Tag Archives: paddy considine

Quickie: Pride

Pride Film PosterWhen a group of gay men and lesbians turn up in a small Welsh village in support of the miners’ strikes, not everyone is happy to have their support.

The UK miners’ strike of the mid 1980s ripped apart not just families but whole communities, and so it’s a little surprising that it’s the subject of a comedy. What’s even more surprising is that for the large part it works brilliantly.

Most (in the UK at least) will roughly know how the miners’ strike concluded, so there’s no huge conflict in that regard. Instead, it comes from the tensions between the LGBT community, their handful of non-gay supporters and, well, just about everyone else.

The script, written by Stephen Beresford, is a perfect combination of heartfelt and (often very dry) humour that will have you giggling to yourself just as much as you catch a lump in your throat. This script is impeccably delivered by all involved, partly due to the fact that they all look like they’re having a wonderful time with it. Imelda Staunton in particular is wonderful, although there are few, if any, weak links in terms of casting.

A few cliches and stereotype issues aside, Pride will only fail to connect with the most cold hearted of viewers, and whilst it may be stretching it somewhat to call it a ‘feel good film’, there are few films this year that are quite so adept at making you grin from ear to ear one minute and reaching for the tissues the next. Unless, of course, you’re massively right wing.

4 and a half pigeons

4.5/5 pigeons

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Film Review: The World’s End

Gary King’s (Simon Pegg) never did quite complete the ‘Golden Mile’, a 12 stop pub crawl in the sleepy village of Newton Haven ending up in The World’s End, but now he’s getting his old group of friends back together to finally complete the crawl. However, there’s something not quite right about the residents of Newton Haven, and not only do they put Gary’s quest at risk but also the very existence of the human race.

Since being released in 2004, Shaun of the Dead has become somewhat of a cult hit. Hot Fuzz then followed in 2007, which although still very good, didn’t quite hit the highs of its predecessor. Now Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have released the final part in what is dubbed the ‘Cornetto trilogy’ and the stakes have been raised significantly.

The World’s End is bigger and bolder than the previous two films in just about every way. The central cast is larger (or stays around for longer), the special effects are more grandiose and it’s probably expected to pull in significantly more money, too. But all of this does somewhat detract from what made Shaun of the Dead so loveable. Shaun felt like a few guys just throwing ideas together, much like their equally-loved TV show Spaced, but a much of The World’s End feels a little too forced, like they’re trying just a bit too hard.

Now that’s not to say it’s not a good film and that I didn’t enjoy it, because it is and I did, but too many of the jokes miss their mark, and when you know you should probably be laughing, more often than not a slight chuckle is the best you get. Sometimes it’s brilliant but it’s just a little too inconsistent. It seems they’ve gone with the attitude that if you throw enough jokes then enough will stick. And they do, but only just.

Where the film does improve on both Shaun and Fuzz is with the depth of its characters. Pegg’s Gary King has a pretty substantial backstory, of which all of other characters (particularly Nick Frost’s surprisingly straight-laced Andrew) are an integral part. Each of the other characters has their own little side story going on, but it’s as a part of Gary’s larger story arc that they really matter. Unlike those around him, Gary hasn’t grown up, and none of his ‘friends’ even really like him that much. He’s both an entertaining and a pitiful character; there’s much more to him than either of Pegg’s previous incarnations as Shaun or Nicholas Angel.

And it really feels as if the three writers have put a lot of love into the film. There’s plenty of lovely little touches that catch your eye and likely plenty more that will only surface after a few rewatches, which is one of the great things about all three films in the trilogy. They really do feel like films made by film fans, and The World’s End is no exception to that.

Perhaps it was because I was expecting too much, but The World’s End does feel like slight disappointment. I still had fun with it, and in some ways it’s a more developed piece of work that either Shaun or Fuzz, but it does lack just a little originality and spark. Just as similarly-named apocalyptic comedy This is the End is a joke starting to wear thin, The World’s End unfortunately feels a little the same.

3 and a half pigeons

3.5/5 pigeons

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Film Review: Dead Man’s Shoes

dead-mans-shoes-01

Richard (Paddy Considine) returns from the army to the village where he grew up to find that his mentally handicapped brother Anthony (Toby Kebbell) had been abused by a gang of local drug dealers. Richard decides to take the law into his own hands to exact revenge on each member of the gang.

You’ve got your Locks Stocks and your Snatches and other similar films that are constantly held up as shining examples of British filmmaking. However, whilst those films often collect all the plaudits, Shane Meadows’ 2004 thriller Dead Man’s Shoes easily stands shoulder to shoulder its peers and very much deserves to do so.

Whilst the revenge-orientated story of Dead Man’s Shoes is a relatively simple one, its narrative is really quite clever, never really letting you settle on your opinion of any of the characters until the very end. We are shown in flashbacks throughout the film what the gang did to Anthony, each helping to paint a picture of what happened. Some of the flashbacks make Richard’s actions seem somewhat extreme, whilst by the end, we’re left in no doubt as to his motivations for revenge.

But therein lies some interesting questions about morality and retribution. Do these people deserve to die? You’ll probably change your mind several times throughout the film and probably still struggle to come to any kind of conclusion. Pretty much everyone in the film (aside from Anthony) is abhorrent and repulsive in their own way; it’s difficult to know which side of the fence to fall on, which makes the film rather unsettling to watch.

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The narrative is supported by a really strong script, co-written by director Shane Meadows, star Paddy Considine and Paul Fraser. It’s not a glossy script; it’s vicious and biting, but it’s absolutely perfect for the story. It’s also rich with dark humour, which is superbly offset against the violence in the film. The hapless drug dealers have some hilarious dialogue, which gives the film some much needed light relief. However, it’s Paddy Considine as Richard who really shines. We never find out what happened to Richard when he was at war, but this is clearly a damaged man, and Considine delivers every line with conviction, spit and bile. One particular altercation with gang leader Sonny, whilst the rest of the gang huddle inside an old Citroën 2CV is impossible to look away from.

Throw into the mix a fantastic soundtrack and some clever editing, particularly during a scene in which Richard drugs the gang, and you have a film where almost every single element comes together perfectly. It might have been nice to know a little more about Richard, but you could argue his clouded past actually makes the character more mysterious. The film clocks in at just under 90 minutes, but its runtime is absolutely spot on for the story. It’s tight and concise; no shot is wasted nor does it feel like it’s lacking in any particular area.

Some may find the whole experience somewhat shallow, but Dead Man’s Shoes is a prime example of how to tell a story on a relatively low budget. It’s violent without being excessively so, and in such a short space of time effectively creates characters that are funny, hateful, frightening, and those that you sympathise with. Film making in its purest form.

4 and a half pigeons

4.5/5 pigeons

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Film review: Tyrannosaur

TyrannosaurTyrannosaur sets its stall out early. Within minutes, a dog has been kicked to death, and that tone carries on throughout pretty much the rest of the film. Make no mistake, Tyrannosaur is not a film to watch if you want some lighthearted entertainment; you will be appalled, shocked, angered, and saddened. This may not be the best advert, but it’s a film that should be watched as a lesson in humanity, tolerance and compassion.

Joseph (Peter Mullen) is a rage-filled down-and-out; he drinks, gambles, has no job, antagonises and abuses any and all who cross his path – all in all a pretty destructive character, both physically and mentally.  When he meets religious charity shop worker, Hannah (Olivia Coleman), he isn’t used to the level of understanding, patience and kindness that she shows him and proceeds to abuse her as he does everyone else. But Joseph keeps finding his way back to Hannah and slowly starts to let her change his life. However, Hannah has some dark secrets of her own, namely her abusive and sadistic husband James (Eddie Marsan), and she ends up needing Joseph just as much as he needs her.

The story, and Joseph’s in particular, is reasonably formulaic for the most part, although there are still plenty of shocks and surprises throughout that will raise eyebrows. Most of the character’s journeys are affecting, from Joseph’s to Hannah’s to Samuel’s, a young boy who’s one of the few to treat Joseph like a real human being, and you genuinely want them to find the happiness they strive for.

As mentioned in the first paragraph, Tyrannosaur is not an easy watch (the happiest scene in the film is a wake) and, at times, it can be a little too brutal. As is the speciality of British cinema, reality is clearly the order of the day, but Tyrannosaur is sometimes so bleak that it can actually detract from the reality of it all. Surely so many people’s lives couldn’t be that dysfunctional? Or maybe they could and that’s the really shocking thing.

Much of the acclaim for this film has focused on Olivia Coleman’s performance, and, quite simply, it deserves every accolade it gets. She delivers a performance so compelling, so gut-wrenching that it truly makes you glad you’re only watching a film; even the thought of anyone going through the ordeals she does is nothing short of frightening. Coleman’s portrayal of a woman pushed to her absolute limits is masterful, although her story threatens to completely overshadow that of Joseph’s. Or rather it would have done if Mullen had not delivered an equally impressive performance, his Joseph delicately straddling the line between psychopath and misunderstood. Like Michael Fassbender’s performance in Shame, it’s an absolute travesty that neither Coleman nor Mullen got an Oscar nod, especially considering the number of other awards the film and the actors have picked up.

Despite the film’s rather dark outlook, there is still plenty to cheer. Watching the the relationship between Joseph and Hannah develop is mesmerising as you never quite now if Joseph will slip back into old habits despite Hannah’s seemingly unwavering belief that he’s a good person at heart.

Tyrannosaur is a film that makes an impression, and if this is Considine’s first feature as a director, then any future forays behind the camera should generate a fair deal of attention.

Words: Chris Thomson

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