Manchester by The Sea (2016) Film Review *Spoiler alerts*

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is a loser, living a life in a small town that involves being a half-arsed handyman and getting into bar fights. Then his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) dies and he has to try to pull himself together because his brother has left Lee as guardian of teenager Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Then, it is revealed that Lee drunkenly put a log on the fire in his house while his wife and two or three children slept, then went out. When he came back, the log had rolled off the fire and his house was burnt down, with his children in it. His wife, Randi (Michelle Williams) survived, but their relationship didn’t. He was cleared of fault, but has never got over the guilt.

I really disliked this film. It was told through a series of flashbacks that were so unclear that it took time to figure out what was current and what was in the past – so much so that while I thought Joe was dead, the next thing he was on-screen and I was confused. I didn’t like any of the characters. Yes, I felt terrible when Lee returned to the house to find the tragedy, but not enough to care about what happened to him. I found little to appreciate in the film, but clearly I’m not speaking for everyone because it was nominated for loads of awards and even won some. Oh, dear, Casey Affleck won Best Actor? Well, there you go.

Manchester by the Sea won Oscars for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Casey Affleck) and Best Original Screenplay (Kenneth Lonergan) and nominations for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Lucas Hedges), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Michelle Williams) and Best Achievement in Directing (Kenneth Lonergan). It also won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama and was nominated for Best Motion Picture- Drama, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Michelle Williams), Best Director – Motion Picture (Kenneth Lonergan) and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture (Kenneth Lonergan). It won BAFTAs for Best Leading Actor (Casey Affleck) and Best Screenplay (Original) (Kenneth Lonergan) and was nominated for Best Film, Best Supporting Actress (Michelle Williams) and Best Editing).

Brokeback Mountain (2005) Film Review


It’s the early sixties. Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) are a couple of young men who take seasonable work around the place doing things like herding sheep up on Brokeback Mountain. These two are on the mountain alone for a long time and after a while, they fall in love. At the end of the season, they go their separate ways, each marrying and having children, but they meet every year or so to go on a “fishing trip”. And even when their situations have changed and they could be together, Ennis is aware of just how cruel people are at this time and how much danger they could be in.

It’s a beautiful and magnificent story with amazing cinematography. I felt that the chemistry between the two men was strained, but that was more because they were such closed off cowboys; when the passion took them, it was intense. Though Heath Ledger was such a mumbler, and I remember when I first saw the film, there was one line which seemed to be the most important that I could not decipher. Same things this time, but now I have the internet. So if anyone else needed to know – “I’m gonna tell you this one time, Jack fuckin’ Twist, an’ I ain’t foolin’. What I don’t know – all them things that I don’t know – could get you killed if I come to know them. I ain’t jokin’.” Don’t worry if that doesn’t make sense – go watch the film. Really do, it is beautiful, wonderful and painful.

Brokeback Mountain won Oscars for Best achievement in Directing (Ang Lee), Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Larry McMurty, Diana Ossana) and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score, and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Heath Ledger), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Jake Gyllenhaal), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Michelle Williams) and Best Achievement in Cinematography.

My Week with Marilyn (2011) Film Review


Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) starts working for Sir Lawrence Oliver (Kenneth Branagh) on his new film, which, as it happens, stars Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams). But Marilyn is a troubled soul, always late, being managed by everyone around her, fed drugs and alcohol. She likes Colin and calls for him whenever she can, but is it help or romance?

It’s one of those films is based on real events, but is so romanticised. I often wonder about Marilyn and all of those troubled celebrities, usually women, who have tragic lives, but are attractive and get terrible advice from people. Those who are treated poorly by the press, who are made out to be flakey, and who end up in positions of some power that allows them to act out. The divas(and whatever is the male equivalent of diva?) who seem to have little respect for those working around them.

It’s a really lovely film. Whether or not it is a real depiction of events doesn’t matter. It’s romantic and quite beautiful and just kind of nice.

My Week with Marilyn was nominated for Oscars for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Michele Williams) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Kenneth Branagh).



Blue Valentine (2010) Film Review


It’s not quite sadtacular. It’s not quite good enough for that. But it has all the fixings for it.

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams play a married couple in their mid-twenties who are raising a little girl. The love between them is gone, lost in their dreary lives. Cindy is a nurse and seems deeply unhappy. Dean drinks too much and is convinced that the love is still there – he just needs to get them into a situation where they can find the love again. He takes her to a hotel with themed rooms for couples to role-play, and it all comes out.

The film is told in a very disjointed fashion, with the story of their current life interrupted by vignettes from their past; meeting, falling in love, finding a life together.

It’s not an easy film to watch, that’s for sure. Cindy is victim who has lived with an aggressive father and struggles to dream of a better future. There is the hope that Dean could be her saviour, but it becomes clear that he is not; he is another bully, but he does not realise this. It’s a film that hurts, because of how genuine the characters are in their hopes and dreams, and because of the pain they are going through.