Film Reviews

Here are some film reviews of things I've seen recently:

"There Will Be Blood", 2007

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Daring film-making. What can one say about Day-Lewis that hasn't already been said? In the case of Gangs Of New York, he pretty much held the film together. Here, he is part of a film that is already of the highest calibre in terms of direction, cinematography, writing... A landmark performance in what will go down as a landmark in 21st century cinema. And let us not forget the excellent support from Paul Dano who manages to more than hold his own. A classic. 5/5


"The Fountain", 2006 - dvd

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Breathtakingly audacious film-making from a true modern auteur. With this labour of love, Aronofsky has crafted a film that will infuriate some and baffle many, but if you let yourself be lead by the film's central conceit of Izzy's book being a unifying element between past, present and future, then an inner logic to the film will gradually reveal itself. Ultimately, it is a film that wins you over by the sheer beauty of its visual style, the satisfying coherence of its visual motifs (just like in "Pi" and "Requiem For A Dream") and by the wonderfully committed and convincing central performances from Hugh Jackman (who is a revelation) and Rachel Weisz. Here is a director who not only has a highly original cinematic sensibility, but also the cojones to actually stay true to himself and to his vision, no matter what the obstacles are, and who also seems to know how to get the best out of his actors. The film is also blessed with one of the finest film scores I have heard in a long time. Clint Mansell's music, though never intrusive, is beautiful, moving and in the final minutes of the film helps to transport it to a level of greatness. 5/5


"The Island" (Octrov), 2007 - dvd

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Not the Ewan McGregor blockbuster of a few years back.

Life imitates art in this tale of redemption for a man who spends most of his adult life as a monk in an Orthodox monastery on an isolated Russian shoreline, attempting to make up for a tragic killing as a young sailor in the 2WW Russian navy. Lead actor, Pyotr Mamonov, converted to the Orthodox faith in the 1990s and now lives as a virtual hermit in an isolated village outside Moscow. After seeing the events during the war, we move forward 30 years. This monk lives isolated from the rest of the monastery in its boiler house, sleeping on a pile of coal (the war killing took place on a coal barge). He is unkempt, fond of practical jokes and looked down upon by some members of his community. But people come from far and wide to see him for guidance, healing, prayer, etc... I loved this film, but being a practising Christian (and even more so a religious Brother) myself helps to give it an extra dimension for me. I found myself joining in the scenes involving personal or community prayer. But it is also a visually striking film, reminiscent in its beautiful widescreen seascapes of another recent Russian film, "The Return", also set on a barren Russian coastline for the most part. Lead actor Mamonov is simply mesmerising. One believes totally in his personal spiritual odyssey, experience etched into the lines on his charismatic face. The film is slightly hampered by some awkward subtitle translations, but this does not detract from the spiritual power and prayerfulness of this simple, but emotionally affecting tale. 5/5


"Be Kind Rewind", 2007

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I liked this more than I thought I would, as I have mixed feelings about Jack Black. And I had mixed feelings about the film until it hit its stride in the 2nd half. I was ultimately one over by its human warmth, the loveable silliness of it all and by a surprisingly moving final few minutes. A joyous celebration of community and how art (in this case "sweded" films) can be a force for bringing people together. 4/5
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