This isn't your usual period movie. A powerfully emotional depiction of rural Scottish life at the turn of the 20th century, Terence Davies' drama is both strikingly earthy and artfully beautiful. Based on the classic 1932 novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbons, it's a gritty story that takes a deeply personal approach to both the time and place, building complex characters that are so easy to identify with that we feel each surge of happiness and heartbreak.
It's set in The Mearns, in the Scottish north east, where Chris Guthrie (Agyness Deyn) grew up on her family farm hoping to one day become a teacher. But her perpetually pregnant mother (Daniela Nardini) simply can't take any more of this, and her sensitive brother Will (Jack Greenlees) moves to get away from their hardened father John (Peter Mullan), leaving Chris to care for him. Eventually she ends up running the farm herself, and finally finds some happiness when she falls for nice-guy neighbour Ewan (Kevin Guthrie). She worries about him becoming like her father, but their marriage is blissfully sweet. Until the Great War breaks out and he enlists to join the fight.
The story's main focus is on the way the demands of life change us in both obvious and subtle ways. This gives the film a complexity that gets deep under the skin, making the themes timeless while also challenging preconceptions. For example, instead of just being a villainous brute, John's violence might be a symptom of his experiences. And Chris' tough-minded tenacity may come from the same place that pushed her mother over the edge. Like us, these are people trying to steer their destinies in the face of everyday pressures and the forces of nature. And yet the film never feels terribly bleak. It's hard and gruelling, but also hopeful.
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For the past 15 years, Hector McAdam has been somewhat of a drifter having left his small Scottish village Hector found solace moving from shelter to shelter in various parts of the UK. Hector might be in his latter years but each Christmas he finds himself traveling to London to visit a homeless refuge where he has friends.
After years of drifting, in a bid to reunite with his family, Hector takes steps to track down and find his brother and find a way to begin to make amends for his constant absence.
Hector once again takes to the road and begins a journey that will take various turns - both emotionally and physically. Even though the setting of Hector's life is one of sorrow, his personality and resilience makes for a heart-warming look at life.
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Chris is a young heroine from a rural Scottish community, with an intense passion for life and a loyalty to the often unforgiving land, who has given her heart to the unsettled Ewan.
With a dysfunctional family, who have already faced dark times, Chris choses to devote herself to the land as World War One begins changing the world around her. But when Ewan decides to enlist in the army, Chris faces greater hardships than ever before as her once happy marriage crumbles.
As all seems lost Chris, a woman of remarkable strength, is able to draw from the ancient land at look to the future, even if the modern world is threatening everything she holds dear.
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Following his deadly ordeal of being put through the Twelve Labours by his father Zeus and his people, all Hercules wants from life is to rest quietly with a loving family. Unfortunately for him, now is not the time for resting as the gods have delivered another bout of chaos to the world. Being well known by all as a man with all the strength of a god, Hercules is forced to lead a battle against a new menace as the King of Thrace gets him and some like minded warriors to band together as the world's most formidable army. They must defeat a powerful rival general as the vicious descendents of Hades infect the land. It's a deadly mission, the minions of hell being immortal and ruthless, and their defeat can only be accomplished by someone with power above the mortal realm.
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In rural England during the First World War, a horse named Joey befriends a young boy called Albert. One day Joey is sold to the cavalry and sent to the trenches in France, seeing firsthand the horrors of the Great War, yet touching the hearts of everyone he meets, including a French farmer, a German soldier and the British army. Although too young to enlist, 16 year old Albert joins the army and heads to France to find his friend.
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Harry Potter and his friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, continue their search for Voldemort's Horcruxes - dark magical objects that help the user gain immortality. Having found and destroyed one Horcrux - a locket belonging to Hogwarts founder Salazar Slytherin - the three friends travel from Ron's older brother Bill Weasley's house by the sea to the wizarding bank, Gringotts and then to Hogwarts to look for the final remaining Horcruxes.
In 1972 Glasgow, young John (Forrest) is a bright spark who certainly will never become a "Non-Educated Delinquent". He lives on a rough estate, and as he heads for secondary school he begins to be targeted by the bullying local gang members. But he keeps his head down, hides behind the fierce reputation of his big brother (Szula) and excels at his studies. Then two years later, John (now McCarron) falls in with a group of thugs who offer him acceptance and camaraderie. Of course his studies start suffering as a result.
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Cranking up the action and emotion, JK Rowling's Harry Potter saga moves into the first half of its extended grand finale. It's a relatively harrowing film punctuated by real violence, and it cleverly starts weaving together both the plot and the relationships.
After the tragic events of the previous school year, Harry (Radcliffe) and his pals Ron and Hermoine (Grint and Watson) know that they can't go back to normal. Instead, they're on the run from Voldemort (Fiennes) and his fearsome Death Eaters. They also have an overwhelming task: collecting the horcruxes that Voldemort has hidden to ensure his immortality. But where to look? And when they find one, how do they destroy it? Then a rebel journalist (Ifans) tells them the story of the Deathly Hallows, which makes their quest even more urgent.
The plot has a very different structure, as our three heroes are propelled by startling events into increasingly uncertain situations. Persistently chased by the bad guys and unable to trust anyone, they are profoundly alone and constantly in danger. We strongly feel their lonely desperation all the way through the film, so when another nasty thing happens to push them further along, it's genuinely unsettling.
Although it feels far too long, Yates and Kloves thankfully mix the dark drama with lighter comedy, allowing the characters to grow organically. Over seven films the story has grown increasingly gloomy but, despite the relentless anxiety, this chapter has an insistent pace, which is helpful since pretty nightmarish things are happening. There's also some subtext in the political storyline, as the villains seize control first of the media and then the government.
By now, the three central actors have settled solidly into their roles, adding subtle edges in every scene. Intriguingly, Grint has emerged as the most complex performer, but all three are excellent. And the who's who of British acting talent around them is fantastic. Stand-outs this time are Nighy (as a slippery politician), Isaacs (as a disgraced baddie) and Mullan (as a vicious security guy). But several others get a chance to shine as well, and of course there's a lot more action to come in Part 2.
The majority of Crowley's sophomore effort, after the jumpy gangster flick Intermission, focuses on the redemption of this young man in the public eye. Given the new handle Jack (Andrew Garfield), the titular young offender finds a job through his rehabilitation specialist Terry (Peter Mullan) at a warehouse and delivery service. With a new best friend named Chris (Alfie Owen) and Michelle, his new receptionist girlfriend (a superb Siobhan Finneran), Jack starts feeling at home in the small shady room he's given. The public remains unaware of him until, fatefully, he helps save a young girl from a car accident and gets his picture in the local news.
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It's 2027, and the youngest person in Britain (and the world), Baby Diego, has just been killed by a rabid fan; he was 18. Somewhere between 2006 and 2016, women started becoming infertile, causing mass miscarriages and major panics. Theo (Clive Owen) doesn't seem that concerned when we meet him, narrowly averting an explosion near a local café. He spends his time with his friend Jasper (a wily Michael Caine) who makes cannabis mixed with strawberry and tries to forget the family he once had. Julian (Julianne Moore), his ex-wife, has taken up with a pack of refugees that fight against the military state that has been active since London began understanding its grave future. When Julian stumbles upon a girl who miraculously is with child, she immediately kidnaps Theo and puts him in charge of getting the girl, Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey), to a specialized group of the world's smartest people known as the Human Project.
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Central to the story is Daniel Dillon (Peter Mullan), mayor of the town of Kingdom Come, Nevada, located on the spot of the gold claim he struck during the 1849 gold rush, some 20 years earlier. Or so we are led to believe. As it turns out, Dillon's claim was given to him in trade -- in trade for his wife and daughter, sold as if they were slaves.
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There aren't any particular surprises in The Magdalene Sisters once the three heroines are locked away. Most sequences follow the same pattern, where the lank-haired, poorly fed, and half-clothed girls aspire for freedom, love, or fair treatment and are met with beatings and brutality. Lest there be any doubt of Sister Bridget's wicked witch nastiness, she's often seen counting her money and turning a blind eye to the random injustices within her makeshift girl's prison. Often compared with Louise Fletcher's Nurse Ratched, a more careful viewing of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest will reveal subtleties to the character that don't exist in the one-note tyrant, Sister Bridget.
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Criminal, first-time director Gregory Jacobs' generically-titled attempt at an American remake, performs the cinematic equivalent of the doggie paddle. It takes Bielinsky's well-paced con and changes just enough so that the story no longer makes any sense.
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Joe works a barge between Glasgow and Edinburgh, working for grouchy middle-aged public servant Les (Peter Mullan) and his miserable wife Ella (Tilda Swinton). Shortly after they discover a dead body floating in the water, Joe and Ella begin a torrid affair right under Les's nose. Much like the Jack Nicholson-Jessica Lange version of The Postman Always Rings Twice, this film adaptation keeps all the fleshy sex scenes front-and-center while losing the moral confusion and dark side of cultural idealism that can't be captured onscreen via Ewan McGregor's endless brooding and cigarette smoking and arid shots of Joe against industrial backdrops.
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It's a brilliant play, one which observes naturalistic behavior and flawed, complex characters without judgment. It's filled with beautifully written scenes of emotional conviction. Naturally, Figgis is so hell bent on his radical tinkering with form and content that the story becomes a muddle of sensual implications taken straight from fashion magazine perfume ads.
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Joe turns out to be a recovering alcoholic, and in 28 Days fashion, winds his way to recovery, stopping only for a tepid romance with a lady friend. Then My Name is Joe turns gangsterish, before an abrupt and uninteresting ending -- which might have been redeemed if the film was remotely interesting anywhere along the way.
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You can think of Session 9 as a kind of 5 Angry Men meets The Shining. A crew of asbestos removal workers -- played with solid force throughout, with notable performances by David Caruso (Kiss of Death, NYPD Blue) and Peter Mullan (The Claim) -- has the unenviable task of spending a week in an enormous, abandoned insane asylum, gutting it at a fever pitch pace in order to make it safe for renovation. The hospital once housed 2,300 "patients" at its peak, and very few of them were happy. Makes for an excellent haunted house story.
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Accents are hardly the biggest problem with this movie, though. It's a dull-as-a-Nerf-ball script that makes Ordinary Decent Criminal far less than ordinary. It's almost painful sitting through its rote heist vignettes and endless expository scenes in between them. A bunch of IRA rhetoric doesn't add anything to Spacey's cryptic criminal, who just wants to help out his family while avoiding a fearsome prosecutor.
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