45 Years

Slow-paced, beautifully moving, heartbreakingly sad.

Outstanding performances from Tom Courtenay and particularly Charlotte Rampling make this one of my favourite films of the year.

Difficult to decide whether this or Phoenix has the best final scene of 2015, but either way, hurray for great roles for women.

The Wolfpack

This is for me the best type of documentary, where there is no voice-over trying to explain or manipulate the story, and where the director has taken the sensible decision not to insert themselves into the film at all, leaving the exposition to the subjects themselves.And yet there were a number of occasions where I needed the director to ask more questions because, fascinating as these brothers are, there is so much that’s not said. There’s a much more interesting and darker story lurking beneath the surface of what we actually get to see.

I still found some of the construction of the documentary just a little too convenient, and the final third seemed to pick up the pace then just fizzle out, as if the director couldn’t figure out how to end things.

 

Fantastic Four

A whole film which is little more than a trailer for an actual Fantastic Four movie. The characters seemed aimless, lacking intelligence, and had no connection between each other (which, considering they were either friends or family, was a puzzle). There seemed to be huge chunks of plot missing. And don’t even get me started on how much the main female character was sidelined.

Other things which bothered me:

  • Just how old are these people supposed to be? They look about 12 at the most at the beginning, then 7 years later would make them 19. Miles Teller and Jamie Bell are nearly 30.
  • When they went back to the other dimension for the third act, why did they have no breathing apparatus? Don’t tell me it was because of their special suits, because Ben Grimm doesn’t have one. He was butt naked!
  • How did they know that the special suits would contain the powers? How did they extinguish Johnny Storm long enough to put a suit on him? And how did they learn to use them?

I guess I’ll stop there because I could go on. What did I like? Well, Michael B Jordan was fine, if underused. Other than that?

There is no Fantastic Four – only Doom.

Captain America – or should that be Captain Manchester?

I’ve know about this location for, well, ages, but because it’s in the town in which I live and is virtually on the doorstep, I didn’t think any more of it until I started to put together my ‘on location‘ posts.

There’s a part of Manchester city centre known as the Northern Quarter, and it is frequently used as a stand in for different parts of New York City. Maybe the sun has to be added afterwards, but look …IMG_0688 IMG_0335
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Marvel freaks will probably be interested to know that today, I walked the very street that Hayley Atwell and Chris Evans did when they were filming the Brooklyn scenes as Peggy Carter and Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger.For example, you can see how they dressed the lower parts of the building to create shop fronts, but that arched corner door in the background is unmistakeable.

Cap5 IMG_0326

Cap2

 

And here’s Cap running down the street – having been there today, it’s amazing how all the running scenes take place up and down the same street, but in different directions. Concentrate next time you watch the film, and you’ll see this building and the red door on the corner opposite appear time after time – they’re quite distinctive.

Cap1IMG_0329

 

 

 

 

And actually, if you look closely at the street going past the car window as Peggy and Steve drive to the location of his transformation, you’ll see the same buildings going past time and time again.

It’s quite obvious in this trailer (in fact – isn’t that a red door …?).

 

Incidentally the fight scenes by the water with Richard Armitage were shot just along the motorway in Liverpool – but perhaps that’s a post for another day.

La Isla Mínima – Marshlands

Gorgeous, vertiginous overhead shots and wide landscapes are the visual hallmark of this Spanish detective story.

With Spain still not sure of itself in a post-Franco democracy, two detectives not sure of each other’s backgrounds, and everyone seeming to have a hidden agenda, the many layers mostly fall in to place by the end, although not everything is perfectly tied up.

There’s a suspense to this film that could have easily been missing, accustomed as we are now to Nordic noir-style crime series (with which this shares a certain amount). The 1980s setting with its background of civil unrest is one of the reasons, along with the lack of mobile phones or internet – information takes a long while to come through which obviously slows things down considerably.

A good crime story in a setting new to me.

The Dead Lands

My research tells me there are few feature films entirely in Māori, and I certainly haven’t seen any of them before now, so this was fascinating.

At its heart is the story of a young man seeking revenge on a much more skilful and brutal warrior after some horrible things happen to his extended family on their own land. Will he perpetuate the deeds of the past? Will he do the honourable thing? How will he gain the skills and knowledge needed to carry out either? Then there are the spiritual aspects – speaking to and seeking guidance from deceased ancestors; what’s honourable and what’s not. And also there are some (at times gory) fight scenes, showcasing the skills of the actors and the almost balletic moves of the warriors in action – different in style from other ‘martial arts’ films.

This is one of those films where I not only enjoyed the entertainment, but also (taking for granted that the historical representation is accurate) learned about the culture and history of the people at that point in time.

 

Iris

Albert Maysles points a camera at 93 year old style guru Iris Apfel and lets her guide us through her daily life and her wardrobe. What an amazing woman!She maintains an incredible, positive outlook on life and continues to shop for accessories and clothing with an energy that I can only envy.

The one slight disappointment in the documentary was that, having met and spent time with Iris, I left wanting to know more about her life, and not just her day. But at 93 years old, that would have been a much longer film.