The gallows humour and rapid-fire blarney is still there, but John Michael McDonagh‘s follow-up to The Guard is both a far darker and way more satisfying piece of work.
It’s about Father James (Brendan Gleeson), a man built like a brick wall and with a face ravished by time, booze and existential despair. But he’s sober now, a good priest doing his best for his loving daughter (Kelly Reilly) and local parishioners.
One day during confession, one of them tells him he will be killed in seven days – to “pay” for the abuse sins of all past priests. Chris O’Dowd, Game of Thrones’ Aidan Gillen and Dylan Moran are all among the suspects – most of whom are certifiably mad (or maybe just small-town Irish).
McDonagh’s brother Martin (In Bruges) influence shows in the very smart script, with crackles with sarcasm, caustic wit and (surprisingly) very genuine sentiment. Beneath all the tough-guy bluster of this powerful and thoughtful movie, lies a beautiful heart.
CTC from July 3.
Thanks to Transmission Films we have 10 double in-season passes to give away. See our Giveaways page for details on how to enter.
The Two Faces of January
Patricia Highsmith’s (The Talented Mr Ripley) dark novels are inevitably set in exotic European locations and feature beautiful but duplicitous people. This adaption from screenwriter Hossein Amini (Drive) has all that, plus a generous dose of Highsmith’s trademark amoral cynicism.
At first Chester (Viggo Mortensen) and his wife (Kirsten Dunst) look like wealthy tourists in Athens, an easy mark for American shyster (Oscar Issac), who plays them for a while. Then Chester’s shady business past violently catches up with him. Before long all three are on the run and hiding out in Crete, but clearly none of them can trust each other…
What follows is a tense psychological thriller, impeccably constructed in an old-fashioned way. Mortensen has rarely been better. He even looks classic – like a young Kirk Douglas, right down to that dimple.
As the trio’s paranoia ramps up so does their incessant smoking. OK, so it’s set in the ’60s (and in Greece), but really, this should come with a health warning.
M on now.
Louise Archambault (Monsieur Lazhar) obviously likes difficult subjects. Just imagine the studio pitch: “Its about sex” (OK, good…) “between the intellectually disabled” (Yikes!).
“But surely she’s been sterilised?” the mother of Martin asks in an awkward meeting at his special-needs centre about Gabrielle (Gabrielle Marion-Rivard), the gregarious and beautiful girl he’s so obviously in love with.
But don’t worry, while the film is honest and unflinching, it’s lovely and warm too, and not at all difficult.
Even has a happy ending. Errr… maybe.
M on now.
Hell On Wheels Series 3
Anyone pining for something as complex and good as Breaking Bad (or over GoT), really should take a look at one of AMC’s other big hits – now well on its way towards a 4th season.
Hell On Wheels is layered multi-charactered drama about the construction of the first trans continental railway across America, focussing on the greed and institutional corruption that went with it. Specifically it follows one of its chief engineers, Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), a former Confederate soldier who is also determined to avenge the death of his wife and child.
Season 3 may not be the best place to start, but once you’re into this compulsive and complex revenge drama, there’s no return. It’s been a huge critical and rating success the US, AMC’s biggest hit after The Walking Dead.
Strange that it hasn’t been discovered here yet, but surely that’s only a matter of time.
MA15+ Hell On Wheels, Season 3 out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.
Thanks to eOne Films Australia we have we have 5 DVDs of Series 3 to give away. See our Giveaways page for details on how to enter.
Hard to understand why Rhys Graham’s accomplished coming-of-age debut has been either ignored or snubbed. Yes it may be difficult for some critics (of a certain age) to understand. But something so gorgeous to look at, so lyrical and heart felt yet engagingly populist deserves at least a bit of respect.
Comparisons to Somersault are inevitable, if only because of the setting (actually the margins of Canberra, but it looks rural) and its teen sexual awakening plot. Which focuses on Billie (Puberty Blues’ Ashleigh Cummings) crazy in love, sleeping with her best friend’s (Lily Sullivan) boyfriend, and confused as hell about the stray Islander boy her social worker mum has brought into their home to help.
Book-ended by the fires that ravaged the ACT a few years ago, shimmering heat, distant smoke and sirens are a constant presence, an ominous signal to a possible climax to Billie’s emotional turmoil. Yes a tragedy does come, but not the one we expect.
This is a powerful, beautifully realized film of loss, betrayal and love. You’ll only find it at Dendy Newtown, but don’t let it slip by.
MA15+ on now.
Post GFC Part 2 (“The Collapse”), and everyone is either a victim or a killer. Guy Pearce is the latter in David Michôd’s daring follow up to Animal Kingdom, as miserable as he is merciless.
“Brave” may be one way to describe casting Twilight hearthrob Robert Pattinson as a blood-encrusted half-wit.
“Crazy brave” is a film which gives us no characters we can care about.
But it is visually stylish – stunningly so, and hypnotically watchable throughout.
MA15+ on now.
Reviews – Russell Edwards