Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Screen Actors Guild Award Winners 2015



Over the weekend, we had the Producer's Guild Awards and the Screen Actor's Guild Awards announce their winners for the past year of film making. At the PGA's, the producers of Birdman, The Lego Movie, TV's Breaking Bad and Fargo won the big prizes while there was a fascinating spread of movies that won at the SGA's. Below I have listed the nominees (for the movie categories) and in bold are the winners. Not one movie had two winners, meaning that The Theory of Everything, Still Alice, Whiplash, Boyhood and Birdman all picked up awards. It's great to see all these films picking up something and it will be very interesting to see if this is repeated at the Oscars.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
STEVE CARELL
Foxcatcher
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
The Imitation Game
JAKE GYLLENHAAL Nightcrawler
MICHAEL KEATON
Birdman
EDDIE REDMAYNE
The Theory of Everything

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
JENNIFER ANISTON Cake
FELICITY JONES
The Theory of Everything
JULIANNE MOORE Still Alice
ROSAMUND PIKE Gone Girl
REESE WITHERSPOON
Wild





Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
ROBERT DUVALL The Judge
ETHAN HAWKE Boyhood
EDWARD NORTON
Birdman
MARK RUFFALO
Foxcatcher
J.K. SIMMONS
Whiplash

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
PATRICIA ARQUETTE Boyhood
KEIRA KNIGHTLEY
The Imitation Game
EMMA STONE
Birdman
MERYL STREEP Into the Woods 
NAOMI WATTS St Vincent


Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
BIRDMAN
BOYHOOD
 THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
THE IMITATION GAME
 THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

The Imitation Game Review



Benedict Cumberbatch is Alan Turing, a man intent on deciphering the enigma code used by the Germans in WW2. In playing Turing, Cumberbatch is the actor who has cracked the code for guaranteeing an Oscar nomination. Turing here is portrayed as being on the Autistic spectrum, finding it difficult to make friends, understand jokes or even be able to work as part of a team. He is a genius who seemed to only have one friend in his school days and then went on to work at Bletchley Park in order to figure out how the German’s were encoding all their radio communications during World War 2. The Imitation Game deals with his time at Bletchley most notably, but also flashes back to Turing’s days being bullied at school and forward to after the war where he was eventually arrested for being a homosexual.


The Imitation Game is a fascinating study of a man, who is leagues ahead of most he encounters in terms of intelligence, but struggles with personal relationships. More than that though, it is a gripping thriller that looks behind the bombings and battles of WW2 and instead investigates the men (and at least one woman) behind the curtain at Bletchley Park. These codebreakers were ultimately responsible for significantly impacting the length of the war, and also saving millions of lives. Despite not having a clue how their machines work, or what incredible calculations they are making, The Imitation Game remains riveting throughout. By mixing up the chronology, director Morten Tyldum makes what could have been another boring biopic into something more engaging and inevitably tragic.

This is definitely Cumberbatch’s show, but more than just one noteworthy performance, The Imitation Game dabbles briefly but memorably into the moral quandaries of war time decision making and the abhorrent treatment of homosexuals in post-war Britain. It is a testament to  the genius of Turing, but also a tragic reminder that the country he worked for turned its back on him.

Watch the trailer:



More recent reviews:
 
Whiplash
Testament of Youth
The Theory of Everything
Into the Woods
American Sniper
Unbroken

Birdman Review



Actor Riggan Thomas (Michael Keaton) once played iconic superhero Birdman, helping to usher in the age of comic book movie franchises that (to some) are the plague of modern multiplexes. Now, Riggan is washed up and putting all of his money into a Broadway adaptation of Raymond Carver’s short story ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love’. Demonstrating some strangely powerful telekinetic abilities, but struggling with voices in his head and a personal life in tatters, Riggan has days of previews to go before the opening night of his big Broadway comeback. With a new cast member in place, the arrogant and annoying Mike (Edward Norton), and a daughter fresh out of rehab (Emma Stone), Riggan faces challenges to his sanity both on and off the stage.


Birdman is as bonkers as its deluded, self-destructive main character. Don’t go in expecting a straightforward story of a struggling actor with ego issues trying to stage a comeback. Birdman is far more than that. It’s about actors and their issues, about critics and their power, and it’s about families and their complications. This is from the director who gave us 21 Grams and Biutiful so it deals with deep depression, but this time with plenty of harsh laughs to boot. The references to superhero movies come thick and fast at the start; Robert Downey Jr and Jeremy Renner are namechecked, while Keaton, Norton and Stone have all had their turns at superhero franchises in the past. Birdman is as ‘meta’ as films come, from the casting to the script to the fact that the music (which seems non-diegetic) is often being played by a randomly appearing drummer.


The character of Birdman is a constant shadow over Riggan, but he is also undoubtedly the reason for him being in the position he is. Being an adored superhero has had a lasting effect on Riggan, expanding his ego so much that he might be destined for the biggest fall of his career by trying to do something different and daring. Keaton is really put through the wringer by the script that tears apart these actors and their delusions of grandeur, but also explores their deep seated insecurities and desperation to be loved.

Birdman isn’t all about its whip smart dialogue though and Inarritu directs with a visceral mixture of simplicity and complexity. Long takes complement the fluid dialogue, while the drumming score and use of real locations keep things grounded, even as Riggan really starts to lose his mind. Unlike the superhero movies it rails against, Birdman is smart and requires way more than one sitting to fully appreciate its complexity. If only it could beat The Avengers at the box office in 2015.

Watch the trailer:



More recent reviews:
 
A Most Violent Year
Whiplash Review
Testament of Youth Review
The Theory of Everything Review
Into the Woods Review
American Sniper Review
Unbroken Review

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Ex Machina Review and Alex Garland Interview for Starburst Magazine


Here is my review of one of the first must-see movies of 2015, Alex Garland's Ex Machina. I was stupidly excited for this seeing as Alex Garland is the author of my all time favourite book The Beach and also the screen writer of one of my favourite horror films, 28 Days Later. Thankfully Garland's directorial debut did not disappoint! Check out my review by clicking on the link above.


I also got to interview Alex Garland for Starburst. I was supposed to get 20 minutes talking to him by phone but unfortunately only got 12 minutes which meant I had a huge amount of questions I was still desperate to ask! Never mind... it was still a privilege. Check out the interview by clicking above.

Check out Starburst Magazine for more.

More interviews from I Love That Film

More reviews from I Love That Film

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Gambler Review



Mark Wahlberg is The Gambler; or more precisely a gambler (but that wouldn’t make such a catchy title). He’s not the anything. He's really just another guy who can’t quit while he’s ahead, finds it impossible to think about the effects that his actions could have on others, and drowns in his own debts as his addiction spirals out of control. Wahlberg plays Jim Bennett who, while not gambling obscene amounts of money away, is a miserable literature professor telling his students to give up if they aren’t geniuses. Bennett is in no way a fun guy to spend nearly two hours with; it is all or nothing for him, hence why he soon gets himself into debt with the proprietor of an underground gambling ring and a dangerous loan shark.


The Gambler is a puke-inducing film with a morally warped message; it is nihilistic and bleak in its depiction of addiction but then pulls off one of the most ludicrously happy endings in film history. Bennett is an utter shit, impossible to root for, or to fully understand what has turned him into this arrogant, addicted mess of a man. He uses his students in the crudest ways, cares nothing for those around him (including his mother who bails him out of his huge debts) and gambles his life away. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Bennett never truly suffers for what he does. Even with all those stereotypically dodgy criminal ethnic minorities around him, Bennett only takes a minor bruising despite all their threats.

The Gambler has some great music on the soundtrack, some attention grabbing editing and most surprisingly of all, manages to remain mostly engaging, even as Bennett continues to make stupendously stupid decisions. John Goodman gets the best role while Wahlberg tries hard to convince as a professor, but succeeds far more at being at being the self-confident but selfish gambler. Apparently this is a remake of a James Caan film from the 70s. Who wants to bet that the original is infinitely better?

Watch the trailer:



More recent reviews:

A Most Violent Year

Whiplash Review

Testament of Youth Review

The Theory of Everything Review

Into the Woods Review

American Sniper Review

Unbroken Review