My Film Week In Review | 15 [Ft. Foxcatcher]

Foxcatcher  (2014) Dir. Bennet Miller

Foxcatcher Steve Carell Channing Tatum -

I finally got around to watching Foxcatcher… in fact I was torn between seeing this and Birdman, however my inability to correctly read a cinema listing schedule determined that my evening would be enveloped by the dark story of two Olympic wrestling brothers and their dealings with a strange, and ultimately troubled millionaire. The two hulking brothers are played by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo but it is Steve Carell, who plays the unstable millionaire, who owns the screen. Many say Michael Keaton should win the Oscar and if his performance is as nuanced and particular as Carell’s portrayal of John Du Pont then he deserves it. Ruffalo too deserves a lot of credit. His mannerisms, his gait and movements, are so precise yet almost unnoticeable. I feel sorry for Channing Tatum, and I’m sure he was super pissed when he arrived on set and saw how eclipsing Carell  and Ruffalo were going to be. His performance would be stand out if it wasn’t for his co-stars.

A lot of credit has to go to the film’s director, Bennett Miller. He lets the dramatic events play out with a simplicity missing in so many “Oscar-bait” films. There is no overbearing score and dramatic editing, compounding the events on screen. It is not necessary and Miller demonstrates this with ease. He has directed three feature films, and those three films have been nominated for 16 Oscars. Impressive films like Foxcatcher show why he is a seriously important director. Speaking of Oscars, I don’t think Foxcatcher will win any due to the performance of J.K. Simmons in Whiplash and the general sentimentality of the Oscar academy in regards to Birdman. Also, it baffles me how Foxcatcher was not nominated for Best Picture while American Sniper was.

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The Thin Blue Line  (1988) Dir. Errol Morris

The Thin Blue Line Errol Morris -

I revisit this superb film about once every two years, just to remind me why I think documentaries should be shown everyday, in prime time slots, on every channel in the country. Frankly that’s not going to happen, and it is probably just the reactionary over-exuberance caused by the story, the score, the style and the unbelievable nature of Errol Morris’ defining documentary The Thin Blue Line.

The film tells the story of a murder, or more correctly, the varying stories, the truth and lies, and the contradictions revolving around the murder of a policeman in Dallas, Texas. Errol Morris effectively reproduces the evidence, displays it in front of you and asks you to be the jury and decide whether the man on death row, Randall Adams, was the murderer or not. Morris proves that, at the very least, the stories are flawed which in turn actually secured the release of Randall Adams from prison before he could be put to death.


It truly was a ground-breaking film, not only in its judicial effects, but also in its style and delivery. Morris was one of the first documentary directors to employ recreations, retelling the story of the murder over and over from different points of view, supported by the fantastic score composed by the legendary Philip Glass. In fact, it due to these recreations that The Thin Blue Line was denied an Oscar nomination in 1988.

Errol Morris has made some of the best films of the past 30 years. See them all if you can. But start with this.

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John Wick  (2014) Dir. Chad Stahelski

John Wick Keanu Reeves Gun credit -


I like the internet, it’s really nice… usually. I had read some comments, saw some Rotten Tomatoes percentages and some IMDB ratings, which were all pretty positive about Keanu Reeves’ latest action flick, John Wick. Now, I will admit that I did not read any of these reviews, and I did not really look too deep into the particulars of the plot and general themes of John Wick. When I started watching, I was of the following impression: “This is meant to be a really good action film, and totally different and better than the likes of the Liam Neeson-esque genocides of recent years.”

It quickly dawned on me that I had never been so wrong. In the film, Keanu Reeves is John Wick, a bad ass, ex-hitman who has just lost his wife to cancer, and then some bad guys kill his dog. Bad move bad guys! The following 90 minutes or so is pretty much Keanu Reeves killing many men.

Don’t get me wrong… he does kill all these men in a very stylish and well choreographed way, and the action throughout is skilfully designed, with the centrepiece nightclub scene being actually quite brilliant. The problem I have is not with the film. It is, unapologetically , what it is. An action film, a revenge film, a gun-fu setpiece, a no shits given, ass-kicking montage of style over substance. No, the problem I have is not John Wick, the problem is expectation. I think if I knew what to expect I would have quite liked John Wick. I would have thought that it completely succeeded at what it was trying to do. If I knew what to expect, I would be writing a different review. I blame the internet. Manage your expectations… don’t expect much and John Wick will surprise you.

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