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A Most Violent Year Review


With this confident drama, J.C. Chandor (Margin Call, All Is Lost) continues to evolve as a filmmaker, giving the mob movie a remarkably thoughtful twist with vivid characters and situations. This film holds us in a vice-grip, cleverly squeezing in on the characters and the audience with both emotional and moral dilemmas. And Oscar Isaac delivers yet another superbly textured performance, this time as a man trying desperately to remain outside the criminal world.

The title refers to 1981, when the crime rate in New York was at an all-time high. Abel (Isaac) has built his heating-oil company into a real contender, but has refused to indulge in the dodgy dealings of his competitors. Which has been difficult since he's married to Anna (Jessica Chastain), daughter of a notorious gangster. Then just as Abel takes out a loan to expand his business even further, he's hit by an indictment from the DA (David Oyelowo), which jeopardises the bank's loyalty. Meanwhile, his rivals' goons are hijacking his tanker-trucks and threatening his family. Although his chief competitor (Alessandro Nivola) denies this. And as things squeeze in on Abel and his lawyer (Albert Brooks), Anna urges them to take illegal action to get things back on track. After all, that's how business works in 1981 New York.

Isaac is utterly magnetic as Abel, a man who rejects the corruption and violence everyone else accepts as part of life. His interaction with an especially feisty Chastain is steely and riveting, as is his relationship with his young protege Julian (Elyes Gabel), a terrified hijacked driver whose storyline takes some surprising turns, some of which are a little obvious. All of the acting in the film is contained and bristling with emotion, giving the characters remarkable layers of texture that make them unusually believable and often startlingly easy to identify with.

Continue reading: A Most Violent Year Review

Video - Jessica Chastain Teams Her Red Locks With A Red Gown At 'A Most Violent Year' NY Premiere - Part 2


Video - Oscar Isaac And J.C. Chandor Among Guests At 'A Most Violent Year' NY Premiere - Part 1


All Is Lost Review


After the award-winning Margin Call, writer-director J.C. Chandor shifts gears completely for this fiercely detailed one-man survival drama. And Robert Redford gives the performance of his life as a sailor stranded at sea in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It's a riveting adventure that's only weakened by a script that piles so much misery on its hero that we stop believing it could really happen like this.

It all starts when the sailboat Virginia Dean runs into a floating shipping container near the Sumatra Straits. Lone sailor (Redford) patiently repairs the hole and pumps out the water, but is unable to fix his radio or navigational equipment, so he uses the stars to guide him towards safety. But along the way, he runs into a fierce storm that leaves the boat even more damaged. And when things get worse, he's forced to abandon ship and move into his lifeboat. But instead of drifting to a rescue, his ordeal only gets more and more harrowing.

Chandor does a great job at keeping us as focussed as this unnamed sailor, letting us experience everything along with him. The up-close camera work and astonishing effects make everything viscerally involving (riding the boat as it rolls in the storm is breathtaking). Although there's a point where we start to wonder what God has against this poor man, because what he endures is a bit too extreme to be true. Thankfully, Redford gives a beautifully grounded performance as a man who refuses to panic, meticulously addressing each successive calamity. In a virtually wordless performance, his tenacity gets deep under our skin.

Continue reading: All Is Lost Review

Video - Robert Redford Arrives With His Wife At The 'All Is Lost' NYFF Premiere - Part 1


Picture - Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb and... Cannes France, Wednesday 22nd May 2013

Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb and J. C. Chandor - 66th Cannes Film Festival - 'All is Lost' - photocall - Cannes, France - Wednesday 22nd May 2013

Anna Gerb:
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