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.

Anna Karenina (2012) Film Review


Set in Russia quite some time ago, Anna Karenina tells the story of Anna (Keira Knightly) who is happily married to the staid and steady (and boring) older man, Karenin (Jude Law) until she meets the charming soldier, Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). They cause a scandal in society with their flirtatious looks and dancing and eventually their love brings them both down.

This is an extremely beautiful film. Cinematically stunning, with the theatrical absurdity that I have long loved from Tom Stoppard. For me, the film was a bit long, but it was so stunning that I didn’t mind. I didn’t even mind Keira Knightly’s pouting or the long, drawn-out shots with the single tear slowly tracking down her face. It was worth it even just for the spectacular dance sequences with the languid and stunning movements. I wish I’d seen it on the big screen.

Anna Karenina won Oscars for Best Achievement in Costume Design and was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score and Best Achievement in Production Design. It was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score – Motion Picture, won a BAFTA for Best Costume Design and was nominated for BAFTAs for Best British Film, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Film Music and Best Make Up/Hair

Brave (2012) Film Review


I’m somewhat surprised that this film has been nominated for an Oscar for Animated films, but I guess that depends on how this category is actually judged (besides all of the campaigning and gifts and bribery that apparently gets most of the Oscars winners across the line). The animation itself is fabulous, although it does suffer from making the women far too ridiculously slim and fragile (regardless of what action they are doing) whilst making all of them men extremely ugly and ridiculous looking.

Merida is a princess, the daughter of Scottish King Fergus and his wife Elinor. She is reaching an age where she must be betrothed. There are three main suitors, each more unattractive than the last. Merida has allowed her mother to teach her how to be ladylike so she can be a queen, but at heart, she is a tomboy who would prefer to riding wild through the woods and hunting. Neither she nor her mother will listen to the other’s arguments for what her life should be like, and Merida disappears into the forest where she meets a witch and is given a spell to use on her mother to change her. Problem is, it changes her into a bear (there’s backstory with the king losing his leg to a bear early on) and Merida needs to find a way to change her back within some time frame.

A website I really enjoy is Film Autopsy, by Thomas Caldwell, who also reviews films for the Breakfasters on Melbourne’s Triple R community radio station. I quite enjoyed the film, feeling that the moral lessons are not too heavy handed and that some kind of compromise was made by the end of the film. Of course, everyone is happy ever after, but that goes without saying. So I was very surprised to hear how much he despised the message that the film was sending – that a girl needs to follow the path her parents set for her and not find her own way or there will be trouble. (I’d better go back to the review and see if I am totally misrepresenting him here) I’ve mulled this over for months. I mean, usually, I am the first one to get a bit stroppy about the type of representations of women, so why did I not notice this? After much consideration, I can concede that he has a point, however I have a different take on it.

For me, I don’t like the fact that, as a princess, she has a set path that she must follow, she must marry one of these men, and that is that. By the end (spoiler alert) she has not committed to any of them, however she has conceded that she has responsibilities to her family and her role as a royal. (Insert plenty of anti-monarchy stuff here. It’s needed) However, she tries for the quick fix, and instead of reaching a solution, she makes it much worse and hurts her mother. She must find a way to fix the problem and save herself and her family. In doing so, she finds a different path; one that may satisfy both her and her family.

This, to me, is a good message. There is no quick fix. Anything that is worth anything takes hard work. It’s not told in the best possible way, and it’s not the most effective film. Plus, if this is not the message that is getting through, then perhaps it’s not working.

I’ve no interest in seeing the film again, but it was a long way from being the worst film I’ve endured with small children. An Oscar? Ah, what does that really mean anymore anyway?

Brave won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature, the BAFTA for Animated Feature and the Oscar for Animated Feature.