Tag Archives: ’71

Failed Critics Podcast: Fury in a Half Shell

fury 4Apologies for the lack of podcast last week. Due to technical errors that we won’t bore you with, we couldn’t fix some audio issues. But never mind! We’re back this week with a review of the BFI London Film Festival 2014, which Carole kindly dragged herself back from New York for.  Steve and Owen also get a chance to go over old ground as they review ‘71 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

We also had a new release review of the latest David Ayer war film Fury, starring Brad Pitt, and a near unanimous opinion on Shia LaBeouf. Probably not the one you’re expecting, either!

Join us next week for a spooky Halloween special. Until then.. Cowabunga. Sorry.

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’71

“..certainly one of the best British films of 2014 and will hopefully be considered that come award season.”

by Steve Norman (@StevePN86)

71The Troubles in Northern Ireland were not something I was taught about in school, perhaps as, with the Good Friday Agreement taking place in 1998, when I was eight years old, it was not yet ‘History’ and was, and probably still is, fresh in the minds of many British and Irish people or perhaps it was to complex and difficult a situation to teach schoolchildren about, even at GCSE level.

If you are looking for a film that looks into this period of history this is not it. 1970’s Northern Ireland is just a backdrop for the movie. It could easily have been set in Afghanistan or Iraq in the last 15 years or so, occupied France in World War 2 or perhaps any conflict of the last century.

This film does not pick a side. It plays it completely neutral and straight down the middle showing that there are/were good people and bad people on both sides of the conflict. There is a line where a young child asks the main character, Gary Hook, played by Jack O’Connell, if he is Catholic or Protestant and he replies ‘I don’t know’.

What you do get is a tense thriller about a young soldier stuck behind enemy lines with people out hunting for him and to ultimately kill him.

The film really knows how to ramp up the tension and sense of foreboding, whether it is through a chase through the back streets of Belfast with gunmen on Gary Hook’s tail or the young private hiding in an outhouse or alley way in the dark from a mob wielding weapons and Molotov cocktails.

This is done superbly by the direction of Yann Demange and the soundtrack which helps set the mood. I felt more tense and ‘scared’ watching ’71 than I have watching many modern horror films.

There is also a scene involving a bomb blast in a pub which is so realistic and effective it feels like you were in the explosion itself while sat in your cinema seat.

Jack O’Connell is undoubtedly the star and the most important character in the film but has very little dialogue. It would not be surprising to find out that many of the supporting cast had more lines than him.

However his performance is not hampered in any way at all. O’Connell seems to thrive in this role and can express his emotions, the fear and panic felt and the aggression and anger in a few scenes without needing to open his mouth.

Unfortunately it is not all positive and the film does let itself down towards the end. ’71 has a subplot involving some undercover agents which never really adds to it in anyway but as it comes to the fore in the closing stages it kind of takes the sheen off of a very polished film.

Still the film is easily worth watching and is certainly one of the best British films of 2014 and will hopefully be considered that come award season. O’Connell is set for big things following this and turns in Starred Up and Skins and it will be interesting to see how he does in the Angelina Jolie directed Unbroken later this year.

’71 is still in cinemas right now, catch it before it drops out. You can also hear Steve, Owen and Carole talk about ’71 on the upcoming podcast!

BFI London Film Festival 2014 Preview

It’s that time of year again – the bathroom light has to go on in the morning, loads of good American TV shows start again, and Christmas tat is starting to appear in the shops. Yes, autumn is on the way, and with it comes the 58th London Film Festival.

by Carole Petts (@DeathByJigsaws)

lff14My initial reaction to this year’s line-up – once I had grumbled about the member’s launch being a day later than the press launch, rendering it invalid for the most part – was how many big names are missing. No room for The Theory of Everything, St Vincent (the film, not the singer), or The Equalizer; all making their Toronto debuts this week. But scratching beneath the surface yields some treasure.

First up, let’s deal with the obvious contenders. I am looking forward to Foxcatcher very much – directed by Bennett Miller of Capote and Moneyball, the film stars Steve Carrell in a rare serious role alongside Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo. Loosely based on a true story, the film follows the struggle between two wrestling champion brothers (Tatum and Ruffalo) which takes a sinister turn with the arrival of a mysterious benefactor (Carrell). Foxcatcher received stellar notices when it premiered in Cannes earlier this year and has also been prominently mentioned in early Oscar buzz. Other big hitters include The Imitation Game, the long-awaited Alan Turing biopic which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the tortured mathematical genius, and Fury, a World War 2 film from David Ayer (End of Watch) starring Brad Pitt. These open and close the festival respectively, and will be shown at cinemas across the country in tandem with their gala screenings. Mr Turner features an already award-winning performance by Timothy Spall as the titular JMW Turner, and LFF also hosts the directorial debut of Jon Stewart – Rosewater is the story of an Iranian journalist covering the country’s political unrest in 2009 who gets on the wrong side of the establishment.

Gala screenings I am looking forward to include The Salvation, a Danish western (!) starring Mads Mikkelsen and, bizarrely, Eric Cantona; Whiplash, a story about the relationship between a musical prodigy and his virtuoso teacher which is audaciously structured like a thriller; and The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom, a wuxia starring Fan Bingbing as a witch fighting to free people from tyranny during the end of the Ming Dynasty.

the immitation game

In the official competition, the film that stands out is Dearest – the story of a couple whose lives are turned upside down when their son goes missing. One of the most eagerly anticipated films in the first feature competition is ’71, set in the streets of Belfast during the titular year and starring Jack O’Connell (Starred Up) as a wet behind the ears squaddie dispatched to keep the peace.

The documentary strand has yielded some interesting prospects. There are familiar subjects in Hockey: A Life in Pictures, National Gallery, and The Possibilities Are Endless (the story of Edwyn Collins after his stroke), and a step into the unknown with In The Basement – a film about what Austrians do – yes! – in their basements. The love strand has one particular film of interest to me – Love is Strange, starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a couple forced to leave their apartment separately. This film has gathered some notoriety in the States for being rated R for no apparent reason, apart from its central relationship being a homosexual one.night bus

1001 Grams is an intriguing-looking slice of dark humour, and Night Bus explores the sometimes intimate, sometimes scary, but always intriguing world of the London night bus (shout out to route N1). A Hard Day is described as a neo-noir slice of Korean cinema, following a policeman who is having a really bad day. The follow-up to Monsters, Monsters: Dark Continent, had more creatures in the trailer than in the whole of the previous film put together, so that bodes well. There are also restored classic films scattered throughout the programme, from Orwell’s Animal Farm to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Guys and Dolls. And of course, the legendary shorts programmes are back, spanning all strands and giving you plenty of bang for your buck.

So although at first glance the line-up looks a bit light, a proper dissection of the schedule reveals that there is something for everyone here. The beauty of LFF has always lain in taking a chance and seeing something you would never normally buy a ticket for. I think this year will see a return to that essence for many people.

We will of course be bringing you reviews and diary entries during the festival itself, so don’t forget to check back between 8-19 October 2014 for more articles! You can find a full line up of what’s showing at the LFF 2014 on the BFI website.