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Posts Tagged ‘Dark River’

If you are reading this site, you are probably a movie fan and will have seen a lot of these films, but many people won’t have heard of them.  This a shame, as they are all great!

Loveless: A couple going through a divorce are oblivious to the effect it is having on their young son.  The film is totally devastating and heartbreaking.  If you see it you will probably love it, but never want to see it again.  Nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year, and BAFTA for Best Film Not in the English Language.  Director Andrey Zvyagintsev made his name with The Return (2003) and is best known for Leviathan (2014), also nominated for Foreign Language Oscar.Loveless

Dark River: Following the death of her father, Alice (Ruth Wilson) returns home for the first time in 15 years to take over the tenancy of the family farm.  Here she has to confront ghosts of her past, and her brother who now runs the farm.  Always reliable Ruth Wilson is on sensational form.  Director Clio Barnard is best known for the innovative documentary The Arbor (2010) and The Selfish Giant (2013). Dark River

You Were Never Really Here: A traumatized (Joaquin Phoenix) veteran, with a penchant for extreme violence finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy while tracking down a missing young girl.  What it lacks in plot and action, it more than makes up for in mood and atmosphere.  Phoenix has never been better.  Director Lynne Ramsay’s first film since the excellent We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011).You Were Never Really Here

Thoroughbreds:  Two teenagers (Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy) reconnect and rekindle their unusual friendship after drifting apart a few years before.  A film that doesn’t always go where you expect.  Darkly funny and satirical, not to everyone’s taste, but it really got under my skin.  Sadly one of Anton Yelchin’s last films.  Director Cory Finley’s feature début.Thoroughbreds

Beast:  Set in a claustrophobic isolated community on the Channel Island of Jersey; a troubled young woman falls for a seductive but secretive stranger who may or may not be a serial killer, whilst also having to deal with an overpowering mother.  Fantastic performances and a plot filled with just enough ambiguity.  Director, Michael Pearce’s feature debut. Beast

Revenge:  A young woman fights for survival, and to inflict terrible, bloody, and violent revenge on the three men who have wronged her.  She does so with a minimum of clothing.  All this sounds crass, cheesy and unoriginal; however, Revenge offers something new and interesting, possibly because it is written and directed by a woman!  Director Coralie Fargeat’s feature début.Revenge

Leave No Trace: A troubled veteran and his teenage daughter are living outdoors and off grid, until they are discovered and forced to reintegrate into society.  A film that says so much about society today both in its text and subtext.  Masterful filmmaking from director Debra Granik who amazingly hasn’t made a movie since Winter’s Bone (2010). Leave No Trace

Hearts Beat Loud: A father and daughter form an unlikely songwriting partnership at a time of transition in both their lives.   Possibly the most lightweight and disposable film on the list, but certainly the warmest and most charming.  Director Brett Haley’s fourth feature, the first of his that I have seen. Hearts Beat Loud

The Rider: Brady Jandreau, a rodeo rider and horse trainer unable to ride following a near fatal head injury, plays Brady Blackburn a rodeo rider and horse trainer unable to ride following a near fatal head injury.  A stunning exploration of identity and masculinity, that could possibly only been told by a woman.  Director Chloé Zhao’s second feature. The Rider

Cold War: A passionate love story starting in 1950s Cold War Poland.  The skill, artistry and restraint to tell such an epic story in just 88 minutes is pure art.  The film looks incredible, sounds amazing and will rip your heart out.  Director Pawel Pawlikowski has won three BAFTA’s: Best Film Not in the English Language for Ida (2013), Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film for My Summer of Love (2004) and Carl Foreman Award for the Most Promising Newcomer for Last Resort (2000).  Cold War is on the short (of nine) that will be whittled down to five for next year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year nominations. Cold War

Bonus pick – Tully: This is a movie that shouldn’t be on the list, it screams mainstream, or at very least popular indie hit; directed by Jason Reitman, writer by Diablo Cody, starring Charlize Theron.  On top of this, it is also fantastic.  The reviews were good, those who saw it liked it, but for some reason (poor marketing?), it failed to find an audience.  Hopefully it will find an audience on the small screen.  So much more than its synopsis, and it has Charlize Theron! She may disappear into a Lady Gaga shaped shadow when it comes to the Oscars, but you will be hard pressed to find a better performance this year. Tully

Redux version, I forgot one – A Prayer Before Dawn: A brutal and haunting movie about Billy Moore, a British boxer who finds himself in a brutal prison in Thailand, a true story of based on Moore’s book. A lot of the dialogue is in Thai without subtitles, an effective but disconcerting choice.  Director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s second movie, a decade after his first Johnny Mad Dog.A Prayer Before Dawn

 

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Of the nine movies I have seen this month five are eligible for this year’s Oscars , all five are nominated.  Fifty Shades Freed is eligible for next year’s Oscars, it is unlikely to feature, but it does have eight Razzie nominations.  None of this matters, what really matters is the winner of my my movie of the month, here are the contenders: 

Phantom Thread – I have a strange relationship with the films of  Paul Thomas Anderson, I like most of them but don’t love any of them.  I have seen all of his films, but have only seen one or two of them for a second time.  Phantom Thread is one of his most restrained and constrained movies, that is what is so great about it.  Daniel Day-Lewis is as brilliant as you would expect, he is however totally overshadowed by Lesley Manville and Vicky Krieps.  The best thing about it: Jonny Greenwood’s score. Phantom Thread

Roman J Israel, Esq – A strange film about the inadequacies of the overburdened American legal system.   The film is good, Denzel Washington’s Oscar nominated performance is outstanding.Roman J Israel Esq

I, Tonya – The title card tells us “based on irony-free, wildly contradictory, totally true interviews with Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly”.  This tells you as much as you need to know about the movie.  The story is so bonkers, if it weren’t a true story you would dismiss it as unbelievable! Margot Robbie is amazing, Allison Janney is even better, but the real star is the editing, both in the format of the film, and its composition.I Tonya

Loveless – On the surface, this is film about a young boy, unwanted by his parents who goes missing. This all happens in the first couple of scenes, most of the film deals with the parents search, but there is far more going on. Reminiscent of Michael Haneke in both it’s Stark depiction, and it’s stunning but measured photography. The full metaphor is probably lost on me as an outsider but I certainly got a sense of a society whose glossy veneer is collapsing or rotting from within, it is after all set in Putin’s Russia! Hopelessly bleak and full of despair, I loved it but don’t know many people I would recommend it to.Loveless

Black Panther – So much has been said about Black Panther, possibly the most significant is the quality of the villains, Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klae, the over the top moustache twirling comic villain and Michael B. Jordan as the more interesting and nuanced Erik Killmonger (with a name like that, he was never going to be a hero!).  The supporting cast is fantastic, all the characters played by Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, and Daniel Kaluuya were interesting enough that they could have had their own movie. Angela Bassett is sadly underused. Not as original or as fun as Thor Ragnarok, but it certainly has enough going on to please Marvel fans and for those who are new to the series. Importantly, It also works as a standalone film.Black Panther

Fifty Shades Freed – On a positive note, the film is competently made. The acting isn’t as wooden as the previous film. Dakota Johnson isn’t terrible in the lead. That is about all I can say on a positive note! The downside; to call the plot wafer thin would be an understatement. The story is poorly told at best. The most damming thing about the film is how dull and boring it is. For a film that markets itself as a kinky BDSM movie, the only pornographic thing about it is the gratuitous displays of wealth.Fifty Shades Freed

Lady Bird – Writer, actress and darling of the indie scene Greta Gerwig turns her hand to directing; she is clearly a natural. Coming of age drama told with an easy and style that elevates it above its genre. Saoirse Ronan is brilliant in the lead as are Tracy Letts and Laurie Metcalf as her parents, that latter picking up a well deserved Oscar nomination. The brilliance of the storytelling is that most viewers will see something of themselves in at least one of the characters. I look forward to what Greta Gerwig does next whichever side of the camera she decides to work on.Lady Bird

Dark River – A woman returns home to the family farm for the first time in fifteen years following the death of her farther. All the bleakness and despair of God’s Own Country without the hope. Ruth Wilson is brilliant as you would expect.

Dark River

Game Night – Surprisingly good comedy: The trailer for Game Night is terrible, on the strength, or weakness to be precise, I nearly didn’t bother watching the movie. The movie however is extremely funny and well worth a look. Its greatest strength is the combination of the script and the performances. No matter how absurd the story gets Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman and especially Jesse Plemons play it straight and deadpan. Like all the best comedies, it doesn’t hide from the aforementioned absurdity, it embraces it.Game Night

I, Tonya, Loveless, Lady Bird, Dark River and Black Panther are all brilliant, and could have been winners in previous months.  Game Night was the most presently surprising movies this month, Other movies have won for less.  The clear winner of movie of the month is: Phantom ThreadPhantom-thread-poster

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