Belfast Film Festival 2016 Review : Green Room (dir. Jermey Saulnier)

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If you’ve read anything about Green Room you would probably be quite surprised to see a review on a blog under the moniker of Films and Faith.

This is the beauty of film festivals. The opportunity to see something outside of the norm. Outside the comfort zone. Incidentally if you are looking for a cinematic comfort zone Green Room is certainly not the film for you. I’m not normally one for gore inflected thriller/shocker but the promise of Patrick Stewart as the head of a neo-Nazi gang was too good to pass up.

Green Room  is the follow-up to 2013 film from Jeremy Saunier Blue Ruin (currently available on Netflix if you want to check that out) set firmly in the revenge thriller genre . To follow this up with a film like Green Room indicates that Saunier has a love and great knowledge of genre and he has no intention of letting up.

Unsigned punk band the ‘Ain’t Rights’ are booked to play an impromptu gig at a seedy bar in the middle of nowhere frequented by a neo-Nazi gang. When they accidentally witness  a murder the band find themselves in a fight for survival and look to escape from  the maniacal grasp of gang lead leader, played with ice cool menace by PAtrick Stewart.

I don’t want to say much more as to go into detail of incidents and deaths (of which there are many) would give too much away. Suffice to say I sat in my seat for 90 mins all sense on high alert and feeling the tension on-screen. The audience joined in with appropriate noises of disgust and awe making the film one of the most enjoyable audience experiences I’ve had in a while.

This is a film that has you on the edge of your seat from early on. Once the characters are defined and the setting complete the fun begins and it doesn’t let up until the final few minutes when all is resolved and daylight breaks through.

It may shock readers when I say I really enjoyed Green Room. I winced, I fidgeted, I tried (at points) had my fingers in my ears as a defence mechanism but I had a really great cinema experience.

Certainly Green Room will be too much for some, one couple in front of me had enough around the hour mark, but if you can stomach it Green Room will not disappoint.

Green Room is on general release from 13 May

 

Review: The Drop

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Directed by Michael P Roskam and based on a short story (Animal Rescue) by Denis Lehane ‘The Drop’ centres on  Bob (Tom Hardy) and Cousin Marv (James Galdofini in his final on-screen appearance).Marv is the ex hard man of the area and has seen his turf taken over by Chechen gangsters. His bar is now used as a drop bar where dirty money is left for collection. The bar is held up and the gangsters want their money back.

Meanwhile Bob, on his walk home from work, finds a mistreated pit bull puppy in a trash can outside the home off local resident Nadia (Noomi Rapace). A relationship then begins to blossom as the pair care for this puppy and in the background is the menacing presence of Nadia’s ex played by Michael Schoenaerts.

Firstly the positives. The performances in this film are great Galdofini is in great gruff form, Rapace is good  and Tom Hardy in particular is a great screen presence. The more I see of Tom Hardy the bigger fan I am becoming.

The film however does have some problems. For something based on a short story it does seem to have too many narrative threads fighting for your attention. Chechen gangsters, Hardy and Rapace’s relationship, the psychotic ex, Galdofini attempting to recover old glories, an under used detective character chasing a cold case connected to all involved. In some ways I wish the film had focused on one or two aspects rather than all threads be given the same level of consideration.

This is a decent crime drama, worth seeing for some great performances. A final cinematic outing for Galdofini is also a highlight. However due to the aforementioned flaws, unlike Galdofini, ‘The Drop’ will not live long in the memory.