Tag Archives: Paddy Considine

The Girl with All the Gifts

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When I think of British zombie movies my first thought immediately goes to Egdar Wright’s brilliant comedy-horror Shaun of the Dead. The Girl with All the Gifts promises a completely different tone as well as a new spin on the well-worn genre. But is it any good?

Melanie is not your average girl. Her and her classmates are kept in an underground bunker where armed soldiers restrain them in wheelchairs when they attend class. It’s the near future where a fungal infection has wiped out most of civilisation and turned the infected into mindless ‘hungries’ who eat human flesh. As Melanie and the other children are a particular hybrid the scientists hope to observe them in order to save humanity. All of this is put at risk when a large group of hungries attack the base and Melanie finds herself with a small group of survivors struggling to find a safe haven.

You may be sick of zombie movies or dystopia futures but The Girl with All the Gifts is a pleasant addition to both genres. I have not read the 2014 book of the same name so I don’t know how faithful this adaptation is, but I was enthralled by the world that was created. The fungal infection is a interesting take on the zombie bite (and the inspiration behind it is terrifying in itself). It’s a bleak future and not exactly a laugh a minute but there’s also warmth and small bits of hope to found.

What also makes The Girl with All the Gifts stand out is that it does away with the simple humans good/zombies bad routine. The humans are a mixed bunch and their motivations are complicated, showing all sides have a point regarding how Melanie should be treated. Having a talented cast like Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine and Glenn Close also helps make you care for the characters. Melanie herself is also played brilliantly by newcomer Sennia Nanua, who whilst being very sympathetic, still provides a believable threat to the other members of the group.

The film manages to pose moral questions regarding Melanie and her fate while also ensuring that the film works as horror. The attack on the base is thrilling to watch and a scene where the group have to quietly get pass a huge crowd of unstimulated hungries is full of tension in it’s execution. And horror fans should be please to note there’s also plenty of blood and gore to satisfy along with the emotional weight.

 Rating 4/5 – a grounded and intense look at the zombie apocalypse and the moral quandaries it brings

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Miss You Already

Miss You AlreadyI love watching comedies and films that make me feel good but sometimes you just need a good cry. Director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) latest movie is a comedy-drama that aims to get its audience in floods of tears.

Best friends Milly (Toni Collette) and Jess (Drew Barrymore) have been through many ups and downs in their lives, but they face their toughest challenge when Milly is diagnosed with breast cancer. Their friendship is put to the test as Milly struggles with cancer while Jess tries balancing being a supportive friend as well as her own fertility issues.

Miss You Already sounds like a made-for-tv movie that has somehow been given the green light for the big screen. However Hardwicke and screenwriter Morweena Banks try bypass the clichés of the cancer movies. In another film Milly would probably look glamorous and healthy even with cancer but here the side affects of her illness are appropriately shown and the film doesn’t shy away from showing how awful cancer is not just to Milly but how it affects her family and friends too. The script also isn’t afraid to mix a bit of dark humour within the tears, best shown when Milly goes to have a wig prepared for when she loses all her hair.

Collette is brilliant as Milly, handling the tough material well and it was refreshing to see that Milly isn’t portrayed as a martyr, instead she’s flawed and three-dimensional. Sometimes she isn’t even likeable but you are still sympathetic to her situation and to why she makes the bad choices that she does. Barrymore is also strong as Milly’s dependable friend Jess whose trying to support her friend while also dealing with her own fertility problems. Dominic Cooper also impresses as Milly’s devoted but overwhelmed husband.

Despite it’s best intentions sometimes the film does stray into melodrama. Also while Jess and Jago (Paddy Considine) make a cute couple their constant arguments about IVF and Milly get a bit repetitive. While It’s not as good as the ultimate weepie movie Beaches it’s still a pretty emotional and effective film.

Rating 3.5/5 – a powerful movie that’ll make you appreciate your loved ones more

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Pride

There’s nothing like a hatred of Maggie Thatcher to bring people together! And lots of people, particularly in the 80s did not have a good word to say about her. Pride attempts to tell the story of two groups of people who made a stand against Thatcher. But does this make for a good movie?

In 1984, England, noting the similarities between the way Margaret Thatcher and the police treated the miners and gay people, Mark Ashton a young gay man, decides to form the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) support group and raise money for the miners. The miners though aren’t so willing to accept money from them except for one small Welsh community in Onllwyn. Spurred on by this unlikely alliance LGSM are determined to keep on helping the miners, although they face discrimination and hostility in their attempts to do so.

I didn’t know anything about the LGSM before this film, so personally I found this movie to be interesting and engaging on a number of levels. It’s also one of those British Comedy/period drama that Britain does well in. Just get an established set of British actors, a bit of class division politics, prejudice and some ‘hilarious’ misunderstandings. Sometimes this can mean the film has an overly familiar amount of tropes and clichés seen in these movies. However its one that is told well, with a fantastic British cast (new and familiar) playing both members of LGSM and the community members of Onllwyn. Ben Schnetzer is particularly good as the determined Mark, and he is ably supported by the rest of the cast which includes Paddy Considine and Bill Nighly.

It manages to pull at my heart-strings more than once and sensitively handles the struggles that both the gay community and the miners felt at the time. I may have even had a little tear in my eye near the end. Most of the time the film manages to keep a fine line between emotional and sentimental although the moment when the ladies of Onllwyn spontaneously stand up one by one and start singing is a bit too twee for my taste.

I for one found the jokes about Thatcher to be hilarious, however for die-hard Tories (that’s the Conservative party for anyone outside the UK), the constant Thatcher baiting may be off-putting. I was brought up in a Labour household so I’ve heard much worse!

Rating 4/5 – a funny, heartwarming film with a great British cast

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The Cry of the Owl (2009)

Another day another Netflix movie. Having spent ages searching through and finding nothing appealing I settled on a film I knew nothing about. Only afterwards did I realise it was based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith who had written The Talented Mr Ripley and Two Faces of January, which were also made into movies. But was there a reason why The Cry of The Owl did not get a cinematic release?

Lonely Robert (Paddy Considine) is going through a difficult divorce with his wife Nickie (Caroline Dhavernas), and has had to move to a new job where he awkwardly interacts with others around him. As he fails to connect with those around him he is drawn to spying on Jenny (Julia Stiles), a young woman who lives in the countryside. But watching Jenny has unforseen consequences for both of them.

It’s rare to have a thriller that surprises you, so having thought I knew exactly what The Cry of the Owl would be about it was refreshing that the movie went in a different direction than I had expected. The movie is more about atmosphere and characterisation rather than lots of action, and it’s not afraid to go at its own pace to reach it’s conclusion. It helps that the movie had capable actors like Considine and Stiles in the lead roles to keep you watching. They are able to ground their characters so that their actions and reactions to events are believable. While their performances are downbeat and sombre, there is a burst of energy when Dhavernas  comes on screen having a ball playing Robert’s destructive and vicious ex-wife.

Viewers may find the middle section a bit slow or be tempted to turn off the film halfway, thinking the movie is too predictable. I also got a bit bored waiting for the plot to move forward. But I recommend watching it the whole way through if only to see an excellent and subtle performance by Considine.

Rating 3.5/5 – an interesting and surprising good little thriller

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The World’s End

So it’s here the third film in the Cornetto Trilogy (this one is mint by the way). Edgar Wright has a big job on his hand following the massive success of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. So will this film measure up?

The World’s End is about five friends who’ve grown apart since their teenage years. Gary (Simon Pegg) tries to reunite the gang (Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan) to complete their mammoth pub crawl from their youth which they failed to finish all twelve stops. Old tensions between the group and Gary start to resurface just as they realise the town from their childhood has something strange going on.

I made a big mistake before watching this film. I watched Hot Fuzz only a few hours earlier. Spurred on by the brilliance of that film I perhaps raised my expectations too high. The World’s End is not a bad film, but it’s not a classic like Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead.

I admire the film for allowing it to be different. There are darker, grown up themes throughout the film as Gary tries to relive his teenage glory days as things have never gotten better since those days. Gary is not a likeable character-and he’s not meant to be either. He’s selfish, manipulative and doesn’t think about what he’s saying. His character is more outlandish than the rest of the gang. It’s good to see Pegg in this type of role and I like the way they have switched around Pegg and Frost’s characters. Frost’s Andrew playing the straight man to Pegg’s obnoxious Gary.

It does seem to take its time getting to the laughs. Whereas Shaun and Hot Fuzz delivers plenty of laughs and quotable lines, The World’s End takes its time setting up the characters and their backstories as the meet up again. Which is fine, but the start is mostly laughter free as you’re waiting for the jokes to begin. This becomes a bit of a drag until the action arrives. When Gary and co realise what they are up against, then the film begins to up the pace and the laughs come more freely.

It’s a talented cast they’ve got together, fans of the previous films will recognise many faces. As the main gang, Pegg and Frost are good as always, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan round out the group perfectly. the five do convince as old friends who haven’t seen each other for a while and are a bit suspicious as to why Gary has arranged this. Considine in particular is strong as Steven, fighting Gary for love interest Sam played by Rosamund Pike. Pike does well in her role and is more of a rounded character then Liz in Shaun of the Dead. She perhaps is more underused towards the end but then this is a film, in essence about the main five friends and their relationship with each other,

There is much to enjoy in this film. The fight scenes are well executed and funny. I enjoyed the darker moments the film occasionally touch upon. And I thought the ending was great, not a cop-out like most films. However if you do see this film, do yourself a favour and not watch the other two Cornetto films hours beforehand. Otherwise you draw comparisons which the film can’t help but come up short. Try and see the film with a fresh mind on its own terms.

Rating 3.5/5-fun and different, but not up to the standard of previous instalments

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