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Archive for February 2017

Loving

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Sometimes the scariest or, depending on your situation the best news you can hear is the life changing words, “I’m pregnant.” This is how John Nichols’ powerful film, Loving opens, with Mildred (a phenomenal Ruth Negga… who’s one of our own, she was raised in Limerick, wan the parish!) declaring this statement to her partner Richard Loving (a bleached, but wonderful Joel Edgerton). And in one of many silent, but absolutely beautiful moments, he simply takes her hand, kisses her on the forehead and instantly reassures her. And then, Richard  asks Mildred to marry him, she accepts and their marriage is met with a swift arrest as interracial marriage is illegal in Virginia and they are exiled from the place that they both grew up in.

In a clever change of pace, Nichols does not use the film as a platform for shouty, angry speeches, impassioned scenes of change, but instead tells the story of a couple who fell in love with each other and want to raise their family. There is no self righteous, awards baiting speeches, just two people struggling to exist, survive and love each other in a time when their skin color was deemed more important by those in power.

Mildred pens a letter to the then Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy who defers the case to the American Civil Liberties Union. The union appeal to the couple and Richard reluctantly agrees to let them take over the case which ultimately leads all the way to the Supreme Court. This is a pivotal moment, not only in the story and the real life implications that the case would have on humanity, civil rights and the abolition of interracial marriage laws preventing it, but it is also a triumph as Richard does not care a jot for the implications, he just wants to love and raise his family.

The stand out scene is when the civil rights lawyer assigned to the case, a great Nick Kroll asks Richard if there is anything that he wants to say to the judge when they eventually get to the Supreme Court to which he replies, “Tell the judge I love my wife.” Absolutely perfect response. Richard is not a man of many words, he is a man who goes to work, comes home, kisses his wife and kids, eats dinner with them and then tucks them into bed. That one line answer is how he would have responded, from his blue collar heart.

The film goes at a gentle pace and draws wonderful performances from all the cast, the story is allowed to breathe at a natural rate and does not jar or use hype or impassioned speeches. A wonderful film that tells a lovely story about two humans who just wanted to love each other. Tremendous.

4/5

Written by thepanch

February 14, 2017 at 1:02 pm

Back In Black…. And Yellow

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76 years. 76 years of Batman punching bad guys, brooding, having shitloads of cool gadgets and general bad-assery. It is hard to find a figure that had endured as long in popular culture as The Dark Knight. We’re all very familiar with the story by now. Young child, Bruce Wayne accompanies his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne to a screening of  The Mask of Zorro. They leave the theater and are gunned down by one of Gotham’s many criminals. The young Bruce vows to clean up his city and trains to become the ever present, ever vigilant silent guardian of Gotham CityBatman. And now he’s back in cinemas, in Lego form!

I’m going to put this out there. This is, in my humble opinion, the best Batman movie since The Dark Knight. The movie opens in hilarious fashion with Batman (a hilarious  Will Arnett) narrating what we can see, “Black. All good, serious films start with black. And music, ominous, scary music…..” “This movie is brought to you by DC. The house that Batman built. You heard me Superman, come at me bro!!” There’s your tone for the whole movie. An affectionate, self referential addition to the Batman franchise.

There is so much to love in this movie. As mentioned already, Will Arnett nails the role of our big eared, narcissistic hero. And this is the crux of the story, and essentially the heart at the core of the movie. Batman is a loner, a strong entity that feels he can get by on his own without anyone’s help. The movie joyously sends up the much used image of Batman being a brooding, quiet loner and a gruff hero, ultimately a man’s man who just does what he has to do. Preferably on his own.

The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) tries to take over Gotham. And as is his wont, Batman shows up and puts a stop to his plan. In a glorious showdown, our two leads meet after a huge battle (of which there are many, which all utilize the wonder of building Lego to achieve master builds) and Joker decries Batman for being his “number one enemy” and that “he needs him, because we need each other.” Batman responds in typical bravado, “I don’t have a number one enemy. I fight a lot of villians, I like to fight around.” Joker is morally offended and upset and does not get the validation he needs. So he surrenders freely and this leaves Batman at a loose end and needing to focus on more important things.

Mainly the orphan, Dick Grayson (a charming turn by Michael Cera) who Bruce Wayne unwittingly adopts and invites himself to become Robin. This is where the movie hits a small dip. Overall the story is quite heartening and ultimately it shows a character grow while all the time not changing dramatically. And ultimately sends out a message of the importance of family and indeed friendship. A strong 40 minutes, a weak twenty and then a lovely bright finish.

There are numerous references to the Batman franchise. Visually, aurally and there are lovely nods to the different actors who played The Dark Knight. This movie is aimed at kids but it is an adult’s movie. Very clever, bright and loud and as a love letter to the franchise, it is a valuable addition. And if you’ve forgotten, a character in the movie reminds us, well me specifically how much Batman means to people, when he roars lovingly, “Hey, Batman. I love you more than my kids!”

4.5 / 5

 

Written by thepanch

February 6, 2017 at 3:12 pm