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Showing posts from August, 2014

I’m going to kill you because you’ve done nothing wrong.

Calvary (2014)
(SPOILERS) I was instantly won over by both of the McDonagh brothers’ film debuts, Michael’s In Bruges and John Martin’s The Guard. Michael McDonagh’s follow-up Seven Psychopaths proved to be a playful, self-aware dissection on screenwriting and Hollywood mores, much less immersive emotionally but winningly tricksy in structure and character. John Martin’s sophomore film, Calvary, is on the face of it a more straightforward affair than his sibling’s; seven days in the life of a Roman Catholic priest who has been told at confessional he is to die in a week’s time. As such it seems more instantly comparable to In Bruges, a tragedy shot through with trademark black humour, with a genuine and affecting central performance. But there may almost be too much going on under the lid, and there’s a feeling that McDonagh has dropped a couple of balls along the way.

In confessional a man, whose voice he recognises, tells Father James (Brendan Gleeson) of his repeated rape by a former…

The decision to act was in itself the beginning of the journey.

Tracks (2013)
A young woman’s journey of self-discovery across the Outback. It’s a description that could be aptly applied to Walkabout, but it also fits this oft attempted – but hitherto unsuccessfully, can you imagine the Julia Roberts version without shuddering? – adaptation of Robyn Davidson’s novel. Tracks is a very different bactrian to Nicolas Roeg’s classic rites of passage tale, and takes a literal, methodical approach to its trek. Surprisingly, this staunch linearity (how else would one depict a quest, one might ask), so typical of the biographical movie, is not a drawback; John Curran’s film unfolds measuredly, slowly weaving its spell as it encourages us to embrace the barren beauty of Davidson’s expedition. And in Mia Wasikowska he has found a naturally sympathetic lead, inviting empathy with the sometimes-difficult protagonist.

Davidson was compelled by a nomadic yearning to embark on a 1, 700 mile trek from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean.No one thought she could it, an…

I want you on my team, go undercover.

The Raid 2 (2014)
There are a fair few elements in the bloated The Raid 2 that don’t quite work. If you didn’t know director-writer-editor Gareth Evans had refitted another of his scripts with the central character from the first film, it probably wouldn’t entirely surprise you. The first The Raid was nothing if not focussed; the film was its relentless trajectory. Here, Edwards fundamentally eschews that drive. There’s still an objective in mind, but it comes by way of sprawling crime drama and, as such tales are wont to do, he becomes distracted by the broader canvas; he wants to play as much as he can in his new sandpit. It’s only when he recalls why the audience have turned up for a sequel in the first place (not for ladles of dialogue and subterfuge, let’s be honest) and gets stuck into the dazzling action that the picture more than hits its marks. It may not be a masterpiece, but The Raid 2 further illustrates Evans’ increasingly refined talent.

This kicks off directly after the ev…