I was going to spend this week’s article discussing, lamenting and raging all about the Apple Tax ruling and our government's brave response to it but I’m already in a bad enough mood, it’s early Monday morning and all I want is to be back in the safety and comfort of my beautiful bed, so Apple can tip on for today.
After the summer deluge of blockbusters about grown men in spandex pretending they can fly, the autumn is usually the welcome time of the year when the film industry starts to release some more esoteric and dare I say adult films and our first new release for this week, Hell or High Water from Glaswegian director David McKenzie is as good a film as you could hope to see this year and is already the most successful independent film released in US cinemas so far this year.
Following on from his wonderful prison drama Starred Up, McKenzie has moved across the water, specifically to the wilds of Texas for his new feature and the director loses none of his punch, in fact his new project just might be the best thing this very talented filmmaker has produced, it’s a hard boiled film crime film which reminds one of Peckinpah at his peak and owes more to the golden age of New Hollywood than anything else.
Here is a film as good as the Coens No Country for Old Men and like that film it is in it’s no nonsense old school approach to filmmaking that really sets it apart.
Written by screenwriter Taylor Sheridan who penned last year’s ultra-grim, ultra-violent yet entirely engrossing Sicario, which focused on Mexican Drug cartels and FBI agents sent to destroy them and the writer again shows his qualities as the creator of taut, tension filled, edge of your seat, edge of your pants, edge of your mind thrillers.
Chris Pine and Ben Foster play brothers, Toby and Tanner, who have turned to robbing banks in the desert/ countryside of west Texas, they have taken to these somewhat desperate measures as the bank is threatening to foreclose on their farm and in a considered act of revenge the brothers only rob banks owned by this same chain.
Toby has also recently, (literally) struck gold on the family farm, and looking to compensate for his earlier failings as a father to his two estranged sons intends to use the money from this potential windfall to make a new and better life for them all.
His plans however are to be scuppered by his brother's new found love of robbing banks and also due to the two police officers, Marcus Hamilton and Alberto Parker who are on their trail.
Here enters Jeff Bridges as Hamilton, in one of the best roles and performances he has produced in a while. Bridges' detective is, of course, just a few days from retirement and determined to wrap this case up before he does, he soon figures out the personalities of the two bank robbing brothers and their modus operandi and doggedly pursues the two fugitives.
What follows is a desperate hunt which you just know is not going to end well for most involved. While Bridges gives a reliably brilliant performance, it is, somewhat surprisingly, Pine and Foster who showcase impressive qualities as actors hitherto unseen and it’s the bond and chemistry between the two of them that really elevates this truthful, violent, sad, angry but ultimately elegiac film.
David McKenzie is fast becoming one of the most exciting and brilliant filmmakers in the UK and with this film he has taken another confident step further. Peckinpah for the Trump age.
A Date For Mad Mary
The debut feature from Irish director Darren Thornton is a gem. Set in Drogheda and telling the story of the titular “Mad” Mary, who just released from prison has to get someone to be her date at the upcoming wedding of her best friend.
What starts off looking like just another (albeit, superior) rom com, morphs into something altogether more substantial as the film moves through its zippy running time. Irish cinema is going through quite the golden age this last year or so and here is a film that continues our recent hot streak. Highly recommended.
Kubo and the Two Strings
In the new film from the wonderful animation studio Laika, who gave us the recent very popular kids movie Coraline, Irish teenager Art Parkinson from Donegal leads a star studded cast in this wonderful new adventure.
Kubo, voiced by Parkinson, lives in a cave with his sick mother Sariatu, voiced by Charlize Theron, who lives in fear that her son will be caught by her tyrannical father, the Moon King. Kubo regales the local villagers with stories and plays his shamisen for them (the Two Strings of the title).
This tranquil ideal can never last however and events inevitably take a turn for the worst and Kubo is forced to go on the run to find his own departed father's suit of armour with the help of a monkey called Monkey and an insectoid human type thing called Beetle, voiced by Matthew McConaughey.
Laika have often been accused of making films that are alternatively, too high brow for children, too scary for kids or even too artful, but this of course does nothing but speak down to children and I have yet to meet a child that fails to be captivated by the gorgeous animation and vibrant fairy tales the animation studio produces. Like all great animation, one for adults and children alike.