Selma – 7/10

The opinion that the famously white, wealthy and male Oscar committee are favourable towards historical films that might alleviate their guilt about being white, wealthy and male is a well trodden path. Martin Luther King biopic Selma obviously fits the bill perfectly.


In the past we have had the powerful (In the Name of the Father, Schindler’s List), the boring if well acted history lesson (Lincoln), the forgettable lead performance in an otherwise solid film (12 Years a Slave) and the downright Oscar bait shit (The Help). So in which camp does Selma fall? Unfortunately there are arguments for all of them.

There is no doubting that their are powerful moments throughout Selma, but considering the subject matter that is par for the course. There are also long stretches where not much is happening. As with 12 Years A Slave, the support cast is good, particularly Tom Wilkinson as president Lyndon Johnson, but aside from the admittedly electrifying speeches, I found David Oyelowo as MLK a little bland and lacking in emotion. I am sorry to add as well, that director Ava DuVernay, chooses to forego letting the gravitas of the story provide the emotional wallop, in favour of a completely out of place and totally rubbish power ballad for the climatic scene. It is cringe inducing and quite frankly embarrassing.

Selma is by no means a bad film but it’s two Oscar nominations are perhaps generous.

Chaplin – 7.5/10.

Troubled genius Robert Downey Jr plays troubled genius Charlie Chaplin.

Citizen cane … Robert Downey Jr in Chaplin (1992).

I had no real interest in Chaplin before seeing this movie but I had heard good things about RDJ’s performance and I was not disappointed. While he earned all the plaudits for his realistic portrayal of Chaplin’s on stage slapstick persona, it is the quieter, more personal scenes in which Downey Jr shines.

The great thing about Robert Downey Jr is he plays flawed geniuses so often (Iron Man, Zodiac, Sherlock Holmes etc) but he plays them all completely differently and his Chaplin is possibly his best (if not as fun as Tony Stark) of the lot. A brilliant supporting cast of Dan Aykroyd, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Dunn, Anthony Hopkins, John Thaw et al further help to bring Chaplin to life but sometimes leave the screen a bit crowded.


My one criticism of Chaplin would be that director Richard Attenborough tries to fit too much in. In covering nearly all of Charlie Chaplin’s life in just two and a half hours it started to feel confusing as to what was going on as ‘The Little Tramp’ was married four times and did so much with his life. It is however, a testament to the quality of the film that even at such a long running time I would have happily seen proceedings stretched out for another forty five minutes in order to give the story more time to breath.

Whether you have any interest in Charlie Chaplin or not is immaterial, if you like good cinema than you should watch Chaplin.


Lincoln – 7.5/10

Beards and hats. Hats and beards.


I was disappointed to find this is not a film about the sleepy northern city of Lincoln but rather some American president with a penchant for fucking massive hats.
Lincoln is in fact a Political ‘thriller’ chronicling the passing of the thirteenth amendment that brought freedom to the black slaves of America. This basically consists of two and a half hours of men with spectacular beards shouting at each other interspersed with Sally Field shrieking like some hysterical southern belle in a bad Tennessee Williams play.
The acting (Fields aside) is magnificent across the board, and while Daniel Day Lewis wouldn’t get my nod for best actor at this years Oscars, you can’t really begrudge him it. There is an annoying tendency for Spielberg to depict every bit of dialogue that bellows out of honest Abe’s mouth as a motivational speech complete with stirring music and reaction shots but Day Lewis is so watchable it hardly matters.
The cast is brilliant and having Daniel Day Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones and Joseph Gordon Levitt in one movie is something to enjoy because it will never happen again what with Day Lewis’ often leaving five years or so between projects.


Lincoln will no doubt clean up at the Oscars but I’m not sure if it deserves to. It is not a film I can imagine myself ever watching more than twice nor is it a film I can see the next generation hankering to watch in twenty years time.
In a way we are never going to enjoy Lincoln in the same way as our American cousins, as the flag waving patriotism of it all is lost on us, but it is the directors job to make that aspect of the film unimportant. Spielberg falls short in that respect here.
Lincoln is technically brilliant and the acting makes it a worthwhile watch but it is a film I liked rather than loved.