Review: Paddington (2014)

Paddington-012_zps2a508703

Ushered lovingly to the screen by Harry Potter producer David Heyman and director Paul King, Paddington – adapted from Michael Bond’s beloved children’s books – is the epitome of a spirited family treat – a film packed with humour, heart and exuberant adventure by the bucket load. After an earthquake destroys his home in Peru, a young bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) winds up in London, where he finds temporary residence with the Brown family. As the bear – christened Paddington after the train station in which he’s found – attempts to assimilate to his new surroundings, he attracts the unwanted attention of an evil taxidermist (Nicole Kidman). Continue reading “Review: Paddington (2014)”

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Review: Godzilla (2014)

Godzilla

Tasked with resurrecting Japan’s iconic monster Godzilla, Gareth Edwards – advancing to the big leagues on the back of his acclaimed debut Monsters – delivers an impressive blockbuster spectacle, even if it lacks a strong emotional core. After an eerie opening credits sequence that pays homage to the creations lineage, the film picks up fifteen years later, with Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) still searching for answers to the nuclear plant accident that killed his wife. Continue reading “Review: Godzilla (2014)”

Review: Blue Jasmine (2013)

Blue Jasmine

Woody Allen’s career over the past two decades has been a mixed bag at best. For every Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Midnight In Paris (both of which earned Academy Award recognition), there’s been an Anything Else or a Scoop. It would seem though, that with Blue Jasmine, Allen has crafted a sharp, perceptive and deeply honest drama with a realistic sprinkling of humour that represents the ageing filmmaker at his most inspired. Continue reading “Review: Blue Jasmine (2013)”

Sally Hawkins In Talks For Woody Allen’s Next Film

Sally Hawkins (Submarine) is in talks to star in Woody Allen’s next, as-yet-untitled film, Variety are reporting.

Hawkins, who picked up a Golden Globe nomination for her role in Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky, will play one of the two female leads in Allen’s follow-up to this summer’s To Rome With Love.

Cate Blanchett (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Bradley Cooper Continue reading “Sally Hawkins In Talks For Woody Allen’s Next Film”

Review: Jane Eyre (2011)

Following the overwhelming success of his feature film debut Sin Nombre in 2009, Cary Fukunaga returns with a towering adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s literary classic Jane Eyre.

For those of you shamefully unfamiliar with Jane Eyre, the plot follows Jane (Mia Wasikowska): a mousy governess who, after an unstable childhood, finds employment at Thornfield Hall. During her time there, she develops a beautiful friendship with head housemistress Mrs. Fairfax (Judi Dench) and a twisted romance with owner Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender). Continue reading “Review: Jane Eyre (2011)”

Review: Submarine (2011)

Adapted from Joe Dunthorne’s novel, Submarine is a quirky indie-comedy that marks the feature film debut of actor/music video director Richard Ayoade.

Submarine tells the story of Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), a teenager in a small Welsh town with two goals: to lose his virginity and to prevent his mother (Sally Hawkins) from leaving his father (Noah Taylor) for her dance teacher (Paddy Considine).

However, Oliver’s attempts at adult interaction are hampered by a level of self-absorption that’s both witty and poignant in equal measures.

To some, the plot may sound fairly conventional, but Submarine refuses to succumb to common genre clichés to hold our attention. Instead it remains perfectly in tune with Oliver’s swirling, complex imagination, drawing us into his perspective, which in turn allows for an altogether more comprehensive, naturalistic view of his reality.

The script, despite its sometimes obvious lack of major revelations and twists, is packed to the hilts with heart, dry humour and cinematic love. So much so that Oliver’s strong, entertaining and incredibly eccentric story is left to thrive and impact our hearts in distinctive ways.

Ayoade, relishing in the opportunity to show his awareness of cinematic principles, subtly yet magnificently employs freeze frames, slow-motion and tightly framed close ups to accentuate the necessary thematic elements. It’s rare to see a director so in command and assured of film form so early in their career.

By bathing the peripheral scenes in abundant natural light, Ayoade immerses the film in a lustrous, and wholly naturalistic charm.

Alex Turner’s extremely emotive soundtrack punctuates the film in sporadic, beautiful and imaginative ways, heightening the stories overall emotional impact to abundant avail.

The casting is a revelation. Roberts is simply superb as Oliver, turning in a star-making, assured and above his age performance that sees him competently master both comic and dramatic aspects of the narrative. Yasmin Page, who plays Oliver’s love interest, delivers a notably intricate Jordana, portraying her as a thickset yet susceptible teenage girl.

Additionally, in key supporting roles, Taylor and Considine both turn in faultless performances as very opposing, yet equally tormented, middle-aged men. Hawkins, in possibly her most incandescent performance since her breakout in Happy-Go-Lucky, bedazzles as Oliver’s mum, displaying a priceless aura of reticent hysteria that manages to be both humorous and deeply affecting in equal measurements.

From the wonderfully written dialogue, to the astute visual style (reminiscent of Wes Anderson or Noah Baumbach) and the sincerity and winsome nature of the characters, Submarine is a mesmerising, outlandish and warm-hearted indie comedy, produced with such elegance that, if there’s any justice, should thrust Ayoade from relative obscurity to a true, unequivocal visionary.

In simple terms, it’s 97 minutes of absolute joy.

Review: Never Let Me Go (2010)

Never Let Me Go, Mark Romanek’s adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s acclaimed and highly influential novel, chronicles the phases of three characters’ lives: Ruth, Kathy and Tommy, and marks his first film in nine years.

As children, Ruth, Kathy and Tommy (played by Ella Purnell, Izzy Meikle-Small and Charlie Rowe), spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school in the English countryside for children who are special.

As they grow into young adults (played by Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield), they move to The Cottages and find that they have to come to terms with the strength of the love they feel for each other, while preparing themselves for the haunting reality that awaits them.

Ishiguro’s gentle sci-fi concept is executed with sombre subtlety by Romanek and, despite Alex Garland’s sometimes too methodical screenplay, preserves an eerie sense of mystery and discerning dubiety in its translation to screen. These elements, in a bid to keep the film realistic, are wisely buried within a wholly human story, one about love, loss and empathy.

Romanek’s successful direction is highlighted in the great care he has for the source material and the characters that inhabit it. His remarkable skill comes to light in the way he presents the dystopian British countryside as beautiful yet bleak. It perfectly juxtaposes the beautiful lives everyday people lead with the bleak lives lead by the donors.

The three central performances are equally astounding, each superbly displaying repressed desperation and their desire to achieve true happiness. Mulligan’s exquisite beauty and incandescent quality make her perfect as Kathy, confirming her newly won status, while Garfield is undeniably arresting as the troubled Tommy.

Knightley, who is left with the trickier role, hits the right notes of disdainful faux-sophistication, holding her own as the vindictive Ruth, the manipulative force of nature who interferes with the lives of Tommy and Ruth.

The supporting actors – Charlotte Rampling, Sally Hawkins, Nathalie Richard, Domhall Gleeson and Andrea Riseborough – hold their own against the powerful trio. Though none of them has much screen time, they all play their characters with conviction and restraint, further accentuating the central themes of loneliness and longing.

Rachel Portman’s etherial score, almost a character in itself, penetrates your heart, in a pondering, beautiful way that compliments, and often surmounts, the heart-rending narrative.

The only issue is with the sometimes irritatingly slow pacing, and the disproportionate narrative that works against audience involvement. This, however, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially considering the realistic and sinister themes the film explores – and is excellently concealed by the fantastic performances.

Never Let Me Go is not only a beautifully explorative, acted and directed piece of filmmaking, but a masterful adaptation and glorious cinematic achievement.