The artistic style of French critic turned director Leos Carax has divided audiences for a while, the most notable example being his 2012 fantasy effort Holy Motors which was hailed a masterpiece by some but left others bewildered by the acclaim. His latest piece is romantic musical drama Annette, marking his English-language debut and with a screenplay penned by musicians Ron and Russell Mael, the idiosyncratic brothers behind the band Sparks. The bizarre plot follows comedian Henry (Adam Driver) and opera singer Ann (Marion Cotillard) as they begin a very public courtship. However, when they marry and have their daughter, the eponymous Annette, their relationship soon hits the rocks.Continue reading “DVD review: Annette”
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DVD review: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
As the third film of the third trilogy of the adored space-opera saga, the pressure and anticipation for Rise of Skywalker was incredibly high. After pulling the strings in The Force Awakens back in 2015, J.J. Abrams takes hold of the directorial reins once again to finish the story he started. Reeling from the loss of her mentor, Rey (Daisy Ridley) continues her Jedi training under General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) while Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) sends her dark signals through the Force bond they share. When a mysterious threat is received from Emperor Palpatine, the Resistance must come together for another battle with The First Order.
Continue reading “DVD review: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”
DVD review: Marriage Story
Indie filmmaker Noah Baumbach explores love within the confines of separation with divorce drama Marriage Story. The plot follows actress Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) and her theatre director husband Charlie (Adam Driver) as their relationship is falling apart. With their young son to consider, they want an amicable break-up, but once lawyers get involved, the situation becomes messy and emotionally charged.Continue reading “DVD review: Marriage Story”
DVD review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
As the modern revival of Star Wars continues, director Rian Johnson takes the reins for the eighth episode of the space-opera saga. The Last Jedi picks up where 2015’s The Force Awakens left off, as the dwindling Resistance prepares to do combat once again with The First Order. As Rey (Daisy Ridley) tracks down Jedi master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to ask for help with the impending battle, her fellow fighters including defector Finn (John Boyega) and pilot Poe (Oscar Isaac) remain at base, with General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) fronting the army. Meanwhile, the First Order, led by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) plan an attack to wipe out their enemies once and for all.
DVD review: Logan Lucky
Steven Soderbergh announced his retirement from filmmaking back in 2003 to focus on oil painting but after already going back on his word to direct for television, now he makes his fully fledged feature comeback with comedy crime caper Logan Lucky. The madcap plot follows downtrodden construction worker Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) who, with the help of his one-handed brother Clyde (Adam Driver), hatches a plan to rob his former employers when he gets laid off. To assist with their cunning scheme to steal cash from a NASCAR speedway track on the day it’s biggest rally, they recruit incarcerated safecracker Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) and his idiotic brothers. What could possibly go wrong?
DVD review: Silence
Religion has played a huge part in the illustrious career of Martin Scorsese, and his latest historical epic is the last piece in what is being referred to as his religious triptych. Co-writing the screenplay with past collaborator Jay Cocks, Silence is adapted from Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 novel of the same name, and focuses on two Portuguese Jesuit priests that aim to spread Christianity through Japan in the 17th century. When Sebastião Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver) hear a rumour that their mentor Father Cristóvão Ferreira (Liam Neeson) has committed apostasy after being tortured, they refuse to believe that the missionary would abandon his faith, and embark on a dangerous mission to track him down.Continue reading “DVD review: Silence”
DVD review: Paterson
After his detour to a galaxy far far away, Adam Driver returns to his indie roots to star in Paterson, a comedy drama written and directed by idiosyncratic filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. The plot follows the humdrum life of Paterson (Driver), a bus driver who lives in the small city of Paterson, New Jersey. In his downtime, he writes poetry inspired by his gentle observations of his surroundings, and is encouraged by his wacky wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) to turn his musings into more than just a hobby. We spend a week in his laid back schedule, from his early rises for work to his nightly walk with his wife’s bulldog Marvin during which he stops off to enjoy a crafty beer in his local jazz bar, soaking it up in his continuous state of content contemplation.
DVD review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
A decade has passed since the last lightsaber battle on the silver screen, and the anticipation around the latest instalment of the franchise has been rife. ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ is the seventh episode so takes place approximately 30 years after ‘The Return of the Jedi’, revisiting the characters of the original trilogy as well as introducing a host of new faces. British rising star John Boyega stars as Finn, a stormtrooper who rebels against his master Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to assist captured fighter pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) escape from the clutches of the dark side. Following this, Finn meets Rey (Daisy Ridley), a scavenger on the planet Jakku and together along with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), they join forces to track down the missing Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and overturn the First Order.
Straight from the iconic opening titles, there is an air of nostalgia that is ever-present in director J.J. Abram’s foray to a galaxy far, far away, and John William’s recognisable score is used to good effect in key moments which hark back to previous incarnations. The plot has a familiar structure and retreads themes of inner conflict and ‘good versus evil’, but still feels fresh in its rejuvenation. The team of writers superbly handle the combination of using old and new characters, the story never feeling cluttered or convoluted despite there being so much going on between the grandiose action sequences and the more intimate dialogue driven duels.
A lot of pressure lies on the young shoulders of Boyega and Ridley to deliver their in their pivotal central roles, and I am pleased to say that they do. Finn, or FN-2187 to give him his stormtrooper title, is far from the stereotypical hero. He has his flaws but has a good heart and Boyega captures this depth well. Daisy Ridley is equally excellent, Ren carrying the torch for the trend of strong female characters in film. Harrison Ford brings playfulness and exuberance to proceedings, Han Solo and Chewy working well with the youngsters and recreating the team dynamic on the Millennium Falcon first established back in ‘A New Hope’. There’s an abundance of solid turns from the cast including Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson among others, each making the most of their given opportunities but Adam Driver stood out in particular in his complexly villainous portrayal of Kylo Ren, his performance putting him up there with my favourite cinema baddies of the year.
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ lives up to the almighty hype and does enough to tick the boxes for fanboys as well as welcoming a generation of new fans along for the ride. The sentimentality might be a tad indulgent for some, but it wasn’t overdone and looks forward to the future as much as it looks back into the past. J.J. Abrams has revitalised the classic series for the 21st century, directing with bravery and skill, and with respect for the enormity of the task at hand. The force is strong with this one.
See the trailer: