Wednesday, 19 May 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 245

303 - Together - 3 stars
A sweet and quietly amusing Swedish film about a collective of people living in the same house under a set of beliefs, but their routines and ideals are disrupted by the arrival of someone's sister and her kids who are escaping from an abusive relationship. How cliche though that this Swedish film uses ABBA's S.O.S. to bookend the film!

287 - Secrets & Lies - 4 stars
Classic Mike Leigh stuff where the emphasis is on character rather than plot. Having said that, as far as Leigh's films, this actually does have a plot where the action is driven by a young black woman seeking out her biological mother, who turns out to be Brenda Blethyn, and the fallout from that revelation.
Like Another Year, Leigh's current film and Palme D'Or frontrunner, the acting is uniformly excellent and while Blethyn won Best Actress at the Cannes Festival back in 1996 but for me it was Timothy Spall who delivered the best and most heartwrenching performance.
I enjoyed the photography montage sequence because it reinforced this idea of putting on a different image for the outside world when inside was filled with the eponymous "secrets and lies", it was also funny to spot all the people who would become Leigh regulars over the years like Phil Davis and Ruth Sheen.

235 - Battle Royale - 4 stars
One of the first films from the J-Horror staple to overcome the subtitle prejudice and become an international hit.
Of course it's not hard to see why when you have a concept like this:
Japan's youth has gone to the dogs so in order to reintroduce discipline and respect, the government run the Battle Royale program where every year a school class is taken to a remote island and forced to kill each other off until there is only one survivor.
This is explained to them via a comidically over the top instructional video and the intimidating teacher (played by legendary Takeshi Kitano).
With a class of over 40 schoolchildren, it is tough for everyone to get a chance to make a lasting impact, so the film chooses to follow a central couple who are assisted by someone who has survived the game before.
Suitably bloody there are shootings, stabbings, and most famously a head blowing up thanks to a Running Man-style neckbrae detonating.
Makes you wonder if you were placed in that position, what would you do? Unwilling to play so take your own life? Kill only in self defence? Or embrace it in the spirit of the game and do whatever it takes to win?
Thankfully the long-rumoured Hollywood remake never happened, as it would have been a mess and resulted in the casts of Dawson's Creek and The O.C. trying to kill each other (not such a bad thing if it was real life!).
However a British remake done in modern society might be such a bad thing to teach the youth of today a thing or two!

Days remaining - 120 Films remaining - 147

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