New Series: Small Slivers of Silver Screen 1

Having enjoyed writing my mini-reviews to apologize for my absence, I am going to continue this into a new series of postss

SMALL SLIVERS OF SILVER SCREEN

I think this is suitably difficult to say!

So let’s begin:

1) Goodnight, and Good Luck (George Clooney, 2005)

Staring: David Strathairn, George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr, Patricia Clarkson, Jeff Daniels

Run Time: 93 minutes

This film follows Edward R. Murrow (Strathairn), an experienced and respected CBS journalist, and his political conflict with Senator Joseph McCarthy (himself through archive footage) during the height of communist fear. Now whilst this political, drama may not boast of the most intense story, it is exceptionally well made. The script is sharp and intelligent, the sub-plots serve to further the main narrative rather than distract or confuse it and the acting is brilliant. It is easy to see why this film is so highly regarding, choosing grace and subtletly over bombast and fanfare.  Starthairn’s performance is worth watching the film for alone!

Plus watching a real, sweaty, slimy politician fumble his way through real footage is very entertaining. Interestingly, this black and white archive footage determined the black and white style of the film; one of its’ greatest assets was down to mere coincidence!

VERDICT: Like ”House of Cards” except shorter, less table banging and less monologuing to the voices in your own head.

2) Leaving Las Vegas (Mike Figgis, 1995)

Starring: Nicholas Cage, Elizabeth Shue

Run Time: 112 minutes

Having watched the trailer, I thought it was going to be a crappy Rom-Com and was reluctant to watch it and was confused how Cage won the Best Actor Oscar for this film. I was, however, very surprised with what I saw.  There is some humour and there is some romance but really this is a serious drama about troubled people struggling to cope with their demons. This really is thought provoking, well made film with a poetic and fitting story and conclusion.

In the past I have given Cage a hard time (see here) for making terrible career decisions and worse acting decisions! But.. credit where credit is due, he is very, very good in this film and deserving of his awards and acclaim for his performance. His predisposition for being over the top (i.e. TERRIBLE) is bubbling under the surface here but fortunately is kept restrained enough to deliver a (PERHAPS HIS ONLY) great performance.

VERDICT: Don’t alcoholics normally have a preferred drink. not this care-free attitude?

3) Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008)

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham, Liam McMahon, Stuart Graham, Brian Milligan

Run Time: 96 mins

Steve McQueen is now known for his Oscar winnning film ”12 Years A Slave” and the critically acclaimed ”Shame”, about a sex addict(reviewed here). Unsurprisingly, his debut ”Hunger” focus’ on another cheery topic; The Troubles between the UK and the Republic of Ireland over the loyalty and rule of Northern Ireland. In particular, the build up to, and the human cost of the 2nd IRA hunger strike lead by Bobby Sands (Fassbender), following the No-Wash protest.

This film is gruelling; the grim realism of the No-wash conditions, the brutality of the beatings and allegiances and the desperate devotion to a cause regardless of the danger. This film thrives on the visceral emotion of the performances, headed by a stellar turn from Fassbender, and lingers on every second of horror experienced by both the prisoners and guards. Two very striking scenes, other than those of confrontation, feature a guard having to clean urine and faeces from floors and the walls (respectively). The camera holds still for minutes at a time; this hold on (what could be described as) a mundane task forces you to focus on just how devastating this situation is for everyone… between a rock and a hard place.

The highlight, however, is a scene that shows McQueen’s dedication to making bold, single minded cinema. Sands discusses the reasoning and morality of the proposed hunger strike with Father Moran (Cunningham), in what is a brilliant, 20 minute, single take shot of clever and powerful dialogue. I would really recommend watching it as part of the film but in case this one doesn’t sound like your cup of tea here is the scene! It is a marvel.

VERDICT: I feel hungry just looking at Fassbender!

See you all soon!

 

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