Review: The Revenant

revenant

DIR: Alejandro González Iñárritu • WRI: Mark L. Smith, Alejandro González Iñárritu • PRO: Steve Golin, Alejandro González Iñárritu, David Kanter, Arnon Milchan, Mary Parent, Keith Redmon, James W. Skotchdopole • DOP: Emmanuel Lubezki • ED: Stephen Mirrione • DES: Jack Fisk • MUS: Carsten Nicolai, Ryuichi Sakamoto • CAST: Tom Hardy, Leonardo DiCaprio, Domhnall Gleeson

 

In 1823, at the edge of the new world, frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) swears vengeance when one of the men of the hunting party he’d been tasked to protect abandons him alive but mortally wounded after surviving a brutal bear attack. If revenge is a dish best served cold, Alejandro G. Iñárritu offers one better, serving up a frost-ridden western that only copious amounts of blood and testosterone can cool in a riotous and riveting ode to survival.

In the uncharted wilderness of the Americas an expedition of fur traders and trappers is cut short when a tribe of Native Indians ambush their camp to plunder their precious pelts. A melee of arrows, tomahawks and bullets fly as a dizzying long take follows the carnage from foot and across horseback to capture every hack and slash in grisly detail. The up-close and personal approach of unbroken shots provides for a shell-shocking opener and a spectacular warning of the dread ahead.

The weary band of survivors escape across the water by boat but the hot-headed, half-scalped Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) is fast to point a finger at Glass and son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) for failing to pre-empt the attack, sowing seeds of discord among the men. Glass remains focused and resolute, despite the doubt cast upon his abilities as a man and a father. It reveals his virtue as a character that will avoid a fight if and when he can with the gauntlet of punishment ahead laying credence to the theme that survival is a requisite of one’s strength of mind and spirit as much as body. Even when Glass is reduced to a bloody pulp after several rounds of merciless mauling by an angry mother bear, in another unrelenting long shot, his will to survive is his greatest weapon (with a little help from a well-aimed bullet and his trusty bowie knife). It betters the beast and even when left for dead drags him back to the land of the living like some vengeful ghost with unfinished business.

Henceforth, it’s a down and dirty ride fuelled by blood, sweat and tears both in front and behind the camera as Iñárritu and co. reportedly tackled harsh conditions across perilous locations, relying upon natural light alone to capture the myth and the mayhem. DiCaprio triumphs in an absorbing to-hell-and-back-again performance that may just snag that elusive Oscar. The supporting players rise to the challenge and excel in their own right, with Domhnall Glesson’s duty-bound Captain Henry and Will Poulter’s impressionable and conscience heavy Bridger adding leverage to the one-man show. The unscrupulous Fitzgerald is embodied by another wide-eyed and wild Hardy performance but the beast is cleverly kept at bay before the inevitable showdown.

At times, Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography recalls the majestic vision of a Terrance Malick film (lessons learnt on The New World no doubt), such as in the slow track over a waterlogged forest as Glass and Hawk creep, rifles drawn, towards drinking elk. Mother Nature is a force to be reckoned with in The Revenant, a character of its own that adds to the formidable level of realism, and the camera showcases its beauty and its brutality in equal measure. The whispery voice-over of Glass’s wife cheering him on in spirit owes again to the aforementioned oeuvre and excels in complementing Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto’s hauntingly alluring score.

Iñárritu’s Oscar follow-up is a punishing watch that pays off with captivating visuals of realistic action and adventure. The trek may tire some but fortune favours the bold after all.

 

Anthony Assad

16
156 minutes (See IFCO for details)

The Revenant is released 15th January 2016

The Revenant – Official Website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Review: Legend

Tom-Hardy-as-Ronnie-and-Reggie-Kray-574327

DIR/WRI: Brian Helgeland •  PRO: Tim Bevan, Chris Clark, Quentin Curtis, Eric Fellner, Brian Oliver • DOP: Dick Pope • ED: Peter McNulty • DES: Tom Conroy • MUS: Carter Burwell • CAST: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Taron Egerton

 

You would think that a movie based on two psychotic twin brothers, who rose through the ranks of London’s criminal underbelly, and teamed up with the American mafia with the aim of creating Europe’s own Las Vegas would be a visceral affair, one heck of a story indeed. On top of that you’ve got the secret deodorant – Tom Hardy playing both Reggie and Ronnie Kray through some fine digital trickery. Finally, the cherry on top – Brian Helgeland, writer of L.A. Confidential, Mystic River and Man on Fire, is set to write and direct. We all saw the trailer for Legend, we all got excited, and let me tell you, we were all duped!

The first and biggest mistake was placing Emily Browning, who plays Reggie’s wife Frances, as the the film’s narrator. Straightaway we know that we aren’t getting an in-depth or honest portrayal these two gangsters and their true violent nature because we all know that gangsters don’t tell their wives everything. So when we first hear her voice and realise who she is, we know we’re in for a sugarcoated affair. She introduces us to Reggie and Ronnie Kray, the former wears a charming mask to cover his true violent nature, while the latter embraces his criminal lifestyle without any excuses.

Reggie’s suave demeanor helps their firm run smoothly in their East End neighborhood. He walks freely down the street, fraternizing with the community. He enjoys the glamorous life, the women, the nightclubs, the money. While Ronnie lives in a camper van, buggering young boys. There’s an upside though, he’s not prejudice. He takes all sorts. He wears his psychosis like a badge of honour, and in a way there’s something admirable about his honesty. He doesn’t attempt to hide his violent nature like Reggie does, nor is he driven by capitalist means.

At the beginning we laugh, Ronnie is the comic of the two and his frankness is refreshing, but the Reggie character is all too familiar – the likeable anti-hero, who wants to go legit…yada yada yada. Quickly we find ourselves in a generic gangster trope, that seems to drag on forever with no real insight to these two lunatic’s psyche.

The role of Frances is incredibly infuriating, the problem being that we have seen this character all too many times before. She’s beautiful, intelligent, innocent, but of course (snaps fingers) she’s just missing that extra chromosome that reminds civilised people that being romantically acquainted to a violent psychopath is just wrong. She finds Reggie Kray just too damn irresistible to resist. Her response to her mother, who tries to warn her he’s a gangster, is something along the lines of “Well, I’m gonna kiss him tonight”. That’s embarrassing. The casting of Emily Browning was dead wrong for this. She seems too sophisticated to be involved with gangsters, she lacks the conviction that could have been demonstrated better by a less fragile actress.

Clearly, Ronnie is the more intriguing character, but Helgeland decides to stagnate the focus on the relationship between Reggie and Frances, which becomes tedious. We get great glimpses of Ronnie’s peculiar sex life intertwined with drug-fuelled, homosexual orgies with politicians, but these scenes are merely used as comic relief before returning back to the match made in east end. The scandalous and seedy subculture that Ron Kray was immersed in evokes something more forbidden and would have been more daring and refreshing if the filmmakers had decided to explore it more. Even take Reggie out of the film altogether, simply rename the film to ‘Kray’ and see how deep the rabbit hole goes with Ronnie.

Instead, what we are left with is what feels and looks like a second-tier Scorsese gangster flick with genre conventions so generic and monotonous, you begin to feel as old as James Cagney. Legend is sure to gain some praise, particularly from Hardy acolytes, but when all’s said and done, this is one legend that won’t stand the test of time.

Cormac O’Meara

18 (See IFCO for details)
110 minutes

Legend is released 11th September 2015

Legend – Official Website

 

 

 

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Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

0514_Hardy-Fury

DIR: George Miller • WRI: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris • PRO: George Miller, Doug Mitchell, P.J. Voeten Robert Bernstein, Douglas Rae • DOP: John Seale • ED: Jason Ballantine, Margaret Sixel • DES: Colin Gibson • MUS: Junkie XL • CAST: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

 

In a post-apocalyptic world of sand, dirt and orange hue, we find our hero, the one they call ‘Mad’, on the run from a gang of cheering, war-painted men bounding along in enormous vehicles. In spite of his efforts to escape, Max (Tom Hardy) is captured and brought to the town of Citadel. The leader of Citadel is Immortan Joe (clad in a Bane-like mask), who claims himself to be the redeemer of the townspeople. But not all are happy with his leadership and when a truck headed for the local gas town takes a detour, Immortan Joe sends out a war party. The driver of the truck is a warrior called Furiosa (Charlize Theron), whose life is about to collide with Max’s with full force.

From the opening sequence’s fast-motion shots, rapid editing, and hallucinogenic flashbacks of a child, we quickly realise one of the main objectives of Mad Max: Fury Road is to create a visual experience. From the opening shot, director George Miller (whose other major credit, beside the Mad Max films, is Happy Feet, oddly enough) drops us straight into Max’s world. As our protagonist stands by his car looking out on the desert horizon, a two-headed futuristic lizard slithers past. A voiceover informs us that human instinct has been reduced to a single motive – survival. It is a simple premise that has been brought to the big screen time and time again, but it is utilised effectively here nonetheless.

Having George Miller direct this reboot was definitely the right call. Having directed all three of the previous instalments of the franchise – Mad Max (1979), Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985) – this is a world that Miller knows like the back of his hand. What’s more, with Fury Road being produced thirty years after the last Mad Max instalment, Miller is allowed to realise his vision to a bigger and better extent than ever before, mostly as a result of the major enhancements that have been made in computer generated effects since. At the same time, Miller does not rely on CGI or use it in an annoyingly overextended way either, and the production design of costumes, sets, make-up, etc. is essential and brilliantly accomplished in the capturing of this futuristic vision. The vehicles, locations and action sequences are more imaginative than any of the previous Mad Max instalments. Not only that, but Fury Road also stands out as one of the best action movies that has been produced in years.

There are car chases and explosions aplenty. The action is non-stop and the choreography impressive and often surprising. The characterisation is also right on point. Whether Hardy is better than Gibson at playing the enigmatic hero is debatable, but Charlize Theron shines as the strong-willed Furiosa while Nicholas Hoult is a hoot to watch in the role of the crazy but endearing Nux. Hugh Keays-Byrne, who also starred in the original Mad Max, is brilliantly grotesque and terrifying as the villain Immortan Joe with sidekick Nathan Jones, aka strongman competitor Megaman, on hand as the muscular brute Rictus Erectus.

Whether the viewer is young and unfamiliar with the Mel Gibson version of the films (young people should really be required to watch some of these films in school…), or prepared and willing to go back to this post-apocalyptic insane future, Mad Max: Fury Road is a thrilling, immersive experience for all.

 

Deirdre Molumby

 15A (See IFCO for details)

120 minutes
Mad Max: Fury Road is released 15th May 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road – Official Website

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The Drop

download-7-are-you-going-to-watch-the-drop

DIR: Michaël R. Roskam • WRI: Dennis Lehane • PRO: Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Mike Larocca • DOP: Nicolas Karakatsanis • ED: Christopher Tellefsen • DES: Thérèse DePrez • MUS: Marco Beltrami, Raf Keunen • CAST: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Elizabeth Rodriguez, James Gandolfini

A screen flickers to life with nothing on the soundtrack but the sickly drip of water and the buzz of urban indifference to adorn the faded in shot of an alley we’d rather not be in. Various silhouetted figures stumble through the cold, bundled up well and breathing intermittently, their foggy discharges adding to the impending sense of dampness filling the screening room. One figure halts, disturbed into curiosity by a noise they’ve heard in a nearby bin. They investigate. They always investigate. Welcome to (Dennis) Lehane-ville, home of blue-collar noir for the 21st century.

There is no genre so much as noir that one may develop a story in provided a few dynamics are in place, regardless of era or location. Noir films tend to be set in worlds a few streets wide where nobody aids police investigations and nobody has nothing to worry about. They tend to progress towards revealing a series of murky secrets and so it is appropriate as a viewer to trust no one. They will eventually pit you as the star prize in a cock fight between two devils, one you’ll know and one you won’t. There are never markedly unknowable plot points in the noir-genre and as such it is the music made as murky motivations twang off hopefully engaging characters that these stories rely upon most.

Along these lines Michael R. Roskam’s The Drop fairs reasonably well. The disturbed silhouette from the opening frame is Tom Hardy’s seemingly simple barman, the noise he’s heard is an abused dog whose been thrown in the bin, Rocco, who’ll soon function as MacGuffin and symbol simultaneously. He finds the dog in Noomi Rapace’s rubbish and he argues over what to do with it with his Uncle Marv, who’s James Galdolfini back from the dead once more and not doing a great deal more than he did in New Jersey for HBO for almost a decade. The sense of impending doom is set in motion by the Czechian gangsters who run a bookies through Marv’s former bar, which gets robbed at the start and whose responsibility transpires to be more of a multi-layered question than you’d expect, except perhaps if you were aware you were watching a Dennis Lehane noir film.

I’m referring to the film in a tone that would suggest it will not surprise you and in a certain sense of the word that is true. There are a couple of twists in store in the third act and at least one eureka air-puncher moment but for the most part this is business as usual.

The film’s greatest strengths are in the acting, the script and the thematic symbol of the dog (if you think about it). The performances are great across the board though particular credit should fall at the feet of Hardy who does a great Rocky and Matthias Schoenaerts who does a great bastard. The dialogue, however colloquial the delivery, is as sharp as one would expect from an author of Lehane’s stature, and for once the inclusion of a dog as a major story-point doesn’t give cause for foreheads to whack palms. The film’s greatest weakness is that it doesn’t demand a cinema visit of the audience and doesn’t strive to stand out from the standard fair of rain-soaked detective fiction. The Drop is good pulpy, crime fiction of the sort there’s never a shortage of.

Worth a watch for a fan of anyone involved, strangers to the cause might save their allowance this week.

Donnchadh Tiernan

 

15A (See IFCO for details)

106 minutes

The Drop is released 14th November 2014

The Drop – Official Website

 

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Cinema Review: Lawless

DIR: John Hillcoat • WRI: Nick Cave  • PRO: Michael Benaroya, Megan Ellison, Lucy Fisher, Douglas Wick • DOP: Benoît Delhomme • ED: Dylan Tichenor • DES: Chris Kennedy • CAST: Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman

Writer Nick Cave and director John Hillcoat, who previously worked together on the impressively oppressive The Proposition, reunite for this very cinematic, highly entertaining, but quite uneven truth-based tale of Prohibition-era Robin Hoods, the Bondurant Brothers. Set in 1920s Virginia, youngest brother Jack (Shia LaBeouf), eldest brother Howard (Jason Clarke) and leader of the pack Forrest (Tom Hardy) have a nice, quiet life bootlegging apple brandy when, almost on the same day, Jack falls in love with the daughter (Mia Waskiowska) of a local Amish priest, Howard becomes a raging alcoholic, Forrest falls in love with a new lady in town (Jessica Chastain), and last but not least, Special Detective Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) has been sent in from the big city to shut down their operation.

While all these stories chug along, there are no great surprises in terms what happens, but more how it happens, as Hillcoat’s penchant for powerful scenes of violence are still as present as ever, as is his odd levels of sexism – every bad thing that happens in this movie is due to or spurned on by one of the female characters, which, after the negative representation of women in Hillcoat’s The Proposition and The Road, can’t be an accident.

There are some other issues too, including Guy Pearce’s over-the-top, moustache twirling villain, or a shockingly wasted Gary Oldman, who shows up for two minutes as a big bad mobster, and then promptly disappears for the rest of the movie. But aside from this, there is still a lot to enjoy in Lawless. The 1920s  is gorgeously recreated, and the Virginia landscapes are beautifully shot. LaBeouf shows us for the first time since A Guide To Recognising Your Saints that he can do more than just react to CGI in hollow blockbusters, and Hardy’s hulking, grunting, but soulful brute is yet another proud entry on his already enviable CV. All of this combines to something that looks great, packs a wallop, but will probably leave a bad taste in your mouth afterwards, not unlike that bootlegged apple brandy…

Rory Cashin

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
115 mins

Lawless is released on 7th September 2012

Lawless – Official Website

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Cinema Review: The Dark Knight Rises

10 bottles of talcum powder later

DIR: Christopher Nolan • WRI: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan • PRO: Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven • DOP: Wally Pfister • ED: Lee Smith • Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy

Without a doubt the most anticipated movie since George Lucas decided to tell the story of Anakin Skywalker, The Dark Knight Rises seems to have two sets of distinct fans leading up to its release; there are those who are ignoring any and all publicity and reviews of the movie before they’ve seen it themselves, and there are those who are gobbling up any and every nugget of new information they can get their eyes on. And to those looking for spoilers, the only big one you’ll get here is this – Is The Dark Knight Rises better than The Dark Knight? No. But not for lack of trying. The primary reason it finishes second in Nolan’s trilogy is due to a giant Joker-shaped hole. Ledger’s villain in The Dark Knight elevated the movie around it, whereas the big bad in Rises cannot match his magnetic appeal.

After eight years of self-imposed exile in his mansion, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is still feeling the fallout of the death of the love of his life, with only his butler Alfred (Michael Caine) for company. However, a run-in with cat-burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway, much better in the role than expected) puts a renewed hop in his step. Before long he’s back at Wayne HQ, checking out Lucius Fox’s (Morgan Freeman) latest bat-inspired inventions, and also checking out new love interest / Wayne board-member Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard). Meanwhile, Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and rookie cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are following leads which walk them directly into the path of Bane (Tom Hardy, indecipherable about 20% of the time), who has some rather revolutionary plans for the future of Gotham. Pretty soon all of these story-strands hit a crossroads, and all hell breaks loose.

To say any more of the plot would spoil some of the surprises Nolan has in store, but he sure takes his time getting there. The movie clocks in at 164 minutes, and aside from the opening Bond-esque mid-air plane hijacking, the opening hour is fairly light on action. There are a lot of characters to get through, a lot of plot to fall into place, a whole lot of call backs to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight to reference. There is barely any room to breathe, the film is packed that tightly with events, and it can be very easy to get lost in the jumble of stories happening all at once.

But once Bane’s plan becomes clear, the movie shifts into high-gear. The final hour ramps up the tension with a ticking-clock element that should have most viewers right on the edge of their seats, and nobody dials the action sequences up to the epic levels quite like Nolan, and his scenes of destruction surpass anything in the series so far.

It’s very easy to lose the story of Batman in the midst of more interesting villains, and that certainly seemed the case with The Dark Knight, but Rises puts Wayne right back under the microscope, and Bale finds new depths of emotion with the character, making him more vulnerable and ultimately human than before. The massive cast are catered for extremely well for the final curtain call, with special shout outs to Caine’s Alfred for providing the emotional core for the trilogy, and a certain not-to-be-named-here someone who shows up for two scenes and almost steals the movie out from everyone.

If there is a big gripe (aside from plot-holes which could only be poked at properly following repeat viewings), it’s that Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman & Robin were ridiculed for being too light and frothy (as well as being, ye know, crap). But Nolan has gone too far the other way; The Dark Knight Rises is not a fun movie to watch. It is a heavy, fantastically cinematic emotional slog  to get through. Now, before the pitch-forks start getting sharpened, Nolan’s trilogy is still obviously a landmark in modern cinema and three of the greatest comic book movies ever made. But whoever takes up his mantle from here should remember that being a billionaire vigilante with bat-shaped cars and bikes and planes, along with hot women dressed in leather cat-suits dying to get into your bat-pants… there is SOME fun to be had there. Just a thought.

Rory Cashin

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
164 mins

The Dark Knight Rises is released on 20th July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises – Official Website

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Cinema Review: This Means War

A man called McG on the loose

DIR: McG • WRI: Timothy Dowling, Simon Kinberg • PRO: Simon Kinberg, James Lassiter, Robert Simonds, Will Smith • DOP: Russell Carpenter • ED: Nicolas De Toth, Jesse Driebusch • DES: Martin Laing • Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Chelsea Handler

Remember McG? The barely named director was seen as a Hollywood wunderkind in the early 2000s after his kinetic, girl power nonsense take Charlie’s Angels was released. One intelligence-insulting sequel and a Terminator reboot with more plot holes than six viewings of Inception later, McG has managed to keep himself in the game by producing semi-popular schlock TV, such as The OC and Supernatural.

Now he’s back in the director’s chair with this self-important action comedy. This Means War is a confused film that attempts to be the ultimate date movie, pitting two best friend super-spies against one another for the hand of the girl they both fancy. Dripping in eye candy for women and full of Sex and the City-style ‘witticisms’ about penises while boasting less-than-inspired action, few men are likely to come out of this feeling they got a fair share.

Chris Pine and Tom Hardy play FDR and Tuck, two top CIA agents reduced to deskwork after a mission goes awry. FDR is cocky and up for anything. Tuck wants to settle down and is inexplicably English. One day, at separate times, the pair each meet Lauren (Reese Witherspoon), a feisty, no-nonsense girl who is fed up with disappointing men. Tuck falls head over heels. FDR finds he may want more than just a quickie for the first time ever.

Of course, the friends soon realise they’re dating the same girl, and a high-tech pissing contest soon begins as they use the CIA’s facilities to recon their target, find out what she likes and sabotage each other’s efforts to woo her. It’s entirely as morally inexcusable as it sounds. Not only have they bugged her apartment, but their competitiveness over her reduces Lauren to little more than a sack of meat prize with all spoils going to the victor.
Of course, Lauren is hardly free of blame. Bolstered by her jealous, seemingly miserable married best friend (Chelsea Handler), she proceeds to date two men at once because, sure, guys do it all the time.

This Means War really is about as sexist as a film can get these days. Women are portrayed as irrational, self-centred, needy and borderline bipolar. Sure, men get it pretty bad too – they’re portrayed as being aggressive, competitive and insecure – but comparatively these character defects seem hardly as negative. The film is so convinced it is a modern tale about a woman getting to choose between two near-perfect men, but really it’s more conservative than It’s a Wonderful Life and without a fraction of the charm.

And all this might be excusable if it was well made, but it isn’t. The writing is simply abominable, featuring some of the laziest dialogue you will find. The agents’ boss talks like a mission guide between computer game levels. One of Chelsea Handler’s Carrie Bradshaw-est moments, where she compares a man’s penis to a poltergeist, sounds like it was written by picking nouns at random out of a bowl. Determined to ruin the manlier aspects of the film too, the shaky action sequences are shot by a cameraman who appears to have a bee inside trousers. One sequence, a strobe light-heavy shootout in a strip club, seems determined to seek out the person in the audience with epilepsy and give them the seizure of a lifetime.

In fairness to the actors, the three leads are all up for it, and give their portrayals far more effort than the material deserves. Chelsea Handler brings down the tone enormously however, injecting sheer misery into the film as its “comic” relief.

While the sabotage scenes are fun, they’re not enough to save a film so utterly out of touch with its audience that when the villain wants to track down the film’s two heroes, he goes to FDR’s London-based tailor to find out where the owner of his one-of-a-kind suits lives. No one would care about the film being a sexist tale of the sex-lives of the wealthy if the thing were at least entertaining. Realistically the only viewers who could enjoy this film will be those with uncontrollable lust for Messrs Hardy and Pine and pop culture academics revelling in the simmering homoeroticism at the heart of the movie’s bromance.

David Neary

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
This Means War is released on 2nd March 2012

This Means War   – Official Website

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsAqVvlR5DQ

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Cinema Review: Warrior

you'll catch your death if you go out dressed like that

DIR: Gavin O’Connor • WRI: Anthony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman PRO: Greg O’Connor • DOP: Masanobu Takayanagi • ED: Sean Albertson, Matt Chesse, John Gilroy, Aaron Marshall • DES: Dan Leigh • CAST: Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Joel Edgerton

Plot synopsis for The Fighter; aging boxer with family problems, particularly with his drug using brother, decides to give it all one last shot for the big time.

Plot synopsis for Warrior; aging boxer (who also kicks) with family problems, particularly with his drug using brother, decides to give it all one last shot for the big time.

It is unfortunate that Warrior is released in the same year as the Oscar®-nominated The Fighter, as some more distance between the two might have resulted in the US Box Office responding with more than a resounding ‘Meh’. But if you can get past the similarities, you will discover another highly enjoyable movie filled with powerhouse performances.

Joel Edgarton is Brendan, a science teacher who is about to lose his house due to money issues, so he starts taking up illegal wrestling matches on the side, and winning them all. Soon he is back in the gym, and due to a series coincidences, he is on the fast track to a Mixed Martial Arts World Championship. Tom Hardy is Brendan’s brother Tommy, who returns home from Iraq to train with his former alcoholic, abusive father Paddy (Nick Nolte). Tommy is a being of pure rage, and under his father’s training, he too is heading to the MMA Championship. Brendan and Tommy haven’t spoken in over a decade, ever since Brendan ran from their abusive home, but they are about to be reunited in the ring.

The performances are universally brilliant, with special note to Tom Hardy who manages to portray barely contained anger and highly supressed fragility all while saying very little and looking like those guys on the front of Steroids Monthly magazine. The fight scenes themselves are visceral and real, but with the 12A rating, rather bloodless.

So all in all, is it better than The Fighter? No, probably not. But there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy two brilliant movies about fighting and family this year.

Rory Cashin

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)

Warrior is released on 23rd September 2011

Warrior – Official Website

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwgG6OfW7Yo

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Cinema Review: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

 

tinker-tailor-soldier-spy-bashful-doc-dopey

 

DIR: Tomas Alfredson • WRI: Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughan • PRO: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Robyn Slovo • DOP: Hoyte Van Hoytema • ED: Dino Jonsäter • DES: Dino Jonsäter • CAST: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Ciarán Hinds

Featuring an exhausting list of top-class British actors that would make a Harry Potter film feel inadequate in comparison, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a stylish espionage thriller in the classic Cold War vein. Based on the novel by John Le Carré, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy eschews the action and gadgetry of the post-Casino Royale/Mission: Impossible generation of spy movies in favour of pacing, tension and intrigue; and will find an excited audience amongst those who long for the days of The Manchurian Candidate and Klute.

The unbeatable Gary Oldman plays the iconic, grim-faced spymaster George Smiley, recently forced into retirement from the ‘Circus’, the epicentre of British intelligence. But when evidence arises that his ailing and increasingly paranoid former boss, Control (John Hurt), may have been right about a Soviet mole infiltrating the highest offices of the Circus, Smiley is called in to smoke the mole out.

The suspects, codenamed ‘Tinker’, ‘Tailor’, ‘Soldier’ and ‘Poor Man’ after an old English nursery rhyme, are the arrogant but arguably incompetent new Circus boss Percy Alleline (Toby Jones), ladies’ man Bill Haydon (Colin Firth), gruff but cunning Roy Bland (Ciarán Hinds) and prissy, watchful Toby Esterhase (David Dencik). Smiley, aided by young spies Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy, must uncover which of his former colleagues is leaking vital intelligence to the mysterious Russian operative known only as Karla, without any of the cabal finding out.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy will come under scrutiny as it has been shot before; as a BBC miniseries starring Alec Guinness as Smiley back in 1979. Over six-hours long, that series allowed the tension and intrigue to slowly build and boil over. Here, the pace moves slowly but ceaselessly, giving the audience very little time to take in the huge amount of information flowing between agents and interrogators.

However, shot by the visionary Tomas Alfredson, who redefined the arthouse horror film with the exemplary Let the Right One In, this film adaptation has a visual flair that utterly eclipses the sterile look of the miniseries. Alfredson and his team filter the colour of the ’70s through an oppressive grey, capturing the rotten heart of the espionage world in an otherwise vibrant era. Two missions, to Budapest and Istanbul, provide the film’s most visually inspired moments, as well as its greatest thrills.

As Smiley, Oldman gives one of his greatest performances, easily rivaling that of Guinness, making the character a more formidable adversary while still showing his weaknesses, particularly in the area of his troubled private life. Still soaring from his Oscar® win, Firth has enough to play with here and gets a number of the film’s best lines. The rest of the cast are largely strong, though Toby Jones feels strangely miscast, and fans of Hollywood upstart Tom Hardy will be disappointed he has little opportunity to show off his skills. The real revelation here is Mark Strong as bitter, double-crossed field agent Jim Prideaux – the undeniably typecast actor here shines as a character of tragic and unexpected depth.

An expertly made thriller, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy feels undermined slightly by its rushed pace – one can’t help but feel that somewhere near the midpoint between this feature and the ’70s miniseries is the perfect spy tale. Fans of the book will likely be disappointed at some of the greater detail and character development that has been excised, not to mention one hugely memorable (and oft-quoted) line of dialogue that is nowhere to be found here.

Intriguing and intense, this will not please all, but it is a memorable, finely acted and wonderfully stylised spy drama from an emerging master of cinema.

David Neary

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is released on 16th September 2011

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy– Official Website

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