'THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES' Film Review
The title of the film 'The Place Beyond the Pines' meant nothing to me before I saw the film. However, having seen it @DerbyQUAD on its opening day I will not forget the name (even though I’m still none the wiser as to its meaning!)
The director of the film is Derek Cianfrance who had made the highly acclaimed film called ‘Blue Valentine’ which also starred Ryan Gosling (do watch this if you haven’t seen it already).
'The Place Beyond the Pines' tells the story of a young stunt motorbike rider called Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) who revisits a town and meets an old flame called Romina (Eva Mendes).
They meet up and then part. However, Luke visits her home when she’s not in, only for him to be greeted by her mum holding a baby. He asks who does the little fella belong to? The mum points at Luke.
Luke then visits Romina at her workplace and confronts her about his very recent discovery. Romina explains that he was a drifter that had drifted out of her life a year previously, so she had no means of contacting him.
Also, Romina has started dating an African-American called Kofi (Mahershala Ali) who clearly is a good influence on her and is committed to being a dad to baby Jason Glanton.
There’s a scene where we see Romina, baby J and Kofi all in a huge church where the bambino is being dedicated. At the back of the church we see Luke in tears clearly missing the fact that he isn’t invited too or involved in the ceremony, which probably reminded him as to why he turned out the way he did based on having daddy issues.
Luke decides to leave the fair, get a job and become a regular Joe. However money ain’t enough for the uneducated, so he decides to do what ‘The Clash’ sang about and become a “bank robber”.
Two interesting facts about this film are;
1. The robbery scene where he’s riding on his bike, getting to the bank, robbing it then escaping into the back of a van are all done in one take.
2. The guy who taught him to ride on set was the same stuntman you saw on the “Bat” bike in the Batman films (just saying).
While Luke is embarking on his new and highly lucrative career his path crosses a rookie but ambitious cop called Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) and this is where the film uses the two characters to metaphorically pass an invisible baton from one to the other.
Other characters to look out for are Al Cross (Harris Yulin), the father of Avery, AJ (Emory Cohen), the son of Avery and finally the very chilling and menacing Deluca (Ray Liotta).
All of the characters play stronger roles as the film develops.
To conclude, ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ starts off with Luke playing a modern version of the James Dean classic ‘Rebel without a Cause’ then moves into a type of biblical Cain and Abel.
If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, then go and see it for yourself at a cinema near you. Check press, or @DerbyQUAD for details…
'TRANCE' Film Review
I sat in my seat @DerbyQUAD just before 'Trance' was about to start and quickly tucked into my Cheese and Onion flavour crisps as an elderly couple decided to say in a loud voice “so annoying!”; which I believe was in reference to the crunching of the crisps I was eating. However, I don’t believe it was as annoying as her spilling a hot cup of beverage over her own crotch!
Anyway, I digress, on with the review of ‘Trance’…
The plot to ‘Trance’ is as follows… Simon (James McAvoy), a fine art auctioneer, teams up with a criminal gang to steal a Goya painting worth £27m. However, during the robbery he receives a blow to the head and wakes up in hospital with complete amnesia due to the concussion he had previously received.
The leader of the gang is Frank (Vincent Cassel) who is ruthless and after delivering great pain to Simon realises that maybe hypnosis will help to unlock this broken mind.
They randomly recruit a hypnotherapist (or should I say hypno-the-rapist, but more about that later) and they choose the very beautiful Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) who agrees to treat him.
'Trance' is not just about criminals or a robbery involving rare and expensive works of art, rather it's about the power of suggestion, and how as the film informs, is that 5% of the population are susceptible to this.
This doesn’t sound like a lot until you start to realise two things…
1: 5% of 70m equals 3.5million (which is more than enough people to be considered a serious problem if they were mobilised for good or bad dependant on the suggestion).
2: If you’re a regular subscriber to my musings you would know my views on ‘Manchurian Candidate’ which isn’t just a film starring Denzel Washington and the subject matter, and processes explored more in the ‘Born Identity’ films featuring Matthew Damon.
The term can be more explored via this link (Urban Dictionary: manchurian candidate http://manchurian-candidate.urbanup.com/777553#.UVbhFi5Lfmc.twitter).
A little bit more about Rosario’s character in ‘Trance’… Her surname is “Lamb” which during the Spring season of the pagan festival of Easter reminds me of innocent baby lambs being born without fur i.e., protection whereas Elizabeth is not as innocent as her surname would suggest.
'ARBITRAGE' Film Review
I have to say a big Thank You to @DerbyQUAD who allows me the privilege of watching great films in a great cinema.
I’ve seen my personal favourite film of the year called ‘Django Unchained’; also loved watching a film last week called ‘Cloud Atlas’ and the third quality film I’ve seen there has got to be the one I’m gonna review below…
The film I’m talking about is called 'Arbitrage', but what does the word mean?
Definition of “arbitrage”: the simultaneous sale of the same security in different markets to profit from unequal prices (full definition here: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/a/arbitrage.asp)
The main character in this film is Robert Miller (Richard Gere) who plays the billionaire hedge fund manager who is trying to sell a company for an astronomical price even though he knows that there’s a gaping hole in the books.
The main cast is made up by Susan Sarandon who plays his (long suffering) wife Ellen, his daughter (Brit Marling) and Jimmy Grant (Nate Parker) who is the son of Miller’s deceased driver.
The opening scene in the film sees Miller arriving home and his family throwing him a birthday party and it all looks nice and cosy.
Soon after, we see Miller visiting his French mistress Julie, played by Laetitia Casta at her art gallery/apartment.
All seems to be going very well for Miller until the day it all unravels. His calculating cold brain that has served him in the ruthless world of high-end finances is called into making unethical decisions that a more morally tuned in person would not even consider, much less do.
I reckon if the director had used a physically repulsive person, say… me… then the audience would not have warmed to him, rather they would have thrown popcorn, tinned tomatoes and steel toe capped boots at him. However, he is a beautiful mature man that we remember subconsciously from ‘Pretty Woman’, ‘American Gigolo’ and ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’.
This is a great role for Gere and also an equally great role played by Tim Roth as the determined and unauthordoxed Detective Michael Bryer who’s prepared to apprehend him Malcolm X style… “By Any Means Necessary!”
The detective sees the weak link in the billionaire’s story and in the alibi of his driver on the fateful night Jimmy Grant. But Jimmy ain’t no snitch, however the stakes are raised and Jimmy is feeling the heat.
This film cost £12m to make and took £36m at the box office which is a shame because it’s a quality film with a quality cast.
This is Richard Gere’s best film since the much under-rated ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’.
Watch it and see for yourself…
'CLOUD ATLAS' Film Review
Ok, how do you explain a film that has the same six characters with extras in each scene recurring many times in the film? In multiple stories that are all happening in multiple layers of time and all concluding at the same time on screen, however, in various stages of what we call time? Not like the above I guess!
Read on to discover the multiple layers of this truly remarkable and one of the most thought provoking films you will see this the year, or any other year for that matter.
The main characters are Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and Hugo Weaving and the plots deal with the subject matter of what I believe is reincarnation or past lives. There was a group in the last decade that featured the now famous recording artist in his own right, Pharrell Williams. However, in the noughties he was from the production company called ‘The Neptunes’, and his musical group that he played with was called N.E.R.D (aka No one Really Truly Dies) which is another concept that this film explores.
'Cloud Atlas' also explores the logic that even though you think you live in isolation, you and your actions have impact on others now, then, and before; because the concept of time is irrelevant (again these are my thoughts and may not be yours once you’ve seen it). I think if I tried to explain each plot featured in ‘Cloud Atlas’ I would really just be demonstrating an exercise in the power of my memory. However, the film made me think about what the ‘Coronation Street’ (UK soap opera) actor Bill Roach aka Ken Barlow recently had a lot to say about victims of paedophilia stating that it was a “past” life action that affected their current life.
He has subsequently apologised for offending, however, he hasn’t apologised for saying his long held thoughts. Do also be aware that Ken is a practising witch and would have communication with the spirit world. I mentioned the above to explain that the logic of the film is understood by those who are into certain religions, both light and dark; however, not understood by those who are atheists, scientifically-minded or those who believe that “we are totally the only evolved life force in like everywhere!”
My personal beliefs are in an afterlife, but not an after life. After death there is eternity for all based on what we did with our beliefs or not, will determine whether it will be happy or sad. But, I digress…
Here is a bit about the people behind the film… The directors of this amazing film are Tom Tykwer (‘The International’) and Andy & Lana Wachowsky - they were called The Wachowsky Brothers when they did ‘The Matrix’. However, neither has spoken about a possible sex change by Lana.
"The Wachowskis" Lana Wachowski, formerly Laurence Wachowski (known as "Larry"), was born in Chicago in 1965; Andy Wachowski was born in 1967. Their mother, Lynne, was a nurse and painter whose brother is actor Laurence Luckinbill. Their father, Ron Wachowski, was a businessman of Polish descent. Raised by a "hardcore atheist" father and an "ex-Catholic turned Shamanist" mother, they have once described their religious beliefs as non-denominational.
According to actor Bernard White, Lana once told him that while they were raised Catholic; she was influenced heavily by the sacred Hindu texts like the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayana (so now you know a bit about the peeps behind the film).
The film is based on the 2004 novel by David Mitchell which was nominated for a ‘Man Booker Prize’. Mitchell stammers and having watched ‘The Kings Speech’ stated that it accurately portrays the affliction.
Another interesting point is that Mitchell has spent time living in his native England and Ireland. Though has spent time living in Japan with his Japanese wife and this may have influenced the writing of his novel, because some of the characters in the film have South Asian features. However, as I stated before, the main characters were four people playing multiple roles (which really worked).
Immediately after the film’s release, the advocacy group Media Action Network forAsian Americans (MANAA) criticised the film for the use of what is sometimes labelled “yellow face” makeup to allow non-Asian actors to portray certain Asian characters in certain sequences. The above is not a new complaint, I remember there were issues raised when Fu Manchu was played by the late Peter Ustinov or Caucasian actors playing Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ (which is an African character).
However, because the themes hints about past lives/ reincarnation, I believe the directors felt that the main characters should play multi-ethnic roles.
The cost for this film is $100m and was raised independently making it the most expensive independently funded film of all time.
Is this film worth watching?
Well I’ll say this. I went to see ‘Django Unchained’ @DerbyQUAD two months ago and that was 2h: 50m long. This is comparable in length and quality.
This is a masterpiece, however do go and watch this film with an open mind and understanding.
'FLIGHT' Film Review
A friend of mine on twitter who also likes films tweeted me as I was about to watch 'Flight': “@JD3NTON: @gmanZen #Flight one of the best films I’ve seen in a while.”
Is it any good? Is he right? What shoe size do I wear?
For answers to two of the questions posed, then read on and see if my experience matched his own when I went to “my favourite cinema in all the whole wide world” @DerbyQUAD.
Denzel Washington plays the very handsome and dashing William “Whip” Whitaker who in the opening scenes we see him in bed with his girlfriend. And both appear to have had quite a night (if the empty bottles strewn round the room and what appears to be copious amounts of talcum powder deposited on their table and around the room) - Kids, say no to drugs and alcohol!
Next thing we see is them both dressed and getting on a flight - Whip as the pilot and the girlfriend as an Air Stewardess. Or are they called Flight Attendants now? Discuss. But I digress…
On the flight there seems to be a problem, however, Whip is chilled enough to fly them out of issue.
On the return flight Whip is still in a chilled zone mentally based on his love affair with “The Real Thing” (if you get my drift), also Whip’s fridge in the film is filled with the familiar red and white colours of the soda drink that has that same catchy slogan.
While flying back the plane develops difficulties so Whip decides to fly the plane upside down before attempting to land it in a field.
While this is going on in the air, directly below in an apartment a woman with aspirations to be a photographer, but has succumbed to the “Brown Sugar”, is overdosing at the very time as the plane passes overhead upside down. Brilliant, like ‘Crash’.
Fast forward to the hospital and Whip wakes up there and decides to have a smoke in the stairway where he meets the aspiring photographer (Kelly Nicole).
Kelly has a strong role in this film and another is Don Cheadle who plays an Attorney who is so skilled I’m surprised Oscar Pistorius hasn’t considered hiring him (yes I went there!)
This film poses the questions that are uncomfortable. However, the ending was perfect and follows themes of redemption similar to Denzel’s roles in ‘The Book of Eli’ and ‘Man on Fire’.
Apparently this film cost $31m (less than ‘Anna Karennina’ and the ‘London Olympic’ ceremony) and has taken over $140m at the box office.
The film was also nominated for two Academy Awards in the Best Actor (Denzel) and Best Screenplay (John Gatins) categories and some are saying that Daniel Day-Lewis is a shoe in, however if the shoe don’t fit then step forward Denzel and get your (not drunken) speech ready. Though we’ve now discovered that it was Mr. Day-Lewis who took the gong for his role in ‘Lincoln’.
Great roles, great acting, rated 15 is for mid-teens and above who like their films with a message.
'Flight' is currently being shown at Derby QUAD cinema and mos def deserves a butchers.