The Proposition (2005) Film Review


Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) is a British man living in the middle of the hot, harsh outback with his wife, Martha (Emily Watson). He has captured two notorious outlaws, the ‘simple’ Mike Burns (Richard Wilson) and his brother, Charlie (Guy Pearce). Stanley makes a deal with Charlie for him to find his even more wicked brother, Arther (Danny Huston) and bring him in, or else he and Mike will hang for the rape and murder of the Hopkins family. Charlie accepts the deal, leaving Mike in jail, but it is not a smooth process on either end, and has many tragic consequences.

It is a very hard film; beautiful but harsh scenery, an amazing and torturous soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, and strong, painful performances, most notably from Ray Winstone. There is no hope for anyone. This country will destroy them, whether it the indigenous culture destroyed and seeking some kind of vengeance, the legacy of white settlement made up of criminals or

the harshness of the land itself, there is no hope. I wouldn’t recommend this film if you are feeling a bit down. It’s tough, but wonderful.


Everest (2015) Film Review


Based on the wonderful book Into Thin Air by John Krakauer, Everest tells of the tragic story of one season where several expeditions fell into tragedy. It follows two of the main adventure tourist groups who work together to reach the mount despite having to compete with a variety of other groups. Then they are hit by some disastrous weather and many of the climbers die.

It had been several years since I read the book, so I couldn’t quite remember the fates of the various different characters. None-the-less, I knew bad things were going to happen, and this did not make things any less tense. Plus, the cinematography is spectacular – I am aware that it is a combination of computer graphics and real shots, but it was just stunning. Oh, and the variety of different actors with their fabulous New Zealand accents – I loved that bit!

War Horse (2011) Film Review


As a youth, Albert (Jeremy Irvine) loved and trained a horse on a nearby farm. Then his drunken dad (Peter Mullen) bought it for far too much, to the chagrin of his mother (Emily Watson). But Albert gets the horse to work and everyone cheers him in the rain. Then war happens, and the horse is taken from them. Albert ends up fighting. Things are nasty and people are badly hurt. So is the horse.

I think this was a terrible film. Apparently, it was an amazing stage play, and that came down to fabulous puppetry to create the horse. But I found the start of this film absolute trite, and then the war parts were pathetic. Although the animals were treated badly, and that was unpleasant to watch, but probably the closest thing to realism you would find. I thought this was really a terrible, terrible film.

War Horse was nominated for Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Cinematography (Janusz Kaminski), Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score (John Williams), Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Best Achievement in Art Direction.


The Theory of Everything (2014) Film Review


Surely everyone knows Stephen Hawking. He’s the worlds most well-known physicist, known as much for his brain as for the body he inhabits; diagnosed with ALS (also known as motor neurone disease), he is mostly paralysed and only able to communicate through technology operated by a single cheek muscle. And the Theory of Everything is his story. His early days at university; the romance with his first wife, Jane; his diagnosis and gradual deterioration, and his ideas – developing theories and challenging his own theories.

I’m sure it’s a good film. It’s an interesting story, the relationship between Hawking and his wife goes through all kinds of ups and downs, and all of that. Yet, I was a bit bored. Perhaps it is just because I pretty much know the story, although that can’t be it. I’ve seen loads of stories made into films and don’t get bored in all of them. There was also the scene where Hawking dreams of being able to get up and pick a pen for a pretty student. Listening to a great discussion about the use of disabled actors in films on the magnificent Ouch Radio Show through BBC, this type of scene is apparently very common in films with able-bodied actors playing disabled characters as it gives the audience a sense of relief that the actor is okay. This may be a somewhat cynical view of the reasoning for such a scene, but that scene brought nothing to the film and made me groan out loud.

The Theory of Everything was nominated for Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Eddie Redmayne), Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Felicty Jones), Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published (Anthony McCarten) and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score. It won Golden Globes for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama (Eddie Redmayne) and Best Original Score – Motion Picture and was nominated for Best Motion Picture, Drama and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picure – Drama. It was nominated for BAFTAs for Best British Film, Best Film, Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne), Best Actress (Felicity Jones), Best Screenplay (Adapted) Anthony McCarten, Original Music, Best Editing, Best Make Up/Hair, Best Costume Design and the David Lean Award for Direction.


The Book Thief (2013) Film Review

The Book Thief

It’s Germany, it’s World War 2. A young girl, Liesel (Sophie Nelisse) is delivered by her mother to a couple, Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson) to be kept safe from the Nazis. Then a boy, the son of a friend of Hans, Max (Ben Schnetzer) arrives on the doorstep. Jewish and persecuted, he lives for a time in their basement. Oh, and the whole thing is narrated by Death (Roger Allam).

I finished the book on the edge of a pier in Finland waiting for the ferry to take me to Estonia, very romantic, weeping and loving it. I felt that the film was a very good World War 2 film, emotional, dramatic, with magnificent performances well told. My only issue was that, in the film version, I don’t think it needed the narration from Death. That worked so well in the book, but the story in the film told itself beautifully, so I felt the narration was not needed.

The Book Thief was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score (John Williams). It was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score – Motion Picture and a BAFTA for the Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music.

Oranges and Sunshine (2010) Film Review

Oranges and Sunshine

Margaret Humphreys (Emily Watson) is social worker who discovers a secret the British government have keep quiet for many years; many orphans or children that parents could not afford to raise were sent to Australia or Canada and put into orphanages. The film is based on a true story and sees Humphreys travel to Australia and meet adults who were raised in one particular Catholic home were the children were abused both physically and sexually.

It’s very full on and very good. A really terrible episode in the world and here is the story of it. Phew. I cried a lot. A lot a lot.

Punch-Drunk Love (2002) Film Review


Watching this film several years ago, I recall thinking it was like watching a really awful car accident. Barry Egan is a very insecure, introverted man who has been tormented by his seven sisters his entire life and is prone to outbreaks of violence against inanimate objects. At the same time as he meets love interest Lena Leonard (Emily Watson), he ends up in a battle with the man running a phone sex line which Barry used once and who is running a scam to extort money.

It’s a tough film for a lot of reasons. It is intensely emotional, with such massive extremes, and Barry Egan is clearly such a broken man who needs a lot of help to get anywhere near being “normal”. Yet, every person in his life (or at least, his family, including his brothers-in-law) seem to be unable to help in any real way. When Lena comes along, there is a sense of hope, but on the other hand, it is totally implausible that a relationship could develop between these two. Perhaps if she’d been seen to be more messed up, or something. If there was some hope that Barry could actually pull it together… I don’t know. Thinking about this reminds me of Silver Linings Playbook that I watched last year. I didn’t like it all that much, and again I think it was the implausibility of the relationship. At lease Silver Linings showed more of the female character and her flaws, but I still found that relationship hard to believe.

Definitely a sadtacular film. But it has reminded me of the admiration I have for the marvelous Emily Watson.