This is my favourite Wes Anderson film by a country mile but that's… MoreThis is my favourite Wes Anderson film by a country mile but that's not saying much as I'm not a fan of his previous work as I've never quite got his humour so to speak. I did find The Grand Budapest Hotel funny but you've got to like a bit of slapstick and silliness although a lot of the humour is physical and visual in its nature. It looks great too has an authentic feel for the time in which it is set. Add to this an all-star cast with not a bad performance amongst them.
Set in between the world wars in the 1900s Gustave (Feinnes) is the concierge at the prestigious Grand Budapest Hotel. He is the king of his craft and everybody warms to him and especially so the wealthy females of shall we say the more senior variety. One of these is Madame D (Swinton) who passes away and leaves Gustave a rare painting called Boy With Apple in her will. This does not go down well with her family and Gustave along with his faithful bell boy Zero steal the painting. This leads to a chase with the authorities suspecting foul play in Madame Ds death with Gustave the chief suspect. Also interested in the painting is Jopling (Dafoe) who seems to be a member of Madame Ds family or a hitman or both. There is also a ridiculous prison escape and a bonkers shootout in the hotel.
What can you say about a cast that boasts the likes of Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel and Edward Norton (to name but a few)? Stellar casting and all are good without exception. Ralph Feinnes is particularly funny in the lead role and this surprised me as I wouldn't have listed comedy as one of his major strengths. I particularly liked Norton's policeman and Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe also gave performances that I liked.
I liked this a lot more than I thought I would and the prison escape was particularly funny. Not laugh out loud belly laughs or anything like that but very enjoyable nonetheless. Maybe the Grand Budapest Hotel represents a turning of the corner for me and Mr Anderson and for this reason I await his next offering with a new found positivity.
Ive never got the Wes Anderson thing and im baffled by the huge… MoreIve never got the Wes Anderson thing and im baffled by the huge ratings for this film. Dont get me wrong its not especially bad its just not especially brilliant either. Fans of Andersons work will no doubt think its great.
Definitely one for all you Alpha Males (and GeezerBirds) out there,… MoreDefinitely one for all you Alpha Males (and GeezerBirds) out there, Starred Up has a sweaty gym (arent they all?), sweary words, shouting, fisticuffs (whilst shouting), naked manflesh and homosexuality. Whats not to like? Except I didn't really and this was mainly down to not really understanding what it was trying to say and I found it difficult to like the main lead Eric but maybe that was the point.
Eric arrives in big man's prison from a young offenders institution before he is of the right age because he is "starred up" which from what I can glean basically means that he is a loon. His Dad is already there and has been for some time and is now a man of standing on the block. Eric straight away sets about letting the fellow inmates in the block know that he is double hard by almost killing the bloke across the way because he had the audacity to borrow his lighter to Eric. Fair enough some might say, a mans lighter when inside is like the next mans wife, you just don't mess with such stuff. This leads to one of many confrontations with the prison staff where he stumbles across the prison psychotherapist. He protects Eric from the warden and his staff and asks him to join his group. Eric then does his best to disrupt everything and antagonise those who are trying to help him. He confesses to the psychotherapist that he was abused as a child so he knows about the tactics people use to gain trust and probably goes some way to explaining his anger towards his Dad. Anyway, all ends with Dad saying that he is proud of Eric and I couldn't see why he would be. Maybe hes proud of him being a double hard mentalist, some are very easily pleased.
Jack O'Connell in the lead role as Eric is convincing. Rupert Friend is also good as the psychotherapist who whilst from a privileged background has to be in prison even if as a volunteer. I think a real prison was used as the set and this part certainly works for me. Starred Up is certainly gritty and realistic and the set goes a long way to helping with this.
I've seen a number of reviews refer to Starred Up as a smart film but I can't see it. I guess my issue is that I wasn't really sure what it was trying to say (if anything). Was it saying being double hard is good cos you will gain respect from your Dad (who you probably don't like anyway). Was it saying practice and hone your mentalist tendencies at a young mans prison and you can succeed in proper prison. Was it saying.......yawn, ZZZzzzzzzzzz, sorry I nodded off there for a minute.
Another example of a film that I liked but many will not and im… MoreAnother example of a film that I liked but many will not and im beginning to think that intentionally going against the grain is becoming a sub conscience thing. I seem to have a tendency to go for films that have self-imposed constraints in relation to a single set or a lone actor. All is Lost, Buried and 127 Hours are examples of this that I loved and Locke is another. A 90 minute film of a bloke in his car making phone calls will not be everybody's cup of tea. There are no races or chases, no stunts and no scantily clad, painted jezebels with questionable moral values. But despite the lack of this Locke did keep my interest and I couldn't help but wonder about the possible events after the film had ended which is the benchmark of quality for me.
Ivan Locke (Hardy) is a project manager in major construction and he finishes work one evening and gets in his car. He reaches a set of traffic lights and whilst waiting for the Red to change he makes a decision and changes his route. We learn that the reason for this is that he has made a mistake in his life and is determined to do the right thing. The problem with this is that his family and work are fundamentally affected and he spends the journey to his destination constantly on the phone juggling all of these issues at the same time with varying degrees of success. Added to this is his anger at his Dad (who is dead) for being weak and taking easy options in life and this drives him on both figuratively and literally.
I'm a big fan of Tom Hardy and this is arguably some of his finest work. You have to have a certain level of on screen gravitas for this to work and I think Hardy has this and more. Even though you don't see any of the characters he interacts with you form a picture in your mind nonetheless. What Hardy gets across well is the emotional wrestling match that is evident throughout and whilst I didn't exactly sympathise with his predicament I believed that his actions were out of character. I liked the way the film was shot as I've always been a fan of films shot at night and the style at times reminded me a little of many driving scenes in Under The Skin.
Very interesting film that I thought suggested that doing the right thing in life is often the more difficult option or path. The lame, easy option is likely to lead to you being despised by those you might care for. My perspective on this is be strong throughout and you might find you don't don't need to choose the lesser of two evils in the first place. Food for thought that's for sure.
The first word I think of when thinking about this film is bleak but… MoreThe first word I think of when thinking about this film is bleak but that doesn't mean its not without its merits. I thought its general message and theme was about forgiveness and being brave enough to have courage in your convictions. To do the right thing these days is not only more difficult but there is every likelihood that you will be derided and ridiculed for it. Strong performances from a very good cast and all set amongst visually breath-taking scenery.
Father James (Gleeson) is a priest in a small Irish village where a member of his parish whilst in confession issues a threat that causes him to look at his life in a different way. He seems to be a well thought of person in the community although it seemed to me that almost everyone has a deep seated cynicism towards life and in particularly religion. His fellow priest is of the younger variety and is viewed in exactly the opposite way by the locals. There is an American author (Emmet Walsh) who is terminally ill and has chosen to write his last book on a small island off the coast of the village. Then there is the local butcher (ODowd) whose wife (Orla O'Rourke) is having an affair with all and sundry and instead of being angry about this he welcomes the freedom it brings. Michael Fitzgerald (Dylan Moran) is a wealthy financier who displays drunken tendencies and very odd behaviour. And then, there is Father James's daughter Kelly (Fiona Lavelle) comes to visit him from London. She is as cute as a button but has scars after a failed suicide attempt as a result of a broken romance. A sequence of events unfolds that test Father James patience, integrity and belief.
It seemed to me that almost each and every person had an issue with religion in the modern day yet they all attended mass and confession. They seemed to use the priest as the main focus of their anger and all try to push him to the limit with shabby behaviour and morals. In the main he stays strong in the face of extreme provocation. A very positive role model for todays clergy when you consider the battering its reputation has taken lately and maybe this is the point? This is exactly how a man of the cloth should carry himself. Brave, righteous and caring without being overly arrogant or sanctimonious. In general a top bloke and of course Gleeson is a class act. A top drawer actor in my opinion. Special mention also goes to Dylan Moran who im not always a big fan of as I thought he played his role with an honesty that I liked.
Thinking of it just now maybe this films intention was to show how difficult it is to set a good example in the modern world. Especially so if you are a man\woman of the cloth when modern day behaviour becomes more overt and blatant and the church in particular is seeing its integrity questioned and scrutinised. Even though I described this as bleak at the beginning, I do think that there is a positive message should you want to find one?