Review: Joy

Joy-Poster

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I got the opportunity to see Joy. David O’Russell reunites again with Jennifer Lawrence to bring us the story of Joy Mangano and her extraordinary rise to fame despite her circumstances.

This is the story of a woman fighting against her family history, her failed marriage and her place in society.

Part drama, part biopic and part black comedy the film sees Lawrence maintain her record of great performances and, also contains within it, a welcome return to form for Robert De Niro starring as her emotionally abusive Dad.

This is a compelling ‘American dream’ tale with much to say about what it means to be a creative person,  what it means to rise above oppressive circumstances and the importance of never giving up.

I am a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan. Even when discussing mop design she is probably the most compelling screen presence we have in modern cinema. Throughout Joy you are rooting for her, willing her to succeed and hoping that she finds the joy she so desperately seeks.

I’ve read several reviews that have been hard on this film and I have to say I don’t understand why. I found lots to love and while it is hard to pin down exactly what genre the film fits into I believe in time it will be viewed as a classic.

Joy is released on 1st January 2016

Thanks to MovieHouse for advance screening access 

 

 

 

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Second Coming: An alternative Christmas film

second-coming

Every December we repeat fairly familiar patterns. Presents are wrapped, trees erected, cards and best wishes posted and, one of my favourite traditions, the circling/highlighting of must see shows and films in the Christmas Radio Times.

Christmas films have become part of the seasonal routine Miracle on 34th Street, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Muppets Christmas Carol, Elf & Home Alone have become part of the staple Christmas movie diet. Alternative options have also increased in their festive circulation, Die Hard, Gremlins, Rare Exports even Batman Returns. These alternative serving to satisfy those seeking more action, fantasy or even horror in amongst the family favourites.

However this year I want to suggest a possible alternative, something fresh to add to the established few.

Second Coming.

This small British film flew under the radar this year but really is worth seeking out. Screened at the Belfast Film Festival this year I missed out due to a scheduling clash but intrigued by the title I made sure that a copy was quickly purchased and I was not disappointed.

Directed by Debbie Tucker Green Second Coming tells the story of Jackie (Nadine Marshall) who discovers that she is pregnant. She knows it is not her husband’s (Idris Elba) as they have not slept together in months and she has not slept with anyone else. Therefore the question remains where has this pregnancy come from?

Playing with the notion of an immaculate conception in the London of 2015 raises so many questions. Could it really happen? Could your relationship survive the doubt and the questions that this news brings?  Could you survive the mental anguish that Jackie outs herself through?

The real treat is the ambiguity that Debbie Tucker Green applies. No clear answers are given and it is up to the audience to decide what has happened.

Second Coming is not a traditional Christmas film but it does have a little bit of Christmas within it.

Review: Macbeth

macbeth

Michael Fassbender is always a draw to the cinema for me. He improves any film he is in by at least 25%. Macbeth was therefore already a must see for me. It is without any hesitation that I say it should be must see for everyone.

Macbeth, is (as we all remember from GCSE / O Level English Literature classes) a Thane of Scotland given a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders his king and takes the throne for himself.

Fassbender dazzles in the lead role depicting the descent into paranoia and madness quite brilliantly. Marion Cotillard is equally compelling as Lady Macbeth although her role, vital in the text, is somewhat watered down. This does not seem to hold her back though as her intensity matches Fassbender’s brilliantly and they form a memorable on-screen partnership that will surely go on to set the standard for future productions.

As always with the works of Shakespeare I did spend the first period of the film getting my brain to adapt to the language but I was so engrossed in what I was seeing that my eyes rarely left the screen.

This is one of the most intense films of 2015. The cinematography that makes it impossible to look away from the screen. The opening battle sequence, for example, is something that will live long in the memory. The switch from full force to slow-motion is dazzling and shows not the intensity of battle but the vicious nature of war in a different time.

Also given the nature of my blog I loved watching Fassbender and Cotillard dip in and out of the light shining from the crosses etched into the side of the church in the film’s early sections. Their swaying back and forth from shadow to light as they wrestle with their consciences and debate their actions was for me a lovely touch.

It goes without saying that I recommend this film but to go one step further I body declare ‘All hail Macbeth!’