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Posts Tagged ‘2010’

Somewhere directed by Sofia Coppola; released in 2010

I always wondered what it would be like to be a really successful actor. Not like, starred in a few films and therefore have just started climbing the ladder to legendary status but actually being someone like George Clooney or Matt Damon. This is how I believe Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) wishes his life had turned out or what it could be in years to come. You are unsure of at what point in his career he has reached when he realises that it’s okay to squander any sort of meaning and fully become the sell-out that he is. Prescription drugs are the norm, unprotected sex with neighbours is okay and treating people like shit is what drives you to make more money than you can think of. I completely understand the pressures that celebrities are under, always in the public eye, bombarded with mail – whether it be positive or negative and finally, maybe forgetting you have an 11 year old daughter who is more talented and beautiful than you will ever be. Much like ‘Lost in Translation’, this film shows you someone’s life, with nothing else added. It is, uncensored, clean-cut daily routine and you have the task of trying to put together what you believe is the truth. Is Johnny an arsehole? Is he just somebody who got caught up in being an A-List celebrity? Or (and most importantly) is he unhappy, unfulfilled and in need of some excitement in his life. Hopefully, you agree with the third option. This is my opinion. This film is a tough watch, tougher than ‘Lost in Translation’, the first 10-15 minutes is really an introduction and even though, understandably, this is important when introducing characters and plot lines, it could have been a tad shorter. That is my only quibble with the entire movie. Containing periods of silence over pictures of Johnny contemplating what to do with his life, breaking down on the phone to someone who probably isn’t really his friend and ultimately discovering that his daughter and his own happiness is the most important thing in the world, ‘Somewhere’ was really enjoyable to watch. As the film progresses you are introduced to many people, who Johnny really doesn’t have much time for. Not because he is rude but because they really just want his autograph or to take his picture or to offer him some free food or to clean his room. This is what being a celebrity is. Having no freedom to do what you want, continually being told what to do and having everything laid out on a plate for you. Sofia Coppola really has put together something that demonstrates ‘Money isn’t everything’. Stephen Dorff may have taken inspiration from his own life for this role but I hope not completely. Elle Fanning is great and pulls off the role of the girl who Johnny really loves and cares about; his daughter. There is a surprisingly good performance from TV’s Jackass star Chris Pontius, who throughout is there as Johnny’s oldest friend and who also deeply cares about Cleo (Elle Fanning). I really enjoyed this film and believe it is a great metaphor for the highs and lows of stardom and what it really means to be a celebrity.

9/10

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The American directed by Anton Corbijn; released in 2010

This is a very unique story. A man whose forte is guns, passion is women and on top of this, is wanted dead by more than one person. Put this together with the director of the dark Ian Curtis biopic, ‘Control’ and you have something that is a very interesting watch. Set in the idyllic Castelvecchio, a rural Italian town; which in hindsight isn’t the normal place to set a sort-of spy thriller in the mould of old spaghetti westerns,  Jack (George Clooney) is in hiding after recently disposing of a lover and two contract killers in Sweden. From the outset, you are presented a character who is confident but at the same time, confused with life. He is unsure that he has chosen the correct career, even though he is many years into it, which isn’t the best one that allows him to build relationships, which seems to be his favourite pastime. The film’s main theme though, which is not necessarily a theme, is the prolonged silences where the only thing you hear is the construction of a gun, footsteps of someone being followed or the firing of a gun. This, paired with the plot, makes for 95 minutes of total suspense. George Clooney’s career really has gone from strength to strength since playing Doug Ross in ‘E.R.’ over 15 years ago and his performance in this, is one that really makes him one of my favourite actors. He draws from his performance as the titular character in ‘Michael Clayton’, allowing for some very blunt, explosive dialogue which makes his character, an efficient arms expert, all that more believable. Throughout the film you are unable to decide on what you want the outcome to be, which when coupled with shots of the beautiful Italian landscape make the shocking ending that more despairing. The area shouldn’t be subjected to the arrival of violence, which makes the film that more exciting and brutal. His friendship with a local priest makes the subject matter even more controversial, resulting in each scene between Jack and Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli) very cryptic. Constant questioning from the priest about Jack or Edward’s (alias’s play a big role in the life of a hit-man) life, make for some weird responses and seriously hamper the killer’s entire outlook on life. The blossoming romance between him and a local prostitute is again, due to the story, very tough but exciting to watch. You know from the beginning that any form of love interest for Jack will be, in the end, questioned, when whoever he falls for discovers or notices something to do with his line of work. The chemistry between him and Clara (Violante Placido) is thrilling and when Jack finally makes his choice about his chosen career, you know that something is going to go wrong. The film’s supporting cast is also good, most notably Thekla Reuten and Johan Leysen as Mathilde and Pavel, who both pull of the ‘so called friend’ role very well. I really enjoyed this film and would recommend it to fans of Clooney, the director and westerns/thrillers. P.S. Don’t go into this film thinking you are going to be seeing a ‘Bourne’ paced thriller. You aren’t.

9/10

Animal Kingdom directed by David Michôd; released in 2010

I’d been wanting to see this film for a while, not only due to the praise and hype surrounding it but also as I am a huge fan of both up and comer Joel Edgerton (Warrior) and legendary Australian actor Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential). Surprisingly it was neither of these actors who took my breath away but young James Frecheville in his début appearance on the big screen. Playing 17-year-old Joshua ‘J’ Cody, he is unfairly pushed into the life of a child growing up in a world motivated by crime and the constant feeling of someone looking over your shoulder; in this case, the police, fronted by Leckie (Pearce). What struck and at the same time astounded me most about James Frecheville was the confidence and on-screen presence of somebody who was just 18 years old at the time of filming. Playing a character who is repeatedly betrayed by his so-called ‘loving family’ until one day he finally decides to exact some needed revenge and set it straight, you get the feeling that the actors surrounding him looked on in awe as he stole the show. Mentally stable and at points brutally truthful you are completely able to grasp the troubles that have overshadowed the recent death of his young mother. Having to deal with a family constantly involved in drugs, bank robbery’s and keeping Pope; ‘J’s’ evil uncle, who goes to the extreme to ensure that he keeps himself out of prison, takes its toll on ‘J’ and his ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’ girlfriend, Nicky. What I loved about this film was the way in which each member of the crime family were introduced and showed to be as evil as the next, most notably the discovery that ‘J’s’ grandmother is more than just his grandmother but a vital cog in the ‘Melbourne Crime Family’. A film that is violent, believable and at times very tough to watch, ‘Animal Kingdom’ really shows that to stay alive, you have to be able to think on your feet, cut all alliances and focus on keeping yourself safe. I was a little disappointed about not being able to see more of Edgerton but sometimes, it is what it is and his role in the film is needed and without his performance could have been far less believable. The real-time look of the picture also added to the dark atmospheric feel that surrounded anything that went on; this was parallel to the echoing music that seemed to shake the entire soul of ‘J’ throughout. Guy Pearce is clinical, demanding and heroic as the only man who seems to want this vile family brought to justice. Having to put up with corrupt police and at times an undecided ‘J’, it seemed as though he was starting to lose his mind, which needs to thank his overall performance, as it was a great highlight. A completely expected but at the same time shocking ending really helped to round off the dismantling of a family that broke it’s promises and threatened to ruin the life of a young boy. I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Animal Kingdom’ and would recommend it to fans of crime dramas and Australian Cinema.

9/10

The Ghost Writer directed by Roman Polanski; released in 2010

Written basically in conjunction with the book ‘The Ghost’ by author Robert Harris, who adapted his own book into a screenplay for directorial friend Roman Polanski, ‘The Ghost Writer’, could be seen more as an imagining than an adaptation, which most films are called when they are based on famous novels. What happens with other films that are ‘adapted’ from famous written works is that sometimes they sadly become action blockbusters aimed at a paying audience, who aren’t there to see a book – they are there to see something fun. Examples of this include Danny Boyle’s post Titanic DiCaprio attempt ‘The Beach’ and Steven Spielberg’s second collaboration with Tom Cruise – ‘War of the Worlds’. Unfortunately these were unable to match the thrilling nature and appeal of their source material, which is a shame, as they could have outdone their original’s, most notably ‘The Beach’, as it included DiCaprio, Tilda Swinton, Paterson Joseph and Robert Carlyle. Okay, time to talk about the actual film I actually watched. Firstly, I enjoyed it. A story that takes you on the journey of an unnamed writer played by Ewan McGregor, who is thrust into the job of ghost writing shamed politician and former Prime Minister Adam Lang’s (Pierce Brosnan) memoirs. Unable to fully understand Lang’s past due to not being a great fan of the politics; this enables the writer to really ask the questions that a political advisor/journalist would ask and to his surprise they bring out the greatest insights into the life of an alleged war criminal. The hatred towards Lang is weirdly close to what Tony Blair faced during his later years in office. The writer/director team of Harris and Polanski insist that the book and film have no relation to the life and times of Tony but you find it hard not to see similarities, they both have two children and an overpowering lawyer wife, played in this by Olivia Williams. The film flows well and you are fully able to grasp the shocking revelations that spill continuously from the past of Lang, which also make to film an eye-opener to people without an interest in the past 15 years of government. Played out like an on stage production, with only 4 main people, you don’t have to remember characters names or personalities and this makes the complex and detailed dialogue all that easier to comprehend and in the final scene of the film, sit there and gasp at. I would compare this film to films of the past that leave you completely baffled at the end, such as ‘The Machinist’ (2004) and ‘Memento’ (2000); these are memorable, always talked about and completely twist your thoughts for each scene you have witnessed at first viewing. This is so evident in ‘The Ghost Writer’ and mainly why I enjoyed it from beginning to end, with the only let down being Ewan McGregor’s weird English accent, if he had been American (Moulin Rouge) or Scottish (Trainspotting) I would have enjoyed the film that little bit more. With a great cast and great direction I would recommend this film to fans of thrillers and the original book.

8/10