201-203: Sister, Moonrise, Flynn

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201: Your Sister’s Sister

Mark Duplass is on a roll lately. After directing the excellent drama Jeff, Who Lives at Home and starring in Safety Not Guaranteed he also played one of the leads in Your Sister’s Sister, Lynn Shelton’s newest feature. Duplass again creates a very likable guy, Jack, who has some serious issues to deal with. He decides to retreat to a cabin in the woods owned by his best friend, Iris (Emily Blunt). What he doesn’t know is that the sister of his friend, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), is also there to work out her own problems. Hannah and Jack strike up a relationship that culminates in a situation that is extremely uncomfortable for all involved. Your Sister’s Sister is, however, a sweet drama about recognizing each other’s flaws and forgiving them for it, however selfish their behavior might be. Highly recommended if you want a small drama about real people with real feelings.

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202: Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson is a very divisive director. Ever since his first feature, Bottle Rocket, people have been debating whether his movies are works of art of just exercises in art direction. Anderson’s movies are often clinical manifestations of a very exacting brain. They present delightful worlds in which the characters are allowed to play to their heart’s content. His newest entry, Moonrise Kingdom, is no different and this time Anderson invented an entire island for his characters to play in. Everything revolves around two kids who run away from home to start a new life elsewhere. This puts the entire island on high alert, which results in funny situations and poignant drama. I liked Moonrise Kingdom a lot, but I also felt that it was really hard to get through the highly polished look of the film. Anderson is always a meticulous filmmaker, but this time he has taken his control of, in particular, camera movements to another level and that made the movie feel very artificial in many places. I didn’t get that feeling at all while watching his, in my opinion, best movies The Royal Tenenbaums and The Darjeeling Limited. I still recommend people seeing Moonrise Kingdom, if only for the top-notch performances of the cast.

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203: Being Flynn

Robert De Niro’s career has in the last decade not been what it once was, but you don’t need me to tell you that. So it is nice to see that once in a while he wants to step outside his safety zone and take on a role that takes a little more effort than Meet the Parents or Analyze This. In Being Flynn he plays Jonathan Flynn, a self-proclaimed genius writer, but in reality nothing more than a con man who has neglected his family. The real main character, however, is Nick Flynn (played by Paul Dano), his son, who he has not seen in years. Nick also wants to be a writer, but struggles with the notion that he is not cut out for the job. One day Jonathan reaches out to Nick, which throws Nick for a loop. Does he want his father in his life, or does he want him to leave him alone. This predicament only worsens when Jonathan shows up at the homeless shelter where Nick works sometimes. Being Flynn is a movie about a very dysfunctional relationship between a father and a son with De Niro playing one of the biggest assholes in his career. Being Flynn could have been a very powerful movie, but it lacks the drive to make us connect more with the main character. Dano is fin as Nick, but the problem is that Nick is not somebody you want to root for. You want to give him a swift kick in the butt to get him to pick up his life and stop whining. While the performances are fine all-round, this casts such a large shadow over it all that just can’t be overcome.

181-184: Harry Potter Marathon, Part 2

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And here we are at the other end of our Harry Potter marathon and I must say that it hasn’t been the chore I was expecting it to be. Watching these movies in order in a short amount of time is really beneficial for someone like me… someone who hasn’t read the books. It keeps fresh the enormous amount of details that need to be remembered to make sense of it all and adds to the appreciation of this movie series.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

From now on the proverbial excrement hits the fan. At the end of Goblet of Fire we were witness to the resurrection of Voldemort and now the race begins to save the world from his clutches. With a new director at the helm, David Yates, who would go on to direct all the remaining movies, the series takes on a much more dire tone. Gone are the whimsical elements from the story up to make room for more teenage angst, ever more perilous adventures and dark secrets revealed. At Hogwarts the situation is worsened by the arrival of Dolores Umbridge, a spy for the Ministry played wonderfully by Imelda Staunton, who turns the school into something that more resembles a prison. Harry, meanwhile, tries to convince the world that Voldemort has indeed returned, but nobody wants to believe him. Even his friends start to doubt him. His inability to convince anyone and the doubts about his own role in the whole scheme of things start to take their toll on Harry. Thankfully Daniel Radcliffe is able to shoulder this burden and give Harry enough depth to make these trials believable. The character Harry Potter seems to be in capable hands.The film ends with a spectacular sequence inside the Ministry of Magic with wall-to-wall visual effects and another riveting confrontation between Harry and Voldemort. I had my problems with Order of the Phoenix, but they are outweighed by the enjoyment of so many of the other elements.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

This is the point where I started to lose interest when the movies were first released. To be honest, I felt left out, because so many of the concepts in this movie were foreign to me. Much in Half-Blood Prince seemed only enjoyable when you actually had read the book. But now, with all five preceding movies still fresh in my head, I must admit that I was wrong. The puzzle pieces fell into place more easily now. You just have to really pay attention to ever detail, because everything comes back in some way, shape or form. In Half-Blood Prince a new element is introduced: the Horcrux, an object infused with part of someones soul. It turns out Voldemort has hidden several of these Horcruxes and Harry (together with Dumbledore) vows to retrieve all of them and destroy them, in order to weaken Voldemort to the point where he can be killed. This provides a framework for the rest of the movies with several encounters revolving around these objects. But that’s not all. Draco Malfoy is chosen as the sacrificial lamb to do Voldemort’s bidding, the Weasley home is attacked by Bellatrix Lestrange, Sirius Black’s niece or killer, and a very important character is killed at the end of the movie. All very dramatic stuff. That is why the casting of Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn is so important to this movie. He is the perfect combination of lighthearted and dramatic. His acting is a breath of fresh air in the often quite heavy atmosphere of the Harry Potter world. Imelda Staunton had the same task in Order of the Phoenix, providing comic relief. All in all I really liked Half-Blood Prince, mostly because of the intense dramatic moments.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

And so the ending begins. Battle lines are being drawn, sides are taken. Harry, Hermione and Ron are on the run from the Death Eaters, who have taken over the Ministry and attacked the wedding between Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour. From that point on the story of Part 1 becomes a road movie about our three heroes trying to make sense of the whole mess. Ron becomes more and more angry at Harry for not doing enough to safe the wizarding world, Hermione is trying real hard to solve all the riddles that are thrown at them and Harry is hard to work to find the remaining Horcruxes without getting himself killed. If you are expecting a rollicking adventure movie this time around you are in for a surprise. While there are certainly moments where the story picks up the pace, the majority of Part 1 takes on a very subdued tone. A quiet before the storm, if you will. Once again, watching Part 1 in the theater was a boring and confounding experience for me. I hardly knew what a Horcrux or a Death Eater were, so you can imagine that this time around I liked Part 1 a lot more. I started to feel a lot of empathy for these kids who are thrust into this otherworldly adventure that is way beyond their years. No child or teen should be made to carry this burden. One of the most endearing moments comes when Harry asks Hermione to dance at one of the worst moments possible and for a few minutes they forget everything that is happening around them to enjoy the moment as they should have if the circumstances were different. Although the movie as a whole may not be the most exciting adventure of them all, I think this installment has a lot of heart and in that regard is a good setup to what is to come next.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

And what comes next is the culmination of everything that transpired prior to Part 2. Voldemort has acquired the tools and the army to once and for all to take over the wizarding world. Everything comes to a spectacular close with Harry and his friends trying to discover the last Horcruxes, the Order of the Phoenix taking back Hogwarts and ultimately Harry preparing himself for his all important duel with Voldemort. As with every installment of the Harry Potter series. A lot of ground has to be covered before we get to where we are going. It is understandable that they split Deathly Hallows into two parts. If the book is half as dense as the movies, than that is one hell of a book to get through. Together these movies take up nearly four and a half hours of your time and not a lot of it is wasted on frivolous nonsense.

This is Harry Potter’s Return of the Jedi. This is the moment everything comes together and the big finale kicks off. Thinking back to the first movies in the series I didn’t think these kids could have acted their way out of a paper bag when the story would become more dramatic, but they have grown… a lot. Radcliffe still isn’t the best actor ever, but he holds his own across from a powerhouse like Ralph Fiennes. I could get behind what he was going through and that is a lot more than I expected. Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are still his trusty sidekicks and though there is a lot of frowning and scowling going on they carry the weight of everything their characters went through on their shoulders.

I really liked the way Deathly Hallows worked out. A lot of the loose ends were tied up neatly, even though Rowling needed a sizable flashback to do so. There were some surprises in there, but I got the feeling that there was so much information to be conveyed that the movie moved just a little too fast through it all. Maybe I have to watch it again sometime to get every last detail of the story (or maybe just read the books). One huge gripe I have with the concept of the Room of Requirement. In Order of the Phoenix it was nice, but since then it feels as a way of dealing with dead ends in the plot and having people move in and out of Hogwarts undetected. It got a little tiring to see it pop up again and again as a deus ex machina. Other than that I really liked Deathly Hallows, Part 2.

The Sum Total

Well, has this marathon changed my perception of the Harry Potter series? Absolutely. As I said at the beginning, I had seen all these movies (minus one) before, but never fully appreciated the arc Harry Potter goes through during these movies. It is actually a great story about somebody who has to carry an enormous burden before he is in any way capable of doing that and the way he copes with that responsibility. Next to the story that is engaging and fun there is the enormous technical achievement of these movies. Producer David Heyman managed to produce eight (!) major blockbuster movies in about twelve years or so. These movies have beautiful scenery, fantastic art direction and spectacular visual effects, all of them produced on an extremely tight schedule. Like the Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter movies deserve an honorary Oscar or something for the sheer audacity of attempting this undertaking. And on top of that Heyman got the original cast to stick around when everybody was saying they could never pull that off.

It was a good decision to do this marathon, because it opened my eyes a little to what other people are so wildly enthusiastic about. It still isn’t Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, but it has certainly made me curious and what do you know maybe I will read the books one day.

178-180: Safety Not Guaranteed, Innkeepers, Fear and Loathing

178: Safety Not Guaranteed

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Quirky indie movies are a dime a dozen, most of them self-important exercises in low-budget moping. But sometimes an indie surfaces that manages to find the strength to raise itself above the crowd and find something interesting to say. One of these is Safety Not Guaranteed, a great science fiction fantasy drama about people searching for meaning. Once again Mark Duplass manages to give us an engaging performance (earlier this year also in Your Sister’s Sister). He plays Kenneth, a man who thinks he has built a time machine. Young journalist Darius finds a classified by Kenneth asking for a companion on his experiments. Darius (Aubrey Plaza) convinces her editor to investigate further. Under the ‘supervision’ of Jeff (New Girl’s Jake Johnson), Darius and researcher Arnau (Karan Soni) go to find the mysterious man who must be out of his mind. Once arrived things start to take a turn for the absurd as everybody starts to take the opportunity to work out their own problems. The heart of the story is the relationship between Kenneth and Darius. Plaza and Duplass really hit it off and sparks fly every second they spent together. It is an endearing look at the lives of two people searching for more. On the side there are the adventures of Jeff and Arnau, both of which are funny, but ultimately not very important to the central storyline. The whole, however, is a beautiful mix of science fiction, drama and comedy. I totally recommend watching Safety Not Guaranteed, even if you don’t like independent cinema.

179: The Innkeepers

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Deconstructionist horror movies are nothing new. Earlier this year I reviewed the excellent The Cabin in the Woods and last year I loved Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. Now I can add The Innkeepers to that list, while this last addition to the genre does the deconstruction a little more subtle.  Everything in The Innkeepers revolves around the Yankee Pedlar Inn, which is about to close for good. Two custodians (Claire and Luke) are charged with taking care of the inn during its final weekend. Legend has it that the inn is haunted, or so Luke tells Claire. He is supposedly interested in the inn’s sordid history and has even devoted a website to it. During the weekend, however, strange things start to happen and old guests turn up to stay for one more night. Claire and Luke go looking for signs of the haunting, but in the end may be getting more than they bargained for. Director Ti West ramps up the tension from the beginning and doesn’t let up until the end when things start to really get out of hand. Along the way he inserts a surprising amount of humor into his screenplay which alleviates some of the more standard tropes of the haunted house genre. There is a tongue-in-cheek quality to The Innkeepers that isn’t overtly visible. I was often glued to the edge of my seat. Not because the movie was so scary or something like that, but because West paints a great picture that will stick with you. I recommend searching out The Innkeepers.

180: Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas

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Terry Gilliam adapting a Hunter S. Thompson novel is a match made in heaven. Gilliam’s movies always feel like fever dream with all its wild imagery and brilliant production design. Thompson’s famous novel about a weekend in Vegas at the end of the carefree hippy era filled with drugs, alcohol and other such debauchery fits perfectly with Gilliam’s visual exuberance. From the very first moment we know we are in for quite a ride. We see Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro speeding down a deserted highway on their way to Vegas. They are clearly operating under the influence of several types of drug a normal person wouldn’t think of taking, let alone combining. Once in Vegas the shenanigans don’t stop. Soon the drug use starts to take its toll and the situation turns more grim by the minute. This change is reinforced when we are witness to Del Toro intimidating the waitress (Ellen Barkin) at a diner on the wrong side of Vegas. It is an incredibly uncomfortable scene in an already uncomfortable movie. While the movie is more concerned with the drug use than the political underpinnings of Thompson’s novel I admire Gilliam’s courage to take on a project like this. I love Fear and Loathing for what it is: a crazy ride hopefully none of us will ever have to endure.

167: Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope

I’m a geek, a nerd, a fanboy, or whatever you want to call it. I am not ashamed of it, nor should I be. Some people like other things and I like Star Wars. However, I have never been to the San Diego Comic-Con. I have been to Star Wars Celebration VI, so that cancels out some of that shame. The annual San Diego Comic-Con functions as a sort of sanctuary for people like me: people who like things other ‘normal’ people might frown upon. Morgan Spurlock’s documentary Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope provides a glimpse into the world of Comic-Con, a world that is totally incomprehensible for many.

A word of warning: this is in no way a historical record of the San Diego Comic-Con. Some history is provided at the beginning and a comment may be included here and there about the old days, but that’s all you’re going to learn about the Con itself. This is a love letter to the people attending the convention and not the convention itself.

In Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope we follow several people who attended San Diego Comic-Con in 2010. There is the veteran salesman from Mile High Comics who laments the change in focus from comics to entertainment in general at the convention. Then there is the costume builder who wants to show off her newest creations based on video game Mass Effect. Two aspiring comic artists travel to San Diego to try their luck at landing a job with a comics publisher. And finally a young couple of which the male half has a surprise for his girlfriend. We see how these people go about their days at the convention in search of whatever they are looking for.

Spurlock paints a loving picture of Comic-Con. He obviously likes the convention and he wants other to do so as well. He enlists a great number of people (famous and non-famous) to provide context in front of a white screen. They tell you the convention is a great experience for everybody there and that you can actually be yourself (or dress up as somebody else) without feeling you have to check yourself at every moment. Having been to Star Wars Celebration I can certainly sympathize with that sentiment. It is a wonderful experience to not have to check yourself at the door and finally geek out for three or four days. Of course, in a perfect world these would not have to be necessary, but we’re not entirely there yet.

There is one small complaint I have for Spurlock (who actually doesn’t appear at all). There is not enough of the documentary. At nearly ninety minutes I feel some of the people we follow don’t get enough room to tell their story. For example, the story about the comics seller who has to contend with a change in climate at the convention is a very interesting one. The convention has been focusing a lot more on movie and television promotion and less and less on what the convention was built on: comics. Sales have been declining and with the emergence of digital comics it would be interesting to see how that story played out. Maybe something someone can take on as a subject for a future documentary?

On a whole I really enjoyed Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, although I don’t really understand the title. There is not all that much Star Wars in the movie to begin with and the title feels more like pandering than something inspired. Don’t let that deter you from watching this fine documentary, though. Maybe someday I will have the opportunity to attend a San Diego Comic-Con, until then Phoenix Comic-Con will do.

> IMDb

162-165: Magic Mike, Haywire, Iron Fists, Nemo

162: Magic Mike

During the production of Haywire director Steven Soderbergh struck up a conversation with one of his stars Channing Tatum. It turned out Tatum had quite a history. When he was a young guy he used to earn his living stripping on stage in front of hundreds of screaming women. This intrigued Soderbergh and he decided to turn Tatum’s story into a movie, something Tatum was all too happy to be a part of. Tatum chose to play himself in the movie. Mike (Tatum) is a young stripper who is very good at his job, but he really wants more out of his life. He likes to design furniture, for instance. One day he meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer) and makes it his mission to induct him into the wild life of stripping. The boy turns out to be something of a talent. All the while Mike is working with his boss Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) to open a new bar in Miami, where supposedly the real money can be made. There are some entanglements with Adam’s sister and of course everything goes sour in the end. Well, let’s just say this is not a movie one watched for the story. It is like Top Gun for women. It is fairly safe to say they watch Magic Mike for the performances of the men, not the intricacies of the plot. I am not entirely the best person to judge the performances, but I can recognize that there is a high level of competence on display there. It helps that Tatum has some experience in the matter. Magic Mike is enjoyable if male stripping is your thing.

163: Haywire

Steven Soderbergh knows how to direct people with limited acting prowess. Look at Out of Sight, one of my favorite movies ever, and you will see Jennifer Lopez acting her heart out like never before or again. The same goes for Gina Carano in Haywire, Soderbergh’s first foray into the pure action movie genre. Carano used to be a professional fighter, but when Soderbergh saw her do her thing he wanted her in this movie. A wise choice, because what he needed in this movie was somebody who knows how to fight and make it look believable and Carano is not somebody you want to get into an argument with. She may be beautiful, but she will rip you to shreds if need be. She takes on Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender and several others and every time you will be on the edge of your seat. Soderbergh frames everything in a very matter-of-fact way which lends a frantic reality to the movie. In addition to the action the movie is also surprisingly slow and introspective. That surprised me and reminded me of Soderbergh’s excellent thriller The Limey. There is a beautiful restraint to Haywire. The story may be fairly forgettable, but the action sequences and characters will be remembered for a long time.

164: The Man with the Iron Fists

Sometimes a person’s obsession should stay behind closed doors. A shining example of this is RZA’s obsession with kung fu movies and his directorial debut The Man with the Iron Fists. RZA (or Robert Fitzgerald Diggs) worked with Quentin Tarantino on the Kill Bill movies because of his seemingly limitless knowledge of kung fu movies and the sound effects used in these movies. It is this connection with Tarantino that undoubtedly made The Man with the Iron Fists a possibility, because I can’t think of a single other reason why this movie would have been made. Who would give a first-time director a big pile of money to direct his own debut screenplay and star in it himself? Nobody, unless you have people like Tarantino and Eli Roth (Hostel) backing you. This would of course not have been a problem if the movie in question had been good, which it is not. The Man with the Iron Fists is a jumbled ultra-violent mess with a lot of squandered potential. There are some great ideas here, which, in the right hands, would have made for a great tribute to a movie genre a lot of people love. The truth is, however, that a lot of the movies in the kung fu genre aren’t any good and The Man with the Iron Fists belongs to that group.

165: Finding Nemo 3D

Finding Nemo is my favorite Pixar movie. It has been for years. Toy Story 3 came close to dethroning Finding Nemo, but little details kept that movie from taking the top spot. After all these years Nemo is still a flawless movie. It flows perfectly from beginning to end and never veers from its path. It presents some of the best characters created for an animated movie (Bruce in particular). I still crack up at the same jokes as years ago, I still choke up at the same moments and I have seen Finding Nemo probably dozens of times since its release. Now that I have aged a little with the movie other things come into play. Since then I have become a dad twice and now I view it more through the eyes of Marlin, not Nemo. I recognize his reluctance to let his precious kid go, because that’s how I sometimes feel and then my oldest goes off and amazes me with everything he is capable of. It is hard to realize that Finding Nemo will be ten years old next year. It is as stunning as ever with its vibrant colors and beautiful compositions. Now, in 3D, I got to experience it again on the big screen with my kid who had only seen it on the small screen. He loved it… twice. The 3D didn’t really add that much to the movie. It was very subtle and never as eye-popping as it could have been. I think that sometimes the creators of these 3D editions could go a little further, but I guess they are being conservative after all the backlash in recent years.

Magic Mike @ IMDb
Haywire @ IMDb
The Man with the Iron Fists @ IMDb
Finding Nemo @ IMDb

161: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

I love sushi. I have eaten lots of it during the years. I have eaten sushi in Tokyo and I have visited the Tsukiji Fish Market where just about every piece of sushi in that area comes from. If I had my way the secret of sushi would stay with me and me alone so I can enjoy it again and again for the rest of my life. Well, let’s not get carried away here. I was a little bit afraid of watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi, because it was surely going to tell me the sushi I have been eating over the years has been totally inferior and I have more work to do in finding the perfect sushi. As it turns out even Jiro doesn’t make the perfect sushi, if we are to believe him.

In Jiro Dreams of Sushi we get a rare look behind the scenes of one of the most (if not the most) prestigious sushi restaurants in the world. It seats only about ten people, the price tag is usually $300 a plate and you have to reserve a spot months in advance. Oh, did I mention it can be found in a subway station. Yeah, try that in New York. Jiro has been making his (almost) perfect sushi for seventy years now and isn’t thinking about retiring. He has his oldest son next to him (the other one got his own restaurant in Roppongi Hills) and a small army of devoted apprentices in the back to prepare everything for him according to the most precise measurements and quality demands.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a beautiful documentary about art. Not the kind of art we are used to referring. This is food art at its finest. Like the way the chef at the former El Bulli used to create pieces of art from food. Jiro does the same thing, albeit in a much less showy fashion. As is to be expected from a Japanese chef he doesn’t create garish dishes with tons of junk added to the sushi like so many people do here in the U.S. He makes nigiri, and nigiri only. A bit of perfectly cooked rice, a small dollop of wasabi, a slice of incredibly fresh fish and a lick of soy sauce. It’s mouthwateringly brilliant in its simplicity.

There is nothing in Jiro Dreams of Sushi that jumps out at you. As it should be. It is a documentary about an unassuming chef who lives to perfect his art. The movie reflects this in mesmerizing fashion. I was hooked for the entire runtime. Of course it helps that I love sushi and that I have been to some of the places shown in Jiro Dreams of Sushi, but that’s not all of it. This is a very well made documentary across the board. It is moving, it is funny, it is informative, it makes you want to go to Tokyo to book a table at Jiro’s restaurant to experience his sushi first-hand. The only negative element Jiro Dreams of Sushi has left me with is the perception that all the sushi I will eat for the rest of my life will probably never measure up to Jiro’s sushi.

> IMDb

153: Tyrannosaur

Paddy Considine caught my eye for the first time when I watched Jim Sheridan’s exceptional drama In America. I was very taken with the way he shaped his character in that movie. The next time I saw a movie with Considine was at the International Film Festival in 2005 when I watched Shane Meadows’ Dead Man’s Shoes, a movie that to this day fills me with dread. His portrayal of ex-soldier Richard who steps up to protect his kid brother was such a tour-de-force that it cemented Considine in my head as one of the biggest talents we have today.

Ever since I have seen him pop up in various productions (including The Bourne Ultimatum), but now he has set his eyes on directing, a prospect I very much welcome. And he doesn’t start lightly. His directorial debut is Tyrannosaur, a hard-hitting drama about violence, redemption and religion, which he also wrote. (For the explanation of the title you will have to watch the movie, it is great.)

Joseph is a man who, after the death of his wife, has become a self-destructive drunk who poisons everything around him. One day he gets into a fight and stumbles into a second-hand store where he meets Hannah. She is scared, but nonetheless approaches Joseph in a loving manner. This gesture sparks something in Joseph. He slowly but surely starts to see meaning in his life again, even if it’s just a little bit. Meanwhile Hannah starts to experience quite different repercussions from their encounter. Her husband is also a drunk bastard, who coincidentally isn’t beyond beating on his wife. What seems to be a blessing for one turns out to be a nightmare for the other.

Considine isn’t prepared to sugarcoat the plights of his characters and his two main actors are totally up for it. Peter Mullan is one of the most intense actors I have seen in a long time. His role in the 2010 drama Neds (which he also directed) was one of the highlights of that movie, albeit a brief one. His portrayal of Joseph is an extension of that role and this time he gets to do it for a whole movie. Yes! It is not a pleasant performance to watch, but it is honest, brutal and compelling. For example, when he suddenly bursts into one of his tirades and he sees for the first time the fear it strikes in someone, you can see the revelation in his eyes. He may not change his life right then and there, but the seed is planted.

Hannah is played by the relatively unknown Olivia Colman. She embodies the meek-spouse-under-siege in a heartbreaking manner. She is fragile as someone in that situation would be. Gradually we are made privy to her life and it is also not pretty. While Joseph ugliness is all outward, the ugliness in Hannah’s life is hidden behind closed doors. There are, however, glimpses of hope. The moment she figures out that she is capable of standing up to her bastard husband is a beautiful one, unfortunately the scene doesn’t end very well for her. Additionally along the way she learns through Joseph that there is more than the prison she has been living in all this time.

Eddie Marsan has the dubious honor of playing the evil husband. He is one those men who will kick you to hell and back and a moment later will apologize and ask for your forgiveness… all under the guise of religion. There is absolutely nothing in him that could be worth redeeming. Some people just seem to be beyond redemption. Not Joseph, though. It looks like he will be able to find that little bit of hope to turn his life around.

People have been saying that Tyrannosaur is a movie about misery and not much else. I don’t agree with that. What Considine is trying to show us in the basest way possible that for everybody there is a way out of the pit of hell they are living in. Your redemption could come from that one chance encounter you have after you drunkenly smash somebody’s window to pieces. You never know when it will hit you. Be on your guard.

> IMDb