The moment a child’s imaginary friend – a creature constituted mainly of cotton candy that is part elephant, cat and dolphin – realises he is obsolete, a memory fading into obscurity, should not bring a grown man close to tears. But Pixar has an uncanny ability to draw people of all ages (yes, I’m 28) into stories that will tug fairly heavily on the heartstrings.
1967 was a pretty stellar year for the movies. Anne Bancroft drew Dustin Hoffman into all sorts of trouble in The Graduate, Paul Newman ate fifty hard boiled eggs and stuck it to ‘the Man’ in Cool Hand Luke, Beatty and Dunaway made multiple withdrawals as Bonnie and Clyde and a little chap called Mowgli, raised by wolves, befriended a bear and a panther in a jungle somewhere.
Few, if any, onscreen cinematic partnerships attain the same level of charisma, nudge-and-a-wink understanding and all-round roguishness as Paul Newman and Robert Redford – Butch and Sundance, Henry Gondorff and Johnny Hooker.
Chilton: “I am going to show you why we insist on such precautions. On the evening of July 8th, 1981, he complained of chest pains and was taken to the dispensary. His mouthpiece and restraints were removed for an EKG. When the nurse leaned over him, he did this to her. [pulls out photo] The doctors managed to reset her jaw, more or less. Saved one of her eyes … his pulse never got above 85, even when he ate her tongue.”
There was a time when the name Audrey Hepburn was not known the world over; a time when her now iconic image did not adorn posters, cushions, clothing, and was not synonymous, as it remains today, with all things chic and fashionable. That time was before she starred, alongside Gregory Peck, in William Wyler’s Roman Holiday.
12 Years a Slave is based upon the memoirs of Solomon Northrup, a free man from Saratoga, N.Y. A family man and talented violinist by trade; he is duped into visiting Washington D.C. under the auspices of a large sum of easy money performing in a travelling show. From here he is abducted, sold into slavery and shipped south. In the ensuing two hours we witness the brutality, systematic violence, injustice and unimaginable desperation that he was subjected to for more than a decade. His story is a drop in the ocean, but it is an important one, and one that an audience must suffer with him.
During the deep freeze that hit North America last week I watched a news report on how the homeless men and women of Washington DC were handling the extreme cold. They huddled together, warming their hands on cups of tea given out by a local charity. One man, beaming a toothless smile, said “It’s the survival of the fittest, man!” As much as America is a land of opportunity and the American Dream remains a dream for the Jay Gatsby’s amongst us; for many it is a dog-eat-dog struggle. Whether this is a fight against the injustice of homelessness, the harshness of Mother Nature, the feds, the mob, or even yourself, it is about doing what you have to do to survive.
Captain Phillips opens with parallel scenes that show two men preparing for work. The first man is at home in Vermont. At his desk he checks a shipping itinerary, sorts through papers and packs his bag before driving to the airport with his wife to board a plane to Oman. The second man is asleep on a bare mattress on the floor of a hut in Eyl, a village situated on the coast of Somalia. He is awoken by the threatening, frenzied arrival of armed men who advise him, and others, to take to the sea to make money. The former is the captain of an American cargo ship and the latter is a modern day pirate.
Since the beginning of time men have been fighting for the women they love. Whether it be a caveman wielding a club or an unshaven, long-haired Matthew McConaughey with a .45, the principle is essentially the same. There are few things that a good man will not do to protect the honour and well-being of their cavewoman/wife/girlfriend. You’re welcome, ladies.
Mud is writer/director Jeff Nichols’ third film. And it is magnificent. The aforementioned Mr. McConaughey plays the eponymous lead character who is on a rescue mission to save Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) – the errant, unpredictable and unfaithful girl of his boyhood dreams – from the bad guys.
There are very few things that the British public love more than a triumphant underdog and the 2010 Oscars did not disappoint. The media coverage in the run-up to the 82nd Academy Awards told the tale of two films. James Cameron’s 3-D science-fiction epic Avatar, made for a reported $237 million, took away an astronomical $2.5 billion at the box office. Nominated for 9 awards, Cameron was looking for Titanic-esque recognition for a project which dates back to 1994 and which has certainly been the most talked-about film event of the past year, if not decade.