This week's movie reviews



Our movie of the week is the supremely accomplished modern day
western Hell Or High Water.

Directed  by Scottish filmmaker David Mackenzie, he did the strident prison picture Starred Up, it invokes a plethora of 1970s crime and chase film influences to create a gripping heist movie that
is pungently connected to the politics of our time. Shot in New Mexico, but
set in an arid, west Texas of small towns and depleted landscapes, it
follows two brothers, one (Ben Foster) a slightly unhinged ex-con, the
other an unemployed, divorcee (Chris Pine)on a series of bank raids to
raise the money to pay off the debt on their mother’s farm. The irony is
that the banks are all part of a single chain, the Texas Midland, which is
the company that owns the debt.
Mackenzie keeps the action moving briskly for the 102 minutes running
time, striking a nice and convincing balance between the bank robberies and
the ruminative conversations between the brothers and the two Rangers (Jeff
Bridges and Gil Bermingham) who are chasing them. The script is by Taylor
Sheridan, who-having done Sicario seems to have a feel for crime pictures
set in wild west territory and it is a tribute to him that Hell Or High
Water works effectively as a thriller, character study or a piece of social
commentary. Watch out for Hell or High Water which opens on Friday. All the
main cast members acquit themselves impressively but I would suggest that
this is the best thing that Pine has done. His concluding speech about the
poison of poverty is  especially effective.

Breaking Out.
Don’t Breathe is a tight, cleverly developed horror /suspense movie
which has been at No 1 at the US box office for the last two weeks – on a
budget of $9.9m, it has taken $63m. Directed by the Uruguayan filmmaker
Fede Alvarez, it is less explicitly gory than his first feature, the remake
of Evil Dead, concentrating more on the creation of tension than gross
horror. Set in rundown- and deserted- Detroit , it focuses on three
burglars who break into a house with the intention of striking it rich and
then find that they are locked in with a psychopathic blind man and his
wild, salivating bull terrier.
Alvarez is a master at orchestrating tension in close spaces, at
painting his characters into a corner one minute and then dangling them out
a window the next. He holds the central idea the three thieves trying to
break out of the house- convincingly and credibly for 88 lean, propulsive
minutes, studding the narrative with enough trap doors to keep you,
literally, on the edge of your seat. Don’t Breathe is a “B” movie but a
quality one.

Into The Woods
Captain Fantastic might suggest another late-summer Marvel superhero
movie but it is far from it. It is the story of a runaway lawyer and
polymath, Ben Cash ( played by Viggo Mortensen) living with his six
children in woodland in the Pacific northwest where he instructs them in
history, maths and literature while also drilling them in athletic pursuits
such as rock climbing, martial arts and hunting. The children aged between
8 and 18 are home schooled away from all the soul destroying influences of
the commercial capitalist mainstream. They have no television, no phone and
they live in make shift, self built accommodation. The movie kicks off with
the news that Ben’s wife who was being treated for bi-polar disorder at a
medical facility in Arizona- has committed suicide and the realisation that
the family is going to have to re-engage with society and her aggressively
disapproving parents in particular.
As the family travels south for the funeral Captain Fantastic turns into
a fairly traditional road movie, punctuated by a series of sometimes funny
set pieces. Hippy principles clash with American orthodoxy when Cash in
an incredible deviation from type allows a visit to a family of
middle-class in-laws to develop into a “my kids are better than yours”
confrontation. Overall, Captain Fantastic plays like a bare illustration of
anti-capitalist beliefs that fails to gel as believable drama. The
supporting cast includes Frank Langella, Kathryn Hahn, George Mackay and
Steve Zahn.

Czech Mate
Anthropoid is based on the true story of two Czech agents who were
parachuted into Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia in 1941 on a mission to
assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the so-called “ butcher of Prague” and the
third highest ranking figure in the Third Reich after Hitler and Himmler.
The Resistance had lost contact with the Czech Government in exile in
London and the state of play on the ground was generally unknown to the
people planning the attack- so the attempt on Heydrich’s life was developed
from a position of ignorance. This led to a debate between the remaining
Resistance leaders about the whole point of the mission and the likely
reprisals if it was to go ahead.
Anthropoid ( the title comes from the name of the mission), at 2 hours,
is too long, the characters are under-developed, the accents of the English
speaking cast wander all over middle Europe and the pacing is slow until
the action filled last half hour.The cast is headed by Irish actors Cillian
Murphy and Jamie Dornan.