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Posts Tagged ‘control’

Shifty: Eran Creevy’s Shifty is remarkably better than the average British film about drug deals gone sour. What it lacks in a proper budget it more than makes up for with grit and candour. Set in the heartland of London suburbia, it follows Shifty (Riz Ahmed), a young drug dealer trying to hold his life together in the face of changes, both good and bad, and sometimes downright ugly. Lately he has been stuck with a fit of miserable luck too. First, his prodigal buddy Chris (Daniel Mays) does a shoddy job of mending fences with him. Then he gets screwed over by unscrupulous middlemen and is very likely to going to get killed over it. To make matters worse, his elder brother Rez kicks him out of the house and into the streets that look to eat Shifty and burp out his need for redemption. Director Eran Creevy is brave for sidestepping the possible drama. Given the anti-racial tones that permeate the second-half of the film, it might have been an enticing prospect for the director to call to mind September 11 or some other weak reference like that. Instead he remains calm and composed to make sure that subtlety is omnipresent. The acting is shockingly good, as well. Riz Ahmed, much like Dylan Duffus in Penny Woolcock’s 1 Day, lets the quiet moments do most of the talking. He also has a credible puppy dog expression whenever things don’t go well that makes us sympathize with him even more.

Daniel Mays, the actor from dreary gems like All Or Nothing and Half-Broken Things, and crap such as Pearl Habour, is in exceptional form here, as Shifty’s best mate. There’s a scene in which he confronts the devious dope fiend Glen (great cameo by Jason Flemyng) that stands out as a great template for young actors learning how to lose their cool in front of the camera, without looking like their anal virginity has been compromised. We are also treated to Nitin Ganatra’s portrayal of Rez (Shifty’s elder brother) – an odd mix of Christoph Waltz’s intensity and my paternal uncle’s sense of misplaced youth. Good film, great performances…just the way uh huh uh huh I like it.

The Baker: Maybe Hollywood would have been kinder to the storyline given its willingness to laugh uproariously at itself at the slightest behest. For instance, if Cameron Crowe had directed the film with Colin Farrell cast as the hit man “seeking refuge from his boss by finding work as a baker in a rural Welsh village” alongside Cameron Diaz, I might have enjoyed it a little more, considering how low my expectations would have been. For an independent UK film directed by its debuting screenplay writer and starring a bunch of talented performers, The Baker ends up looking a bit out of place. Make no mistake director Gareth Lewis has made an entertaining film chockfull of wry one-liners and consistent acting, but somewhere down the line, you might start looking for something more tangible – perhaps a tighter storyline, a less preposterous climax or at least a breakout performance.

Damian Lewis, who plays the Milo, one of those assassins looking to turn a new leaf, and Steve Speirs as Bryn – the bumbling bartender, keep things interesting with their nifty delivery of dialogues. Kate Ashfield, who was awesome in Colin Teague’s Spivs, plays Milo’s trepid love interest as thought it were the easiest thing in the world, which is never a good thing. At one point everything said and done in the film becomes so predictable that we almost want Chuck Norris to make an appearance and knock somebody’s head off. Almost.

A Film With Me In It: Ian Fitzgibbon’s A Film With Me In It is a hilarious retelling of the story of Job, with a dash of Murphy’s Law thrown in for good measure. The story centers on this gigantic failure of an Irish actor called Pierce (Mark Doherty, who also wrote the film’s screenplay) who gets pulled into a hyperbole of a situation in which his loved ones end up dead, one by one, every ten minutes. His deadpan responses to these random deaths are great to watch, considering that Mark looks like Seinfeld’s Kramer after three bottles of morphine.

Dylan Moran, the Irish comedian who played similar roles in Shaun of the Dead and Run Fatboy Run, also stars in A Film With Me In It as the slacker best friend. With a gruesome sense of irony and a large helping of good-old fashioned Irish banter, the duo pulls no punches with the sheer savagery of their moral conclusion. The scene stealer however is a tenderly bitter moment which Pierce shares with his wife (Amy Huberman); the couple uneasily cuddles together, as haunting strings chalk out a moment that looks exquisitely out of place. I can’t help thinking how over-the-top awesome it would have been if it were a short film.

Rock n Rolla: If it weren’t for Snatch or Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Rock N Rolla might have ended up a better film. Guy Ritchie has used up all his best one-liners, twists and turns that once made cockney gangster films remarkably entertaining. What we are left with are reckless machismo and borrowed storytelling. Even though this was the first time Ritchie has included politics of property management in his storyline, his style of cross-cut storytelling is so tiresome and lazy that it felt like I have seen it all before. The acting, apart from the ever-so awesome Tom Wilkinson, is dodgy at best. Gerard Butler is so bad in this that it must have made his inner homoerotic Spartan warrior go, “this is madness”. As for Thandie Newton, who plays another horribly scripted cliché in this film, the chemistry she has with Gerard makes Robbie Williams and Nathan Lane’s relationship in Birdcage look veritably Romeo and Julie-esque. Also, the Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell) character was as much of a saving grace as a Dhanush fight scene normally is one of his obnoxious movies. Pissed-off, punk ass, gawky rich kid who has daddy issues and resorts to snorting coke and spewing existentialist one-liners? No thank you. The actor playing Quid is however extremely talented. Kebbell has shown a lot of fire and intensity in films like Control, Wilderness and Dead Man’s Shoes and along with his David Blaine (but not as remarkably irritating) persona he should be going places.

As for Rock N Rolla, well, I’ll end this one with an excerpt from Peter Bradshaw’s review….” That title of Mr Guy Ritchie’s new featcha. Means geeza. Or mobsta. Top bruisa. In his London manna. Sad to say, the film’s a shocka. A right depressa. Bit of a dispirita. For this directa, it ain’t exactly a departcha. And the title means as well as everything else Mr Ritchie’s become a dodgy spella. What a dismaying orthographical decline since his last pictcha” You betcha.

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Sony Pix has taken time off from churning out seriously bad Eighties flicks starring Tom Berenger. Tonight (at 9 PM) they are broadcasting ControlAnton Corbijn‘s brilliant biopic on post-punk revivalists Joy Division‘s lead vocalist, Ian Curtis, who killed himself at the age of 23.

control curtis

Trust me on this…Control is great since it mostly drawls out sequences of Ian Curtis’ life rather than chronicling them as per cinematic logic. Thankfully, the director never portrays that life to be one merely confined to a self-imposed ‘I’d rather write poetry than talk to you’ social exile.

I say this because the director’s apparent fascination for Curtis’ timidity makes way for some of film’s most poignant moments. The conversation that he has with his wife about an affair and the apology that follows seems to have fallen right out of Cassavettes’ mind. This definitely is one of more realistic rock star biopics I have seen. Hell, at times his vulnerability is so intense that we almost want to call up his mom and ask her to take her son home.

It also helps that this film was shot in severely high contrast monochrome. A bleak grandeur, if there ever was one (random Bergman enthusiast suffers cardiac arrest).

And if you don’t already know, Joy Division made awesome music during the Seventies. Of course, the gods of good music will forgive you if you think otherwise. They were awesome in a The The sort of way. You’d either think they had synthesizers-o-titus (which most New Wave bands suffered from) or you’d be totally blown away by one of those ‘oh that’s where Nine Inch Nails came from’ epiphanies.

Either way, check out Control tonight or whenever bittorrent decides to please its masters.

Watch

Joy Division – Disorder

The The – Beat (en) Generation

Nine Inch Nails – Dead Souls (Joy Division Cover)

Read

Papa Bear’s review

Andy Slabaugh’s review

Buy everything

Here, here and here

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