Monthly Archives February 2015

DVD Review: Serena

Serena-2015-movie-posterDirected by Susanne Bier

Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence & Rhys Ifans

Kind words were few and far between for Susanne Bier’s latest Serena, when it was released last October which came as no surprise considering its troubled production and distribution problems. The film started filming in early 2012 and took a year and a half to complete. During this time Bier had directed two other projects and cast members Cooper and Lawrence had already starred in two other successful films together, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, in addition to becoming household names in Hollywood. The question is does Serena fare better on DVD or are the problems that plagued the production of the film still holding it back? Well yes and no.

George Pemberton (Cooper) is struggling to keep the future of his timber business afloat in Depression-era America. In order to secure a better future for his business his loyal business partner Buchanan (David Dencik) decides to make some illegal business deals and  alerts the already suspicious local Sheriff McDowell (Toby Jones). Things become even more complicated when Pemberton falls in love with and marries the eponymous Serena (Lawrence), who is not what she seems and becomes depressed when learning that she cannot bear children.

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DVD Review: Nightcrawler

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Directed by Dan Gilroy

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo & Riz Ahmed

Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is a thief living hand-to-mouth just at the poverty line in modern LA. But after a chance encounter with a late night news-gathering service, he begins to film scenes of destruction and violence across the nighttime city. As his work gains acclaim from motivated exec Nina (Russo), he takes on a young ‘intern’, Rick (Ahmed) and begins to push footage further, embroiling himself in an unfolding crime spree.

On its surface, Nightcrawler sounds like a rote concept with an interesting lead, and nothing more. It’s the sort of plot you’ve seen unfurl many times before, and often in better depth- like in Breaking Bad, for instance. But from the moment Gyllenhaal steps on-screen, the difference is readily apparent. Nightcrawler is possibly a morality tale, but not one about the downfall of a good man- more about the rise of a bad one. Bloom is a bizarre construction from writer Dan Gilroy; his dialogue is crimped from self-help books and online motivational courses, recited as though it’s memorised by rote. His life is empty, and he doesn’t seem to know; he has no concept of context, offering someone stolen goods before asking for a job and talking about his work ethic.

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Film Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

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Directed by Matthew Vaughm

Starring Taron Egerton, Colin Firth & Samuel L. Jackson

Those bored to tears by the utterly limp mainstream release of late will regard ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’, as a  blast of fresh air. The film is a high-octane, low-brow thrill ride of fantastic stunts, larger than life characters and, most importantly, a sense of fun that hasn’t graced our multiplexes in quite some time.

Newcomer Taron Egerton plays ‘Eggsy’, a working class London lad who appears to be getting himself into an inordinate amount of trouble. Enter Harry Hart (expertly played by Colin Firth), a clipped, suit-clad member of ‘Kingsman’ – a branch of the secret service run by Arthur (Michael Caine). After a brilliantly entertaining first meeting in a local London boozer (you’ll remember the phrase “Manners Maketh Man”), Harry offers Eggsy the chance to turn his life around and apply to become Kingman’s newest members.

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