Recent viewings

‘All is Lost’ (JC Chandor, 2013) 

Seems Redford subscribes to the old view that age is no barrier to the continued success of a true movie star. He’s not headed to the retirement home yet (Expendables IV anyone?!), bouncing together a lead villain role in the biggest Marvel comics movie of the year with this aquatic survival thriller that seems, on retrospect, an unusual omission from the Oscar-babble that I’d normally expect to surround such a role. I admire the unapologetic directness of Chandor’s film. Whereas Gravity, for all its greatness and plaudits, drew some criticism for the backstory of its central character, Redford here is a total enigma, reacting with mesmerising purpose to the unfolding events but acting with nobody to zip off and with only his silent, unknown thoughts for company. It’s strong work.

‘Boyhood’ (Richard Linklater, 2014) 

Any filmmaker with a series as special as Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight need never worry for devoted fans. Nothing else I saw last year quite hit on a personal level like those draining hundred minutes spent with Hawke & Delpy on the Greek coast. My reverence for those films aside; I’m stumped if I’ll ever see Linklater make another film quite like this. Boyhood is extraordinary, a total marvel of a creation that’s achingly sad, funny, fascinating and strikes twelve years of nostalgia buttons without abusing the unique opportunity its multi-year production offers. It’d be easy to ride out the ‘gimmick’, losing an audience in the sounds and smells of their own past decade, but Linklater doesn’t do that, there’s a through-line here that would’ve worked even if shot conventionally with older actors taking over in increments. I’m in love with every aspect of this film and intend to rave about its qualities a great deal more as we move toward awards season. 

‘The Libertines: There Are No Innocent Bystanders’ (Roger Sargent, 2011) 

I finally caught the band at their big Hyde Park gig earlier this month after almost ten years of support, so now’s probably as good a time as any to have watched Sargent’s documentary. I’ve admired his work with the band in Libertines: Bound Together, as thorough a photographic testimony of the period as one could ever require. Sargent does a fine job of covering the events surrounding their brief 2010 reunion and festival slot, nicely mixing historical record with live performance pieces. To my delight, the strong pre-Up The Bracket demo period isn’t neglected by the film soundtrack.