Category Archives: Drama
Irrefutable proof that, at least in this circumstance, one can indeed teach an old dog new tricks. Provided of course that the dog is none other than the immaculate Bard, and the teacher, Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes, something that has worn and withered with time, can be new once again. Given, the fact this duo isn’t easy to unite makes ”Coriolanus” all the much more of a spectacular achievement. Blending the subtle dialogue and intellectuality of its source material with heart-pounding action sequences and visceral performances. “Coriolanus” is an all-around dramatic-thriller and an honest adaptation of a rather under-appreciated and controversial work from Shakespeare. The directorial debut of the aforementioned Ralph Fiennes, who also stars in the title role. “Coriolanus” is a masterful inception for Fiennes, who has an experienced and vastly talented cast to assist in his transition.
In modern-day Rome, riots are in progress during an on-going conflict with the neighbouring city Volsci. Caius Martius (Fiennes) is a Roman general whom the people blame for the city’s problems. Martius has a rather low-opinion of regular citizens and the population does not take kindly to his behaviour. After gathering reinforcements when most of his unit had been killed in an attempt to siege the Volscian city of Corioles, Martius manages to conquer the city. Upon inflicting serious wounds to his mortal enemy Aufidius (Butler), Martius and his crew return home. Soon, Martius easily wins the Roman Senate, but a few are weary of his recent plunge into politics, thinking he will seize all power for himself. Upon convincing the city to ban Martius, Caius takes up arms with his mortal enemy and swears revenge against his home.
Although the film’s light, albeit deliberate pace becomes somewhat of a distraction, this minor fault is easily disparaged. It isn’t so much that the film itself is slow moving, it’s the distance between scenes of significance and importance that’s discouraging. Which is a common complaint of the source material and should not be directly attributed to a lack of experience or talent behind the camera on behalf of Ralph Fiennes. While it is relatively difficult to modernize a play, Fiennes handles it with precision, depth, and swiftness. What ultimately makes “Coriolanus” so utterly appealing is its visually striking nature and unfathomably powerful performances, that alone make the film worth the watch. However, if you’re one of those people who cannot stand Shakespearean language, steer clear of “Coriolanus.” While the content and characters may have been brought up to speed in this current adaption, the dialogue remains untouched.
The imagery, violence, and historical significance is good and all. Yet, what really sets “Coriolanus” apart is its incredible cast and their entrancing and astoundingly powerful performances. “Coriolanus” stars Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Chastain, Brian Cox, Gerard Butler, and of course, Ralph Fiennes. Redgrave and Cox, two hugely underrated and underused performers, do their best to steal the show from Fiennes, but predictably fail. Make no mistake, this is not an insult, rather praise and kudos to the strength and persistence of their performances. Butler, who until this film tread disappointing waters, has seemingly surfaced and evidently makes a strong case for his revival, doing a respectable job opposite of Fiennes. Chastain is as radiant, mesmerizing, and stern as ever. Bursting forth with a heartbreaking and angst filled take on the firmly willed wife of Coriolanus. As for Fiennes, what can one say? He is as exuberant, intimidating, and seductive as ever. Which is all the more amazing considering he is pulling double duty.
Essentially, what you end up with is a pure and fresh take on a text with immense historical significance. Performed with monstrous respect and power, containing sequences exploding with nerve-tingling action, and an atmosphere so thick it chokes you up. “Coriolanus” is a must see for Shakespeare fans, performance enthusiasts, and die-hard cinephiles everywhere.
On a personal side-note, the first time I saw this film was at TIFF, its North American debut. Fiennes, Cox, Chastain, Redgrave, and Butler were in attendance and it was bewildering. I’ve rarely ever been star-struck, but seeing this cast in person knocked me off my feet. I literally stood right besides Ralph Fiennes, I did my best not to cry with excitement.
Coriolanus: 8 out of 10.
Another Earth (2011)
I will be posting my review for “The East” this upcoming week, so I thought I’d prepare you guys for it by doing a Brit Marling weekend! Today’s review will be “Another Earth” and tomorrow’s will be “Sound of My Voice.” Hope you enjoy, have a great weekend!
A down-to-earth drama told on the grand-scale of science-fiction. “Another Earth” is an epic, gloomy, provocative tale about probability, loss and perseverance…While it may take a little light-reading and a second viewing to fully comprehend and appreciate the material, “Another Earth” is worth the effort. Offering an elegant, unnerving solution to the age-old paradox of questioning the duplicate or parallel of oneself about lifestyle and choices. Director and co-writer Mike Cahill manages to turn a simplistic, promising life into a dooming circumstance with rewarding capabilities. Capturing surreal moments that are sure to provoke chills and striking imagery that fill the story with wonder and ambience. Cahill has emerged on the scene and tore through the fabric of space-time in order to deliver this truly unique picture.
Rhoda Williams (Marling) is a seventeen-year-old high-school student who has received an acceptance letter from MIT. That night, she celebrates with her friends. Simultaneously, another planet that has just emerged is discovered near Earth, the planet is eventually dubbed “Earth 2.” After the party, Rhoda is driving home, while also searching for “Earth 2″ in the sky. Accidentally crashing into another car carrying a man, his wife, and baby son. The crash kills the man’s wife and child and Rhoda is sentenced to four years in prison. When Rhoda is released from prison, she takes residence at her parents house before trying to commit suicide some time after, but fails. Soon after, Rhoda picks up a small job and obsesses over “Earth 2,” until it is all she can think about.
What co-writers Mike Cahill and the resplendent Brit Marling have created with “Another Earth” is a brilliant, almost unbearable contrast. To have such a humbling and sullen story punctured at numerous points by this gleaming hope almost seems cruel. Yet, we all wish at some point in our existence to take something back, a moment, a mistake, an error. At one point or another, we all contemplate a decision and whether it was the correct one. We ponder endlessly about the notion of the opposite and what our lives would be like had we made a different choice. Cahill and Marling have simply taken this regret and expanded it, mirrored it. The blend of these uncertainties and the addition of a parallel earth allows us to explore these hypotheses. By doing so, we now have a cinematic experience that transcends the screen and personally connects to each and every viewer.
This atypical, symmetrical earth has feasible science behind it, not fact, rather, plausibility. To those trying to find its significance, don’t get bogged down in genre labelling. Think of it as a tool, like rhetoric. It’s relevance is in direct correlation with the thesis surrounding “Another Earth.” It doesn’t exist to add a fantastical element to the film. It’s presence is merely an enhancer for the overall ideal of the film. If it were up to me, this picture wouldn’t even be categorized under science-fiction. While it undoubtedly has sci-fi features and visuals, it isn’t meant to overpower the dramatic story at Another Earth’s core. As previously mentioned, we all want to know what it would be like if we made different choices, well, this other earth somewhat allows us to see what it would might be like.
“Another Earth” centres around two main characters played by the aforementioned Brit Marling and William Mapother. Without question, Marling gives the better performance of the two. That being said, Mapother isn’t far behind in his portrayal. Mapother perfectly captures the listlessness and emotional vacancy that comes with a man who has had everything taken from him. As he tries to recuperate and move forward, he is constantly weighed down by this unrecoverable anchor. Mapother, although sparsely used, certainly has the chops to hang with up-and-comer Brit Marling. Speaking of Marling, the argument can be made that Another Earth was her breakthrough performance. Living a life, once filled with unlimited potential, constantly suffering the consequences of her reckless youth. Marling is immaculate in this psychologically complex and emotional diverse role.
Visually stunning, powerfully acted, and firmly directed. “Another Earth” is a staggering piece of cinema and proves to be quite the game-changer. Brit Marling is a force not to be trifled with.
Another Earth: 8 out of 10.
Even though at times it may be exceedingly difficult to watch. Hawking is a brilliant biographical-drama that features a monumental performance from Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role. Focusing evenly on the intellect, charisma, and heart that comprised the man himself. Hawking is an intriguing, charming, unflinching look into the life and struggles of theoretical physics most prominent and respected cosmologist. There is no denying that it’s a tough ninety-minutes to get through. It is near impossible to describe watching the physical deterioration of a mans body and the affect it has on his life and relationships, let alone his mental and physical states. Nonetheless, very seldom does a film this heartbreaking provide an infinite supply of inspiration. If you can muster the will and take strong control of your emotions. Hawking is a highly rewarding journey through the mind of possibly the most brilliant man we will ever know.
Simultaneously telling the stories of Stephen Hawking early in his career at the University of Cambridge and Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson’s doing an interview before their acceptance of the Nobel prize. Hawking is a potent television drama that doesn’t shy away from the upsetting content or the excessively challenging science. Profiling Stephen from his 21st birthday onwards. Hawking does a fantastic job depicting his physical struggles, unparalleled mind, and evolution of his relationships.
While there is an abundance of great supporting performances. They all take a backseat to Benedict Cumberbatch’s unmeasurable portrayal of Stephen Hawking. His take is unwavering, regardless of whether he is suffering from slurred speech, uncontrollable balance, or unrealized dreams. There is something so utterly mesmerizing about Cumberbatch’s mannerisms and facial expressions. Nevertheless, when his eyes gaze towards the sky or how they beam when a realization crosses his mind, it feels as if you’re looking into the eyes of Hawking himself. Bursting with unfathomable thoughts and a sense of wonder and accomplishment we can only dream of. Cumberbatch gives a performance that will define his career for years to come.
Toss away any thoughts of discredit or triviality because Hawking is a television movie. It carries more weight, emotion, and brilliance than most high-budget action flicks, expressionistic dramas, or hackneyed psychological thrillers. Cumberbatch’s performance alone should be enough to make it worth while. If not, the dramatized history of Hawking’s arduous, yet incredibly significant life should do the trick. At the very least it will broaden your understanding of the universe, there is no downside to it. There is little to no falsification of the real life events and the imagery is lovely to behold. Hawking is a level above most biographical reenactments and tells one of the most harrowing and important stories in our lifetime. Hawking looks past our irrelevant casings into what truly makes humanity unique and explodes like the beginning of recorded time.
Pulling strongly on the viewers heartstrings and sympathetic tendencies. Hawking is an immaculate depiction of the life and personality behind one of the greatest minds to ever exist.
Hawking: 9 out of 10.
A harrowing, instant classic that, without any doubt, blossoms into legend. Mud is a charming, captivating, irresistible coming-of-age yarn that transcends and disarms. Rich with dynamic visuals, a sweet, at times cunning script, and superlative performances from its entire cast. Mud is comprised upon an endless source of infallibility and revered assets. Filmed entirely in the state of Arkansas, rooted along the Mississippi River and its tangents. Mud’s locations are a breathtaking backdrop evoking a sense of wonder and serenity. Written and directed by up-and-comer Jeff Nichols who continues his rise to fame with this, his third full length feature. The only thing more reliant than the unsurpassable portrayals and unmatched scenery throughout Mud is Nichols sturdy, visionary direction. Despite some heavy, dark subject matter and clinging to innocence for effectiveness, Mud never loses its way.
Ellis (Sheridan) is 14 years old and lives in a houseboat on the banks of a river in Arkansas with his mother Mary Lee (Paulson) and father Senior (McKinnon). One morning, after he sneaks out past his parents, Ellis meets up with his best friend Neckbone (Lofland), who is also 14 and lives with his uncle Galen (Shannon). The boys set out to an island on the Mississippi river where Neckbone has discovered a boat stuck high in a tree, believed to have been put there by an extreme flood. Soon after climbing the tree and into the boat, they discover footprints and fresh food. Upon returning to their boat, figuring it best to leave before the inhabitant returns, they are surprised to see a rugged man fishing. The stranger, who is soon revealed to be named Mud (McConaughey), asks the boys for food in exchange for the boat in the tree. As time passes, the three become close friends and begin to trust one another. This is when Mud and the boys enter into an agreement that will change their lives forever.
Filled with the vibrancy and uncertainty of life and youth. Nichols honest take on the struggles of growing up is both refreshing and astoundingly accurate. Managing to convey the hardships and vulnerability that comes with being young and wide-eyed. Mud places the world at your feet, just to render you helpless when you reach out to grasp it. To accomplish this feat while simultaneously leaving the viewer content and without being overly sappy is stupefying. Yet, the theme most prominent and riveting in Mud deals with the emotion that leaves us confounded and in a daze, love. Stating that regardless of age, we always succumb to the idea of love and will always stumble over and sacrifice ourselves and one another for a taste of it. Mud is undeniably one of the best films of 2013 and will undoubtedly stand the test of time.
With a plethora of symbolism, lyricism, and dynamism, it’s easy to get caught up in the ripples of Mud and lose sight of its heart…If you can keep track of each, individual storyline strand, Mud has so much more to behold. For instance, the forests and rivers ingeniously resemble the appeasing exteriors of Mud’s characters. And like these peaceful settings and docile people, there are unforeseen dangers that lie beyond them. Just a quick note on Mud’s tranquil soundtrack which is composed by David Wingo, who also wrote the score for Nichols 2011 hit, Take Shelter. Wingo’s ability to match Nichols ideals with music is unparalleled and I’m overjoyed that the two continue to work with one another.
Even though Mud might not be as psychologically exhausting as Take Shelter or disconcertingly ferocious as Shotgun Stories, it is certainly just as visual and rewarding. Nichols continues to grow with each release and every single outing of his sheds a little more light into his bright, limitless future. The most reassuring and remarkable trait of Nichols films is that the newest chapter is stronger than the last. Nichols effortlessly and eloquently absorbs the natural and elemental beauty of Arkansas, the surrounding terrain, and vast skyline. There is no denying that Mud’s numerous, incredible performances and original script would be useless without Nichols keen, eccentric direction.
Finding a pair of young, close-knitted, and talented leads is imperative to Mud’s success and Nichols found them in Jacob Lofland and Tye Sheridan. Mud again reunites Nichols with Michael Shannon, who stared in both of Nichols other films, Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter. Now, even though his role is certainly smaller than the duo’s previous collaborations, Shannon is equally as effective. Also starring Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Paulson, Ray McKinnon, Reese Witherspoon, and Sam Shepard. Mud’s ensemble easily gives one of the best collective efforts of the year.
It is quite astonishing when an actor, let alone an ensemble breaks through the screen, allowing the viewer to discard the notion that what they’re watching is just a film, Mud has this effect. McKinnon and Paulson’s portrayal of a couple who’s marriage is on the rocks reaches a new level of believability. As they fight against the closing inevitability and try, relentlessly to keep their son stable regardless of their current circumstance causes a profound euphoria of respect to rush over the viewer. As for Shepard, who’s role is somewhat typical, is able to surpass its regularity with an unusually strong, aching performance. Witherspoon, who garners very little screen time, makes terrific use of her limited role. To be honest, I had very limited respect for Witherspoon as an actress, but after Mud, it has grown substantially.
However memorable and powerful the supporting casts performances may be. They are simply outdone by Mud’s three leads Jacob Lofland, Tye Sheridan, and Matthew McConaughey. As McConaughey’s stock continued to rise throughout 2011 with his roles in The Lincoln Lawyer and Bernie, it slowly became apparent that there was no stopping his rapid ascension. Following up another hit in Magic Mike with Mud, McConaughey seems to have finally found his muse. McConaughey is now gearing up for another high-profile role as he is set to star alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, ready for release late in 2013. There is now, no denying McConaughey’s brilliance as he recently signed on to tackle the lead in the magnificent Christopher Nolan’s next film Interstellar, which will also feature Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway. Thankfully, there seems to be no end in sight for the once discredited Matthew McConaughey.
Lofland and Sheridan, who were ultimately hired because of their abilities on a boat, knowledge of the area, and the time it would save not having to teach these facets to two other young leads, undoubtedly earn their spots. With a combined age that doesn’t equal some of their co-stars time of acting experience, let alone years on this planet, Lofland and Sheridan prove they’re not intimidated by underestimation. Having performed in Terrence Malick’s, The Tree of Life, Sheridan continues on his path to a fortuitous career. As for Lofland, Mud is his first full length feature, but you wouldn’t know it from his calm and confident performance. Both flourish in this highly advantageous opportunity and look to have extremely bright futures.
With its unyielding, heavenly toxic imagery, phenomenal performances, and spot-on portrayal of love, death, and youth. It may be a bit premature, but Mud has eked its way into my top 10 all time favourite films and I don’t see it falling out anytime soon. It is a must see for anyone, cinephile or not.
Mud: 9.5 out of 10.
Fish Tank (2009)
Anchored by a couple of tremendous performances from its two outstanding leads and an honest, gripping script. Fish Tank may not be the typical coming-of-age story we’re all used to. Nonetheless, it’s a more authentic, albeit darker take on growth and the vulnerability that encompasses it. Although its characters run about gritty neighbourhoods and struggle to find their place. Writer and director Andrea Arnold has a firm hold on Fish Tank and its seemingly reckless rawness is more of a guided chaos. Fish Tank is a highly vivid film with socio-political motivations and realism. More than a few will likely be turned off by its stark, brash, and paced simplicity. However, any blemishes one is inevitably going to stumble upon are easily rubbed out by infallible performances from the entire cast and visually harsh, yet stunning realities.
Mia (Jarvis) is an angry and isolated 15-year-old. She lives in East London with her mother and younger sister. Mia is an aspiring hip-hop dancer and will do anything to achieve her dream. Seemingly, Mia had a falling out with one of her close friends and now antagonizes her and other kids her age. Walking home one day, Mia spots a weak and weary horse tethered in a parking lot. When Mia tries to free the horse, she is attacked by two young men, but eventually saved by another. Mia’s mother’s new boyfriend Connor (Fassbender) begins hanging around the house more frequently. As he becomes closer to the family, the more Mia becomes infatuated with him. What follows is an obscure tale about growing up and the consequences of youth.
Be forewarned that watching Fish Tank does come with a few challenges. Every so often there is a scene dealing with relatively subtle disturbances and unsettling content. At moments, it isn’t even the material that gets under your skin. The portrayals by Fish Tank’s ensemble are so real, it’s easy to forget that you’re watching a film. Regardless, without these bold, at times unpleasant sequences, Fish Tank’s unflinching gaze into adolescence would be rendered useless. Besides, the reward heavily outweighs any disgust one might feel while experiencing Arnold’s Fish Tank. When agreeing to succumb to the uninhibited, effervescence of youth, you’re accepting both ends of the spectrum, you can’t have the good without the bad. In the end, Fish Tank is the winner of the Cannes jury prize for a reason.
If you’re unable to find value in Arnold’s story of a broken family struggling to find an identity together and individually. At least take solace in the immaculate performances, you’ll find it very easy. Featuring Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing, and newcomer Katie Jarvis. Fish Tank has the investment of the collective to match its undying spirit and emotional complexity. Wareing, despite being hardly used, manages to steal every shot she is in. Jarvis, who makes her cinematic debut in Fish Tank, is astounding. Capturing the angst, defencelessness, and infatuation that swims through youthful veins. Jarvis shows remarkable range and persistence for someone with little-to-no experience and undoubtedly gives the best performance in the film.
The only other performance worth discussing, besides the stunningly accurate and haunting portrayal by Katie Jarvis belongs to Michael Fassbender. Since Fish Tank, he has absolutely skyrocketed to stardom with high-profile performances in such films as Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, Steve McQueen’s Shame, and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Yet, oddly enough, Fish Tank contains one of Fassbender’s best, most polarizing performances and still remains sparsely seen. Throughout Fish Tank, it becomes apparent that one can’t quite get a read on his character, this isn’t by accident. Fassbender beautifully exudes the questionable ambitions and lulling safety needed to lure in the wounded and vulnerable. Ultimately, Fassbender continually reminds us that he always had the talent and still does. Earning his status of one the most sought after actors in the business currently and why he is one of my favourite actors of all time.
Sinister, endearing, and utterly entrancing. Fish Tank is a unique story about one girl’s struggle to cope with growing up.
Fish Tank: 8.5 out of 10.
Into the Wild (2007)
Pulling on the heart strings of the rebellious adventurer inside all of us while it pokes holes in systematic evolution and the steadily growing restraint on our existence. Into the Wild is a visually breathtaking, thought-provoking journey told through an eager set of eyes belonging to a unique, fearless individual. Taking full advantage of the vast landscapes across North America and a highly likeable lead. Into the Wild is one of the most appealing and striking films to ever grace the big screen. Based on a true story and directed by Sean Penn. This cross-country trek is ripe with bright-eyed, kind-natured people living their lives to the fullest. While it may not sit consistently content with all of its viewers. Into the Wild is an unflinching look at the harsh realities of this world and teaches us to seize it instead of looking forward to what could possibly await us in the next.
Upon graduating from Emory University in Atlanta, Christopher McCandless decides to destroy all his worldly possessions and leave his home and family behind in order to travel across America. Hating every facet of a conventional, conformists living. McCandless thrives in the wilderness working odd jobs to make a couple of bucks and makes new friends on his long journey. Spending all this time alone allows Chris to reflect on his troubled childhood, existence, and become one with nature. Eventually wanting to end his journey in Alaska, Christopher does whatever it takes to accomplish his goal while trying not to hurt anyone along the way.
The path may be divided, long, arduous, and diverse. However, there is one steady, dependable aspect of Into the Wild and it’s lead Emile Hirsch. Never taking the easy route or shying away from a little manual labour. Hirsch radiates youthful ambition and an infinite supply of energy. Although craving nothing more than feeling the wind in his hair and to take the road less travelled. Hirsch’s character rarely stays in one place or calls any land home. Hirsch does a flawless job staying firmly rooted and never bitter.
While Hirsch gives a terrific, almost infallible performance. An even more remarkable, albeit technically smaller achievement is the acting of Into the Wild’s supremely talented supporting cast. However, just because they don’t garner as much screen time, doesn’t make their performances any less spectacular. Featuring Vince Vaughan, Catherine Keener, Zach Galifianakis, Hal Holbrook, Jena Malone, and Kristen Stewart. Into the Wild’s superb ensemble is funny, caring, and enduring.
Keener, without question, gives the most sincere and honest performance out of the supporting cast. There is no denying her charm, vulnerability, and maturity, she’ll make you weep. Despite being limited to no more than a few minutes of screen time. Galifianakis manages to conjure up the biggest laughs and shows a more serious side to his talents. As for Stewart, what can one say with a bias as strong as mine. Her performance continues to give me ammunition for anyone discrediting her as an actor. A lot like Galifianakis, Vaughan showcases a much more dramatic edge and discards his comedic prowess for a nurturing, endearing element. Hal Holbrook poses the biggest opposition for Keener. His nurturing wisdom and gradual sadness evokes an ocean of emotion. Finally, the highly underrated and underused Jena Malone provides the trustworthy and formidable base for Hirsch and proves why her lack of use is a travesty.
Sean Penn does an outstanding job capturing the wildness and ferocity of the unforgiving terrain. The only aspect of Into the Wild that rivals his ability to illustrate the sights is Penn’s weightless camerawork absorbing every emotion emitted by the talented cast.
Extremely beautiful both externally and internally, Into the Wild is a highly visual drama that is not to be missed.
Into the Wild: 9 out of 10.
Also guys, don’t forget to check out this week’s top 10 posted yesterday. Have a good weekend!
Splicing the airy, almost weightlessness of picturesque terrain, brilliantly compacted dialogue, and unflinching violence into a vividly powerful love story. Badlands is Terrence Malick’s expressionistic piece that still remains his most ambitious release to date. Aside from his striking direction, Malick’s suave, eventful script is not to be overlooked. Although remaining somewhat sparse, Badlands contains his most frequent, inspired diction. However, it’s still no substitute for the atmospheric, elemental panoramas of the surrounding landscapes. A vicious, obsessive love condensed into a runtime that’s compressed when compared to other Malick pictures. Badlands leads Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek capture the youth and indifference of two wayward lovers bent on mayhem and adventure. Taking into account the immaturity and easily corruptible or persuaded minds of innocence, Malick completes his descent into the warped brains of impulsive souls.
Kit (Sheen), a young garbage collector, stumbles upon Holly (Spacek) during one of his routine pickups. When the two strike up an unusual relationship, they need to keep it a secret from Holly’s overprotective father. After Kit struggles to find a new job upon being fired as a garbage man, the unwanted pressure from Holly’s dad begins to excessively bother Kit. When Holly’s father shoots her dog as punishment for sneaking around behind his back with Kit, the two decide to take matters into their own hands. Kit guns down Holly’s father with a pistol as she watches unfazed. The two then flee from the law doing whatever is necessary to keep themselves alive and running.
The first full length feature directed by Terrence Malick. Badlands is based loosely upon a real-life couple who committed a series of murders in 1958. Badlands essentially might be a work of fiction, but it never sacrifices authenticity. Wanting Badlands to play out rather like a fairy tale, Malick takes his two leads from small beginnings to overwhelming heights. Everything from its delusional, flamboyant characters, desensitization towards violence, and enjoyable ending eerily resembles a morose, adult fable.
With Badlands, Malick controls his two leads more so than his later efforts. Yet somehow still manages to let Sheen and Spacek evolve and define their own characters. Martin Sheen is deliciously rebellious and devilishly unfazed by his evil mannerisms and actions. Sheen emits the youthful good looks and sparks of angst to captivate the pure and polite Spacek, as well as the audience. Getting caught up in the imaginative whirlwind of an early teens thought process. Spacek quickly crumbles under her hearts desire and radiates the lack of decisiveness that accompanies adoration. From the get go, Spacek is the muse and relishes her role. Switching from a playful, fruitful existence to a questionably calm and emotionless teen, Spacek performs admirably. At times, living as if they’re free from the world. Sheen and Spacek sweetly endure one another until their time runs out.
As for Malick, it is apparent he was a force from the start. If you’re looking, they’re tiny hints as to what we could expect from him for years to come throughout Badlands. Conversely, it’s a real treat to see Malick let loose. It’s supremely bewildering to watch him work, boundless. Without question, Badlands is Malick’s most unrestrained effort. Blending elements of what make Malick the illustrious, imaginative filmmaker we know today and some of his more unrefined, rough edges from early in his career. Badlands is an unhampered, limitless dive into the brilliant mind of Terrence Malick.
Featuring some of Malick’s most captivating camerawork and dialogue. Badlands is a wonderful first film that showcases the early beauty and intellect we’ve come to expect from the extremely talented Terrence Malick.
Badlands: 9 out of 10.
Also guys, don’t forget to check out this weeks top 10 and The Gushing Cinephile, have a great weekend!
On the Waterfront (1954)
Bolstered by an exceptional story and a towering performance from Marlon Brando. On the Waterfront is an undeniable classic that was and continues to be an outstanding advocate for cinema and its storied history. On The Waterfront’s criminal roots are the ideal foundation for its strong, economic messages on corruption, unionization, and stability. Using the eerie, dark backdrop of New Jersey’s docks, connected rooftops, and dreary slums, such as local bars and workers cabins. This blur and filth adds a depressing effect to a visceral love story filled with social and political momentum. On the Waterfront is on an even keel visually and intellectually. Starring Marlon Brando, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint and directed by the illustrious Elia Kazan. Not sacrificing any facet for the benefit of showmanship or appeal, On the Waterfront is an unmissable masterpiece.
Terry Malloy (Brando) was once a prize fighter, but now finds himself under the employment of Johnny Friendly (Cobb) working at the docks. Friendly is the corrupt, malicious boss of the union for the dock workers. After Malloy assists unknowingly in Friendly and his thugs committing a murder, he is repulsed by what he has become. Malloy cannot betray Friendly because he is a friend of the family and is also the boss of his brother Charley (Steiger). In this depression, more workers each morning show up at the docks hoping for a day of employment, which places Friendly in a position to take advantage of them. Upon falling for Edie Doyle (Saint), who is the sister of the man murdered, Malloy gains deeper morals. Joining forces with Edie, a local priest, and some dock workers, Malloy sets out to end Friendly’s reign of terror.
Brando and Kazan revamped and set new heights for cinema with their 1954 exploration into romance and worker exploitation. Revealing the slivers underneath its numerous layers such as guilt, religion, and greed. On the Waterfront slowly peels back its skin and lets each thorn unveil itself in time. To this very day, On the Waterfront is still a remarkably paced film considering the evolution of cinema.For Kazan and Brando, this was their third film released together in just under five years. They previously combined to release Viva Zapata! in 1952 and A Streetcar Named Desire in 1951, which also took the cinematic world by storm. I think its fair to say that Brando and Kazan form quite the formidable duo.
One thing I believe to be true about film is that we will never know how great a movie truly is until a significant amount of time has passed. A picture may be at the forefront for a moment, but what good is it if it dwindles with passing time. It’s been almost 60 years since On the Waterfront’s initial release and it is still relevant to cinema and its patrons today. Full of timeless sequences and dialogue, there is no denying the greatness of On The Waterfront.
Aside from his career defining performance in The Godfather, Marlon Brando has never been better. Also lending his expertise to On the Waterfront is the magnificent Lee J. Cobb. Who, before going on to star in other gems such as 12 Angry Men and The Exorcist, portrayed a ruthless gangster in this harrowing tale of one mans struggle to silence his heavy conscious. Arguably Kazan’s most complete film, On the Waterfront radiates his prominent skill set in unmissable fashion. Rivalling Brando in her supporting role is Eva Marie Saint. Although Saint’s character is so passively aggressive, the aggression is not as noticeable as her potent shyness. Truly an unrivalled ensemble who perform On the Waterfront flawlessly.
Please forgive the incoherence of this article. When I am reviewing films that fall into the category of my all time favourites, I find it exceedingly hard to review them.
On the Waterfront: 9 out of 10.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
Although it may lose track of its source material, feel ostentatious and overly feign. The Great Gatsby’s breathtaking visuals, captivating performances, and superb direction are enough to rescue it from becoming a complete disaster. No doubt those who’ve read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s timeless novel, like myself, will have a harder time appreciating Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation than those not familiar with the text. However, if you’re able to separate from it and Fitzgerald’s unparalleled take on decadence, the American dream, and idealism. You’ll find that regardless of its primary focus on cynicism and extravagance, Luhrmann’s rendition isn’t all vanity and indifference. Sporting an array of high-profile actors and a substantial amount of glam and glitter. The Great Gatsby is a party you weren’t invited to, yet can’t help but enjoy.
Nick Carraway (McGuire) is a Yale graduate and a veteran of the first World War. Also a depressed alcoholic, Nick visits a psychiatrist and continually talks about a man named Gatsby. When Nick begins to struggle describing Gatsby, his doctor suggests writing his memories down. Recalling events beginning in 1922, Nick describes how his relationship with Mr. Gatsby came to be. Taking a job as a bond salesman in New York, Nick rents out a small house on Long Island in the village of West Egg. Soon after, Nick travels across the bay to visit his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Mulligan) and her husband Tom (Edgerton). Afterwords, Tom and Nick go to an apartment which Tom keeps for his affair with Myrtle (Isla Fisher), George’s (Clarke) wife. Later on, Nick receives a party invitation from his mysterious neighbour Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio). As more time passes, Nick and Mr. Gatsby grow close. Soon, Jay has an unusual request for Nick and what follows is a gripping tale of love and loss.
It is certainly frustrating to watch Luhrmann’s portrayal of the Roaring Twenties without the consequence and disintegration that Fitzgerald so elegantly masked. That being said, if Luhrmann’s discarding of social politics is inadvertent or not, there is no denying that he poignantly and potently captures the surface story of distanced lovers. While it may not provide, nor portray the downfall of the American dream. This adaptation of The Great Gatsby does brush a certain element that made the original text so relatable and distinguished. Luhrmann absorbs Fitzgerald’s relentless facet of reckless and uninhibited youth. While overall it may miss the mark on the underlying themes. The Great Gatsby does hit some of Fitzgerald’s plot points dead on and proves to be a worthy adaptation.
Starring the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Toby McGuire, Joel Edgerton, and Jason Clarke. The Great Gatsby definitely has the eccentric, ecstatic, enthusiastic cast to illuminate the decadence and excess of the rich, wayward youth. Their dialogue and phantasmic appearances may appear to lack authenticity, but I assure you it’s accurate. Though everyone and everything seems staged, it never dwindles The Great Gatsby’s brightness.
Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t miss a beat in his accurate take on the eloquent and mysterious Jay Gatsby. Even though it’s not as formidable as his other, more impeccable roles, it’s certainly as memorable, old sport. Joel Edgerton, arguably only outdone by DiCaprio, exudes the diabolical deviance that plagues Tom Buchanan’s warped mind. Popping up for only a few minutes at a time, it’s difficult to judge Clarke’s performance. However, in limited time, Clarke’s role is significant and he, typically, makes good use of his screen time. As for McGuire, in the lead role caught between friendship and morals, there is nothing to nitpick over. Finally, the spellbinding Carey Mulligan gives another weightless, enduring performance.
Setting aside the power of its performances, the absence of social-political themes, and the plausibility of certain viewers likeness of it. The real strength of The Great Gatsby lies within its costume and set designs. However one may feel towards Luhrmann’s adaptation, there is no ignoring the entrancing beauty of the visuals. Accompanied by an odd mixture of classical and current music, the striking sets and Luhrmann’s direction form a sedating toxin that weaves through the viewers veins.
With each passing day, the more it grows on me. The highest praise I can give at the moment is that, The Great Gatsby is near impossible not to enjoy. Set aside the literary comparisons and take it for what it is.
The Great Gatsby: 7 out of 10.
The Hunt (2012)
With a shocking, at times inconceivable script, menacing atmosphere, and an immaculate performance from Mads Mikkelsen. The Hunt is a rampant, threatening, suggestive thriller faultlessly depicting the limitations of social acceptance. Also drawing serious arguments regarding the affect of current societies impressions on young, innocent minds. The Hunt’s insight into the grave consequences of having access to temptation, knowledge, and private information at the tips of our fingers is bewildering. The Hunt marvellously assigns blame, judgement, and disappointment at the populaces boundless skepticism and untrustworthiness when they so willingly provide every secret, thought, location, emotion, and potentially damaging information unnecessarily. With an emotional, uncompromising heart flaming at its core. The Hunt is driven by the bonds forged between family and friends.
Lucas (Mikkelsen), who recently separated from his wife, is struggling with his lonely life and for custody for his son. Living in a small town, he has found a job assisting in teaching a group of children. When Lucas and Nadja (Alexandra Rapaport) strike up a meaningful relationship and his son delivers good news, it seems that Lucas’s luck has finally changed. As things progress with his career, relationship, and son, all is not well with Lucas’s good friend Theo and the School where he teaches. They are hit with some disturbing news and now Lucas finds himself in the middle of a vicious manhunt.
The Hunt is heavily reliant on the three modes of persuasion and the viewers ability to discover and understand them. Being able to create unjustified discomfort in the viewer while conversely presenting them with undeniable proof of the truth throughout the entire feature is an astounding accomplishment. But rendered useless if the reason for the emotion is miscomprehended. The Hunt boldly states that there is no returning from a tarnished reputation. Distinguishing equal importance to ones actions and others perception of them. Still, even though we know what is really happening, we get caught up in the pandemonium and begin to question our own thought process. It is unprecedented that a films message peer pressures an audience to discard the truth. Who knew that it could even be administered to viewers, let alone work effectively.
Director of The Hunt, Thomas Vinterberg’s astounding camerawork is something to marvel. Impeccable shots of a melancholic landscape and breathtaking views of small towns and its citizens, in addition to capturing their expansive emotions are but a taste of what Vinterberg has to offer The Hunt’s viewers. Vinterberg, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Tobias Lindholm, should be applauded, as well as Lindholm, for their poignant, original script. Instead of retracing what others have done, their tale of the relationships we forge, the mistakes we make, and the deceptive cunning of innocence is extremely relevant and unsettling. Even though the main focus is on one man’s struggle, the supporting cast and their gradually realization of the truth and the indifference they feel towards it is portrayed evenly.
To say that a single performance makes a film has never been truer. The Hunt would be lost without its lead, Mads Mikkelsen. His characters ability to separate the rage and invest in peaceful ignorance radiates through Mikkelsen’s portrayal. The subtle, infuriating helplessness his character succumbs to, Mikkelsen portrays beautifully and perfectly. Leading towards his demise, Mikkelsen remains composed and doesn’t crumble under any circumstance throughout The Hunt. The only supporting performance worth noting is Thomas Bo Larsen. His performance almost matches Mikkelsen’s stride for stride and considering how masterful Mikkelsen is in The Hunt, that’s high praise. Overall, the acting in The Hunt equals the quality and compassion of the script and directing, making a modern masterpiece.
The Hunt is terrifically acted, superbly directed, and vastly intelligent. I highly recommend this film to any cinephile.
The Hunt: 8.5 out of 10.
Don’t forget to check out blogger talk in the discussion section and this past weeks top 10, have a great day!