No Country for Old Men (2007) Film Review


When out hunting, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) comes across a group of dead bodies at what was a drug deal gone bad. He tracks down the money to take he and his wife, Carla Jean (Kelly MacDonald) to a different life, initially unaware that he is being hunted down by psychopathic killer Anton Chugurh (Javier Bardem). Meanwhile, Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is following, trying to make sense of what he sees.

This film is totally and utterly brilliant. Tense and scary with the odd edge of humour, weighed down by morality and the lack of morality. I expect a  lot of the Coen Brothers, and more often than not, they produce solid, strong, good films. Every now and then, they chuck out perfection. Big call, I know, but I’m putting it out there.

No Country for Old Men won Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Javier Bardem) Best Achievement in Directing (Ethan and Joel Coen) and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Joel and Ethan Coen) and was nominated for Best Achievement in Cinematography (Roger Deakins), Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing and Best Achievement in Sound Editing.

Before Night Falls (2000) Film Review



Before Night Falls is based on the autobiography of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas. Arenas was born in rural Cuba, and as a teenager joins the revolution. However, after moving to Havana to continue his studies, he finds that the new political climate does not agree with his homosexual lifestyle and both he and his writing is under threat.

It is a very beautiful film, presented with the poetic style of Arenas’ writing. I know little of Cuba and the revolution, and had not heard of Arenas prior to this. Having seen the film, I am now very interesting in exploring his writing. Javier Bardem is wonderful in the film, as he so often is. My only confusion was the use of language in the film – much of the film was in English, but I could not see why. Or at least, why it was not consistent – either consistently in English, or consistently in Spanish. Still, this did not take away from the film at all.

Javier Bardem was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance.

Biutiful (2010) Film Review


Here’s a tip for you. If you turn off Babel because it is too sadtacular to watch a second time, it’s not recommended that you watch another film by the same director (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu). That’s exactly what I did, and it was tough work.

Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is a single father living in Barcelona, raising his two children, earning money by arranging work for illegal immigrants and suffering from some serious health problems. His ex-wife is an irresponsible, alcoholic masseuse (who gives some men massages at two in the morning – clearly, that kind of masseuse) who comes back into his life against his better judgment.

Biutiful is the type of film that I sometimes have time for, but sometimes not. It is very much a character study, following the actions of a main character as he deals with his life. I felt little connection with Uxbal. Whilst he clearly was suffering from a debilitating illness, he was short with everyone and there was little in him for me to like or respect. To me, this feels like a film that should be loved by many and nominated for awards, but it just didn’t really work for me.

Biutiful was nominated for Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Javier Bardem).


Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) Film Review


Barcelona is beautiful, and I find it hard to believe that anything film there could not appear beautiful. Add in some romance, lust and some very attractive people and you have a film that is pleasant to look at.

Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina Scarlett Johansson) are friends who have gone to Barcelona for the summer. Vicky is engaged to a conservative, button-down man back in the states, and Cristina is wild and restless, looking for new and interesting experiences. They meet Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), a passionate artist who proposes weekend away where he hopes they will have a lot of fun and hopefully end up in bed together. Vicky is repulsed, but Cristina is intrigued, so they go. Over the summer, Vicky’s notion of her life as a wife and lover is challenged, whilst Cristina finds the new experiences she is hoping for, yet continues to search.

I enjoyed the film, but felt totally let down at the end. It was as though both had had experiences that changed their lives and minds, yet they barely appear changed. Although I suspect this is the pretty much the point of the film. I guess I just wanted more.

For me, the film is worth seeing just for Penelope Cruz as the overly dramatic and passionate ex-wife of Juan Antonio – marvelous, wild and exciting.

Penelope Cruz won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role.

Skyfall (2012) Film Review


James Bond is James Bond is James Bond. What new is there to be said about it? He’s charismatic and charming. There’s a bad guy who is seemingly unstoppable. There are a lot of explosions and (spoiler alert) Bond eventually comes out on top.

I was really disappointed by this film. I’m not sure why; it was everything it was supposed to be. But it did very little for me.

As I was watching something else explode (and I do love seeing things exploding onscreen. I don’t think I’ve seen anything explode for real. I’d probably like that too) I was trying to nut out what it was. Daniel Craig wasn’t doing it for me. Instead of having that cheeky twinkle in the eye that Bond is supposed to have, his eyes just seemed dull and dead.

As for the plot, if you’ve seen a trailer, you know that Bond is shot early on and believed to be dead. Of course, this is a Bond film, so we know he’s not. But it still would have been nice for the suspense to have been drawn out somewhat more, rather than him reappearing so soon.

Plus, all I’ve heard about this film is how amazing Javier Bardem is as the bad guy, but even that didn’t work for me. Everything felt really by the book and flat. Ah well, soon there will be another Hollywood action film that will blow me away.

Roger Deakins was nominated for an Oscar for Cinematography and was nominated for a BAFTA for Cinematography

Thomas Newman was nominated for an Oscar for Music (Original Score) and won the BAFTA for Original Music

‘Skyfall’ was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song and won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture

Skyfall won the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film

Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers were nominated for an Oscar for Sound Editing

Scott Millan, Greg p. Russell and Stuart Wilson were nominated for an Oscar for Sound Mixing

Scott Millan, Greg p. Russell and Stuart Wilson, Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers were nominated for a BAFTA for Sound

Javier Bardem was nominated for a BAFTA for Supporting Actor

Judi Dench was nominated for a BAFTA for Supporting Actress

Stuart Baird was nominated for a BAFTA for Editing

Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock were nominated for a BAFTA for Production Design