Friday, February 22, 2013

Performance (A late quartet)

Director: Yaron Zilberman

Starring: Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Ivanir

The fallout following the announced retirement of ageing cellist Peter (Christopher Walken) from a world-famous string quartet forms the basis of the movie. Upended at the prospect, fellow musicians Juliette (Catherine Keener), her husband Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Daniel ( Mark Ivanir) begin to come unstuck. As long-buried resentments and desires rush to the surface can the ensemble set aside their conflicts and come together to play for their 25th anniversary concert? Well you need to see the movie to discover that but there are some good performances from the cast although the movie is rather clich├ęd. The score is however quite outstanding and was inspired by Beethoven's Opus 131 String Quartet in C-sharp minor.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

In the fog

Director: Sergei Loznitsa

Starring: Vladimir Svirski, Vladislav Abashin, Sergei Kolesov

Based on a novel by Vassily Bykov, the slow moving movie unpicks the agonising ethical choices faced by citizens under Nazi occupation in Belarus during the Second Woirld War . Following the hanging of three railwaymen, a fourth man, Sushenya (Vladimir Svirskiy ), is released from custody and two partisans, Burov (Vlad Abashin) and Voitek (Sergei Kolesov) believe he is a collaborator and decide to kill him. Nothing however is as simple as it would first appear and what transpires impacts on the rest of the characters’ lives. Told in flashback this is a grim and lengthy movie which explores perceived realities and truth. No soundtrack and pure arthouse.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Flight

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Denzel Washington, Nadine Velazquez; Tamara Tunie, Kelly Reilly, Bruce Greenwood, Don Cheadle, John Goodman

An airplane drama where the captain Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) pulls off a magnificent maneuver to save lives. In the aftermath it is discovered that hero Whip has his own demons and may have been under the influence of drink and drugs in charge the plane. What follows is a bit of mishmash and despite Oscar nomination the characters are about as shaky as the plane ride. Will Whip come clean to the tribuneral? Well you need to see the movie to find out.

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai

Director: Takashi Miike

Starring: Ebizo Ichikawa, Eita, Hikari Mitsushima, Naoto Takenaka, Munetaka Aoki

Another remake this time of Masaki Kobayashi's great, classic Harakiri (1962) the movie is shot in colour and 3D. Miike’s new version is less violent and tells the story of Hanshiro Tsugumo (Ebizo Ichikawa) a poor 17th century samurai who asks a feudal lord, Kageyu (Koji Yakusho), if he can use the courtyard to perform a ritual suicide (the hara-kiri of the title). Hanshiro is suspicious he may be a malingerer and recalls, in flashback, a previous similar experience with a wayward samurai, Motome (Eita). Through flashback, the director reveals a surprising connection between the two ronin. A slow moving movie skillfully put together but no real match to the original black and white film.