Welcome to another edition of My Friends and I, the section of Casta La Vista where I briefly review a bunch of films I’ve watched as part of my fortnightly film group that I facilitate at QUAD cinema and gallery in Derby.
Let’s get straight into it.
The Way Back
Coming out of The Way Back I couldn’t help but feel that I had just watched a film that should have been a lot better than it actually was.
On paper it has the makings of an epic masterpiece; strong cast, a proven director in Peter Weir, a harrowing ‘based on true events’ story and an exceptionally long running time.
But perhaps the mistake made with The Way Back is that it feels as if it has been made under the assumption by everyone involved that they were making something amazing. I wonder whether or not much of the fault in the film lies in the fact that many of the performances, structure and cinematography come across as if they were phoned in and taken for granted.
The film is not without merit. There are several moments of levity (surprising given the traumatic concept of the film; a gang of Prisoners of War escape from a mountain camp and travel through desolate landscapes towards safety) and it is commendable that the escape occurs quite early on so as to move onto the meat and potatoes quickly.
However at the end of the day as a piece of drama the film suffers for three main reasons; the lack of a chasing pack bearing down on our escapees, a distinct absence of inner turmoil within the group of travellers, and Colin Farrell’s accent.
The King’s Speech
Been there done that. Check out Chris and my thoughts on this bona-fide awards magnet here.
As much as possible I try to limit the amount of words I write in these posts but in Blue Valentine I have found a film that I could probably wax lyrical on for days.
So in the simplest terms possible… see this movie. It is, to me at least, essential viewing.
The film showcases the beginning and end of a seven year relationship between Dean and Cindy, played expertly by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Whilst in a sense the story lends itself towards being perceived as emotional, depressing and overly sentimental, the real triumph of Derek Cianfrance’s film is just how joyfully optimistic and entertaining it is.
Not enough praise can be given to Gosling and Williams. That one is Oscar nominated (Williams) and the other is not (Gosling) is a gross injustice and proof that the Academy has failed to recognise that the power of each performance comes from its reliance on the other. If ever there were a case for the Academy to follow in the footsteps of MTV and hand out an award for best on-screen couple, this surely is it.
The film is laced with drama and moments of hyper-real tension- I challenge all viewers who have been in long term relationships not to find at least one exchange between Dean and Cindy reminiscent of an experience of their own. However the way the story is conveyed by shifting time and lacing a fresh faced enthusiasm for love at first sight over a weathered depiction of the death of romance allows for some unbelievable developments of character and a fantastically paced journey that ends in a manner that whilst admittedly soul-destroying is at the same time ever so slightly optimistic.
Well worth tracking down.
Done and done. Thanks for reading.