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.
A Shakespeare conspiracy, now there’s something new! Did he or didn’t he write his great works!? It has been up for debate for centuries but chances are it’s all a load of bollocks started by aristocrats that couldn’t accept he was a genius. But of course no one will ever know. But it’s not like that has stopped Roland Emmerich from throwing his opinion in, he has created a political thriller questioning the greatest writer in history. Known for his disaster movies, Emmerich is trying something new – Fair play for that I guess. Out 28th October.
My Week With Marilyn
Michelle Williams takes the opportunity to play the iconic film star Marilyn Monroe, in this ‘true story’ of Marilyn’s intense relationship with Sir Laurence Oliver as they shot The Prince and The Showgirl.
Another film inspired by true events, 50/50 is a comedy that deals with cancer. Not the most likely of pairings but so far reviews have been extremely positive. Seth Rogan and Joseph Gordan-Levitt look a good match if the trailer is anything to go by, keep an eye on this one and go see it in cinemas on the 25th November.
Anyone else a bit unnerved by this trailer? A modern, twisted retelling of the popular fable of the same name, this looks sinister, stylish and interesting. Find out for yourself if its any good this Friday, I know I will be.
Thanks to some brilliant acting and directing Drive may just become a modern cult classic – 9/10
Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn
A lot has been said about Drive, some claim it is one of the movie highlights of the year, whilst others suggest it is more a case of style over substance. Despite split opinion, Nicolas Winding Refn won Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival and Drive was nominated for the Palme d’or, highlighting his competence as a director. Refn provides us with beautiful shots of Los Angeles alongside some brilliant artistic tricks that fit perfectly with the hyper-stylized approach. Some may have mistakenly pinned Drive down as a big budget picture but thankfully it avoids the usual lazy habits of mega budget films and is more akin to Art House and Noir films, as well as displaying traits of the B-Movie tradition. The result is that Drive is an absolute treat on the eyes and ears. It is entertaining, engaging and on a technical level Refn’s direction is superb.
The story orbits around one man known only as the Driver (Ryan Gosling). During the day he is a stunt man for movies, at night he lends his impressive talents to crooks as a getaway driver. As said in the film, Driver is a ‘hard man to work with’ – he lives by a rule to which he strictly adheres whereby the robbery needs to be completed in 5 minutes or he will leave his colleagues to find their own way out. Oh, and he never carries a gun. This methodical way of getaway driving makes Driver the best you can get, as the opening scene demonstrates he calculates every police move and counters them.
Not much back story is provided for Driver and he rarely speaks but Gosling puts in a convincing, nuanced performance as the enigmatic, lightly spoken anti-hero. His relationship with the other characters helps flesh out, in our minds, what this Driver is like. It is not what is said that matters, but the physical responses that count. In this way, Driver’s relationship with Irene (Carey Mulligan) works excellently. The chemistry between them is believable, if at times a little too delicate; the long stares and little smiles produce an understated romance which is only achievable because of the performances of both actors – so credit to Mulligan’s gentle performance. Similar interactions are seen between Driver and Irene’s ex-convict husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), their hatred for one another is conveyed by contemptuous glances and the two share a silence that says it all. Nevertheless, they agree to accept each other, in the interests of Irene, and true to the film’s laconic nature it provides no dialogue to tell us this.
What Drive may surprise viewers with is the sudden shift between sentimentality and violence. At the start, Drive is concerned with the delicate moments of the characters’ lives, but images of happiness and romance are quite suddenly juxtaposed as the film veers in an entirely different direction. From this key moment things get ugly, as Driver demonstrates his capacity for extreme violence. This may be confusing for some but I found this to be enjoyable and it raised questions of the Driver’s psychology. The film convinces us at first that Driver is a good man, as evident from his kindness to Irene and his relationship with her son Benicio. However, this impression is quickly altered by his willingness to resort to extreme violence; at one stage he caves a man’s head in. It is important to reiterate that Drive is a very stylized film, at times it is almost surreal. The iconography of Driver in particular, his scorpion jacket, the tooth pick, the gloves, his refusal to compromise and the effortless cool of his character exemplifies this approach. This isn’t a film that embraces realism as the world in which it is set forces us to suspend disbelief.
Drive entertains from start to finish – the opening scene was stunning and had me immediately captivated. Kudos to Ryan Gosling who has proven he is a likable screen presence who has the caliber to enthrall with the subtlest of performances. Let’s hope that there are more lead parts to come for him. Whilst I haven’t mentioned them yet, Ron Pearlman’s and Albert Brook’s performances cannot be overlooked as the villains of the piece – superb work from them. Also, Refn’s clear love for the ’80s can be felt across the whole film, especially in its excellent soundtrack and the retro iconography – an artistic choice that the film certainly benefits from. Refn is in a promising position now and given his technical ability it is worth keeping an eye on his future projects. The retro, uber-cool aesthetic, the sublime soundtrack and the sheer entertainment it provides make Drive undoubtedly the coolest film you will see all year and it has easily nestled itself at the top of my best films of 2011.
Wasikowsa perfectly embodies Jane in an excellent retelling of a classic tale – 8/10
Dir. Cary Fukunaga
Fukunaga, who directed 2009’s Sin Nombre, displays in Jane Eyre an assured and confident work in cinematography. We are treated to hauntingly beautiful landscape shots and an elegant art direction that captivates from start to finish. It is impressive to see a director understand so well the Gothic nature of Jane Eyre and to nail the visuals accordingly; Fukunaga creates a 19th century the viewer can believe in. It is not just the visuals that leave you transfixed however, as the lead performance by Mia Wasikowska is outstanding. Mia pulls off the nuances and details of such a complex character as Jane so well – I can’t imagine a better Jane on-screen. Mia is supported well by the always excellent Michael Fassbender, who plays her lover Rochester. Rochester comes across as imposing and dominant, as well as enigmatic enough to raise suspicions of a dark, unnerving secret in his past. Whilst Fassbender is good, the performance that comes second only to Mia’s is that of Judi Dench; playing the nattering, loyal housekeeper of the Rochester estate, Dench is exemplary.
Jane Eyre purists may have a hard time swallowing such a condensed telling of the story.The film moves through the events of the book at a rapid pace, leap-frogging from scene to scene, never really willing to dwell on powerful moments of the story. Maybe it is this then that leaves the central romance, whilst heartfelt, a little lacking in comparison with the aching, smouldering passion found in the book. However, due to the limitations of time in a feature-length movie, this in my opinion is understandable and doesn’t diminish a solid adaptation. If anything this film just proves that Charlotte Bronte’s classic is the romantic novel that most modern literature can only look up to.
Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Erin Brokovich) has a new film out in the US. Allegedly the penultimate film of the Director’s long career, Contagion is a disaster film concerned with the struggle to survive in a society falling apart from a deadly airborne virus.
As you may already know, Steven Spielberg is trying his hand at an animated Tintin film, dubbed The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of The Unicorn.
George Clooney sits in the director’s seat for his debut film The Ides of March, a campaign thriller about a young press secretary who gets caught up in political scandal that threatens to destroy his candidate’s chances for the presidency.
The third installment of the Paranormal Activity franchise just got a new trailer to tease us with.
Paddy Considine‘s debut film Tryannosaur has been received well so far by critics, this gritty ‘Kitchen-sink’ drama focuses on a man haunted by a history of violence and alcohol abuse and his redemption through an unlikely source, a christian charity worker who has a dark and equally horrific history of her own.
Lars Von Trier is back with his new movie Melancholia, the type of bizarre looking film that Von Trier fans will be well accustomed to. Labeled as a psychological disaster movie, Melancholia centers around young newlyweds Kirsten Dunst & Alexander Skarsgard’s wedding celebrations. A day of happiness is juxtaposed with a notion of impending doom, as the planet Melancholia is set to collide with Earth. Melancholia is in cinemas on the 30th September.
Roman Polanski has adapted the play God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza for his new film Carnage. The play tells the story of two sets of parents trying to settle a dispute between their sons after they get into a playground scrap. As much as they wish to walk away from the conflict, their dislike for one another keeps drawing them back into the argument. No UK release date has been announced as of yet but it did get its premier at the recent Venice film festival, where it was received very well.
Out next week is Gavin O’Connor‘s Warrior, it stars rising star Tom hardy alongside Nick Nolte and Joel Edgerton.