Film Reviews by TB

Welcome to TB's film reviews page. TB has written 30 reviews and rated 268 films.

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The Souvenir

Despite a great debut from Honor Swinton Byrne, this is a dire, boring and illogical film

(Edit) 10/05/2021

The Souvenir arrived with massive critical praise, including the blurb on the front of the Blu-Ray saying “It feels like the only film in the world that matters.” These plaudits, plus the casting of Honor Swinton Byrne (daughter of Tilda, who also stars with her,) made it feel like a must see. But, as has often been said regarding critics, their opinions verses the audience who are watching it can be completely opposing. And this is what a very large number of people, including myself, feel about this film. One look at the comments section on Cinema Paradiso or indeed any legitimate review site exposes this massive gulf, (and please don’t start saying “It’s all trolls and people hate this film because they hate women making films ect ect.)

The biggest problem that I, and the friend watching it with me had, was the complete lack of ANY chemistry at all between the two leads. The film may be trying to portray a difficult or different relationship, which I welcome due to the vast numbers of films that follow the same metric and suffer creatively as a result. But when you have a film which is trying to convince you that these two leads have a burning, passionate and intense romance, yet all you see on screen is characters who are so indifferent to each other and have so little in common that nothing the film tries to do is believable, things just hit a brick wall.

And that in turn then affects the narrative and nothing can rescue it. The events that subsequently play out have no meaning and the only thing you are left with is an empty shell of a film. Much has been made of the fact that there was a lot of improvisation with the script and also that time is allowed for scenes to play out, with minimal dialogue and allowing the actors to act. But again, the same brick wall is hit: when you have two characters, one of whom literally does things that defy logic and yet the status quo “continues”, you get more and more alienated. And when the film in question is also unbelievably long and slow paced, everything becomes exacerbated.

The one shining light in all of this is Honor Swinton Byrne. Despite the material she is given, she is absolutely fantastic and a real revelation. She has a very ethereal quality to her and tries her best to try and make sense of everything that is on screen. My 2 star rating is in no way related to the quality of her acting. The way the film is shot is also very good, and the real grainy quality of the cinematography gives the film a very distinctive look.

Finally, a sequel has been filmed and is due to be released this year (2021.) Apart from critics and one or two of the audience reviews, there doesn’t seem to be a massive clamoring for this...

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My Name is Joe

A deeply impactful & moving film, with an incredible & award winning performance from Peter Mullan

(Edit) 01/05/2021

Peter Mullan is an actor who I have seen in mainly supporting roles over the years, but who always makes an impact. Whether it’s his role as the Mother Superior in Trainspotting, Les in Young Adam or lead role as Joseph in Tyrannosaur, his impact is always felt and there are not many people who do brooding and threats of violence better than him. I rented My Name is Joe on a complete whim, because I was reading an interview with an actor (I forget who it was,) who stated that Mullan’s performance as Joe was one of the best they had ever seen. I also saw that Mullan had won Best Actor at Cannes for his performance, so hopes were high.

And they were met and massively exceeded. Mullan is the absolute stand-out and flat-out best thing in this film. From the opening scene, where you do not see him, but hear his voice over the credits, talking about how he came to be where he was, you are totally immersed and believe in the life that has been created by him.

Louise Goodall also makes a strong impression, and her chemistry with Mullan is fantastic. The power of her performance, for me, was the ability she had to communicate so much just with a look or a few quietly spoken words. The rest of the cast were also great, and as is with all Ken Loach films, many of the extras were not actors but members of the local community, who were able to add their own authenticity to the mise-en-scene.

The story and how Joe got to where he was is a difficult but inspiration one. This is the second Ken Loach film I have seen, but in reality the first one I have properly taken in, as like most people, the first one I saw was Kes when I was at school. Loach has an incredible way of building up and creating worlds which feel authentic and lived in, and the actors are not actors but people who are a part of their environment, which is the essence of great film making, in the same way that Mike Leigh is able to do with such skill.

The only problem I have with this film is the ending, which basically finishes extremely abruptly and leaves several questions unanswered, as well as leaving the story in a situation that it wouldn’t be in following the events. But this is a minor gripe and the journey that you go on, and the impact that is left after the credits roll, is significant.

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Tyrannosaur

A very difficult film to watch, but also absolutley essential viewing

(Edit) 27/04/2021

A film I rented due to the incredible critical praise for it, plus I had seen a bit of Peter Mullan's work, mainly with Ewan McGregor (Young Adam being a particular highlight.)

Mullan is absolutely amazing here, as is Olivia Coleman. I find it very difficult to watch films that in any way have extreme or sadistic violence towards women (whether shown on screen or alluded to by character's reactions/story) but that doesn't mean I shy away from watching them, precisely because I want to be challenged. Some of the best films I have ever seen are the ones which you leave afterwards feeling almost traumatised by, because you are forced to confront and process these dreadful things.

I almost don't want to say too much else about this film, because the less you know the more you have to gain and "enjoy" from it. But Paddy Considine is a great director and outstanding talent. For anyone who finds this film a bit too extreme, his second feature Journeyman is much more accessible and we are treated to an incredible performance from him.

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Quantum of Solace

Quite simply, the biggest problem with Quantum of Solace is that it isn't a "Bond" film...

(Edit) 31/01/2021

Before Casino Royale, James Bond was on lift support. The truly awful Die Another Day had taken Bond and, despite a great opening half an hour with a genius premise, (Bond is imprisoned and tortured whilst on mission, then when freed has to build himself back up again and prove he is relevant and needed in the world he goes back into,) turned 007 into effectively a walking cliché. As mentioned in another review, Jason Bourne's biggest ally with The Bourne Identity was Bond becoming redundant in Die Another Day.

Then along comes Casino Royale which not only revolutionised Bond but emphatically stated and proved that "Nobody does it better." And these words, taken from The Spy Who Loved Me, whilst before thrown around with some sarcasm and triteness, finally had emotional heft and really were the best description.

After Casino Royale, excitement was at fever pitch for what would come next. And whilst Quantum of Solace/QoS is not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, the worst thing I can say about it is that it is not a "Bond" film, so all of that effort and achievement so hard won by Casino Royale feels like it is at times been for nothing.

QoS does have lots going for it. Marc Forster, who proved his worth at getting incredible performances out of actors in Monster's Ball, (including guiding Halle Berry to her Oscar,) using the enormous budget to make sure everything looks incredible. And there are some very nice cinematic touches in between events which add some gravitas to the film. The locations are stunning, cinematography beautiful and David Arnold again provides a brilliant score. But that is basically where the good points end...

By far the worst thing about QoS is it is basically what a movie would look like if you took a large number of action scenes, combined with the usual action movie staples (meeting in office, bar scene, love scene, final scene where everything comes full circle,) stuck them in a mixer then put the result on a screen and called it a completed film. It really is a mess of massive proportions. Characters are introduced long enough to be given a minimal back story, then killed off and never spoken about again. The film, trying to convey to the audience the fast moving nature of what could be charitably called a story/script, decides the best way to do that is to quite simply do everything at 5 times the normal speed. The editing is absolutely awful, but you get the real feeling that the director/producers feel that this is the best way to tell this story.

The story itself is very basic in terms of what actually happens, which in many action movies is all that is needed. And to me this is the nutshell of the problems: This is an action movie, it's not a Bond movie. If this was an American studio production where an A-List actor played a secret agent being chased around the world with a budget to match, this would be a 4 star film. But when it is Bond and you have the higher expectation along with the traditional franchise staples, the ground shifts.

People like me who love Bond love it because it IS more than stupid action film schlock. We love this character of Bond, complete with his failings and nuances, alongside being able to walk into any bar in the world and the barman knows his name and how he likes his Martinis, despite him being a secret agent. Whilst some will scorn this, to Bond fans this is our nirvana.

So whilst QoS does try to be something different, like Casino Royale did, it departs so far from what the vast majority of viewers want that in the end it loses any feeling of "Bondness."

And weirdly, the final thing to say is that despite all the action scenes, in many ways it is actually quite boring. Once you lose interest in the story, the frenetic action scenes lose all their heft. And no Bond movie should ever make you feel that.

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North Sea Texas

Beautiful cinematography & a brilliant performance by Jelle Florizoone can’t disguise the flaws

(Edit) 30/01/2021

This is a film which in many ways I can’t make my mind up about and that is as much a frustration as a criticism.

There are so many overwhelming positives about this film, in particular it’s cinematography, lead performance by Jelle Florizoone, music, costumes and locations. But it also has some gaping flaws, and by the end you feel glad you’d gone on the journey but frustrated about what could have been.  

Florizoone, making his debut here, is a revelation. He is completely compelling and the softness, combined with the jealousy and also pain he feels is perfectly acted and you absolutely buy into his coming of age feelings. Unlike Tom Hiddleston in the Night Manager, which I saw recently and was an exercise in someone straining every sinew to audition for/pretend to be James Bond, Florizoone simply exists in the moment and the naturalness of his performance is what makes it work. The other performers are also very good and everyone does the best they can with the material that they have.

As mentioned before, the cinematography, colour palette, costumes and locations are far and away the best thing about this film. DP Anton Mertens is the unsung hero of this production, and his work is for me the main draw. Whether lensing inside a tent with candlelight, or capturing a walk along the beach, his work is stunning. The small casual moments and intimacy are massively enhanced by this master of his art. 

Like all films about love, whether the characters are gay or straight, there are clichés which are expected but also comforting. But when the script is lacking in many things which you want, or expect or even feel are logical, then you start to become detached from it. And this is the issue I have with North Sea Texas.

The biggest problem for me was the illogical character actions which start to undo all the great work that the other elements of the film work so hard to build up. The starkest one is the sudden vanishing of one of the main characters with no explanation, especially when their actions are not only illogical but also illegal. But this is never more than casually referenced by the film’s characters and then brushed aside, never to be mentioned again. For a film that repeatedly references the fact that it is in many ways a dream, it takes certain things absolutely seriously which it feels works for it, then dismisses serious things that might bring it back down to earth.

Also, even though it is welcomingly short in runtime so as not to overstretch the world it exists in, there are still wasted moments. One character, who was referenced throughout the film leading upto his appearance, appeared to have simply been brought in to look sultry and break hearts, before vanishing with no real explanation.

And this is the frustration for me: with a better script and more logical choices, this would have been a 5 star film. And when the poor decisions of the writing override the perfect production, it leaves you at the end feeling frustrated at what could have been. But still absolutely a worthy rental. 

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Unhinged

A solid popcorn thriller but nothing to write home about

(Edit) 30/01/2021

Russell Crowe, for the first time since Romper Stomper, plays a villain. But even though he tries his best and there is the traditional overacting that in this genre of film is expected, the end result is only mediocre. It is a very well made film in terms of the stunts, and there are suitably nasty moments to ratchet up the tension.

Even though it sounds like a slight, one of the best things about this film is that it is short and not bloated in its runtime. At just under 90 minutes, everything zips along relatively quickly and despite some slight flagging in the beginning third, (like spending an inordinate amount of time focusing on the female lead character’s failing home and professional life,) it never overstays its welcome. 

The special features on the Blu-Ray are also welcome and the behind the scenes documentary is extensive and also takes into account that this film was released during the pandemic, highlighting the challenges it faced.

As a film, don’t go in expecting a masterpiece, but rather an overall decent thriller that you can watch, laugh and wince at, then post back and get your next rental. 

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The Tax Collector

Despite great performances from the 2 leads, this is a violent mess of a movie

(Edit) 24/01/2021

David Ayer has been involved in some great films (Harsh Times, Training Day, Fury, End of Watch) and some not great ones (Suicide Squad, Sabotage,) but in his great work, there is always a strong sense of comraderery and brotherly bond. When this is done right within the workings and pace of the film, it reaps massive dividends, particularly in Harsh Times and End of Watch. But when the story/other film elements around these characters is rubbish, those parts are much more accentuated. And this in a nut shell is the problem with The Tax Collector.

The two lead actors are great in their own ways. Without doubt, this is Shia's film. He is a coiled spring of anger, violence and tension, always in the background and ready to suddenly explode. As much as Bobby Soto has great charisma and also really commands the screen in scenes where he is on his own, whenever Shia is around, you are instantly drawn to him. The two actors work extremely well together and this is what stops Tax Collector from sliding completely into ignomy. But they are only able to do so much.

The rest of the film is just a clichéd mess, despite one storyline really going in an unexpected direction. And the film also has a really nasty streak to it, in the graphic violence which is just randomly thrown onto the screen to try to make an impact but ends up just being horrible. Two scenes in particular are so gruesome that the intended payoff is completely lost and I just sat there thinking, "What was the point of that?" Unlike the violence in Fury, which was absolutely critical to the story and also really forced you to confront the horrors of war, this does the opposite. Not only is it horrible to watch, but it serves the opposite purpose than it intends.

A final funny bit of trivia about this film is that, to get into character, Shia LaBeouf had his entire chest tattooed. And despite inking almost a third of his body for the role, for 99% of the film, he wears fitted suits with none of them on display... Then when they are finally shown, they are also partially obscured... Whilst I love the commitment, as one critic put it, "Hasn't he heard of Henna?!?!"

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Shadowboxer

One of the worst films I've ever seen...

(Edit) 24/01/2021

I watched this film as it had not only Stephen Dorff but also Helen Mirren in it, as well as what seemed to be an interesting premise and the casting of Mirren as a contract killer, which looked like an interesting angle to be explored.

But this film is awful in almost every way you can think of. The acting is wooden, nothing is believable and some of the elements are so far-fetched you start laughing, Whilst I won't give away the plot, the only detail I will mention is that the many scenes of intimacy between Gooding Jr and Mirren, who are stepson and step-mother, really don't work...

Whilst I will always praise films trying to break out of the mould and do something different, when a film is this much of a car crash and so wrong in so many ways, any kudos for trying something new is voided.

Avoid

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Sexy Beast

Perfection in every way and one of the best films ever made. If I could give it 10 stars, I would

(Edit) 15/01/2021

This film is and will always be one of my top 10 of all time. Not one element isn't perfect. The performances are phenomenal. The locations beautiful. The script a work of genius. The direction inspired. The soundtrack flawless. When people talk about films transporting them to a different world, this is what they mean.

I love how it cannot be pigeonholed in a genre: it's a gangster film, but it's not a gangster film. It's a love story but it's not a love story. It's a heist movie but it's not a heist movie. The most accurate label you could give it would be thriller, but even that completely undersells it.

Whilst the premise sounds like a standard clichéd film, (retired gangster living in Spain is called upon by an old foe for one last job,) this is simply a vague outline of the plot. This is a movie where the beautiful and tranquil life that the main character has built for himself is suddenly and brutally torn apart.

Gal (Winstone) is a retired safe cracker who has left the London gangster scene, where he was a minor celebrity, and moved to Spain, leaving behind the life that landed him in prison and in the end threatened to destroy him. He is married to DeeDee (Redman,) an ex porn star, and the love they have is the central bedrock of the film. You totally believe the deep and passionate connection they have, which makes the later events that much more powerful. They are joined by life-long friends Jackie and Aitch (White & Kendall) in this idyllic life, which is then shattered…

Don Logan (Kingsley,) from the moment he appears on screen, dominates everything. A monster in human form. A man who, in Kingsley’s own words, is “The unhappiest man in the world.” And whilst that may seem like a vague and somewhat tame description, in many ways it gets to the heart of Logan as a man. The resentment and jealousy boil out of him, as he looks at the perfect world that Gal has created, knowing that he will never have anything close to this because no-one would ever want to be with him.

And this knowledge of how people feel about him is both his power and his weakness. His ability to be able to make the people around him do what he wants is only matched by the self-hatred and miserableness of knowing those same people despise him and look forward to the day they never have to see him again. And when that is coupled with Logan’s desperation to be accepted, it combines into a melting pot of violence and anger.

The other genius of casting Sir Ben Kingsley, which this film exploits perfectly, is how to most people he was always seen as Gandhi, the polar opposite of Logan. And this was even in the mind of Ray Winstone, who in a subsequent interview remarked, “Nothing against Ben Kingsley, but I couldn’t see myself being beaten up by Gandhi!” But within 5 minutes Kingsley on screen as Logan, this previous image is totally erased.

The subsequent story and battle of wills between both Winstone and Kingsley but also the other characters, and the culmination of this in the underwater bank robbery, is perfection. In particular, the confrontation in the kitchen, as the tension reaches unbearable levels, is a masterclass in minimal staging producing maximum impact. And this was shot in one take…

To summarise, this film is a masterpiece, and I don’t use that word lightly. Over the space of 90 minutes, you are entertained, horrified, scared, disturbed and laugh out loud. In short, everything that great cinema should be, especially if you like the most creative swearing ever put on film…

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Finding the Way Back

Ben Affleck brings personal pain to a decent sports drama

(Edit) 14/01/2021

After many well-publicised addiction issues throughout his life, which is referenced on the Blu-Ray special features, Ben Affleck has used these experiences to great effect as Jack Cunningham. The story of a former basketball player turned alcoholic social outcast has many of the standard sporting cliches, but these never hinder the film from being a good, engrossing story.

Affleck himself certainly looks the part, using his massive hulking frame (from his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman,) to illustrate the emotions Cunningham goes through and add dramatic heft. And needless to say the many scenes of Jack drowning in booze are given additional emotional impactfulness from the experiences Affleck has doubtless been through. Gavin O'Connor, who has before directed great movies with brilliant performances, again shows his ability to get the most from his cast and the rest of the film elements, (cinematography, soundtrack, supporting performances,) are all good too.

A solid film and perfect for Friday night watching

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The Night Manager

Hugh Laurie and Tom Hollander dominate in this good adaptation

(Edit) 14/01/2021

This is my first experience with John Le Carré's work, but I have for many years heard his name mentioned with reverence for the powerfulness of his writing and characters.

But I didn't first hear about this series because of Le Carré's novel or characters, but rather that this series was the most blatant attempt possible by Tom Hiddleston to be cast as James Bond. And that is, from his performance, the predominent thing which I can say about him in this. He is straining every sinew to basically yell out from the screen "I can be Bond!!!" This is not to put down Hiddleston's acting abilities for a second and certainly the chemistry he shared with Elizabeth Debicki was powerful and drove the love story forward. But the audition aspect was always lurking in the background. And for me, in many ways that overshadowed everything else with his performance, especially when sharing the screen with Hugh Laurie and/or Tom Hollander...

These two actors literally dominate the screen for every second they are on it. Laurie is so far away from his roles in Blackadder and Jeeves & Wooster that you question whether they were played by the same person. Like Sir Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast, Laurie's Richard Roper is a sociopath; utterly evil and without mercy, no hint of humanity or morality as he sells weapons of war to the highest bidder. Roper also knows exactly what he is and the depravity he is responsible for, but dismisses it as purely business.

And Hollander is the coiled spring, who straight away sees through Hiddleston, constantly circling him and goading, leaving him and us to wonder when he was going to strike. The mix of violence, threat and sexuality all combined perfectly and his BAFTA award was richly deserved. Hollander is such a talented actor with these types of roles that you wish he was cast more in them. When both him and Laurie were on screen, you relish the spectre of two actors at the top of their game.

The rest of the cast, as well as the locations and production values are also great. It was clear that there was a large budget for this production and Susanne Bier puts every penny of it up on the screen. The colour palatte in particular and the cinematography were first class. Locations were also varied and well-used.

Whilst many people may be watching for Hiddleston, within minutes of Laurie and Hollander appearing on screen, it flips 180 degrees and despite his best efforts, they are who you'll remember

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Rambo: Last Blood

Despite a great opening, this film is vile in so many ways

(Edit) 11/01/2021

Whilst I have not seen the first three John Rambo films, I had seen Rambo many years ago, mainly because some of my friends who had seen it thought it was so stupidly violent that it almost became satirical. And when watching it myself, several times I did laugh, as it was like watching a computer game re-enactment with gallons of “tomato soup” style blood spraying about everywhere. One of the only positives about Rambo (the film) was the light that it shone on the horrific genocide that was happening in Burma/Myanmar.

I knew a little about Rambo as a character, in terms of his PTSD and flashbacks, as well as the severe trauma he dealt with which shone a light onto the very real issues faced by many members of the armed forces. But as well as this very real side, I was also aware that Rambo was a by-word for gratuitous violence, wooden acting and the “American” warrior stereotype. Unfortunately, this does not change in Rambo: Last Blood at all, instead introducing many much worse new things into the mix.

The most frustrating thing about Rambo: Last Blood is that, unlike a lot of people, I thought the opening 20 minutes was really good. The PTSD element of Rambo’s character was explored quite profoundly, and as has been pointed out by many people, when Stallone is given the right material, he is an extremely good actor. I totally bought into the difficulty and mental torture the character was going through and how despite his best efforts, these horrors stayed with him. The horse-riding scenes were also well-shot and there was a very good foundation set in the beginning. Unfortunately it then nose-dived.

I won’t talk in detail about the plot, but what started as a good film then just becomes the most bigoted, racist and xenophobic piece of work I’ve seen in years. Almost anyone who isn’t American/close with Rambo at the beginning of the film is shown as being evil and violent, one scene in particular set in a brothel is simply there to keep ratcheting up the message that these people (in this case Mexican characters) are human vermin who do horrible things to defenceless young women; and in the final showdown, which is basically an 18 rated version of the Home Alone traps and designed to be the pay-off, instead just leaves you in no doubt about just how rancid the messages in this film are.

The final thing to mention is that David Morrell, who wrote the original Rambo novel, after seeing this movie, totally disowned the Rambo film franchise, stating “I felt degraded and dehumanized after I left the theatre. Instead of being soulful, this new movie lacks one.”

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Young Adam

An atmospheric and perfectly acted masterpiece

(Edit) 18/07/2020

Before I write this review, I first have to lay my cards on the table: I am a massive Ewan McGregor fan. Since Shallow Grave, he has made some of my top 10 films of all time. He consistently takes chances, tackling roles many actors wouldn't even consider. Even films which are not great as a whole (Deception,) still are interesting because of his work. Young Adam is a film which doesn't feature in many people's top 10 lists of his films, but which absolutely should, because in many ways, to me it is a masterpiece. 

It is a film which depicts a tough, poor Scotland, filled with people who are not cardboard cut-out stereotypes but completely believable: hard working, short tempered, determined, intimidating. The streets are filled with mist and people walk with their heads low, the grime hanging in the air and the coldness of the winter coming out of the screen, which then gives way to the sleazy and treacherous underbelly. It is a world which the author Alexander Trocchi knew well. In many ways Young Adam is a biography of his life, although you could say that even the film is restrained compared to his experiences, notably his pimping out of his wife to fund his deteriorating and destructive heroin addiction. 

One of the best things about this film is how it emphatically pulls no punches. This is a film in which deeply unsympathetic people scam, cheat, lie and sleep with each other; there are no winners in this world and the film never shies away from that. The sex is graphic and honest, the dialogue hard edged and raw. The young son, in many ways the only innocent in this film, is destined to a life of hard graft, with little reward. You feel sorry for what you know he will have to adapt to. 

Ewan's character, Joe, may be the protagonist, but he is an antihero to the extreme. Prone to long silences, deep in thought, he may come across as an intellectual, but as the film goes on, his immorality and complete disregard for anyone and everyone is laid bare. This is a man who moves into a new property and immediately sleeps with his landlord's wife, compromising their family. But he also knows what he is and does not shy away from the consequences. When faced with the potential to get a family with a decent and hard working woman, he tells her "I am not someone you want to marry."

Adding to this excellent performance are superb supporting ones. Whilst Tilda Swinton got high praise and a Scottish Bafta for her role, Peter Mullan and Emily Mortimer also do some of their best work. As the brooding Les, Mullan is perfect, his ability to bring an underlying threat and violence second to none. Whilst at first almost a father figure who takes Joe under his wing, he then has his life casually destroyed by the very person who he has opened it up to. Emily Mortimer is perfectly cast as the innocent but eternally hopeful Cathie and Tilda Swinton is brilliant as well, as the tough as nails Ella.

For some, (including a friend of mine who I highly recommended this to and tried watching it on a Sunday afternoon expecting a fairly light-hearted watch,) this film will be heavy going. But I cannot recommend it enough. If you want a brilliantly made, perfectly acted and atmospheric film, rent this.

A masterpiece

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The Town

A very good film (Theatrical Cut reviewed, not Extended)

(Edit) 01/07/2020

When I first watched The Town many years ago, after about half an hour I turned it off, as I was in the wrong frame of mind to watch it and at that time, it wasn’t gripping me. But after seeing it re-released on 4K and also having watched both Argo and Gone Baby Gone, I wanted to give it another shot and I’m really pleased I did.

The film is really good, with moments of high tension, as well as great performances. The robberies were all staged excellently and the smaller, quieter moments also hit home as well.

Ben Affleck is great in the central role, and the supporting cast are also excellent. Chris Cooper turned up for one scene and made more impact in 5 minutes than some actors manage in an entire film. For me, there were 2 stand-out performances; Jeremy Renner as psychopathic Jem, who rightly was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars, ratcheted up the tension whenever he was on screen and you never knew what his character was going to do.

And finally, Pete Postlewaite as Fergus “The Florist.” This was a poignant and sad moment for me as not only did he, like Chris Cooper, only have a very small amount of screen time which he did wonders with; but this was one of his last performances before his death and it was clear how ill he was and deservedly he was nominated for a BAFTA.

The only frustration was that the 4K Blu-Ray did not have the Extended version, which is meant to completely change the dynamic of the film and also has a completely changed ending, which is Affleck’s preferred one.

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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

A stunningly shot film but not much substance (4K Ultra-HD Blu-Ray 60fps)

(Edit) 01/07/2020

I had been wanting to watch this film for a while, due to my interest in cinematography coupled with Ang Lee’s very public endorsement of super-high frame rate shooting. Amusingly enough, even though this is at 60fps (frames per second) for the 4K Blu-Ray disk, the actual released film was 120 fps, which only a few cinemas in the world were able to show.

Whilst some people have criticized the film for looking more like a computer game than a film, due to the hyper-reality quality of it, I absolutely loved it. I can see exactly what Lee was trying to achieve and for me this film totally works in terms of how it is shot. Compared to Public Enemies, which was shot in the same hyper-real way but looked absolutely stupid due to it being set in the 1930’s, this absolutely clicked for me.

It’s a shame that the film itself wasn’t the home-run I wanted it to be. There is nothing much wrong with the premise; the performances, especially from Vin Diesel, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart are great, and the staging of scenes, especially in Iraq, are brilliant. But it just didn’t work as a film, it felt disjointed. And although that may have been the point, for me as much as it is a technical marvel, unless you’re watching the 4K UHD Blu-Ray, less-violent films like this play every weekday during the afternoon slot on Channel 5 and have pretty much the same impact.

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