Tag Archives: Saoirse Ronan

Violet and Daisy (2011)

Oh to be a teenager again. Spending your days hanging out with friends, shopping and er killing people for hire?

Violet (Alexis Bledel) and Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) are teenage assassins who accept what they think will be an easy job so they can buy some expensive dresses. However their target (James Gandolfini) is not what they’re expected and they have a hard time pulling the trigger.

This crime drama/comedy is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s got three good leads in Bledel, Ronan and Gandolfini but only Gandolfini’s mysterious loner is given much depth as the girls get to more know about him as they struggle to kill him. We are only hinted at the back story for Violet and Daisy and some further light on their backgrounds would have been welcomed. The same goes for the organisation they work for, who are they and how exactly were these girls recruited?

The tone of this movie is a bit uneven with the drama and comedy not always mixing well together. At times the film seems to want to say something deeper about these characters or their lives while other times the movie goes into broad humour that doesn’t always sit well with what’s just happened. Splitting the movie into chapters suggests that the film wants to be cooler than it actually is, while subplots about Daisy’s predecessor and Violet ending up in the middle of a robbery are brought up then frustratingly dropped again.

But the for all its flaws the film is easy watching and mildly enjoyable if you’re watching for free.The girls convincingly look like teenagers (even if Bledel was 29 at the time she still looks as young as when she was in Gilmore Girls) and I liked how the girls weren’t overly sexualized like other films would have done. The relationships between the three characters were good and its brief running time means it doesn’t out stay it’s welcome.

Rating 2.5/5 – frivolous and lacks a distinct style despite having a solid cast

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

When I first saw the trailer for this film a couple of weeks ago I came to the realisation that I have never seen a Wes Anderson movie. I was sure I had but as I looked at his list of films I realised that for some reason I have missed his collection of work. So to amend this I decided to give The Grand Budapest Hotel a try.

Set in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka in 1932, Gustave (Ralph Finnes) is the conierge of The Grand Budapest Hotel, and when he’s not attending to the hosts guests he is seducing wealthy elderly ladies. When one of these ladies Madam D (Tilda Swinton) dies Gustave finds himself framed for her murder. With the help of his lobby boy Zero (Tony Revolori), Gustave wants to prove his innocence and keep Madam D’s prized possession, a painting called Boy with Apple, away from her greedy family.

I had heard about this film previously but I wasn’t interested in watching it until I saw the trailer which was hilarious. Although I was concerned that all the funny moments may have  been compiled into the trailer and the rest of the film could be a dud. Thankfully this is not the case. The Grand Budapest Hotel is continuously laugh out loud funny, from the funny script to the comedic timing of its actors.

This movie also looked amazing, with brilliantly detailed sets and scenery. It was easy to get lost into the background with such intimate detail given to the locations, however the story was enthralling enough to bring me back to the action. The Grand Budapest Hotel itself looks spectacular and is almost like another character in the film.

Anderson has put together a brilliant cast. There is also a number of great cameos-too many to mention. As the concierge Gustave Ralph Fiennes took me by surprised by how funny he was. I guess I’m so used to seeing him in serious roles as Nazi villains, Shakespearean anti-heroes and Voldermort that I didn’t really know how great at comedy he was, whether it’s the physical aspects of his role or the delivery of his lines, he nails it all. Zero the lobby boy  is also an adorable character with his drawn on mustache. He is the heart of the film and the film lovingly shows his  loyalty for Gustave and his sweet romance with Agatha (Saoirse Ronan).

Although this film is essentially a comedy I was surprised by the serious tone the film would have at times. There was a lot of sadness beneath the farce,  especally towards the end. There was plenty of nostalgia for people, places and the last remains of humanity in people. This change in tone may not be to everyone’s taste but I think it helped give depth to the film.

I don’t know how this compares to other Wes Anderson movies but if they are as enjoyable as this one I look forward to watching more.

Rating 4/5 – a fine place to start my introduction to Wes Anderson

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Byzantium (2013)

It seems you can’t go anywhere nowadays without a new film/tv/book/whatever being added to the vampire franchise. Going for more grown up fare than the Twilight/Vampire Dairies is this 2013 British film directed by Neil Jordan whose had previous with the vampire genre 20 years ago with Interview With The Vampire.

Mother and daughter vampires Clara (Gemma Arterton) and Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) have been surviving by themselves for two hundred years. While mum Clara makes money the only way she knows how-stripping and prostituting, eternal teenager Eleanor longs to tell her story and not be always on the run in order to hide their secret. They arrive in a seaside town which Eleanor recognises from their past. Soon they are not only trying to cover their backs with the local townspeople but also from the haunting figures of their past.

The characterisation of the two women are strong. Clara is a someone whose been forced into horrible situations and uses her cunning and survival instrincts to help her and her daughter survive.  You’re never exactly sure what Clara is thinking and whether she cares for human life at all or whether they are just a means to an end. Her daughter Eleanor is more empathetic and only kills those who are looking to die. She is also desperate to tell someone about who she really is, repeatedly writting down her life story and then ripping it to pieces.

As with Neil Jordan’s previous works there is a great sense of atmosphere and distrubing visuals which are somehow mesmarising at the same time. Scenes such as Clare being bathed in river of bloods in the cliffs for example are both disturbing and sensual. There is also great acting from the two leads as well as the supporting cast. Jonny Lee Miller in particular makes for a thoroughly discpicable villian and Sam Riley is interesting as one of the more nicer vampires looking for Clara.

The movie does attempt to have some original features. The vampires don’t have fangs but grow an enlarged fingernail instead to cut their victim’s skins. The way they turn into vampires also involves some weird island and a cave. Overall though in spite of these features I woudn’t say that Byzantium is the most striking or memorable vampire film I’ve seen, although its probably one of the better acted.

Some of the aspects just didn’t work. Eleanor has an awakward romance with a local boy which is initally sweet but you wonder why Eleanor wants to share her story with a guy she’s only just met. She’s been around two hundred years but sometimes she doesn’t seem that smart. Clara’s reluctance to share with Eleanor the real reason why they are on the run is also grating-they would have avoided a lot of trouble if they had just been honest with each other. I was also a bit bored of seeing Clara in her underwear/naked for half the movie as well-although I’m sure some viewers will find that a positive thing and it has to be said Gemma Arterton does look great. It just felt like some of the scenes were not relevant to the plot and basically just there for Arterton to get her kit off.

Rating 3/5- an enjoyable and bloody addition to the genre but not memorable enough after the credits roll.

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