Cinema Releases: October 7, 2011

Johnny English Reborn

Director: Oliver Parker

Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Rosamund Pike and Dominic West Continue reading “Cinema Releases: October 7, 2011”

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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.

Review: Perfect Sense (2011)

Essentially, Perfect Sense is a romantic love story set against an apocalyptic backdrop. It tells of how a chef, Michael (Ewan McGregor), and a scientist, Susan (Eva Green), fall in love as an epidemic begins to rob people of their sensory perceptions.

Kim Fupz Aakeson’s cunningly written screenplay imagines a world in which the inhabitants slowly lose their senses, one by one. The apocalypse is refreshingly personal and, to an extent, psychological. Whilst we are made aware – through cleverly placed and constructed newsreel-style footage – that the epidemic is happening globally, Perfect Sense chooses to focus on a handful of characters rather than the world at large. The most important of these are Michael and Susan, who are drawn together as their lives descend into chaos.

The storytelling style, though an enthralling rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows, is deliberately restrained, with Mackenzie cleverly approaching the material in a subdued, intimate and character-centric way – immediately setting Perfect Sense apart from other films of its nature. For the dark subject matter it’s also surprisingly optimistic: after each sensory loss, those affected look to find a way of coping by returning to some form of normality.

The film is also stunningly shot by Director of Photography Gilles Nuttgens, under the watchful eye of experienced filmmaker David Mackenzie. What’s truly breathtaking, though, is the way in which the editing superbly complements the separate stages of sensory loss – for the post-hearing scenes, for example, the sound is softened (if not muted entirely) to give viewers a real sense of what it would be like if this were to happen to them. It’s wonderfully achieved, and helps to include viewers in the characters’ struggle for survival.

Max Richter’s score adds to the mournful mood, building up tension and emotion when needed. The same, however, can’t be said for the narration which, after a while jars, and often detracts from the involvement in Michael and Susan’s story.

The cast works brilliantly together. McGregor and Green, in particular, play off each other’s emotions in a way that makes Michael and Susan’s unlikely relationship seem so believable and authentic. Their individual personalities, as well as their relationship with one another, evolve throughout the course of the film, almost as if they need one another’s love in order to cope with the death and destruction surrounding them. Connie Nielson, Ewen Bremner and Stephen Dillane make up the noteworthy supporting cast, delivering respectable performances in their subsequently diminished roles.

Perfect Sense – while not without faults – is a beautifully intricate and personal piece of cinema, bolstered by phenomenal direction, terrific performances and truly affecting, surprisingly original screenplay.