Sunday, 26 February 2012

Do not miss the screenings of 'Laura' at the BFI this month

The BFI is currently showing a remastered print of Otto Preminger's film noir masterpiece Laura which is having as a regular run from now and throughout March. Released in 1944, Laura tells the story of the investigation by a New York City police detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) of the death of a highly successful and beautiful advertising executive Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney) who was shot in the face in the doorway of her her apartment. McPherson interviews various key suspects including the charismatic newspaper columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price) and various other key informants.
This is one of the finest examples of film noir and a deserved classic. Although the cast (and even the head of Twentieth Century Fox, Darryl F. Zanuck) had issues with the director, Otto Preminger, his debut film is a triumph.

The performances are really impressive although the moment when McPherson  meets Laura for the first time shows a side to his character that should have been explored a little more. However, Clifton Webb's performance of dandy Waldo Lydecker is unforgettable and who can forget the amazing Gene Tierney as Laura Hunt.

Laura is an enjoyable tale of obsession, jealousy, and deceit. With the clever screenplay by Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein and Elizabeth Reinhard (based on the novels by Vera Caspar) and a haunting score by David Raskin, this is a film noir to remember. RATING  *****

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The critics are certainly right abut 'The Descendants'

I have been watching a few acclaimed films this year and I left the cinema thinking that I wished I had liked those films more than I did.  The Descendants was another one of those highly acclaimed films that I wanted to be really good. It was. I have no problem with saying that I left the cinema on Tuesday night feeling really happy. I really did enjoy this film.


The story begins with Matt King (a wonderful performance by George Clooney) who is a Honolulu-based lawyer and the sole trustee that controls land on the island of Kaua'i. This trust will expire in seven years so that the King family has decided to sell the land to developers. However, Matt's wife has been left in a serious coma due to a boating accident and Matt begins to address his difficult relationship with his own family because of this especially learning about his wife's infidelity.

Director Alexander Payne who co-wrote  The Descendants  with Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, has built himself a reputation of creating generally entertaining and acclaimed films with strong themes of adultery, marriage and relationships in such films such as 'Election' (1999), 'About Schmidt' (2002) and 'Sideways' (2004). With the beautiful Hawaiian islands as the setting,  The Descendants  carries these themes successfully and is a worthy nominee for best picture at this year's Academy Awards. 

Along with Clooney, there are so many terrific performances on show here especially from Shailene Woodley (excellent as Matt King's eldest daughter Alex), Beau Bridges (as Cousin Hugh), Robert Forster (as Scott Thorson) and Michael Lilliard (as Brian Speer). Sometimes funny, sometimes sad and always entertaining, The Descendants is a genuinely satisfying film experience.
RATINGS *****