A meaty, fascinating story is splintered into three plot strands that battle for the viewer's attention, so while the film is never boring, it's also oddly uninvolving. Fortunately, it has an excellent cast and is shot with skill and a relentless intensity to feel like a big, epic-style dramatic thriller with heavy political overtones.
After a scene-setting prologue, the story starts in 1953 Moscow, where Leo (Tom Hardy) is a war hero now working in the military police, purging the city of its spies. Or at least its suspected spies. In the Soviet socialist utopia, crime officially doesn't exist, but Leo finds it difficult to tell his best pal Alexei (Fares Fares) that his 8-year-old son was killed in a train accident when he was so clearly tortured and murdered. Ordered by his boss (Vincent Cassel) to let it go, and menaced by his rival colleague Vasili (Joel Kinnaman), Leo continues investigating, resulting in a reprimand that sees Leo and his wife Raisa (Noomi Rapace) relocated to the the grim industrial city of Volsk. But when another young boy's body appears here, Leo gets his new boss (Gary Oldman) to see the connection.
There are at least three main plots in this film, and the filmmakers oddly never allow one to become the central strand. There's the mystery involving this brutal, unhinged serial killer (Paddy Considine) stalking boys along the railway. There's the thriller about Leo being brutally taunted by Vasili, who has a thing for Raisa and is trying to crush them for good. But the only emotionally engaging strand is Leo and Raisa's complex marriage relationship, which takes a couple of unexpected turns. Along the way, there are several action sequences shot with shaky cameras and edited so they're impossible to follow. And there's a sense that the film also wants to be a grandiose Russian epic with its expansive cinematography and big orchestral score.
Continue reading: Child 44 Review
During the Second World War, many Russian men were able to make a name for themselves as heroes. Returning home to their victorious country, many discovered that the Communist utopia they had fought to defend may have been more fictitious than they originally thought. For Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy), this truth comes harshly. Having become a hero for his efforts in the war against Germany, Demidov is given the job as a secret policeman. But when he comes across the case of a potential serial killer that hunts children, his superiors refuse to acknowledge the crime, maintaining that they live in a perfect world. After being exiled from Moscow for refusing to drop the case, Demidov must search for the real truth behind the killings, despite knowing that the truth could be dangerous.
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Based on a true story, this crowd-pleasing comedy-drama is such a joy to watch that it wears our faces out with all the smiling, laughing, crying and cheering. Skilfully written and directed, and sharply well played by an ace cast, this is a story that can't help but get under the skin. Its twists and turns are genuinely jaw-dropping, and the character interaction sparks with all kinds of issues that feel hugely resonant, even though the events depicted took place 30 years ago. In other words, this is a strong candidate for film of the year.
It's set in 1984 London, where 20-year-old Joe (George MacKay) sneaks out of his parents' home to attend the gay pride festivities. When he meets a group of lesbian and gay activists (including Ben Schnetzer, Andrew Scott and Dominic West), he feels like he has found his own place in the world. Their cause is to aid striking miners, because they understand how it feels to be abused by the police and oppressed by their own government. But of course Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners finds it difficult to get a group to accept their assistance. Eventually, they discover a group of strike supporters in the small Welsh village of Dulais who are willing to partner with them, so they travel to Wales to meet them (including Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine and Jessica Gunning), sparking a major culture clash.
Cleverly, the script allows each character in the story to take his or her own personal journey, and the variety of plot-threads weave together beautifully to be powerfully involving. This also allows the filmmakers to explore a wide range of issues in both communities. The gays are facing family rejection, public harassment and the dawn of the Aids epidemic, while the miners are grappling with deep-seated prejudices while watching their lives eviscerated by Thatcher's systematic plan to crush the unions. All of this gives the cast a lot of meat to chew on, and yet the film's brightly anarchic pacing and energetic period touches keep it from ever feeling preachy.
Continue reading: Pride Review
'Pride' could be BAFTA's - and perhaps Oscars bound - after critics lauded it ahead of release this weekend.
Pride is almost certainly the movie that you have to see at the cinema this weekend. The comedy-drama has everything to match some of the great British movies of recent years - The King's Speech, Tyrannosaur, In Bruges, etc. It has a strong narrative, a hugely talented cast and, now, excellent reviews.
Set in the summer of 1984, with Margaret Thatcher in power and the National Union of Mineworkers on strike, Pride tells the story of a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists who raise money to support the strikers' family. Initially rejected by the Union, the group set off to a tiny mining village in Wales to make their donation in person. In probably the most British line in a movie synopsis, ever, "As the strike drags on, the two groups discover that standing together makes for the strongest union of all."
Continue reading: With 100%, 'Pride' Is Probably The Best British Movie of the Year
During the UK miners strike between 1984 and 1985, working families are in desperate need of support. They're feeling victimised and abandoned by society as threats over their livelihood remain imminent. But they're not the only ones feeling ostracised in their own country and that's how the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign was born. Homophobia is rife in the UK, with the National Union of Mineworkers even refusing help from the LGSM campaigners for fear of how people may see them. Instead, they take their support to a small town in Wales where the majority of workers there are miners. In an extraordinary show of acceptance in an unlikely era, the town allows their new supporters to raise funds for their village. The townspeople may be humorously ignorant about life as a homosexual, but they're judging no longer.
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There's such an important issue at the centre of this British thriller that the film should not be ignored, even if filmmaker Shan Khan strains to turn it into a formulaic thriller. It's beautifully shot and performed with emotional resonance by a gifted cast, but the fragmented structure makes it difficult to engage with the story.
The topic at hand is honour killing, a threat that becomes real for British-Pakistani estate agent Mona (Aiysha Hart) when she decides to run off with her boyfriend Tanvir (Nikesh Patel) against her family's wishes. So her mother (Harvey Virdi) and older brother Kasim (Faraz Ayub), reluctantly joined by younger brother Adel (Shubham Saraf), hire an unnamed bounty hunter (Paddy Considine) to track her down and stop her. But this case forces him to examine with his own past as a racist thug.
Considine delivers one of his most textured performances yet as a man who is finally listening to his conscience after years of harsh brutality. This makes him an absorbing character through which to enter this story, and his limited interaction with others is telling and sometimes moving. Hart is also terrific as a young woman who is pushed from high-flying professional to cowering victim by her own subculture. The other standout is Saraf as a teen who knows his family traditions are utterly wrong and feels helpless to stand up against them.
Continue reading: Honour Review
After his acclaimed drama Submarine, actor-turned-filmmaker Richard Ayoade applies his considerable visual skills to this striking blackly comical adaptation of Dostoevsky's novella. Bristling with wit and snappy details, the film's style overwhelms its emotional core, leaving us unable to feel the punch of this odyssey about a young man wrestling with his own identity.
Jesse Eisenberg stars as Simon, a loner who's still anonymous at work after seven years in his desk job. Secretly in love with the copy girl Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), he watches her through a telescope from his flat and digs through her rubbish. Then just as he's assigned to mentor the surly teen daughter (Yasmin Paige) of his manager (Wallace Shawn), James meets new employee Simon (also Eisenberg), a mirror image of himself who is far more confident, fun-loving and, yes, popular with everyone in the office.
Ayoade designs the film like a drab variation on Terry Gilliam's Brazil (and more recently The Zero Theorem), with that same claustrophobic sense of overcrowded anonymity and Kaflaesque bureaucracy. It's not particularly original, but it is fun to watch, especially on a big screen where we can take in the detailed sets and costumes, as well as a steady procession of amusing cameos from the likes of Chris O'Dowd and Submarine stars Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine, Noah Taylor and Craig Roberts. All of this adds to the general chaos of Simon's life, as well as his deep urban angst. But we're too distracted to properly sympathise with him.
Continue reading: The Double Review
Simon is a timid, uncharismatic and largely forgettable man who doesn't seem to be getting anywhere in life. He is rarely acknowledge at work and is a stranger to all his colleagues, his mother is disappointed in his lacklustre life and to top it all off, the woman he loves, Hannah, remains firmly indifferent to his existence. With his future hanging in the balance as he fails to make an impression on anybody, his life is further thrust into oblivion with the arrival of his doppelganger and complete opposite, James - who is newly employed at Simon's work. Unlike Simon, James captivates everyone he meets and is destined for success - even Hannah has his attention as he rapidly takes over Simon's life. With everybody else totally ignorant of the creepy resemblance, Simon is forced to snatch his life back by any means possible.
Continue: The Double - Clip
Paddy Considine plays a bounty hunter in 'Honour'.
The first trailer for Shan Khan's debut feature Honour, starring Paddy Considine and Aiysha Hart, has rolled out online. Khan, the Scottish actor turned director penned the story about a young Muslim woman Monda whose plan to elope with her boyfriend angers her family to the point that they decide she should be killed.
Paddy Considine in 'Honour'
Mona flees though the family enlist the help of a bounty hunter (Considine) who is tasked with tracking her down in the big city.
Continue reading: Paddy Considine Is Ruthless Bounty Hunter in 'Honour' [Trailer]
Mona is a beautiful young woman brought up in a strictly Muslim family in Britain but has preferences towards Western ideologies. Not one to confine herself within her family's religion, she improperly finds herself a Punjabi boyfriend with whom she has a forbidden intimate relationship. Well aware of her family's unwavering stance on the importance of virginity and marriage, Mona plans to run away with him but not before her relations attempt the brutal honour killing of her in the name of Islam. She flees, but her family are not done yet and her mother calls in a ruthless bounty hunter in a bid to save their reputation. The hunter is usually happy to kill people on a business is business basis, but just how will he feel once Mona is in his grasp?
'Honour' is a dynamic and heart-stopping thriller about issues that have been around for centuries amongst religious families. Starring Paddy Considine ('The World's End', 'The Bourne Ultimatum') and up-and-coming actress Aiysha Hart ('Atlantis', 'Djinn'), it has been directed by BAFTA nominated Shan Khan ('Candy Bar Kid' short film) in her feature film directorial debut. The film is scheduled for release in the UK on April 4th 2014.
Simon is one of those sorts of people who can never seem to make an impression on anybody. His work colleagues barely know his name, his love interest Hannah remains stoically uninterested and his mother is unsupportive and, quite frankly, thinks he's rather strange. Already in danger of letting his life slowly slip from his grasp, things start to get dark when a new employee joins Simon at work. James is the spitting image of Simon in every way from the hair and clothes to the voice and smile; however, the very obvious difference is that James is brimming with confidence with a magnetic charisma that charms everyone he meets. Simon appears to be the only person who notices his resemblance - a frustrating prospect when Hannah starts to become extremely interested in James. Simon simply can't let this imposter infiltrate his world - but just how far will he go to stop him?
Continue: The Double Trailer
Simon is already running the risk of seeing his life crash and burn around him, with his reticent personality forcing away any love interests (or even friends), attracting much disappointment from his mother and losing him support in his career, but things are about to go further downhill very soon. A new employee named James has taken up a position at his workplace but, to Simon's horror, he looks and sounds identical to him - only with a more extroverted disposition and captivating character. Simon's too afraid to try and change things in his life, feeling comfortable (if a little depressed) with remaining in the shadows, but when James starts to take over everything he holds most dear, he is forced to try. But can he battle his demons while remaining sane at the same time?
Continue: The Double - 2 Snakes Clip
Being diffident, introverted and generally awkward in social situations, Simon finds his life increasingly difficult as he feels unappreciated in his work life, disparaged by his disappointed mother and rejected by his only love interest. Unable to find the courage to turn his life around, things are about to get much, much worse as a new employee at his company named James shows up. James is Simon's ultimate doppelganger, and his appearance only serves to make Simon increasingly more nervous as, although they are identical in looks, they are total opposites in personalities with James possessing a much more confident and magnetic character. Gradually, James starts to infiltrate Simon's life, taking over everything he holds most dear with Simon being driven completely insane in the process.
Continue: The Double - Teaser Trailer
The Brits love dweeb comedy duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost: here's why you should too.
New British comedy The World's End has been released today (23rd Aug) in America and is the third in the tenuously linked 'Cornetto Trilogy.' First off, you should know that the title is the name of the pub that proves crucial to the plotline of the movie as the characters embark on that modern British crusade: the epic pub crawl. The movie serves as a sort-of sequel to 2007's Hot Fuzz and 2004's Shaun of the Dead in that the same band of UK comedy actors are employed.
We Brits love our dorks so there's little hunky eye candy within the trilogy's recurring cast of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Bill Nighy and Paddy Considine. However, what you do get is some of Britain's funniest comedy actors playing a band of unlikely heroes who will win over your hearts for their determination and the film's daft sense of humour.
Continue reading: Here's Why America Should Flock To See 'The World's End' This Weekend
After Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Pegg and Wright conclude their so-called Cornetto Trilogy with yet another riotously inspired exploration of British culture: the pub crawl. And this time it's apocalyptic! But what makes the film thoroughly endearing is its focus on old friendships that are so well-played that we can't help but find ourselves on-screen even when things get very, very silly.
Pegg plays Gary, the ringleader of his band of school pals. It's been more than 20 years since their failed attempt to visit all 12 pubs in their hometown of Newton Haven. Now approaching 40, Gary hasn't grown up nearly as much as his friends, so it takes a bit of convincing to get the now-settled Andy, Ollie, Pete and Steve (Frost, Freeman, Marsan and Considine) to reunite for a renewed attempt to drink their way through town. Then after the first couple of pints, they start to suspect that something isn't quite right. People are behaving strangely, as if there are alien body snatchers taking over the town. So to avoid attracting attention, the boys just carry on getting blind drunk on their way to the 12th pub, The World's End.
As in the previous films, Pegg and Wright continue developing the characters and their inter-relationships even as everything falls apart around them. Sure, the end of the humanity seems to be upon them, but there's unfinished business between them that needs sorting out, and besides there are more pints to drink. Along the way, things are spiced up as they meet Ollie's sister Sam (Pike), who shocks Gary by refusing to pick up where they left off. They also encounter a former teacher (Brosnan), the town's crazy old man (Bradley) and a shady guy known as The Reverend (Smiley).
Continue reading: The World's End Review