Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Feb 15
Lady Bird
The 15:17 to Paris

Another heavy-hitting Oscar contender releases this week, along with a new Clint Eastwood film. The two films are chalk and cheese, both coming with recommendations. And while on that topic, you may wonder why I mostly have recommendable films in my reviews - that's because I choose not to see many which I suspect may fall into the not-so-recommendable basket! 

Lady Bird
Director: Greta Gerwig
Length: 93 min
© Universal - Saiorse Ronan gives yet another
most worthy performance 
There's a style of American film-making that seems to capture a cool and authentic feeling, that nails the dialogue, and that recreates moments in characters' lives, to which we can all relate, no matter their ages or the era. Christine, aka Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan), is your typical teen, navigating school, uni applications, friendships, first loves, parental conflict and simply growing up. A focal point of the film is her relationship with her mother (Laurie Metcalf) and father (Tracy Letts). This triangle is lovingly portrayed, with the two strong females endlessly clashing, and the father/daughter relationship softening Christine's woes. The characterisation of first love Danny (Lucas Hedge) has more depth than meets the eye, and the various female friendships all feel so real. Dialogue is smart (as one would expect from writer/director Gerwig), and an Oscar nomination is afoot for Ronan's flawless performance. 
4 - highly recommended!

The 15:17 to Paris
Director: Clint Eastwood
Length: 94 min
© Universal -  the three heroes play themselves
in this underrated film. 
In August 2015 three lifelong friends were on a European holiday, travelling on a train bound for Paris, when a heavily armed terrorist attempted an attack. Thanks to the bravery of the three friends, the attacker was overcome and disarmed, and a massacre averted. This is a true story, and what'a amazing is that Eastwood gets the actual young men to play themselves in the film. Younger actors are used to play the boys in their early years, three outsiders who bond in school, always finding themselves in trouble and all attracted to war games and possible military careers (which two of the three went on to). Eastwood has directed some memorable films in his long career, but this one hasn't been treated so kindly by the critics. I however found it gripping, surprisingly well acted, and a fascinating glimpse into what inspires bravery in certain people. Sure, Eastwood often likes to overplay the gung-ho patriotic flag-waving card, but this is a film worth a look, and with some nice European scenery to boot. 
3 - recommended!

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