DVD & Digital · EIFF22

DVD review: The Forgiven

 John Michael McDonagh is perhaps best known for black comedies set in the sinister, sprawling vistas of Ireland, but he’s arrived in sunnier climes for his latest feature, The Forgiven. Based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Lawrence Osborne, the drama sees functioning alcoholic David (Ralph Fiennes) and his glamourous wife Jo (Jessica Chastain) arrive in Morocco to attend the luxury desert retreat of friends Richard (Matt Smith) and Dally (Caleb Landry Jones) for a weekend fuelled by booze and narcotics. Tragedy strikes whilst on their way to the party, and the couple are soon forced to face the consequences of their actions.

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DVD & Digital

DVD review: It Chapter Two

 After bringing Stephen King’s acclaimed novel to the big screen in 2017, director Andy Muschietti returns to finish what he started. Taking place 27 years after the first instalment, evil Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) is terrorising the town of Derry again. Staying true to the oath they made as kids, Bill (James McAvoy), Beverly (Jessica Chastain), Richie (Bill Hader), and the rest of the Losers’ club reunite to bring down the clown once and for all.

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DVD & Digital

DVD review: Molly’s Game

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Over the years of writing fast-talking dialogue for television and film, Aaron Sorkin has developed such a recognisable signature style that he could well be dubbed a screenplay auteur. He penned the scripts for acclaimed movies such as A Few Good Men, The Social Network and Moneyball, and now he is at the helm of his directorial debut. Adapted from the memoir of the same name, crime drama Molly’s Game retells an incredible true story of an Olympic-class skier who found herself at the centre of a federal indictment. After a horrific injury forces her into early retirement from sport, Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) moves to LA to start again, and her PA job leads to her involvement in a weekly high-stakes poker tournament, exclusive to the elite, rich, and famous. When her underground activity attracts the attention of the FBI, she visits lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba) to ask for help.

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DVD & Digital

DVD review: Zero Dark Thirty


 Kathryn Bigelow has done it again. After the major success of Hurt Locker in 2008, she now tells the story of America’s hunt for Osama Bin Laden in the aftermath of 9/11. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ documents the personal pursuit of CIA officer Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, over the decade it took to track down and kill the world’s most dangerous terrorist. Interesting from beginning to end, and brilliantly captured on screen, this very smart and gruelling picture holds nothing back.
  Beginning with chilling audio excerpts of 9/11 over nothing but darkness, ZD30 cleverly thrusts the horror of that day back into the mindset of the audience, strangely making the controversial torture scenes in the opening hour a little easier to watch than they should be. By engineering the opening in this way, it feels like an attempt to make the viewer feel complicit in the horrible treatment, including water-boarding, of captured terrorist Ammar inflicted by cold minded CIA interrogator Dan. Throughout, the film feels hard faced, shying away from emotional sequences and focussing on the information provided rather than the delivery.  At times the plot becomes muddled and it can become tough going in middle sections, particularly the sub plot of the supposed friendship between Maya and Jessica which felt forced and hard to believe. There is a wildly varied ensemble on show as supporting cast. After keeping characters very limited in the first hour or so, everyone comes along at once in a ‘blink or you’ll miss it’ conveyor belt of names such as James Gandolfini, Mark Strong, Mark Duplass and weirdly John Barrowman! After Tony Soprano, Torchwood’s Captain Jack and him from Renford Rejects pop up so unexpectedly I began to think somebody had swapped the film reel. They are all reasonably good, keeping the standard high enough but not attempting to steal the limelight, leaving all acting plaudits with JC. The script is nothing special here, the slick visuals outweighing the wordy dialogue, though the overall story, and that of the central character carry the plot along nicely until the thrilling climatic finish, which makes it all worthwhile.
  Jessica Chastain gives a strong performance, and has a fascinating character arc. Starting as ‘the new girl’, being offered a mask to wear during the torture and interrogation, as if the terrorist wouldn’t take a young pasty face with fairytale ginger locks very seriously. She sharply disposes of this perception, going on to have a lead role in every step America takes to track down Bin Laden. The character study here is sadly non existent, as we are left with very little information of Maya herself; no mention of background or relatives, she isn’t even given a surname. Maybe this is intentional, bringing a heart-wrenching end to her ten year journey as we see her alone with one solitary tear streaming down her cheek, as she is left with no life direction at all. After achieving everything she’d set out to do since leaving high school and going straight into the CIA, she has given everything and has nothing left. Obvious comparisons can be made between Maya and Homeland’s Carrie Mathison: a strong woman, passionate about her job, sacrificing it all to succeed. Though where Claire Danes overplays brilliantly as frankly a mad-hatter, Jessica Chastain’s Maya is subtly excellent. She is well measured, always in control, keeping a lid on Maya’s emotion for the most part then letting go at just the right moment.
  The ‘Bin Laden film’ was never going to be easy but Bigelow carries it out with real class and style, impressively boasting a genuinely exciting ending to a story is already so widely known. Although this film probably won’t be regarded in the same bracket as it’s aforementioned predecessor, it is big and bold and if you are at all interested in what is going on in the world around you, it is a must see.

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