REVIEW: THE FAVOURITE

Starring

Olivia Coleman (The Iron Lady)
Emma Stone (Birdman)
Rachel Weisz (The Mummy)
Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Joe Alwyn (Mary Queen of Scots)
Mark Gatiss (Game of Thrones)
James Smith (Boomers)

Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in The Favourite (2018)It is 1708, and the recently formed Kingdom of Great Britain is at war with France. Queen Anne is in frail health; she shows little interest in governing, preferring activities such as racing ducks and playing with her 17 rabbits, one for each of the children she has lost. Her confidante, adviser, and furtive lover Sarah Churchill, effectively rules the country through her influence over the Queen. Sarah’s efforts to control Anne are undermined by Robert Harley (who was later created, in May 1711, The 1st Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer), the Leader of the Opposition, who, as a landowner, argues against a doubling of property taxes proposed in order to fund the war.Abigail Hill, Sarah’s impoverished younger cousin, arrives in search of employment. Abigail’s standing is tainted by her father, who gambled her away in a game of whist. Abigail is forced to do menial work as a scullery maid in the palace, but, after seeing the Queen’s gout, she forages for herbs and applies them to the Queen’s inflamed legs. Sarah has her whipped for her presumptuousness, but relents and makes her lady of the bedchamber after she realises the herbs have helped the Queen. Harley asks Abigail to spy on Sarah and the Queen, hoping to circumvent Sarah’s authority. Abigail witnesses Sarah and the Queen having sex.Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in The Favourite (2018)With Sarah focused on the war effort, Abigail kindles a friendship with Anne, which becomes sexual. Sarah becomes aware of Abigail’s machinations and attempts to have her sent away. Abigail drugs Sarah’s tea, causing her to fall off her horse and be dragged on the ground unconscious. Sarah awakens in a brothel, battered from the fall. Anne, thinking that Sarah has abandoned her to make her jealous, takes Abigail into her favour. She allows her to marry Samuel, 1st Baron Masham, reinstating Abigail’s noble standing.Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone in The Favourite (2018)When Sarah returns to court, she issues an ultimatum to Anne: send Abigail away, or Sarah will disclose her correspondence with Anne that details their sexual relationship. She tells Anne that Abigail does not love her, and merely flatters her. Sarah burns the letters in regret, but Anne sends her away from court. When Abigail, now promoted to Keeper of the Privy Purse, presents what she claims is evidence that Sarah had been embezzling money, Anne exiles Sarah and her husband from Britain.THE FAVOURITEWhile lounging in the Queen’s chamber, Abigail abuses one of Anne’s rabbits by deliberately pressing down on its neck with her shoe. Anne, now very sick, is awakened by the animal’s distress cry. She forces herself out of bed and orders Abigail to massage her legs, as if she were a servant, while gradually bearing down on Abigail’s head with her hand.the-favourite-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000There are three compelling reasons to see this – Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone. They go full force into this 18th-century world. Its a wickedly ridiculous and dirty dark comedy that only Yorgos Lanthimos could make with a brilliant whip-smart script by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara. Weisz vs Stone is a master class in acting, and Colman holds the Crown. Showcasing just how devoted one is for love (or power) but if it is truly worth the cost. If you didn’t like The Lobster or The Killing of a Sacred Deer, you may not like this movie. While it is Yorgos’ most commercial movie yet, it is still very much his style.

REVIEW: MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

Starring

Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bnes)
Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad)
Guy Pearce (Prometheus)
David Tennant (Jessica Jones)
Jack Lowden (’71)
Joe Alwyn (The Favourite)
Gemma Chan (Captain Marvel)
Martin Compston (The Aftermath)
Ismael Cruz Córdova (Exposed)
Brendan Coyle (Me Before Before You)
Ian Hart (God’s Own Country)
Adrian Lester (Doomsday)

Saoirse Ronan in Mary Queen of Scots (2018)In 1561, nineteen-year-old Mary, Catholic Queen of Scotland, returns to her home country from France following the death of her husband, Francis II of France, to take up her throne, where she is received by her half brother, the Earl of Moray. In neighbouring England, her cousin, twenty-eight-year-old Elizabeth is Protestant Queen of England — unmarried, childless, and threatened by Mary’s potential claim to her throne. Mary soon clashes with the cleric John Knox and dismisses him from her court. Knox is a protestant and leader of the Scottish Reformation and perceives Mary to be a danger to the kingdom’s Protestant supremacy.Margot Robbie, Grace Molony, and Georgia Burnell in Mary Queen of Scots (2018)In an attempt to weaken her cousin’s threat to her sovereignty, Elizabeth arranges for Mary, whom the English Catholics recognize as their rightful Queen, to be married to an Englishman. She chooses Robert Dudley, whom she secretly loves, to propose to Mary. Both are unwilling to be married to each other, but the news of Elizabeth’s smallpox convinces Mary to take the offer provided that Mary is named Elizabeth’s heir apparent. Reluctant to let go of Dudley, Elizabeth secretly sends Lord Darnley to Scotland under the pretence of living under their religious freedom. Despite initially sensing an ulterior motive on Darnley’s part, Mary gradually grows fond of Darnley and eventually accepts his marriage proposal.Saoirse Ronan, Jack Lowden, and James McArdle in Mary Queen of Scots (2018)Mary’s impending marriage to Darnley causes a constitutional crisis within both realms: In England, Elizabeth is advised by her court to oppose the marriage for fear that Darnley, an English noble, will elevate Mary’s claim to the Crown. In Scotland, Mary’s council is suspicious of Darnley as they fear an English takeover. Both kingdoms demand his return to England, but Mary refuses, thus enraging Moray to furiously leave her court and mount a rebellion against her. Darnley marries Mary, only for her to discover him in bed with her friend and private secretary, David Rizzio, the following morning. Faced with insurgency and infidelity, Mary decides to quash the rebel forces but spares both Rizzio and Moray. She demands Darnley give her a child. When a child is conceived, Mary declares that the child is the “heir to Scotland and England” — which deeply offends the English.Saoirse Ronan in Mary Queen of Scots (2018)Moray colludes with Darnley’s father Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, to undermine Mary, spreading rumours about Mary’s adultery and that her child was illegitimately fathered by Rizzio. Hearing the rumours, John Knox vehemently preaches to his parish that Mary is an adulteress. Fearing the accusations against Mary and the possible discovery of his homosexuality, Darnley is coerced by the under-miners to join them in murdering Rizzio and reluctantly delivers the final blow. Mary discovers the plot and agrees to pardon the men involved provided that she is presented with the evidence that Darnley had taken part. She ultimately forgives Moray and asks Elizabeth to be her child’s godmother. Together, they agree that the child is heir presumptive, much to the chagrin of the English court. Mary banishes Darnley but refuses to divorce him despite the appeals of her council, which then approaches her adviser and protector, the Earl of Bothwell, to have him killed. In the ensuing melee after Darnley’s death, Mary is forced to flee and leave her child behind. The following morning, Bothwell advises that her council have decided that she marry a Scotsman immediately, which she hesitantly agrees to. This induces Knox to preach to the Scots that Mary is a “harlot” who had her husband killed, leading Moray and the rest of her court to demand her abdication. Despite furiously objecting to it, Mary eventually abdicates her throne and flees to England.Margot Robbie in Mary Queen of Scots (2018)Learning of Mary’s arrival in England, Elizabeth arranges for a clandestine meeting with her. Mary asks for Elizabeth’s help to take back her throne. Elizabeth is reluctant to go to war on behalf of a Catholic, but instead promises a safe exile in England as long as Mary does not aid her enemies. Mary indignantly responds that if she does, it will only be because Elizabeth forced her to do so, and threatens that should Elizabeth murder her, she should remember that she “murdered her own sister and queen”. Elizabeth orders that Mary is placed under house arrest in England and eventually receives compelling evidence that Mary had conspired with her enemies to have her assassinated. Pressured, and with no other choice, Elizabeth ultimately orders Mary’s execution. As Mary is walked to the scaffold, a remorseful Elizabeth cries for Mary, who reveals a bright red dress, implying herself a martyr. In her final thoughts, Mary wishes her son James well and hopes for peace upon his reign.Saoirse Ronan in Mary Queen of Scots (2018)The post-script reveals that upon Elizabeth’s death in 1603, James became the first monarch to rule both Scotland and England.While the story of Mary and Elizabeth has been made before; I was fascinated by this story because of the leads. Saorsie Ronan and Margot Robbie are just terrific in the roles. The story moved along intercutting between the two queens. Ms. Ronan has the bigger role as Mary and is every inch the queen. Ms. Robbie as Elizabeth is very good, and becomes a hideous caricature of that queen as she ages. The machinations of the queens’ courts and political intrigue that lead to Mary’s end are fascinating. The costumes, makeup, cinematography and direction are all first rate.

REVIEW: HYDE PARK ON HUDSON

CAST

Bill Murray (Lost In Translation)
Laura Linney (Sully)
Samuel West (Van Helsing)
Olivia Coleman (Hot Fuzz)
Elizabeth Marvel (A Most Violent Year)
Olivia Williams (An Education)
Elizabeth Wilson (Catch-22)
Andrew Havill (Dad’s Army)
Martin McDougall (Green Zone)

Bill Murray in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)In spring 1939, Sara Delano, the mother of Franklin D. Roosevelt, asks his sixth cousin Margaret “Daisy” Suckley to visit the ill President of the United States at their country estate in Hyde Park, New York. Although Daisy and Roosevelt had not seen each other for years, the distant relatives form a romantic relationship, and Roosevelt often asks Daisy to visit Hyde Park when he stays with his mother. Daisy becomes one of the several women close to Roosevelt, including Sara; Missy LeHand, the president’s secretary; and Eleanor, the president’s wife. Despite his power, the president is often unable to control the other women; the quiet, shy Daisy is his confidante, and he tells her that Top Cottage will be their shared refuge after his presidency.In June 1939, King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, visit the United States, during which they stay with the Roosevelts at Hyde Park. The British hope that the visit will improve the chances of American support during the future war with Germany. George—who is king because his brother Edward VIII abdicated—is nervous, because of the importance of the visit, because he stutters, and because of having to eat a hot dog for the first time at a picnic in his honor. Roosevelt reassures George by citing his own inability to walk, and observes that others do not see their handicaps because “it’s not what they want to see”. The president tells the king that he hopes to overcome Americans’ reluctance to help Britain.Bill Murray in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)The night the king and queen arrive, Daisy discovers LeHand is having an affair with Roosevelt. LeHand tells a shocked Daisy that their respective relationships with the president are not his only ones, mentioning Dorothy Schiff and Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd, and that Daisy must accept sharing Roosevelt with other women. At the picnic the next day the king successfully eats a hot dog for a photo op, and Daisy, in a voiceover, states that the visit helped the two countries form a Special Relationship. Daisy rejects Roosevelt’s requests to see her until he calls on her in person; they reconcile, and Daisy accepts her role as one of the president’s mistresses. As years pass, Daisy watches Roosevelt become frail as a wartime leader; nonetheless everyone, she says, “still [looked] to him, still seeing whatever it was they wanted to see”.Bill Murray and Laura Linney in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)Hyde Park on Hudson had its moments. I liked seeing King George VI eat hotdogs, the Queen smoke cigarettes, and FDR go swimming in a turn of the century bathing suit. However this film could have been so much better. It felt like Nelson forgot about his own plot. The gaps he left were huge and left me wondering why there were so many lose ends. The script needs to be beefed up and full cooked. There’s still pink in this meat.

 

REVIEW: THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL

CAST

Natalie Portman (Thor)
Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Eric Bana (Hanna)
Jim Sturgess (Across The Universe)
Mark Rylance (Wolf Hall)
Kristin Scott Thomas (Mission Impossible)
David Morrissey (Basic Instinct 2)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange)
Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
Juno Temple (Horns)
Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones)

King Henry VIII’s (Eric Bana) marriage to Catherine of Aragon (Ana Torrent) does not produce a male heir to the throne; their only surviving daughter is Mary (Constance Stride). Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk (David Morrissey) and his brother in law Thomas Boleyn (Mark Rylance), plan to install Boleyn’s older daughter Anne Boleyn (Natalie Portman), as the king’s mistress. They hope Anne will bear him a son. Anne’s mother, Lady Elizabeth Boleyn (Kristin Scott Thomas), is disgusted by the plot. Anne eventually agrees to please her father and uncle. Anne’s younger sister, Mary Boleyn (Scarlett Johansson), marries William Carey (Benedict Cumberbatch), even though his family had asked for Anne’s hand.

While visiting the Boleyn estate, Henry is injured in a hunting accident, indirectly caused by Anne, and, urged by her scheming uncle, is nursed by Mary. While in her care, Henry becomes smitten with her and invites her to court. Mary and her husband reluctantly agree, aware that the king has invited her because he desires her. Mary and Anne become ladies-in-waiting to Queen Catherine and Henry sends William Carey abroad on an assignment. Separated from her husband, Mary finds herself falling in love with Henry. Anne secretly marries the nobleman Henry Percy (Oliver Coleman), although he is betrothed to Lady Mary Talbot. Anne confides in her brother George Boleyn (Jim Sturgess), who is overjoyed and proceeds to tell Mary. Fearing Anne will ruin the Boleyn family by marrying such a prominent earl without the king’s consent, Mary alerts her father and uncle. They confront Anne, annul the marriage, and exile her to France.

Mary becomes pregnant. Her family receives new grants and estates, their debts are paid, and Henry arranges George’s marriage to Jane Parker. When Mary nearly suffers a miscarriage, she is confined to bed until her child is born. Norfolk recalls Anne to England to keep Henry’s attention from wandering to another rival. In her belief that Mary exiled her to increase her own status, Anne successfully campaigns to win Henry over. When Mary gives birth to a son, Henry Carey, Thomas and Norfolk are overjoyed, but the celebration is short lived, as Anne whispered to Henry that the baby was born a bastard, which infuriates Norfolk. Henry then has Mary sent to the country at Anne’s request. Shortly after, Mary is widowed. Anne encourages Henry to break from the Catholic Church when the Pope refuses to annul his marriage to Queen Catherine. Henry succumbs to Anne’s demands, declares himself Supreme Head of the Church of England, and gets Cardinal Thomas Wolsey to annul the marriage.

Anne’s schemes drive Henry to the breaking point, and in a fit of rage, he rapes her. A pregnant Anne marries Henry to please her family and becomes Queen of England. Despite the birth of a healthy daughter, Elizabeth, Henry blames Anne for not producing a son, and begins courting Jane Seymour (Corinne Galloway) in secret. After Anne suffers the miscarriage of a son, she begs George to have sex with her to replace the child she lost, because if anyone found out about the miscarriage, she would be burned as a witch. George at first agrees, realizing that it is Anne’s only hope, but they do not go through with it. However, George’s neglected wife Jane witnesses enough of their encounter to become suspicious. She reports what she has seen and both Anne and George are arrested. The two are found guilty and sentenced to death for treason, adultery and incest. Distraught by the news of the execution of George, his mother disowns her husband and brother, vowing never to forgive them for what their greed has done to her children.

After Mary learns that she was late for George’s execution, she returns to court to plead for Anne’s life. Believing that Henry will spare her sister, she leaves to see Anne right before the scheduled execution. Anne asks Mary to take care of her daughter Elizabeth if anything should happen to her. Mary watches from the crowd as Anne makes her final speech, waiting for the execution to be cancelled as Henry promised. A letter from Henry is given to Mary, warning her not to come to his court further, and implicitly revealing his decision to execute Anne after all. Ten days after Anne’s execution, Henry and Jane are married, Norfolk is imprisoned, and the next three generations of his family are executed for treason. Mary marries William Stafford (Eddie Redmayne) and they have two children, Anne and Edward. Mary takes an active role in raising Anne’s daughter Elizabeth (Maisie Smith), who grows up to become Queen of England, and reigns for 44 years.

An interesting take on the story of the Boleyn sisters (who did both have a relationship with Henry), and if it encourages more people to find out about the real historical events then in my opinion that can only be a good thing. Henry’s relationship with Anne changed England through his break with the catholic church, and is both fascinating and tragic.

REVIEW: HEAVENLY CREATURES

CAST
Kate Winslet (Divergent)
Melanie Lynsky (Two and a Half Men)
Sarah Peirse (The Hobbit 2 & 3)
Diana Kent (Billy Elliot)
Clive Merrison (Saving Grace)
Simon O’ Connor (Dangerous Orphans)
Jed Brophy (Brain Dead)
Peter Elliott (800 Words)
Darien Takle (Xena)
In 1950s Christchurch, New Zealand, a 14-year-old girl from a working-class family, Pauline Parker (Lynskey), befriends the more affluent English 15-year-old Juliet Hulme (Winslet) when Juliet transfers to Pauline’s school. They bond over a shared history of severe childhood disease and isolating hospitalizations, and over time develop an intense friendship. Pauline admires Juliet’s outspoken arrogance and beauty. Together they paint, write stories, make Plasticine figurines, and eventually create a fantasy kingdom called Borovnia. It is the setting of the adventure novels they write together, which they hope to have published and eventually made into films in Hollywood. Over time it begins to be as real to them as the real world. Pauline’s relationship with her mother, Honora, becomes increasingly hostile and the two fight constantly. This angry atmosphere is in contrast to the peaceful intellectual life Juliet shares with her family. Pauline spends most of her time at the Hulmes’, where she feels accepted. Juliet introduces Pauline to the idea of “the Fourth World”, a Heaven without Christians where music and art are celebrated. Juliet believes she will go there when she dies. Certain actors and musicians are “saints” in this afterlife.
During a day trip to Port Levy, Juliet’s parents announce that they are going away and plan to leave Juliet behind. Her fear of being left alone makes her hysterical, culminating in her first direct experience of the Fourth World, perceiving it as a land where all is beautiful and she is safe. She asks Pauline to come with her, and the world that Juliet sees becomes visible to Pauline, too. This is presented as a shared spiritual vision, a confirmation of their “Fourth World” belief, that influences the girls’ predominant reality and affects their perception of events in the everyday world.
Juliet is diagnosed with tuberculosis and is sent to a clinic. Again her parents leave the country, leaving her alone and desperately missing Pauline. Pauline is desolate without her, and the two begin an intense correspondence, writing not only as themselves, but in the roles of the royal couple of Borovnia. During this time Pauline begins a sexual relationship with a lodger, which makes Juliet jealous. For both of them, their fantasy life becomes a useful escape when under stress in the real world, and the two engage in increasingly violent, even murderous, fantasies about people who oppress them. After four months, Juliet is released from the clinic and their relationship intensifies. Juliet’s father blames the intensity of the relationship on Pauline and speaks to her parents, who take her to a doctor. The doctor suspects that Pauline is homosexual, and considers this a cause of her increasing anger at her mother as well as her dramatic weight loss.
Juliet catches her mother having an affair with one of her psychiatric clients and threatens to tell her father, but her mother tells her he knows. Shortly afterward, the two announce their intention to divorce, upsetting Juliet. Soon it is decided that the family will leave Christchurch, with Juliet to be left with a relative in South Africa. She becomes increasingly hysterical at the thought of leaving Pauline, and the two girls plan to run away together. When that plan becomes impossible, the two begin to talk about murdering Pauline’s mother as they see her as the primary obstacle to their being together. As the date of Juliet’s departure nears, it is decided that the two girls should spend the last three weeks together at Juliet’s house. At the end of that time, Pauline returns home and the two finalize plans for the murder. Honora plans a day for the three of them at Victoria Park, and the girls decide this will be the day. Juliet puts a broken piece of brick into a stocking and they go off to the park. After having tea, the three walk down the path and when Honora bends over to pick up a pink charm the girls have put there, Juliet and Pauline bludgeon her to death.
In a postscript, it is revealed that the next day Pauline’s diary was found in which the plan for the murder had been outlined which led to Pauline and Juliet getting arrested. The two are tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison. It is a condition of their eventual release that they never meet again.
Peter Jackson starts the movie by emphasizing what a beautiful, peaceful country (via a cheesy 1950s documentary) New Zealand is. But beauty is not everything — fairy tales can become nightmares. Jackson doesn’t just show the audience what the two girls did, but showed why they did it. Even then, he doesn’t make excuses. At first the movie seems almost whimsical, with fairy tale figures coming to life, beautiful woodlands, and hillsides transforming into blooming gardens. Nobody except Peter Jackson could have pulled off the idea of including living clay figurines or four-foot-wide butterflies. Somehow it not only works, but adds to the surreality of the story.

But as the girls go deeper into infatuated madness, Jackson warps the whimsical world around them. Settings get darker and more distorted, and the line between fantasy and reality is completely wiped out. The scripting keeps that creepiness going (“Our main idea for the day was to murder Mother. But the movie really centers around Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet, and these two carry the movie beautifully. Lynskey can switch in an instant from sullenness to smiles, naive girl to murderous woman. And the luminous Kate Winslet plays the devil-may-care Juliet, whose vivacity and charm overrule any of Pauline’s reservations. “It’s everyone else who’s bonkers!” she says gleefully when Pauline casts doubt on her own sanity. The most terrifying horror is the real kind — the kind that is in the human heart. With its brilliant direction and equally good acting, “Heavenly Creatures” is destined to be a modern classic.

 

 

 

REVIEW: THE REVENANT (2015)

Starring

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Great Gatsby)
Tom Hardy (Venom)
Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
Will Poulter (Son of Rambow)
Forrest Goodluck (Indian Horse)
Paul Anderson (Hostiles)
Kristoffer Joner (Mission: Impossible – Fallout)
Lukas Haas (Lincoln)
Brendan Fletcher (Arrow)
Christopher Rosamond (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Adrian Glynn McMorran (Warcraft)

In late 1823, Hugh Glass guides Andrew Henry’s trappers through unorganized territory. While he and his half-Pawnee son, Hawk, are hunting, the company’s camp is attacked by an Arikara war party seeking to recover their Chief’s abducted daughter. Guided by Glass, the survivors travel on foot to Fort Kiowa, as he believes traveling downriver will make them vulnerable. After docking, the crew stashes the pelts near the shore.Will Poulter in The Revenant (2015)While scouting game, Glass is attacked by a grizzly bear and left near death. Trapper John Fitzgerald, fearful of another Arikara attack, argues that the group must mercy-kill Glass and keep moving. Henry agrees, but is unable to pull the trigger; instead, he offers money for someone to stay with Glass and bury him after his death. When the only volunteers are Hawk and the young Jim Bridger, Fitzgerald agrees to stay for money, to recoup his losses from the abandoned pelts.Tom Hardy and Will Poulter in The Revenant (2015)After the others leave, Fitzgerald attempts to smother Glass but is discovered by Hawk. Fitzgerald, concerned that Hawk’s loud reaction to him attempting to kill Glass could alert the Arikara, stabs Hawk to death as Glass watches helplessly. The next morning, Fitzgerald convinces Bridger, who didn’t know that Fitzgerald had killed Hawk, that the Arikara are approaching and they must abandon Glass. Bridger protests at first, but then follows Fitzgerald after the latter leaves Glass half-buried alive in a make-shift grave. After they depart, Fitzgerald admits he lied about the Arikara approaching. When Fitzgerald and Bridger later meet Henry at the fort, Fitzgerald tells him that Glass died and Hawk vanished. Bridger is complicit in the lie about Glass’s death, even while he knew nothing of Hawk’s.Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant (2015)Glass begins an arduous journey through the wilderness. He performs crude self-surgery and eludes the pursuing Arikara who are looking for the Chief Elk Dog’s kidnapped daughter, Powaqa. Glass encounters Pawnee refugee Hikuc, who says that “revenge is in the Creator’s hands.” The men share bison meat and travel together. After a hallucinogenic experience, Glass discovers Hikuc hanged by French hunters. He infiltrates their camp and sees the leader raping Powaqa. He frees her, kills two hunters, and recovers Hikuc’s horse, leaving his own canteen behind. The next morning, Glass is ambushed by the Arikara and driven over a cliff on his horse. He survives the stormy night by eviscerating the horse and sheltering inside its carcass.Tom Hardy in The Revenant (2015)A French survivor staggers into Fort Kiowa and Bridger recognizes his canteen as Glass’s. Believing it stolen, Henry organizes a search party. Fitzgerald, realizing Glass is alive, empties the outpost’s safe and flees. The search party finds the exhausted Glass. Furious, Henry orders Bridger arrested, but Glass vouches that Bridger wasn’t present when Fitzgerald murdered Hawk, and was later deceived by the higher-ranking Fitzgerald. Glass and Henry set out in pursuit of Fitzgerald.Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant (2015)After the two split up, Fitzgerald ambushes, kills and scalps Henry. Glass uses Henry’s corpse on his horse as a decoy and shoots Fitzgerald in the arm. He pursues Fitzgerald to a riverbank where they engage in a brutal fight. Glass is about to kill Fitzgerald, but spots a band of Arikara downstream. He remembers Hikuc’s words and pushes Fitzgerald downstream into the hands of the Arikara. Elk Dog kills and scalps Fitzgerald and the Arikara (having found Powaqa) spare Glass. Heavily wounded, Glass retreats into the mountains where he is visited by the spirit of his wife.Leonardo DiCaprio and Forrest Goodluck in The Revenant (2015)All in all, this film feels less like a story of revenge and more like an ode to the visceral beauty of nature and the relentless, savage force that is life; it provides an immensely absorbing – and touching – experience to those who have an affinity for the wilderness, but it’s also a visual masterpiece and a great piece of old-school filmmaking for lovers of Cinema. It’s not perfect (especially during the last third of the film where I felt the pacing was a bit off), but it’s a film the likes of which we will only rarely get to see – if at all – in the future. ‘The Revenant’ is visual poetry of the most primal kind, and it should be seen on the biggest screen possible.

REVIEW: MACHINE GUN PREACHER

Starring

Gerard Butler (300)
Michelle Monaghan (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)
Madeline Carroll (Mr. Popper’s Penguins)
Kathy Baker (Saving Mr. Banks)
Souléymane Sy Savané (Goodbye Solo)
Mandalynn Carlson (Small Town Santa)

Gerard Butler in Machine Gun Preacher (2011)In South Sudan the LRA are attacking a village and force a young boy to attack a woman. Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) is an alcoholic drug-using biker from Pennsylvania. On his release from prison, he finds that his wife (Michelle Monaghan) has given up her job as a stripper, because she has since accepted Christ as her saviour. Initially infuriated by his wife’s decision, he returns to his routine of partying and using drugs like heroin with his fellow biker friend Donnie (Michael Shannon). One night while on a bender with Donnie, he almost kills a vagrant. He is shaken by the experience, and the day after allows his wife to persuade him to go to church with her, where he is eventually baptized and offered salvation.Gerard Butler in Machine Gun Preacher (2011)Sam soon finds a stable job as a construction worker and later starts his own construction company. Later, on a missionary trip to Uganda to build homes for refugees, he asks one of the SPLA soldiers watching over them to take him on a trip to the north, to Sudan. The soldier warns him that it is a war zone, but upon Sam’s insistence they go. They arrive at a medical tent in Sudan. As the soldier moves off to talk to some people, Sam is roped in by a female doctor to help lift a lipless Sudanese woman onto the examination table. That night as they lay on their beds at the relief station, they hear noises outside, and when they look out, Sam and the soldier see large numbers of Sudanese children swarming around to sleep outside the building.Gerard Butler and Michelle Monaghan in Machine Gun Preacher (2011)The soldier explains that their parents send them to sleep over here because it is safer than staying in their own village. Sam wakes up the children and gets as many as he can fit to sleep in their room for the night. The next day Sam and the soldier follow the children back to their village only to find that the LRA has burnt it down and killed their parents. One of the children runs after his dog and is killed by a hidden landmine. Sam cradles the dead child and cries, the experience traumatizes and changes Sam. After returning home, Sam has a “vision from God” and decides to build an orphanage for the children of South Sudan, as well as a church in his own neighborhood that will be “open to all” without judgement.Gerard Butler and Souleymane Sy Savane in Machine Gun Preacher (2011)After its completion he begins preaching at his church, and helps his old friend Donnie get sober and find God as well. He soon returns to Africa and despite vocal opposition, builds the orphanage. One night after it is built, the LRA attack it and burn it to the ground. Sam then phones home, telling his wife what has happened and that he is giving up. She reminds him that the orphans have been through worse but they have not given up, and that he should not give up and tells him to rebuild the orphanage.Gerard Butler in Machine Gun Preacher (2011)After the orphanage has been rebuilt, he and his friends from the SPLA are attacked on the road by the LRA, they manage to chase off the small force of the LRA that attacked them. They search the area and discover a large group of Sudanese children hiding in a ditch not far from the road. Since they can not take all the children in one trip, Sam chooses to take the ones who need medical attention along with a few others on their first trip back to the orphanage. However, upon returning to the spot as quickly as he could, he finds that the LRA killed and burnt those he had left behind. This causes Childers to lead armed raids to rescue children from the LRA.Gerard Butler in Machine Gun Preacher (2011)He returns home to the U.S. disgruntled and exasperated about the lack of money for the project. He also feels disconnected from his community; he is disgusted by the excess displayed and petty “problems” of his family and friends, as well as their apparent apathy toward the children of Sudan. Sam even goes far as to neglecting his family and beating up a biker at a bar for making racist comments about the children. Meanwhile his friend Donnie breaks his sobriety and ends up dying from an overdose, this pushes Sam further into negativity and despair. He sells his business and boards a plane for Sudan. His faith and mission is revitalised when an orphan boy tells his personal story to Sam. The boy tells him that if he allows hatred to fester in his heart, his fight against injustice fails. Sam also rekindles his emotional attachment with his family over the phone. The next day he engages with the camp actively. Later he goes out with SPLA and rescues a caravan full of children who were kidnapped by LRA. The end credits include black and white pictures of the real Sam Childers, his wife, daughter, and his orphanage in Sudan. The pictures are followed by a short black and white home video clip of Sam talking about his work.Gerard Butler in Machine Gun Preacher (2011)There are so many powerful moments in this movie that it is hard to pin point any without spoiling the plot. This is not a movie that you should take a date along to; or anyone who is squeamish or unsettled by blood and guts. This is a movie that takes the audience in the palm of their hands and opens their eyes to the blunt reality and the truth of genocide. It is similar in that way to Hotel Rwanda but I found this movie even more graphic and unsettling in many ways. This is a movie you should watch at all costs although you may not want to see it again. It is hard hitting, powerful, emotional but most of all thought provoking.