Review: ‘Escape From Pretoria’ is a story of courage and engineering at its best.

Based on the real-life prison break of two political captives, ESCAPE FROM PRETORIA is a race-against-time thriller set in the tumultuous apartheid days of South Africa.

The film is based on Tim Jenkin’s autobiography Inside Out: Escape from Pretoria Prison. With the engineering of escape solutions being created and tested in what feels like real-time, the anticipation pulls you in. Your heart races at the idea of them getting caught. The failures and close calls will leave you just as shattered as our protagonists. This story is absolutely thrilling.

Performances from Daniel Radcliffe, Daniel Webber, and Mark Leonard Winter are riveting. Each a fully fleshed out portrayal of three men who did the impossible. From the accents to the sets, to the period costumes, Escape From Pretoria is triumphant storytelling. This film’s release is aptly timed for those who are part of the resistance and for being on the right side of history.

Momentum Pictures will release the thriller ESCAPE FROM PRETORIA in select TheatersODemand and Digital on March 6, 2020.

ESCAPE FROM PRETORIA is directed by Francis Annan (End of a Gun, House of the Rising Sun) from a script by Annan and LH AdamsThe film features an all-star cast which includesDaniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter franchise, Swiss Army Man),Daniel Webber (The Dirt, “The Punisher”), Ian Hart (Backbeat, The Last Kingdom)Mark Leonard Winter (The Dressmaker, “Cop Hard”) and Nathan Page (“Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”).  

Review: Based on the children’s novel, ‘Waiting For Anya’ comes to theaters tomorrow.

Adapted from the novel by the author of War Horse, Waiting for Anya follows Jo Lalande (Noah Schnapp), a thirteen-year-old shepherd boy, and reclusive widow Horcada (Anjelica Huston), who come together with their village to help smuggle Jewish children into Spain during the harrows of WWII.

This powerhouse cast gives earnest performances. That being said, some things are amiss with Waiting For Anya. Something about the cinematography combined with this particular score gives the film a made for TV feel about it. It’s all in the details. The costumes, while beautiful, are a bit too clean for the time period and terrain.

The plot does delve into the nuances of humanity. I mean it is about Nazis after all. Noah Schnapp, whose breakout performance in Stranger Things is nothing less than award-worthy, feels off here. Knowing what he is capable of, I have to think this has something to do with direction choices. Same with the iconic Anjelica Huston. It’s as if I were watching a film on UP, where the actors are being told to mug for the camera intentionally. Waiting For Anya‘s running time of 1 hour and 50 minutes also does not help. Understanding that this film is based on a children’s novel of the same name (by Michael Morpurgo) does make the choices feel more appropriate. Although the tragic but completely telegraphed (and seemingly plucked right out of M. Night Shyamalan‘s The Village) death of an ancillary character near the end was incredibly difficult.  In truth, it is straight from the book itself. As a special needs mom, it hit a little too close to home, so take that opinion with a grain of salt.

The trailer looks absolutely gorgeous but the quality in the actual feature is inconsistent. Wide sweeping shots that are simply gorgeous are the undercut with a few poorly placed greenscreen shots. It has all the makings of a sweeping historical drama but lands in a holocaust family drama, if that’s even a thing. After all that nitpicking, I would still recommend this film as a mother. Certainly as a history lesson for my children when they reach middle school age. Until then, I believe I’ll start with the novel.

Vertical Entertainment will release WAITING FOR ANYA in theaters, on demand and digital February 7, 2020.

WAITING FOR ANYA stars Noah Schnapp (“Stranger Things”, The Peanuts Movie), Academy Award winner Anjelica Huston (The Witches, The Addams Family), Jean Reno (Leon: The Professional, The Big Blue). The film was written and directed by Ben Cookson (Almost Married).

Tribeca Film Festival Reviews: ‘Cargo’ & ‘The Night Eats The World’ breathe new life into the zombie genre.

Cargo

Director: Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke

Writer: Yolanda Ramke

Producers: Samantha Jennings, Kristina Ceyton, Russell Ackerman, John Schoenfelder, Mark Patterson

Cast: Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, Susie Porter

Stranded in rural Australia in the aftermath of a violent pandemic, an infected father desperately seeks a new home for his infant child, and a means to protect her from his own changing nature.

 

Cargo, starring Martin Freeman will undoubtedly rip your heart out if you are a parent. It’s a race against time form the very first scene. It contains an intriguing bit of cannon with respect to this particular zombie outbreak. I’m always curious how this will be addressed in the genre and in Cargo, it’s very different from what we’re used to seeing. This film has a wonderful pace. It is dark with a constant feeling of dread looming. Freeman plays a believably loving and caring father of his infant daughter. The action and terror are unrelenting. In the genre what more can you really ask for? The film will be coming to Netflix next Friday, May 18th!


The Night Eats The World

Directed by

Dominique Rocher

Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)

Pit Agarmen (novel)
Jérémie Guez (screenplay) (adaptation) (dialogue)
Guillaume Lemans (screenplay) (adaptation) (dialogue)
Dominique Rocher (screenplay) (adaptation) (dialogue)

The morning after a party, a young man wakes up to find Paris invaded by zombies.

The Night Eats The World is all about isolation. Sam is alone in his ex’s apartment, walls splattered with blood, and the other floors are not much better. Realizing the outside is even less safe, he begins to use his wits by gathering what he can find, little by little, staying organized but perhaps not sane. Actor Anders Danielsen Lie is in every single scene of the film. His performance is so engrossing that I almost missed his complete physical transformation along the way. He must remain as calm as possible, which is pretty difficult considering the circumstances. An interesting element to his character is that he is a musician. This becomes both an advantage and a misstep in the plot. We’ve all watched The Walking Dead for years now but off the top of my head, I’m not sure I would be as methodic in my solitary survival as Sam. While we don’t get any information about the outbreak specifically, it never stopped me from enjoying the film, rooting for Sam to stay alive. Sometimes you don’t need it all spelled out for you, sometimes great storytelling is more than enough. 

Liz’s Review: ‘SET FIRE TO THE STARS’ ignites the screen

Set Fire To The Stars_Poster

It’s rare these days to see something so clever, elegant, and passionate all at once. SET FIRE TO THE STARS is the story of New York academic John Malcolm Brinnin and famous poet Dylan Thomas’ brief but impactful relationship. Brinnin takes it upon himself to bring Thomas to America for a series of 25 poetry readings across the country. Ignoring the rumors that Dylan is erratic in personality and behavior, Brinnin risks his career to bring his idol to the US. Brinnin makes the fated decision to extract him from the city for a few days in order to detox mind and body, and Thomas brings a whirlwind of spirit, tenacity, and his haunted past right to John’s doorstep.  When idolatry blinds common sense, is disappointment inevitable?

Celyn Jones in SET FIRE TO THE STARS

Celyn Jones in SET FIRE TO THE STARS

Celyn Jones, who co-wrote the screenplay with director Andy Goddard, gives an impeccable performance as Thomas. Never missing a beat, every breath and moment of silence is accounted for with an endless saturation of greatness. Celyn has had a  consistently successful television career over the years and is rumored to have been cast in the upcoming production of Mary Shelley’s Monster alongside our very own Sansa Stark, Sophie Turner. I truly hope this turns out to be true. I want to see so much more  of Celyn on screen, any size will do for my liking. He and Elijah Wood have completely believable chemistry together. Two men from different worlds, who I believe envy one another for very different reasons. Known for his long eclectic career for films like The Lord of the Rings to more recent indie gem Grand Piano, Wood has picked another winning script and delivers. His performance is pensive and thought-provoking.  Brinnin goes through quite the journey during the course of this particular snapshot in time. Set Fire To The Stars is based upon Brinnin’s novel titled Dylan Thomas in America. To be more specific, only 7 pages of  his novel make up the entire basis of the script, and what a glorious 7 pages chosen by Jones and Goddard.

Elijah Wood in SET FIRE TO THE STARS

Elijah Wood in SET FIRE TO THE STARS

The film is shot in black & white giving it a timeless quality. With a luscious beatnik jazz inspired soundtrack, Andy Goddard‘s directorial debut sings off the screen. Glorious lighting and splendid camera work take the slight exhale of a cigarette and create an ethereal piece of art. Long, heavy dialogue takes are beyond engrossing, they are poetry in their own right. Proof that Jones and Goddard teaming up was pure genius. Combined with the deliciously affected speech of the literary elite and era, Jones and Woods give us performances that might otherwise sound droll had it not been for the clear understanding and passion behind the text. This film is like like perfect ice cream sundae, with everything on top. If you are already a poetry fan, well, you might as well consider yourself down for the count. You will absolutely fall for this movie. I, for one, will be adding this to my DVD collection as soon as it becomes available, which thankfully, is very soon.

Elijah Wood in SET FIRE TO THE STARS

Elijah Wood in SET FIRE TO THE STARS

I was lucky enough to be a part of an intimate roundtable interview with Celyn and Elijah just yesterday. How method is Celyn when it comes to role preparation? Will Elijah be starring in a mistaken identity flick with Daniel Radcliffe? Find out all the juicy details in this extraordinarily fun interview in our newest episode of the Girls On Film podcast. Enjoy!

Celyi Jones and Elijah Wood. Roundtable interview for Set Fire  To The Stars. Photo by Liz Whittemore

Celyn Jones and Elijah Wood. Roundtable interview for Set Fire To The Stars. Photo by Liz Whittemore

OPENS FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 2015 in New York at The Village East, with a Los Angeles and major city roll out, June 19th!

SET FIRE TO THE STARS will be released nationwide on July 21 on DVD, VOD, Digital platforms and Itunes.

Country of Origin: United Kingdom

Format: DCP/2.35/B&W

Sound Format: Dolby Digital

Running Time: 93 minutes

Genre: Drama

Rating: Not Rated

In English

 

Based on true events, Elijah Wood stars as John Malcolm Brinnin, the New York academic who brought Dylan Thomas to America. Actor/co-writer Celyn Jones plays the volatile celebrity poet – tormented by anonymity, alcohol and the abyss – who scandalized the Manhattan literati of the Fifties and challenged Brinnin’s hero worship of his work. In the face of the Welsh poet’s wilder excesses in the Big Apple – angel, beast and madman – John has no choice but to hijack Dylan to a private retreat to get him ready for America. The days and nights that follow will change his life forever. Part literary biopic and – shot in cut-glass black-and-white – part love-letter to the American B-movies of the Forties and Fifties, Andy Goddard’s debut feature is both a character driven chamber piece and a cautionary tale about the flytrap of meeting your heroes.

Liz’s Review: ‘Wetlands’… Gross and Glorious!

Wetlands_KeyArt_

I knew going into this film that the trailer alone was NSFW. I was in for a complete surprise when Wetlands as a whole blew the trailer way out of the water. Never have I ever experienced a movie so utterly disgusting and amazing at all once. Read More →