G is for GARAGE (2007) – dir. Lenny Abrahamson (What Richard Did, 2012 and Frank, 2014 starring Michael Fassbender)
Ok, I know what you are going to say: “He likes bleak films.” Yes, I do, but only when they’re as good as this.
Garage is a little gem of a film whose central character, Josie (played by Pat Shortt), has spent all of his adult life working in a run-down petrol station on the edge of a small town in rural Ireland. He is lonely, and a bit of a misfit, but seems content in a rather strange way until, one summer, with the arrival of David (Connor Ryan) at the petrol station, his life changes and we are given an extraordinary insight into how difficult and isolated Josie’s life is. It also vividly illustrates how much most of us are wrapped up in our own lives with our stopping to give a moments thought to those around us.
It’s a wonderful snapshot of just how difficult life can be in a small rural community – lookout for Abrahamson’s new film, Frank, starring Michael Fassbender and Domnhall Gleeson which will be released on DVD on the 15th of September.
So… where to begin…?
Not suprisingly there’s quite a hefty amount of really good films that I could choose from!
I mean, should I go with Robert Redford’s Great Gatsby? Or John Travolta as Chilli Palmer in Get Shorty? Matt Damon as the special operative on the hunt for WMD’s in Green Zone? The Italian dark drama / thriller Gomorrah set in, well, Italy about the power struggles and violence that comes in the wake of the mafia crime families? What about Tom Hanks and Sam Rockwell in The Green Mile…? Or the heroics, lies and violence of my guilty TV pleasure Game of Thrones? Or even the ultimate childhood family great, Ghostbusters with the now sadly departed Harold Ramis…? Wait.. what about Good Morning Vietnam with the great Robin Williams or The Goonies…? Did I mention Russell Crowe’s emperor-defying soldier-come-slave in Gladiator...? In fact, cue the music, The Great Escape…oh G*d… hold on… this could take a while….
2 days later….
Right… I’ve decided. I’m definitely, maybe, choosing one… no, make that two films to share with you.
Firstly, God Bless America from 2011. This film in my humble opinion was largely over looked and very quickly made its way to the cult comedy shelf with not too many a customer giving it the chance that it really deserves. What swayed me to choose this film is as I was sitting down to write this segment, an advert for the X Factor appeared on the TV. As I am, to say the least, not the greatest of fans of these kinds of shows, it reminded me of the film in question. So, let me give you a brief rundown of it.
G is for God Bless America (2011) – dir. Bobcat Goldthwaite (World’s Greatest Dad – 2009).
God Bless America follows Frank (Joel Murray – Mad Men / The Artist), a man to whom life seems to have dealt an unbelievably s**tty hand. His wife has left him for another man. His daughter seems to despise him unconditionally. He works in a place where he cannot stand his co – workers. Then , just to top off the disastrous life, he finds that he has a severe illness, where by, due to it and the medication, he ends up being awake all night watching television shows about people whom he grows to despise because of their seemingly undeserved good fortune.
Unsurprisingly, Frank reaches breaking point – not unlike Michael Douglas in Falling Down – and makes the ultimate decision that these pseudo celebrities that have become the bane of his life need to be gotten rid of. However, Frank is not a trained killer… in any way.. shape… or form…! Now I should state that this film is a dark comedy, not that I’ve described it as one, but I promise it is and it’s in this bumbling attempt to get rid of his nemeses where the comedy lies. As Frank’s killing starts he meets an unlikely friend and accomplice, 16 year old Roxy, with whom he shares many an opinion about how and why American culture appears to be going to the dogs and who are responsible. Let the unlawful, but not necessarily unjust, killing start….
As I said, this film is a comedy, written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait (yes thats a real name and yes its pretty cool) who is himself a comedian, which is more than apparent when its comes to some of the cutting lines Frank exchanges with his ex wife… This film may not tickle everyone’s funny bone, but if you’ve enjoyed In Bruges
, The Guard
or indeed just really dislike reality TV shows, then this film is a must for you. It is an 18 rating so expect some strong language and violence to say the least… but if you’re dreading the winter TV schedule – ahem X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and the like – then rest assured this will ease the pain of what everyone will be talking about around the water cooler at work!
My second choice is a film I’ve loved for a long time and I’m sure for many of you it’s one that you have seen in the near 30 years since its release.
G is for Gorillas in the Mist (1988) – dir. Michael Apted.
I am of course talking about Gorillas in the Mist from 1988, starring Sigourney Weaver. The film follows the true story of Dian Fossey, an anthropologist who embarks on the adventure to follow, study, record and understand the gorillas that live in the depths of the Congo mountains. As she arrives in the Congo and finds her way to the edges of civilisation, she realises that these incredible primates are barely understood and that their way of life and habitat are in serious danger from the humans that share their lands
As the years go by, Dian faces many a danger not just from the gorillas themselves but from militants and poachers who have their own agendas at heart. But, thankfully, her persistence and unequivical bravery allows Dian to be a part of the gorillas’ social group and is ultimately accepted by the alpha male. This, in turn, enabled her to be allowed for days at a time to live, study and move freely within the group without being perceived as a threat. Because of her unique study, Dian’s efforts are noticed by National Geographic back in the US who, in return for her work, help fund her research out in the Congo.
I don’t want to say too much more on this film because if you have never seen it then it really is something that I believe everyone should watch. I would also heartily recommend it as a family movie, for i think its engages people of all ages. I should say, although it may seem obvious, that there are dark moments in the film which come from her fighting poachers and militias, to those that want to take the gorillas to zoos around the world for profit. But despite these darker moments, I believe that the true story’s message and inspiration to go out to the unknown and become a pioneer in whatever interests you should be something that is encouraged to everyone, especially those of a younger age where it seems social media is more enticing than going out to discover what an amazing world we live in…