NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Tuesday October 23rd 2018

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Animal Kingdom & Centurion

Animal Kingdon

by Howard McQuitter

Crime Drama

Sony Picture Classics

Running Time: 113 Minutes

Rated: R

Writer/Director David Michod

Jacki Weaver as (“Mommy”) Jannie Cody matriarch of the Codys, a low-level crime family of sons, gives an excellent performance, Ben Mendelsohn as Andrew ‘Pope’ Cody, one of her most devious sons—a psychopath—the lean crook went into hiding from the cops. Craig (Sullivan Stapleton) and Darren (Luke Ford) are the other two brothers. The Codys live in one of the working class suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.

Center Stage is Joshua (or “J”) Cody, Janny Cody’s grandson, who lost his “mum” to a heroine overdose, staying with his conniving grandma and drug dealing and bank robbing uncles. Joshua is seventeen years old and not involved in their crime sprees but is sucked into it by default.

Smurf, nickname for Jannie Cody, overprotects “J” trying to shield him from her unscrupulous sons. Though “J” manages to not join the cabal he’s dragged in when the good cops bring him into custody and questioned on several occasions by police detective Leckie (Guy Pearce) hoping he’s the Key to the Codys’ nasty crime wave. Well, Joshua’s stoic demeanor precludes little if any valuable information. Nonetheless Uncles Craig and Darren became paranoid Joshua (James Frecheville) may spill the beans on their operation. Two cops have been shot and killed by part of the Cody clan.

Between a smiling, wide-eyed Machiavellian grandma named Smurf and a stoic grandson Joshua (and the relentless uncles) makes for a slow pace, brilliant crime thriller—Aussie style.

Centurion

Mythic Drama

Lagoon

Celador Films

Running Time; 97 Minutes

Rated: R

Director: Neil Marshall

“Centurion for all its clichés and woof tickets (and hyper violence) suffers tremendously from unnecessary roughness. Besides good cinematography, Neil Marshall’s “Centurion” incorporates modern vernacular and obtuse voice-overs circumscribed by characterless, characters a step or two (or three) worse than the hefty CGI [computer generated imagery] chiseled, Gold’s Gym looking men in director Zack Snyder’s “300’” (2007).

Historians are not sure what ever happened to the 9th legion of Rome. Some believe they were murdered in the north of Britain while others believe they went to southern Europe after A.D. 117, where the movie starts the ball rolling. But it is a handful of Roman soldiers led by Centurion Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbinder) fleeing from a fierce mute Erain (Olga Kurylenko) determined to wipe them out. The ragtag Roman men fail to save their general (Dominic West) from death at the hands of Etain and the Picts. The Roman Empire is bogged down in a frustrating stalemate for 20 years. However, the Picts are just retaliating against Roman occupation which Titus Virilus (West) is given orders to massacre the Picts.

Through the entire movie, the Romans are trying to stay ahead of bad-assed Pict leader Babe who refuses to let-up on the intruders. Her deep make-up epitomizes fearless leadership. Mutilations are usually up close and personal—and very macabre. (I enjoyed and praised Neil Marshall’s “The Descent” (2005), an intense thriller for an all female friends camping encounter deadly creatures.)

Perhaps, unlike Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto” (2006) where you root strongly for the captives, it is conceivable little such rah-rah for the elusive Romans in “Centurion.” If Marshall’s “Centurion” is a kind of 2nd century A.D. “Deliverance,” I’m afraid it’s like a braying synthesis of noises.

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