Archive for June, 2011

Messenger, The

June 17th, 2011 - admin

The Iraq & Afghanistan conflicts have produced some remarkable films (The Hurt Locker, Restrepo) that take us to the heart of the action in ways that are almost unimaginable.  There are also those that have exposed the most appalling state sponsored human rights abuses (Taxi to Dark Side, Standard Operating Procedure) that once seen are never forgotten.  And then there is that steady flow of films (Iraq in Fragments, Route Irish) that look beyond direct enemy confrontation with an equally important story to tell.  A recent example is The Messenger, the debut film from the former Israeli soldier turned scriptwriter, Oren Moverman (I’m Not There) that is in danger of slipping below the radar due to painfully slow distribution.

 

The messenger of the title role is of the most unenviable kind, a member of the casualty notification unit responsible for informing strangers that their loved ones have been killed in action.  Ben Foster plays a highly decorated but injured Staff Sargent no longer considered fit for front line duty and semi-pensioned off against his will.  Something is badly wrong, but Foster only gradually reveals the extent of his character’s post-traumatic stress with a performance of considered maturity.

 

A recovering alcoholic captain shows him the ropes.  Looking every bit a throw back to the fierce Nam psycho officer, appearances prove deceptive.  Mechanical, ritualistic, but there are hints of warmth once the layers of institutional armour peel away.  Hilarious and tragic at one and the same time, Woody Harrelson’s portrayal of this deeply flawed character received an Oscar nomination.

 

No words are necessary of course, when these solemn faced uniformed soldiers appear on doorsteps but they have to go through the motions.  The Captain is a stickler for following army rules; only speak with the “NOK” – next of kin – recite a set “The Secretary of Defense deeply regrets…” speech and have no physical contact.  Hugs are a hanging offence.

 

An uneasy friendship emerges based on mutual self-loathing.  Think of an updated version of the desperate buddies from Seventies’ road movies but with commensurate character developments saving it from cliché.  The film is often at its most revealing in the moments that they overlook each others indiscretions.

 

Sandra Morton is very good as a new army widow drawn to the staff sergeant but never crossing the line of respectability.  There is also an astonishing cameo from Steve Buscemi as a distraught father who metaphorically shoots the messenger and regrets it later.

 

An intelligent film that engages emotionally with loss in many forms that earned Oren Moverman & Alessandro Camon a Silver Bear at Berlin International Film Festival 2009 for best screenplay.generic cialis uk suppliersbuy cialis europegeneric brand for yasmin order yasmin birth control yasmin pill price uk price of yasmin birth control

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Senna

June 3rd, 2011 - admin

You will not require any prior knowledge of motor racing to fully engage with Asif Kapadia’s remarkable portrait of Formula 1’s greatest ever driver, Ayrton Senna.  A very human story in documentary form, we experience the full range of emotions in this energised, exciting and ultimately desperately sad tribute to a genius whose life was unnecessarily cut short in its prime.

 

Expertly edited from TV clips, contemporaneous behind-the-scenes footage and home movies, Kapadia transports us to another age.  Without talking heads and voice-overs to distract us, we encounter the events in a simulated real time, the instantaneity and directness transforming our viewing experience.

 

The rise from go-cart enthusiast to Senna, the ‘global star’ is swift.  Although comfortable in the public arena, a celebrity persona emerges that conceals cracks in the surface, insecurities underneath.  In a process seldom caught on film, myth and reality stain each other in a fascinating media approximation.

 

We witness the uncomfortable mutual respect of team mates, Senna and Prost, turn into loathing.  Bitter rivals on and off the track, the races and politics become intertwined in ways that settle world championships.  A duel made all the more interesting for their being binary opposites; passionate Senna v calculating Prost.

 

Helter skelter speed and maniac manoeuvres temporarily seduce us and then we remember the consequences; exhilarating one moment, deeply disturbing the next.  Senna’s apparent belief in divine protection when on the track is particularly poignant.

 

Totally unexpected is Formula 1’s footage of drivers’ pre-race meetings.  The sexiest sport on the planet becomes little more than a school classroom as the race controller barks ‘the best decision is my decision’.  Stripped of their celebrity status, most of the drivers seem overawed by the different dynamic.  Senna is the exception, switching between safety concerns and conspiracy theories and not averse to throwing his toys out the pram.

 

Devastating is the build-up to his final Grand Prix.  Racing for a new team, an embarrassed but very concerned Senna politely identifies deficiencies in his car.  Perhaps the most haunting image of the film is the sight of a preoccupied Senna looking skywards on race day with fear etched across every tense muscle of his face.  It was almost impossible to watch the following scene, the tragically inevitable moment that his car failed at 190 mph.cialis online australia paypalcheap cialis and viagra

 

But another enduring impression is the charismatic Senna as the national hero in tough times, giving hope in a territory where it did not otherwise exist.  It is a striking feature of this documentary that Kapadia retains the two opposing forces of joy and sadness in perfect balance.yasmin generic name yasmin recall yasmin online kaufen yasmin pharmacy
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