Film Review: The Sisters Brothers

Jacques Audiard’s The Sisters Brothers is a reflective western. By subverting some of the genre tropes, Audiard has created an interesting addition to the field.

Eli and Charlie Sisters are assassins for hire. Working for Oregon’s commodore, the brothers are tasked with tracking down a prospector who has fled to California…

Based on the book by Patrick DeWitt, The Sisters Brothers is a Western that both adheres to and subverts conventions. The great thing about Audiard’s film is its illusionary nature. At first, the film appears to be a traditional western, albeit with a comedic edge. As the film progresses, it transitions into something else. The way in which director manoeuvres the narrative is quite something.

The protagonist’s develop well as The Sisters Brothers progresses. To begin with, the brothers are set up as archetypes, with the confident drunk and the more sensitive elder playing off each other. As the narrative continues, they develop into more complex characters, shrugging off the previous archetypes. The perception of masculinity is one of the film’s key themes; this is played out in a pleasing manner.

The relationships which are explored are satisfying. There are some great scenes which focus upon this. The dialogue is definitely a plus, with both humour and emotion to be derived from these interactions. The tonal shifts that occur during the film are never jarring, but instead enhance the overall picture. Audiard sets up a grand finale, which would be very in keeping with the genre. Yet what actually occurs is more rewarding.

Performances in the film are as admirable as you would expect from four great actors. Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly are both great in the film’s humourous and more reflective moments. The interactions between Riz Ahmed and Jake Gyllenhaal’s characters are wonderful to watch. Audiard’s direction is assured, and the cinematography captures the vast and the intimate equally well. The tracking shot in the house at the end is fantastic.

The Sisters Brothers is an engaging and endearing picture. Audiard delivers something far more interesting than what appears at first glance. 

The Sisters Brothers is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2018.

Film Review: Mary Magdalene

Garth Davis’ Mary Magdalene offers good performances and a mesmeric feel. Despite its efforts however, the film does not distinguish itself fully from other biblical epics.

Mary Magdalene is due to be married to a suitor, on the wishes of her family. However, Mary is searching for something more. When Jesus of Nazareth visits her village, she feels compelled to join his movement…

The story of Jesus has been told on film numerous times. Director Garth Davis’ film offers a different take on this, viewing the well-known events through a hitherto peripheral character. The film tells the familiar story, but also tells the story of Mary Magdalene. A character that has been given a particular representation in the mainstream, the film offers a differing perspective.

The narrative begins by concentrating on Mary’s circumstances; her first contact with Jesus does not come until after the title character has been established. After Mary joins Jesus’ band of followers, the story becomes much more familiar. Even in these events, much of what is seen is from the perspective of the title character. It is uncertain whether Mary Magdalene was as involved in all these key moments as the film suggests, yet writers Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett clearly wish to emphasise her importance.

Mary Magdalene has a mesmeric quality to it. The film feels more pensive than other biblical epics, with a higher focus on spirituality. This comes through thanks to the protagonist and following her spiritual journey, as well as her interpretation of Jesus’ teachings. The contrast between Mary’s understanding and that of some of the other apostles seems to mirror some of the divides in contemporary Christianity.

Rooney Mara delivers a believable performance as the title character. Joaquin Phoenix is convincingly cast as Jesus, he offers a charisma which seems suitable for the character. Tahir Rahim is suitably zealous in his role. Mary Magdalene is at its most interesting when it focuses on its title character. In telling the story of the Crucifixion, the film feels too much like the numerous other adaptions of this tale.

Previews: On Chesil Beach Trailer, Death Wish, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview attractions, including the new Yardie trailer, Death Wish, Yardie, and more…

On Chesil Beach Trailer

Here is the latest On Chesil Beach trailer. Based on the novel by Ian McEwan (with a screenplay also written by McEwan), On Chesil Beach is about a young couple’s wedding day in the early 1960s. The film stars Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle, and Anne-Marie Duff. On Chesil Beach will be released on 15th June 2017.

Yardie Trailer

Above is the trailer for Idris Elba’s directorial debut Yardie. Set in 1970s Kingston and 1980s Hackney, the film tells the story of a young man who grows up under the wing of a Kingston don and music producer. Starring Aml Ameen, Sheldon Shepherd, and Shantol Jackson, Yardie will be released later this year.

Death Wish Poster

Here is one of the new poster for Death Wish. The new Eli Roth movie is a reimagining of the 1974 film. The film stars Bruce Willis as a surgeon who is confronted by violence when his family are attacked. Also starring Vincent D’Onofrio and Elisabeth Shue, Death Wish will hit UK screens on 6th April 2018.

A Gentle Creation Trailer

Here is the trailer for the Palme d’Or nominated A Gentle Creature. Directed by Sergei Loznitsa, the film is about a woman with an incarcerated husband. When her parcel to him is returned, she begins on a quest for justice. A Gentle Creature will be released in UK cinemas on 13th April 2018.

A Quiet Place Featurette

John Krasinski explains a little about the concept of A Quiet Place in the above featurette. Directed, co-written, and starring Krasinski, the horror is about a family who must stay quiet in order to evade detection. Co-starring John Krasinski’s wife Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place will hit the big screen later this year.

Mary Magdelene Trailer

Mary Magdalene is a biblical biopic. The film tells the story of the title character as she meets Jesus of Nazareth. Rooney Mara plays Mary, with Joaquin Phoenix playing Jesus. The film also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tahar Rahim. Directed by Garth Davis, Mary Magdalene is out in UK cinemas on 16th March 2018.

Film Review: You Were Never Really Here

Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here is tense, black, and redemptive. It is anxiety-inducing, gripping filmmaking.

Joe is used to dealing with terrible people. He is tasked with rescuing a young girl, who is being held by some dangerous people…

Based on the novel by Jonathan Ames, You Were Never Really Here is a thriller with a dark premise. The film is predominantly a story about a man operating in a shady world. Joe is something of an antihero in that he uses questionable methods, even though his intentions are good. The focal drive is the journey of this character, one that navigates PTSD flashbacks whilst operating in dangerous situations.

Writer-director Lynne Ramsey reveals her protagonist and the main narrative through a series of flashbacks which give meaning and backstory. From the opening sequence, it would be understandable to think Joe’s job was quite something else. Ramsay teases viewers by dangling imagery in front of them; it is only as the film progresses that facts become clearer.

You Were Never Really Here amplifies conventions of a psychological thriller, combining these with a revenge flick. Ramsay’s direction is great. The film builds tension from the very beginning, and this is almost unbearable at times. Ramsay does not offer the cathartic violence some may expect, but it is a better film for this. The music and aspects of the art direction give them film a 1980s feel. This is a great backdrop for which the action to unfold. The central narrative is bleak, but not without redemption.

Joaquin Phoenix delivers a powerful central performance as Joe. His struggle is conveyed with a startling conviction. Ekaterina Samsonov is also strong as Nina, and Judith Roberts is good too. Joe’s journey can be harrowing, yet it is hard to look away. You Were Never Really Here is one not to miss.

You Were Never Really Here is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2017.

Previews: Ant-Man Trailer, Irrational Man Trailer and More

Previews of forthcoming attractions this week include the latest Ant-Man trailer, Irrational Man, Steve Jobs

Ant-Man Trailer

Here is the latest Ant-Man trailer. The film looks like it will have a healthy dose of comedy, and given that the film is about an ant-sized superhero, this will be welcome. Starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas, Ant-Man hits the big screen on 17th July 2015.

Irrational Man Trailer

Woody Allen’s latest film Irrational Man stars Joaquin Phoenix as a philosophy professor who  gets caught in a love triangle with two women. Emma Stone returns for her second performance in an Allen film whilst it is the first for Parker Posey and Joaquin Phoenix. Irrational Man opens in UK cinemas on 11th September 2015.

Steve Jobs Trailer

Here is the debut trailer for Steve Jobs. The film comes with quite a pedigree; it is directed by Danny Boyle, written by Aaron Sorkin, and stars Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen. Steve Jobs will be released in UK cinemas on 13th November 2015.

The Walk Poster

The Walk poster

The Walk is based on the true story of a man who walked between the two World Trade Centre towers in New York. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon and Ben Kingsley, and is directed by Robert Zebecks. The Walk hits the big screen on 2nd October 2015.

Creed

The Rocky franchise gets another instalment, albeit with a bit of a difference. Michael B. Jordan stars as the son of Apollo Creed, and sees Sylvester Stallone reprise his role as the boxing legend. Creed also reunites Jordan with his Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler. Creed is set for release on 27th November 2015.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl Trailer

The Diary of a Teenage Girl has already won praise at film festivals this year. The film is about a teenage girl growing up in San Francisco in the 1970s. Starring Bel Powley, Kirsten Wiig and Alexander Skarsgård, The Diary of a Teenage Girl will hit the big screen in the UK on 7th August 2015.

Masterminds

New comedy Masterminds tells the true story of a group of idiots who pulled off a $17 million heist. The film stars Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Own Wilson and Jason Sudeikis. Masterminds will hit UK screens on 7th August 2015.

 

 

Stuff To Look At

A plethora of movie trailers and clips on Oscar nomination day, including Avengers: Age of Ultron, Blackhat and Cake

Avengers: Age of Ultron

It all looks very, very bad in sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron. Where are jokes of Loki? From the above trailer, it looks like this Marvel instalment will have a more serious tone. Not that this is a bad thing, as last year’s superlative Captain America: The Winter Soldier can attest to. Avengers: Age of Ultron hits UK cinemas on 24th April 2015.

Selma

So Selma may have been snubbed for several awards, but at least it has received a Best Picture nod from the Academy. Starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr., Selma tells the story of his struggle to secure voting rights for African Americans. The film is released in the UK on 6th February 2015.

Cake

Jennifer Aniston may have been snubbed for a Best Actress nomination at this year’s Oscars, but Cake still seems worth a look. A dark comedy, the film focuses on Aniston’s character and dubious relationship with a widower. Cake will be released in UK cinemas on 20th February 2015.

Blackhat

Director Michael Mann delves into the world of global cybercrime with his latest thriller Blackhat. Starring Chis Hemsworth and Viola Davis, the film concentrates on convicted hacker who is helping the government tackle a network of criminals. Blackhat hits UK screens on 20th February 2015.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Following yesterday’s world premiere of Kingsman: The Secret Service, here is a clip from the film. Following the success of Kick-Ass, screenwriter Jane Goldman and writer-director Matthew Vaughan team up again for another adaptation of a comic book. Kingsman: The Secret Service is released on 29th January 2015.

Run All Night

Here is the trailer for action thriller Run All Night. The film is about a prolific hit man played by Liam Neeson. Also starring Ed Harris and Joel Kinnamen, Run All Night is set for release in the UK on 1st May 2015.

Inherent Vice

This clip from Inherent Vice sees Joaquin Phoenix reunited with his Walk The Line co-star Reese Witherspoon. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and with a stellar cast, Inherent Vice hits UK screens on 30th January 2015.

Stuff To Look At

This week we have plenty of clips and trailers for next year’s releases, including Inherent Vice, Jupiter Ascending and A Little Chaos

A Little Chaos

Period drama A Little Chaos is about the unlikely landscape architect of the Palace of Versailles. Directed, co-writtend and starring Alan Rickman, the film focuses on Kate Winslet’s Madame Sabine de Barra. A Little Chaos is out in cinemas on 17th April 2015.

Inherent Vice

Here is a brief clip from the upcoming Inherent Vice. Paul Thomas Anderson’s film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, and Reese Witherspoon among others. Inherent Vice is released in UK cinemas on 30th January 2015.

Mad Max: Fury Road

This Mad Max: Fury Road trailer caused quite a storm when it was unleashed last week. From the trailer at least, the film is striking on a visual level. Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult, Mad Max: Fury Road hits the big screen on 15th May 2015.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry and Clark Duke return for time-travelling comedy sequel Hot Tub Time Machine 2. After the success of the first film, the group venture into the future, as well as the distant past in this instalment. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is released in UK cinemas on 10th April 2015.

Jupiter Ascending

Here is an extended V spot for upcoming science fiction blockbuster Jupiter Ascending. I can’t get over Channing Tatum’s ears. Also starring Mila Kunis and Eddie Redmayne, Jupiter Ascending hits UK screens on 6th February 2015.

The Last Five Years

Based on the theatre show, The Last Five Years is a musical which tells the story of a five-year relationship. Anna Kendrick once again shows off her vocal skills, following Pitch Perfect and the upcoming Into The Woods. The Last Five Years is scheduled for release in Spring 2015.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel sees the cast from the first film reunited, along with newcomer Richard Gere. This follow-up sees Dev Patel’s Sonny open a second hotel. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is set for release on 26th February 2015.