Film Friday #268

The Revenant (2015)

Having lost his Pawnee wife when their village was burnt down by soldiers, all frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) has left is his son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) who works with him as a fur trapper. When their group is attacked by a Native American tribe they must somewhat reluctantly escape into the wild and regroup to make the journey to their camp before winter overwhelms them. Here Glass is brutalised by a bear and left with injuries that should be fatal, leaving Captain Andrew Henry (Domnhall Gleeson) with no choice but to offer three men a bounty to remain with Glass and give him a decent burial when the inevitable happens. Hawk immediately volunteers, along with the soft-hearted Bridger (Will Poulter) and the considerably less likely candidate a mercenary scalping survivor named John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), who is only there because the other two have offered him their share of the bounty. When Glass fails to submit quickly Fitzgerald takes matters into his own hands, killing Hawk, leaving Glass for dead and misleading Bridger into leaving with him to catch up with the group. But Glass is not dead and he’s hell bent on getting revenge for his son setting off a journey that will test the power of the human instinct to survive to its very limit. I am going to come straight out and say that I loved The Revenant. I have read umpteen reviews with very differing opinions but I was completely and utterly engrossed, especially by DiCaprio’s performance. Despite him being almost silent throughout the film the level of emotion he is able to convey through the physicality of his performance shows why he was absolutely deserving of his Oscar win. He left me wanting to know so much more about Glass, like how he ended up living with the Pawnee. At the same time I found the supporting performances impressive, particularly that of Hardy. His character could easily have become a caricature of evil but while Fitzgerald is loathsome it is possible to understand how he has become so. I was also mesmerised by the cinematography and the exploration of the overarching themes of motivation, family and trust. An absolute triumph for director, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who once again gives us a piece of cinema that will keep you thinking for hours afterwards. 5/5


Become a fur trapper they said. It’ll be fun they said.

Hoop Dreams (1994)

This ground-breaking documentary follows, Arthur Agee and William Gates, two aspiring basketball stars through their high school careers. Both boys come from disadvantaged urban backgrounds and both are offered scholarships to the prestigious St Joseph’s private school but here their fortunes change. William is the more naturally gifted and finds a sponsor but Arthur’s parents are pressed to pay half the fees, something completely out of their reach, and he returns to public school. After this neither of the two boys’ lives runs smoothly. William is beset by injuries and struggles with Coach Gene Pingatore’s relentless push to achieve as well as the pressure from his brother who failed to get to the NBA. Arthur’s family unit breaks down and he struggles with confidence after his ejection from St Joseph’s. And both boys are constantly on the precipice of being swallowed by their environment and turning into another “ghetto” statistic. I know very little about basketball and this documentary was about three hours long so the fact that it gripped me from start to finish is testament to director, Steve James’ ability to tell a compelling story. As a social commentary Hoop Dreams is that much more powerful and frustrating (in a good way) because it’s real, its characters are so compelling and it’s relevant even though it’s twelve years old. Highly recommended. 5/5


Arthur had seen the future and it was all orange

Man of Steel (2013)

So if I can remember this right… because it was Saturday morning and I was half asleep… Planet Krypton is dying out so scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe) puts his newborn son in a pod and sends him to Earth just as General Zod (Michael Shannon) is attempting a coup. This ends in the destruction of the planet and Zod and his cronies being launched into space. Little Kal-El crash lands into a barn where he is adopted by Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) and renamed Clark. Having passed through the sun’s radiation Clark (Henry Cavill) has some unusual abilities, ones that his adoptive father urges him to hide to avoid becoming a target but when Zod rocks up on Earth, Clark discovers the truth about his origins and must come out of the shadows to save the people he has grown to love… especially a certain journalist called Lois Lane (Amy Adams). As superhero movies go Man of Steel is a lot better developed than most. Clark/Superman is a complex layered character and even General Zod actually has some motivations… plus you know… Michael Shannon. On the other hand it’s really long. I mean like fucking long. I mean like I had to take a nap in the middle. I did like seventeen loads of laundry while it was on. As much as I was getting into the story and enjoying the performances after about an hour and 45 minutes I just wanted it to be over. Shaving off half an hour probably would have made it one of the better superhero movies I have seen lately but it’s hard to recommend anything that long that didn’t actually hold my attention all the way through. 3/5

Man of Steel

I love the smell of lycra in the morning…

Restless (2011)

Since his parents died Enoch (Henry Hopper) has left school and takes solace in attending strangers’ funerals. This is where he meets Annabel (Mia Wasikowska), a terminally ill girl with three months to live and a fascination with nature. Both are quirky characters obsessed with death so it’s unsurprising that they hit it off. Annabel isn’t even freaked out by the fact that Enoch’s only friend is Hiroshi (Ryô Kase), the ghost of a WWII kamikaze pilot. However as the two fall in love and find out more about each other’s journeys the reality that Annabel won’t be around for much longer starts to have a serious impact. I love Mia Wasikowska and this was directed by Gus van Sant so I thought it might be a good shout but unfortunately it is riddled with flaws. Hopper isn’t up to par with their Wasikowska or Kase so his performance never really rings true. It also appears that van Sant has gotten too sucked into his own desire for whimsy to pull the punches he needs to and when things get serious it’s kind of a shock to the system. Ultimately this is sweet I suppose but very, very skippable. 2/5


Bored by their matching haircuts, Enoch had fallen asleep on the bus


  1. smilingldsgirl

    Cool reviews. I agree on Hoop Dreams. What an amazing film about these boys and the dream, in this case basketball, and how that dream is both a blessing and a curse. My favorite moment is when Agee’s mother graduates. What a triumph. It’s interesting that the superhero movie felt long, which I agree with but the real life 3 hour movie flies by! 🙂

    1. abbiosbiston

      It’s amazing seeing how she can really appreciate the value of education but it’s so intangible to him. I’m definitely keen to check out the other films in the series.

  2. smilingldsgirl

    The Hoop Dreams Criterion Collection totally worth picking up

  3. Hoop Dreams sound really intriguing! Do you know if I can watch it on Netflix or somewhere similar? 3/5 is quite good for Man of Steel compared to your written review. 😛 (I just want to you to say it’s bad because it bored my pants off…)

    1. abbiosbiston

      It’s on UK Netflix at the moment. I thought Man of Steel had enough good points to make it worth watching but it just goes on too long.

      1. Thanks, I’ll check it from there then. 🙂

  4. High 5 for Hoop Dreams. Big fan of that film. Such a moving story.

    1. abbiosbiston

      It really is. They’re both such interesting boys.

      1. And the mum who passes the nurses’ exam. Such a moving scene.

  5. I still need to see The Revenant! Out of the ones I haven’t seen here, I’m most intrigued by Hoop Dreams. As for Man of Steel, I think I was generous when I reviewed it but upon second viewing there are tons I didn’t like about it, so 3/5 is probably what I’d end up with.

    1. abbiosbiston

      I have done really badly with this year’s Oscar nominees. Hoop Dreams is great. I’m glad I found it.

  6. MIB

    Glad you liked “The Revenant”. I could have shaved about 30 minutes from it but overall a stunning if bleak film.

    “Man Of Steel” I agree with. I was a huge Superman mark as a kid but the excess of the special effects and the flawed storytelling made this (and “Superman Returns”) a disappointment. However I am seeing “Batman vs. Superman” on the 25th which I hope is an improvement… :\

    1. abbiosbiston

      I saw The Revenant with someone who thought it should be shorter but the length didn’t bother me. Man of Steel on the other hand definitely could have been much shorter.

  7. Ooooh, and the movies started with 5/5 ratings, I thought you were on a super roll. However, seems you got to see a few pretty good movies. Man of Steel was alright, but definitely way, way, way, way too long.

    1. Accidentally hit send before completing – FINALLY on DiCaprio and his Oscar. It is way overdue, and I really think he deserved it.

    2. abbiosbiston

      Two 5s in one week is almost unheard of for me so I’d call it a great week. Lol!

  8. reverant was pretty good with all 3 of them deserving their oscars. I’m in the minority of those that enjoyed MoS, wish it woulda been longer 🙂

    Hoop Dreams wasnt my cup of tea. found it too long and a bit drawn out. The sequel Hoop Reality wasn’t better either IMHO.

    No desire to see restless

    1. abbiosbiston

      Definitely skip Restless. It’s pretty pointless.

  9. I want to go see the Revenant.

    1. abbiosbiston

      You should! But take a snack. It’s really long ☺

  10. The Revenant was among my favorite films from last year. Like I ended my review back then, it isn’t just a film, it’s an experience.

    1. abbiosbiston

      I completely agree!

  11. I wish I liked The Revenant as much as the book, but the whole family thing was tacked on for the movie, it isn’t a part of the original story. I don’t think anyways!

    It looks amazing and all but I wasn’t moved emotionally. As for Leo, I thought he was much better in The Wolf…. but that’s just me.

    Hoop Dreams sounds like something I’ll like a lot. I loooove my basketball 😀 I’ll have to find myself a copy of that one, sounds good

    1. abbiosbiston

      I think that happens with most films where you loved the book. The experience of the book is so enmeshed with the film that it never lives up. That happened to me with The Martian.

      1. I didn’t read the whole book, just the first third or so. That’s why I wasn’t sure about the family thing.. I was enjoying the book so I waited for the movie. I was kinda disappointed that they added the part about him having a half-pawnee child but then didn’t expand on it at all. That coulda been interesting, but they just used it as a plot device for him to take revenge. That’s why the scenes of him seeing his family just didn’t hit home for me at all. But that’s just me, I’m glad so many people have enjoyed it

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