Category: 2011

The Way

the way 1Self discovery is one of the subjects that tend to crop up on a regular basis in the movies. They tend to be featured a lot in the lower end, TV movie of the week style film that comes across as being cheesy and not entertaining in the least. It’s not an easy task to take a device like that and use it in a way that engages the audience from the very start. Fortunately The Way manages it with some style. Continue reading “The Way” »

Sweet Hand of the White Rose

meliniWriter/director Davide Melini is making something of a name for himself in the horror world. His film the Sweet Hand of the White Rose has won several awards including 2nd Best Independent Film of the Year at the Italian festival Indie Horror and the Best Cinematography award at the Spanish festival Cesur en Corto. Having enjoyed his previous film the Puzzle I was looking forward to watching this one. At three times the length, I was intrigued to see if it would sustain my interest for its duration.

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The Iron Lady (2011)

IronLadyCoverMeryl Streep was awarded an Oscar for her performance as Margaret Thatcher, and on watching The Iron Lady it is clear why.

Her take on the formidable first female British Prime Minister is nothing short of brilliant. I’m not talking about portraying her just in the heyday of her parliamentary strength, but especially as the frail, failing old woman “MT” became.

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Miss Bala

Cause and effect is a well used plot devices in movies. One choice made early on can have repercussions that can lead to unexpected outcomes by the end. The 2011 film Miss Bala has it’s entire structure based around this device.

The story focuses almost exclusively on Laura (Stephanie Sigman), a twenty three year old living in the outskirts of Mexico City. Along with her Father and brother she operates a Laundry service from her home. Laura has aspirations. She wants to enter and win the Miss Baha California beauty pageant to give her and her family a step up in life. One of her friends, Jessica (Irene Azula), arranges an audition for Laura and after arriving late they are able to persuade the organisers to admit Laura to the contest. To celebrate the two girls go to a local club. While partying in the club’s VIP area with businessmen, local political and Police officials, Laura steps out to use the facilities. Before she returns the club is attacked by members of a drug cartel. Bloodshed ensues. Laura is found in the toilets but is allowed to escape by the leader of the gang after they ascertain her identity and home address. Continue reading “Miss Bala” »

For the Love of Lugosi

For some film makers the short film is the calling card to gaining recognition and financing for a larger and perhaps more ambitious project. For others completing the short is the achievement in itself. To produce a piece of cinema is a real achievement. To do so on a micro budget and make it interesting is something to be very proud of indeed. Falling into the personal achievement category we review the 2011 documentary film, For the love of Lugosi, from Director Andy Gregor and writer / presenter  D.T. (Derek) Wilson. Continue reading “For the Love of Lugosi” »

Hugo

There cannot be many people more in love with cinema that Martin Scorsese. During his extensive career has used his personal point of view and his passion for film history to create some of the best, entertaining and original movies in living memory. Frequent changes in subject, settings and style has had Mr Scorsese feted as one greatest directors in Hollywood history. When it was announced that his latest project was to be an adaptation of a children’s book and would be filmed in 3D, eyebrows were raised within the film community. How could a successful transition be made from the award winning crime drama, The Departed, to Hugo. Would it be another triumph or a serious mis-step for the great director?

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The Ides of March

American cinema has a long tradition of political dramas. The genre has touched on political intrigue, conspiracy theories and tales of power struggles from the White House and Capitol Hill. A long list of  ‘A’  list actors and directors have been drawn to the subject which can be approached from so many angles.  So it was no surprise when it was announced that politically aware actor George Clooney would be directing the 2011 film The Ides of March.

Based on a play, Farragut North, we follow Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), a media consultant on the campaign to get Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) the Democratic party nomination to run for president. Continue reading “The Ides of March” »

I, Alive

The limits of physical ability through injury or illness are not something that is generally tackled by mainstream cinema. The exceptions to this take the form of a passion project of a film star with a great deal of clout or an actor who is trying to legitimise their shot as an Oscar contender.  The more difficult subjects are usually addressed by film makers outside of the major system.  A film that examines this is the 2011 short film I, Alive from Scottish writer / director Thomas Simpson.

The story follows wheelchair bound Kevin (Calum Murray) and his struggle to be understood. Kevin is unable to verbally communicate and the only part of him we ever see move is his eyes. A possible play on the title with eyes alive perhaps?  His brother Paul (Paul Massie) is his carer. It is the day of the big football match. A potential league deciding game or as Kevin puts it, aren’t they all. The brothers support the opposing teams and head off to the pub to watch the game. Meeting up with their friend Eddie (Brian Grassie) they settle in to watch the game. Someone is going to be disappointed by the outcome. Continue reading “I, Alive” »

The Sunset Limited

A film with two people in a room talking to each other about their beliefs. In the wrong hands this could be a total car wreck of a film that no one would intentionally get to the end of. Fortunately for me The Sunset Limited was very much in the right hands.

The film opens with two men sitting at a table in a run down apartment room. Neither of them look particularly at ease. The more serene man (Samuel L Jackson) starts a conversation with the with the man opposite (Tommy Lee Jones).  In the credits the actors are named as Black and White but they never address each other with this at any point. Black calls White ‘The Professor’ several times without any expalnation except that Black is a very clever and learned man. It becomes apparent the White is anxious to leave the room. Continue reading “The Sunset Limited” »

The Messenger

Before the 2012 psycho cop drama Rampart (reviewed here) Oren Moverman debuted in the directors chair with the military drama, The Messenger.

Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) has returned home from a tour of duty in Iraq. He was seriously injured and has returned to the US to recuperate and see out the last few months of his enlistment.  He is assigned to Casualty notification team alongside Captain Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson). Having no background and no training in dealing with delivering bad news to relatives of soldiers, Will is severely conflicted. He feels that he can not perform the duties laid out before him. It doesn’t help that his personal life is a car wreck. Continue reading “The Messenger” »