Broken

(Rufus Norris, 2012)

At first it appears to be a kitchen sink drama about unhappy people in unhappy environs, then in its last act the film transforms almost completely into some kind of fantastical, kind of crass overblown melodrama. It’s not a terrible ending because director Rufus Norris executes it brilliantly, but it’s certainly completely out of touch with the film that comes before it. I can’t help but feel that if that’s what they were ultimately working towards then we should have had more of the sort of spiritual elements, the stylized, heightened drama of the final act peppered throughout the rest of the movie.

I also tend to think that the screenplay is a little all over the place. While the central To Kill a Mockingbird-esque familial drama is beautifully executed the handling of mental illness, and aggressive, abusive neighbours could have been handled with far more tact, more attention to detail, a greater deal more care and refinement than the frankly overly blunt, stupidly simplistic, and kind of unintentionally amusing treatment that they ultimately get here.

That said I think there is plenty of good here. As I said I think the finale is executed with great flair, especially considering Norris is a debut director, before that he keeps the drama compelling in the smaller quieter moments primarily because he gets terrific performances out of the vast majority of his cast. 

Tim Roth steadies the ship like a pro, his occasional outbursts grounded wholly in reality, Cillian Murphy has maybe the most full arc of the principle cast, and he nails every moment of it with the skill you’d expect continually suggesting something beneath the surface. Rory Kinnear, one of the superstars of British productions of the past few years is saddled with one of the stupidest, simplest characters in the whole thing but handles and humanizes him about as well as anyone could be expected to, Denis Lawson bleeds vulnerability and heart, and keeps his equally stupid subplot as human as possible. That said the film is carried to its highest highs by Eloise Laurence, who wouldn’t have been more than 11 or 12 years old at the time of filming, and yet displays on screen an effortless professional naturalism for one who has never acted on screen before, she has a smartness about her too that keeps you (at least for me) entirely on her side every step of the way no matter how questionable some of her actions and behavior. She’s brilliant, and the real break out star of this effort.

Ultimately it is all very, very watchable, handling highly dramatic subject matter in super compelling fashion, very well acted, and generally well directed. It might not work entirely as a kitchen sink drama, or as a grand social melodrama with metaphysical elements, but it basically all works, and it flies by in no time at all.


urbannativegirl:

New pic from Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian) with Benicio Del Toro and Native Actor Misty Upham. 

urbannativegirl:

New pic from Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian) with Benicio Del Toro and Native Actor Misty Upham. 


laurapalmerwalkswithme:

Willem Dafoe by Herb Ritts, 1988

laurapalmerwalkswithme:

Willem Dafoe by Herb Ritts, 1988


'71

(Yann Demange, 2014)

If you’re one of those people who get nauseous at the over usage of handheld camera then this may not be the movie for you, but if you are that way inclined then I think you’ll be missing out. This movie is like a spiritual predecessor to Paul Greengrass’ Bloody Sunday, shot in a similar manner but doing so much more with the material. While that movie was very journalistic, and generally emotionally removed in its approach, this one is heavy on plot, and action, and uses its action thriller setup, and lightly sketched characters to convey all its themes and ideas, of all the complications that beat beneath the heart of the troubles that plagued a nation for so long.

Most of the dialogue in it too tends to be on the incidental side, the vast majority of what goes on communicated palpably by Tat Radcliffe’s incredibly powerful imagery. Radcliffe also shot the first season of Channel 4’s Top Boy which Yann Demange also directed, and just as they did there the two of them have an incredible ability to conjure up the feeling of a time and a place that comes about as close as is probably possible to making you feel like you’re there. It’s pure cinema in that sense, and a joy to behold.

They’re aided in their mission by a universally strong cast lacking in movie star phoniness, among whom the disgustingly good Sean Harris, and Game of Thrones alum Richard Dormer prove highlights. Leading the way is young Jack O’Connell, continuing the break out year of all break out years. His role here is one I’d liken favourably to Naomi Watts in The Impossible. While character wise he’s got not much more than a pretty by the numbers spiritual awakening to work with, he spends the vast majority of the movie in extreme physical pain, and that anguish in which he finds himself has rarely been expressed on screen so effectively in any film I’ve ever seen before. You wince along with him every step of the way.

I think that the ending is a little contrived, tips a little onto the stupid side that has been avoided up until that point, but the vast majority of this movie is an intense thriller of the very best kind. Killer, intense editing, communicative, achingly tangible visuals, and a pulse pounding, nerve shredding, dread inducing score blended together to explore morally grey issues via character and action and image rather than through verbal exposition. At least for the most part. Who could turn down the chance to pen the not wholly incorrect summation of an army as “rich c__ts telling dumb c__ts to kill poor c__ts”?


wehadfacesthen:

Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift on the Metro lot, 1952

wehadfacesthen:

Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift on the Metro lot, 1952