9 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Hopefully Damián Szifron is on his way to Hollywood
18 March 2015
Hopefully Damián Szifron is on his way to Hollywood. Simply the most refreshing and entertaining film that I've been lucky enough to watch since Nightcrawler...really it's that good. The darkest comedy you'll have the pleasure to experience. Ticks all the boxes, cinematic, a superb ensemble cast deliver in every short story, dead pan humour, intelligent, thought provoking, terrifyingly realistic, wonderful camera-work especially in the final story, with a couple of explosions and some (thankfully) subtle CGI thrown in to complete this masterpiece. Lovely to once again sit amid an audience all happily laughing out loud, without the need to lower itself to racist, sexist, ageist, homophobic humour, though the scatological humour is surprisingly perfectly appropriate and carefully framed to make the point without unnecessary vulgarity. Ten out of Ten. A new name to watch. Kudos to Damián Szifron.
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Locke (2013)
Locke a cinematic tour de force
19 October 2013
Viewed at the Leicester Square on the 19th Oct 2013 as part of the London Film Festival. A great film that was completely faultless in in every aspect, even more truly remarkable considering the tiny amount of time that the cast and crew had to make it, nothing less than an astounding for it's superb production management and producing brio. Steven Knight screenplay and direction were masterly by design and sensational in execution. After the screening an audience member in the Q&A referred to the film as relentless, an apt adjective the films roller coaster script was completely reverting as the juxtaposed character interactions went from making you laugh out loud to bringing a tear of compassion to your eye, beautifully written and performed by an ensemble cast all turning in unforgettable performances. Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke, was profoundly captivating turning in a moving performance I believe was a triumphant personal best, with notable memorable contribution from Andrew Scott as Donal and Olivia Colman as Bethan being stand out amongst the all magnificent supporting cast. I was proud to attend the UK Premier of what will surely become shortly recognised as a seminal British feature film, there are so many films made nowadays but very little cinema, add this to the cannon of cinemas masterpieces, a remarkable achievement, story telling and performance at the very highest level and hugely entertaining. Collaboratively nothing less than a cinematic tour de force (by definition a: feat demonstrating brilliance or mastery in a field).
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Lawless (2012)
A modern Gangster classic of good old boy bootleggers
25 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
An American classic tale of the stubborn humble country folk bootleggers resisting corrupt city politicians and the mob. I watched this film at the Cannes as a filmmaker myself I was attending the festival to screen my own film. All the stars turned up to support the film and attended the main evening screening including Nick Cave (the main man behind the scenes for screenplay and score). The film received a rapturous applause after the screening, it is after all a classic modern gangster tale of good-old-boys moon-shiners going up against the mob when they refuse to tow the line and pay protection money to gangsters working for the local corrupt elected official. A family of three brothers, the elder two Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke play Forrest and Howard Bondurant, legendary local hard men and indestructible war hero, their younger sibling Shia LaBeouf plays Jack Bondurant a young man trying desperately to live up to and gain respect from his older brothers. When gangsters fronted by Guy Pearce as Special Agent Charlie Rakes (as an eccentric very scary villain) comes to town, with the assistance of the local constabulary, the offer is made to give up a piece of their action making moon-shine in the nearby hills or to feel the wrath of the law. The brothers are set in their ways, bend down to no man and a confrontation is in the offing. Without giving too much away, Jessica Chastain as Maggie turns up in town having escaped from cruel violent men in the city, she is given a job by Forrest and a very slow romance begins, she is smouldering, sassy and the only strong woman in the film. Yes...this is a boys movie, the scenes of brutal violence will repulse a female audience, but then again they will probably turn up in droves to watch La Beouf turn out a strong assured well developed leading man's performance. Jason Clarke as Howard is strong and as always totally believable, though it is perhaps for Hardy's remarkable modern John Wayne homage performance that the film will most likely be remembered, for he uses all John Wayne's classic acting tips "Say less, say it low and say it slow", enabling Hardy to once again turn out a remarkably memorable star building performance that will both melt the ladies hearts and make him the envy of every young tough man wanting to make a name for himself as a hard man leader type. Gary Oldman appears briefly in a couple of memorable scenes, as always understated and highly memorable, he plays his part in building the legend of the Bondurant brothers, but I only wish that his character had been given a bigger part in the story. The golden team that made The Proposition (2005)are re-united, John Hillcoat doing a great job of Directing once more, and both the script and fabulous country Bluegrass and bluesy score, being provided by the music legend in real life Nick Cave. Though the critics Jury at the Cannes film festival undeservedly did not vote for the film favourably (most probably because they did not like to see the three anti-heroes law breakers prevail against the police, corrupt though they were), it is more likely that at an art-house festival the reviews took exception that they were forced to watch and review a main stream film. Whilst The Proposition was an art-house hit Lawless will have undoubtedly enjoy much wider distribution and be remembered as a modern gangster classic. The original book was written by Jake's very own grandson, brought up on the true story, if most probably slightly exaggerated over repeated retelling though the ages. The film, thoroughly enjoyable and very highly recommended.
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Out with the old and in with the new
25 May 2012
I watched this at the Cannes Film Festival 2012 after deciding to take a break from all the serious art-house fare on offer. With the exception of Ben Stiller's lead all the original supporting leads take virtually a back seat in this third instalment. But several great new characters are introduced namely Frances McDormand as Captain Chantel DuBois, Bryan Cranston as Vitaly and the fabulous Martin Short as Stefano. All there performances are stand out but wished Shorts Stefano was featured more. Cranston as Vitaly was beautifully menacing but it is the wacky deadly policewoman in charge of hunting down and capturing the animals as they make their way across Europe which is the centre of the narrative drive. Since the police team where obviously the bad guys (DuBois only wants to capture Mike (Ben Stiller) so she can add his head to her mounted collection of stuffed animals on her office wall) it was ironic that I watched this in France since the police were portrayed as bunch gung-ho obsessive freaks (DuBois crawls around on all fours to sniff down her prey like a dog come insect). The film was screened in 3D, initially I was apprehensive since I don't really enjoy 3D movies but this was a pleasant surprise. After a few minutes I had completely forgotten that I was wearing the 3D glasses and the spectacular climatic scene I was completely wowed. An explosion of vivid movement and colour formed an intricate moving tapestry of light and colour that was gorgeous to watch. The kids will love it and any one young at heart enough to let themselves loose themselves in escapist fun for a couple of hours. One of the best "family" animation films that I've seen in years and highly recommended. Oh I nearly forgot....Baron Cohen's (as The King) love affair with a giant mute bear is both surreal and priceless!
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The Sapphires (2012)
Flawed script scuppers any hopes for this feel good movie
24 May 2012
Watched at the Cannes film festival. I really wanted this film to work, the audience were willing it to work and though the credits when rolled were met with a rapturous applause post screening, I was left feeling bitterly disappointed. Though comparisons will be made to a past Australian stand-out film at Cannes "Strictly Ballroom" the comparisons will be unjustified for this is a poor by comparison and would never merit repeat viewing. Though O'Dowd is very funny and his and his co- performers act their hearts out this film was sadly flawed from the start because of the poorly developed/written script that sinks to finger down the throat nausea inducing bathetic levels of cheesiness to try and tack on a race issue badge of merit, which is at best highly unnecessary and at worst deeply insulting, for example Martin Luther King speech. Scripting by the numbers doesn't work, a real shame for all the actors involved, as if the script was worked longer in development with a couple of spoons full of honey less, this film could have potentially been highly enjoyable.
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On the Road (2012)
A great adaptation of the Jack Kerouac's classic novel
24 May 2012
Watched at the Cannes Film Festival. For a young audience jaded and sick of a seemingly constant avalanche of super hero and action block buster no-brainer movies this film will shine like a refreshing breath of much desired escapism in times of depression and high unemployment. Though having made previously multi-awards winning films and having worked with some amazing actors in the past, Walter Salles finally has been allowed to work with some the hottest young Hollywood stars, this will surely really hit pay-dirt for him and open up his work to a whole new generation and market, with film enjoying a much wider release, transcending the usual art-house cinema's he has previously been limited to. The film will appeal both to the large demographic audience of teen film goers but also an older generation of book readers curious to see how one of the most inspirational novels of their teens turns out now that it has finally hit the screens over half a century since it's first release. The film seems part biopic as it departs often from the book, young audiences will easily connect and relate to mind-set of Kerouac as they are given insight into one of America's legendary free-spirits that pre-dated "Generation X" and the much earlier Easy Rider generation by decades. Whilst Kirsten Stewart will draw a large teen audience following for the Twilight Saga movie franchise, Riley for his stand-out award winning art-house performances, it will be the scenes of drug taking, sexual experimentation, visuals of haunting beautifully shots landscapes and a sense of escapism that will all have a massive teen audience appeal, but most memorable of all will be Garrett Hedlund star in the making, charismatic scene stealing performance that will be prominent in reviews, garner excellent word-of-mouth and leave an indelible mark.
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Rust and Bone (2012)
Again a remarkable film by a master film maker
22 May 2012
I watched this film at the Canes Film Festival, audience expectation was high the huge Palais auditorium completely filled. Jacques Audiard is my favourite director, as with Tahir Rahim in A Prophet and Roman Duris in The Beat that my heart skipped, Audiard managed to get an astounding performance from his male lead Schoenaerts, performed as a brutal man lacking the capability to show warmth or love to his young son and the women that cross his path, his performance as a bouncer come fist fighter for money is always believable though completely unsympathetic. You wish him to succeed though you find it hard to like him so often does his character disappoint, seemingly incapable of love and sensitivity, his straight forward requests for sex come out as comic rather than charming, but his open down-to-earth approach and honesty, often gets him what he desires. Meeting Cotillard he is met and challenged by a very strong woman, damaged she needs to find herself again, he could possibly help, at least initially physically rather than emotionally. As their characters interact throughout the film I was unsure as too who would change who, fascinating highly watchable characters struggle to prevail against bad luck and to pull themselves out of the mire of despair and poverty, my kind of film. Again a remarkable film by a master film maker, completely at ease with breaking the conventions of traditional romance.
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Amour (2012)
No White Ribbon
21 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I watched Amour (Love) yesterday morning at the Cannes Film Festival, though an eight am screening every seat of the massive Palais auditorium was filled, expectation was so high that I found it impossible to get a ticket for the evening screening. It was the hottest ticket of the festival so far. For those that love Haneke's style of filmmaking, this film will not disappoint, the camera never moves, locked tripod mounted shots roll for several minutes whilst characters walk in and out of frame, action takes place often off camera, this all forces the viewer to concentrate more, in a similar way to Hidden we look around the screen searching for meaning and intent. All the three main performances were realistic, believable, exceptional, the son and all other characters appear only in one scene. Was this a great film, sadly no. Though the run time was just over two hours, in my opinion time was squandered on needlessly long running locked camera scenes with little or no action or meaning communicated whatsoever, again on a slow montage sequence of the rooms of the couples paintings in their residence, a similar one of the empty rooms of their flat at night, a view of an audience sitting down and the preparations till a musical recital to begin, all simply wasted so much time that could have been much better filled with more narrative and dramatic sequences that could have fleshed out the spartan build up the dramatic final scenes, given them more foundation and depth, this left me both disappointed and unsatisfied. For example, a sudden violent reaction seemed brutal and completely unjustified in reaction to an act of passive defiance, I understand that every member of the audience is capable and willing to fill in the missing scenes but Haneke one again does not even attempt to portray a satisfying narrative, so the violent act seems therefore completely out of character, simply because no effort had been made to show a dramatic build up to justify such a savage reaction, I was shocked for all the wrong reasons, rather than empathise with a person acting out of character through despair after their love had eroded after long period of time, I instead found myself initially reading the violent act at mean and cruel (I'm sure this wasn't the intent). This was simply clumsy and completely unnecessary given the time that could been used more productively, time was repeatedly squandered wastefully on slow shots previously giving little or nothing in the way of information, simply poor story telling from someone fully capable of doing so much more. Therefore the White Ribbon, probably my least favourite of his films so far, a big disappointment and a missed opportunity, wonderful actors, totally relevant subject matter, though poorly handled.
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Big River Man (2009)
Big River Man is a wonderful film - Go and see it and tell your friends too!
7 September 2009
I recently attended a screening of Big River Man at the ICA in London, the film was Directed and shot by John Maringouin (won best cinematographer award at Sundance 2009) follows Martin Strel as he attempts to cover 3,375 miles of the Amazon River in what is being billed as the world's longest swim. What a treat! Easily the best doc I've seen since Man on Wire, Big River Man is a wonderful, very funny, insightful epic road (substitute river) movie on what is still one of the last great unknown frontiers, the mighty Amazon River and the jungle it meanders through. Martin Strel and his son and project manager/PR publicist Borut Strel attended the screening and did a Q&A afterwards, they were both very charming, honest and open in their answers and amazingly modest, since the film pulled no punches, was brutally honest as they fought dozens of physical and psychological barriers to complete their incredible quest of endurance, simply an epic human endeavour. I found this film to be one of the most enjoyable films I've watched in recent years and would urge you to make your best efforts to see it, giving it my highest recommendation to all and everyone to see it since Let The Right One In. Funny fact, the film listed Olivia Newton-John as one of its executive producers (yes Grease), hat's off to her, her money was truly well invested here. Regards Ray Brady - London based indie feature director.
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