Okay, let’s open this up with a caveat: this is a hard review to write, because my opinion of this film seems to go against the grain. So I’ll write this review as though I am not me, and rather am some other person who found literally anything good about this steaming pile of- (see, that’s what I mean). Ubiquitous piece of thinking-woman’s totty, Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, the genius mathematician and codebreaker who kinda helped win WWII before being viciously turned against by HM Government for his secret homosexuality. Eight inexplicable Oscar nominations later (somehow more than the almost infinitely superior Theory of Everything) I hope you all are able to love this film more than me. No doubt you will. Now, to end off, here is a list of films that people involved here were much better in: Cumberbatch (Parade’s End), Keira Knightley (Never Let Me Go), Mark Strong (literally anything, by now he just plays Mark Strong), Charles Dance (Ali G Indahouse – he’s in it, seriously, go look for yourself). Director Morten Tyldum, who has given me endless career encouragement by achieveing an Oscar nomination for this “superb” film, also produces much much better work in Scandi noir Headhunters. No doubt this will be a smash hit in-store, I look forward to angry rebuttals to this review.
Geography Club is that rare film that feels so admirable in its dramatic goals one is tempted to forgive any shortcomings on the side of filmmaking. Here is the story of a group of secretly gay teens who naturally don’t want anyone in their high school finding out about their secret. So they form the titular club, thinking that no one in their right mind would join, ensuring they get a private space to be who they are (I mean, Geography Club sounds like exactly the kind of thing I’d have joined in high school – work hard, play hard AM I RIGHT?). Some touching performances that feel quite honest and unforced are definitely the attraction here. This is easy watching, managing to address a serious topic in a way that doesn’t feel heavy or depressing. Definitely give it a go.
Yann Demange (Top Boy) continues to forge a reputation as a young director to watch on these fair isles. ’71 really is supremely gripping, moving effortlessly between a powerful political humanism and compelling action-thriller moments. Jack O’Connell (Starred Up) plays a young British soldier who finds himself beaten, disoriented and targeted by the IRA when he is left behind by his unit is Troubles-era Belfast (I mean, I say “Troubles-era”, the title is really quite specific). O’Connell, who displayed huge maturity in last year’s excellent prison-drama Starred Up, once again proves a charismatic and hard-edged lead capable of both emotional range and tough-as-nails man-acting. This is meaty British filmmaking of the top order.
Sometimes I just think “If only the characters in horror movies had ever watched a horror movie, none of this demonic tomfoolery would be occuring.” This is EXACTLY that kind of film. Debbie dies, and her best friend Laine decides (as you do) that the best way to get in touch with her is through a Ouija board. No one apparently suggests with enough insistence that this is a really bad idea (either because it’s just a piece of wood if you’re a non-believer, or because it’s just really stupid if you are a believer – or because you don’t want any unfortunate accidents if you’re a Belieber, which, strangely, no one in these films ever is). Of course, rather than communing with the spirit of their dead friend, the gormless set of unfeasibly pretty protagonists unleash a demonic spirit. Shenanigans ensue. Screams are uttered. Needless showers in public places are no doubt had. Tons of money is made by the producers.
There really isn’t very much I could tell you about Standby that you could not immediately glean from a DVD box. The story is a very familiar romantic set-up that really requires that we pretend we’ve never seen it before in a million different versions. Having said that, it’s charming Irishness and moments of wit perhaps do enough to elevate it into the realms of watchability. There is no ambition here to distance the film from those countless other versions of the selfsame story, and Standby seems quite all right to be exactly what you expect. So if you and your significant other can’t agree on a movie, and really just need an excuse to get Chinese takeaway and vegetate in front of a film that you can mutually heckle from the couch and slightly regret watching later, this last-night-to-save-a-failed-first-love-while-they-travel-through-a-city-sparkling-with-romantic-energy rom-com might just float your boat.
When the middle-aged, bourgeois Daniel approaches a boyishly handsome Ukrainian who calls himself Marek for a date, he learns the young man is willing to do anything for some cash. The film is an erotic drama that traces the complex development of a relationship intended only as cash-for-sex, but that takes both men in a direction they entirely did not expect, both materially and personally. This a love story told with delicate, deft direction and two sensitive lead performances that make the viewer care deeply for these two men as we figure out what their relationship means along with them. Eastern Boys is all the more interesting for being told in four parts, essentially four very different short films.
HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY:
Finally, the staff at Video City can escape the trauma of having to tearfully answer “No” when ten customers a day ask for this film (usually a fun game where we’re asked for “You know that film with Helen Mirren, and she’s like French and, um, there’s an Indian restaurant, you know that one?”). As you all are no doubt aware, the film pits a displaced Indian chef against the owner of a competing restaurant just 100 feet away in a quaint French town (which is apparently where one goes when one is a refugee – let no one say social realism is dead!). When she realises he has genuine self-taught talent in the kitchen, she decides to take him under her wing. Naturally there is romance, wonderful ethnic mixing of the Frenchest kind (don’t talk about Untouchables being racist, don’t talk about Untouchables being racist, don’t talk about Untouch- okay I’m good) and naturally lots of food. This is a light, fluffy pastry of a film that is sure to delight anyone who has been patiently waiting for it. Now good luck forgetting the Indian dad is the guy who pulled the dude’s heart out in the second Indiana Jones.
Posted by Dave