Film Review: The Counsellor

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Welcome to a world of philosopher gangsters, gun slinging drug runners and conniving femme fatales, a world that could only have been created by the pen of Cormac McCarthy (No Country For Old Men) Warning: misogynistic themes throughout.

The Counsellor, McCarthy’s first purpose built screenplay, unfortunately falls slightly flat despite its A-list cast. Given the calibre of the on-screen talent he secured, with the likes of Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt and Penelope Cruz gracing the screen, it is unsurprising that The Cousellor is singularly well acted. Fassbender is particularly effective as the eponymous Counsellor, who inexplicably involves himself in a drug deal that subsequently goes very badly wrong for everyone involved. However given the attention paid to presentation, the plot seems a little … unfinished.

The motivation for the Counsellor’s involvement in this shady underworld is never adequately explained, while he appears to know some dodgy people fairly well, the explanation of “greed” that is rather weakly pushed forward once the shit has well and truly hit the fan doesn’t really do much to satisfy. Given this fairly large plot hole it is difficult to feel any real connection to the man who story drags us into this world of murder and betrayal.

With Ridley Scott behind the camera The Counsellor does capture the beauty and the violence of the world we inhabit for 2 hours. A particularly brilliant scene sees a cheetah running down a hare in the New Mexico desert, the barren yellow landscape almost doubling for the savannah. Scott deals with the violence of McCarthy script very well with much implied and left to the imagination; the shoot-outs are kept to a minimum giving them much more impact.

Predictably McCarthy’s talent for writing misogynistic gangsters is used almost to the point of stupidity. There are more monologues about sex and “women”, said in the most despairing way, than there is actual plot. The only effect is to give the film a jarring rhythm that lurches from philosophical monologue to misogynistic monologue and back again.

Despite the A-list cast and director, and what should have been an A-list screenwriter, The Counsellor while not lacking in emotion, loses any connection with the audience through its superficial treatment of the plot and grating monologues.

In UK cinemas now.

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DVD Review: The Bling Ring

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Released on DVD barely a month after the word ‘selfie’ was added to the Oxford English Dictionary, Sofia Coppola’s teenage saga The Bling Ring couldn’t come at a more apposite time. Fuelled by an amazingly observed portrayal of the ‘real’ lives of teenagers The Bling Ring is certainly one of the most enjoyable teen movies out on DVD this week. The outlandish robberies are admittedly fantastical but the characters use of social media, the constant selfies and the glue that seems to attach them to their mobile phones creates a brilliant air of reality.

Based on the real life robberies carried out by a group the media dubbed “The Bling Ring”, Coppola’s movie follows Rebecca (Katie Chang), Marc (Israel Broussard), Nicki (Emma Watson) and a few of their drop-out friends as they start to target celebrity’s houses when their famous occupants are away. Using tabloid websites to track the movements of their targets, “The Bling Ring” break-in and help themselves to a few special keepsakes. This brief synopsis sounds a lot more sinister than it actually is, these teenagers are each troubled in their own way but they are not hardened criminals. Their actions are fuelled by obsession and a belief that they are entitled to a better, more fabulous way of life.

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Film Review: Chasing Ice

My first review for Next Projection: Chasing Ice a documentary about climate change and EIS.

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Chasing Ice is in its most basic form an environmental documentary, a man with a plan ready to educate the general public about the speed and immediacy of global warming in a medium everybody understands – photography. Sounds self-righteous and preachy? Well it isn’t.

Chasing Ice cleverly treads the line between the condescending and the unapproachable, there’s science in there everyone can understand (with the help of some nifty graphics) and coupled with brilliant photography it makes for a genuinely moving and emotive documentary.

Read more at Next Projection.

Time Bandits, a Film About Time Travelling Dwarfs But Not Necessarily the Kind an 11 Year Old Might Expect.

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**Mild Spoiler if you haven’t seen it!**

Released in 1981 Time Bandits was created for a generation of kids very different from todays. A generation less technologically aware and perhaps more sensitive to extremes of violence and emotion, but how would a modern 11 year old view this cult classic.

My younger brother Oscar, who is 11 and well versed in the worlds of The Hunger Games, The Hobbit and Iron Man, watched the new digitally remastered Time Bandits and told me what he thought of it.

So what did you think of Time Bandits?

When you said dwarves were in the movie I thought you meant Hobbit type dwarves traveling through time! It was a bit weird . . . it’s confusing, like at the end when his parents just die and that’s the end! That was sad. I liked the bit before they touch the “evil”, when Kevin is rescued by the fireman (Sean Connery). But I didn’t like it when his parents died.

Read the full interview on TQS

DVD Releases I Missed This Week

Everyone drops the ball now and the then, but this week was particularly impressive. Not 1 but FOUR amazing films released on DVD and I only write about one of them?! Not good! So here are the other three …

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1. The Paperboy. Featured in my Top 5 Films of the Year so Far (here) this dark, swampy thriller is perhaps one of the most underrated releases this year. Starring Nicole Kidman, John Cusack and Zac Efron it’s well worth a watch.

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2. The Place Beyond The Pines. Also found in my Top 5 List (here) The Place Beyond The Pines has been one of the most confusing films I’ve seen this year – Perfect through two thirds of its epic story and then thoroughly disappointing for the rest. Definitely worth renting though, even if you turn it off when the “10 years later” screen appears.

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3. Side Effects. Not the best film released this year but by no means the worst. An entertaining thriller with a confused and rushed ending that will leaving you going “huh?!” and not necessarily in a good way. I wouldn’t rush back to see this movie again but worth a watch on a rainy night in.

Want to read more on each film? Click the title to be transported across the web to my original reviews!

Film Review: The Returned to Return to DVD

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The new hit drama from channel 4, The Returned, originates from the 2004 French film of the same name; a film which is set to be rereleased on the 22nd July 2013.
Many may approach this release with trepidation, fearful of the dreaded spoiler, but rest assured as far as I can tell, being only 3 episodes into the series, the film is completely free of spoilers taking a more wide reaching and logistical view on the phenomenon. The phenomenon, for people unfamiliar with the show, is that people have inexplicably returned from the grave in a small French town.
Set in a sleepy town, but with a global view, The Returned gives an emotional, logistical and medical view on the dead returning from the grave.

The Returned is set for rerelease in the UK on 22nd July 2013.

Read more at TQS magazine