Paul Webster

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Locke Review


OK

A riveting performance from Tom Hardy makes this pseudo-thriller utterly riveting, turning even the most contrived plot elements into punchy drama. Like Robert Redford in All Is Lost or Sandra Bullock in Gravity, this one-person show also works as an intriguing cinematic experiment: telling an entire story centred only on a man driving a car for 90 minutes.

Hardy plays construction foreman Ivan Locke, who's set to oversee the biggest concrete pour in Europe. But at the crucial moment, he abandons his post and hits the road for a late-night drive from Birmingham to London. He turns his work responsibility over to his extremely nervous assistant (voiced by Andrew Scott), but has a tough time calming down the corporate bosses. He also phones his sons (Tom Holland and Bill Milner) to tell them he won't make it home to watch the big game, but he struggles to explain to his angry wife (Ruth Wilson) the reason he's driving to London to meet a middle-aged woman (Olivia Colman), who is also sounding rather stressed down the line.

As Hardy's character tries to salvage his marriage, family and career, his moral conundrum becomes increasingly intense, and Hardy plays him as a man whose internal turmoil is raging behind his confident voice. It's a remarkably effective performance, gripping and involving, asking big questions even if the script never quite gets around to grappling with the issues at hand. It's also playing rather heavily on the irony that doing the right thing is likely to cost Ivan pretty much everything, leaving him alone and despised like his father.

Continue reading: Locke Review

Hummingbird [Redemption] Review


OK

Jason Statham takes a darker role than usual in a gritty London drama that never quite seems sure of itself, as writer-turned-director Knight mashes several huge social issues with a hint of action and a rather awkward romance. It's always intriguing, and has several jaw-dropping moments along the way, but ultimately leaves us wondering why Knight made the film at all.

Statham plays Joey, an ex-soldier on the run from the military police. Living homeless in central London, he breaks into a sexy loft flat and discovers that the resident will be away for eight months. So he assumes his identity, borrows his bank account and starts his life over with a job in a Chinese restaurant. Then his bosses (Wong and Lee) notice how good he is in a fight, and give him a high-paying job as a mob goon. With his new wealth, he starts helping out Cristina (Buzek), the Polish-born nun who feeds the homeless in Covent Garden. As they begin a strange friendship, he also contacts his bitter ex-wife (McClure) and young daughter.

As he did in his scripts for Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises, Knight reels off the social issues in London's underbelly: illegal immigrants, human trafficking, gang violence, desperate prostitution, post-traumatic stress. But the real story here is Joey's redemption, as pointedly symbolised by the hummingbirds that flit through his drug-detox dreams. As he tries to help Cristina in a variety of sometimes contrived ways, she responds by improbably falling for him. Meanwhile, he spends a lot of time searching for a missing friend (Bewick) while also trying to make things up to his ex.

Continue reading: Hummingbird [Redemption] Review

London Premiere of 'The Hummingbird' at the Odeon West End - Arrivals

Paul Webster - London Premiere of 'The Hummingbird' at the Odeon West End - Arrivals - London, United Kingdom - Monday 17th June 2013

PICTURES: Keira Knightley Steals Anna Karenina Premiere As Jude Law No-Shows


Keira Knightley JOE WRIGHT Paul Webster Alicia Vikander

Keira Knightley Anna Karenina Premiere

Keira Knightley starred in the off-the-wall adaptation of Tolstory novel Anna Karenina

There's been talk about it for months; just what has director JOE WRIGHT done to Tolstoy's literary classic Anna Karenina? Both cast and crew have promised a re-telling of the the tragic tale of Russian socialite Karenina's affair with Count Vronsky that veers away from previous adaptations, and from the reviews that have thus far come out that certainly seems to be what they've committed to. Our own Rich Cline wrote "the most impressive thing about this film is its astoundingly beautiful design: the sets, costumes, photography and music are sumptuous and lush, never fussy but always adding to the intensity of each scene. Look for it to deservedly hoover up Oscar nominations across the board." Others have also pointed out the design, which has moved the tale from its typically austere surroundings into something of an otherworldliness. 

Continue reading: PICTURES: Keira Knightley Steals Anna Karenina Premiere As Jude Law No-Shows

Anna Karenina Review


Excellent
Tolstoy's iconic novel may have been filmed several times, but you've never seen a version like this. Clever writer Tom Stoppard and visually whizzy director Joe Wright combine talents with this ambitious film, which sets all of the action in a theatre that expands and shifts into a variety of settings.

Yes, it's rather strange, but it's also drop-dead gorgeous.

Knightley reteams with Pride & Prejudice and Atonement director Wright to deliver another solid performance as Anna, an aristocrat in 1870s St Petersburg who is married to the achingly nice establishment gent Alexei (Law) but falls under the spell of the bland but sexy young heartbreaker Vronsky (Taylor-Johnson). And when she gets pregnant, she has to make a very difficult decision. The central theme is that these people are characters in a play dictated to them by their restrictive Russian society, so they have little choice but head toward tragedy.

Continue reading: Anna Karenina Review

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen Review


OK
The heavy hand of a screenwriter (or perhaps novelist) intrudes on an otherwise jaunty, engaging little story, fruitlessly trying to stir up suspense when none was needed. And filmmaker Hallstrom indulges in rather too much sappy sentiment.

Fred (McGregor) is a UK government fishing expert assigned to help a wildly wealthy sheikh (Waked) create a fly-fishing site in the Yemen. Working with the sheikh's financial advisor Harriet (Blunt), Fred struggles to overcome his doubts about the scheme. But he's won over by the fact that the sheikh is both passionate about fishing and has enough cash to achieve the seemingly impossible. As Fred begins to fall for Harriet, he'll need to make a decision about his estranged wife (Stirling), while Harriet's special-services boyfriend (Mison) has gone missing in action.

Continue reading: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen Review

Brighton Rock Review


OK
Repositioning Graham Greene's 1938 novel to 1964, screenwriter Joffe directs his first feature with a vivid visual flair. Although it's so dark and harsh that none of the characters are even remotely sympathetic.

Pinkie (Riley) is a young member of a Brighton gang that becomes rudderless when its leader is killed by rival mobster Colleoni (Serkis). Second in command Spicer (Davis) tries to take charge, but Pinkie starts escalating things, avenging his boss' death in a way that creates a violent tit-for-tat. He also becomes vulnerable to murder charges. As he romances a young witness (Riseborough) to make sure she doesn't say anything, he angers her boss (Mirren) as well as both Colleoni and his righthand man (Hurt).

Continue reading: Brighton Rock Review

Picture - Paul Webster Beverly Hills, California, Thursday 6th December 2007

Paul Webster Thursday 6th December 2007 Premiere of 'Atonement' held at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - Arrivals Beverly Hills, California

Paul Webster

Atonement Review


OK
Halfway into his masterful 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, Joe Wright's camera enters the tight hallways and expansive rooms of a late-18th-century estate with several suites dedicated to smoking, gossiping and dancing. Fluidly drifting through encounters and gestures, the camera picks up the lilting remnants of conversations both benign and interesting. It's a miraculous and graceful scene that palpably exudes the feeling of being caught in a nest of gadflies.

The same shot can be found in Wright's adaptation of Ian McEwan's monumental Atonement, though the setting is now 1930s France. Three soldiers from London come upon a beach filled with soldiers waiting to return to their respective homelands. The camera glides past sergeants executing diseased horses, a choir of damaged infantry men and dozens of wounded battalions. Smoke bellows from scrap fires and a looming ferris wheel turns in the distance as the three English soldiers make their way into a bar.

Continue reading: Atonement Review

Eastern Promises Review


Excellent
We're in London and the streets look like they are owned and operated by Beelzebub himself. The ghosts of the KGB death squads loom in the distance, but the Russian crime syndicate's stranglehold over the hoods and alleys is as strong as ever. Out of one of these decrepit alleyways crawls a 14-year-old girl who walks into a pharmacy only moments before hemorrhaging from the baby girl inside her. Her death is announced at the same time as her daughter's birth. Welcome to the decaying London of David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises.

A master at the ancient art of phantom punching, Cronenberg's examination of the Russian mafia's sex trade, currently flourishing in London, doesn't hit you till you're a good quarter mile out of the theater, as you're still contemplating Viggo Mortensen's slicked-back hairdo. Like a cccwolf right before the hunt, Mortensen snarls and calmly stalks as Nikolai, the driver for a sect of the elusive crime syndicate Vory V Zakone, a specter that arose from the ashes of Stalin's work camps. Nikolai works for Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and Semyon's volatile son Kirill (Vincent Cassel), taking care of their transportation and their criminal refuse. When Nikolai snaps off the fingers of a corpse, he asks Kirill and his business associate Azim (Mina E. Mina) to leave... but the audience is allowed to stay.

Continue reading: Eastern Promises Review

Pride & Prejudice (2005) Review


Good
English students of the world rejoice - another reason not to read Jane Austen. Joe Wright's latest incarnation of Austen's classic Pride & Prejudice is a mostly blissful time-traveling bus tour through a giggly and gorgeous English countryside. To your left note the lovely ladies Bennet, all sideways glances, blushing cheeks and innuendo. To your right, lenses at the ready for the dapper, tall, dark, and handsome objects of their affection, Darcy, Bingley, and Wickham! Swoon... Watch them as they play and woo, mismanage and miscarry, repress and reveal. This flighty matrimonial preamble is the pleasure of Wright's adaptation, briskly played in balls and manors. When at its playful best, it dances lightly with humor and delight. However, the film's occasional missteps, rhythm-less moves into the shadows of darker and more serious emotional territory, threaten to sink rather than anchor Wright's film with any of the depth they intend to provide.

For those who are unaware of Austen's novel (it might be helpful to consider that The Lion King is to Hamlet as Bridget Jones' Diary is to Pride & Prejudice), Pride & Prejudice is the story of the Bennet sisters, and particularly, second eldest child Elizabeth (Keira Knightley). These desperate housewives-to-be are in dire pursuit of a man. For the younger girls, and Elizabeth's squawking mother (a superbly erratic Brenda Blethyn), a man's greatest endowment is his wallet. However, for Elizabeth and oldest sister Jane (Rosamund Pike) love is the only currency in which they wish to deal. Convenient then that the objects of their affections, Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) for Jane, and the infamously standoffish Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen) for Elizabeth, are moneyed up to the kilt when they ride into town to stir trouble and steal hearts. Elizabeth's very cinematic blindness to Darcy's very British advance is the centerpiece of both novel and film, with all suspense drawn from the "will they or won't they" dilemma.

Continue reading: Pride & Prejudice (2005) Review

Pride & Prejudice Review


Good
English students of the world rejoice - another reason not to read Jane Austen. Joe Wright's latest incarnation of Austen's classic Pride & Prejudice is a mostly blissful time-traveling bus tour through a giggly and gorgeous English countryside. To your left note the lovely ladies Bennet, all sideways glances, blushing cheeks and innuendo. To your right, lenses at the ready for the dapper, tall, dark, and handsome objects of their affection, Darcy, Bingley, and Wickham! Swoon... Watch them as they play and woo, mismanage and miscarry, repress and reveal. This flighty matrimonial preamble is the pleasure of Wright's adaptation, briskly played in balls and manors. When at its playful best, it dances lightly with humor and delight. However, the film's occasional missteps, rhythm-less moves into the shadows of darker and more serious emotional territory, threaten to sink rather than anchor Wright's film with any of the depth they intend to provide.

For those who are unaware of Austen's novel (it might be helpful to consider that The Lion King is to Hamlet as Bridget Jones' Diary is to Pride & Prejudice), Pride & Prejudice is the story of the Bennet sisters, and particularly, second eldest child Elizabeth (Keira Knightley). These desperate housewives-to-be are in dire pursuit of a man. For the younger girls, and Elizabeth's squawking mother (a superbly erratic Brenda Blethyn), a man's greatest endowment is his wallet. However, for Elizabeth and oldest sister Jane (Rosamund Pike) love is the only currency in which they wish to deal. Convenient then that the objects of their affections, Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) for Jane, and the infamously standoffish Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen) for Elizabeth, are moneyed up to the kilt when they ride into town to stir trouble and steal hearts. Elizabeth's very cinematic blindness to Darcy's very British advance is the centerpiece of both novel and film, with all suspense drawn from the "will they or won't they" dilemma.

Continue reading: Pride & Prejudice Review

The Pallbearer Review


OK
If you haven't been beaten over the head enough with news of the grand entrance of Friend David Schwimmer into the world of film, here's a little more!

Schwimmer's first outing, The Pallbearer, doesn't venture too far from the Friends tree, as we are presented with a big romantic comedy that borders on television kitschiness, full of screwball humor and plenty of misunderstandings to fuel the plot. In fact, the entire premise of The Pallbearer is driven by one big misunderstanding itself: Tom Thompson (Schwimmer) is asked to give the eulogy at the funeral of Bill Abernathy, a guy from high school who he doesn't even remember. (While The Eulogist might have been a more appropriate title, I figure a name like The Pallbearer will confuse enough stupid American moviegoers anyway.)

Continue reading: The Pallbearer Review

Romeo Is Bleeding Review


OK
Lena Olin is up to her old tricks again, as are Gary Oldman, Juliette Lewis, and Annabella Sciorra, in this twisted tale of a slightly corrupt cop and the company he keeps. Not much about Romeo is Bleeding sticks with you for long, the exception being Olin's shrieking hit-woman who ends up with one arm... Delightfully bizarre.
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