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Saturday, 30 July 2016
Ten films to watch in august
Training Day writer David Ayer directs this feature based on the DC Comics anti-heroes, following a secret government agency that recruits imprisoned supervillains to carry out black ops missions. An all-star cast play the rogues gallery of inmates, with Will Smith as the assassin Deadshot, Jared Leto as The Joker and Margot Robbie as his clown-faced partner Harley Quinn. Taking its cue from Deadpool, Suicide Squad marks a change of pace from the usual comic book blockbuster, as Ayer told The New York Times. “Instead of this Soviet-style series of apartment-block movies that are all built to the same blueprints, there’s room for some Craftsman homes and a little more elegance.” After a critical panning for the most recent DC blockbuster, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Ayer is hoping for an adaptation in the spirit of The Magnificent Seven or The Dirty Dozen. “It’s a little morally challenged, but we know we can get away with it.” On general release from 3 August. (Credit: DC Comics)
Southside with You
As Obama nostalgia already sets in, this take on the soon-to-be-former president’s first date with Michelle will warm the cockles of anyone fearing what might lie ahead. Writer-director Richard Tanner’s debut feature has drawn praise for its casting, with Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers going “beyond impression to deliver something real and human-sized” as the First Couple back in 1989.According to Variety, the film “stands as something unique, even audacious in American independent movies: a fact-based presidential ‘prequel’ that seeks to present two iconic world figures as convincing and relatable romantic leads… Whether taken as storytelling, propaganda or an artful hybrid of both, it’s a movie that unabashedly wraps its real-life subjects in a humanising embrace.” Released 26 August in the US and 31 August in France. (Credit: Miramax)
Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar’s twentieth film is a more muted affair than melodramas like Talk to Her or Volver: according to Time Out, “the emotions are more buttoned-up, the twists more maudlin”. Nevertheless, it’s “a sombre, ravishing study of grief, guilt and burden… only a master of his art could make it look so easy”. Based on three short stories by Alice Munro, it follows a mother and daughter as they struggle to cope with the death of a loved one. Almodóvar has said that “maternity inspires me more than paternity,” and The Evening Standard praises Julieta as “a harrowing examination of broken maternity and ever-present mortality”. Released 4 August in Germany and Russia and 12 August in Finland. (Credit: Canal+ France)
Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan co-star in this drama based on a true story, playing two soldiers from the Czechoslovakian army-in-exile sent on a mission to assassinate SS officer Reinhard Heydrich. Parachuted into their occupied homeland in December 1941, they seek to eliminate the man behind the Final Solution, the Reich’s third in command behind Hitler and Himmler. The UK-French-Czech historical thriller is directed by Sean Ellis, nominated for an Academy Award for his short film Cashback; according to Variety, “if Ellis’ intention was to remind what these real soldiers actually accomplished, as opposed to selling some revisionist Hollywood fantasy of Nazi opposition… mission accomplished”. Released 12 August in the US and 9 September in Ireland. (Credit: Lucky Man Films)
Kubo and the Two Strings
The latest feature from acclaimed stop-motion animation studio Laika (Coraline, The Boxtrolls) is set in ancient Japan, and appears to channel Studio Ghibli in its mixture of folklore and magic. A spirit from the past causes havoc for a young boy called Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of Game of Thrones), who fights off gods and monsters to find a suit of armour once owned by his father, a legendary Samurai warrior. Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes and Rooney Mara provide voices for the epic action-adventure – characters include an 18-foot tall stop-motion puppet believed to be the largest ever of its kind. Released 18 August in Australia and Colombia and 19 August in the US. (Credit: Laika Entertainment)
Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass reunite for the first time in nearly a decade: and, according to BBC Culture’s Nicholas Barber, still have viewers on the edge of their seats: “Greengrass stages the action with bone-jarring immediacy, using wobbly handheld cameras and rat-a-tat editing to make the viewer feel as if they could be hit by a stray fist or bullet at any moment.” The fifth installment of the spy-thriller weaves in an Edward Snowdon-esque storyline a year after Bond, but avoids looking jaded by virtue of its star. Time magazine praises Damon for lifting Bourne beyond generic action, claiming that “Watching Damon, in motion or in a rare moment of rest, is the movie’s purest pleasure… Damon, his eternal boyishness finally settling into the inevitability of middle age, brings the personal touch this movie needs. Its action is generic, but he’s always special.” Released 4 August in Argentina, 5 August in India and 11 August in Germany. (Credit: Universal Pictures)
Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World
The latest film from German director Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man, Into the Abyss) premiered at Sundance to near universal praise, with The Hollywood Reporter calling the documentary “a quizzical, spry, modestly illuminating consideration of where human beings currently stand vis-a-vis the invention that is changing the world in as-yet unimaginable ways”. Herzog – who weaves fiction with reality until the two are indistinguishable – muses on an AI-dominated future and our relationship with machines. “This is an extraordinary moment in the life of human beings,” Herzog says in the film. “The beginning of connectivity we have not dreamed of a few years ago.” [According to Variety], this “alternately playful and unsettling 10-part essay on how the Internet continues to evolve… represents the latest of Herzog’s heady explorations of what it means to be human (and even post-human)”. Released 19 August in the US. (Credit: Saville Productions)
While Disney has used CGI to reinvent its classics – such as The Jungle Book or Cinderella – with this remake of a 1977 Disney musical, director David Lowery “has crafted something that feels like it comes from the heart”. The indie film-maker – who had a breakthrough hit at Sundance in 2013 with Ain’t Them Bodies Saints – has woven a rich character drama around a CG dragon and his friend Pete, with Variety claiming that “the film’s true appeal lies in its texture and the timeless human moments at its core”. Indiewire praises Oakes Fegley’s “terrifically muted performance” as Pete, as well as “the gentle rhythms of the script” that Lowery co-wrote with Toby Halbrooks – calling Pete’s Dragon “warm, wistful, and wholly wonderful”. On general release from 11 August. (Credit: 2016 Disney Enterprises Inc)
Italian film-maker Nanni Moretti won the Palme d’Or in 2001 for his moving portrait of a grieving family, The Son’s Room. His latest feature, although a comedy-drama, is imbued with a sense of grief as a harried director (played by Margherita Buy) attempts to hold her life together. Juggling the demands of her movie – John Turturro plays its star, a bombastic American actor – with a dying mother and a teenage daughter who’s increasingly distant, the character is portrayed by Buy with “nervous reactions and large, distress-filled eyes”. Variety praises her for delivering “a moving performance as a woman heading toward emotional collapse”, while “good, strong, understated filmmaking is enlivened by Moretti’s characteristic wry blend of drama and humour”, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Released 6 August in Argentina, 20 August in South Korea and 29 August in Chile. (Credit: Le Pacte)
After journalist David Farrier stumbles on a video of “competitive endurance tickling”, in which young men are paid to be tied up and tickled, his attempts to pursue the story are met with threats and abuse. Undeterred, his following investigation makes for what The Washington Post called “a crafty, unsettling bait-and-switch of a movie” which “sends viewers down a disquieting rabbit hole, into corners of the Internet, economic desperation and the human psyche that grow darker with every turn and twist”. Beyond the bizarre, this is a documentary that is really “about power, shame, and the law”. Released 18 August in Australia, 19 August in the UK and 7 September in Sweden. (Credit: A Ticklish Tale Ltd)