Review: The Rover (2014)

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Guy Pearce proves his chops once more in The Rover, David Michôd’s effectively dressed, yet ultimately prosaic post-apocalyptic revenge thriller. In the rough outback, Eric (Pearce), a ruthless loner, undertakes a chase across the outback when two thugs steal his car, crossing paths with one of the thieves’ brothers (Robert Pattinson) in the process. Continue reading “Review: The Rover (2014)”

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London Critics’ Circle Film Awards 2012: Winners

Actors, actresses, critics and industry types gathered at the BFI Southbank, London earlier this evening to reveal the 32nd annual London Critics’ Circle Film Award winners.

Emerging on top were The Artist, which scooped three awards; A Separation, which won two prizes; and We Need To Talk About Kevin, which – deservedly so – won British Film Of Year .

Anna Paquin (!!!) tied with Meryl Streep for Actress Of The Year, while Olivia Continue reading “London Critics’ Circle Film Awards 2012: Winners”

Best Ten Films Of 2011

While 2011 hasn’t exactly been a year of record-breaking box office success, it has been a fantastic one for British cinema, emerging talent and unique independent features which found themselves surpassing the popularity of many much bigger movies.

The films I’ve chosen – and believe me when I say it wasn’t an easy process – are what I think represent the pinnacle of the cinema I Continue reading “Best Ten Films Of 2011”

BIFA Awards 2011: Nominations

Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur, Steve McQueen’s Shame and Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy lead the nominations for the 14th annual Moët British Independent Film Awards (BIFA’s), which were announced at a ceremony in London earlier today.

Other nominees include Ben Wheatley’s Kill List, Richard Ayoade’s Subarmine, Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin and John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard. 

The BIFA’s, an awards ceremony aimed squarely at acknowledging the Continue reading “BIFA Awards 2011: Nominations”

Feature: Top Ten Films Of 2011: January – June

So far, 2011 has been a fantastic year for film. Below, I’ve compiled a list of my ten favourites from the last six months, with a few honourable mentions that just missed out on a place. Finally, I’ve listed some somewhat less honourable mentions that you should probably avoid at all costs.

10. Never Let Me Go (February 2011)

Mark Romanek’s shamefully overlooked adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s momentous novel Never Let Me Go wasn’t exactly the hit Fox Searchlight were banking on, but that didn’t stop it being a beautifully explorative, acted and directed piece of cinema.

9. Animal Kingdom (February 2011)

This Australian crime-thriller rose from the underbelly, picking up momentum thick and fact for its astoundingly honest portrayal of a fully functional crime family. Striking direction, raw performances and compelling source material have made well worth seeking out.

8. Archipelago (March 2011)

Joanna Hogg’s stark look at family turmoil is beautifully captured and carefully paced to provide a deeply resonant and affecting glimpse into the highs and lows of family life and what makes people tick.

7. Heartbeats (May 2011)

Multi-faceted Xavier Dolan follows in the footsteps of acclaimed filmmakers Gus Van Sant, Pedro Almodóvar and Wong Kar Wai to write and direct Heartbeats, a film of true beauty, wisdom and depth beyond its years.

6. Arrietty (June 2011 – EIFF)

Studio Ghibli’s sprightly interpretation of Mary Norton’s acclaimed children’s book The Borrowers is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, under the watchful eye of filmmaker extraordinaire Hayao Miyazaki. Arrietty boasts some truly illustrious animation and a score by French musician Cecile Corbel that made me go weak at the knees.

5. Bridesmaids (June 2011)

Kristen Wiig, well known for her long-standing stint on Saturday Night Live, was launched to stardom with hit comedy Bridesmaids. Directed by Paul Feig, the film features an array of flawless comedic performances, unforgettable gags and the goddess-like figure Rose Bryne.

4. Albatross (June 2011 – EIFF)

Niall McCormick’s British coming-of-age film premiered at the 65th Edinburgh International Film Festival to rave reviews. Written by burgeoning writer Tamzin Refn, Albatross is a fully realised and thought-provoking piece of cinema, chock full of heart, depth and humour to boot. If Jessica Findlay-Brown doesn’t become a star, then there’s something seriously wrong with the world.

3. Black Swan (January 2011)

Granted, this film opened last year in America, but due to different release schedules it was early January before I had a chance to see Natalie Portman give an Academy Award winning performance in Darren Aronofsky’s daringly dark psychological ballet thriller. Hauntingly brilliant.

2. Submarine (March 2011)

Former IT Crowd actor Richard Ayoade made his directorial debut with the mesmerising, outlandish and warm-hearted indie comedy Submarine. The entire cast, not least relative newcomer Craig Roberts, delivered remarkable performances.

1. Blue Valentine (January 2011)

This emotionally crippling insight into one couple’s turbulent relationship shot Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams back into the limelight, and earned them a few dozen award nominations in the process. After years of suffering various unfortunate setbacks, Derek Cianfrance’s passion project came to fruition with such intensity that it was hard to ignore. From the offset I was hooked, so it’d be impossible for Blue Valentine not to be my top film of the year so far.

Films of notable interest: Hobo With A Shotgun, Trust, Project Nim, Attack The Block, Rango, The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adèle Blanc-Sec, Rubber, Pina 3D, Scream 4, Winnie The Pooh, Meek’s Cutoff, X-Men: First Class, The Silent House, 13 Assassins, Perfect Sense, Thor and Cave Of Forgotten Dreams.

Films to think no more of: Mars Needs Moms, Larry Crowne, Ghosted, I Am Number Four, The Rite, Faster, Chalet Girl, Red Riding Hood and Battle: Los Angeles.

Cinema Releases: February 25, 2011

Drive Angry 3D

Director: Patrick Lussier

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard and William Fichtner

No Strings Attached

Director: Ivan Reitman

Starring: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher and Greta Gerwig

The Rite

Director: Mikael Håfström

Starring: Colin O’Donoghue, Anthony Hopkins and Ciarán Hinds

Animal Kingdom

Director: David Michôd

Starring: James Frecheville, Guy Pearce and Joel Edgerton

Howl

Director: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman

Starring: James Franco, Mary-Louise Parker and Jon Hamm

West Is West

Director: Andy DeEmmony

Starring: Aqib Khan, Om Puri and Linda Bassett

Waste Land

Director: Lucy Walker, Karen Harley and João Jardim

Starring: Vik Muniz

Review: Animal Kingdom (2010)

Animal Kingdom is an astounding, brooding and wonderfully measured Australian crime drama marking the directorial debut of writer-director David Michod.

The film centres on 17-year-old Joshua (James Frecheville) as he is thrown into the deep end forced to move in with his grandmother, Smurf (Jacki Weaver), and her three sons, Pope (Ben Mendelsohn), Craig (Sullivan Stapleton) and Darren (Luke Ford).

Joshua, or J as he’s referred to, is inevitably implicated into the Cody families nasty, nihilistic crime syndicate. His initiation itself is one of the most powerful scenes of the film, perfectly shot and illustrated, deepening the grip the film so expertly implants over the viewers.

Michod invites the audience into the Cody household, opening viewers’ eyes to a world of gritty, nasty and terrifyingly nerve-wracking violence. It’s a very powerful depiction, one that’s not been so masterfully achieved since Goodfellas or Scarface.

Natural, low-key lighting and obtrusive, yet restrained camera angles help to build, and maintain, the overall intensity and realistic nature of the film, never letting it slip into the artificial feel of most modern-day Hollywood crime films.

Each actor, Joel Edgerton and Guy Pearce in particular, provides a taut, emotive performance, effectively playing off one another to establish Animal Kingdom as a truly harrowing portrayal of underbelly life, one that deserves to be recognised for many years to come.