by shadowy government figures led by the robotically armed Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook).

With the possibility of a new generation of mutants a distinct possibility, Professor Xavier urges Logan to step up and protect Laura. But once they go on the run, the stakes become increasingly stacked against any of their survival.

If Mangold’s film lacks for a certain kind of originality given the way it pays homage to the type of films that inspired it (as well as the Old Man Logan comic book stories), it still deserves a lot of credit for bringing something different and – yes – original to the superhero franchise.

This is downbeat, adult stuff that’s shot through with complex moral conundrums, extreme but relevant violence and fitting character resolutions. As a result, it manages to exhilarate in spite of its melancholy elements, and is even capable of drawing several gasps as the plot takes a couple of unexpected turns.

What’s more, it delivers a finale that’s as punchy – but not over spectacular – as it is poignant.

Credit for this deserves to go to Jackman, who came up with the idea, and Mangold, who directs with raw, gritty panache.

Mangold, for his part, is no stranger to putting his own distinct spin on genre films, having previously excelled with the likes of Copland (in itself a Western throwback that exists within a corrupt cop genre) and 3:10 To Yuma, one of the more worthwhile Western remakes of modern times.

Logan

Here, he imbues Logan with elements of Shane as well as the likes of Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (especially in its use of elegiac violence) and Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven with a touch of the more contemporary likes of the Coen brothers’ No Country For Old Men. His film is all about the ways in which violence shapes lives and screws them up, with Jackman’s central character wearing the ‘sins’ of his past all over his scarred face and broken down body. This is a Wolverine unlike anything we’ve seen before. And it works well, allowing Jackman to revel in the opportunity to properly explore the torment and anger underpinning his character.

And by doing so, it also allows the characters around him to respond with plenty of shading too. Stewart is on particularly great form as Xavier, a similarly pale imitation of his former self, whose own torment and disability hasn’t quite suppressed his capacity for hope. The scenes between Jackman and Stewart are particularly affecting.

Merchant, not known for his dramatic chops, is also unexpectedly appealing as Caliban, with his own story arc well realised, while Keen is a revelation in the pivotal role of Laura, playing things almost feral at times, yet also exhibiting a desperation to be nurtured that’s been buried by her survivor’s instinct.

Holbrook’s central villain, meanwhile, is a suitably cocky foil for Logan and company, who provides a genuinely formidable opponent, complete with his own army of mercenaries.

The film isn’t without criticisms, of course. Some of the violence can be troublesome and will certainly disappoint those youngest Wolverine fans who won’t be able to see it, while as poignant as the climax becomes, the tonal shift is very quick and could have taken a little more time to develop over the course of the film.

But with so much to recommend it, including the suspicion that it could easily transcend genre to appeal to those who have never previously seen an X-Men film, Logan is a hugely successful labour of love that has to represent a tour-de-force for both Mangold and Jackman.

As a parting shot to a much beloved character, it’s a genuinely memorable conclusion that should not be missed.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 141mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: July 10, 2017


Logan - Patrick Stewart DVD interview

Logan

Compiled by Jack Foley

SIR Patrick Stewart is an English actor whose stage, television, and film career has spanned almost six decades. After rising to prominence with a long run with the Royal Shakespeare Company, his first major screen roles were in the likes of Hedda and the I, Claudius mini-series.

Moving into American television and film he came to worldwide attention with roles like Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation and its off-shoot films; as Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men series of superhero movies; the lead in the Starz TV series Blunt Talk, and voice roles such as CIA Deputy Director Avery Bullock in American Dad!.

In 2010, he was knighted for services to drama. In his most recent outing, Logan, from director James Mangold he stars opposite Hugh Jackman once again, turning in a highly memorable performance as Charles Xavier…

Q. Logan is set 12 years from now. If there were another X-Men film set before this film, would you consider playing the role again?
Patrick Stewart: Hugh Jackman has been on record for quite a long time now saying that this movie will be his last appearance as Wolverine. I knew that and I understood why he would make that choice, and I applaud him for it. But I didn’t reflect on that. This has not been like when I was in another franchise [Star Trek], where for seven years I worked for five days a week, ten months a year on the same project. This was intermittent.

We did an X-Men movie every three or four years. I was delighted and quite charmed when I learnt that this one was going to include my character because as I recall at the end of the last movie [X-Men: Days of Future Past] I wasn’t going to make it [laughs]. But here I am now. It was only a few nights ago, when I was watching the film with an audience for the first time, that I saw quite clearly that there is such sensitive appropriateness to the possible ending — not only of the Logan story but also Charles Xavier’s. I realised there would probably never be a better way of saying au revoir to this character. That is where I am now with my thinking.

Q. James Mangold said you were very courageous in embracing Charles Xavier’s dementia. Did you think about that at all?
Patrick Stewart: Not for a moment. I have lived and worked in Hollywood long enough to know that even success can be an albatross. You get stamped with something. I will never forget a very, very fine and well known director whose film I was campaigning to be in saying to me: “Look, you are a really good actor. I like you but why would I want Jean-Luc Picard in my movie?” There might have been moments before Logan when I thought: “If I do this and I really go for it, am I only going to get cast as geriatrics from now on?” I am not quite there yet [laughs]! Will people say: “Oh, no, we can’t have him playing a healthy, fit individual. He is just too weak and frail and old.” But screw it! It was so much fun.

Q. Was it a challenging thing to play?
Patrick Stewart: It wasn’t challenging at all. It is what I do. It is what actors do and when we get an opportunity to look at something that we think is interesting, we grab it. Sometimes even in my profession, life is less than interesting. But this role intrigued me and as it so happened I was already preparing for a stage role that I did with Ian McKellen in which I was playing a man not only with alcoholism but also with brain degeneration as well. I was already doing research into that.

Q. What research were you doing?
Patrick Stewart: I had met and talked with the great, now departed, Oliver Sacks about this. I consulted Oliver several times about roles and he was always wonderfully helpful. Then when I met James Mangold and found that he too really wanted to push into the depths of Charles’s distress and despair and confusion and anger and fury — as well as his unpredictability — I was all for it. And I enjoyed every aspect of it, particularly given that I was going to be sharing almost all of my time with Hugh.

Q. You have known Hugh now for 17 years…
Patrick Stewart: I was one of the X-Men sitting on set the day that this charming, young Australian turned up to audition for the Wolverine role and we all wished him luck. He came back from the audition and said [adopts Aussie accent], ‘Well, you guys are never going to see me again!’ We were already in production because the original actor cast as Wolverine [Dougray Scott] was locked into another film and couldn’t get out of it. So they had to recast and luckily it was Hugh Jackman who got the role. So knowing that I would be spending so much time with Hugh on this film it felt good because I knew that with Hugh I could take risks. I knew he would be taking risks. I knew enough about James Mangold to know that he would be supporting all of that and we really went for it.

Logan

Q. Did Dafne Keen impress you?
Patrick Stewart: When I was introduced to Dafne Keen [who plays X-23] it got even better from that moment on because she is the most extraordinary child. She is like a 12-year-old going on 45 and she brought so much commitment and concentration and passion and such bravery. There are not many children who would take the risks she took and it became a very, very creative time for all of us. Also, we had lots of laughs and a lot of fun surviving the challenging conditions in Louisiana.

Q. Did you know Dafne’s father, the actor Will Keen?
Patrick Stewart: I hadn’t realised that I knew him until he came on the set and then I realised I had seen him only a year earlier in a West End production that came to Brooklyn (which is where I partly live). Will Keen is a wonderful actor who gave a terrific performance in this Ibsen play that I saw. And her mother was there on set too. She is a distinguished Madrid actress. Dafne’s completely bilingual. She speaks English beautifully and as you see in the film, of course, she has Spanish at her fingertips. We had so much fun. We were stuck in a shitty truck for weeks and weeks in the 100-degree temperatures with 95 per cent humidity. And the air conditioning in the vehicle was pretty much useless. It only reached the front seats and I was in the back! But we played games, we did puzzles, we did quizzes, we sang songs. That was one of the great things for the three of us. I could see the crew looking in sometimes and thinking, ‘What the hell are those three doing in there?’ It was a marvellous experience.

Q. Were you impressed with the freedom that her parents allowed her in playing the role? Some parents might not want their child killing people on screen…
Patrick Stewart: Understandably, given what she has to do and given what she has to witness. So yes, but they are two very committed professionals themselves, dedicated to the work that they do. In Dafne’s story at first she just seems to be a kid playing with a bouncy ball. Then we discover that she is so much more, that she has been manufactured. She is a killing machine.

But during the course of the story she spends time with Charles and with Logan and we see her being affected by their company. Who would have thought that perhaps the most important scene in a comic book franchise film would be a very ordinary, domestic, dinner party scene, where six people sit around the table and talk? But it is vital and that scene has a very powerful impact on X-23, and on Charles too. Later on in the bedroom I said that was one of the best evenings of my life. So the role that Dafne plays goes from being a monster into a human being and when tears are coursing down her cheeks towards the end of the movie, we see that she has changed — that despite the fact that she has been constructed, there is enough power in kindness, affection, love, society and family life to change her. So I think that is enough justification for what happens to her.

Q. How important has this diversity been for you as an actor, doing Shakespeare and then these great sci-fi franchises?
Patrick Stewart: Diversity, from the very beginning, has been at the centre of the work that I do. Four weeks after graduating from drama school I didn’t have any work. Everybody seemed in my year to have an agent or a job but I had got nothing. I signed on at the labour exchange in Dewsbury in the West Riding of Yorkshire and said: “My career is over and it hasn’t even started yet.” Then I got an offer from a repertory company to join them in the Theatre Royal in Lincoln. It was weekly; rep was still weekly in those days. So every Monday morning we did a new play, a complete new production. And I loved it. I didn’t have much to do. I played small roles but I loved the constant transformations into something new. So I am always looking for a different sort of challenge. That is one of the things I loved about Logan, taking a character that was so familiar to me — a part of me in many ways — and turning it upside down.

Q. Logan is set in 2029, which is not that far away. What do you think about when you consider the future?
Patrick Stewart: There is a not a day goes by where I don’t think of my mortality. I am 76-years-old. I am married to a much younger woman and I cannot see her without reflecting on the differences in our ages and expectations and so forth. And this has been a horrible three or four years for my profession. My generation has been decimated. So many actors have gone. But one of the great things about being an actor, maybe the best thing, is that if you are working nothing is wasted. I recently had eight injections in my hands, four into each knuckle. After the third one I thought: “I can’t do any more. This is too unpleasant.” And then you remind yourself: “Come on, Patrick, this is all good experience.” Nothing is ever is wasted. You store it away and one day you might need it. I might need to pretend to experience some pain. Now I know what the hell it feels like. It is an interesting life.

Read our review of Logan

Logan is available on Digital Download on June 24 and on Blu-ray™ and DVD on July 10, 2017, from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Logan - James Mangold DVD interview

Logan

Compiled by Jack Foley

JAMES Mangold is an American film and television director, screenwriter and producer. His films include Walk the Line; The Wolverine; Cop Land; Girl, Interrupted; Knight and Day and the 2007 remake 3:10 to Yuma.

He also produced and directed pilots for the television series Men in Trees (2006-2008), NYC 22 (2011-2012) and Vegas (2012-2013). In Logan he reunites with Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart to tell a story of Wolverine, the tough but reluctant member of the X-Men…

Q. Was it difficult getting the studio to agree to an R-rated superhero movie?
James Mangold: It would be sexier to tell you that it was a battle but I think studios are aware that something’s got to change, and there is interest in experimentation. You can spend a quarter of a billion dollars on a movie and find that audiences aren’t always as big as they were five or ten years ago. Also, there was the fact that both Hugh and I were pretty solid on the fact that we didn’t want to do it if it wasn’t different. It was really that simple. So the studio was faced with a choice of making the movie as R-rated and along the lines we wanted, thematically, or they could make a movie with other people. Obviously, that was more persuasive coming from Hugh than me [laughs]. Nonetheless, our own sense of partnership was strong with them. And I didn’t find a lot of people saying: “We just want to make a film that’s like the last couple.” There was a desire to see something done differently.

Q. How did you feel after you had shot the last scene on this movie knowing that it was the end for these characters?
James Mangold: It was very moving and we all felt the reality of what had happened. Though for me as director I’m shooting in the middle of the woods on the Colorado-New Mexico border. Daylight is diminishing and I am shooting very significant scenes. I am on my last day of production. As the sun sets I know that this is all I’ve got to catch the end the film. So my mind is not on sentimental things. I experienced the emotions your’re referring to in Berlin when the three of us, Patrick, Hugh and I were sitting side by side in a theatre and we kept grabbing each other’s hands. We felt very proud and I think those two felt more of a finality of their own journeys in these roles in that moment in the theatre than they might have felt scrambling for shots knee-deep in blood and dried leaves on location!

Q. What were the most violent scenes like to shoot?
James Mangold: They were a bit less intense than how they appear in the movie. It is a little bit more of what it is like to shoot a dance number, however out of control they feel. We do have laughs along the way. We didn’t exist in a 74-day Bergman film (laughs). We are a family and part of the way you sustain your energy making a movie, even if it is dark, is by having some laughs and enjoying each other.

Q. What made you choose Dafne Keen for the role of X-23?
James Mangold: There have been three times in my life, including with Dafne, where you just get a glimpse of this person you know is right for the role. I could not put a finger on why other than it is what I wrote. My writing partners and I had written a demanding role for Hugh Jackman and a demanding role for Patrick Stewart. There was no one else in the world who could do those roles but there is also a tremendous confidence in each of those actors, their desire and the ability to do what we’d written. I have to say that they both exceeded my expectations, particularly in Patrick’s case. I think for a man who is such a stout, elderly gentleman, it showed great courage to let it go. There are a lot of actors who spend a great amount of time in their later years trying to convince people that they are not old! And a role like this might be a threat to them. So Patrick was really brave. I think he knew what the movie needed and he went there.

Q. Aside from Dafne, what were the other two times you knew you were watching the right person for a role?
James Mangold: One was Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted. She came in to read with me in a room in Culver City. When actresses do readings for movie auditions there are just a couple of scenes but Angie had gotten the whole script from her agent and she read the two requisite scenes she was supposed to read and then she looked up and said, ‘Want to keep going?’ And she read every scene her character had in the script right up to the end. It just blew me away to read with Angie. And, similarly, when Ben Foster came in and read for 3:10 to Yuma. His take on the character, his connection, it was amazing.

Q. And that’s what you felt with Dafne?
James Mangold: I saw the tape of Dafne, which was sent from Madrid, a little iPhone film that her dad who is a British actor [Will Keen] had made with her. First of all, she was charming, she was climbing around their home on bookshelves and leaping to the ground and doing somersaults and jumping about. But what really struck me most was the grounded nature with which she was speaking the words and doing the scenes. I immediately felt a tremendous relief because it was the greatest question mark — who was going to come in and do what was required of that character at just 11 years old? The other immediate anxiety I had upon seeing her was how was I going to convince the studio to hire this girl and not look at anyone else or even consider anyone else and just get it locked down. That immediately became my entire focus.

Q. What sort of conversations did you have with her parents about what you would put her through in terms of action and violence?
James Mangold: We spoke in great detail. They are very good parents. I am a parent as well. I think the fact that I am a dad of similar-aged kids may have been some relief to them. But the dominant thing I said and tried to maintain — and Hugh and Patrick were very helpful with this — was that there was a feeling of family as we made the movie. The mood and tone of the film isn’t what it was like shooting the film. I think from a child’s point of view making a film like this is like a never-ending Halloween celebration. It is hanging out with a lot of friendly people you know, who love you wearing odd make up, and there’s a guy with a blood bucket and sponge. And it’s all kind of funny and hilarious and not nearly as sombre an affair as it is on screen!

Logan

Q. Do you think the success of Deadpool helped convince the studio to make Logan R-rated?
James Mangold: The short answer would be yes. The longer answer is that we had written Logan and told them we were making ours before Deadpool came out. But I do think that they knew what they had in the can with Deadpool. And I think they had a tremendous sense that there was a lot of interest. And even executives have to trust their own eyes and ears sometimes and I think they had seen Deadpool and knew it was a lot more fun. We were not promising the same sense of fun. This is a whole other thing.

Q. Do you think Logan’s success might spark more adult superhero movies?
James Mangold: I don’t have aspirations to have that kind of effect on people. Where Deadpool did help is that other people make movies in their own voices, whatever that means. When I look at Logan I try to look at it objectively, and I am proud of it. The reason I was hesitant to make another superhero film was that I really wanted to make a personal film after The Wolverine, a smaller film. I needed to use the same voice I used making Girl, Interrupted or Walk the Line or Cop Land or Heavy. I needed to construct something that felt like a reflection of what I was feeling about myself, the world, these characters, and that was most important to me. I would love it if other directors and writers were given the opportunity to do that, even with fantastical characters, because it can be done. Fans are sometimes at a contradictory place. They want the movies to be able to be cut almost together like a seamless miniseries. That doesn’t promote being creative. That actually promotes making the world’s most expensive television show!

Q. Was it hard to mix the superhero genre with a Western?
James Mangold: No. No, it wasn’t. It is a very natural fit. I don’t think superhero films are a genre. I think they are just movies; there are many kinds of superhero films. There are as many kinds of comic books as there are novels. There are war comic books, noir comic books, romantic comic books, intellectual comic books. Comic books as a genre is a non descriptor and it is kind of a pejorative because it’s a way of saying stupid or childish. I reject it because there is no genre called childish. Or it is a way of saying movies that are built to sell other movies and Happy Meals and action figures, which is still not a movie, not a genre; it is just a sort of corporate enterprise. I think that you can learn as much following a Lee Marvin movie or a Peckinpah film or a George Stevens movie or a Clint Eastwood film. The only aspect that is different is these characters [superheroes] have some kind of talent — but that is usually true of a Dirty Harry or a Popeye Doyle. They usually have some magical thing that makes then more successful at nailing the bad guy or the adversary than all the other cops or cowboys. So superhero films and Westerns are not really that disparate.

Q. When did the reference to Shane, by George Stevens, come into your mind?
James Mangold: Right after I made the last Wolverine film. I have always loved Shane. I watched it with my dad when I was a child on television and there was a restored version of Shane presented at the Academy in Beverley Hills, a beautiful new print of the film, and George Stevens’ family asked me to deliver some opening remarks and introduce this restored copy. And probably the act of doing that reawakened things for me and had a huge psychological effect.

Q. Have you thought about working on anything specific with Hugh in the future?
James Mangold: We haven’t gotten anything specific in mind but it would be a huge and calamitous failure of friendship and artistic endeavour if we don’t work together again!

Q. How much of a kick did you get out of the humour you put into Charles’s dialogue in Logan?
James Mangold: We just had fun with these characters. I loved that. I think the humour is a lot less bawdy, or large. It is more about a smile in the brain than a laugh out loud, but you definitely need it. You need rest between action and you need moments of levity. For me, the goal was not doing jokes or smart repartee. When I first pitched the film to Fox, I said I wanted to make a very bloody version of Little Miss Sunshine. The humour I wanted was more ‘slice of life’.

There aren’t many X-Men films where you hear Charles tell Wolverine that he has to pee, or where they are stopping at a convenience store to get a phone charger. That mundaneness of life is something I have never seen in these types of film. What happens if life as a superhero isn’t about existing in a billion dollar cave with millions of dollars of computer equipment and a copyrighted vehicle and a jet plane on a landing strip? What if things are a little more humble in reality?

Q. Was it difficult to kill these two main characters?
James Mangold: I have to say that it was difficult. But it was the story. What we were doing was telling a story and in Logan’s case the story is about a character. It is not that dissimilar to Christian Bale dying in 3:10 to Yuma. Both characters have lost good reasons for living. In fact, even the audience might be hoping that Logan gets a rest.

The burden of the violence that has come before, the burden of Logan’s disappointment with mankind, the disappointment that he can never have intimacy in his life without some curse obliterating whatever he has affection for, the fact that he has lived a lifetime which is three or four times longer than you and I have lived — these are all good reasons to be looking for an out. But it wasn’t easy. I wasn’t flippant about it. I love all my characters in all of my movies and if any of them die I want the audience to feel the loss like I do. I love Logan. I think he is an incredibly powerful extension of male frustrations, in the sense of both power and weakness. I love that he doesn’t like being a superhero. It’s a burden. The celebrity of it is abhorrent to him and it makes him different from other characters that might be more eager to brand themselves with costumes and cars and to make sure that everyone knows what they did.

Read our review of Logan

Logan is available on Digital Download on 24th June and on Blu-ray™ and DVD on July 10, 2017, from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Kung Fu Yoga - Preview and competition

Kung Fu Yoga

Preview by Jack Foley

To celebrate the release of Kung Fu Yoga – on digital July 31 and Blu-ray and DVD from August 7, 2017 – we are giving away a Blu-ray courtesy of Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment (Well Go USA).

The unstoppable film legend Jackie Chan hunts for treasure in this flat-out fun, all-action, globe-trotting comedy caper from director Stanley Tong.

World-renowned archaeology professor Jack and his team are on a grand quest to locate a lost ancient Indian treasure, when they are ambushed by a team of mercenaries and left for dead.

Using his vast knowledge of history and kung fu, Jack leads his team on a race around the world to beat the mercenaries to the treasure, and to save an ancient culture.

Pre-order today

Win Kung Fu Yoga on Blu-ray

To celebrate the release of Kung Fu Ypga on Blu-ray and DVD on July August 7, 2017, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 copy on Blu-ray. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs Kung Fu Yoga?

Simply send the answer to Kung Fu Yoga competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email