Submergence

I think it might be worth prefacing this by saying that it’s been a while since I’ve offered my thoughts on a piece of art, in any form. I might be a bit rusty. But I want to get back into the swing of things, after all, that journalism degree seems to be gathering dust…

I’m going to start off by telling you that I hate romantic films and I’m not a fan of thrillers. At all. Any whiff of Hollywood romance makes my eyes loll right back into my head. And thrillers? Well, nothing compares to ‘Die Hard’ does it? In fact, the only draws I saw in Wim Wenders’ film adaptation of J. M. Ledgard’s ‘Submergence’ was that it stars one of Glasgow’s finest actors, James McAvoy, and that I could see it on the cheap at the Glasgow Film Festival. You’ve got to represent, right?

The film follows a bio-mathematician (played by Alicia Vikander) and an MI6 agent (James McAvoy) who, after meeting at a remote, French bed and breakfast, fall head over heels for each other. But nothing runs smoothly in these kinds of tales, as the pair are driven apart by their respective missions – James ends up being battered by militants and poor Alicia ends up submerged at the bottom of the ocean.

Do they live happily ever after? Well, I can’t spoil it for you, because I don’t know. And that’s what perhaps bugged me most about this film. I JUST LIKE CLOSURE OK?! Let’s turn that assessment on its head: the film finished too soon, and I wanted to see more. More vast, sweeping visuals of the French coast. More of Vikander’s sensual, subtle performance (nothing new here). More of McAvoy’s cheeky, boyish and wholly Scottish (he’s not playing a posh English dude in this film, much to the joy of the audience – but for the most part, nothing new here either) charm. More suspense. More romance. And that, truly, is the mark of something impressive.

Yes, there were con’s to the film. Act two lurched from James’ angst to Alicia’s becoming tedious at times. And the film’s continuity in terms of hair, make up and costuming could have been tighter.

But, all in all, the film offered up gorgeous visuals and enthralling performances from the film’s leads. The script itself was, for the most part, strong, and, most importantly, I never managed to roll my eyes once. A fine job from Wim Wenders.

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In Defence Of Miss Sloane

It flopped in spectacular fashion at the US Box Office, making a measly $5m against a $13m budget and it’s a damn shame.

Miss Sloane follows lobbyist, Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) as she attempts to sway political figures into voting for increased gun-control in the United States. However, Sloane becomes embroiled in multiple scandals, from corruption to soliciting and ends up facing trial for some of her more dubious behaviours during her stellar career.

Every so often, a new tragedy brings the gun-control debate back to the table on the American political landscape and yet, change is seldom granted. Miss Sloane offers not only an insight into the process of steamrolling change into the political landscape, but a sense of satisfaction in what ‘could be’ for supporters of increased gun control. During an interview with The New York Times, the film’s director, John Madden, in this sense, explains that this the film an element of fantasy due to American politics being so far away from such a seismic shift taking place.

But the timeliness and divisiveness of the film’s subject matter is only one ingredient in the film’s magnetic draw. This highly stylised political thriller boasts a respectable supporting cast, sleek wardrobe and a gripping yet informative screenplay.

The thing that stole the show, however, was Chastain’s razor sharp portrayal of the insomniac, benzodiazepine addicted, tactical genius; the film’s titular character. Chastain nails the stoic and slightly smug nature of Elizabeth Sloane effortlessly, quickly flitting from quick rebuttals to spectacularly coming undone in private. The duality of Sloane makes for a character with so much depth and complexity that you yourself won’t be able to help but be utterly torn between loathing her and rooting for her wholeheartedly towards the film’s stunning climax.

The film had everything going for it. Where did it all go wrong?

GOTG2

It seems like everyone’s been talking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest offering – ‘Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2,’ and I’m no different. The film’s been lauded with praise for weeks now, with some even going so far as to say it’s Marvel’s greatest offering yet. But is the praise deserved? Well that’s exactly what I’m going to be addressing in today’s post. I can’t promise it’ll be spoiler free, but I can promise you it’s honest.

On Thursday evening, my friends and I settled down in our seats at our local multiplex to enjoy a double bill of everyone’s favourite intergalactic supersquad. Needless to say, we were hyped. But I can’t help but feel like I kind of shot GOTG’s sequel in the foot by doing this, because honestly, it pales in comparison to the original.

Where the original offered razor-sharp wit and effortless gags, making it a tall order to live up to, volume 2 quite clearly showcases a script that’s been overworked and heaped with needless funnies to the point where it feels forced and tired.  The running gags at Rocket’s expense is a prime example of such. Not only that, but the friction between the film’s characters feels a little superfluous whereas it came much more naturally in the first GOTG where the group first came together.

Not only that, but the entire plot feels rather scattered with out guardians being split across the galaxy and terse subplots detracting from the screen time of much more deserving aspects of Drax and Mantis’ blossoming rapport or Peter Quill’s ‘daddy issues’, for want of a better term. It feels messy, overloaded, in fact, tying in aspects of Nebula and Gamora’s relationship, the bolstering of the Rocket / Yondu alliance, or hiding behind possibly the movie’s biggest marketing ploy, Baby Groot. There are too many threads and needlessly so. Perhaps the Nebula / Gamora dynamic will come into play during Infinity War when the Guardians come to face the pair’s father, Thanos. I can understand the amount of screen time dedicated to Yondu because it further’s Peter’s emotional arc of the film, without giving too much away, but I still feel like the whole thing could have been far more simplified.

However, the film does provide some exciting tidbits for the future, namely the allusion to Adam Warlock, who fans hope to see cropping up in the MCU fairly soon and an astonishing FIVE scenes during the film’s end credits, including more Groot. Personally, one of my biggest hopes for the Guardian’s franchise is that Marvel consider making web-shorts with this particular character, especially after the mid-credits scene this movie serves up. And, given the interest in the character that my friends and I display often enough, I’m willing to hazard a guess that I’m not the only person who feels this way about our tree pal.

Possibly the greatest saving grace of the film is the soundtrack, as one would have expected. Offering cuts from ELO to Fleetwood Mac, George Harrison to Cat Stevens, ‘Awesome Mix: Volume 2’ gives its previous incarnation a run for its money and serves one big emotional punch when it comes to the film’s harrowing climax.

All in all, this instalment leaves a lot to be desired in comparison to the likes of Doctor Strange and Captain America: Civil War. I feel like the pressure to make a funnier, more jaw dropping sequel, has fallen short and leaves me wondering how the Russos, and writers Markus and McFeely, are going to approach dealing with these characters in Infinity War, where, I’m sure, there won’t be as much room for half-assed quips. Will the Guardians simply fall into the role of being the comic relief of the movie? Who knows.

Now, bring on Spidey in July and all-new Thor in November!