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Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Film Release Roundup for the Week of 5 August 2011

I'm late with this again but here we actually have a fairly small week in terms of films that I've actually seen. Also released were Skoonheid, Soul Surfer and African Cats, all of which I have missed but as for what I've seen, it was a pretty damn decent week for film.

Tamara Drewe was released on something like three screens throughout the country but I am covering it because a) I'm sure you will be able to find it on DVD in no time at all and b) it has become such a rarity for British films to actually make it to cinemas in our country that I'm not simply going to ignore one that actually does. Tamara Drewe is based on a generally well-regarded British graphic novel that I have admittedly not read but there's little point in getting into the film's plot as it really is a collection of cascading stories about a group of characters whose lives are affected, to various degrees, by the presence of our titular protagonist : a very beautiful but very troubled young woman. How you react to that (ridiculously rambling) sentence is pretty much exactly how you will react to the film. The narrative is indeed all over the place so if what you're looking for is plot, I strongly suggest looking elsewhere. The thing that has really turned most people off the film, though, is Tamara Drewe herself. She is a deeply flawed, sometimes flat out unlikeable character whose narcissism and self-destructive behaviour has clearly been a major turn off for most people. Personally, though, I have no problem with stories that are more about characters than plot and, being a huge fan of the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I am absolutely fine with less than loveable "heroes". I, in short, liked the film quite a bit. It is perhaps a bit too bitty for its own good - in terms of theme, more than in terms of plot - and the comedy is somewhat hit and miss but if your tastes run more towards the more quirky, off-centre side of the so-called "dramedy" genre, you should find plenty to like in Tamara Drewe.   

The Conspirator, on the other hand, is anything but quirky. What we have here is a fairly straightforward courtroom drama that is made far more interesting by the context in which it is set. Robert Redford's direction is perhaps a bit too austere to truly allow the film to come alive but with subject matter and themes this compelling, it's easy to forgive Redford the occasional bit of overly dry filmmaking. The Conspirator revolves around the trial of a Southern woman who may have been part of the conspiracy that led to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the young lawyer who is forced to take her case. It is a film that is very much interested in exploring timeless theme of due judicial process being worn down by a nation's thirst for revenge more than in piling on the drama but, weirdly, this is its greatest asset. Bolstered by superb performances by James McAvoy and Robin Wright, the film works as well as it does because it is so intimately aware of just how engrossing its subject matter truly is. It could certainly have used a stronger directorial stamp but The Conspirator remains a compelling morality play that tackle subjects that are sadly as poignant as ever.


Film of the week: Of those that I've seen it's still Captain America but the other two films are well worth seeing as well - if you find their basic subject matter interesting, of course.

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