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Monthly Archives: January 2013

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War is one of the most terrifying things to happen to mankind. It is brutal, unforgivable and absolutely devastating. In Come and See, a story centred on the life of Flyora and the consequences of war over several months, war is depicted in the most savage and discomforting way. We see explosions, death, tears, cruelty and above all we see the life of this young boy torn apart by that very thing.

Aleksei Kravchenko plays Flyora, our young protagonist. Kravchenko’s portrayal of this young, lonely figure is nothing less than incredible. He shows anger, love, sadness and hate and fills his boots with the challenging character in a way I’ve never seen an actor do in my lifetime. Considering Kravchenko was only 14 at the time of filming; it makes his sombre, penetrating performance even the more magnificent. Kravchenko’s chemistry which the character of Glasha, of whom he encounters early on, is without a doubt one of the strongest elements of the film. In the strangest of ways, the scenes between the two in the first act of the film allow the audience to connect with their desperation and trials and tribulations, creating several bloodstained emotional rollercoaster’s along the way. Desperation is one of the most essential, and expected elements of any war movie, but in this particular depiction of war, it is at its most effective and terrifying.

Come and See, one of the most effectively powerful movies of all-time is a master class in emotion, terror and fear, and on a technical basis; the lighting, the effects and the framing are as precise as anything. Come and See, ultimately, is the perfect war film. It is a film drenched in atmosphere, dread and intensity and now, on a bold note, it is my favourite film. Toppling over the masterpiece that is Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Come and See truly presents war in even more horrifying terms with shots that will not leave the minds of viewers for a very long time. Nothing can prepare you. Come and See is an experience, for sure.

100/100

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Stanley Kubrick, the most innovative director in all of cinema, has long been noted and loved for just that. His films are explorations of the senses and some of the finest adventures you can have with film as a whole. Out of his whole catalogue, four of them are ones that I would consider masterpieces, and personal favourites, and they all are vastly different films. The Shining, the grandest horror movie of all-time is a frightening experience that increases tenfold with every viewing; Eyes Wide Shut is a sexual odyssey; Barry Lyndon is the greatest, most beautiful period piece I’ve ever seen and last, but not least is his science-fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the most remarkable explorations of the senses and the future. 2001 is not a film that relies on strength in dialogue, but instead relies on the power of the visuals and the haunting atmosphere that it creates to tell its story. 2001 focuses on many more things than an adventure into space, it feels more like a psychosis of all out fears of the future and technologies. At the time of 2001’s release, technology was reaching new heights and we were become even more terrified and intrigued by its seemingly never-ending possibilities, and that’s what makes 2001 even more remarkable than anything centring around the same fears from the 80’s and onwards. 1968, the year 2001 was released and truthfully, there is nothing about it that makes it appear that way. Even without today’s jaw-dropping technological powers, Kubrick’s vision and Geoffrey Unsworth’s cinematography have to be applauded.

Despite all its complexity and ambition, 2001 is an almighty slow film. This is not a film that everyone will love as it requires an open mind, but if patience it there then you will witness a landmark in science-fiction, Kubrick’s dynamic directing and by the time the last shot fades into credits, you will appreciate 2001 for what it is: the most unforgettable film of all-time, and the greatest cinematic achievement in all of film history.

100/100

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Lukas Moodysson’s films, unlike many, are full of symbolic meaning. Show Me Love is a portrait of love in a society that won’t allow it and Lilja 4-ever is a touching, yet devastating tale of bad wealth and the lengths that people have to go for survival. In those films, Moodysson presents them as somewhat of a social commentary on life, all its negativity and throughout he shows that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and perhaps, life is a bit shitty, perhaps. Lilja, more importantly, is a study of young girl torn apart by the ways of life, but she manages to find salvation in a way, much like in Show Me Love, our female protagonist does likewise.

2000’s Together, although a depressing film for the whole shows much of the same. Together is safer that the aforementioned titles, but it has so much brilliance in it. Moodysson never allows himself boundaries, always stripping the genre’s he works on down to their core and creating the greatest, most passionate films in all of world cinema. They are films full of intriguing character trying to live through difficult situations, and boy does Together have them. Sexuality is one that is explored throughout, and much like Moodysson’s gloomy presentation of wealth, anger and separation, he manages to portray them in illusive style, whilst not shoving it in your face like so many films do, but never paints over the difficult situations that life faces.

Together is quite simply an extraordinary movie and as one character puts it “I think that loneliness is the most awful thing in the world.”

85/100

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Juliette Binoche, arguably the finest living French actress, takes centre stage in Elles, a film labelled as an analysis on the lifestyles of prostitutes that actually comes off as more of a character study than anything. Our protagonist: Anne, played by Binoche, is a journalist working on an article on the prostitution underworld and her interactions with several of them. Throughout Elles, Anne is seen discussing their limits and boundaries and slowly the decaying of her soul begins to appear. She is seen drunk on more than one occasion and even masturbates in a locked room, a vast difference from the character that entered Elles in the beginning.

Elles’ depiction of Anne is flawed and the relatively sub-par character development is noticeable throughout, however. Binoche’s dialogue is far from extravagant and unique; in fact the majority of it is generic and plain. Her life away from her work is nothing we haven’t seen before; her husband is a working man and her oldest son is on the edge. Despite the mediocrity in the presentation of the life behind closed doors of such a character, there are a lot of positives throughout. Binoche’s vast acting talent, with some extremely hard work on her part, is easy to see and her interactions and chemistry with all the cast feels genuine and believable.

Chaotic and inconsistent throughout, Elles, on the large part, fails to deliver on its early potential and intriguing premise. I was never bored throughout, but with a few tweeks in the script here and there, it could have been an entirely different film altogether.

74/100

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In 1982, Ridley Scott released Blade Runner, an adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” A film rich with dystopian landscapes and magnificent cinematography it quickly became to be recognised as one of the crowning glories of the science-fiction genre, and indeed one of the finest films ever made.

Rick Deckard, played by the brilliant Harrison Ford, is a retired police officer drawn back into the twirl of things due to the invasion of robots known as Replicants. From the beginning Deckard’s character becomes known to the audience. He’s a lonely soul, but he doesn’t care and in the brief scenes before he’s called upon, it appears all he’s interested in is getting by and evading trouble. Unfortunately for him, his reassignment is for a mission lacking subtly; he is tasked with the mission of tracking down those aforementioned Replicants and “terminating” them one by one. Harrison Ford, one of the finest actors of his generation, brings a great intensity and style to his character, making the audience feel at one with him and always rooting for him throughout his troubles. On the opposing side, the Replicants, led by the dominating force of Roy Batty, played by the 6 foot plus Rutger Hauer (The Hitcher). Their encounter towards the end signifies and represents everything I love about cinema and all its possibilities.

Blade Runner, in my opinion, is a tough film to analyse and break down due to the severity of its content, its breathtaking imagery and vast depiction of a future rich with anger and negativity. A film that challenges the senses of the viewer in more ways than one, and one of the very few films thats impact multiplies with each viewer. A true landmark for the science-fiction genre and one of my favourite films of all-time.

100/100

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Take This Waltz, the new film from up and coming director Sarah Polley, focuses on so much more than a love story. It focuses, and analyses the sad demise of a relationship through happiness and warmth, because its characters always require more. At the heart of Take This Waltz is Michelle Williams in her finest performance yet, in my eyes, as that particular needy part of the relationship. Right from the early scenes, it becomes apparent that she is happy in her marriage for the majority, but in some ways she never truly feels satisfied with her current stage in her life.

Her counterpart Seth Rogen, is not the idealistic choice for a role of this intensity. Known for his work in comedies such as Knocked Up, his performance is something I’d never have expected in my wildest dreams. He brings warmth to his character, and his chemistry with Williams is apparent from the beginning. He loves his wife dearly (almost as much as chicken), but her strange actions irritate and infuriate him at times. Polley’s writing at times labels him as the disillusioned husband with little understanding of his wife and a small naivety about his persona, but Rogen’s work is admirable as he works on his small character which he turns into a real person. Dissimilar from Rogen, the remaining part of the triangle is presented in the form of Luke Kirby. Daniel, played by Kirby, delivers one of the most authentic and nourishing performances in a drama I’ve seen in many a year. He identifies with his character in wonderful ways, always stretching the boundaries of what we’d usually expected from a character of his sort.

As a whole, Take This Waltz is one of the most effective and saddening love stories in years. With the magnificent trio of Williams, Kirby and most notably Rogen, Polley manages to create a drama rich with emotion, anguish and absolute affection. This is one of the best movies of the year, and one that more people need to discover.

84/100

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Silver Linings Playbook, the new film from director David O. Russell is a film that I didn’t think I’d like in the slightest. I don’t rate Bradley Cooper as an actor, and I have a strong disliking for Jennifer Lawrence and the usual stubborn delivery of her lines. I’m man enough to say, though, that Silver Linings Playbook surprised me and left a great big hole in my heart throughout.

Bradley Cooper, playing a bipolar Pat fresh from a stint in the mental institute after assaulting the man he found his wife cheating with, is a breath of fresh air in Silver Linings Playbook. In a performance that I didn’t think he had in him, he delivers his lines with a sense of subtly and authenticity throughout, sympathising with his character and never exploiting the negative aspects of a man like Pat. Likewise to Pat, his counterpart is played by another actress I’m not too fond of; Jennifer Lawrence. Tiffany, her character, is a feisty young woman with a truck load of passion and a never-say-die attitude. Lawrence’s performance is almost the complete opposite of Cooper’s in the way that she grabs hold of her role with both hands and explodes in devastating fashion. Her performance, in my book, is well worth her nomination.

My love for Robert De Niro over the years has grown and grown, and as many people do, I consider him one of the finest actors to ever grace the screen. His tense, psychological eradication of his characters is present throughout all his classics, namely Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, but with age, and an expected lack of opportunities, his more recent performances have fell under the weight of a mediocre film. Fortunately for us and me in particular, David O. Russell decided to utilise his vast acting talent in this. His performance is rich, tender and emphatic. He has a wonderful chemistry with Bradley Cooper, which seems real considering they worked together on the fun Limitless from 2012. When I heard he was in Silver Linings Playbook, I expected him to pop up every once in awhile to deliver some advice, but luckily he has a mountain of screen time and every second he’s present made me remember my love for him.

Silver Linings Playbook throughout, is an emotional and tender film. Rich in love and affection for his characters (Silver Linings Playbook is actually based on a novel), O. Russell nourishes and nurtures them in a wonderful and mature manner. They never appear conventional or boring, they feel unique and exciting. Every second of every minute of Silver Linings Playbook is beautiful and meaningful, O. Russell doesn’t compromise anything, going the whole hog to create one of the most infectious and enchanting movies of the year. The only thing I have to question is Jacki Weaver’s Oscar nomination.

87/100