Both an intensely personal odyssey and an exploration of the impact of conflict on communities, this sharply involving thriller marks an auspicious debut for director Yann Demange. It also features yet another striking lead performance for Jack O'Connell, who also received high praise for Starred Up earlier this year and has Angelina Jolie's Unbroken still to come. This film puts him through his paces as his character is sent on a relentless journey right into the heart of one of the most complex conflicts on earth.
The title tells us when this is taking place: it's the early days of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, as young Private Hook (O'Connell) is assigned to Belfast, where clashes between Catholic nationalists and Protestant unionists have turned the city into a war zone. While on a mission to diffuse a street riot, things spiral out of control and Hook is separated from his unit. Running for his life, he works his way across the city pursued by a tenacious thug (Killian Scott). He also meets a local leader (David Wilmot) and a couple (Richard Dormer and Charlie Murply) who help him survive. Meanwhile, Hook's senior officer (Sam Reid) works with a pair of British spies (Sean Harris and Paul Anderson) to track him down.
The film unfolds as a series of life-or-death encounters that can go either way, and each adds to the bigger picture of how the Troubles have torn Ireland apart. But the script intriguingly avoids politics to make a deeper comment on humanity, making it clear that this kind of situation certainly isn't unique to this time and place. Demange stages each sequence with bravura touches, using long-takes and intense filmmaking to put us right in the middle of the action. And O'Connell's sensitive, expressive performance makes it very easy to identify with Hook as he's thrown into a situation where everyone has guns and bombs but no experience at battle. This approach is so human that it's deeply unsettling; death is always a possibility, random and sudden.
Continue reading: '71 Review
Gary Hook (Jack O'Connell) is a British soldier, nervous about his placement in Belfast during the political riots of 1971. With little to no experience being barely out of school, the only thing he can trust is his own instincts, while being uncomfortable and suspicious of both the locals and his fellow soldiers. Unfortunately for him, his fear of the volatile situation is only about to get worse as he finds himself abandoned on unfamiliar streets when his own regiment takes flight. Now all alone surrounded by savage and angry Northern Irish residents, he has to find a way to survive the rest of the night before joining his team once again.
Continue: 71 - Clip
1971 - The height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. When Gary's regiment is sent to Belfast in an attempt to quell rioting in the area, all hell breaks loose and the unit leaves without him. Trapped in a strange and alien world, Gary is aware that almost everyone in the city wants to kill him. From here, the gripping thriller begins, as Gary struggles to stay alive throughout the night, in a desperate attempt to find rescue and make it back home to his family. '71 has so far received rave reviews from the Berlin Film Festival, where it premiered earlier this year in February.
Continue: 71 Trailer
Jack O'Connell, Charlie Murphy, David Wilmot, Barry Keoghan and Yann Demange - Photo call for 71, 64th Berlin International Film Festival, (Berlinale), at the Hyatt Potsdamerplatz - Berlin, Germany - Friday 7th February 2014
Father James Lavelle is a good-natured priest whose life is thrown into confusion and disarray when an anonymous man tells him in confession that he will kill him in a week's time - the only reason being because Lavelle is an innocent man. Of all the shocking things he's ever heard in confession, none have thrown him quite as much as this. Unable to go to the police under the rules of the 'Seal of the Confessional', Lavelle consults his church peers pondering whether it was merely an idle threat, or whether his life really is in danger. In his apparent last week in existence, he scrutinises the corrupt individuals of his sin-filled parish, wondering along the way why people seem to focus more on their vices than their virtues, but when his beloved church is burnt to the ground, his views on good and evil become distorted.
'Calvary' is the darkly comic drama about the timeless story of good and evil, and guilt and innocence. It has been directed and written by BAFTA nominated John Michael McDonagh ('The Guard', 'Ned Kelly') and is set in Ireland's beautiful West Coast countryside. The film is set to be released on April 11th 2014.
Riseborough gives her best-yet performance as Colette, a young IRA operative who visits London in 1993 and is arrested by MI5 agent Mac (Owen). He offers her a terrible deal she can't refuse: if she wants to avoid prison to raise her son, she'll have to return to Belfast and spy on her mother (Brennan) and activist brothers (Gillen and Gleeson). But when she gets home, she discovers that the IRA boss (Wilmot) knows there's a spy in their midst. Is he talking about her? Or is there another one? And Mac is also a bit nervous when his boss (Anderson) starts acting suspicious.
Continue reading: Shadow Dancer Review
David Wilmot, Aidan Gillen, James Marsh and Michael McElhatton - David Wilmot, Aidan Gillen, James Marsh, Michael McElhatton, Tuesday 21st August 2012 at the Irish premiere of 'Shadow Dancer'at the Lighthouse Cinema.
Colette McVeigh is a single mother who lives with her mother in Belfast. She is a republican with tyrannical brothers in the IRA. After a terminated plot to bomb London, she is arrested for the part she played in the scheme. MI5 agent Mac offers her a choice: go to prison for 25 years (after all, she is a terrorist), or go home to her mother and son and, in turn, spy on her extremist family and pass on information to Mac. However, no sooner has she become Mac's informant than Colette is in grave danger after suspicions are raised following an ambushed secret operation of her brothers'.
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Gerry Boyle (Gleeson) is an unpredictable policeman in a small Irish town. When a local murder is linked to an international drug-smuggling case, he's assigned to work with FBI Agent Everett (Cheadle), who like everyone else can't quite figure out if Boyle's a genius or an idiot. As they track down three notorious traffickers (Cunningham, Strong and Wilmot), the case gets increasingly complicated. But Boyle doesn't let it affect his private obsessions with hookers and drugs. More troublesome is his ill mum (Flanagan) and a young Croatian woman (Cas) whose husband is missing.
Continue reading: The Guard Review
Sergeant Gerry Boyle is a cop, working in a small town in County Galway, in the western part of Ireland, with a love of prostitutes, dropping acid on his days off and a dying mother. Whilst on the job, he doesn't follow the rulebook and he thinks that everyone he's met is an idiot.
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Pete Postlethwaite stars as Guinness-swilling Everyman Hubert, who, for no apparent reason, suddenly turns into a large white rat (he was a white man, they say, so it would be ridiculous for him to turn into a black rat!). That's not the point of the film, though -- the point is that no one seems to care very much about Hubert's predicament, staging a series of mundane problems around Hubert's dilemma. The local reporter wants to write a book about Hubert. Hubert gets tossed into a washing machine. Hubert bites his wife's finger. By the time Hubert suddenly turns back into a man again, we've utterly forgotten why we should care about him in the first place.
Continue reading: Rat Review
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