With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a punch in the nose, launching at full speed and never letting up. It's a funny and edgy portrait of three generations of a family stuck in a cycle of criminality and ignorance. While writer Alastair Siddons and director Adam Smith kind of lose the plot along the way, at least they aren't interested in preaching at us. Instead they create a group of unforgettable characters in a seriously messy situation.
The leader of the family is the patriarch Colby (Brendan Gleeson), who rules the community of caravans with a macho smirk and ignores the law as if it's still the good old days. His son Chad (Michael Fassbender) never learned to read, but wants his children (Georgie Smith and Kacie Anderson) to go to school. Colby thinks that's ridiculous, preferring to educate the kids by taking them along on badly planned robberies. Chad's wife Kelly (Lyndsey Marshal) wants out of this situation even more than Chad does, and she's increasingly annoyed that Colby is putting their children in danger. Will Chad have the nerve to stand up to his imperious dad?
Miraculously, the actors underplay these larger-than-life characters, creating eerily realistic, charming people whose clashes are a direct result of the changing world around them. Fassbender and Gleeson bring terrific detail to their roles and then spark off each other with such power that we don't know quite where to look. It's utterly riveting, drawing out personal grit along with darker themes. And it's not surprising that other characters are less fleshed-out. Marshal is most impressive in the scenes in which the seriously tough Kelly locks horns with Colby. And a couple of side characters register nicely: Rory Kinnear as a beleaguered cop trying to get the drop on this gang and Sean Harris as a mentally unstable family member.
Continue reading: Trespass Against Us Review
Chad Cutler is an Irish traveller who entered a life of crime at a young age, following in the footsteps of his father before him, Colby. Now that his own son Tyson is growing up, he wants to show him the ropes. Teaching him to drive a car through the fields is one thing, though, and he's starting to realise that introducing him into a world of police chases and robberies is very much another. Chad is becoming disillusioned with the lifestyle with which his family is accustomed, and wants to find a new path for both himself and his child. While his mother Kelly is supportive of his feelings, she and everyone else knows that Colby won't hear anything about it. He needs to find a way to sever ties with his father, without unleashing hell on his own family.
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Up until recently, Harry Fox was a successful asset manager until his entire life started to unwind. It all started when the company he worked for lost over 14 billion euros overnight and leaves Harry and his ex-co-workers jobless and hungry for new money making schemes.
Vernon Stynes, one of Harry's old associates comes up with an idea to make some money, it's completely ludicrous but on the world of the dark web, it might just work. One person empties their bank account and sells all their belongings of any value and turns it all into cash and buries the money. Another person does the exact same. The parties dig a grave and fight to the death. The victor buries the looser and recovers the loot. Not really fully understanding what he's unleashing, Vernon designs a simple website and puts the idea out on the dark net.
According to Vernon, if your entire assets only amount to thirty thousand euros and you're on the verge of suicide, your life isn't really worth living and could be worth one final gamble. As Harry becomes more and more involved with the ploy, it seems that however hard he tries to stay away from the scheme, people might be out to get him.
Both an intensely personal odyssey and an exploration of the impact of conflict on communities, this sharply involving thriller marks an auspicious debut for director Yann Demange. It also features yet another striking lead performance for Jack O'Connell, who also received high praise for Starred Up earlier this year and has Angelina Jolie's Unbroken still to come. This film puts him through his paces as his character is sent on a relentless journey right into the heart of one of the most complex conflicts on earth.
The title tells us when this is taking place: it's the early days of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, as young Private Hook (O'Connell) is assigned to Belfast, where clashes between Catholic nationalists and Protestant unionists have turned the city into a war zone. While on a mission to diffuse a street riot, things spiral out of control and Hook is separated from his unit. Running for his life, he works his way across the city pursued by a tenacious thug (Killian Scott). He also meets a local leader (David Wilmot) and a couple (Richard Dormer and Charlie Murply) who help him survive. Meanwhile, Hook's senior officer (Sam Reid) works with a pair of British spies (Sean Harris and Paul Anderson) to track him down.
The film unfolds as a series of life-or-death encounters that can go either way, and each adds to the bigger picture of how the Troubles have torn Ireland apart. But the script intriguingly avoids politics to make a deeper comment on humanity, making it clear that this kind of situation certainly isn't unique to this time and place. Demange stages each sequence with bravura touches, using long-takes and intense filmmaking to put us right in the middle of the action. And O'Connell's sensitive, expressive performance makes it very easy to identify with Hook as he's thrown into a situation where everyone has guns and bombs but no experience at battle. This approach is so human that it's deeply unsettling; death is always a possibility, random and sudden.
Continue reading: '71 Review
Gary Hook (Jack O'Connell) is a British soldier, nervous about his placement in Belfast during the political riots of 1971. With little to no experience being barely out of school, the only thing he can trust is his own instincts, while being uncomfortable and suspicious of both the locals and his fellow soldiers. Unfortunately for him, his fear of the volatile situation is only about to get worse as he finds himself abandoned on unfamiliar streets when his own regiment takes flight. Now all alone surrounded by savage and angry Northern Irish residents, he has to find a way to survive the rest of the night before joining his team once again.
Continue: 71 - Clip
1971 - The height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. When Gary's regiment is sent to Belfast in an attempt to quell rioting in the area, all hell breaks loose and the unit leaves without him. Trapped in a strange and alien world, Gary is aware that almost everyone in the city wants to kill him. From here, the gripping thriller begins, as Gary struggles to stay alive throughout the night, in a desperate attempt to find rescue and make it back home to his family. '71 has so far received rave reviews from the Berlin Film Festival, where it premiered earlier this year in February.
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Father James Lavelle is a good-natured priest whose life is thrown into confusion and disarray when an anonymous man tells him in confession that he will kill him in a week's time - the only reason being because Lavelle is an innocent man. Of all the shocking things he's ever heard in confession, none have thrown him quite as much as this. Unable to go to the police under the rules of the 'Seal of the Confessional', Lavelle consults his church peers pondering whether it was merely an idle threat, or whether his life really is in danger. In his apparent last week in existence, he scrutinises the corrupt individuals of his sin-filled parish, wondering along the way why people seem to focus more on their vices than their virtues, but when his beloved church is burnt to the ground, his views on good and evil become distorted.
'Calvary' is the darkly comic drama about the timeless story of good and evil, and guilt and innocence. It has been directed and written by BAFTA nominated John Michael McDonagh ('The Guard', 'Ned Kelly') and is set in Ireland's beautiful West Coast countryside. The film is set to be released on April 11th 2014.
When Terri Hooley decided to open up the record shop Good Vibrations in Belfast in the 70s world of hippies and strong political messages, he had no idea that he would soon discover what would be some of the most prominent groups on the newly emerging punk scene. After managing to secure local band Rudi their first record, he was soon approached by another band: The Undertones. Although initially reluctant to sign them at first, after hearing them play he was astounded at what came through his headphones in the studio with their debut single 'Teenage Kicks'. Unfortunately, he struggled to get even a slight sign of interest from any record company in London in the beginning but the airplay soon picked up and it became one of the most recognisable punk songs in the UK. This is how Terri Hooley became one of these most significant figures in the late 70s punk progression.
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'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...
Chad Cutler is an Irish traveller who entered a life of crime at a young...
Up until recently, Harry Fox was a successful asset manager until his entire life started...
Both an intensely personal odyssey and an exploration of the impact of conflict on communities,...
Gary Hook (Jack O'Connell) is a British soldier, nervous about his placement in Belfast during...
Father James Lavelle is a good-natured priest whose life is thrown into confusion and disarray...
When Terri Hooley decided to open up the record shop Good Vibrations in Belfast in...