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Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

Birdsong (2012)

In based on novel, BBC, new, period drama, Review, romantic, series, war on 29/01/2012 at 10:47 pm

Brand new BBC war romance – yes, another one. Birdsong is based on the acclaimed Sebastian Faulks novel by the same name and tells the story of a young man called Stephen (Eddie Redmayne) and a woman he falls in love with, set against the horrors of the Great War in the trenches in France.

Many things are good about this adaptation: the acting, the writing, convincing drama. Still, I probably will have forgotten all about it very soon. My guess is that this is because it lacks significance. There’s nothing special about the romance itself, the protagonist is quite ordinary and doesn’t go through any interesting personal journey or the like, and there are countless better stories telling the horrifying reality of WWI.

This may have been very different in the novel, in which case this just isn’t a very good adaptation. In general I’d say that this is a decent production, but nothing more. If you feel like watching a good romance, go ahead. Just don’t expect to be blown away by its originality.

 

 

The Silence (2010)

In Amazing, BBC, Crime, Recommendation, Review, series on 26/01/2012 at 9:19 pm

An intense four part sensory and thrilling drama about a deaf 18 year old girl and the turbulent events spinning her into adult life at a ravenous pace while she’s staying with her aunt and uncle in Bristol.

Amelia (Genevieve Barr) recently had a hearing operation and is undergoing speech training close to where her police detective uncle and his family live. Her character is beautiful: frustrated about her protective parents, eager and curious, frightened and irrational and highly sensitive and sensual because of it. This makes her actions unlikely at times and enthralling all the time. The viewer hears when and what she hears: when she takes out her hearing aid (which paradoxically makes her feel safe), sound drops and dialogue is subtitled.

When she accidentally witnesses a serious crime, she puts herself, her uncle’s career and the family in a tricky situation which builds up steadily throughout the series. The tension between aunt Maggie (Dervla Kirwan) and her husband Jim (Douglas Henshall) is very powerful and real – Jim being something between a hot-tempered work-obsessed prick and a likeable, responsible man. He’s also a man who cares about his niece but is a bit ridiculous at doing it. Meanwhile, the relationship between Amelia’s parents (Gina McKee and Hugh Bonneville) and their relationship with their daughter progresses in its own tense and terribly realistic way.

Main kudos go to the way all characters play their own essential parts and are so realistically executed. It’s also refreshing to watch a drama where not all emotions and actions are easy to explain. A real gem of a miniseries.

 

SUS (2010)

In Amazing, Crime, film, Law, political, Recommendation, Review on 18/01/2012 at 11:06 pm

This film in three words: different, important and superb.

It’s election night 1979: just a couple of hours until the era of Thatcher begins. A pregnant woman is found dead in her flat, a bloody screwdriver nearby. Her husband is held and interrogated on suspicion of murder. The detectives are blatantly racist and the devastated husband plummets into a nightmare as all his legal rights are withheld. This is SUS: a frightening law that allows the police to hold and interrogate somebody on suspicion alone – as frequently used in the UK during Thatcher’s reign.

This film, written as a play originally by Barrie Keeffe, is an exceptionally daunting example of what SUS can turn into. As it is claustrophobically set in a single room, it heavily relies on the acting abilities of Clint Dyer (husband Delroy) and police ruffians Ralph Brown and Rafe Spall (also an excellent villain in The Shadow Line).

When I say the acting is superb, I exaggerate not. SUS is a terrifying spectacle and it shows so much with so little plot. It’s just a room, three men and a situation, but they’ll have you on the edge of your seat, hiding under a pillow, swearing at the screen and perhaps desperately wishing you had one of those tissue boxes like in the telly ads as well.

 

Control (2007)

In biopic, film, period drama, Rant, Review on 17/01/2012 at 7:10 pm

This is probably an interesting film for Joy Division fans. Control is a biopic about Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis, made by renowned celeb photographer and No.1 Joy Division fan Anton Corbijn. For this reason, photographers will also quite certainly find this interesting. My advice to film lovers however, is to watch something else.

Sure, the cast is great (Samantha Morton, Sam Riley) and every shot looks like something you’d put up on your wall. Control also received some very good reviews and prizes in Cannes. Living members of the band even liked it, although they said most of the film didn’t really happen that way.It’s also in black and white, which makes it very artsy.

Despite all his glory, the fact remains that Control fails because it is essentially two hours of hopeless tedium. What the problem is? Mainly the writing. There is absolutely no suspense (meaning: you don’t give a donkey’s tit what’s going to happen next) and the protagonist isn’t captivating in any way (meaning you don’t give a duck’s wobbly behind if he does end up dead – which he does, but you already knew this because it actually happened). I’m certainly not going to blame it on the very capable cast, but I am going to say the makers obviously cared too much about being artistic (and you and I know that nobody really knows what that is) and they cared too little about telling a story.

Film critics: stop praising independent films for being bloody pretentious (just because you want to come across as an artistic authority). Joy Division fans/photographers: have fun. Everyone else: I suggest Worried About the Boy (2010), an amazing biopic of Boy George which you’ll love even if you never heard of the guy.