There are lots of films to look forward to in the next few weeks. This trailer reel features two Michael Fassbender films, one Leonardo DiCaprio/Clint Eastwood biographical drama and ends with Ridley Scott’s sci-fi which is ‘linked’ with the Alien franchise, but not a part of that series.
Shame – release date: 13th January 2012
Margin Call – release date: 13th January 2012
J. Edgar – release date: 20th January 2012
Young Adult – release date: 3rd February 2012
A Dangerous Method – release date: 10th February
Prometheus – release date: 1st June 2012
A comedy about cancer that cleverly walks the line between humour and drama – 7/10
Dir. Jonathan Levine
A couple of weeks ago I named 50/50 ‘Film of the Week’ and I have finally got round to writing the review. 50/50 has done pretty well at the Box Office, taking $39 million, despite being ‘a comedy about cancer’ – undoubtedly a tough sell.
Nevertheless, in Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt 50/50 has two bankable stars. In addition, both produce excellent performances. Rogen plays his usual loud, stoner type and as always, he does this well. Rogen plays Kyle, Adam’s (Gordon-Levitt) best mate who tries to help him to fight his illness, mainly by encouraging him to dump his girlfriend and then taking him out to pick up women. Unsurprisingly Rogen provides most of the laughs whilst Gordon-Levitt plays the cancer-stricken lead in a relatively low-key fashion. Gordon-Levitt’s uptight and frustrated Adam is convincing, whilst Anna Kendrick and Anjelica Huston put in strong supporting performances as Adam’s love interest and mother, respectively.
50/50 is both funny and moving and despite the subject matter it’s never mawkish. Everyone will find it sad, some will find it inspirational, I find Seth Rogen hilarious, this is a recommended watch.
Frenetic and exciting with interesting animation, Tintin is a decent adaptation of Hergé’s beloved classic comic but is also messy and a little convoluted – 6/10
Dir. Steven Spielberg
This highly anticipated adaptation brings Tintin and Snowy to the big screen and in 3D to boot. The 3D is peripheral and occasionally annoying; frankly, I’m tired of paying more for something that adds little, if anything, and is entirely unnecessary.
Some people have complained about the animation, suggesting that the film could have been better had it been a live action feature. Personally I didn’t mind the style of animation and feel Spielberg did a decent job on his first animated film. Moreover, I am pleased that they didn’t try to replicate Hergé’s iconic drawings.
The film itself is not just fast paced; it’s a rollercoaster, rattling from one action sequence to another, adding in a sprinkling of storyline almost as an afterthought. The writers have attempted to combine three of the original comics – The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn, and Red Rackham’s Treasure – with mixed success. Much of the plot (and humour) centres on Captain Haddock’s drunkenness; this becomes repetitive and boring. Add to this Thomson and Thompson’s stupidity and we have more of the same slapstick humour and people accidentally stumbling upon clues. Granted there is a large amount of this in the source material, but the film lacks the attention to detail and the satire of the comics.
The Adventures of Tintin is rip-roaring and generally good fun. Kids will be engrossed but it won’t be one that they watch again and again.
In his first feature length film Mike Cahill offers something unique and thought-provoking – 7/10
Dir. Mike Cahill
As a strange planet hangs in the sky, Rhoda’s (Brit Williams) world comes crashing down when she accidentally kills a mother, son and unborn daughter in a car accident, whilst putting the father (John Burroughs, played by William Mapother) in a coma.
Rhoda had a bright future ahead of her and was set to study at MIT on the astrophysics programme but instead finds herself in prison and her dreams in tatters.
Four years later Rhoda re-enters society and struggles to come to terms with her new life and the pain she has caused. One day, she visits John Burrows at his house with the intention of apologising for killing his wife and kids (he never found out her identity because she was 17 when the crash took place). However, Rhoda cannot bring herself to admit her crime to John’s face and makes an excuse about why she is there. The two strike up an interesting relationship as they implicitly begin to give one another some meaning in their lives.
Another Earth has sci-fi elements – a mysterious celestial body (Earth 2) looms over the earth amid frequent references to parallel and alternate universes – but is very much a human drama. In one sense, Earth 2 is all a side-show; however, the two sides of the story are neatly tied together as the prospect of travelling to Earth 2 offers Rhoda hope of escaping her current life.
The two central performances are impressive whilst the sparse score and direction are well judged. Another Earth is by no means riveting but it has enough to occupy throughout and keep you thinking for a while after.
A glimpse at Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first film of a two part adaptation of JRR Tolkein’s book. A few of the old faces from LOTR are back. Also there’s some singing for everyone to enjoy.
Christopher Nolan’s third and final batman movie: The Dark Knight Rises. Much talked about, highly anticipated. Oh and there’s singing in this trailer too, not sure why.
Master film-maker Martin Scorsese offers a family film of impressive scope with spectacular results – 8/10
Dir. Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is based on Brian Selznick’s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret and is the veteran director’s first family film; it is also his first in 3D. Scorsese has been outspoken about his belief that 3D can be more than a money-making gimmick, claiming that it could be a historical development in film comparable to the introduction of colour. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen (although I feel one is on dangerous ground when disagreeing with Scorsese about film) what can be said, however, is that the use of 3D in Hugo is brilliant. I have been rather sceptical about the latest round of 3D, seeing it as an excuse to charge more money for tickets – retrofitting is evidence of the lazy way in which it has been used and a clear sign that many in the movie industry care little about whether it enhances the viewing experience. Moreover, the application of 3D has been at best patchy and at worst inept. In certain films the 3D has been used to relatively good effect; Up (2009) and Avatar (2009) are examples which spring to mind. Nevertheless, even in these films I have felt that the 3D was, at times, distracting and of course the brightness is reduced by 30%. However, the 3D in Hugo is far more integrated than in previous movies. Whereas in other films an object will occasionally appear to fly towards the audience, in Hugo, the 3D is used wherever possible and in fact, the sets themselves have been designed to benefit from 3D. For example, the train station is littered with speakers and clocks which protrude out of the screen, giving the audience an impressive visual spectacle. That being said, the 3D in Hugo isn’t without its faults and of particular annoyance is the persistence of ghosting or crosstalk (where you see a shadow-like doubling of the images).
The film itself is an interesting one which caught me by surprise. In short, it tells the story of an orphan boy, named Hugo (Asa Butterfield), who lives between the walls of a Paris railway station. His “job” is to maintain the clocks in the station and he survives by stealing food. In his spare time Hugo attempts to fix the mechanical man (automaton) which his father (Jude Law) left him. But disaster strikes as he is caught stealing by the toy-shop owner (Ben Kingsley) who then takes Hugo’s notebook which contains the automaton’s blueprints. With the belief that the automaton contains one final message from his father, Hugo desperately attempts to retrieve the notebook, befriending the toy-shop owner’s Goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), along the way. From here the mystery unfolds cautiously with the creaking station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) in hot pursuit of the two children.
As Roger Ebert states in his review, Hugo is very much a movie about movies. The mystery centres on a “long-forgotten” movie-maker named Georges Melies and the second half of the film plays like a documentary on the early history of cinema. Some may criticise this drift towards didacticism and certainly Hugo did, in sections, remind me of Mark Cousins’ excellent documentary series The Story of Film: An Odyssey. I for one enjoyed the little lesson in film history, although I fear some may become bored by this aspect of Hugo. In addition, the unraveling of the film’s mystery feels somewhat contrived and the adventure itself is rather static and unspectacular. Nevertheless, the excellent acting and beautiful sets charm throughout and it is difficult not to appreciate the heart and passion that has gone into this film. Not all children will enjoy Hugo, but many will be captivated by the magic at its heart. In incorporating famous extracts from the early days of cinema into an entertaining and masterfully constructed family film, Scorsese has achieved what few other film-makers would dare to try. As always, I look forward to his next effort.
After a lengthy hiatus, Inside Film is back! We’re sorry for the lack of new content in recent weeks, I’ve missed it as much as you have. In fact, for over a month I didn’t even watch a film, so I hope you can feel my pain. However, Jake and I have moved through this difficult time and are pleased to offer several new reviews in the near future. We will be reviewing: The Adventures of Tintin, The Ides of March, Hugo, 50/50 and a DVD review of The Informant.
An impressive debut from director Paddy Considine, who proves he is just as good behind the camera as he is in front of it. Tyrannosaur is a film that will leave you devastated and heartbroken – 8/10
Dir. Paddy Considine
Based on a the award-winning short, Dog Altogether, actor turned director Paddy Considine teams up with Olivia Coleman and Peter Mullen to give us Tyrannosaur. It’s a film that will rip your heart out and throw it back at you without hesitation. The subject matter of violence and rage has been well documented in film before but Paddy Considine delivers it here with so much emotional weight, highlighting the decay it can cause in people’s lives, leading to self-destruction.
No one exemplifies this more than Joseph (Peter Mullan) – a middle-aged man, living in Leeds, who is addicted to rage. He seems incapable of controlling his anger and this inevitably results in nasty situations and takes him to some dark places. Most of the time he wastes the days away in the pub, drinking and occasionally visiting what remains of his friends: a man dying of cancer, an Irish drunk and his neighbor, and a young boy named Sam (Samuel Bottomley) who frequently talks to him as he passes by. In truth, however, Joseph is alone and his life is slipping through his fingers. Plagued by this unhealthy addiction to violence, Joseph has nowhere to go and nobody to turn to.
His chance of redemption comes when he storms into a charity shop to hide (behind a clothing rail of all places!) and fate deals him a hand as he meets a devout Christian charity worker called Hannah (Olivia Coleman). Despite Joseph’s clear contempt for Hannah’s middle-class lifestyle, he finds himself returning to her shop on a daily basis. A bond forms between the two but their relationship is not a result of Hannah’s charity. Tyrannosaur, thankfully, is not about the middle class’ fixation on the misery of the poor. Neither is it a film that wishes to be uplifting, not so crudely at least. Instead, the bond between Joseph and Hannah comes from a shared loneliness, for Hannah also has a dark secret which she is battling. Her husband, James (Eddie Marsan), is a violent man who is also plagued with rage, but unlike Joseph he has a single victim he releases this upon, Hannah.
It is no overstatement to assert that the acts of violence and violation that Hannah is forced to endure are among the most harrowing you will ever see on-screen. It left me wincing and dismayed; but it is Olivia Coleman’s performance that takes the emotions of anger, disgust and horror and transcends them to heartbreak. To say her performance was a treat would feel inappropriate in the context of the film but who could have foreseen that an actor mostly known for her roles in comedy (Peep Show) would be the standout performer in a serious and gritty kitchen sink drama.
Tyrannosaur, however, isn’t merely a relentless barrage of misery as some would have you believe. There are moments in the film, like flickers of sunlight, that offer respite from the gloominess. The odd bit of humour can be found in the dialogue and the central romance epitomises the idea of finding hope in the darkest of places. If there is an aspect of the film that sparks inspiration for people, then it is this.
Ultimately however, Tyrannosaur is a piece of social realism. Paddy Considine has regularly argued against this, preferring people to just see it as a piece of cinema, but it is not dissimilar from the works of other British directors like Ken Loach and Shane Medows who specialise in social realism. In one sense and despite the quality of the film, this disappoints me. I would love to start seeing some variety in British Cinema because British films have been championing this style for decades.
Nevertheless, whilst Tyrannosaur may be yet another edition to the bleak, miserablist dramas of British cinema, Considine has managed to produce one of the better films of the year thanks to some strong performances from Peter Mullan, Eddie Marsan and above all, Olivia Coleman.