Film Review: The Deep

The Deep

Based on a true story, The Deep is an absorbing tale of survival.

Fisherman Gulli and his colleagues set off on a trawl in the rough waters of the North Atlantic. When the bot capsizes, Gulli must fight against the odds of the freezing ocean to survive…

The true events at the heart of The Deep is the reason it is so watchable. It is an incredible tale, yet it really occurred. Director Baltasar Kormákur executes the story with the right blend of tension, emotion and a little humour.

The Deep differentiates itself from other films in a similar vein, 127 Hours for example. In this survival tale, the conclusion is not the reaching of safety. Instead, The Deep provides viewers with an aftermath of such a dramatic event. This is something not often offered by films of this ilk.

What makes Gulli an interesting protagonist is the fact that he is so normal. There is nothing to distinguish the character from the others on the boat. Even following such life-changing events, Gulli remains down to earth; a factor that makes him more likeable.

A strong religious vein runs through The Deep. This is most prominent through the repetition of prayers at various points. Given the unexplainable nature of what occurred, Kormákur indicates the point of view most locals took.

The cinematography of The Deep is good. There is some excellent composition, and a restrained palette for some scenes which is rather striking. Kormákur directs the disaster sequence fine, but direction is stronger in the land scenes. The brief depiction of London appears inauthentic; scenes of the arrival here could have easily been omitted.

The central performance by Ólafur Darri Ólafsson is strong. His protrayal of Gulli is solid and often understated, which seems a perfect fit for the character.

Overall, The Deep is an engrossing film that reinforces the saying that truth is stranger than fiction.

Trailer Round-Up

While the Oscar-nominated films may already be out or due for imminent release, there are plenty of films still to look forward to this year…

Trance

Following 2010’s immensely tense 127 Hours, Danny Boyle returns with Trance. The film is a psychological thriller featuring an art auctioneer, a missing painting, a hypnotherapist and a criminal gang. Starring James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson, Trance is released in UK cinemas on 27th March 2013.

To The Wonder

As the above trailer exhibits, To The Wonder is teeming with the kind of beautiful images we have come to expect from director Terrence Malick. Starring Ben Affleck as a man torn between Olga Kurylenko and Rachel McAdams, To The Wonder is released on 22nd February 2013.

Sammy’s Great Escape

Sammy does not seem to have aged a day! Sammy’s Great Escape appears to be the sequel to A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures. The first film had a definite environmentalist angle, so it will be interesting to see the spin of this new film. Sammy’s Great Escape is in UK cinemas from 15th February 2013.

The Place Beyond The Pines

Ryan Gosling reunites with Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance in The Place Beyond The Pines. The crime drama features an all-star cast including Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper and Ray Liotta. The Place Beyond The Pines is released in UK cinemas on 12th April 2013.

10 Things To Be Grateful For In 2010

As with most years, 2010 has offered us the good, the bad and the ugly. The following is a highly subjective list of some of the best things to come out of cinema this year. Feel free to add your own entries in the comments below.

1. The Return Of Michael Keaton

Following appearances in such cinematic classics as First Daughter, Michael Keaton spent a number of years in the land successful wide releases forgot. That changed in 2010, with a memorable role voicing Ken in the hugely successful Toy Story 3, and scene-stealing as Captain Gene Mauch in The Other Guys. Although the latter was not exactly the film of the year, Keaton raised the bar with a fantastic comic performance reminiscent of his glory days. This served as a timely reminder of his charisma and aptitude for comedy in Night Shift and Beetlejuice among others. Welcome back, Mr Keaton!

2. Warner Bros Greenlit Inception

Despite its box office success, Inception is a film that has divided critics and audiences. Love it or hate it, we should all be grateful that the studio greenlit the big-budget production in the first place. Based on an original screenplay, Inception was a refuge from the barrage of sequels, remakes, spin-offs and adaptations. Inception was a blockbuster that was engaging yet accessible. For the film, Warner Bros expended the kind of marketing strategy usually reserved for pre-sold entities. Given the healthy box office returns, the gamble certainly paid off. Hopefully Inception‘s success will give more studios the confidence to follow suit.

3. Disney Released A Traditionally Animated Feature

The Princess and the Frog (released in February 2010 in the UK) marked the first hand-drawn animation film from Disney since 2004. The past five years have seen no shortage in animated films; however these have tended to be of the computer generated variety. While features such as Up look fantastic, there is something quintessentially Disney about The Princess and the Frog. The beautiful animation harks back to the golden age of the early and mid-nineties, when each year would see a now classic Disney animated feature. Only time will tell whether The Princess and the Frog will be appraised in the same way as films such as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. In the meantime, the film indicates at least some variety in Disney’s output.

4. Referencing The 1980s Is Still In Vogue

Certainly not a new trend for 2010, for a number of years now cinema has been harking back to the eighties. Be it long overdue sequels to 1980s hits (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), remakes or even choice of soundtrack, referencing that most magical of decades has been a fixture in Hollywood in recent years. 2010, however, may have pulled of a coup d’état with the gloriously nostalgic Hot Tub Time Machine. With an amazing soundtrack and a plethora of references to 1980s films, fashion and popular culture, Steve Pink’s film was the ultimate homage to the much-loved decade.

5. David Fincher Signed On To Direct A Film About Facebook

A film about the creation of social networking site Facebook sounded just about the most unappealing premise of the year. Interest was peaked when David Fincher was announced as director of the project in 2009, but many, like myself, remained unconvinced. All that changed when the film was released in October 2010. The Social Network was one of the most absorbing films of the year, brilliantly executed and visually handsome. A very welcome surprise.

6. Woody Allen Dusted Off A Script From The ’70s

Released in June 2010 in the UK, Whatever Works saw a return to form for prolific director Woody Allen. Based on his original script from the 1970s, Whatever Works featured all the hallmarks of a classic Allen feature; witty dialogue, well-written characters and the New York setting. The film served as a reminder of why Woody Allen is such a lauded filmmaker, and is reminiscent of some of his best-loved pictures of the 1970s and 1980s. Here’s hoping Allen has a few more scripts gathering dust in his attic.

7. Colin Firth Stepped Up His Game

A bastion of period drama and romantic comedies, in 2010 Colin Firth revealed his flair for more serious dramatic roles with two magnificent performances. Firth conveyed the aching tragedy of George in Tom Ford’s A Single Man (released in February 2010 in the UK), and was thoroughly convincing as George VI in The King’s Speech (screened at the London Film Festival in October 2010). Having won awards for A Single Man and already receiving nominations for The King’s Speech, these triumphs are almost enough for us to forget Mamma Mia. Almost.

8. Danny Boyle Produced One Of The Most Wince-Inducing Scenes In Film History

Collective squirming ensued in screenings throughout the world when Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours was released (screened at the London Film Festival in October 2010). Most viewers would have known what to expect, but the film excels in building tension right up until this point. The event itself was visceral enough to apparently induce vomiting and fainting amongst audience members. This may just have been good marketing, but what remains is one of the most memorable scenes of 2010.

9. The Bounty Hunter Was Released In March

Though it has faced some stiff competition, The Bounty Hunter was the worst film released this year. For an action comedy, The Bounty Hunter was painfully unfunny. Like a childhood trauma, time dulls the pain, although you never entirely forget.

10. Joe Dante Directed A ‘Family Horror’

The Hole (released September 2010 in the UK) may not be the greatest film of the year, but it was certainly one of the scariest. For a film with child protagonists and aimed at a family audience, the film was surprisingly frightening. The Hole played on the most primal of fears, which resulted in a film that was far more effective than many of the adult horrors released this year. Although The Hole has been rather overlooked in terms of critical acclaim, it is a must-see for horror aficionados.

Report: London Film Festival Press Conferences – Week 3

127 Hours

The press conference for 127 Hours, the Closing Night Gala at the London Film Festival, was attended by director Danny Boyle, star James Franco, screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and producer Christian Coulson. Danny Boyle spoke about Aron Ralston’s amazing story, commenting: “He grows really in the canyon, it’s a journey… it felt really clear when reading the book, and especially when we talked to Aron a lot, that he grew in there, in those circumstances, it becomes a kind of journey that he’s on”.

James Franco discussed watching the tapes that Aron made whilst stuck in the canyon. He remarked; “As an actor, those were incredibly valuable because it wasn’t even necessarily what he was saying on those messages, it was the pure behaviour. We were sitting there watching a guy who had excepted his own death, and he didn’t know there was a happy ending at the end of the story. So Aron, now when he tells those stories he’s looking back on it, but in that moment he was in the middle of the situation”.

Simon Beaufoy elaborated on writing the screenplay and the input given by Aron. Simon stated; “We were always walking the tightrope between the facts and the needs of drama. And I think we got them right, because Aron is very, very supportive of the film. That’s always the big challenge, when you’ve got the real guy sitting right next to you”.

Read the I Heart The Talkies review of 127 Hours

Film Review: 127 Hours

Danny Boyle has never shied away from the visceral. 127 Hours is no different, blending the buoyancy of Slumdog Millionaire with a graphicness that will be difficult to watch for some audience members. Nevertheless, 127 Hours is highly recommended.

Aron Ralston is an avid mountain climber, who is accomplished enough to partake in the sport by himself. Spending a weekend canyoneering in Utah alone, disaster strikes when he becomes trapped by a boulder…

Based on the true story, it seems surprising that Boyle and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy would be able sustain a compelling film from a man being trapped alone for such a length of time. They do, however, and with some aplomb. 127 Hours is a fantastically engrossing film that really captures the imagination.

Anyone who has heard of Aron Ralston, or is even slightly aware of what the film is about, will have an idea of the outcome. Thus, there is a palpable tension every time Aron handles the multi-tool; waiting for the inevitable. The film is about so much more than this, nevertheless. 127 Hours is a tremendous survival story that rightly depicts Ralston as a remarkable human being to have endured such ordeal. The fact that he focuses on his family to help keep his sanity throughout his entrapment shows a very human side to a person who at times seems superhuman in physical and mental strength.

Even in the most gruesome horror film screening, you are unlikely to find an audience that will squirm as much. This is partly because what is depicted actually happened in real life, and partly due to the intensely visceral nature of the scene where Aron finally frees himself.

127 Hours‘ imagery is bright, mixing the natural landscape with a variety of external (and internal) illustrations. The cornucopia of colours of the crowd scenes at the ball game, for example, contrasts with the scenes of Aron in the canyon, and the extreme close-ups of the water in his bottle. Colours are heightened; the blue of the swimming pool and the orange of the Utah landscape appear unreal. Music works to great effect in 127 Hours, propelling the film forward and cementing the atmosphere.

Danny Boyle’s direction is on point; effectively conveying the trauma of the situation, but also injecting 127 Hours with moments of humour. Editing is excellent too, from the quick cutting of the goriest sequence to repetitive shots of Aron angling the rope, which deftly expresses the frustration of the situation.

Given the nature of the narrative, James Franco really has to carry the film. He does this well, demanding an emotional response from viewers. Franco certainly deserves recognition for this performance.

Those that are squeamish should not be deterred from seeing 127 Hours; it is a fantastic adaptation of an amazing story.

127 Hours was screened at the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival in October 2010.