Films viewed in 2011

Archive for the ‘British’ Category

446. Dead Man’s Shoes

In British on January 23, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Dir. Shane Meadows

A disaffected soldier returns to his hometown to get even with the thugs who brutalized his mentally-challenged brother years ago.

MY TAKE

Lucky for us, it seems writer and star Paddy Considine has some issues to work out. The story he co-wrote with director Shane Meadows is a gritty revenge tale draws easy comparisons to Taxi Driver, albeit much more narrow in focus. What separates this film from your standard Kill Bill­-style action spectacle is how believable the rampage and its execution is on the band of British misfits. The no-nonsense filmmaking is also refreshing in it’s DIY approach and the genuine intimacy it creates with the characters. Don’t get too close though, because it doesn’t end well for most of them.

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445. Tyrannosaur

In British on January 23, 2012 at 4:13 PM

Dir. Paddy Considine

Joseph, a man driven to self-destruction, earns a chance of redemption in the form of Hannah, a Christian charity shop worker.

MY TAKE

In his first film as writer and director, Paddy Considine uses a few tricks to make a drunk, vulgar and violent old man our sympathetic protagonist. First, he gets slime specialist Eddie Marsan to urinate on his helpless wife as the contrasting villain. Anyone would look good in compassion. More elegantly, however, Peter Mullan (as the anti-hero) doesn’t take any short cuts in begrudgingly transforming into the protective guardian of an utterly brilliant and fragile Olivia Colman. Exploring very similar themes to Dead Man’s Shoes, in which Considine both wrote and starred, Tyrannosaur is a fine example of a civilized struggle against one’s primitive nature.

 

434. Billy Elliot

In British on January 9, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Dir. Stephen Daldry

A talented young boy becomes torn between his unexpected love of dance and the disintegration of his family.

MY TAKE

Billy Elliot is an example of a conventional story brought to life with extraordinary talent, compassion and success. The story is relevantly set against more serious social upheaval, and the script’s perfect dramatic structure brilliantly separates the two moments of “acceptance” (from his family and the school) instead of folding them into one clichéd finale. The young breakthrough performer Jamie Bell also goes from believably bad at dancing to believably good, and anchors an all-around cheer worthy film.  If you’ve got a pulse, and a dream, you’re going to leave this movie happy.


261. Page Eight

In British on September 22, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Dir. David Hare

An aging British spy fights to learn the truth about a potential government cover-up involving illegal detainees in the Iraq War.

MY TAKE

David Hare’s dance around a political minefield is layered with intrigue and loose threads that threaten to unravel at any moment. The drama is balanced throughout and Bill Nighy’s composed determination makes you worry on behalf of his character. Less impressive roles for the supporting cast build early interest but become over-simplified by the end. Page Eight is a competent and well-written film, but won’t appeal to anyone not pre-disposed to the genre.

91. How to Get Ahead of Advertising

In British on August 11, 2011 at 1:58 PM

Dir. Bruce Robinson

Dennis Dimbleby Bagley is a brilliant young advertising executive who can’t come up with a slogan to sell a revolutionary new pimple cream.

MY TAKE

As a copywriter myself, I should file this film under the “horror” section. The idea of creative stagnancy manifesting itself into a talking boil is an image I’ll probably never shake. The opening felt inspired, there were certainly moments in the middle, but the ending was unsatisfying.

12. The Wind That Shakes the Barley

In British on July 19, 2011 at 1:09 PM

Dir. Ken Loach

A sympathetic look at Republicans in early 20th century Ireland, and two brothers who are torn apart by anti-Brit rebellion.

MY TAKE

Brilliant touchstone film on the birth of the IRA that helps put Irish independence movement into perspective. Entertaining and important, this is the kind of film I dream of making.

7. Never Let Me Go

In British on July 18, 2011 at 5:12 PM

Dir. Mark Romanek

In an alternate version of the 1960s, a group of unsuspecting boarding-school students learn they are clones harvested for their organs.

MY TAKE

Don’t be fooled by the sci-fi premise. This is a straight-up coming-of-age drama that unravels the innocence of youth, love and hope with a quiet devastation I’ll be talking about for days.