The Clash Film Column: Definitely Not A Moon

It's only Star flippin' Wars...

It’s Star Wars! You know, Star Wars! It’s kind of a big deal. Many Tatooine leather-bound books, and all that…

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That was the week in which…

The core cast of Star Wars: Episode VII was unveiled.

In a galaxy far, far away (okay, Pinewood Studios), the central creative team behind Star Wars: Episode VII were pictured together for the first time. Joining director JJ Abrams were the majority of the original stars (minus Billy Dee Williams and David Prowse – the latter rumoured to be too annoying for George Lucas to tolerate) and a new cast that leans towards recognisable, experienced faces.

Some bemoaned the lack of true stars, but the strength of such an approach is simple. A fantasy such as Star Wars should transport you to a world of unimaginable visions and larger-than-life characters. It would be a needless distraction to think, “Hey, that’s Tom Cruise!” when watching a Jedi do his mind tricks. And imagine how tiresome the “Show me the money!” memes would become.

Inside Llewyn Davis’s Oscar Isaac, Irishman Domhnall Gleeson (featured in issue 95 of Clash magazine), Adam Driver of Girls, the ultra-dependable Andy Serkis and Max von Sydow (whose most famous film, The Seventh Seal, came out 20 years before the first Star Wars movie) is a thoroughly respectable line-up. Yet there were relative newcomers too with Attack The Block’s John Boyega (profiled here) cast in what’s rumoured to be a key role along with the almost unknown Daisy Ridley.

To quote Mark Hamill: “The saga is in superb hands.” Although doubtless someone made that same comment the last time around.

Cast Photo: David James

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The Big Film: Bad Neighbours

Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne star as a married couple with a newborn, enjoying parental bliss in their new home in the suburbs. At least, until a fraternity led by Zac Efron move next door and threaten their way of life with loud parties, drunk pledges and wayward condoms. This kicks off an intense battle for suburban supremacy – who stays, and who goes.

Rogan retains his patented comedic form, delivering joke after joke perfectly – not to mention a few gross-out body image moments. Byrne, whose comedy credentials haven’t really taken off post-Bridesmaids, excels in this movie and manages to keep up with Rogan’s flair. Efron is disappointing overall: his role is purely that of the stereotypical eye-candy, and he manages to make even that dull.

The plot is a fairly simple concept for a movie, and the script from writers Andrew Cohen and Brendan O’Brien isn’t exactly going to set your world on fire. However, the comedic timing and delivery from Rogan and Byrne, as well as the blink-and-you’ll-miss it cameos from a few comedy legends make Bad Neighbours an enjoyable, stereotypical Saturday night movie. Words: Elijah Lawal

Bad Neighbours, trailer

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Also Out: Next Goal Wins

Usually placed around the bottom of the FIFA rankings, the American Samoa football team are best known for their 31-0 demolition by Australia back in 2001, after a farcical chain of events resulted in them fielding a team in which many of the players had never completed a full 90-minute match before.

Next Goal Wins takes up the team’s story from the 2011 Pacific Games in which American Samoa lost all five of their games against other rank outsiders such as Tuvalu and Guam. Aiming for a more credible attempt at qualifying for this year’s World Cup, they called upon the experience of Dutchman Thomas Rongen, who could boast years of managerial experience in the MLS.

Rongen, a gruff speaker who contrasts his no-nonsense approach with a little tenderness, is evidently an expert when it comes to team building and motivation. His squad is a collection of unconventional characters including Jaiyah Saelua, the first transgender player to compete in a World Cup qualifier, and goalkeeper Nicky Salapu, who recalls his part in the 31-0 defeat with the type of mental scars usually associated with incidents more significant than sports results.

If your idea of compelling football is ultimate tekkers, you’ll be disappointed with the talent on show – in fact, one of the highlights is a scene in which a player hits Rongen with an accidental reducer while being taught the art of the slide-tackle. But the individual stories and the evident spirit on show are both particularly inspiring.

Next Goal Win’s story arc is familiar. Think Olaf de Fleur’s Africa United (an immigrant team in the Icelandic lower divisions), Soccer Coach Zoran and his African Tigers (the birth of the South Sudan national team) and Cool Runnings (something about... “JAMAICA, WE HAVE A BOBSLEIGH TEAM”). Usually the maxim of supporting a terrible team is that it’s the hope that kills you. American Samoa and Thomas Rongen show that it’s only hope that can sustain you.

Nationwide previews start on Wednesday, with a full release following next Friday.

Next Goal Wins, trailer

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New Talent: Annabel Scholey

Who? A Yorkshire lass who will make her film debut this summer after an extensive theatrical career.

What’s she been in? She earned praise for her performances alongside Kevin Spacey in Sam Mendes’s take on Richard III at the Old Vic, and with Judi Dench in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She also spent last summer on-stage with Zoë Wanamaker in Passion Play. TV highlights include playing Lauren in the first series of Being Human, as well as a role in Christopher Guest’s HBO series Family Tree.

What’s coming up? That elusive debut film will be released in June with her lead role in Walking On Sunshine, which appears to be pitched halfway between Mamma Mia and Sunshine On Leith. Annabel also appears in Mr Burns at the Almeida Theatre from June 5th until July 26th.

They say: “A performance of wickedly slinky glamour from Annabel Scholey.” The Daily Mail’s review of Passion Play

Photo: Pip

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Shorts

We lost the iconic Bob Hoskins this week (news). Mona Lisa, The Long Good Friday, Brazil, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (pictured) and much, much more is quite a legacy.

Last weekend’s UK box office was underwhelming with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 comfortably webbed in for another week at the top. Following the theory that nobody ever remembers a runner-up, The Other Woman beat Transcendence to second place. Nothing else of note happened unless you want to discuss the reasons why another live opera film (the Met Opera’s Cosi Fan Tutte) outperformed several higher profile releases (expensive ticketing would be my uneducated guess).

Finally, hear Michael Fassbender sing! Hear him sing even more next Friday, when Frank is released…

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Words: Ben Hopkins, except where indicated

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