Film study… week 69

Birthday Girl

John, (Ben Chaplin) a lonely small town British bank worker, orders a Russian bride called Nadia (Nicole Kidman) online, only to discover that he’s been sucked into an elaborate scheme.  While this film did have a bit of quirky charm, I found Ben extremely creepy… and I’m not sure he was supposed to be. Vincent Cassel was, as always, wonderful as one of Nadia’s thuggish accomplices but as a whole it didn’t blow me away and the storyline wasn’t engaging enough to distract me from questions of legality around the marriage and likelihood of banks just handing out safe keys to random employees….

Ben soon came to the realisation that Jenny wasn't kidding when she said she had their future "mapped out"


I wanted to love Creation. It stars Paul Bettany. It’s about Charles Darwin, whose theories shaped so much of what we know about evolution. It tells the story of his life from the angle of his family life, showing who he was as a person… even Benedict Cumberbatch pops up. But I didn’t love it. I was bored. The way Darwin’s relationship with his eldest daughter, Annie (Martha West) was portrayed was lovely but it wasn’t enough to hold the film together, even combined with the natural chemistry between Bettany and his real life wife, Jennifer Connelly playing his devoutly religious on-screen wife, Emma. Watch, but only if you’re in the mood for something really slow moving.

This is the last time I ever take acid...

Raging Bull

Raging bull follows the life story of Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro), a promising boxer, whose success in the ring is marred by his destructive emotional behaviour outside it. Filmed in black and white, director Martin Scorsese succeeds in creating a tense and gritty atmosphere as the largely unlikable La Motta’s life falls apart. It’s hard to review this independent of the massive hype around it. I wouldn’t say that I loved Raging Bull. It was a hard watch. I will say though, that the acting is exceptional and the story riveting, if not equally disturbing and depressing. Praise is heaped on De Niro for his impressive turn as La Motta but Joe Pesci, playing his brother, Joey and Cathy Moriarty (what happened to her?) are equally good. If you have any intention of being regarded as a film buff you have to see Raging Bull but don’t expect to like La Motta.

She was powerless to resist his magnificent white y-fronts

This is England

Misfit Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) befriends a group of older skinheads who are kind to him after he’s been bullied. When their friend Combo (Stephen Graham) returns from prison with aggressive racist ideas, the group splits down the middle, leaving Shaun in way over his head. Having not been in Britain in the 80’s I can’t comment on how accurate a portrayal of the Thatcher era this is, but I have it on good authority that it is. That aside, I found this an engaging and interesting study of what shapes a person’s ideologies and how feelings of powerlessness breed hatred. There is also a sense of watching a car-crash about to happen and being unable to look away. Definite must-see. And if you’re a bit of a Brit yoof TV addict like me, look out for Joe Gilgun (Rudy from Misfits) playing Woody, Jack O’Connell (Cook from Skins) playing Puke and Michael Socha (Tom from Being Human) playing a bully.

Shaun's sign language lessons where not going according to plan

abbiosbiston is listening...

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