Terence Davies

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A Quiet Passion Review

Very Good

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the surfaces of his stories and characters. So it's especially intriguing to see him take on a biopic about the enigmatic American poet Emily Dickinson. Like her writing, the film has a moody, dry exterior that conceals a fiendishly sharp wit. It's also an unusually smart film, combining emotional resonance with brainy conversation, even as it moves at a glacial pace.

It's set in 19th century Massachusetts, where Emily (young Emma Bell, then Cynthia Nixon) grows up in a fiercely religious household. But then, everyone in this community is devout to the point of distraction, and no one knows what to do about Emily's unusually outspoken thoughts. The way she speaks about her faith horrifies her parents (Keith Carradine and Joanna Bacon), even though they raised Emily and her siblings Vinnie and Austin (Jennifer Ehle and Duncan Duff) to think for themselves. As Emily begins publishing her poems anonymously, she also challenges the role of women in this society, where they're expected to be little more than decoration. So it's no wonder that the plain-speaking new arrival Vryling (Catherine Bailey) catches her attention.

The film covers the final decades in Emily's life, punctuating scenes with her evocative, often disturbing poetry. Davies keeps the period details crisp and unfussy, using period photographs to great effect, such as in the striking sequence that traces the American Civil War. That said, the Dickinson family's life seems like little more than a sequence of nasty diseases and personal conflicts, which isn't easy to stick with. Thankfully, Nixon brings an alertness to Emily that catches the imagination, and her connection with Ehle's Vinnie is lively and engaging. These two women are inquisitive and sharp, in stark contrast to the gloomy people around them.

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A Quiet Passion Trailer


Nineteenth-century American poet Emily Dickinson might be well known now for her classic catalogue of work, but when she was alive she was elusive to most. As much as she was always a bright, intelligent and well-behaved child, as she grew older she disappointed her father Edward by refusing to marry or give herself to the church. Instead, she preferred her own company; shutting herself inside and becoming so reclusive and reluctant of guests that she was noticed by many. She shared few friendships in her lifetime, and even those she had - like that with sister-in-law Susan Gilbert - were wrought with pain and uncertainty. She was the victim of a number of bereavements in her lifetime, experiences that would have a massive effect on her health and her later popular literary work.

Continue: A Quiet Passion Trailer

Sunset Song Review

Excellent

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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Sunset Song Trailer


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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Rachel Weisz and Terence Davies - Rachel Weisz and Terence Davies Thursday 15th March 2012 at New York Premiere of The Deep Blue Sea held at BAM Rose Cinemas Brooklyn New York.

Rachel Weisz and Terence Davies
Rachel Weisz and Terence Davies
Rachel Weisz
Rachel Weisz
Rachel Weisz
Rachel Weisz

The Deep Blue Sea Review


Excellent
Based on the 1952 Terence Rattigan play, this exquisitely made British drama moves at its own slow pace, pitting repressed emotions against reckless passion. It's also rather gloomy and downbeat, almost reluctant to let us see glimmers of hope in the story.

Hester (Weisz) is tormented by the trajectory of her life: the wife of High Court judge Sir William (Beale), she has fallen for the dashing Battle of Britain pilot Freddie (Hiddleston), who lets their physical relationship dissipate as he struggles to find a role in society after the war. Now isolated and desperate, Hester attempts suicide but only succeeds in making her life worse. Freddie is furious, and William is unnervingly caring. She's caught between the devil and the deep blue sea: is there any way she can have a happy life?

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Terence Davies - Director Terence Davies Rome, Italy - 6th International Rome Film Festival - 'The Adventures Of Tin Tin' - Premiere Friday 28th October 2011

Terence Davies

Terence Davies Sunday 11th September 2011 36th Annual Toronto International Film Festival - 'The Deep Blue Sea' premiere arrival at TIFF BELL Lightbox. Toronto, Canada

Terence Davies

Of Time And The City Review


Essential
"We love the place we hate/We hate the place we love/We leave the place we hate/Then spend a lifetime trying to regain it." Director Terence Davies recites these words as his camera moves across a church edifice like an incantation in his moving and emotional paean to the lost Liverpool of his youth, the impassioned documentary Of Time and the City.

Davies' films (Distant Voices, Still Lives; The Long Day Closes) have always looked to the past as both memory and memory's sometimes distorted recollections. Much like last year's My Winnipeg of Guy Maddin, Davies looks at both the past of a city and his own past there, twisting both into a funhouse mirror. Maddin, of course, barely gets out of his childhood alive, but for Davies, his Liverpool is a state of lost innocence killed when modernity and puberty set in. He quotes Shelley in the opening shot, an image of a slowly opening curtain in a movie house, "The happy highways where I went and cannot come again." Davies is already placing Liverpool as a mythic town of his childhood and boldly states, "If Liverpool did not exist, it would have to be invented."

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The House Of Mirth Review


Good
Draw near and bear witness to Gillian Anderson, a very successful television actress (The X Files) who is still trying to find her legs on the big screen. Like many before her, she will try a tactic that has made stars out of otherwise B-list actors: By taking the leading role in an art house flick.

Welcome then to The House of Mirth, a period piece which bears little happiness for those within. Or, ultimately, for those in the audience.

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The Neon Bible Review


Weak
To date, the only film adaptation of any work by celebrated author John Kennedy Toole is this, The Neon Bible, a book Toole wrote at the age of 16 and which he dismissed as unpublishable. (They published it anyway two decades after his death.) It is, by most accounts, a not-very-good book, and it's a far from good movie. The story concerns a young southern boy reminiscing about his life, his strange/abusive family, and religion, while riding on a train. Between lingering shots out the window, our young hero dreams of revival tents and creepy neighbors, all seen through the lens of one of cinema's most overrated directors, Terence Davies. Like so many of his films, Neon is full of gorgeous photography and minimal substance.

Distant Voices, Still Lives Review


OK
This truly stange British production looks at a sepia-toned past where memory is revisited only through song. Everybody sings, all the time, developing a wonky revision of a family's life around the turn of the century (plus a few decades before and after). It's hit and miss, failing to really generate a really coherent vision of the past. Pete Postlethwaite provides the film's only standout performance, but it's so brief as to be quite unmemorable.
Terence Davies

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Terence Davies Movies

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

A Quiet Passion Trailer

A Quiet Passion Trailer

Nineteenth-century American poet Emily Dickinson might be well known now for her classic catalogue of...

Sunset Song Movie Review

Sunset Song Movie Review

This isn't your usual period movie. A powerfully emotional depiction of rural Scottish life at...

Sunset Song Trailer

Sunset Song Trailer

Chris is a young heroine from a rural Scottish community, with an intense passion for...

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The Deep Blue Sea Movie Review

The Deep Blue Sea Movie Review

Based on the 1952 Terence Rattigan play, this exquisitely made British drama moves at its...

The House of Mirth Movie Review

The House of Mirth Movie Review

Draw near and bear witness to Gillian Anderson, a very successful television actress (The X...

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