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Boy A (2007)
I first saw this film when it was a two-part drama on Channel Four two years ago. My ex gave me the DVD along with some others about a year ago but, being a film fanatic and owning quite a lot of DVDs, I didn't get around to watching it again until now and I am so glad I did. I was spellbound throughout.
I won't go into great detail about the plot because I'm sure enough people have been there already. Firstly, I have to say it is a refreshing thing to see a film that has taken a realistic subject matter and built a gritty and haunting emotional drama around it. They have truly succeeded, with brilliant acting, particularly from newcomer Andrew Garthfield playing the lead; "Boy A" himself. Supporting roles from the young boys (Alfie Owen and Taylor Doherty) and Peter Mullen who played Terry, Jack's councillor, were all spot-on too.
As somebody else said, this picture really is an emotional roller-coaster. We follow Andrew Garthfield's character through his journey, with some truly uplifting and heart-warming scenes, juxtaposed with the pain, guilt, fear and anxiety as he is coming to terms with what he has done, and the fact that he can't seem to escape from it.
I don't think there's enough words to actually give this film justice. It really is a masterpiece; compelling throughout, a powerful eye opener, and you'll still be thinking about Jack and his fate long after the credits roll.
(And to whoever said this is a good film from Canada what were you thinking! this film is British through and through!!)
Burn After Reading (2008)
An entertaining comedy crime romp from the Coen Brothers
There seem to be no morals in this comedy spy caper from the Coen Brothers. Adultery, blackmail and murder it's all here wrapped up in an unpredictable and witty dialogue, with an all-star cast and skilled direction and writing.
I'm not normally a big fan of action comedies, which is what this film is billed as. But even I could appreciate the trademark dark humour, and the two leads Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand were simply brilliant, although it's a slight shame about the first 20 minutes before they are introduced, which drags somewhat.
The premise of the film is that two gym employees (Pitt and McDormand) find a disc containing the memoirs of ex-CIA agent Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich). The two embark on a mission to track down said CIA agent, hoping to coerce him into paying them a reward for returning the disk to him.
What follows is a hilarious scene with Brad Pitt at his best as a comedic actor, as the dumb jock Chad attempts to blackmail Osbourne Cox over the telephone, as Malkovich portrays a man who has been woken up in the middle of the night by an idiot perfectly, with a slow boiling rage before exploding.
The plot is ridiculous, unrealistic and filled with holes, but it makes for great entertainment. The film is not overlong either at just 90 minutes in length. As well as an action/crime/comedy the movie also provides us with a character study; examining the selfishness of the characters and their true desires. None of the main characters seem to have a bit of integrity to rub together, and don't expect too many of them to still be alive by the end of the film, just enjoy the ride. And remember...appearances can be deceptive ;)
The Notebook (2004)
Beautiful cinematography and high-class actors, but something amiss.
Perhaps I wasn't quite in the right mood for this film when I watched it. It was a film I had highly anticipated,and I wanted to love it. Don't get me wrong, I did like it. It is an enjoyable and touching simple romance, moving through the ages,depicting a generation of love. I wanted to be swept away in the sheer romance. But coming away from it, I found myself thinking it hadn't quite lived up to it's immense hype.
The film starts one fateful summer in the 1940s, and the young couple meet at a carnival. This is probably one of my favourite scenes in the film; unrealistic, but we know the film isn't trying to be realist it's romantic, and that's the important thing.
Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling steal the show, conveying the emotions of young love superbly; the first steps as they get to know each other; followed by the passion as the couple can never seem to agree on anything, but their love for each other.
McAdams is especially outstanding in this feature, and I didn't even recognise her from her part in Mean Girls, released earlier that year. She has proved herself as a talented, flexible actress and after seeing her in this I can't wait to see what she does with the part of Claire in movie The Time Travellers Wife, coming out this year, which is based on one of my favourite books of all time.
Alongside the story of the young lovers, we have the parallel story of an older couple (James Garner and Gena Rowlands). Both also play their roles well, but it's all a little predictable. Did anyone not see a million miles ahead that they would be the elderly Noah and Allie?
This film does have some genuinely touching scenes; watch out for when the children visit Duke and Alison in the residential home this one had me welling up; "That's my sweetheart in there. Wherever she is, that's where my home is."
We also get a glimpse at what it would be like to lose a loved one to an illness like senile dementia; the painful circumstance where someone you've known your whole life can't even remember who you are.
All in all, The Notebook is a pleasant way to spend two hours; with an overwhelmingly romantic and sentimental core, but coming away from it, for me it's not as memorable as other films in the romance genre. We follow Noah and Allie as they grow up; falling in love young; living separate lives before being reunited again. It tells a story we've heard and seen a hundred times before, but it does tell it well.