Director: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Colin Farrell, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Reicke, Emma Howard
Thomas P Cullinan’s 1966 novel The Beguiled was first adapted for the screen by Don Siegel in 1971 with Clint Eastwood in the lead (immediately preceding their collaboration on Dirty Harry) in a film which played up the story’s horror elements. Writer-director Sofia Coppola’s adaptation, for which she won best director at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is a different film. While also a trimmed down, streamlined version of Cullinan’s story, Coppola gives it a distinctively feminist perspective, aligning our point of view with the female characters.
1864, Virginia. It is three years into the American Civil War, the result of which is becoming clearer by the day. A young girl, Amy (Oona Laurence), finds a wounded Yankee soldier, Corp. John McBurney (Colin Farrell) in the woods and offers to take him back to Ms Farnsworth’s Seminary for Young Ladies for treatment. Continue reading
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Lea Seydoux, Ben Wishaw, John C. Reilly, Olivia Colman
There are original films and there are original films. And then there is Yorgos Lanthimos’ provocative and unusual The Lobster. This Irish-UK-Greek-French-Dutch co-production (indicative of the difficulty in financing such a peculiar, uncommercial story) is the fifth film from the Oscar nominated Greek writer-director, and his first in English.
The story takes place in a hotel in an undisclosed European location (shot in the picturesque County Kerry of Southwest Ireland). Recently divorced, David (Colin Farrell) is checking in. But this is no ordinary hotel. It is a hotel for single people. The manager (Olivia Colman) outlines the nature of his stay. He has 45 days. If in that time he meets someone and they take a liking to one another, they are permitted to reenter society as a couple. If by the end of his 45 days he is still single he will be transformed into an animal of his choosing. Continue reading
Director: Len Wiseman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy
Total Recall is a remake of the Paul Verhoeven and Arnold Schwarzenegger cult classic from 1990, which begs the question, why? Why did this film need to be remade? Director Len Wiseman, best known for the Underworld series, doesn’t take the story anywhere new, but he does lose the satire, the existential questions and sense of fun which made Verhoeven’s film work.
Total Recall takes us to a futuristic dystopia, where disenchanted factory worker Douglas Quaid decides to visit a Rekall centre, a company that implants clients with fake memories of the life they would like to have led. He chooses the life of a secret agent but as the procedure commences the technicians discover that he has had his memory erased and was previously, in fact, a secret agent. Quaid then finds himself on the run from those who had previously engineered his disappearance.
Colin Farrell takes on the role that Schwarzenegger made his own 22 years ago. Farrell is obviously a better actor than Schwarzenegger and does a passable job of getting you to empathise with his character’s confusion, but whether that is enough to make you accept him in Arnie’s place is uncertain. Arnie’s ownership of a role rarely has anything to do with his acting skill. What Farrell’s presence does do is demonstrate how, twenty years on, audiences demand a different style of action hero, with him being a far cry from the 1980s beefcakes like Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Van Damme.
Wiseman’s film is very visual effects heavy and while these effects are sound they are nothing we haven’t seen before. The look of the film is clearly based on Ridley Scott’s neo-noir masterpiece Blade Runner. If only it could have managed just a fraction of Blade Runner’s nuance.
Drawing on the Philip K. Dick short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” (Dick also wrote “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” which was the basis for Blade Runner), the intrigue of Total Recall is supposed to come from an uncertainty as to whether what we are watching is real life or whether Doug is simply experiencing his Rekall fantasy. Unfortunately this existential element is almost completely lost in this remake, with the film never quite doing enough to genuinely make you wonder about the reality of what is being experienced. What you are left with is a largely unengaging film which feels like one extended, two-hour chase sequence.
Rating – ★☆
Review by Duncan McLean
Director: William Monahan
Starring: Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone
Having just been released after serving three years in Pentonville prison as a result of an “altercation,” Mitchell (Farrell) is determined to leave his gangster past behind him and go straight. A chance encounter results in an invitation to work as a part-time handyman, part-time bodyguard for the reclusive movie star Charlotte (Knightley) who hides away from the paparazzi in her Holland Park mansion. However, cutting ones ties with the underworld is easier said than done (you can’t help but hear Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III crying “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in”) and when prominent gangster Mr. Gant (Winstone) gets it in his mind that Mitchel would be a useful person to have around he sets about trying to ‘persuade’ him to accept the job.
While most people associate the gangster movie with Hollywood and the USA, Great Britain has an outstanding tradition in the gangster genre with the likes of Get Carter, The Long Good Friday, Sexy Beast and even Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. With London Boulevard, first time director William Monahan is definitely hooking into that tradition, it has that real ‘geezer’ quality to it, but it’s too thinly drawn to reach the lofty standard of the aforementioned titles. That said, Monahan, who has experience with the gangster genre having won an Oscar for his screenplay for The Departed, delivers a competent directorial debut and a pretty solid gangster film.
Farrell is strong as a man who is trapped by his past, not only in the sense that he struggles to break free from the underworld ties of his pre-Pentonville life, but also by his own violent past, which betrays itself even in those moments when we can see his motives are noble. Farrell succeeds in making you feel for this character who just wants out.
Unfortunately, the other main characters lack a bit of depth. Keira Knightley’s Charlotte initially makes for an intriguing character as this young, beautiful, Howard Hughes-esque shut in. But despite the revelations of how she got to this point, and an all too predictable romantic sub-plot, her character never really progresses to become anything more than she was when we first met her. Ray Winstone, one of those great actors whose presence in a supporting role can instantly elevate a film, is in this case severely underutilised, with Gant being not much more than a Big Bad Wolf who huffs and puffs his way through the film.
If you are a fan of the gangster genre, you will find enough in London Boulevard to satisfy you, even if it does miss some opportunities.
Rating – ★★★
Review by Duncan McLean