The Lost City: Blu Ray Review
Essentially rehashing the tropes of a trashy romance novel, The Lost City flips the narrative to muted effect.
Essentially rehashing the tropes of a trashy romance novel, The Lost City flips the narrative to muted effect.
Girlhood and Portrait of a Woman on Fire's director Céline Sciamma returns to the big screen with a shorter film than previous outings - but one that still packs a quiet power.
It's the story of 8 year old Nelly, who's just lost her beloved grandmother and who's saying goodbye to the rest home residents where she lived as the film begins. Taken with her parents to clean out the childhood home, Nelly meets a girl her age as she builds a tree house in the woods.
They form an instant connection - but there's something deeper and more mysterious going on with Nelly's new friend soon needing hospital treatment and time for their friendship running out.
There's a smaller scale to this story, but Petit Maman has an astoundingly good lead in its child actors, who convey more than enough of a range of emotions from joy to trying to understand loss.
Petit Maman is a film of simple silences, natural sounds, and great poise from Sciamma; it carefully weaves a story that some may find wanting in parts, and others will be gripped by, as it examines grief and our relationships with the past.
But more specifically, Petit Maman is about the conversations with our closest family members, or ourselves - it spends time building a world that doesn't appear to cheat itself out of with easy answers, nor does it tie itself up in superstitions and hokum.
By keeping the film intimate, and quietly reflective, Sciamma's made a universal story of grief that everyone can engage with - and it's all the more enticing for it.
Exclusive original series available in New Zealand for the first time include this weekend’s global premiere of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (premiering simultaneously in New Zealand and internationally on 2 October), Tales of the Walking Dead and western noir thriller Dark Winds executive produced by Emmy®-winner George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) and Oscar®-winner Robert Redford – also boasting 100% on the Tomatometer!
NEW SERVICE INCLUDES EXCLUSIVE SERIES SUCH AS THIS WEEKEND’S GLOBAL PREMIERE OF
ANNE RICE’S INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE AND OTHER ORIGINAL DRAMAS FIREBITE, DARK WINDS, MOONHAVEN, 61ST STREET, THAT DIRTY BLACK BAG, KIN PLUS UPCOMING PRODUCTION
ANNE RICE’S MAYFAIR WITCHES
THE WALKING DEAD: DEAD CITY AND OTHER NEW SPIN-OFFS
Leading global media entertainment company AMC Networks announces the highly anticipated launch of the premium streaming bundle AMC+ in New Zealand with a suite of direct-to-consumer apps. AMC+ offers exclusive original series available in New Zealand for the first time, including this weekend’s global premiere of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (which will debut simultaneously in New Zealand and the US on 2 October), starring Sam Reid (Belle), Jacob Anderson (Game of Thrones) and Bailey Bass (Avatar: The Sense of Water); Tales of the Walking Dead, an anthology series from The Walking Dead Universe consisting of one-hour standalone episodes focusing on new and returning characters and starring Anthony Edwards (Inventing Anna), Parker Posey (Lost in Space) and Samantha Morton (The Walking Dead); western noir thriller Dark Winds executive produced by Emmy-winner George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) and Oscar-winner Robert Redford, which has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes; sci-fi thriller Moonhaven starring Dominic Monaghan (Lost) and Joe Manganiello (True Blood); and the critically acclaimed Australian vampire thriller Firebite with Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black), Rob Collins (Cleverman) and Callan Mulvey (Avengers: End Game).
These series join other exclusive original productions available on AMC+ such as gritty crime drama 61st Street from BAFTA-winner Peter Moffat (The Night Of) and starring Emmy -winner Courtney B. Vance (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story); revenge thriller The Beast Must Die starring BAFTA-winner Jared Harris (Chernobyl); the popular Irish gangland drama Kin starring Charlie Cox (Daredevil); epic western That Dirty Black Bag starring Dominic Cooper (Preacher); and new animated spy tech thriller Pantheon featuring an all-star voice cast including Daniel Dae-Kim (Lost) and the late Oscar -winner William Hurt, alongside a curated selection of films and series with new content added every week.
In the coming months, AMC+ will premiere highly anticipated original series, including another new franchise based on Anne Rice’s bestselling novels – Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches, starring Alexandra Daddario (The White Lotus). AMC+ will also be the home for the next generation of series from The Walking Dead Universe in New Zealand, including The Walking Dead: Dead City, which focuses on the popular characters of Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) as they journey to a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, and a highly anticipated spin-off reuniting the fan-favourite characters of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira).
AMC+ also provides full access to AMC Networks’ targeted streaming services, Acorn TV and Shudder, at no additional cost.
The AMC+ streaming bundle is available now via amcplus.com/nz and on Apple and Android devices with a special offer to lock in a one-year subscription at the equivalent of $7.99 per month, a 20% discount on the standard monthly price of $9.99 per month. Acorn TV and Shudder are also available as stand-alone streaming services at $7.99 per month each in addition to being available at no extra cost as part of the AMC+ premium subscription bundle.
Courtney Thomasma, General Manager of AMC+, commented, “Powered by AMC’s award-winning original series, AMC+ is a destination for groundbreaking dramas and epic fan-driven franchises. From iconic titles like Mad Men to exclusive new series from The Walking Dead Universe to fresh hits like Dark Winds and Moonhaven, AMC+ offers thousands of hours of premium programming for Kiwi viewers, including full access to Acorn TV and Shudder. We are thrilled to bring our slate of critically acclaimed original series directly to audiences in New Zealand for the first time and look forward to kicking off with the global premiere of our newest franchise Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire this Sunday.”
Selection of premieres now available for the first time in New Zealand on AMC+
Tales of the Walking Dead – A new AMC Studios-produced series in the expanding universe around The Walking Dead franchise. Tales of the Walking Dead is an episodic anthology series with one-hour standalone episodes focused on both new and established characters set in the world of the original series, the most successful in the history of US cable television. The series stars Anthony Edwards (Inventing Anna), Parker Posey (Lost in Space), Samantha Morton (The Walking Dead) and Olivia Munn (The Newsroom), among many others. Collider called the new series “genuinely unexpected and inventive.” View Trailer
Firebite – An AMC+ Original series offering a high-octane, highly original spin on the vampire genre that follows two Indigenous Australian vampire hunters, Tyson (Rob Collins, Extraction) and Shanika (new Indigenous Australian star Shantae Barnes-Cowan) on their quest to battle the last colony of vampires in the South Australian desert. The series is created and written by Australia’s celebrated Indigenous auteur voice, Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah), who also directs along with Brendan Fletcher (Mad Bastards) and Tony Krawitz (The Tall Man). The series also stars Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black) and Callan Mulvey (Avengers: End Game) in leading roles. The Guardian said the series “reinvents the vampire genre for the Australian outback.” View Trailer
Moonhaven – An AMC+ Original series that centres on Bella Sway (Emma McDonald, Queens of Mystery), a lunar cargo pilot and smuggler who finds herself accused of a crime and marooned on Moonhaven, a utopian community set on a 500 square mile Garden of Eden built on the Moon to find solutions to the problems that will soon end civilization on Mother Earth. A skeptic in Paradise, Bella is sucked into a conspiracy to gain control of the artificial intelligence responsible for Moonhaven's miracles and teams with a local detective to stop the forces that want to destroy Earth's last hope before they are destroyed themselves. The suspense thriller is from creator/showrunner Peter Ocko (Lodge 49) and stars Dominic Monaghan (Lost) and Joe Manganiello (True Blood). Variety said the show has a “tight, brisk narrative that lends each of the six episodes an electrifying cliffhanger.” View Trailer
Dark Winds – Based on the iconic Leaphorn & Chee book series by Tony Hillerman, AMC+ Original series Dark Winds is a psychological thriller that follows two Navajo police officers in the 1970s Southwest, as their search for clues in a grisly double murder case forces them to challenge their own spiritual beliefs and come to terms with the trauma of their pasts. Executive produced by Emmy -winner George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) and Oscar -winner Robert Redford, the series is created and executive produced by Graham Roland (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan) and stars Zahn McClarnon (The Son), who is also an executive producer, and Kiowa Gordon (The Red Road). Vince Calandra (Castle Rock) is showrunner and executive producer, and Chris Eyre is director and executive producer. Rolling Stone said the series “looks and feels like no other crime story on television.” View Trailer
That Dirty Black Bag – A raw, epic and romantic eight-part AMC+ Original series about the dark side of the Far West, That Dirty Black Bag features an ensemble cast led by Dominic Cooper (Preacher) and Douglas Booth (The Dirt). Paying homage to the classic spaghetti western, the story follows the eight-day clash between Arthur McCoy (Cooper), an incorruptible sheriff with a troubled past, and Red Bill (Booth), an infamous, solitary bounty hunter known for decapitating his victims and stuffing their heads into a dirty black bag, because, as he puts it: “heads weigh less than bodies.” The Wall Street Journal called the series “both entertaining and intriguing.” View Trailer
61st Street View Trailer
Kin – In this AMC+ Original series, after a boy is killed, his family embarks on a gangland war with an international cartel –a war that is impossible to win. It’s David and Goliath. Out-numbered, out-financed and out-gunned, the Kinsellas find themselves holed up in their Dublin stronghold while their businesses fail and family members and associates are picked off. But they have something the cartel does not: the unbreakable bonds of blood and family. Kin is a world where gangsters are treated like reality stars, with nicknames and celebrity status, where assassins dress up as women, and drug dealers keep exotic pets in their den. A world of drugs and guns and murder and loyalty and family and men...and a woman. The stellar cast includes Charlie Cox (Boardwalk Empire), Clare Dunne (Herself), Aidan Gillen (The Wire) and Ciarán Hinds (Game of Thrones). Forbes called the series a “uniquely gripping and emotional crime drama.”View Trailer
The Beast Must Die – After learning the police investigation into the fatal hit and run of her young son Martie has been dropped, Frances Cairnes (Cush Jumbo, The Good Wife) takes matters into her own hands in this AMC+ Original series. Posing as a novelist researching a new murder-mystery, Frances ingratiates herself with the family of George Rattery (Jared Harris, Mad Men), the man she suspects is responsible, and sets a plan in action to kill him. She’s tracked by detective Nigel Strangeways (Billy Howle, The Serpent), who has reason to believe his department covered up George’s involvement in the incident. Suffering from PTSD following the recent death of his partner, Strangeways throws himself into pursuing justice for Martie. But when he discovers an “undercover” Frances living with George and his family, he finds himself working to both prove George’s guilt and head off Frances’s plans for revenge before anyone else dies. IndieWire said the series is “an intense and reflective tale of grief, vengeance and privilege.” View Trailer
Cold Courage – Based on the award-winning novels from Finnish journalist Pekka Hiltunen, Cold Courage follows two Nordic women – Mari (Pihla Viitala, Deadwind), a fierce psychologist fighting for the underdog by any means necessary and Lia (Sofia Pekkari, Wallander), a shy graphic artist on the run from an abusive stalker – as they collide during a series of murders in present-day London. Drawn together through a clandestine group called the “Studio,” they seek to right the wrongs of the powerful, influential and corrupt – starting with the dangerous, charismatic politician Arthur Fried (John Simm, Doctor Who), campaigning to put the ‘Great’ back into Great Britain. The New York Post said the series has “action, tension and an air of mystery providing the key ingredients needed to season this dependable thriller.”
Anna – This AMC+ Original Limited Series tells the dystopian story of a world ravaged by a virus which kills adults but spares children, written and directed by Niccolò Ammaniti (who authored the critically-acclaimed and best-selling novel of the same name). Set on the island of Sicily, the crumbling hulks of shopping malls and abandoned cities pierce deserted wide-open spaces in a world reclaimed by nature and run by savage communities of survivors, most of whom are children. Anna (played by newcomer Giulia Dragotto) only has one guide: a book left by her mother with instructions on how to survive. But, with each passing day she discovers that the old rules no longer apply and instead has to devise new ones as she goes along in this Italian language drama that Wired called “a shocking and visionary series.”
Pantheon - An AMC+ Original animated series based on a collection of short stories from Ken Liu. Pantheon focuses on Maddie (Katie Chang), a bullied teen who receives mysterious help from someone online. The stranger is soon revealed to be her recently deceased father, David (Daniel Dae Kim), whose consciousness has been uploaded to the ‘Cloud’ following an experimental destructive brain scan. David is the first of a new kind of being: an “Uploaded Intelligence” or “UI,” but he will not be the last, as a global conspiracy unfolds that threatens to trigger a new kind of world war. Additional cast includes William Hurt (Black Widow), Maude Apatow (Euphoria), Corey Stoll (Billions), Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight), and Taylor Schilling (Orange Is The New Black). Time Magazine called it a “gripping, cerebral, remarkably high-concept animated sci-fi series.” View Trailer
True Crime Story: It Couldn't Happen Here - New York Times Best-Selling Author and actress Hilarie Burton Morgan (The Walking Dead) visits different small US towns to shine light on the ways crime impacts rural communities and their judicial systems. Too often the heartbreaking events in these towns are overlooked because they lack the media platforms and advocacy resources found in larger cities. In each episode, Hilarie hears the facts of the case from family members and local insiders to understand the challenges the community faced investigating the crime, learns the lasting impact the crime has had on the fabric of the town, and calls attention to where justice currently stands.
Selection of upcoming premieres to be available for the first time in New Zealand on AMC+
Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire – Based on Anne Rice’s iconic, bestselling novel, Interview with the Vampire is an AMC+ Original series that follows Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson, Game of Thrones), Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid, Belle) and Claudia (Bailey Bass, Avatar: The Way of Water) in an epic story of love, blood and the perils of immortality, as told to journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian, Talk Radio). Chafing at the limitations of life as a Black man in 1900s New Orleans, Louis finds it impossible to resist the rakish Lestat’s offer of the ultimate escape: joining him as his vampire companion. But Louis’ intoxicating new powers come with a violent price, and the introduction of Lestat’s newest fledgling, the child vampire Claudia, soon sets them on a decades-long path of revenge and atonement. Executive produced by award winning producer Mark Johnson (Breaking Bad), creator and showrunner Rolin Jones (Perry Mason), along with Christopher Rice and the late Anne Rice, the series’ first season consists of seven episodes. View Trailer
Documentary Now! – Created, written and executive produced by the powerhouse comedic trio and Saturday Night Live alumni Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Seth Meyers, the Emmy Award-nominated series parodies some of the world’s best-known documentaries. Starring Armisen and Hader, each episode is shot in a different style of documentary filmmaking and honours some of the most important stories that didn’t actually happen. The critically acclaimed series also stars Dame Helen Mirren (The Queen) and guest stars a wide array of well-known celebrities, including Jack Black (Tenacious D), John Slattery (Mad Men), Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) and many others. The upcoming season guest stars Alexander Skarsgård (The Northman), Cate Blanchett (Carol), and Trystan Gravelle (Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power). Seasons 1-3 available at launch with Season 4 (aka Season 53) premiering on 19 October with new episodes each Wednesday. View Trailer
Sherman’s Showcase - Created by and starring Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle, this Emmy Award-winning show features witty sketches, cultural nostalgia and original songs that earned the series a 100% Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A-list guest stars include John Legend, Tiffany Haddish, Common, Quincy Jones, Marlon Wayans and many more. The Washington Post called the show “consistently funny.” View Trailer
True Crime Story: Indefensible - Academy Award nominee Jena Friedman travels the US to unspool real cases on the ground, but unlike most true crime shows, this one doesn’t end when the criminal gets locked up. Jena finds there’s always more to the story and drives to a different outcome beyond the simple whodunnit. Using her unflinching comedic point of view and disarming interview skills, Jena uncovers the “why” and “how,” not only of crimes themselves but of the dysfunction within the criminal justice system.
Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches – The second series in the expanding Anne Rice universe, Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches will follow Interview with the Vampire exclusively on AMC+. Based on the Lives of the Mayfair Witches trilogy, the first season of eight episodes will be produced by AMC Studios. The series will focus on an intuitive young neurosurgeon (Alexandra Daddario, The White Lotus) who discovers that she is the unlikely heir to a family of witches. As she grapples with her newfound powers, she must contend with a sinister presence that has haunted her family for generations. Esta Spalding (Masters of Sex) and Michelle Ashford (John Adams) are both executive producers and writers of the series, with Spalding also serving as showrunner.
The Walking Dead: Dead City - A new AMC+ Original series set in The Walking Dead Universe, starring Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The Walking Dead: Dead City follows the popular Maggie and Negan characters traveling into a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, long ago cut off from the mainland. The crumbling city is filled with the dead and denizens who have made New York City their own world full of anarchy, danger, beauty, and terror. The first season will consist of six episodes. Eli Jorné, who has been a writer and co-executive producer on The Walking Dead for multiple seasons and has an overall deal with AMC Studios, will serve as showrunner and executive producer on the series, which is overseen by Scott M. Gimple, chief content officer of The Walking Dead Universe. Cohan and Morgan will also serve as executive producers.
Untitled The Walking Dead Universe Series - Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira will reunite for a new series in the expanding universe around The Walking Dead. The series will continue the journey and love story of the Rick Grimes and Michonne characters. Lincoln and Gurira have been actively involved in conceiving the creative and the continuation of their characters’ story. Scott M. Gimple, Chief Content Officer of The Walking Dead Universe, will serve as showrunner on the series, which will begin with six episodes. Lincoln and Gurira are both executive producers. The series will present an epic love story of two characters changed by a changed world. Kept apart by distance. By an unstoppable power. By the ghosts of who they were. Rick and Michonne are thrown into another world, built on a war against the dead... And ultimately, a war against the living.
AMC+ also features a wide selection of critically acclaimed, award-winning scripted and unscripted series including Mad Men, Halt and Catch Fire, TURN: Washington’s Spies, Hell on Wheels, The Son, The Red Road, Copper, Manhattan, Magic City, The Restaurant, Dreamers, This Close, Dietland, Portlandia, Brockmire, Ultra City Smiths, The Making of the Mob, Ride with Norman Reedus and a curated selection of critically acclaimed independent movies and documentaries from IFC Films.
Cast: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Doug Jones, Whitney Peak, Lilia Buckingham, Belissa Escobedo, Tony Hale
Director: Anne Fletcher
More mild than anything wild, Hocus Pocus 2 arrives in time for Halloween and in time to try and salvage the reputation of the first film from 1993.
Savaged on release, but finding another lease on life on home video, the original Hocus Pocus has garnered somewhat of a cult following. But this sequel nearly three decades on doesn't really have what it takes to cast such a lasting spell a second time around.
In this latest, a clutch of teens (Whitney Peak, Lilia Buckingham, Belissa Escobedo) inadvertently conjure up the return of the Sanderson Sisters to Salem after a spell goes awry.
The trio of OG witches set their sights on gaining revenge from decades ago, and decide the best way to do this is to stop the lineage of their old nemesis the Traske family - by offing Tony Hale's mayor of Salem, a direct descendant...
It's hard to get thrilled by this film, a family friendly piece of fluff that's so barebones and vanilla, there's not even a hint of nastiness from any of its lead witches.
Continuing the Disney trend of redeeming all of its villains, Hocus Pocus 2 is solely intent on following that path that it mutes everything that would make a sequel shine.
With a few meta touches, some jabs at societal ills (taking aim at selfies and skincare), the Gothic Golden Girls really don't have much to offer in this broad movie that meanders from one moment to the next.
While Midler appears to relish her screen time, there's little else for the others to do except follow in her thrall and to a tepid conclusion that's both muddled and cloying. There are nostalgic nods to the past, but it's not enough to convince this reunion was really worth it - Disney's produced better magic in the past, and disappointingly this second flight of fancy is more likely to be forgotten than rolled out every year as a scary classic.
Cast: Sosie Bacon, Caitlin Stasey, Jessie T Usher, Judy Reyes, Kal Penn, Kyle Gallner
Director: Parker Finn
Smile may not be a new take on the horror genre, and its so-called examination of trauma is more surface level than anything deeper, but its mix of unsettling imagery and jump scares prove to be powerful enough.
Retooled from his short film Laura Hasn't Slept, Parker Finn's debut centres around Sosie Bacon's Dr Rose Cotter, an overworked doctor whose world is irrevocably changed when she witnesses the suicide of walk-in patient Laura (Tomorrow, When The War Began's Caitlin Stasey).
Laura claims she's being haunted by something smiling at her, and that she only had a certain amount of time left to live - but Rose dismisses this as being nothing more than the rantings of an on-edge patient. But as Rose begins to see similar apparitions to Laura's claims, she begins to realise she too has been cursed - can she convince those around her before it's too late?
Smile doesn't do anything fresh if you're familiar with the likes of It Follows, The Ring or any other curse-based horror film. But what Finn constructs is a deeply troubling and haunting film that has a twisted psychological bent to it.
While the final act's need for explanation and the desire for the curse creature to have a backstory would hint at a franchise, the film's agency isn't quite robbed by its pointless need for exposition. Largely forgetting that a killer that's relentless and can't be stopped is one of the stronger tenets of horror, Finn slightly torpedoes what he does so well early on.
Equally, the so-called exploration of trauma and grief may be triggering for some, but Smile's need to hint at more proves to be a frustratingly hollow experience outside of some truly well-orchestrated scares.
With slow deliberate camera movements, inverted angles, a truly exemplary soundscape and a quiet sense of pace, Smile manages to unnerve in many ways throughout. With its 70s-style horror aesthetics hinting at this feeling like an old film, and Bacon's slowly coming unravelling Rose continually being gaslit, there's much to enjoy and feed on in Smile.
It's thanks to Finn's sense of timing and some extremely common horror themes and imagery that Smile emerges as one of the better psychologically disturbing entrants into the genre - whether those simple flaws are to be exploited through numerous prequels and sequels remains to be seen, but for now, Smile is a film that is an abrupt and efficiently unsettling ride.
The Lost City: Blu Ray Review Essentially rehashing the tropes of a trashy romance novel, The Lost City flips the narrative to muted effect....