Tag Archives: Golden Globe

“Should I see The Revenant?” Might as well ask, “Do I enjoy cinema?”

14 Jan
The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio spent the last year Rocky Mountains way. Couldn’t get much higher

The Revenant is a film of few words, and so will be my recommendation of it: Go See. This is not merely a movie. This is Cinema.

The opening battle scene is as visceral as anything since Private Ryan (and as for that bear scene….!). The landscapes, filmed in the wild Canadian Rockies, show both the exquisite beauty and the cold brutality of nature – just as the ugliness of man, in this film, is interleaved with transcendent moments of tenderness and honour.

The score, by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto, definitely deserves an Oscar, Golden Globes result notwithstanding. As to the cinematography, it would feel like the most shocking upset in Oscar history if regular Terrence Malick cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki didn’t land his third in a row (after Gravity and Birdman). Leonardo DiCaprio is almost certain finally to take home his little gold man for the gruelling central role, rarely off screen though saying very little.

But forget the Oscars. This is just hauntingly lovely film-making, a work of unique vision and, indeed, obsession – not since Herzog hauled a steamship up a mountain, or Friedkin slapped his actors and stuck them in a freezer, has a director (Birdman‘s Iñárritu) gone to such lengths to get what he needed.

At first it grates that Tom Hardy mumbles into his beard nearly as incomprehensibly as when playing Bane. But then you relax into that, and remind yourself that the words don’t really matter, and it becomes almost a plus. The haunting images are all the story you need.

The Theory of Everything: two stars are born

5 Jan

Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne shine in The Theory of Everything.

At the beginning of The Theory of Everything, Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking describes the study of cosmology as “a kind of religion for intelligent atheists”. Hollywood star-watching could be seen as “religion for dumb atheists”.

Nevertheless, here I go again.

There’s a huge buzz around Eddie Redmayne for the film – on Friday William Hill shortened the odds on him winning the Golden Globe from 10/11 to 1/3 – and it’s richly deserved. At the start he is boyishly charming and rogueishly handsome, deploying a killer smile under thick glasses and a tousled fringe. That clichéd coup de foudre when his eyes first meet those of his future wife across a crowded room actually convinces.

His gradual transformation into the wheelchair-bound genius stricken with progressively degenerating motor neurone disease we now know as Stephen Hawking is astonishing. If Daniel Day-Lewis could win an Oscar for My Left Foot, it’s possible to hope that Redmayne could win for this.

And not just one star is born here, but two – it’s a binary system, to use Hawking terminology. Felicity Jones has a more difficult role to shine in, as The Dutiful Wife; but she displays a rare combination of vulnerability and strength as she is torn between her own desires and her need to stand by her man. It’s her film every bit as much as his.

Last year was a good one for British film, starting off with 12 Years A Slave. In a smaller way, this is about as good a start to 2015 as one could wish for.

When I met Stephen Hawking: click here.

Why 12 Years A Slave is already the film of the year

10 Jan
Image

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup with his demented ‘owner’ (Michael Fassbender)

12 Years A Slave opens today in the UK, so you can finally see what all the fuss is about. I saw it at a preview a couple of months back, and was blown away. It is flat-out impossible that Chiwetel Ejiofor will not win the Academy Award for Best Actor, and doubtless the Golden Globe this Sunday too. Director Steve McQueen has said he never considered another actor for the role, and his performance is, like the film itself, one of enormous power, courage, dignity and, above all, restraint.

Where The Butler took such liberties with its source material that it can hardly be said to be ‘based on a true story’ at all, shoehorning all sorts of historical events Forrest Gumpishly into the narrative under a mess of mawkish music to demonstrate that Racism Is Bad, 12 Years A Slave is such an extraordinary true story it needs no embellishment. It is based on the memoirs of Solomon Northup, a free negro born in New York state, who was drugged and sold into 12 years of brutal slavery in the Deep South.

Benedict Cumberbatch and regular Steve McQueen collaborator Michael Fassbender play, respectively, considerate and demented slave owners, and producer Brad Pitt gives himself a cameo as just about the only decent anti-slavery white character; but it’s Ejiofor’s film. His expressive eyes fill every scene, haunting you long after the film has finished.

Steve McQueen’s direction is extraordinary, too. He’s not afraid of long takes – consider the monologue in Hunger – and of letting the pictures do the talking: foreshadowing Northup’s captivity by a close-up of his violin pegs being tightened, for instance. The extraordinary natural beauty of Northup’s surroundings, shot on 35mm film and in widescreen by cinematographer Sean Bobbit,  only make his bondage the more poignant.

None of this sounds like a fun film for a Friday night, I know. But see it soon, and absolutely see it on the big screen where it belongs. Though we’re only two weeks into January, I would confidently predict it will be the best film you’ll see all year.