Tag: Greig Fraser

Lion

Grab Cut Insert Cut F:PHOTOMediaFactory ActionsRequests DropBox46593#weinsteinlion_markrogers-3472_(1)_lg.jpgLion is directed by a relative newcomer to the feature film set, Garth Davis, who has taken the reins of bringing the seemly impossible true story of Saroo Brierley to the big screen. Adapted from the book A Long Way Home (written by Saroo himself), Davis has brought about a film that is harrowing, tragic, beautiful, and thought provoking.

It begins by introducing Saroo (who is superbly played by young Sunny Pawar) in his home village, beautifully sketching out village life from the perspective of a five-year-old. From the loving relationship with his brother and mother to the playful nature of his walk home, his world is wonderfully captured through the lens of master cinematographer Greig Fraser (Bright StarKilling Them Softly). Tragically, while waiting at a train station for his brother to return, Saroo inadvertently wanders onto a train bound for Calcutta hundreds of miles away. Search hard enough and many of us can remember brief times as a child of accidental separation from our parents and the fleeting but undiluted feeling horror that ensued. This feeling is conveyed in gut-wrenching scenes that capture impoverished India in all its Slumdog-esque filth, colour, and chaos. The tragedy of an innocent five-year-old lost among it all, while being beset upon by the denizens of unscrupulous intent, is difficult to watch.

Fortunately pockets of humanity lift little Saroo out of his desperate situation to where he is eventually adopted by an Australian couple, Sue and John Brierley (played by Nicole Kidman and David Denham).

Twenty-five years on and Saroo (Dev Patel with an unwavering Aussie accent), who is now firmly ensconced in the Australian way of life, begins to recall flashes of his early life. This triggers what becomes the obsessive task of piecing together his own origins based on the unreliable memories of his five-year-old self. The obsession puts a strain on the relationship with his girlfriend Lucy (Rooney Mara), and his adopted family. There is a scene where Saroo remonstrates his mum over her selflessness and unswerving commitment and love for her adopted children. It is a short but powerful scene where Sue Brierley’s anguish is caught in one wonderfully acted moment by Nicole Kidman, demonstrating in her limited screen time what a class actor she is.

If I had one quibble, it concerns the chemistry between Patel and Mara. Both are good actors in their own right and yet their on-screen combination felt a little forced and over drawn. Despite this, Lion is a beautiful and moving film made all the more compelling because it is a true story … make sure to bring your tissues.

Rating: 4 jalebis out of 5.

You can see the published review here

Some holiday films … Amour, Killing Them Softly, Shame, Oblivion, Un Prophete, etc.

Back from holiday, back to work, back to winter … grrr and brrr. On a more positive note, I managed to catch up on seven fantastic films while I was away.

Amour is a Michael Haneke masterpiece. I was thoroughly taken with this film. Haneke’s lack of camera movement is so refreshing these days. The camera sits still and observes the characters rather than becoming one itself. The result is minimum distraction and total submersion into Amour‘s intoxicating performances by Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintigent, Amour is a chamber piece of filmic perfection, so well measured with no rough edges … well deserving of its Palme d’Or.  My rating and trailer here.

Amour

Jean-Louis Trintigent and Isabelle Huppert in Amour

To Rome with Love is the prolific Woody Allen’s latest iconic city tribute. I can’t but help love Allen’s work. As with many of his films, and this film is no different, Allen returns to the safe romantic comedy genre. To Rome with Love is your usual Woody Allen fare, laced this with enough, humour, clever insights, and fourth wall breaking to keep the astute viewer on their toes whilst still indulging in lazy guilty pleasures. A comfortable transition from Midnight in Paris and a very enjoyable film. My rating and trailer here

To Rome with Love

Lynn Swanson and Woody Allen in To Rome With Love

Oblivion. Yes it’s Tom Cruise folks … plenty of Tom Cruise. He fills the screen in a way that only Tom Cruise can, snuffing out any room for other performances. That said, I found his performance to be in keeping with the films requirements. Actually, Oblivion is quite an enjoyable film and would have been more so had it not been the total rip off, and Hollywood bastardisation of Duncan Jones’ superb Moon. Ignore that and you have a solid sci-fi film that is enjoyable but forgotten in a years time. My rating and trailer here

Tom Cruise in Oblivion

Tom Cruise in Oblivion

Shame. Wonderfully written, Steve McQueen’s follow up from his excellent Hunger is another superb outing. Fassbender and Mulligan are nothing short of brilliant. Fassbender plays Brandon, who is addicted to meaningless sex and struggles when circumstance force him to connect both emotionally and sexually. The film is delicately balanced by Sissy, his sister, played by Mulligan who longs for emotional connection and is given to suicidal tendencies. McQueen crafts his characters slowly and clinically, working in a typically cold palette. Shame is excellent and I can’t wait for McQueen next film Twelve Years a Slave. My rating and trailer here

Steve McQueen (right) directs James Badge Dale and Carey Mulligan in Shame

Steve McQueen (right) directs James Badge Dale and Carey Mulligan in Shame

Richard III. A tour de force of of British acting royalty are on offer here … oh and Annette Bening, and Robert Downey Jr. In the vein of Lurman’s Romeo and Juliet, Richard III is a modernisation of the classic Shakespeare play. McKellen does an excellent job at adapting the screenplay and playing the lead. However, this film does seem to show its eighteen years in age and its spark of ingenuity has somewhat lost something over time. Worth watching for the performances alone. My rating and trailer here

Ian McKellen in Richard III

Ian McKellen in Richard III

Un prophete. Another Palme d’Or winner. Jacques Audiard’s gives an excellent account of a rags to riches story in the gang lands of prison whilst delicately tip toeing through racial barriers. Visually stunning and a captivating narrative make this an intoxicating watch. My rating and trailer here

Niels Arestrup and Tahar Rahim in Un prophete

Niels Arestrup and Tahar Rahim in Un prophete

Killing Them Softly. New Zealand’s own Andrew Dominik directs this crime drama that tells the story of Jackie (Brad Pitt), a hit man, who has to restore order to the local criminal economy. Hits are made and money exchanges hands, all the while against the backdrop of the Obama-Cain presidential election. Economy versus community is the subtext explored here, and the fact that this plays out in a gang land setting makes the narrative all the more interesting to watch. Dominik’s knows how to shoot a gangster film with difference (Chopper, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford). He certainly knows how to pick his cinematographers, this time choosing to work with Greig Fraser (Bright Star) who masterfully weaves some stunning camera work that is on occasion surplus to requirements but nonetheless always provocative. Despite some patchy acting, I found Killing Them Softly an interesting take on its subtext. My rating and trailer here

Brad Pitt and Scoot McNairy in Killing Them Softly

Brad Pitt and Scoot McNairy in Killing Them Softly