Rising star Jack O'Connell delivers a ripping performance as a young convict with more baggage than you'd think humanly possible. And he's ably supported by Ben Mendelsohn and Rupert Friend in career-best performances. So even if the film indulges in just about every prison-movie cliche imaginable, the focus on intensely realistic characters makes it stand out from other movies.
O'Connell plays Eric, who at 19 is so violent that he has been "starred up" from his young-offenders prison to the big house. The hitch is that he's now on the same wing as Neville (Mendelsohn), the father he's never known. Eric is such a brute that the harsh governor (Sam Spruell) wants to keep him in a hole, but concerned therapist Oliver (Friend) thinks he can help Eric channel his anger in more positive directions. On the other hand, by attending therapy sessions Eric is putting himself right in the middle of his father's rival prison gang.
The demands of the plot are obvious from the start, as the film makes it clear that prison is a hopeless place where violence rules. So while director David Mackenzie (Young Adam) lets the usual vicious nastiness swirl through each scene, he also tries to keep the focus on Eric's more internal struggle against his lifetime of abuse and abandonment. This is of course far more interesting than the prison-life plot, giving O'Connell a chance to deliver a strikingly involving turn as a young guy who's outwardly terrifying but also thoughtful and intelligent.
Continue reading: Starred Up Review
A mysterious illness sweeps the world causing people to experience horrible grief before losing their sense of smell. This creates a challenge for Glasgow chef Michael (McGregor), but that's easy compared to the next epidemic: terror followed by the loss of taste. So with his assistant (Bremner), he experiments with temperature and texture to keep customers happy. Meanwhile, Michael falls for Susan (Green), an epidemiologist trying to figure out what's happening.
People are adjusting to the changes, but the next wave involves rage and hearing loss. How long can human resilience endure?
Continue reading: Perfect Sense Review
Adam (Treadaway) and Tyko (Baynton) are the frontmen for the hit band The Make, getting ready to perform at Scotland's huge T in the Park festival. When they have a confrontation with girl band The Dirty Pinks, a stranger handcuffs Adam to lead singer Morello (Tena) in an attempt to bring peace. Adam's grumpy supermodel girlfriend Lake (Gedmintas) isn't finding this funny, and neither is Morello's nice-guy boyfriend Mark (Mackenzie). But the real problem is that the girls are due on stage soon, and no one can find the key.
Continue reading: You Instead Review
Once in town, Hallam lines up a dishwashing job at a big hotel and instantly falls in love with Kate (Sophia Myles), the woman who hired him. Using the spying skills he developed in his treehouse, Hallam is able to peep as Kate has hot assignations with her married boss, and his knowledge of the affair will get him into much hot water, even as he busies himself with trying to solve the mystery of his mother's death once and for all. Did someone put sleeping pills in her coffee and toss her in the loch? He must find out.
Continue reading: Mister Foe Review
For all the watching going on in Red Road, there is precious little safety -- in fact one of the tropes that writer/director Arnold (in an extremely impressive feature debut) insistently returns to is the resolute unsafety of these people's worlds, no matter how much technology surrounds them. Arnold's protagonist is Jackie (the fantastically affecting Kate Dickie) a bracingly cold and shut-off woman who works at the City Eye, controlling a bank of cameras with a joystick, occasionally zooming on something menacing or just plain out of the ordinary, watching. Her contact with the human race is limited practically to these TV screens, having shut herself off from her parents and seemingly keeping no friends; the only relationship with any regularity we see is a functional and depressing affair carried on with a married man occasionally in his van. Arnold sinks viewers deep into Jackie's self-induced loneliness, letting out only the faintest hints about what tragedy has pushed her into this suffocating state (Was there a husband? A daughter?), before Jackie sees a man's face on the camera one day which she remembers from her past.
Continue reading: Red Road Review
The Vault lets loose its first unreleased material.
Here's what he thinks about the veteran filmmaker.
Ocean's two albums, ‘Blonde’ and ‘Endless’, both missed the Grammy deadline.
Rising star Jack O'Connell delivers a ripping performance as a young convict with more baggage...
This high-concept apocalyptic thriller starts well, with a lush visual style and strong performances. But...
Eclectic filmmaker Mackenzie tries out another genre with this frisky, loose romantic comedy filmed at...