Thursday, 27 September 2012

September Film Roundup: Buy, Pass or Rent?

Anna Karenina (2012)
We're now at that time of year when films that are possible Oscar contenders start popping up all over the place and Anna Karenina is definitely one of these. Being based on the Leo Tolstoy novel with a cast of well-known British actors and BAFTA winning director Joe Wright it has certainly earned the right to be. The element that has been discussed the most is the unusual way it was filmed to feel like you're watching a play on the screen. The theatre-style set was a very ambitious idea and something I think only a director like Joe Wright could make work so beautifully. The transitions between scenes were smooth and the layout was so well thought out that it really was impressive even if slightly lavish for a mainstream release film. The costumes were also as stunning as you would expect from this type of production. Aside from the aesthetics there are some great performances, some rather unlikeable characters. The cast is led by Keira Knightley (in her third collaboration with Wright), joined by Jude Law and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. I was disappointed when I found out the role of Kitty was originally intended to go to Saoirse Ronan as it would have also marked her third collaboration with Wright, their previous projects (Hanna & Atonement) being two of my favourites. My main criticism would be the length, at 130 minutes I would say it was a fraction too long. The ending was also a little unsatisfying as what happened to all of the main characters was not explored although I'm not sure if this is the case with the book too as I haven't read it. Overall it was an enjoyable watch however for me this was primarily because of the direction and the interesting set design not the story itself.

Lawless (2012)
I went to see Lawless a couple of hours after Anna Karenina and obviously there was a huge contrast between the two. Firstly Lawless has an 18 rating which meant me and my friend (I'm 23, she's 24) both got ID'd not once but twice before we were even let into the screen leaving us wondering just how violent the film was going to be. The opening scene shows a child shooting a pig in the head and from then the human violence and graphic injury kicks in and remains a constant feature throughout. I realise that because of the graphic violence element this film won't appeal to a lot of people but surprisingly enough the direction somehow still manages to be quite beautiful. The plot of the film is actually based on the true story of the Bondurant brothers' bootleg liquor business and is adapted from the book The Wettest County In The World written by author grandson Matt Bondurant. Interestingly enough for a story that is set in the deep south the cast is mainly made up of British and Australian actors with director John Hillcoat also hailing from Australia. Continuing in this tradition the screenplay and perfectly matched soundtrack were both completed by Australian Nick Cave. The main cast includes some big names; Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain who all gave great performances in this indie project. The film is well-paced, action packed and with a run time of just under two hours it also seems to have been very well edited. Lawless is a fantastic film, one I'll be watching again in the future, and I'd definitely recommend it if you aren't put off by the violence.

Also this month 
Pass: Double Wedding (2010), Bandslam (2009)
Rent: Man On A Ledge (2012), Psycho (1960)

What films did you see in September?

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