Cillian Murphy

It’s the end of the world as we know it…Sunshine

Sunshine_poster

So, yes….uhm, I’m presenting the end of the sun. Technically, I guess it is the end of the world…right? Oh well…whatever…here it is…my entry into the End of the Sun, woops, World Blogathon

“Our sun is dying….mankind faces extinction”. Pretty serious opening lines. They come from a serious, yet excellent (and I think little known) movie. May I present…Sunshine (2007).

And yes, that’s the situation we find ourselves in. The sun really is dying and the world is in a permanent state of cold and dark. I get shivers just thinking about that possibility. Not so far-fetched. We never know, right?

The solution? “8 astronauts strapped to the back of a bomb…my bomb” (as explained by character Robert Capa) on a mission to detonate it. Inside the sun off course! And this stellar bomb is the size of Manhattan Island! Just so we are clear how dangerous this task really is. Gee, what a horrifying thought that must be for those responsible? Can you just imagine yourself on that journey? That’s the gist of the story…sending a bomb into the sun.

SunshineCrew

I think they all take strain as is clearly displayed by the tensions that run high. So, these 8 carefully selected team members are the second group to attempt this mission after the first one failed before the bomb was even detonated. The reasons will become clear but I can’t disclose them here. We watch these individuals deal with the task(s) at hand, as they face unexpected challenges and expected reality. Oh, they also have to deal with Icarus, the on-board computer/AI-being who has a mind of her own. And once you, dear viewer, realise the inevitable and the weight these characters carry on their shoulders, you will be as tense as them. It really had me thinking. How far would you go for the greater good of humankind? How far would you go when, as an individual, you are nobody in the greater scheme of things, yet, you are everything?

endoftheworld6A superb cast of Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, Michelle Yeoh, Benedict Wong, Hiroyuki Sanada, Cliff Curtis, Troy Garity heat up the screen, while, amongst others Mark Strong  and Chipo Chung have less screen time but just as important roles. Alex Garland has a knack for writing fantastic stories doing so once again in this case. And who better than to bring his stories to life than Danny Boyle? These two always seem to make a great combination (The Beach and 28 Days Later also had them team up). Add stunning, sweeping visuals and a soundtrack (by John Murphy) that heightens the atmosphere and you’ve got not only a movie but a piece of art. One that is definitely worth watching.

I wasn’t sure Sunshine would fit the bill for an End of the World Blogathon but…I’m convinced it does. No sun, no world, right?

For some more world shattering posts, head on over to MovieMovieBlogBlog or The Midnite Drive-In, the hosts of this Blogathon.

 

 

Peacock, a tale of two personalities…

You know those days when you put on the TV, an obscure movie just happens to start and so you watch it with absolutely no idea what it is about? Peacock (2010) is one of those. My word…what a movie.

Cillian Murphy plays John Skillpa. He’s a quiet bank clerk who likes to keep to himself, get his job done and go home to his wife, Emma. Cillian Murphy plays Emma Skillpa, the wife who likes to keep to herself and dote on her husband. Yet this is irrevocably changed when a train carriage comes crashing through their garden thus bringing outsiders directly into their life of solitude and routine – the curious, the press, the insurance people and the well wishers. This poses a huge problem. John and Emma, you see, are one and the same. Until this point, John has lived his life during working hours, Emma hers before and after his hours. But personalities start to clash when public appearances can no longer be limited to allocated times and decisions need to be made. You won’t believe how much trouble Emma can make for John and vice versa.

What phenomenal acting by Cillian Murphy (as always?). He’s brilliant. Disturbing. He so effectively and seamlessly takes on these two distinct characters (although technically one role…so, I digress slightly from the Blogathon topic…sorry). Once they start imposing on each other, he still manages to keep them separate, never leaving behind a trace of one in the other. So much so that you’re never really sure who is the antagonist and who the protagonist, if there is even a difference…maybe they’re both both (yes, repeat intended).  I found myself questioning who I’d support, who I’d want to come out the winning personality. The transformation from male to female is just a tad creepy yet convincing. While the plot becomes quite heavy and intense it is intriguing as to how each knows very little to nothing of what the other is up to. They both have different aspirations, values and memories (I know very little about this, so apologies if Peacock is a bad example or poor portrayal of people living with dissociative identity disorder).

Give it a watch. There’s much more to it than just a clashing of personalities. Be warned though, this is far from being a feel-good film with a happy-smiley-lovey-dovey-all-will-be-well end. But it will leave you thinking long after the credits have rolled. I enjoyed it (as much as “enjoy” is an appropriate word for a film like this).

Peacock also stars Ellen Page, Susan Sarandon, Josh Lucas, Bill Pullman and Keith Carradine.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Noir Fanatic and Femme Fatale in Watching the Detectives…

Have you ever been in a real-life situation where your mind switched to “movie mode” and completed that situation for you in the way a film you’ve watched would have played out…complete with music and all? Watching the Detectives (2007) has taken that idea and worked it quite well.

Neil is a fanatical film noir nerd who runs an awesome little store, Gumshoe Video (He’d be offended if you asked him for the latest blockbuster). Awesome, because it is has such a great vibe. The vibe you don’t get from the big franchise stores. How I wish those stores still existed…but I digress. He is so passionate about his store that he even dresses up for promotions he runs…he’s a cowboy when he has a 2 for 1 Western promotion, in full camouflage when War promotions are on and so forth. Neil also lives his favourite scenes…he’ll re-enact them with an unsuspecting customer or friend (and wonder why they don’t respond as the character in the film would have done). Oh, and he has the coolest “detective” office where he makes a point of showing off his shadow across the frosted glass when he can. I won’t even mention the awesome “noir” advert for his store.

Enter Violet. Literally. She walks into his store and throws Neil‘s life out of sync. She has no television (well, technically she does, but it has fish swimming around in it) and claims she suffers from a phobia of being bored (which I see is actually called thaasophobia). Without spoiling the fun for those who haven’t seen Watching the Detectives, Violet throws Neil out of his comfort zone, although, being such a film nerd, he really shouldn’t be so gullible. Named after the song by Elvis Costello*, Neil, just like the subject of the song, would rather watch detective shows on television than spend time with Violet (to an extent).

While this isn’t a “wow” film, it is fun and I thoroughly enjoy the way it is presented. Neil and the two friends who help him run the store are certainly believable – I’m sure such a store could well exist. What’s really well done is the way certain “everyday” scenes are accompanied by stereotypical genre music thus given so much more impact e.g. music that would typically be heard during say, a Western duel would be slotted in for a high tension scene involving Neil.

But brace yourself. Are you sitting down? I’m going to tell you that…wait for it…….Cillian Murphy stars as the “romantic” lead in this one. Yes. That’s correct. And he’s great (as usual). The only reason I tracked down Watching the Detectives is because I just had to see him in a romantic lead role and I enjoyed him taking on something different. Although, to be perfectly honest, I think he’s still a little serious here and wouldn’t be classified as the typical romantic guy. It does, however, show that he can so easily transform from Thomas Shelby (Peaky Blinders), Robert Capa (Sunshine) or Damien O’Donovan (The Wind that Shakes the Barley) to a less intense character. Don’t get me wrong, I just love watching him in those serious roles. He is brilliant at them (and you should really watch the aforementioned films and series – Peaky Blinders is something else…wow).

Lucy Liu fits the free-spirited, fun loving, femme-fatale role very well and is a perfect balance for Neil‘s character. They complement each other and are a believable couple…making for a sweet little movie that I find is quite original.

Jason Sudeikis and Michael Panes star as Neil‘s friends while Heather Burns is ex-girlfriend Denise.

*According to IMDB the title of the film is based on this song.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The Romantic in me…

For starters, don’t read this if you don’t want me spoiling things for you. So:

I’m a romantic. Let me rephrase. I’m a hopeless romantic. The one who thrives on that tumbling, twisting feeling in my stomach when two characters finally fall in love. But not just any two characters. No, they have to be strong and independent with lots and lots of oomph! Their journey to each other mustn’t be obvious and definitely not soppy but also not the overused “we hate each other but actually love each other” type. In fact, the romantic kick I need is the kind that is not typically “romantic drama” or “romantic comedy” formula driven material. Don’t get me wrong, in order for my escapism to be satisfactory, I do want a happy ending (otherwise, what’s the point?) but, not the cheesy guy-and-girl-get-together-as-you-predicted-from-the-first-few-minutes-and-live-happily-ever-after, but a rich, rewarding, more realistic ending where there is genuine hope that they will stay together. Here are the ones that are my absolute best:

One of the most romantic movie moments for me is in Centurion, where Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender) and his two roman colleagues come across the dwelling of Arianne (Imogen Poots). Quintus Dias has been a tough, yet intelligent, ruthless Roman until this point. She has been living on her own (I admire her), using the guise of being a witch to keep men from the nearby garrison away. Without a moment of doubt, she holds her own but for some reason (fate?) she lets Dias and his men into her home, risking her life. These two form such a natural bond that Dias sees her home as the place he ultimately belongs. He doesn’t give up his quest for her, she doesn’t beg him to stay, yet, their actions are so much more romantic, more real because of this. Nothing like a good cat-and-mouse action movie with such tenderness thrown in to give a bit of a pace reduction for just a few minutes yet having such an impact.

Then, moving on to one of my favourite films in general, but, also one of the most romantic. The Last of the Mohicans. Wow, now there is romance. In the wild frontier of America, you get this absolute heart-wrenching love.  What is more romantic that Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Uncas (Eric Schweig) running through the carnage of an attack to save the women they have come to love. Or the waterfall scene where Hawkeye says to Cora (Madeleine Stowe) “No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you” and Uncas just holding Alice (Jodhi May) not requiring any words. In fact, the Uncas/Alice love story is so understated that it leaves me wishing it had been more prominent. But then, had that been the case, I doubt it would have been as heart-felt, as real, and as rewarding, even though, she does get a bit needy and helpless at times. But, thinking about it, how much more could have been said about their love than Alice throwing herself off the cliff to be with Uncas?

Yellow Sky, now that’s an amazing film. This 1948 black and white film is absolutely fantastic with James ‘Stretch’ Dawson (Gregory Peck) taking his bank robbing gang across the desert to hide out in a ghost town. Here he comes across Constance Mae (Anne Baxter), disguised as Mike, and her grandfather. As the story unfolds, Stretch discovers that Mike is Mae but, we also see the contradiction of Mike/Mae where she is tough and holds her own, yet, at other times wants to be a lady. This is so much more rewarding that the usual man saves damsel in distress scenario. He simply lets her be who she really is and vice versa.

Ah – Robin Hood, the Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett version. I just love the amazing love story that develops between Robin Longstride and Marion Loxley. There is utmost respect for each other from the moment they meet. Both are strong and independent without ever changing who they are for each other. The most romantic part is, not when they finally dance together or when they bid each other farewell stating their love, but, when Marion arrives on the beach of the Cliffs of Dover to help fight. They stand by each other, working together yet always staying true to themselves.

And man, oh, man. I spent the entire first season of the brilliant Peaky Blinders wanting, needing, silently begging Thomas (Cillian Murphy) and Grace (Annabelle Wallis) to get together. I was tortured to the last episode for that to finally happen and therefore it had so much more impact. Grace makes all the right (or wrong, depending on your stance) decisions fully knowing the potential consequences yet staying true to herself while rationally knowing she shouldn’t be falling in love with a tough, uncompromising gangster.

Then, the Swiss Family Robinson (1960) deserves a mention. Yes, Roberta (Janet Munro) comes across as the stereotype helpless damsel to be rescued, but, cut me some slack here – watching Fritz (James MacArthur) and her fall in love is just beautiful. She may not be the strong independent woman at first, but, she rises to the challenge and puts her whole heart into the situation that has come her way. This story leaves me wanting more but, realistically, all that needs saying is said and anything more or less would not have worked. I guess what it comes down to is that by leaving the viewer craving that feel-good effect, the goal has been achieved.

Then there are those films that leave you wishing, wanting the hinted or implied romance being developed more. The likes of The Quick and the Dead (Sharon Stone’s Ellen and Russell Crowe’s Cort), Broken Arrow (Christian Slater’s Hale and Samantha Mathis’ Terry), and oh my gosh…Ironclad where the brilliant James Purefoy’s Thomas Marshal and Kate Mara’s Lady Isabel develop an understated relationship. Ultimately, for me, the romance is in the strong women and the men who love them. Or, maybe, it’s the fact that these films have romances second to the main story and therefore have so much more impact. But, that “addictively” strange lurching feeling, that’s when I know a scene has worked with me, regardless of the actors (being good or bad) but the fact that they have successfully portrayed an emotion that has reached the audience.