Tom Augustine wraps up the weekend in film
It's a little unfortunate for Ready or Not (dir. Matt Bettinelli Olpin, Tyler Gillett, R16) that it happens to be releasing so close to the far flashier, star-studded Knives Out, which arrives in New Zealand next week. Both involve similar-looking isolated country estates populated self-involved, unlikeable rich folk fiendishly plotting against a woman from a lower economic background, with plenty of on-the-pulse class commentary thrown in. Both films are fun and well worth watching, with Ready or Not making a case for itself by being the far nastier, more violent film (in a good way). It follows Grace (Samara Weaving) as she marries the son of an immensely wealthy family whose fortune is built off a board game empire backed by a mysterious benefactor. When the bride is drawn into a ritualistic game of hide and seek that turns out to be far more sinister than it initially appears, she must rely on wit and instinct to survive the night.
A devilishly clever thriller with a satisfyingly brutal kick, Ready or Not lives or dies on the charisma of its central performance. Fortunately, directors Bettinelli Olpin and Gillett have found a bona fide star in Weaving, who is wonderful in the role, an endearing presence stranded in the midst of a range of unsavoury, murderous elites. This film fits easily into the growing genre of "Trumpian social horror" that also includes Get Out, Us, The Purge, and Parasite. Beneath the heart-racing, edge of your seat antics is a simmering, class-conscious rage that ultimately resolves itself in a way that is viscerally satisfying.
Rating: Four stars
It would be easy to dismiss muscular race film Ford v Ferrari (dir. James Mangold, M) as simple dad-movie fodder, but it's more than that. This rollicking, 60s-set story tells of an upstart racer and his visionary overseer as they challenge world champions Ferrari by attempting to build a Ford car that can match its speed at the infamous Le Mans race. As racer Ken Miles, Christian Bale is reliably spirited, spitting out a garbled British accent close to his own with relish. It's Matt Damon, though, as legendary automotive genius Carroll Shelby, who impresses most, with a quieter, more subtle turn as Shelby attempts to navigate the politics and personalities of the intensely corporate Ford Motor Company. Ford v Ferrari is a roaring good time, director Mangold helming proceedings with a steady, classical approach. Standout moments include the bracing races, Mangold's camera held terrifyingly close to the road among the chaotic press of vehicles, giving the sequences a thrilling immediacy. The film refuses to become simplistic propaganda for either motor company, instead painting a picture of the choking, frustrating side-effects of corporate mandates and the way they so often interfere with true greatness. A prestige picture with more guts and finesse than one might expect.
Rating: Four stars