Edge of Darkness: when his sick daughter is gunned down, detective Tom Craven starts looking for people with a grudge against him, but maybe he wasn’t the target. This is a good-old corporation/government conspiracy film that feels like a throwback to the blunt movies of the 80s. There’s a few totally unexpected, and fairy graphic deaths that have genuine shock value, and get properly etched in your brain. The plot starts to feel like a runaway train, where the crazy and unbelievable things start piling up. We also get treated to a variety of terrible Boston accents, which make some of the dialogue difficult to catch. Gibson pulls out a decent performance, given his characters complex mental state – but everyone else can be filed under ‘hammy’ or ‘generic’. One final note, to Ray Winstone, please stop being Ray Winstone! Despite sitting on the Edge of Realism, Edge of Darkness is a decent, albeit depressingly nihilistic, action / thriller / revenge / conspiracy picture from the director that had the stones and talent to save the James Bond franchise twice.
Together: set back in 1975, it documents the make ups and break ups of a crowded hippy commune in Stockholm – doesn’t sound great but this is one of the best drama films out there, easily. Other than a few zooms there are no fancy tricks to this film, leaving everything to come from the characters; vegetarians, homosexuals, hippies, confused teenagers and alcoholics under one roof – it’s basically a scrip-writer’s wet dream. There are no main roles, just an ensemble of credible characters that you can relate to – from the uneasy teen to the textbook socialist – which makes the story very absorbing. There’s some nice subtle and awkward comedy hidden there too. It may be a tad slow for some but has one of the best endings that I can remember. All in, it’s a simple feel good tale about the ups and downs of living with people. This is was only Moodysson’s 2nd film, and between this, Fucking Amal and Lilja-4-ever he definitely started his career with a bang. We’re better together.
Volver: borderline surreal movie that tells the story of a Spanish family going through some rough times. It would be impossible to watch this film and not notice that it’s pretty much a showcase of Penelope Cruz (and her magnificent chest). Despite this her performance is stellar as she leads the cast cast, once again proving that Spanish-language films truly bring out the best in her. The film’s shot brilliantly, and the vibrant colours and great cinematography really bring another dimension – the Blu Ray would be great. There’s a lot of over-acting, almost to soap opera level, and as the story progresses it gets less believable to the point where the drama isn’t effective. Some great dialogue and black comedy moments throughout too. All-in, it’s very Spanish and unmistakably Almaldovar, which is by no means a bad thing; although it’s not quite his best. Definitely worth watching.
Children Of Men: Undeniably one of the best movies of 2006. Can’t really say too much without giving the story away other than it’s the perfect combination of plot, action, violence and cinematic genius. When I saw this first time round I was absolutely lost for words. The story’s bleak, but believable. Technically, this film is astounding. A lot of the key scenes done as single-takes, peaking with an 8-minute war shot that will leave your jaw in your lap. Some people will no doubt think that it’s too slow, but for me, it was just a great, well-told story. All the little details (posters, adverts, background chat) add greatly to the realism. The acting’s also top-notch, even Michael Caine, who I almost exclusively dislike. See this film at all costs, but make sure it’s on a big TV to get the full effect.