Review: ‘Dom Hemingway’ 8.24.14

Directed by Richard Shephard (who from what I know has only done TV work up to this point) and starring Jude Law. This was one that got mediocre reviews, so I was a bit skeptical going in. However, I did hear that Jude Law, one of my favorite actors but only in more recent years (‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, ‘Side Effects’, ‘Contagion’, ‘Hugo’) is dynamite in it. Which he is, both literally and figuratively. This is some of his career best work. Totally immersing himself into the titular character which evoked similar characters I’ve seen, namely Tom Hardy in ‘Bronson’, Eric Bana in ‘Chopper’, and most strikingly so to Ben Kingsley’s Don Logan in ‘Sexy Beast’ (Kinglsey’s best performance to date). This is the Jude Law show. Without him there wouldn’t be a picture. He is the meat and bones of the film. But also an incredibly difficult one to like. Unless you find ruthless, vile, crude, depraved, vain, brash, sex and drug addicted characters likable. This is a guy who’s sole purpose is getting off on insulting others and has absolutely zero regard for any sense of human decency. But for all of the debauchery, it’s an actor’s showcase for Law that you really have to see to believe. It’s a ballsy, over-the-top performance, and Law couldn’t have played it better. As for the story itself, it really isn’t all that important, as this is purely a playground for Law to showcase his talent. Though the bare bones synopsis is that he plays a British gangster known for being the country’s best safe cracker, but a job that landed him in prison for 12 years, only to get out at the start of the film. I felt like the story was something that’s been done again and again and I’ve seen many like it. So I can’t say it was all that original which attributed to my grading it slightly on the low side. However, if you are a fan of Law like me and have any interest in seeing what will inevitably land him at least a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor, this is something that I would encourage you to see. As for other people who aren’t as interested in just watching a great performance. What I can say is that I would still recommend it but don’t think it’ll be anything will have you talking or thinking about days later. Except for one hell of a performance.

Grade: B/borderline B-

Review: ‘Under The Skin’ 6.6.14

This was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Easily one of the year’s biggest indie hits. One that matches the innovation of say Kubrick’s ‘2001’ or Gasper Noe’s ‘Enter the Void’ (2 reference points that I thought of throughout). Here is a director, Jonathan Glazer, who with this, has done a total of 3 feature films in only 13 years, the others being his incredible 2000 debut ‘Sexy Beast’ and 2004’s ‘Birth’. Both of which I also screened prior to watching this film. He also is responsible for some of the 1990’s most influential and original music videos, particularly Radiohead’s “Kharma Police” and Jamiroqui’s “Virtual Insanity”. So, if you’re familiar with either of his other 2 films or music videos, you know that this guy is a total aesthetic artist. This film had me hooked from its first shot, where we see an extraterrestrial being (played by Scarlett Johansson, in what might be her best performance to date) being transported down to earth. But this is far from your typical Science Fiction film. In fact, it’s far from anything I’ve ever seen. I’ll spare any plot details other than that it’s completely hypnotic, unnerving, tense, and suspenseful, and it follows ScarJo as she travels through Scotland (with the Scottish highlands filmed in beautiful, lush cinematography) as she “meets” unsuspecting hitchhikers and preys upon them. Glazer is an auteur with a unique, groundbreaking, and completely innovative style and vision. Along with a chilling and beautifully haunting score by Mica Levi which fits almost like a glove in that I can’t think of an original score off hand that more closely aligns with the images you’re being shown on screen. This literally left my friend and I’s jaws gaping as the house lights went on. As well as a spirited discussion over a pint following. This is already in contention for the year’s best, along with ‘Life Itself’ and ‘Boyhood’. And is the “exact” reason why I go to the cinema. To “think”, to “feel”, and to be totally swept away by something completely unique and original. This is an absolute must see with my highest stamp of approval.

Grade: A-/A