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posted by [personal profile] emperor at 10:12pm on 18/05/2017 under
I'm rubbish at films. I read a review or see a trailer or somesuch, and think "Oh, I should go to see that". But then somehow I never quite get round to it, and then the film's no longer on. One such film was Calvary, which I imagine I saw reviewed in the Church Times or similar. This evening, idly browsing iplayer, I saw it was available (for another 11 days at the time of writing), so thought I'd watch it.

It's a very good film, but deals with a number of difficult themes (clerical abuse, guilt, suicide, sin, forgiveness). The main character, Father James, is a priest as real person rather than the stereotypes that priests in fiction often are, and that makes him believable as well as sympathetic. He's trying to live out his vocation and make sense of it in difficult circumstances. It's a very witty film, as well, quite sharply observed in places, with a number of lines that feel like they're commenting on the film itself.

90 minutes feels quite short for a film these days, and you might find yourself wishing there was more of this film. Well worth your time, but not easy watching.
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posted by [personal profile] emperor at 09:11pm on 10/01/2016 under , , ,
This afternoon (after a hurried lunch following Mattins at GSM), I went to the Arts Picturehouse to see Draw On, Sweet Night, a biopic of John Wilbye (followed by Q&A with the director).

I must confess that I nearly didn't bother going, having read This Grauniad review; and it is somewhat correct - the dialogue does sound rather stilted at times, and if you are looking for a steamy romp then this isn't really for you. It's almost more like a Wilbye musical - while the music does cut between Wilbye and more modern work by Tony Britten, the Wilbye madrigals really are the star of the piece, and they are very well performed. I certainly found myself much more into the madrigals, and the very pretty historical drama took second place.

That's not to say the plot isn't without its moments, both funny and affecting, but really see this for the music. Although there may not be many more showings, you can at least pick up the DVD from the end of February, and it doesn't really need a big screen as long as you have decent speakers...
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posted by [personal profile] emperor at 10:43pm on 17/12/2015 under , , ,
The TL;DR spoiler-free version: good fun, not great, lacking new ideas. longer, many more spoilers )
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posted by [personal profile] emperor at 08:52pm on 20/03/2013 under , ,
Last week, I went to see "Cloud Atlas". It's based on the premise of re-incarnation, with the same few souls' fates being intertwined across many different time periods. The film flits between these different stories relatively quickly, which means I had to concentrate pretty hard to keep up with them all. I suspect if you've read the book, that's less of a problem! It's a very pretty film, and the various stories are engaging, but I would have liked a little more focus on the relationships between them. It's pretty long, too!

This evening, I saw "Shell". The Highlands can be majestic, awe-inspiring, beautiful, but in this film they are sparse and bleak. That suits "Shell", which is a sparse, bleak, Highland drama. Shell is a seventeen-year-old who lives in a remote petrol station with her father. The wind howls, and the house rattles as vehicles pass. The landscape captures the imagination, and the narrative keeps you wondering until the end. Not a cheery film, and some of the themes are uncomfortable, but worth 90 minutes of your time.
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posted by [personal profile] emperor at 10:11pm on 25/11/2012 under , ,
I saw the new Bond offering, Skyfall, and very much enjoyed it. If you've seen the entertaining 50 years of Bond montage, a plausibly-coherent film constructed of 5 minutes of each Bond film in order (i.e. the first 5 of Dr No, followed by the second 5 of From Russia With Love, etc.), you'll be more than aware that the franchise has a somewhat formulaic plot structure. review contains minor spoilers ) Skyfall asks how Bond can continue to be relevant in a world that is very different to the one of Dr No, but doesn't overplay its hand in doing so.

On a completely different note, we saw "Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen" at the Inverness Film Festival. This is one of those classic love stories, except it's actually made up of clips from over 500 famous films, cut together to tell a story. It could have been dreadful, but actually it was really really great. The clips are very cleverly cut together such that the story is clear to follow (so it works as a film, it's not just a clever trick), but that doesn't mean that all the clips are used in their original context - some of the funniest moments are where a clip is re-used in a manner contradictory to its place in its original film. The music is taken from the films too, and at the end there's a list of the clips and sound-tracks (in order of appearance). I suspect this film will never see a general release due to the rights issues, but if you get the chance to see this at a festival or similar, really do go. The programme described it as "a celebration of cinema; the greatest mix tape ever made", and it won the audience prize at the festival.
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posted by [personal profile] emperor at 04:14pm on 08/02/2012 under ,
I seem to be seeing most of my films at Warwick Arts Centre at the moment. At the weekend, this included Ralph Fiennes' version of Coriolanus. I must admit that Coriolanus isn't exactly my favourite Shakespeare play, but I really enjoyed this film adaptation. It's a modern setting, with quite a Balkan feel, and plenty of televised news-coverage of the wars (including appearances by John Snow!), but most of the language was, I think, Shakespeare's own. The problem I have with Coriolanus, though, is Coriolanus - he's just not sympathetic enough for you to really care about him; this version made him come across better than he sometimes does, though, which I think was a strength. There were a few odd camera angles that made Fiennes look too much like Voldemort, however!

Worth seeing, I think, if you can find somewhere showing it.
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posted by [personal profile] emperor at 07:27pm on 02/01/2012 under ,
I've been enjoying the books by Stieg Larsson recently, so decided to see the film of the first book (titled in the Swedish Män som hatar kvinnor – "Men Who Hate Women", but titled the same as the film in the English translation) a couple of days ago. It would be hard to make a bad film of the book, which is a real page-turner with some fascinating characters and a twisty plot, but I was worried that the hero's character would be too Hollywoodized. Indeed the title sequence's Bond-movie aesthetic and the casting of Daniel Craig had me pretty worried to begin with. As it happens, though, I think the film is a pretty good telling of the first book's tale, and Lisbeth's character seemed reasonably intact. Having read the book, it's difficult for me to be sure, but I think someone who hadn't would be able to follow the plot reasonably well, although sometimes the various Vanger relative do get a bit confusing!

trigger warnings )
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posted by [personal profile] emperor at 02:00pm on 24/10/2011 under ,
I hadn't read the book that this film was based upon, but [livejournal.com profile] atreic was keen to see it. No-where in Coventry is showing it, so we went to the oldest still-operating cinema in the country, the Electric Cinema, in Birmingham. It was a pleasant, cozy venue to see a film that was anything but.

We need to talk about Kevin is a very non-linear film; it's all from the perspective of the mother (Eva) of a boy (Kevin) who commits a terrible crime. We see the impact it has had on her, as well as stages of her life before and after the birth of her son. Eva's appearance is the way to keep track of roughly what time point each flashback is occuring in, and indeed it's Tilda Swinton's performance as Eva that really makes this whole film - sometimes entire scenes go by without anyone actually saying anything. It would have been very easy to make a film with a straightforward answer - Kevin does it because he's evil, or Kevin does it because Eva is a dreadful mother, and so on. We need to talk about Kevin does none of that - it tells a bleak tale, and leaves all the questions open.

If you can bear the subject matter, and the pretty bleak tone, this is a fascinating film that really will leave you wanting to talk about Kevin...
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posted by [personal profile] emperor at 10:47pm on 06/05/2010 under
I watched 21 grams this evening. It intermingles the lives of several people around a car crash that causes their lives to interact. The storytelling is very non-linear, cutting between the past, present, and futures of the different sub-stories. The effect is quite discomforting, with the various sub-plots and their interactions only beginning to make sense towards the end of the film. It's not a terribly cheery tale, either. It's held together by strong performances from the main leads, who make you feel sympathetic for several of the characters, even as they come into opposition with one another.
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posted by [personal profile] emperor at 10:00pm on 30/11/2008 under ,
We've just been to see Hunger, the recent film about Bobby Sands' hunger strike. Given how many prizes this film has won, it's remarkably hard to track down! Warwick Arts Center did the honours, in a small cinema, with about a dozen people in the audience.

It's a strong film, which really doesn't pull its punches - in terms of the brutality of the prison regime, the damage that hunger striking does to Sands' body, or the violence in wider society. It's really quite unpleasant in places, and I'm a little surprised it is only certificate 15 as a result.

I'm not quite sure what I make of it, or of what Hunger was trying to say - the scene where Sands and his priest argue about the rights and wrongs of hunger striking to death is inconclusive. David Davies MP condemned the public fund that paid for some of the post-production work, on the basis that Hunger was "sympathetic to the IRA", and I have to wonder if he actually watched the film. I think Hunger reminds us (if the memories of 25 years ago have faded already) that the Troubles harmed people on both sides of Northern Ireland, and that there was good and evil on both sides too. The way Margaret Thatcher's broadcasts are heard at points in the action are apposite reminders of how remote she was to what was going on; I think Hunger wants to point to the humanity of the people concerned.

Worth seeing if you have the chance, but not if you're feeling at all fragile.

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