A mostly dull film…
The clamour for the upcoming Star Wars sequel has put the films of Oscar Isaac, David Oyelowo and the rest of the cast of The Force Awakens into sharp focus. A Most Violent Year contains both Isaac and Oyelowo and once again it is Isaac that takes all the plaudits.
Despite being around for years it wasn’t until 2013’s Inside LLewyn Davis that Isaac started to receive attention. Since then Isaac has wowed people with his stunning performance in Ex Machina as well as signing up for both the Star Wars and the X-Men franchise.
Oscar Isaac sports this incredibly sharp coat throughout.
It is easy to see why Isaac is so in demand on the evidence of A Most Violent Year. Despite having valiant support from a better than usual Jessica Chastain and a solid David Oyelowo, it is Isaac that carries the film and makes it more than just a feature length Sopranos episode.
The problem with A Most Violent Year is the antagonist isn’t revealed until near the end of the film and so little has happened up until that point that the big reveal doesn’t really have much of an impact.
For Isaac completists (and you get the feeling it wont be long before such a thing exists) A Most Violent Year is worth watching for a good performance. For everyone else there are much better films available that cover similar subject matter.
A Clockwork Orange meets Escape from New York.
The Warriors is one of those great films from the 70’s and 80’s that showed how Hollywood had no idea how to portray inner city gangs. Director Walter Hill opts for gangs consisting of mostly effeminate men prancing around in preposterous costumes and behaving like they have walked off the set of a musical. This is about as menacing as it sounds. Having said that though the premise that minor gang The Warriors are wrongly believed to have assassinated the leader of all the gangs in NYC resulting in a man hunt is pretty good and it makes for an entertaining spectacle. It has a video game feel to it as The Warriors have to keep getting on different trains and encountering different gangs, each one dressed more bizarrely than the next.
It is difficult for the actors to shine with such a campy script and all the characters can be pigeon holed into familiar character tropes such as ‘tough guy with a heart of gold’, ‘arrogant tough guy’ and ‘silent tough guy’ but the acting is relatively decent across the board.
I have to say that I was invested in The Warriors though. I wanted them to make it home and there are some genuinely good fight scenes along the way. A fun and entertaining flick.
It is so easy to say ‘the real star of In Bruges is Bruges itself’ but… you know… the real star of In Bruges IS Bruges itself. The Venice of the North is such a picturesque and eye catching place that every scene pops off the screen. The cast are also on sparkling form. Colin Farrell, thankfully not asked to put on an accent, is hilarious as the bewildered and grief stricken Ray handling both the humour and the heavier scenes with aplomb. This is the other main strength of In Bruges. Many other films struggle to shift gears from comedy to more serious fare, often losing focus but director Martin McDonagh does a great job holding things together. Brendan Gleeson is cuddly and enjoyable as ever but it is Ralph Fiennes who impresses most as menacing cockney gangster Harry (or ‘Arry to use the parlance of our times).
In Bruges is another one of those films that doesn’t look anything special on paper but is a surprising gem if you give it a chance. You can’t really argue with *SPOILER* Colin Farrell karate chopping a dwarf can you?
One of the best casts ever assembled, punch each other, whilst being cool as fuck.