Adapted from Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoirs of the same name, 12 Years A Slave recounts his harrowing true story as a free man who is abducted and sold into slavery. He leads a pleasant life in New York with his family and it promises to be even better when he’s offered a lucrative job as a musician, but when Solomon wakes up in chains, his dark journey begins and Steve McQueen’s film never stops for breath. Continue reading 12 Years A Slave Review
It’s the same every year. Early in January, with awards season looming, Hollywood’s leading Oscar contenders arrive on British shores fresh from their domestic success, galvanised by their extensive awards promotion to draw yet more financial gain. This year’s big three, The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle, were deliberately released across the UK in the space of a fortnight to draw a large audience. While the awards season marketing campaign ensured that each of these American films hustled their way to the top of the UK box-office charts it also gave them immense expectations; expectations that David O. Russell’s follow up to his thoroughly rewarding Silver Linings Playbook fails to live up to. Continue reading American Hustle Review
A captivating and devastatingly real piece of fiction
Hot on the trail of his Oscar-nominated Incendies, Canadian director Denis Villeneuve furthers his rapidly growing acclaim with Prisoners, a captivating and deeply affecting mystery thriller that doesn’t relinquish its hold until long after the credits roll.
A Streetcar Named Delirium
If Jennifer Lawrence’s emphatic turn in David O. Russell’s dysfunctional romantic comedy Silver Linings Playbook was the strongest female performance last year, then 2013 firmly belongs to a mesmerising Cate Blanchett in a similarly complex role. Woody Allen’s modern revision of A Streetcar Named Desire is driven by Cate’s Blanche-esque performance and combines heavyweight tragedy with the director’s trademark humour to deliver his finest film in a long time.
It’s okay to blink, you won’t miss a thing
Breakneck speeds, relentless ferocity and uncompromising personalities. Formula One is almost born for the big screen, yet with only Senna and arguably Driven to its name, the motor sport remains an unexplored avenue within the film industry. Coming off the back of Asif Kapadia’s multi-award winning 2010 documentary and the sport’s growing popularity Ron Howard marks his 22nd directorial appearance with the first true F1 feature film, Rush.
After beginning his career with two polarizing comedies, the entertaining Zombieland and shameful 30 Minutes or Less, American director Ruben Fleischer departs from familiar ground and delves into the underground mob scene for his third feature. However, in tackling the crime genre the emerging filmmaker shows his naivety and inexperience with a derivative crowd-pleaser that is so focussed on borrowing ideas from previous classics that it fails to establish its own identity.
Rewriting the romantic comedy playbook.
With a near two-decade long career of critically acclaimed, but quietly released films, David O. Russell was regrettably little known within the UK. That was until the American director created what many regard as his most significant film, The Fighter. The compelling character study embedded within that biographical sports drama gripped audiences and increased Russell’s audience and popularity. So, expectations were high for his follow up film, an adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel Silver Linings Playbook.
How soon is ‘too soon’?
Three years after becoming the first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director with fascinating character-study The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow returns to the war genre with her dramatisation of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden.
Lynne Ramsay’s long awaited cinematic return
There’s a lot going on within Lynne Ramsay’s magnificently harrowing adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s 2003 novel, of the same name, but We Need To Talk About Kevin remains perfectly handled throughout. No shot is wasted within this remarkable film and every moment builds to the central exploration of a dysfunctional mother/son relationship.
Alexander Payne’s stellar return to filmmaking
Despite returning from an eight year absence Alexander Payne continues in his rich vein of form when it comes to adapting novels. For this touching family drama he revisits the same elements that brought acclaim to previous films About Schmidt (2002) and Sideways (2004). Continue reading The Descendants Review