Monday, 12 November 2018

Peterloo

The Peterloo massacre is relatively unknown event among British people, yet it was still nominated as one of the events most in need of a proper memorial to commemorate the 15 people who were mowed down by the 15th Hussars in 1819. Mike Leigh’s film follows a shell-shocked soldier and his family as they try to live on meagre suppliers as their oppressors live lavishly off their hard work and suffering. Eventually, the family become involved in the revolutionary movement and find themselves at Petersfield on that fateful day.

Directors like Mike Leigh and Ken Loach have their fingers on the pulse of the working-class ills and woes more than any other British director. Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake was a timely release and Leigh’s biggest film to date also corresponds with a time central government fail to understand the gripes of the north (hence Brexit being such a surprise). The parallels between the 1819 are very tenuous but there has always been animosity between London and the outer reaches of the United Kingdom.

However, for someone who is so in touch with working class issues, Leigh’s film is disappointingly simple in how it depicts its characters. The ruling class are depicted as fat, conniving cowards whilst the generosity and sprit of the working class can never be bettered. Leigh’s film would have a far greater impact if the caricatures of the filthy rich and overweight ruling class weren’t so greatly exaggerated. It had the impact of them being so cartoonishly evil they were fun to watch rather the viewer being disgusted with their oppressive behaviour.

Clocking in at 150 minutes, Peterloo is one of Leigh’s longer efforts of late. It is certainly his grandest effort as the film is epic in scope because of the broad canvas the film is painted yet the film still feels as though it belongs on the stage. The static (and slightly bland) cinematography and huge list of characters, who say and do little, gives the film a somewhat ‘stagey’ feel as the characters step on and off the carrousel. Another aspect that gives the us the feeling we’re watching a stage play are the frequent rousing speeches where the actors give it their all. These speeches show what spurred the working classes into an act of protest, but by the third or fourth speech it becomes apparent they are all saying the same thing thus each speech serves little purpose other than letting the actor show off their acting chops.

The film is at is strongest during, and the build up to, the central event. As the crowds gather in Manchester there is an undeniable tension in the air as the audience waits with bated breath for the slaughter to begin. When it does, Leigh doesn’t hold back. The slaughter isn’t excessively gory but the unprompted and unprovoked attack on an unarmed people remains shocking. A little more on the aftermath of the attack would have been of benefit to the film, but the courtyard littered with bodies of men and women is a powerful image to leave us on.

3/5


Thursday, 1 November 2018

Thursday Movie Picks

I know I’ve been away a while, just found it hard to watch as much films as I would need to in order to participate. Anyway, im here this week!

And this week the theme is gangsters. Funsies. Of course there are a ton of famous gangster movies such as The Godfather, Goodfelleas, Casino, White Heat but the gangster genre was at its peak around the time talkies were all the rage (and just before the Hays Code) so it’s not a surprise one of my picks is from that era.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Dialing up the Terror

I was watching Don’t Hang Up and I began wandering what makes telephone calls so creepy? I think the most obvious reason for this stems from the fear of the unknown as you do not know who or what is on the other end of the line. Most of the time in horror films the voice is distorted (Scream) so the horror stems from not knowing who is making the call as you can only hear the voice. The fear is doubly worse when the caller knows precise information about you and your whereabouts. Another aspect of pure terror stems from the sheer helplessness of hearing something on the phone and being unable to do anything about it, especially when you hear someone being hacked to death on the other end of the phone (think Halloween and Sorry, Wrong Number).

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody


Queen are and were a big deal. The Beetles claimed they were more popular than Jesus, well, Queen are more popular than royalty. Their range of music was diverse, each album was a step into another genre but was always rooted in rock and roll. Like many bands of the era, the critics didn’t always get Queen but among the public they caused quite a storm. This is the Queen that Queen wants you to know. It’s one of the film’s merits as well as a detriment. 

Monday, 22 October 2018

Sunset

Set in Budapest 1913, a year before The Great War, the film follows Írisz Leiter (Juli Jakab) as she tries to get employment at an upmarket hat store that was previously owned by her parent until they died (the shop still bears her family name). Her arrival to Budapest has sparked murmurings and mutterings among the people of Budapest as her brother is wanted for murder. Irisz was previously unaware she even had a brother, having been adopted at the age of two following her parent’s death, and she seeks to find him but it proves to be difficult.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Les Guardians



There aren’t a great deal of films about the experience of women during the First World War, however the one that instantly springs to mind is Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles (A Very Long Engagement) - a drama about a woman who tries to find her missing fiancé. Even historiography about women in war time is a little thin on the ground, but its perhaps because more people are interested in the military history aspect than the social aspect.

Monday, 15 October 2018

A Simple Favour


Paul Feig has built an entire career making movies that see women dominating the screen. With Ghostbusters to Bridesmaids and The Heat to Spy all featuring women in the main roles, it’s no surprise to see his latest film is also female led.