Film Friday #124

Welcome to the Punch

Rookie cop, Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy) is shot by master criminal, Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong) as he attempts to capture him. Lewinsky is left damaged both physically and emotionally, while Sternwood disappears off the grid. Years later Sternwood returns to London after his son (Elyes Gabel) is stabbed, giving the jaded Lewinsky and his fresh faced partner, Sarah (Andrea Risborough) another shot at bringing him in. But as the investigation continues, Lewinsky discovers a conspiracy that reaches up to the highest echelons of the law enforcement system, forcing him into an uneasy alliance with the very man who ruined his life. The stylish thriller is packed with good performances but is so ridiculously convoluted that it’s hard not get frustrated with it, pair this up with pacing problems and the result is a bit more Welcome to the Meh than Welcome to the Punch. 2.5/5

XXX

Give. Me. Back. My. Pokemon. Cards!

The Hours

This story follows women from three generations as they are affected by the novel, Mrs Dalloway. There’s the writer, Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), torn apart by bipolar disorder while composing one of her greatest works. The reader, Laura Brown (Julianne Moore), facing suicidal thoughts caused by her confused sexuality and feeling trapped by the rigors of marital obligation and motherhood. And the editor, Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) fondly called Mrs Dalloway by her best friend and possibly the love of her life, Richard (Ed Harris) as she watches him dying of AIDS. The film explores on of each of these women’s lives with themes of hopelessness, loss and regret. It’s not an easy watch but there is something beautiful and touching about it. All three leads are exceptional… but of course this is from a time when Kidman’s face still moved. 3.5/5

Be honest with me, do I look like a dickhead in this hat?

Be honest with me, do I look like a dickhead in this hat?

Ill Manors

In his surprisingly well put together debut film, Ben Drew (also known as Plan B) explores the lives of the residents of a beleaguered London estate. Featuring a startling array of drug dealers, prostitutes and lowlifes, Ill Manors paints a quite probably unrealistically gritty picture of council tenants but an engrossing one nonetheless. It probably wraps up a little bit too easily but if you can forgive a bit of inexperienced clumsiness there is a lot to enjoy here and Drew shows that he is a powerful storyteller, whether through the medium of music or film. 3/5

Is you talking to me, innit?

Is you talking to me, innit?

In a Better World

Danish doctor, Anton (Mikael Persbrandt) splits his time between working as for a Doctors Without Borders type organisation and his wife (Trine Dyrholm) – from who he is separated – and two young sons. Businessman, Claus (Ulrich Thomsen) has recently returned to Denmark from the UK with his son, Christian (William Jøhnk Juel Nielsen) after the death of his wife. When Anton’s son, Elias (Markus Rygaard) meets Christian, they team up against the bullies at their school causing the two families to cross paths. This Oscar winner is ultimately about power and how it is possible to feel powerful in one situation but completely powerless in another. The two child leads are exceptional, as are Persbrandt, as a man desperate to do the right thing – even if it means losing the woman he loves – and Thomsen as a father thrust into becoming the sole emotional support for a son he ultimately barely knows. The story is character driven, multi-layered and deeply affecting. Highly recommended. 4/5

XXXX

You have got to stop watching me sleep!

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