Review: Trash (UK/Brazil: 2014): The proletarian adventure movie comes to Brazil.

Trash (2014)

Trash (2014)

While Stephen Daldry’s action/adventure film set in the the poverty stricken slums captures the energetic spirit of Andy Mulligan’s young adult novel, adults may be less than thrilled by the story while its content may lead it to be rated outside the reach of its intended audience. Still, the performances of the novice lead actors make it worth seeking out even if it never gets a US release.

Rating:

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Brazil (UK: 1985): A Review at 30

An entry in a periodic series of reviews of films celebrating milestones in 2015

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Brief Review: Terrorism, state torture, the ease at which our humanity can be manipulated away and clinging to the hope that escaping into dreams of love can break us free. I wish I could say its themes are dated. Brazil is still visually stunning. There may be a handful of better dystopian films, and certainly ones that pack more thrills, but since the root social problems that the movie explores are still with us, Brazil remains a vital expression of our fears of the present.

Rating

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Release Date: February 22, 1985

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My Beautiful Launderette (UK: 1985): A review at 30

An entry in a periodic series of reviews of films celebrating milestones in 2015

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Brief Review: The novelty of the Hussein family embracing Thatcherism may have worn off, but the film could be worth a look for early glimpses of at the time emerging star Daniel Day Lewis and a generally fine ensemble cast.

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Release Date: August 18, 1985

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Paddington (USA/UK: 2014): The polite bear won me over

Michael Bond's classic bear keeps his classic look.

Michael Bond’s classic bear keeps his classic look.

True to the storied bear’s origin, funny and cinematically sophisticated, Paul King’s Paddington is a children’s film that actually works. Great care obviously went into the production, with effects placed into a children’s live action film at levels of quality I have not seen since Hugo. What is “real” and what is the effects team’s imagination blend almost seamlessly.

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Mr. Turner (UK: 2014): Timothy Spall and a 349 degree view of an artist

Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner presents as close to a 360 view of a character as I think one can have on film without employing a cat scan. It is outstanding, if a bit long. I am not certain who is going to be nominated next month for best actor for the Academy Awards, but if Timothy Spall isn’t at least in the mix, I am not certain what an actor has to do to get there. I guess maybe he could talk more and grunt less, but my goodness, he takes to the role of the English painter JMW Turner with zeal.

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The film is a domestic and social portrait of one of the pivotal artists in history during the last 25 years of his life. Turner kept sketchbooks but he was not a diarist, so we don’t have any deep insights into what he was thinking at any particular time. The movie is true to that mystery. The social scenes in the movie are probably drawn the letters and diaries of others who met him. But even without the deep psychological study, Leigh has produced one of the most advanced profiles of an artist and his times that I have seen.

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The Imitation Game (US/UK: 2014): Turing tells tall tales about himself.

The Imitation Game is framed as a story relayed by Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to a detective (Rory Kinnear) to prove that he is human. I guess that would explain why the events presented in the bio-pic stray so far from actual events. Thinking machines can do many things, but deception, self-aggrandizement, and distortion aren’t among them just yet. When machines can take facts and think to themselves, “you know it would make a better story if we reordered them and maybe introduced a tragic flaw” then we will know that our days are numbered. Based on that standard, we’re safe or a few more decades. We want machines to solve problems that are too complex for us to solve, not machines that can do things we’re perfectly efficient performing. We can take comfort in the fact that we can still beat machines when it comes to story telling. But I am not so smug in my comfort as to let screenwriter Graham Moore and director Morten Tyldum off the hook for this parody of the life of Alan Turing.

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