Night Shift (Ночная Смена) (2018, Russia)
Directed by Marius Vaisberg. Featuring Vladimir Yaglych, Pavel Derevyanko, Kseniya Teplova, Natalya Bardo and Anna Mikhaylovskaya.
Night Shift (or pronounced Nochnaya Smena in Russian) is a slap-stick comedy set in St. Petersburg, Russia. The multiple script writers appear to have taken the basic premise (and a few particular scenes) from the hugely popular 1997 UK film The Full Monty and given it a Russian twist. But they do it well, and there is plenty of new material thrown in there. It contains somewhat ridiculous but very funny scenes. Maksim (Yaglych) and Sergei (Derevyanko) are recently out-of-work welders looking for new opportunities. While Sergei concocts a series of elaborate lies to find a new opening in work (as well as in romance), the more honest (and butch) Maksim reluctantly lands a job as an evening stripper. However, he cannot bring himself to inform his wife Anna (Teplova), instead lying to her that he has started the night shift at the factory. The results are an endless series of misunderstandings and turned-upside-down scenarios.
The never-ending mishaps and wrong turns are helped along by a good cast of quirky characters. The photography by American cinematographer Bruce Alan Green is notable. Though it is a comedy, and a pretty odd-ball hammed-up sort of comedy at that, there are a few subtle messages in the film that appear to be counter to the official Russian State position – such as the acceptance of bisexuality and homosexuality. Mostly the film is just a silly hoot. I saw it in a theatre with a majority Russian audience, and they all laughed throughout. I laughed too, though perhaps slightly quieter. And maybe that is because like a few other non-Russians that I spoke to after the film, we agreed that it was a kind of Russian Full Monty: funny but not entirely original. Still, it is a feel-good movie.
The film was shown at selected cinemas across Australia as part of the Russian Resurrection Film Festival in November 2018.
Reviewed by Robin Stevens – Rated 3.5/5
Peppermint (2018, Lakeshore Entertainment and STXfilms)
Directed by Pierre Morel. Featuring Jennifer Garner, John Oritz, John Gallagher Jr, Juan Pablo Raba and Tyson Ritter.
Peppermint is mostly set in Los Angeles and tells the story of Riley North (played by Garner) who after losing her husband and child in a drive-by gang shooting becomes a vigilante for justice against the influential drug cartel that took away her family. In a movie industry dominated by male action heroes, I found it quite refreshing to witness a film that reignites the revenge-seeking female vigilante. Jennifer Garner provides Riley with a depth and strength of character that almost makes it believable that a ‘soccer mum’ could potentially turn into a not-to-be-messed-with, kick-ass heroine under the right circumstances.
Described by a critic as ‘Death Wish on steroids’, Peppermint provides a non-stop action thrill ride that is both stylish and silly. However, I personally preferred The Brave One from 2007, which had a more impressive Jodi Foster at the helm as the woman bent on revenge. Having said that, Peppermint is okay. As is typical with this sort of movie, the believability of some of the action scenes is a bit stretched at the best of times. I was also somewhat disappointed by the woodenness of the villains Riley was seeking revenge on. Overall, it is watchable.
Reviewed by Annabelle Davis – Rated 3/5