Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Week 37: 45 Years

Director: Andrew Haigh
Writer: David Constantine (short story) Andrew Haigh (adaptation)
Seen: 25th September 2015
Venue: IMC Galway
Snacks: Kinder Bueno
Mood: Contemplative

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45 Years follows a couple Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and her husband of 45 years Geoff (Tom Courtenay) on the run up to a party they are throwing to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. During the run up to the party Geoff receives a letter informing him that authorities in Switzerland have found the body of his girlfriend before he met Kate. This single letter throws their previously quiet life into emotional turmoil as we watch their relationship unravel.
Geoff’s previous life weighs heavy on his mind and he slumps into a maudlin reverie of times gone by which shakes Kate’s confidence to the core, has their whole relationship been based on a lie? Is she enough for Geoff or was she second best in his estimations?

This is a very moving film which explores the idea of the past and how it can continue to affect the present, how it always quietly rumbles in the back of our minds and what happens when the past is suddenly forced into the present leaving Geoff to question ‘what if?’.
It is a story about love, hidden emotion and the complexities and insecurities of relationships.

I really loved this slow moving (it is intentionally so) emotionally charged film. The performances by Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay are quite simply mesmerizing - particularly Rampling whose struggle feels so real. What a great film from Andrew Haigh, go and see this but maybe bring a hanky.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Week 36: The Visit

Writer/Director M.Night Shyamalan
Seen: September 16th 2015
Venue: IMC Galway
Snacks: Minstrels
Mood: Amused

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Director M Night Shyamalan has always peaked my interest because I like films with twists. It is well known that one of his trademarks is to throw in a twist but the twists only work for me if I don’t guess the twist half way through and become more interested in my popcorn.
Shyamalan made two great twist films that I really enjoyed, the first being ‘Sixth Sense’ and the second ‘Signs’, he then went on to make a series of frankly pretty awful films like ‘Lady in the Water’ and ‘The happening’ so I was interested to see if ‘The Visit’ would be a return to previous form. Having seen the film I left not really knowing WHAT to think I was entertained (dont get me wrong) but this is a VERY strange film.
A quick run down of the plot is that brother and sister Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) and Becca (Olivia Dejonge) have never met their grandparents before and their mother decides to ship them off to spend a few weeks with them while she goes on holiday. At first everything seems fine with nanna and pop pop but things soon start taking a strange twist involving to name a few adult nappies and Yahtzee!
If you were to watch the trailer for this film you would be lead to believe that this is a horror film but that isn’t the case. This film is also packed with comedy moments that left me laughing out loud. I have to say this element of humour in amongst the jumpy bits makes for an entertaining 90 mins.
In summary then has Shyamalan returned to his previous form? A hard one to answer, this film is very different to his other films.He is definitely poking fun at himself , the horror genre and indeed directing itself. I think his famous ‘twist’ was very obvious but maybe it was meant to be and then it just becomes another way he can make fun of himself.
I laughed, I jumped therefore I recommend :)

Week 35: Legend

Director: Brian Helgeland
Writers:  Brian Helgeland
Seen: 12th September2015
Venue: IMC Galway
Snacks: Quavers
Mood: Conflicted

Legend is the story of the infamous London gangster twins of the 1960's Ronnie and Reggie Kray. For me the story of the Krays fits into the gangster genre perfectly, their story encapsulates all the elements of the rags to riches, rise and fall of a gangster narrative, except with the Krays you get two for price of one. I am sure many a script writer salivated at the richness of such a story, hence this is the third feature film produced about them. 

The first in 1990 called The Krays directed by Peter Medak, The Rise of the Krays directed by Zackary Adler also released this year and of course notwithstanding Legend directed by Brian Helgeland.So does Helgeland bring anything new to the story of the Krays? 
For me he doesn’t. 

However, he does bring a stroke of brilliance with Legend that makes it stand out, he casts both Ronnie and Reggie to one actor - Tom Hardy.

Hardy is arguably one of the best mainstream actors presently working, always versatile he was recently seen as Max in the blockbuster Mad Max Fury Road - but he also played a lone character in a small independent film called Locke which is an interesting film that illustrates his versatility. Hardy’s performance in Legend is a masterclass in acting to a point that there were times in the film I had to remind myself he was playing both characters. 

The tale of the twins is almost folklore at this stage to a point where it is hard to decipher fiction from non-fiction. Tom Hardy said at this year’s Toronto Film Festival that “it is hard to differentiate between what it is fact or fiction, truth or rumour about the Krays”. It is also hard to see what can be added to their legend and after such a brilliant portrayal by Hardy it is probably about time that their myth, in cinematic terms at least, is now laid to rest.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Week 34 Straight Outta Compton

Director: F. Gary Gray
Writers:  Jonathan Herman (screenplay) S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus
Andrea Berloff (story)
Seen:  30th August 2015
Venue: IMC Galway
Snacks: Quavers
Mood: Nostalgic

Straight Outta Compton is a film about five guys who formed a band called NWA (Niggas With Attitudes) in the 1980’s that arguably changed not only the music scene but pop culture itself.
The story of NWA is fascinating and remarkable there is no question of that and when you combine their individual stories with the story of the band you gotta a pretty good film. 
NWA not only pioneered a whole new genre of music (Gangster Rap) but they also raised awareness of the harsh realities of growing up in a place like South Central Los Angeles. The L.A that NWA rapped about did not match the connotations that many people had of Los Angeles California.
The reality of life in L.A for them was a place of drugs, gangs and where violence was as rampant as police brutality. They were slammed by critics at time for promoting violence but they argued, and I agree with their sentiment, that “NWA was just reflecting what was going on in their hood”. Undeniably there message was aggressive and close to the nerve, but what is also undeniable is the facts.
South Central L.A in the 80’s was one the gang/murder capitals of the world, it also had a drug problem that was often cited by the media as a “crack epidemic”. Their message about police brutality was also vindicated when the Rodney King tapes surfaced in the early 90’s. The King incident highlighted the role of the  police in the brutality that was going on for a long time in places like Compton.
It’s also evident that NWA’s legacy has longevity and the story of the band has still mass appeal today. The box office is strong globally and little old Galway’s IMC was almost full to capacity with a crowd made up mainly of young people - late teens early 20’s. Indeed it is probably due to the legacy of an original band member that many of the young people where at the film. Andre Young aka Dr. Dre, has produced many of  the great rappers of the 21st century including Snopp Dogg, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar and Eminem.
Straight Outta Compton is certainly a finely directed and well-acted film especially O’Shea Jackson Jr (who plays his father Ice Cube) Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E) and Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre).  The director Gary Grey who also made The Italian Job and of course the classic Friday did a brilliant job in keeping the audience engaged in a story that spans over several years.

Nevertheless, I think there is one major flaw with this film for me anyway, Ice Cube and Dre, who both were producers on the film, come out looking pretty good compared to other characters in the story of NWA specifically Jerry Heller (manager of NWA) and Eazy- E. For those of you who like me are familiar with the NWA story, it was not as simple as it was portrayed in Straight Outta Compton the film. 
Nevertheless this is a well dissected examination of an unconventional band that had the balls to fight the status quo of the time. I highly recommend Straight Outta Compton, although with a footnote, if you have no interest at all in rap music this might not be for you.