Film Review: Trance dir. Danny Boyle

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The question everyone has for Danny Boyle is HOW? How and when did he have time to make a film amidst Olympic preparations and promotion? The answer – the man is not normal!

While many critics have been unsure about his latest offering, Trance, there is no denying the sheer style and class of the film. With trademark monologue scenes, to-camera delivery and a fantastic soundtrack Trance certainly is a cut above most mobster/heist movies.

The psychological insecurity of all the characters is an overriding theme throughout the whole film, leaving the audience wondering who is in control and what is the ‘reality’ of the situation in which we find Simon (James McAvoy). While the dark undertones of the film creep through more and more as time goes on, Boyle has called Trance the dark cousin of Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours. Leaving behind the redemptive features to focus more on the dark side of human nature.

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The deterioration of the film from simple art heist to psychological thriller is intense and brilliantly paced. As the plot progresses our sympathies towards Simon slowly melt away as we see all is not as it first appeared. In contrast mob boss Franck (Vincent Cassel) changes from hard criminal to a much more complex character. This change in our perceptions of the main characters gives the film a depth that differentiates it from your run-of-the-mill mob movie. The empathetic nature of all the characters confuses the audience about how we are meant to feel about the events playing out in front of us. And as actions and motives become increasingly more uncertain, your taken deeper and deeper into a maze of reality and implanted ideas.

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The performances from Cassel and McAvoy steal the show, but Rosario Dawson as Elizabeth Lamb gives an engaging performance as the catalyst of the uncertainty.

Trance is not one of Danny Boyle best films, but to compare his back catalogue is to enter a bizarre world where the normal rules of film don’t apply. From any other director this film would be a triumph, the twists and turns are reflected perfectly by the erratic, dream-like nature of the shots, but unfortunately it is likely to fall behind the likes of Trainspotting and 28 Days Later when the history of Danny Boyle is written. But as a film in it’s own right it is brilliant.

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To view trailer click here.

Currently on general release in the UK.

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Zombies: The Monster of the Moment

The finale of season 3 of AMC’s The Walking Dead, set records for this year as 12.4 million people tuned into the final episode ‘Welcome to the Tombs’ on Sunday.

Maybe not your traditional Easter Sunday viewing, but it was well worth tuning in for. Although in my opinion this season lost it’s way slightly during the middle as the plot seemed to circle the same few events over and over; with death, madness and the prison become all too familiar. The finale brought it back with Rick coming out of his, frankly annoying, dictatorial state to step up and save the prison and it’s inhabitants. It was a great episode, and in my opinion, set The Walking Dead back on track, returning it to the brilliance of the first series.

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(The Walking Dead)

Zombies are very much the monster of now, traditionally they have been the monster of recession. They are us; the mindless consumer, unthinkingly going after what they want and destroying the world in the process. While The Walking Dead takes the traditional view of the zombie there have been a raft of ‘new’ takes on the zombie genre, mostly informed by the Twilight phenomenon.

While Vampires have always had overtones of sex and passion . . . zombies? Not so much. This hasn’t stopped people trying to reinvent the zombie. Warm Bodies, a tongue-and-cheek comedy Zombie rom-com brought out the romantic side of the zombie, while BBC 3’s In The Flesh is a new drama about rehabilitated zombies – or ‘Partially Deceased Syndrome Sufferers’.

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(In The Flesh)

Both of these have cheeky references to the zombie genre, in In The Flesh the ‘PDS’ sufferers are persecuted by some in their communities but miss understood by others – one woman can understand why her daughter hasn’t come back after being bitten and has to be reminded that “This isn’t a film.”

Warm Bodies the central characters monologue shows the humanity inside the grunting exterior, playing on the contrast between the gormless exterior of the zombie and the activity of the mind inside.

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(Warm Bodies)

While both these takes on the genre are interesting, there is one major problem – reanimated corpses aren’t attractive or desirable. While there are now rafts of tweenage girls dreaming of becoming an immortal vampire, I doubt theres equal numbers pinning after a rabid corpse. Warm Bodies counters this with it’s humour, and self deprecating dialogue but In The Flesh falls somewhat short in it’s efforts to be serious and creates a simply unbelievable and unrelatable main character. In that respect The Walking Dead  has much more scope to explore different facets of humanity, as people are forced in to bizarre and increasingly dangerous situations.

But the fact remains the Zombie is the monster of the moment, and with the Evil Dead remake imminent it seems the invasion continues . . . .

See my review of Warm Bodies here.

In The Flesh is available on BBC iPlayer.

This Is The End Trailer Released

This is the End trailer has been released and although it maybe spoils a few ‘surprise’ celebrity cameos, it looks like it’s going to be a very funny film.

The premise that ‘real-life celebrities’ play themselves in an apocalypse film is an interesting one. There is an air of Extras around the concept, with celebrities parodying the publics image of themselves.

There’s a whole host of celebrities playing themselves . . . James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Danny Mcbride, Michael Cera and so many more. This is the End is definitely trading on it’s cast but so many films do and at least this on is up front about it!!

So heres the trailer . . .

(**be warned it does spoil some of the ‘surprise’ cameos**)

An interesting concept, this is never going to be the best film of the year but it’ll be funny and definitely worth a watch!

UK release date: 23rd June 2013