Murder On The Orient Express Trailer

20th Century Fox are thankfully one of the few major studios still wanting to make mid budget films that cater to an audience that don’t want to see yet another superhero film for the umpteenth time. The release and success of Hidden Figures proves that mid budget films can find an audience and more importantly make a profit. Later this year comes the remake of the classic Agatha Christie story Murder On The Orient Express.

While it’s a story that is well known to the audience this is aimed at, Kenneth Branagh’s take on the classic story looks like one of the better adaptations to come out of Hollywood and one of the more spectacular moustaches seen on film in a long time. I remain cautiously optimistic.

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The Gift

If there is one genre I enjoy watching more than most, it’s a good thriller. Sadly good thrillers are a dime a dozen today as the genre tends to be littered with films that are either, very formulaic or just plain stupid and preposterous by the time the end credits roll around.

The Gift is written, directed and co-stars Australian actor Joel Edgerton who also plays Gordo one of the central characters to the story. It’s tough to really talk much about the events of the film without the risk of walking into spoiler town. Suffice it to say, Gordo is a quiet, awkward kind of guy who runs into Simon and Robyn, played by Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall, at a local department store. Initially Simon is appears unaware of who Gordo is, but soon it becomes obvious to the viewer that Gordo used to go to school with Simon. Simon and Gordo strike up an awkward conversion and Simon mentions that he and his wife have recently moved back to Simon’s home town for his new job at a security company. The meet is both quiet and unassuming as the young couple carries on their day as normal.

As the days go by, things begin to get a little more uncomfortable for Simon and Robyn and creepier for the audience as Gordo begins leaving little house warming gifts for young couple at their house and shows up at random times unannounced which begins a sequence of events which are both unsettling and indeed surprising by the time the end credits roll around.

Joel Edgerton has crafted an interesting thriller here which takes your typical stalker film conventions and runs with them to places that some people may guess and some people are not. Casting here works very well for the film and Jason Bateman plays his role of Simon perfectly which really brings the film up to another level, I think that if anyone else had played this role, the film would have been worse off for it. Edgerton handles the dual role of actor and director surprisingly well, his portrayal of Gordo is both understated and haunting, Rebecca Hall on the other hand disappoints, but it is not enough to spoil the enjoyment of the film.

In this world of big budget film making with minimal plot and maximum explosions, The Gift is indeed a gift to audiences who enjoy smart film making. While The Gift probably won’t retain the same legacy in twenty years as other films in the genre like Se7en, Taxi Driver or Silence Of The Lambs for example. The Gift is still a solidly constructed film which is definitely worth your time. If you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll get a kick out of it.

3.5 / 5

Miracle Mile Bluray

Its early 1990 and the Cold War is slowly winding down, but this 12 year old was still living under the threat of nuclear war that had been a constant threat for many years. My love of films is already well established thanks to a very cool mum who would let me watch any -film – within reason – so long as she got to watch the more adult oriented films with me and if I had any questions about things I didn’t grasp, I would have to discuss it with her.

Mum always believed in letting me see what the real world was like, rather than sheltering me from it, I still appreciate that. Every Friday I would go on a trip to the local video store to get the usual 5 weekly movies for $10 deal and every weekend I would spend that weekend watching that weeks selections.

One film that completely stuck with me during this time was the Steve De Jarnatt film Miracle Mile. What started out as your usual action/thriller story, quickly evolved into one of the first films I had seen that didn’t have the usual Hollywood ending that I had seen so many times before. It blew me away!

What starts out as a budding romance film, quickly evolves into a tense thriller about a potential nuclear attack from Russia after our main character receives a telephone booth phone call from an incorrectly dialled number telling him that the missiles have launched.

A few years earlier I had seen – and loved – John Badham’s War Games, but Miracle Mile wasn’t made for teenagers like Badham’s film. Miracle Mile was a gripping film for a 12 year old about the gradual descent into madness that occurs when civility begins to crumble when nuclear attack is imminent.

What follows is a tense and gripping 90 minutes that still sticks with me, 26 years later. The last time I saw this film was in the late 1990’s on an old beaten up VHS rental as it was always very difficult to purchase this film for home consumption in Australia.

Thankfully, 25 years after release, I have finally been able to acquire a bluray edition of Miracle Mile thanks to a recent release of the film by Kino Lorber. Even though it’s been 16 years since I’ve last seen the film, it still holds up with as much impact as it did when I first saw it 26 years ago.

I’m glad that Kino Lorber have gone to the trouble of creating a new transfer for this release as this is also the first time I’ve seen the film in it’s original aspect ratio – seeing as the previous VHS releases were panned and scanned – and the results are pleasing for a smaller distributor considering they don’t have the budget of the bigger studios. It’s also nice to a good selection of extras on the disc like audio commentaries & featurettes which are more than just filler.

It seems that today many distributors winding down comprehensive supplements for monetary reasons, so again it’s good to see these included which add both enjoyment and added production knowledge of the film for the viewer, the audio commentaries are especially well put together and informative.

Miracle Mile is one of those films that should be in any discerning collection. It still holds up brilliantly after 28 years considering it’s low budget origins.

Rating: 4/5