Archive for November, 2011

Take Shelter

November 25th, 2011 - admin

‘What-if’ idioms, a mainstay of science fiction, essential building blocks of the post-apocalyptical vision, suddenly feel different, somehow more real and very much closer.  No longer concerned with the aftermath of nuclear war, a mad dictator or other hypothetical disaster dependent upon some future event, we are coming to terms with a threat of an altogether different kind, one that is unconditional and almost palpable, the unknown consequences of a reckless past; the prospect of the world economy crashing or an environmental disaster of global proportions and destroying civilisation as we know it.

 

One of the most important US indie filmmakers of the new generation, Jeff Nichols follows the impressive Shotgun Stories with a terrifying realisation of this global anxiety pared down to personal terms, one that takes us to the remoter reaches of rural Ohio, where the ‘old school’ locals, traditional conservative hardliners, have no truck with idle speculation, conspiracy theories or any other fanciful nonsense.  Confronting us with something that distinguishes great artists from the very good, these profoundly striking images give concrete form to the barely visible, that moment that we normally define in retrospect, the province of history books, where the latent is materialising into the overt.

 

Michael Shannon returns from the Shotgun Stories to play another stoic American, this time a blue collar family man unable to rationalise his apocalyptic nightmare visions; devastating tornadoes of unimaginable power, contaminated rain resembling industrial waste, the family dog as a ferocious killer on the rampage, all haunting, possessing and taking control under the watchful eye of sinister ghostly figures encircling the family home.  He conceals them from his family, contemplates his mother’s schizophrenia and understands the genetic implications but so vivid is the detail, so real the experience, so compelling the effect, the nightmares gradually shape his daily routines, necessitate more and more adjustments, force terrible decisions of Russian roulette proportions, straight choices between preparing for the nightmares as premonitions or retaining his lifestyle, his job and his home.  It is a brilliant portrayal of a descent into insanity, depicted at very close quarters, but such is the force of Shannon’s performance, so completely does he align us to his thoughts that nagging doubts creep in, uncertainties that defy logic remain and the ‘what-if’ idiom lingers.

 

Heavily in demand actress of the Tree of Life and countless other movies released throughout the year, Jessica Chastain plays his wife.  Fully experiencing her own living nightmare, desperately trying to come to terms with her husband’s increasingly erratic behaviour, she looks on helplessly as he secretly remortgages the family home as collateral for a risky loan and throws away his safe job and employment medical insurance all in the name of constructing a giant underground shelter and with it, places a vital operation at risk for restoring their daughter’s hearing.  Somewhere between anger and desperation, reality kicks in, an urgent requirement for practical action and she starts the painfully slow process of getting to grips with her husband’s apparent schizophrenia.

 

And just as our nagging doubts fade, a rejection of the metaphysical, the film reaches its climax, an ending that the unobservant may find ambiguous but, actually, provides an extraordinary and rare moment of absolute clarity as the mother and daughter share his apocalyptic storm for the first time; superbly conceived as simultaneously unifying and foreboding.

 

Do not be surprised to see Shannon nominated for an Oscar and featuring heavily in the awards season for his captivating performance.  Chastain is very good again and grounds her performance in that uncomfortable reality where fate seems to conceal all options.can i buy motilium over the countermotilium to buysildalis buy onlinesildalis pricesildalis for salesildalis costo

 

Cinematographer, Adam Stones, another to return from the Shotgun Stories, takes full advantage of the flat, rolling terrain, itself susceptible to the hurricane season, to capture the strong sense of nature waiting in the wings, ready to pounce at any time; a sparse and eerie backdrop to the drama unfolding. mobile spy login using http://trymobilespy.com

Deep Blue Sea, The

November 25th, 2011 - admin

Terrence Davies’ compassionate and very sad adaptation of Terence Rattigan’s play, The Deep Blue Sea, returns us to a bleak post-war London still readjusting to peacetime conditions.  There was a re-establishment of the old order here; men returning from overseas to reclaim their dominant gender position within a society that required women to surrender their new found emancipation and resume a life of domesticity.  It a was time of zero tolerance towards alternatives where socially severe sanctions meant exclusion in the absolute sense, where patronising men addressed their loved ones as ‘old fruit’.

 

This is a seasoned and intelligent portrayal of the devastating rejection of a very deep and profound forbidden love at the point where it turns from being deceptively liberating to melancholic in the terminal sense.

 

Lying at the heart of it is a subtle and shaded performance of considerable perception from Rachel Weisz as the unfulfilled wife who knowingly condemns herself to a terrible social and emotional incarceration from which there could be no release.

 

She sacrifices her comfortable middle class lifestyle for a dashing but reckless former RAF airman who searches in vain for the exhilaration of his wartime exploits.  Tom Hiddleston convincingly portrays his irredeemable chauvinism but occasionally overdoes the more dramatic scenes projecting his voice outward as if to an imaginary audience.

 

And Simon Russell Beale plays the jilted husband, a dispassionate judge trapped in a Jacque Lacan nightmare of infancy under the domineering eye of ‘mother’.

 

Davies pulls off the difficult trick of remaining true to the original, careful to retain the outmoded language with its once powerful connotations, whilst making something that is obviously his film.  There is the characteristic modernist conception of time, the wonderfully evocative and nostalgic community sing-a-longs and a superb backdrop of war-torn London, a potent metaphor for the personal destruction on view.

 

The sorrowful strings of Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto dominates the soundtrack and, in effect, replaces the bravura of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 as the illicit lovers go one stage further than those in David Lean’s Brief Encounter.

 

And Florian Hoffmeister provides the masterly long takes and tracking shots that we have come to expect from Davies’ work.

 

Such a personal take on communal repudiation would have had huge symbolic importance for Rattigan and Davies as gay men who were both adults at a time when the appalling social prejudice against their sexuality was embodied in law.  It is the lead character’s discovery of some kind of freedom through the courageous assertion of her right to make decisions, albeit of a self-destructive nature, that makes it all so deeply moving.motilium ordermotilium salesildalis buy onlinesildalis pricesildalis for salesildalis costo

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Dreams Of A Life

November 16th, 2011 - admin

A mysterious death triggers an investigation into an enigmatic life, which raises more questions than it answers and penetrates our psyche in ways that make this outstanding docu-psychodrama a totally involving experience, where its impact overwhelms us long after the final credits.

 

It is a devastating story that came to a gruesome close six years ago when rent arrears bailiffs forcibly entered a bedsit flat on the outskirts of London.  The tenant was Joyce Vincent, whose decomposed corpse lay on the sofa surrounded by half-wrapped Christmas presents in front of a TV set that was still playing.  She had been dead for a staggering three years and nobody had noticed.

 

Vincent, a mere 38 when she died, was not an alcoholic, drug addict or homeless.  Only two years earlier, she was part of a lively social scene, enjoying the fruits of a well paid professional job at accountants, Ernst and Young.  Her good looks and charisma frequently opened doors to new friends and associates with no shortage of would-be-suitors.  She had even pursued a professional singing career and rubbed shoulders with celebrities, meeting Nelson Mandela at Wembley Stadium.  This is hardly the stuff of somebody likely to disappear from society’s radar.

 

It was an enigma that provoked filmmaker, Carol Morley to hunt for clues over a five year period, gradually piecing together parts of Vincent’s life.  Another side of her character emerged, one that is insecure and secretive, hinting at past and double lives that always remain tantalisingly out of reach but seem of paramount importance.  Talking heads with friends, work colleagues and ex-boyfriends build a compelling picture of urban society and their own vulnerabilities but provide contradictory accounts of Vincent that form an unreliable approximation of the kind that frequently shapes our perception of others; part of life’s unintentional myth making.

 

One common consensus, though, seems to enhance our understanding with telling descriptions of Vincent avoiding long-term commitments, preferring, instead, to adopt other people’s friends as her own and then moving on to a new chapter, severing all ties.  Something went horribly wrong during the final one where scraps of information point to an abusive relationship, possibly with a shadowy Polish boyfriend, and health problems serious enough for spells in hospital.  Both of which could explain her premature death but the skeletal remains offered no clues at the post-mortem.

 

Zawe Ashton plays Vincent in various reconstructions drawing on the testimonies and our common experiences of urban life as a possible insight into her private moments, accompanied by a haunting soundtrack.  Operating on the borders of fact and fiction where supposition metamorphoses into a meditation on inner-city detachment, it creates an objective reality of a kind that drifts beyond documentary but somehow brings us closer to a truth that would elude a straight presentation of the facts.  There is a shared participation in mutual recognition here, which renders any pedantic questions of fidelity irrelevant.

 

We cannot help but wonder how many others slip through the cracks, dropping out of a society that is generally intolerant of those not fully complying with the norm.  The official inquest into Vincent’s death recorded an open verdict and we are left to do the same on society’s failure to provide an adequate safety net at the point where we are most in need.sildalis buy onlinesildalis pricesildalis for salesildalis costo
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Whistleblower, The

November 15th, 2011 - admin

A portrayal of a real life whistleblower who exposed an appalling systemic corruption that should have received far greater global coverage but slipped under the radar of public outrage with a little help from the perpetrators’ friends in high places.

 

Larysa Kondracki’s angry film sets out to redress the balance, engenders a sense of urgency from the off and packs quite a punch but one that does not entirely hit the target.

 

Rachel Weisz plays Kathryn Bolkovac, a former Nebraska cop who joins a United Nations peacekeeping team and discovers that her new colleagues are knee deep in underage sex trafficking in war torn Sarajevo.  Her tenacious investigation against the odds proves to be relatively straight forward compared to persuading her principals to take action in a Bush Administration where retaining lucrative international contracts seemingly overrides all else.

 

Kondracki depicts it all at a rapid pace intent at fuelling tension but we need more time to reflect on the human tragedy on view.  Horrific torture scenes and photographs of depraved sexual acts serve as cinematic shorthand that reduces the monstrous brutalisation to little more than convenient plotting points.  The culprits/rapists and the girls are stereotypes that avoid characterisation and they seldom appear other than at moments of high drama.  There is no real sense here of the devastating torment, the endless humiliation and the long-term health and psychological implications of routinely forced prostitution and its inevitable concomitant, dehumanisation.

 

Vanessa Redgrave & David Strathairn appear as ghosts of previous establishment do-gooders that we have seen countless times before but their cool & restrained responses now seem horribly outmoded, almost to the point of being callous, without even a flicker of genuine passion, the down right fury that the circumstances demand.

 

Rachel Weisz goes some way to rescuing proceedings with an engaging performance that subtly allows an inner compassion to soften a streetwise doggedness without falling back on sentimentality.  But Weisz can only go so far and an over simplistic script restricts her options, particularly in truncated scenes with Bolkovac’s superiors where she is far too accepting of unfair treatment.

 

There is a strong sense of place; a nightmare backdrop of a country almost irretrievably broken.  And the lively cinematography adds a nervous energy to the malevolent atmosphere prevalent throughout.

 

Watchable with allowances but it seldom rises above the level of an average TV thriller for a subject matter that demanded far more.buy motilium online canada buy motilium bootssildalis buy onlinesildalis pricesildalis for salesildalis costo

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Wuthering Heights

November 11th, 2011 - admin

Andrea Arnold’s reputation as an important new voice in world cinema rests on the hard edged social realism of her first two features, Red Road and Fish Tank and the Oscar winning short, Wasp, all set in tough UK housing estates.  Her intriguing decision to adapt Emily Brontë’s 19th century tale of doomed love and revenge on the Yorkshire moors, undoubtedly marked a change of direction, but, at the same time, the novel’s stark portrayal of social injustice and cruelty offered obvious scope for Arnold to retain some of her major themes albeit in a different time and place.

 

Arnold follows the convention of earlier adaptations in restricting her version, more or less, to the the first half of the novel until Cathy’s demise.  As with Lynne Ramsay’s recent transformation of We Need To Talk About Kevin, it is a cinematic re-imagining of a literary source, but on very different terms.  Ramsay’s daring array of Modernist means, subjectively aligned us with the internal world of the protagonist but Arnold is on the outside stalking her characters at close quarters,  capturing an objective reality that seems to take us back as much to the milieu and social conditions that inspired Brontë than to the novel itself.  Two very different approaches, both equally valid and highly appropriate to their subject matter.

 

Heathcliff, a gypsy in the novel, is now of African descent, a possible or likely black slave escapee that Earnshaw rescues from the Liverpool docks; one of those acts of benevolence that conveniently adds an extra pair of unpaid hands to the family labour force.  It does not change the dynamic unduly – the class suppression remains but the racial hatred is far clearer, more intense and shockingly extreme.  Lee Shaw, in the standout performance, does a superb job as the territorial Hinckley, whose simmering rottweiler instincts boil over periodically, unleashing a Klan-like cruelty that is inhuman in the literal sense.  The most powerful scene of the film has Hinckley locking his penetrating gaze onto Heathcliff, ready to execute a death sentence upon the first hint of disobedience; his eyes burning with a terrible passion, an ignorant revulsion fully exposed.

 

Arnold creates a visually expansive depiction of Cathy and Heathcliff’s childhood, an outpouring of the Gothic, an unleashing of the dark side that was once the preserve of nursery rhymes.  An instinctive maturity prematurely transforms this mock brother-sister relationship to the brink of adulthood with every wild excursion across the moors fizzing with hints of subversive sexuality.  A ride on a single horse becomes a precursor to an altogether different adventure when Heathcliff delights in an intense Jean-Baptiste Grenouille kind of sniffing, the luxuriance of Cathy’s hair perfume intoxicating his senses, arousing unspoken desires.

 

Cathy and Heathcliff combine as equals fighting fate, both wayward and ungovernable, establishing an heroic independence against the odds.  Believable teenage actors, Shannon Beer and Solomon Glave are even less restrained than those in the novel, giving their performances a contemptuous edge that convention would have denied Brontë.  Heathcliff employs Red Road style profanities to describe his total disdain for the Lintons and their middle class complacency.

 

Slightly less engaging is the class institutionalising of Cathy in adulthood, the abrupt loss of the emancipation that came so naturally earlier.  Skins actress, Kaya Scodelario and newcomer, James Howson now play the protagonists and although they are competent enough, there is an occasional sense of going through the costume drama motions that most certainly does not arise elsewhere.

 

Outstanding cinematographer and Arnold regular, Robbie Ryan, brings his hand-held camera and artist’s eye to the windswept and austere moors, revelling in their intimidating menace and solitary beauty.

 

A word also for Nicolas Becker’s smart soundtrack with the roaring wind, squeaking trees and an array of natural noises replacing the conventionally timid and distracting non-diegetic musical add-ons.domperidone salebuy motilium instantssildalis buy onlinesildalis pricesildalis for salesildalis costo

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