No Country for Old Men (2007) Film Review

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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.

Lincoln (2012) Film Review

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The American Civil War was a war to end slavery. That was the key issue, as was my understanding. The thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution made slavery in the United States illegal. These things happened around the same time; they were related to each other, but not actually connected. Who knew? Not me.

To be fair, I have very little knowledge of US history. There are some things I know, but a lot I don’t

The film Lincoln follows US President Abraham Lincoln in his second term as President as he and his colleagues work to get the amendment passed. It’s not a rip-roaring action flick – if you want to see a film relating to slavery that is, see Django Unchained. This is a political drama, and for that reason, it’s pretty slow-paced and borders on boring. What stops it from being boring? I think for me it was the fact this was such an important moment in the world, deciding on the level of humanity to be shown to a group of people. Yet, it was all decided in such a political way, with votes being bought with jobs and political promises. Politics – such a dirty business.

Daniel Day-Lewis is an actor notorious for his research into his roles, so I believe that he did a lot of work to bring Lincoln to life as much as possible. Still, I find it hard to believe that he walked with such an unusual gait – it made him look like some kind of a puppet, and really distracted me from the importance of the story at hand.

I felt as though the story structure was a bit misguided at times; for me, the story was the politics. There were other parts that were connected in some way, but not totally crucial that the story would not have suffered if they had been left out of the film. For me, the whole storyline involving Lincoln’s son, Robert, was not all that relevant. Of course, that would mean losing Joseph Gordon-Levitt from the cast, but it wasn’t the most exciting role anyhow. He’s done lots better.

Overall, I enjoyed the film, but I don’t think it was necessarily worthy of the many nominations it has received. I sometimes wonder if you get a cast like this with a story of such great importance to the US directed by Steven Spielberg and it would be considered wrong for it to not be nominated. Is this how awards work?

Daniel Day-Lewis has been nominated for a Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar, won the a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama and won the BAFTA for Leading Actor

Tommy Lee Jones has been nominated for a Best Actor Supporting in a Supporting Role Oscar, a Golden Globe for Best Performance of an Actor in a Supporting Role, and was nominated for a BAFTA for Supporting Actress

Sally Field has been nominated for a Best Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar, a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture and was nominated for a BAFTA for Supporting Actress

Janusz Kaminski has been nominated for an Oscar for Cinematography, was nominated for a BAFTA for Cinematography

Joanna Johnston has been nominated for an Oscar for Costume Design and was nominated for a BAFTA for Costume Design

Steven Spielberg has been nominated for an Oscar for Directing, a Golden Globe for Best Director – Motion Picture

Michael Kahn has been nominated for an Oscar for Editing

John Williams has been nominated for an Oscar for Music (Original Score), a Golden Globe for Best Original Score – Motion Picture and was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Orginal Music

Lincoln has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Film, an Oscar for Best Production Design, a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama, was nominated for a BAFTA for Production Design

Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins have been nominated for an Oscar for Sound Mixing, was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Film

Tony Kushner has been nominated for an Oscar for Writing (Adapted Screenplay), a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture and was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay

Captain America – The First Avenger (2011) Film Review

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I think this is it. I think finally I have managed to see all of the released Marvel films; well, this bunch, the bunch leading in to The Avengers. According to Wikipedia, this lot comes under MVL Productions LLC or Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In The Avengers, Captain America was my least favourite character. He had so much make-up on that it looked ridiculous, and I didn’t know his origins. I had little time for him. But, this crazy mission of mine to see them all led to watching this film, and I am so glad it did! Captain America is awesome.

The majority of the story is set in 1942. America is joining the fight in Europe against the Nazis and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), is attempting to be a part of it. However, he is a small man who suffers from a wide range of illnesses and is rejected again and again. Finally, he is spotted by Dr Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), a German scientist who has moved to the US and works for the US army. He tests his new technology on Steve Rogers, developing his muscles and motor skills to turn him into a super soldier, Captain America. The program is infiltrated by HYDRA, the organization headed by Nazi Officer Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) who has obtained a Tesseract providing him with powerful weapons and the ability to conquer the world. Captain America must save the day.

Perhaps it is from a childhood of Indiana Jones, but I love a good action film where the Nazis are the bad guys. I think I liked this even more because it was not just the Nazis, but this super group of Nazis. Again, there is an amazing cast and awesome effects, and it leads directly into The Avengers. There is another Captain America due out in 2014. I can’t wait.

Hope Springs (2012) Film Review

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Kay(Meryl Streep) is a woman who has been married to Arnold(Tommy Lee Jones) for a long time and is deeply unhappy. They sleep in separate beds, and Kay feels they have no intimacy. She books them in to a marriage workshop in the town of Hope Springs. (Steve Carrell) works with the eager Kay and Arnold, who feels that everything is as it should be, and is cynical about change.

The opening sequence with Kay dressing in a slinky nighty and entering her husband’s bedroom to seduce him sets up the story of a marriage without sexual intimacy. It shows him as a grumpy old man and her as a woman who wants to change her situation. But then she seems to fall into a more passive role – although how this is possible when it is her actions that drive the film, I’m not sure.

This is clearly a film for an older audience, but I still enjoyed it. It gave me a few chuckles and even the odd tear, but it certainly was nothing controversial or ground breaking. I was surprised to see that Streep has been nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance – it seems that she gets nominated for everything because she has been wonderful in so many films, but I don’t think this was really her best.