John Battsek

John Battsek

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How I Live Now Review


Excellent

Remarkably bleak for a teen movie, this drama keeps us gripped as it throws its characters into an odyssey that's seriously harrowing. Gifted filmmaker Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) and a fine young cast make sure that we feel every punch of emotion along the way. And the premise itself gets our minds spinning in unusual directions.

Set in the present day, violent uprisings are growing in Europe as 16-year-old Daisy (Ronan) heads from New York to Britain to spend the summer with her Aunt Penn (Chancellor) on a farm in rural Wales. A sullen loner, she tries to avoid her three chirpy cousins: the quiet genius Eddie (MacKay) is her age, while the more adventurous Isaac (Holland) is 14 and the younger Piper (Bird) is clingy and annoying. Then while Penn is away on business, the violence spreads to the UK, which descends into martial law. The cousins are divided and sent into care. But they promise to meet back at the farm, which is going to be an epic journey for Daisy and Piper if they can escape from their new home.

The story is told from Daisy's perspective, complete with glimpses into her troubled thoughts, dreams and nightmares. We're never sure why she is so deeply fearful of everything around her, but Ronan brings out her fragile mental state beautifully, then takes us along as Daisy is pushed to the limits and must find the inner strength to go forward. As a result, the other characters remain less-defined, although MacKay and Holland bring layers of interest to Eddie and Isaac. As Daisy's companion, Bird is much more present on-screen, and we're as irritated by her as Daisy is.

Continue reading: How I Live Now Review

Everything Or Nothing Review


Very Good

Assembled in the style of a Bond film, this lively doc is an entertaining race through 50 years of the 007 franchise. The fast-paced narrative skips over a few things here and there, but focusses nicely on the relationships that have sustained the films over the decades even when it looked like it was about to fall apart.

James Bond was created as a bit of wish-fulfilment for author Ian Fleming, a reaction to his desk-bound job in intelligence during WWII. After the Cold War sparked interest in the novels, the film rights were sold to producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. To make the first movie, 1962's Dr No, they broke every rule in the book, casting an unknown Scottish actor as Bond and redesigning the look and feel of spy movies from the ground up. Of course, it was a sensation, sparking the longest-running movie franchise of all time. Although it certainly hasn't been a smooth ride.

The central focus here is on the bromance between Cubby and Harry, which has lingered into the next generation. Today, Barbara Broccoli and her stepbrother Michael Wilson keep the films current, relevant and faithful to Fleming's original creation, which is a tricky balancing act. In this documentary, we get lucid first-hand accounts of the crises that nearly sank the franchise, including the panic of Connery's decision to leave the role, the legal wranglings around Thunderball (and its unofficial remake Never Say Never Again) and Brosnan's first false start as Bond. And then there were the world-changing events of 9/11, which spurred the producers to completely reinvent Bond as a grittier, more emotionally resonant figure.

Continue reading: Everything Or Nothing Review

John Battsek

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John Battsek Movies

How I Live Now Movie Review

How I Live Now Movie Review

Remarkably bleak for a teen movie, this drama keeps us gripped as it throws its...

Everything Or Nothing Movie Review

Everything Or Nothing Movie Review

Assembled in the style of a Bond film, this lively doc is an entertaining race...

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