Showing posts with label Elizabeth Olsen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Elizabeth Olsen. Show all posts

Monday, 19 May 2014


Sixty years after his debut screen appearance, Godzilla is back on our screens in his second American guise. For anyone who remembers the 1998 Roland Emmerich version, this news may legitimately cause trepidation. My interest in the picture came about when I heard that the new film was to be directed by second time director Gareth Edwards. For nearly half a decade since Edwards’ first film, I’ve been telling anyone I can get my hands on to watch his film Monsters. That movie was outstanding; an ultra low budget monster-thinker which Edwards wrote, directed, shot and edited himself besides doing all of the FX work in his bedroom. In comparison to that movie, Godzilla is a let down.

Things start well with an interesting and attractive titles sequence which gives a slight spin on the traditional Godzilla back story. The film postulates that the atomic tests of the 1950s were in fact not tests at all but an elaborate attempt to destroy the gigantic titular beast. Fast forward several decades and we find Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) hard at work as the supervisor of a Japanese Nuclear Power Plant. Brody is concerned by strange seismic patterns which are unlike any earthquake he’s seen before. In fact he’s convinced there are no earthquakes at all.

Sunday, 8 December 2013


Anyone who knows me personally or has read my review of Park Chan-wook’s 2003 revenge thriller Oldboy will be aware that the Korean film is one of my favourite movies of this young century. Its initial success and cult status in the West meant it was only a matter of time before a Hollywood remake reached the cinema. Talk of a Steven Spielberg-Will Smith project came and went and instead, ten years after the original, we’re hit squarely in the face with Spike Lee’s Oldboy, a sanitised and surprisingly safe American version. The film is based on the Korean movie rather than the original Japanese Manga but contains subtle and often baffling differences.

The story is of Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin). Doucett is a man on the verge of losing his job, a man who spends too much time with the bottle and not enough time with his wife and young daughter. Following a heavy night of drinking he awakens in what appears to be a motel room. It soon becomes apparent that his ‘room’ is in fact a cell, a cell in which he will spend the next twenty years of his life locked up for a reason that he cannot fathom. While incarcerated Joe is framed for his wife’s murder and sees his young daughter adopted. Inexplicably after two decades Joe is released and given the task of working out who kept him prisoner and why he was framed for the grizzly murder of his wife.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Red Lights

"How did you know that?"
"I'm psychic"

Psychologist and paranormal investigator Dr. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and her assistant Dr. Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) a physicist travel around debunking supposed paranormal activity from bumps in the night to stage psychics. Dr. Buckley wants to investigate their most challenging person to date, Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), a redound psychic who is making a comeback after a thirty year absence from the stage. Dr. Matheson warns Buckley against this though after having come up against him in the 1970s and failing to prove him a fraud. With the help of student Sally Owen (Elisabeth Olsen) Buckley defies Matheson and begins investigating the illusive Silver.

As a radical atheist and sceptic the film’s ideas appealed to me. I was delighted to watch the scientists make fun of and debunk people who claim to see ghosts and be able to read minds. The script treats these people with distain and isn’t afraid to mention how these people can be responsible for giving stupid people false hope and can even cost lives. The cast is also amongst the best of any film this year. With actors such as Signourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy, Toby Jones, Joely Richardson, the delightful Elizabeth Olsen and my all time favourite actor Robert De Niro, anything less than a great film would be a disappointment. Well, this isn’t a great film but it isn’t terrible either.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Silent House

Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) is helping her father (Adam Trese) and uncle (Eric Sheffer Stevens) to renovate the family’s old lakeside house before selling it. It’s a place they have rarely visited in years. Local kids have smashed all the windows and blown the electrics meaning that the boarded up windows let in no light. The only light available is that which comes from a torch or handheld lamp. While in the semi darkness and after her uncle has left for the day, Sarah hears a noise which her father goes to check out. He never returns. Sarah is left alone in the house with someone or something out to get her and her family and no way out.
The whole film was shot in such a way as that it looks like one continuous shot. I noticed the odd cut here and there but overall the idea is very successful. It genuinely feels as though Elizabeth Olsen is in the house for 85 minutes, running, hiding from and fighting whatever is after her. Using just one camera, Olsen is on screen for about 84 of the 85 minutes and has to carry the entire film. She does so with great aplomb. The one shot idea isn’t original and indeed the film itself is a remake of a 2010 Uruguayan film but it’s a nice gimmick that is well used.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Martha Marcy May Marlene

If anyone ever writes a book of the worst film titles in history, Martha Marcy May Marlene will be sure to feature. This is a great shame as the film itself is fantastic.

Featuring Elizabeth Olsen in a breakout role, the film cuts between Martha’s (Olsen) time as a cult member and after fleeing, her stay with her older sister and brother-in-law. The scenes of Martha in the cult are often dark and chilling. She is degraded and abused but seems powerless to resist what is happening. Later, we watch as she is in the cult’s inner circle and now the one who is doing the abusing. While with her sister, Martha is distant, confused and scared. She often doesn’t know how to act around ‘normal’ people and this results in inappropriate and odd behaviour. Martha is obviously deeply traumatised by her time with the cult and becomes increasingly paranoid that they are still watching her and waiting to take her back.  

Martha feels uncomfortable back, in the real world

Olsen’s central performance is outstanding. Innocent and awkward yet beautiful, she is thoroughly believable as the sort of young girl who could get caught up in a cult. She is also excellent while back in normal society, playing a young woman who is trying to forget what she has been a part of. Her performance is the highlight of the film. John Hawkes who plays cult leader, Patrick, is also fantastic. He is domineering and powerful yet has an air of attraction about him. You can feel and understand why the young men and women are drawn to him and kept under his spell. His is a performance that should also draw great plaudits.

Martha under Patrick's spell

There are two disappointing things about this otherwise exceptional film. The first is the title. I spent the whole film trying to remember what it was called and it left a nagging feeling in the back of my mind throughout. I went through all the female names I could think of beginning with ‘M’ and tried combining them. ‘Is it Mary Martha Maud Marlene? Mia Michelle Margaret May? It became very frustrating! My second problem is the ending. The film builds up ninety minutes of tension and just as it reaches a crescendo, ends. This was a shame as it kind of left the audience hanging. I understand that sometimes a film wants to leave the ending up to the interpretation of its audience but I didn’t think it worked this time. It wasn’t The Sopranos.

Apart from those two, admittedly small problems, Martha Marcy May Marlene (is that right?) is a wonderful film with a fantastic central performance from Elizabeth Olsen, who we are sure to see much more of in the future.