In cinemas this week: ’71, Big Eyes, Love is Strange, Home, Insurgent and Run All Night.
’71 takes place over a single night in the life of a young British soldier (Jack O’Connell) accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot on the streets of Belfast in 1971. Unable to tell friend from foe, and increasingly wary of his own comrades, he must survive the night alone and find his way to safety through a disorientating, alien and deadly landscape. Been hearing great things about this war thriller for a while now – including the fact that it features another sterling performance from O’Connell and welcomes an exciting new voice in Yann Demange. I feel like this is essential viewing.
Big Eyes – Directed and produced by Tim Burton, Big Eyes is based on the true story of Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), who was one of the most successful painters of the 1950s and early 1960s. The artist earned staggering notoriety by revolutionizing the commercialization and accessibility of popular art with his enigmatic paintings of waifs with big eyes. The truth would eventually be discovered though: Keane’s art was actually not created by him at all, but by his wife, Margaret (Amy Adams). The Keanes, it seemed, had been living a lie that had grown to gigantic proportions. Big Eyes centers on Margaret’s awakening as an artist, the phenomenal success of her paintings, and her tumultuous relationship with her husband, who was catapulted to international fame while taking credit for her work. I am more interested in this for Adams and Waltz than Burton, but it is nice to see a departure from the norm for the veteran director.
Love is Strange – After nearly four decades together, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) finally tie the knot in an idyllic wedding ceremony in lower Manhattan. But when George loses his job soon after, the couple must sell their apartment and – victims of the relentless New York City real estate market – temporarily live apart until they can find an affordable new home. While George moves in with two cops (Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez) who live down stairs, Ben lands in Brooklyn with his nephew (Darren Burrows), his wife (Marisa Tomei), and their temperamental teenage son (Charlie Tahan), with whom Ben shares a bedroom. While struggling with the pain of separation, Ben and George are further challenged by the intergenerational tensions and capricious family dynamics of their new living arrangements. This is a pleasant, but unfocused film. After a promising start this never quite delivers on all its themes. It dwells on inconsequential subplots, but when Molina and Lithgow get together it excels. It is competently made and the performances are quite strong, but the touching messages entwined within the story wither away shortly after viewing.
Home – When Oh, a loveable misfit from another planet, lands on Earth and finds himself on the run from his own people, he forms an unlikely friendship with an adventurous girl named Tip who is on a quest of her own. Through a series of comic adventures with Tip, Oh comes to understand that being different and making mistakes is all part of being human. And while he changes her planet and she changes his world, they discover the true meaning of the word HOME. I think I’ll pass on this.
Insurgent raises the stakes for Tris as she searches for allies and answers in the ruins of a futuristic Chicago. Tris (Woodley) and Four (James) are now fugitives on the run, hunted by Jeanine (Winslet), the leader of the power-hungry Erudite elite. Racing against time, they must find out what Tris’s family sacrificed their lives to protect, and why the Erudite leaders will do anything to stop them. Haunted by her past choices but desperate to protect the ones she loves, Tris, with Four at her side, faces one impossible challenge after another as they unlock the truth about the past and ultimately the future of their world. I still haven’t seen Divergent, but I haven’t heard to much positive about it, so I will give this a miss too.
Run all Night – Liam Neeson reunites with Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra for this Warner Bros. thriller following a mob hit-man and his estranged son (Joel Kinnaman) as they flee the wrath of a vengeful crime boss. I liked Unknown, but I well and truly have Neeson fatigue.
Weekly Recommendation – ’71 looks to be the most promising of the pack, and I intend to have see it and Big Eyes by the end of the weekend. Love is Strange is worth a look, but I wouldn’t stress about seeing it in cinemas.