WELCOME In the April issue of STACK , we’re celebrating the female voice. Gal Gadot and Milla Jovovich are back in action in Wonder Woman 1984 and Monster Hunter , respectively, while Naomi Watts and Jacki Weaver team up for real-life drama Penguin Bloom . Amy Shark’s second album sees the ARIA-winning singer- songwriter tap into ever deeper wells of personal experience, and London Grammar vocalist Hannah Reid details why it was so important for her to don the captain’s hat on the acclaimed trio’s third record. If you’re wondering what to buy Mum – or that special person in your life – for Mother’s Day next month, we’ve got some excellent tech-themed gift ideas in Life Tech. And in gaming, we get snap happy all over again with the arrival of New Pokémon Snap on Switch and immerse ourselves in new PS5 time-loop shooter Returnal . Paul Jones, Editor-in-Chief
12 Monster Hunter 14 Penguin Bloom 16 Women to Watch 18 Akira 20 Let Him Go 21 The Reckoning 22 The Dry 24 Soul 26 Out this month LIFE TECH 30 Intro
32 Oppo Find X3 34-40 Hair Care 42-46 Cameras 48-50 Robot Vacs 52 Himo H1 54-60 Mother’s Day Gift Guide 62 What’s New GAMING 66 Take 5/Game Changers 68 Fast Forward/Q5 70 New Pokémon Snap 72 Returnal 74 Accessorise Now! 76 STACK Recommends 78 Out this month 79 Competitions MUSIC FLIP MAG AND READ FROM BACK 4-8 The Music Room: Interviews with London Grammar, Julia Stone and more 10-11 Amy Shark 12-13 AlbumTales: Skyhooks’ Living in the 70’s (1974) 14 STACK Record Club
Founder Nic Short Editor-in-Chief Paul Jones Film & TV Editor Scott Hocking Music Editor Zoë Radas Games & Online Editor Amy Flower Creative Director Gary Siewert Movies Consultant Kerrie Taylor Games Consultant Sachi Fernando Music Consultant Mike Glynn
Marketing Manager Fleur Parker Chief Contributors Bob Jones, Gill Pringle Contributors Bryget Chrisfield, Glenn Cochrane, Jeff Jenkins, Simon Lukic, Billy Pinnell, Denise Hylands, Simon Winkler, Jake Cleland, Tim Lambert, Holly Pereira, Adam Colby, Anthony Horan,
Nicholas Kennedy, Dan Nicholson, Alex Deutrom, Bec Summer Social Media Manager Imogene Lewis-Granland Production Manager Craig Patterson Correspondence STACK 33 Jessie Street, Richmond, VIC 3121
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Recommended for mature audiences
Not suitable for people under 15. Under 15smust beaccommpaniedby a parent or adult guardian
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MERCH MONTH of the
If you’ve been into a JB Hi-Fi store lately, you may have noticed more and more cool merch making its way onto shelves. And in some JB stores, you may have even seen some cool t-shirts turning up on the racks. Who doesn’t love merch? And who doesn’t love t-shirts, right?
For decades, JB has been at the forefront of pop culture in Australia through film, TV, video games and music, so we think this merch is a match made in heaven. Each month we showcase our favourite merch in this space – here's a selection of classic music tees for April.
CAMILLE DEVON SUMMER AND NICK SULLIVAN SAWA H. HOWELL STAHL
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What’s your all-time favourite film andTV series, and why?
That’s a tough question. Film – I usually say the original Halloween from 1978; Michael Myers is one of the coolest characters ever! A close second would be Shaun of the Dead . TV show – 100 per cent South Park . I used to watch it as a kid, so I’ve pretty much watched it my whole life; I love it! And the South Park movie is really funny, too.
RYAN BLACK @ JB Wagga Wagga, NSW
1 The Lord of the Rings Trilogy 2 The Hobbit Trilogy 3 Elysium 4 Tenet 5 2012 6 Harry Potter – The Complete Collection 7 Alien 8 Full Metal Jacket 9 1917 10 Mulan (2020)
What have you been watching lately that you would recommend?
What’s the best thing about working at JB?
The Boys is fantastic! And my girlfriend told me to watch The Americans , so I binge-watched that and it was a really good show.
Honestly, I think it’s the people. Especially the team here – they’re really great. It’s just a fun working environment, which is good.
What was the first film you can recall seeing as a child, or one that had a lasting impact on you?
for MARCH 2021
The first one I remember seeing was the original Toy Story . The one that had an impact on me as a kid was Jaws , and since then – I’m 31 now – I’ve only been in the ocean maybe twice. Sharks can’t get me on land [laughs]. My aunty used to have a lot of VHS tapes and I somehow got my hands on it. It’s a fantastic movie – horror is my favourite genre.
1 Freaky 2 Breakdown 3 Star Trek Picard: S1 4 Honest Thief 5 Possessor 6 Black Sunday 7 Skyfire 8 Psycho Goreman 9 Breach 10 The Bridges at Toko-Ri
Do you collect movies andTV shows?
Yeah, I do buy Blu-rays, and now 4Ks. I started just wanting a really cool horror movie collection, but started buying everything. The last couple of years I’ve really cut it back to picking movies that I haven’t seen – I used to just buy films I’d seen.
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Visit https://www.jbhifi.com.au/pages/freeman for full terms & conditions. COMPETITION CLOSES SUNDAY APRIL 25, 2021.
to do with that power is their struggle. But I’m more drawn to the issue of how to be good and what being a hero is, and Wonder Woman gave me that opportunity. “As a filmmaker I feel it’s important that you really love what you’re doing but also, when it comes to these kinds of characters, that you are a champion of that brand. It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s been easy for me because I am a passionate Wonder Woman fan and getting the character right, staying true to who she is, was critical,” says the director, who hopes she can inspire girls to also step up behind the lens. Despite all her success, Wonder Woman pivoting her front and centre into the discussion of feminine power, Gadot remains humble. “There are still moments where I pinch myself,” she says. “When I watched both the movies, there were moments where I cried. All of a sudden, I felt like I wasn’t Gal, the actress, I wasn’t the character. I was the eight-year- old version of myself looking at this amazing woman doing those incredible things that I was never exposed to as a girl. I will always feel very privileged that I was loaned this amazing character. “I’ve received a lot of feedback over the years from parents and kids; girls and boys and men and women and all different genders, telling me how much the movie impacted them, and that it makes a difference. It is so important to tell the story from a female perspective. “We always talk about female empowerment. But it’s all of us. We can’t just empower women without educating the other 50 per cent of the human race, so we need to do this together,” she says. “Wonder Woman has such universal messages, and I’m grateful to be a part of the conversation.”
• Wonder Woman 1984 is out now
FINDING THE HERO WITHIN For girls around the globe, Gal Gadot’sWonder Woman has become a source of inspiration, and the actress is thrilled to embrace her role in the push for female equality. Words Gill Pringle
G al Gadot has become accustomed to girls telling her how much Wonder Woman means to them. But sometimes she receives validation from unexpected places. “I was told about a father who took his son to see the movie. They had so much fun, and the boy loved the movie. They came out of the theatre, and his son told him, ‘Daddy, when I grow up, I want to be a woman.’ That was everything for me,” Gadot tells STACK . Her approach to playing Diana Prince/Wonder Woman has remained the same since the very beginning – even if she does get some golden wings and flashier stunts in Wonder Woman 1984 . “The way I approached this character from the get-go was to ask myself, ‘How do you play a superhero? How do you play someone who’s a demi-god and has all those strengths and unbelievable powers?’ What worked for me was making sure I portrayed her as someone who, yes, has all those crazy powers, but also has a heart that is human. She’s full of love, empathy and compassion, and she’s also vulnerable, and there’s something about this vulnerability that really helped me portray her, making her accessible and relatable,” explains Gadot. Entrusted with a US$200 million budget, Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins
Director Patty Jenkins
considers herself a wonder woman in her own right, from behind the camera. Not only charged with putting a positive female force into the world, but also empowering girls to consider that they too can do anything a man does, and not be encumbered by their gender. “I want it to be a great superhero film experience, but I also hope to use our films to add to the conversation in this world about how each of us can find the hero within. That’s what this world needs, so I’m so happy to get to be a part of that thought process,” says Jenkins. If the DC and Marvel universes are generally populated by men, then Jenkins was always focused on making Wonder Woman stand out above the rest. “In general, DC characters are natural born heroes, and their journeys are about these heroes to whom power comes easily, and what
10 APRIL 2021
MORE MILLA IN ACTION
MILLA JOVOVICH: BACK IN ACTION After slaying zombies in the Resident Evil
THE FIFTH ELEMENT (1997) Falling into Bruce Willis’s flying cab with a “bad badaboom”, the mysterious Leeloo is dedicated to saving the Earth from a Great Evil.
franchise, Milla Jovovich sets her sights on big bad beasts in Monster Hunter , an adaptation of the Capcom video game series. Words Adam Colby
M illa Jovovich, the Ukraine-born supermodel turned actress, quickly endeared herself to moviegoers in 1997 as the flame-haired Leeloo in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element . But it was the role of Alice in the long-running Resident Evil movie franchise that cemented her status as a female action icon. However, following series’ closer Resident Evil: The Final Chapter in 2016, Jovovich found herself in a dark place. “After Resident Evil , I was like, ‘It’s done. My franchise is over. My career as an action hero is over,’" she tells STACK. "I kind of felt like Jim from The Office . 'What am I going to do with all this useless information in my head now, because I can’t use it for anything else but another action film?’ I have so much experience doing action films and can bring so much to the table with wire work or helping the visual team and in post-production. “I was so happy when Hellboy came up [in 2019] – ‘Yay, I’m back in business!’ This is a genre I know so well, and I enjoy so much.” Two years later, Jovovich was once again
realm, the squad must find a way back home while fending off hordes of colossal beasts. When Anderson first gave the screenplay to Jovovich, she still needed some convincing. “My first thought was, really, from zombies to monsters? You’ve got to be kidding me,’ she jokes. “He said, ‘Just read it,’ and when I did, I felt like it captured everything I love about
RESIDENT EVIL FRANCHISE (2002–2016) As Alice, former security officer at the nefarious Umbrella Corporation, Milla turned zombie slaying into a career.
• Monster Hunter is out on April 28
making action movies. But I really loved the character of Captain Artemis; she just felt real to me. I felt like it would be wonderful to play somebody that disciplined.” “Who better to kick ass and kill monsters than Milla Jovovich?” asks Anderson. “Not only is she an action icon, she also brings a lot of character to the role.
ULTRAVIOLET (2006) Milla plays Violet Song, a purple-haired rebel in a dystopian future who develops superhuman powers after being infected with a vampire virus.
She’s married. Maybe she’s a mother. And Milla did a huge amount of
research to make Artemis a real, relatable character, training with the US military.” Jovovich notes that motherhood made the process of slipping back into action mode more challenging. “By the time I made this movie I had two babies and was definitely intimidated by the process,” she tells us. “But after going to Fort Irwin, which is a military base outside of Los Angeles, working with the soldiers, doing different types of real-life simulations, and meeting one of the few female army rangers, it really helped me to immerse myself in this character.” Now that she’s back in action,
honing her physical skills as an action hero for husband and Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson in another video game adaptation, Monster Hunter – based on the popular Capcom franchise. The film sees a team of elite soldiers, led by Jovovich’s Captain Artemis, falling through a portal into a world inhabited by giant monsters. Teaming up with a hunter (Tony Jaa) within that
HELLBOY (2019) The immortal sorceress Niume rises from the dead and sets out to baptise the world in blood, beginning with modern day London.
Milla Jovovich isn’t about to slow down. She’ll next be seen as a black-ops assassin in the thriller Hummingbird and will reunite with Anderson for In the Lost Lands , a fantasy- adventure adapted from a story by George R.R. Martin ( Game of Thrones ).
12 APRIL 2021
NEW TO 4K ULTRA HD TM , BLU-RAY TM & DVD AT APRIL 28 WHILE STOCKS LAST
LOCAL STARS IN BLOOM NaomiWatts and JackiWeaver couldn’t help but be moved by the incredible true story of Samantha Bloom and her magpie pal, Penguin Bloom. Words Gill Pringle
NaomiWatts and Sam Bloom
As a professional photographer, Cameron Bloom’s Instagram stories and subsequent book about their new feathered housemate became an instant hit, documenting how the inspirational Penguin enabled his wife’s recovery from the depths of depression. When news networks got hold of the story, things “started getting a bit crazy,” Sam Bloom tells us. “I’d go to the shops
and people would come up and go, ‘Are you Penguin’s mum?’
I thought it was nice. It didn’t bother me at all
because people were so lovely.” Sam adds that she wanted the movie to be “real and honest” and is pleased that it turned out that way. “I didn’t want it to be all happy, pretending that everything’s great because that’s not how I feel. Yes, it gets better, but it will always be a bit of a struggle.”
A surf-loving Sydney mum-of-three, Samantha Bloom had spiraled into a deep depression following a tragic accident in 2013 which robbed her of the use of her legs, only to have an injured baby magpie named Penguin lift her spirits in a surprising way. Inspired by her new feathered friend, reliably perched on her shoulder, Sam’s life took on new trajectories: taking up competitive paracanoeing, eventually placing 13th in the world, and bringing home gold from the World Adaptive Surfing Championships.
With Sam’s story now adapted into a powerful drama, Penguin
Bloom , Naomi Watts immediately signed on to play Sam Bloom with Jacki Weaver portraying her mum, Jan. But neither was happy to find themselves working with wild birds – a necessity when the movie takes its name from Sam’s saviour, magpie Penguin Bloom. Using multiple magpies across different age groups, Watts would become second fiddle to her feathered co-stars, patiently waiting for hours for the birds to take their cue. “I love nature and animals, but I was a bit concerned at the beginning,” Watts tells STACK , chatting from her home in New York. “I should have had more time with the birds in the lead-up but, for whatever reason, there wasn’t enough time. “So, on the first day, I remember the bird crawling all over me and I just thought, ‘Oh my god, I hope my eyes don’t get pecked out.' “I just had to learn to get comfy, although there was bit of an ice-breaker on the first day when the bird basically pooped on my head and it ran all the way down my face. One way to break the ice,” laughs the twice Oscar-nominated actress who also served as a producer on the film. Jacki Weaver is less charitable: “To be honest, I think magpies are horrible. I hate magpies. They used to attack children on their way to school, that’s why we used to wear hats to school in the bush because they’re nasty things. Fortunately I was only in scenes with them a few times, but I was still terrified,” she admits. “The patience of the trainer and our director, Glendyn Ivin, was amazing.” Preparing for what she knew would be a difficult role – spent almost entirely
in a wheelchair – Watts was amazed when Sam Bloom decided to share her private diaries with her. “I was incredibly grateful because I knew that it was so personal. Firstly, the act of generosity to be that available and open and, secondly, I knew that she was going to go really deep. “We’d spent a fair amount of time together but now it was time to get really into the depths of her darkness, and indeed it was all there on the page. It was heart-wrenching, but I already knew that that’s what Sam had been going through. She’d certainly intimated that much, but to see it written out in her words over and over again repeatedly, how really truly unhappy she was and how she couldn’t get through days on end; she wanted to not be there anymore. It was intense,” says Watts. Weaver didn’t get to meet Bloom’s mum,
Jan, until she was already filming. “By then I already had a handle on who she was, because it was a very good script. So, when I did meet her, I was pleased to see I wasn’t going completely in the wrong direction. “That is something you have to bear in mind when you’re playing a real person. You don’t want to get it really wrong and hurt their feelings.”
• Penguin Bloom is out April 21
JackiWeaver and NaomiWatts
14 APRIL 2021
WOMEN WATCH TO The female voice is being heard loud and clear on the big and small screen, with quality roles for women and projects for female filmmakers now far more abundant – just as they should be.We’ve picked five fabulous females who have made their mark before and behind the camera.
DISCS FOR MUM
Forget the rom-coms and the period dramas. We’ve picked five gift ideas from outside the box that we’re sure your mum will love this Mother’s Day… PROMISINGYOUNG WOMAN
This gripping, Gone Girl - like thriller reinvents the revenge movie for the #MeToo generation. Nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture and Actress (the superb Carey Mulligan). [Available April 7]
Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, Regina also received the 2019 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk , and made her directorial debut with the civil rights-era drama One Night in Miami , receiving a Golden Globe nomination this year for Best Director.
Olivia Colman is one of Britain's best, with a string of quality television series on her CV – including The Night
Manager , Broadchurch and Fleabag – and numerous Emmy and Golden Globe
READY OR NOT Marriage is a beautiful thing, but the in-laws can be hell, as Grace (Samara Weaving) discovers in this wonderfully wicked black-comedy thriller.
SOFIA COPPOLA Movies are part of the Coppola family DNA. Sofia Coppola followed the lead of famous father Francis Ford,
nominations. She also won the 2019 Oscar for Best Actress for her performance as Queen Anne
in The Favourite and went on to inherit the British throne from Claire Foy, playing the older Queen Elizabeth II in the third season of The Crown , for which she received the 2020 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama.
WILD ROSE A young Scottish singer (Jessie Buckley) dreams of becoming a Nashville country star in this fresh and unpredictable music-
establishing herself as an acclaimed filmmaker with a distinctive voice. Having directed seven features to date, her signature style is best described as dreamlike, as seen in her assured debut feature, The Virgin Suicides (1999), and the more recent drama, The Beguiled (2017). While female protagonists feature prominently in her work, she is also drawn to the male perspective, as with Lost in Translation (2003) – a terrific vehicle for the great Bill Murray that put her on Hollywood’s radar with an Oscar for Original Screenplay and nominations for Best Picture and Director. JANE FONDA If the famous Fonda family is Hollywood royalty, then Jane Fonda is the queen. This veteran of stage, screen and TV won two Best Actress Oscars in the '70s – for Klute (1971) and Coming Home (1978) – and revolutionised the home workout in the '80s with her mega- selling fitness video. With a string of well-loved
ELISABETH MOSS Brilliant as Peggy Olsen in Mad Men , Elisabeth Moss took it to the next level with her portrayal
drama that explores the complexities of motherhood.
of the oppressed but resilient June in The
PHANTOM THREAD A London dressmaker’s strange relationship with his young model and muse results in a spellbinding Gothic melodrama in the tradition of Hitchcock’s Rebecca .
Handmaid’s Tale , winning a Golden Globe and Emmy. We
also loved her as the President’s daughter, Zoey Bartlet, in The West Wing ; as Detective Robin Griffith in crime series Top of the Lake and sequel, China Girl ; and as the traumatised lead of Leigh Whannell’s nail-biting reimagination of The Invisible Man . REGINA KING With an Oscar and four Emmy awards in the last five years, as well as numerous nominations, Regina King is on a roll. A familiar face from TV shows like 24 , The Leftovers ,
FREEMAN This acclaimed
documentary looks at the remarkable sporting career of national treasure Cathy Freeman, and why her win at the 2000 Sydney Olympics continues to resonate as one of Australia's proudest moments, 20 years on. [Available April 28]
movies like Barbarella (1968) and On Golden Pond (1981), Jane is as renowned for her political, feminist and environmental activism as her acting, and at 82, she's still getting arrested – most recently during a climate crisis rally in Washington, 2019.
American Crime and most recently HBO's Watchmen , for which she won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead
16 APRIL 2021
Madman Entertainment has spared no expense to bring Akira to diehard fans and new generations in an all-new Limited Edition 3-disc set, while stocks last. A testament to Akira ‘s longevity is its repeated restorations and upgrades, with the latest 4K UHD release being the most comprehensive and essential iteration to date. The 3-disc set includes a new restoration of the film on both 4K UHD and Blu-ray, an extensive 40-page booklet on the film’s production, an additional Blu-ray of bonus content, Dolby True HD audio, the 1988 and 2001 English tracks plus the original Japanese audio.
STACK takes a look back at the landmark 1988 anime masterpiece ahead of its release on the 4K Ultra HD format on April 21. Words Glenn Cochrane AKIRA A RETROSPECTIVE
of the most visceral moments in cinema history. Beyond that synopsis, Akira ’s plot is far too complex to describe. Suffice to say, it’s a provocative milestone in animation filmmaking that has left an indelible mark on modern cinema. When watching Akira , its own influences are immediately apparent. The world of Philip K. Dick provides the most obvious model for the futuristic Tokyo cityscapes, with his 1956 novel The Minority Report and the 1982 film Blade Runner having strong conceptual bearings. Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and even David Lynch’s surreal Eraserhead inform the deeper, existential themes. Leaping forward three decades, Akira continues to influence modern cinema, and the list of films that owe it a debt of gratitude is huge. From the immediate release of the 1989 film Tetsuo: The Iron Man all the way to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, elements of Akira are embossed onto almost everything that can be considered sci-fi. Themes of government experimentation and telekinetic powers can be found in the TV series Stranger Things (right down to the costumes), while super-powered youngsters are the protagonists of movies
A long with the home video rental boom in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s came the rise of anime, the Japanese form of animation that stood apart from the
spanning countless volumes. Hundreds of titles with episodic labels populate the section, but as new titles come and go, Akira remains a steadfast fixture. Set in Neo-Tokyo 30 years after World War III, the film depicts a new world order, ruled by corruption,
family-friendly Disney brand of films that dominated western
culture. Somewhere in the back corner of any given video shop was a ‘Manga’ section, which housed titles like Ninja Scroll , Golgo 13 , Wicked
terrorism and violence. Two friends, Kaneda and Tetsuo, are involved in a motorcycle collision with an escaped patient from a top-secret government lab. The incident
Leaping forward three decades, Akira continues to influence modern cinema
City and Fist of the North Star . Amongst those was perhaps the most influential and groundbreaking anime film of them all: Akira . The term manga refers to Japanese comic books and graphic novels. Akira first hit the press in 1982 and was later published in America by Epic Comics (an imprint of Marvel). It was already
awakens psychic powers within Tetsuo, setting in motion a series of events which leads to the second fall of their city. Pursued by government agencies and marauding street gangs, Tetsuo’s powers culminate in a spectacular showdown, whereby grotesque body horror and existential science fiction combine for one
• Akira is out on April 21
a hugely popular series amongst young readers, which led to much anticipation for the revolutionary feature film in 1988. Touted as the most expensive animated film of all time, Akira burst onto screens in all its cyberpunk glory, delivering an assault on the senses that endures to this day. Today, the anime section of your local JB Hi-Fi is a treasure trove of eclectic and eccentric titles, and outside of the Studio Ghibli catalogue, most anime takes form as long sagas,
like Chronicle and Midnight Special . The twisted city and it’s everchanging design were obvious references for Dark City and Inception , while the detail of Akira ’s post-apocalyptic setting has been influential across many popular media, from animation and music to comic books and video games.
ruthless matriarch Blanche (Lesley Manville), has no intention of letting the child go, forcing George and Margaret to ask how far they will go to fight for their family. If Costner is ingrained on the collective psyche as a cowboy, then the director hopes he comes off more as a lawman, making numerous small visual decisions to point him in that direction. “We gave him a buzz-cut like a cop and dressed him in tan jeans, never blue denim. I wanted to always feel the ghost of his uniform,” says Bezucha, who hails from a fashion background. Costner, he argues, is such a larger than life screen star, “you need something as big as Let Him Go ’s western landscape to contain him.” With her blonde bouffant hair and fancy dresses, Manville’s Blanche Weboy presents an interesting nemesis. “We decided Blanche would be very vain, so we based her look on movie stars she might have seen back in the day. She’s very much a nod to Barbara Stanwyck in Forty Guns ,” Bezucha says, pointing out that if you look very closely, there’s a flaming match pattern on Blanche’s dress, hinting of an incendiary outcome. A thrilling story of vengeance and heroism set against an iconic western backdrop, Bezucha sur- prisingly considers Let Him Go to be a love story. “In many ways that’s what it is to me – a love story between Kevin and Diane’s characters. We find them in this scary and terrible predicament, which happens to be in a western setting. It also has the logic of a western.” Making his directorial debut with the Montana-set Big Eden twenty-one years ago, NewYorker Bezucha has longed to return to the west. “I love the west and have never slept better in my life as I did while we were shoot- ing Big Eden in Glacier National Park.” For Let Him Go , he moved even further north, shooting in Alberta, Canada – its grand vistas resembling the American west. Having previously directed The Family Stone and Monte Carlo , Bezucha is mostly drawn to family themes. “Family dynamics have always intrigued me, possibly because my own family is so small. I have a sister and my parents were divorced back in the ‘70s, so it’s a typical American mess that led to my fascination with families.” Often likening his characters to people that he knows in real life, the director says of Costner,
• Let Him Go is out on April 7
In casting Kevin Costner in the western revenge thriller, Let Him Go , director Thomas Bezucha was more than aware of his star’s daunting legacy in the western genre. Words Gill Pringle
K evin Costner, of course, directed, produced and starred in Dances with Wolves , which won seven Oscars, later earning an Emmy for his role in TV western mini-series Hatfields & McCoys , and currently starring in TV’s Yellowstone as a formidable patriarch and ranch owner. Recalling one of his early meetings with the actor, Let Him Go director Thomas Bezu- cha says, “The very first time I met with Kevin he asked me if his character wore a hat, and I said ‘no’. I think that was the right answer. I think he wanted to not wear a hat to differenti- ate from his current TV role as John Dutton on Yellowstone .” Based on Larry Watson’s novel and set during
Director Thomas Bezucha and Kevin Costner
the 1960s, Let Him Go sees Costner as retired Montana sheriff George Blackledge, living a simple homestead life with wife Margaret (Diane Lane), their son and his wife and infant grandson. The elder couple’s life is derailed following the tragic loss of their son, and when their daughter-in-law remarries, they are compelled to leave their Montana ranch on a
“He reminds me of my Uncle Douglas with his inherent decency, which I find so moving.” Despite all his accolades, Costner never offered unsolicited advice on set. “He’s a director, a writer, an actor and a producer, which makes him genetically a storyteller. Ultimately, he’s a wonderful collaborator whose only motivation is to make everything better. He’s the best partner I could have wished for.”
mission through the North Dakota desert to rescue their young grandson from a dangerous family living off the grid. The Blackledges will soon discover that the Weboy family, a deep- rooted local clan led by
Diane Lane and Kevin Costner
20 APRIL 2021
writing such confronting material, knowing that she would, in turn, have to enact it on screen. “She had a writer-hat on and wasn’t thinking about what would come later,” Marshall offers. “I think if she had thought about it, she would have been like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to learn how to ride a horse, or I have to be strapped to this thing all day, every
STACK caught up with British director Neil Marshall to discuss The Reckoning , his new period drama exploring the horrors of the English witch hunts during the Great Plague. Words Glenn Cochrane WITCHERY
day, and it’s going to be painful.’” When it came to depicting the graphic nature of the 17th century witch hunts, Marshall reflects, “I never wanted to make a torture- porn film. I’m not interested in that as a genre. I’m not interested in watching it or making it, but I knew I had to deal with torture in this film because that was the historical fact. And we’re dealing with the fact that these poor, mostly, women had to endure all of this and most of them died because of it.
• The Reckoning is out on April 7
“So, I had to be true to the subject matter but at the same time not dwell on it. My thought was that I imply a lot of what’s happening – the implication is more than horrific.”
T he Reckoning follows an innocent young widow (Charlotte Kirk) who is falsely accused of witchcraft after rejecting her landlord’s advances, and subsequently faces persecution by England’s most ruthless witch hunter (Sean Pertwee). “When I was developing this script, it was a choice between setting it in this period [mid-1600s] or earlier during the more medieval Black Death kind of times [1300s], and I felt like that had been covered a lot more in movies, whereas this period had not,” director Neil Marshall tells STACK . “There are only a handful of movies that are set around this period just after the British civil war. The plague hits and the year after this was the Great Fire of London. It was a rich time to explore, and visually, it’s really interesting.” One of the more striking elements of the period were the plague doctors and their nightmarish, long-billed masks. “The beaks were stuffed with various herbs and things like that. They believed the smell of these herbs would protect them
from the plague,” Marshall explains. “They thought that infection was carried in smell. So, it’s kind of symbolic that we’re wearing masks because of plague now.” Adding to The Reckoning ’s already disturbing take on the barbaric witch trials, Marshall paints the screen with a blend of historically accurate atrocities as well as a nightmarish splash of fantasy. When asked about some of his biggest influences, one particularly notorious film comes to mind: the documentary Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages . “Some of the imagery in that film is absolutely astonishing,” he says, “but I actually made a point not to watch things like Witchfinder General again in the lead up to doing the film. I didn’t want to have that fresh in my mind when I made this movie… I was trying to conjure up original stuff as much as possible.” The Reckoning ’s themes and depictions of torture are, indeed, unsettling. Lead actress Charlotte Kirk, who also served as co-writer, had us ask Marshall how she felt when
MASTEROFHORROR Neil Marshall
P ulling up a seat at the exclusive Masters of Horror table alongside such terror titans as John Carpenter ( Halloween ), John Landis ( An American Werewolf in London ), Tobe Hooper ( The Texas Chain Saw Massacre ) and Joe Dante ( The Howling ), Neil Marshall has not only earned his place amongst these legends, he’s also proven to be one of the most eclectic members. Stampeding his way onto the horror scene in 2002 with his runaway hit Dog Soldiers , he has since forged a name for himself with genre-bending fireballs like the claustrophobic chiller The Descent (2005), the action-thriller Doomsday (2008), and the historical war epic Centurion (2010). What sets Marshall apart from many of his contemporaries is his diversity of storytelling; no two films of his are alike, and that’s the way he likes it. “I don't want to repeat myself. I also don't want to repeat stuff that's out there already. I love finding stories within history. That's the challenge for me. “I never wanted to be seen purely as a horror director. Action is the thing that I love doing most. I always try to get some action into whatever I'm doing because I like directing the sh–t out of that stuff. It's fun.”
STACK chats with Eric Bana about the scorching newAustralian mystery-thriller, The Dry . Words Gill Pringle DARK REUNION
that Gretchen is representative of the life that he left,” he adds, referring to the character played by Irish-Australian actress Genevieve O’Reilly. “She could have left and gone to the city, but she stayed and has tried to make the most of her life in that town, and there’s a beautiful relationship between the two of them, which really attracted me when I read the book. “So, I think it’s something that all people relate to and also this notion that we don’t truly move forward until we’ve dealt with the things that have happened in our past. And the dual narratives we have with this story, with the young characters and with ourselves, it’s emotionally really wonderful.” Filmed at locations in the Wimmera region of Victoria, about a four-and-a-half hour drive outside Melbourne, Bana says he had such a great experience and wishes he could work more in Australian films. “If you look at the quality of writing on Romulus, My Father and The Dry , you’ll see they don’t grow on trees in any country. I’m not at all surprised that it took that long to find something, because this is a really hard project to find; projects of this quality, original pieces of work that are adult, that are sophisticated, that have characters in them that every actor wants to be a part of. “My friendship with Robert began on Romulus, My Father and we had such affection for that film and the way that it played out with Australians. So, yeah, I’d love to do more.” 25 -year-old Joe Klocek couldn’t believe his luck when he landed his first film role portraying the younger version of Eric Bana’s character, Aaron Falk, in The Dry . “I was so honoured that people thought I looked enough like Eric,” the Brisbane-based actor tells STACK . “I mean, every young man wants to be told they look like Eric Bana! “ The Dry is a big deal for Australia and I wanted to get it absolutely right,” says Klocek, recalling how he went to Bana for advice. “He told me not to worry about mimicking him but to go with my instincts and view the younger and older versions of Aaron Falk as two separate characters. He really gave me free reign.”
M elbourne-based filmmaker Robert Connolly, whose movies include the box-office hit Paper Planes (2014) and award-winning drama Balibo (2009), brings Jane Harper’s best-selling crime-thriller, The Dry , to the screen with Eric Bana in the lead and an extraordinary cast of homegrown talent onboard. Marking Bana’s first Aussie film in 12 years – he last collaborated with Connolly on Romulus, My Father – the actor thanks his wife, Rebecca Gleeson, for introducing him to Harper’s book. “She’s always a couple of steps ahead of me,” he tells STACK . “She’d read the book, along with a bunch of her friends, and loved it, and told me that I should read it because it was most likely one day going to be turned into a film.” Having shared office space with Connolly in Melbourne for the past ten years, Bana had no idea that his friend would be the person tasked
with turning it into a film until they caught up over lunch and the actor expressed his enthusiasm. Bana plays Aaron Falk, a federal agent who left his hometown – the drought-stricken rural community of Kiewarra – over 20 years ago, reluctantly returning for the funeral of his childhood friend and subsequently becoming involved in a decades-old unsolved crime. The actor believed The Dry ’s themes of coming home and how difficult that might be are central to the story. “I think it’s something everyone can relate to. I love the notion of this school reunion that no one wants to return to and, to me, that’s how it felt with Aaron. It felt like he’s going back to his past, but he’s forced to go back; he doesn’t really want to be there for many reasons.” Ask Bana if he’s ever attended a high school reunion of his own, and he laughs. “They don’t appeal to me. I went to one and I’ve actually kept in touch with a few very dear
school friends, so I feel like I’ve got my gang and I don’t need to increase the numbers. “But I think a lot of people can relate to that and I think
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Pete Docter. “So, when he’s offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play with one of the greats, Joe feels he’s reached the top of the mountain.” Unfortunately, things don’t go to plan and one small misstep takes him from the streets of NewYork to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls acquire certain traits prior to heading to Earth. “In our story, everyone is born with a soul,” explains Docter. “And those souls don’t just show up unprepared, they’re trained and given personality and interests.” When Joe lands in this dimension, he feels like he doesn’t belong there. Determined to return to his life, he teams up with a precocious soul, 22 (Fey), who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As a white guy, whose Pixar credits include Up , Monsters, Inc. , Inside Out and WALL•E , Docter knew he could never truly tackle this story without help, enlisting African American playwright Kemp Powers as both co-writer and co-director. Picking up the reins of the story, Powers tell us, “Sometimes souls have a little trouble finding that special spark to earn their way to Earth. The counselors at The Great Before call on mentors to help inspire these souls – extraordinary historical people like Abraham Lincoln. “This has worked for every single soul except 22, who’s a bit like a petulant pre-teen, who has no desire to go to Earth.” Foxx’s young daughter proved his greatest cheerleader when he landed the role of Joe. ”She was 10 when she found out I was going to be a Pixar character and said, ‘Dad, you made it, you’re finally famous,” laughs the Oscar-winner. “And she was right because being in a Disney/Pixar film is something, as an actor, you always hope to get that
• Soul is out now
In Disney/Pixar’s Soul , Jamie Foxx andTina Fey make it a breeze for any parent struggling to explain to their kids such heavy topics as the meaning of life and what it means to have a soul. Words Gill Pringle YOU GOTTA HAVE SOUL
“P ixar always strives to reach into big topics in a way that most family films don’t,” says Tina Fey. “With Soul , we’re able to explore the idea of personality and spirit and purpose in life through the eyes of relatable, funny characters in really bizarre environments that are hysterically funny. It’s a brand of creative comedy you just won’t find anywhere else.” Pixar’s 23rd film and the first to feature a black lead, with Jamie Foxx voicing the animated film’s main character, Joe Gardner, Soul arrives at a fortuitous moment, carrying a timely message of rebirth – its title both an homage to soul and jazz and also the
soul we trust is within us all. “What is it that makes you…YOU?” asks the film, which introduces Joe Gardner (Foxx), a middle-school band teacher with a passion for jazz. “Joe wants more than anything to become a professional jazz pianist,” says co-director
opportunity. And also to get to be the first African American lead in a Pixar film – that’s a high mark.” The experience, he says, was inspiring, “I was always a glass-half- full type of guy, but this film filled my glass to the rim with optimism and to enjoy the moment. “We’re in a challenging time when it comes to humanity, so holding on to our joy is very important and this film is a beautiful gift which allows us to reach for the joy in all of us, because it’s so desperately needed.” Fey agrees. “Joe’s journey is a real reminder that your life is taking place every day; it’s not something that you’re gonna get to once you’re finally ready; or once you finally get some external confirmation that you’ve made it. So, it’s a beautiful reminder, especially during this crazy time, to just try to take in every moment of your day – quiet moments,
simple experiences – and let that bring you as much joy in life as great success,” she says.
24 APRIL 2021
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MOVIES OUT THIS MONTH APRIL
THE CROODS: A NEW AGE The Croods are back and they’re up against all sorts of odds, the most problematic being teenage love. Picking up shortly after the events of the first movie, the loveable cave clan find themselves in a new world (that looks a lot like a tropical oasis) where they are challenged by a more
WRONG TURN The 2003 hillbilly-horror flick of the same name is given a slick and inventive reboot that detours into unexpected new territory. Ignoring the warnings from locals not to venture into the mountains, a group of friends set off to hike the Appalachian Trail and soon
sophisticated family. Arriving seven years after the first film, this sequel barrels along at a hyperactive pace and is even more fun than the original.
find themselves lost and dodging lethal booby traps before being captured by a strange, hidden community that pre-dates the Civil War.
THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE & HER LOVER Director Peter Greenaway's controversial 1989 cult classic takes matters of class and hedonism to over the top heights, serving up a smorgasbord of lust, gluttony, murder and revenge. Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon lead a quality cast, while the opulent
AMMONITE Set in the 1840s, Ammonite explores an imagined romance between real-life palaeontologist Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) – about whom little is known beyond her famed fossil discoveries on the beaches of Southern England – and a young married woman (Saoirse Ronan). Beautifully
production design and stately score cast a mesmeric spell. Long unavailable on home entertainment formats, this is a most welcome return.
written and directed by Francis Lee ( God's Own Country ), this is a highpoint in LGTBI+ cinema.
SMILEY FACE KILLERS Ronen Rubinstein stars as a handsome young soccer player named Jake, who is unable to shake the feeling he's being stalked. His fears prove correct – a serial-killing sect (led by the great Crispin Glover) has chosen him as their next victim...
WILLY'S WONDERLAND Nicolas Cage plays a night shift janitor who’s employed to clean up an abandoned family amusement centre, wherein the animatronic characters come to life. His cleaner-upperer personage will need to fight each of them off if he hopes to
Written by Bret Easton Ellis (author of American Psycho ) and directed by Tim Hunter ( River's Edge ), this is an intense horror-thriller in the tradition of Zodiac .
see another day. Think video game series Five Nights at Freddy’s crossed with The Banana Splits Movie , albeit with all sorts of wonderful Cage craziness.
WICKED CITY One of the very first anime titles to turn up on local video store shelves in the late '80s, Wicked City is also one of the most wild entries in the genre, blending stylish eroticism, graphic horror and pulse-pounding action. When the human world and the demon
STONE Before Mad Max tore down the Aussie highways, notorious outlaw biker gang The Gravediggers were making trouble for the law in director Sandy Harbutt's seminal Ozploitation classic from 1974. Undercover cop Stone (Ken Shorter) infiltrates the
realm collide, it's up to a pair of agents – a lady-killer human and a voluptuous demon – to make peace. Also available on Blu-ray with bonus feature Demon City Shinjuku (1988).
gang to investigate a series of grisly killings and winds up in over his head. Blu- ray bonus features include vintage featurette, deleted scenes and much more.