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Posts Tagged ‘ Movie Review ’

Film Review – Under the Skin

undertheskin

Under the Skin begins with total blackness and ends with a pure white sky. In between there is much greyness: the visual greys of its wintry Glasgow setting, the grey fog of confusion as the film withholds anything resembling plot exposition, and of course that most persistent of grey areas – the good old human condition.

Yes, on its surface this is a film about an alien who takes the form of Scarlett Johansson, trundles around in a white van searching for lonely men before luring them back to a house where they suffer a disturbing end in a black void of nothingness. But beneath its skin this is a film about us – our strangeness, our confusions, our potential for kindness. Continue reading

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The Act Of Killing

The_Act_of_KillingDirector Joshua Oppenheimer’s surreal and harrowing documentary The Act of Killing takes an unusual look at the mass murders of suspected communists in Indonesia in 1965.

After a military coup the paramilitary took over and small-time” movie-theater gangsters” turned into ruthless executors. They modeled themselves on their silver-screen heroes and like the men in the mafia movies they felt no remorse or pity when doing the most horrendous of acts. Continue reading

Compliance

Reality is all the rage in Hollywood.  Whether it’s political Oscar bait, schmaltzy biopics, or those horror films that dubiously claim to be ‘based on real events’, modern audiences apparently crave a bit of authenticity.  Fiction is passé, imagination is out – we want stories about real people doing real things, and we want them here, and we want them now.

But the ‘reality’ of cinema is usually of a specific kind – the kind that takes all the complexity and rawness of a historical event and, for better or worse, moulds it into a two hour jaunt with character arcs and thematic unity.  In short, narrative technique attempts to tame the sprawling chaos of history in the hope that a more distilled truth will emerge.  Sometimes it succeeds (Capote), sometimes is does not (Lincoln). Continue reading

Side Effects

sideeffectsIn the movie world there are certain clichés for which we should be grateful. For example, when a film is described as a ‘heart-warming comedy’ we are instantly assured of its awfulness. Similarly, by placing the words ‘Sarah Jessica Parker’ on a promotional poster, the studio is graciously informing us that only stupid people need attend.

So what of the ‘smart thriller’? Without doubt a more difficult beast to predict, but certain behavioural patterns are observable. These films tend to be interesting up to a narrative point, after which they hurtle into a mandatory, significantly less interesting denouement. While the first section can offer ambiguity, delicacy and mystery, the conclusion usually just twists a few plots, ties some loose ends, and sends us on our way with a vague sense of disappointment. Continue reading

The Ides of March

The Ides of March

This latest directorial outing from George Clooney follows events that take place in the state of Ohio during the race to become the Democratic Party’s candidate for the U.S. Presidential election.

George Clooney is Governor Mike Morris, the frontrunner in the race and a candidate seen by many as a serious contender for the White House. The remaining all-star cast features Ryan Gosling as press secretary on the Morris campaign, the always excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman as Morris’ campaign manager, plus supporting roles for Paul Giamatti as campaign manager for the opposition and Marisa Tomei as a cutthroat political reporter.

Clooney wisely plays a character that doesn’t feature too heavily with regards to screen time, leaving himself ample time to concentrate on directing. The majority of the time he does spend as Morris would not have been too taxing either as the Governor’s easy charm and demeanour are essentially Clooney’s, as a viewing of most of his interviews will prove.

Gosling plays a character that is a very intelligent and politically savvy young man coveted by the opposition. Gosling’s character makes an error of judgement which leads to him being kicked off the team but not before he stumbles upon a dirty little secret that could bring down the entire campaign.

I would like say that it is at this point that the movie picks up pace but that’s not exactly correct. The plot progresses, certainly, but the pace is never fast, certainly not to the levels of a Grisham style thriller. The direction by Clooney in the movie is excellent so it can be assumed this was a conscious choice by the director, perhaps forgoing fast-paced set pieces for more cerebral calmer paced scenes to keep the movie more grounded in the realism of day-to-day political campaigning.

There are other beautiful shots in the movie such as a clandestine meeting in an empty restaurant and a fine ending scene which shows the transformation of one of the characters and a real hammering home of the disingenuousness and morality (or lack thereof) of politicians and politics as an industry.

You do also get the feeling that the movie is a sort of sounding board for some of Clooney’s own political views, with he himself being quite outspoken politically. Indeed comments by his character on the Iraq war are quite close to comments he himself has made.

In fact to watch this film, and certainly the opening half hour or so, one would want to be fairly knowledgable of the American Political system and specifically elections. The movie is well shot, well acted by an excellent cast and is kept pretty simple and realistic. It’s a statement about U.S. politics, both Republican and Democratic, and at this moment of time would leave Irish viewers even more cynical of politicians in general.

A very good movie, an interesting watch but not a classic. However,if politics is your thing then this is a must see.

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