Doubt, Dir. John Patrick Shanley (2008)

From left: Philip Seymour Hoffman (Father Flynn), Amy Adams (Sister James), Photo:Miramax/Everett / Rex Features/Guardian

From left: Philip Seymour Hoffman as Father Flynn, Amy Adams as Sister James Photo:Miramax/Everett/Rex Features

Rating: 5/6

The film is based on Shanley’s own Pulitzer -prize winning play and so already carries some critical kudos and certainly makes for a promising enterprise. The scenario is relatively simple and based on many current as well as past news events.

It’s about a priest, Father James Flynn the brilliant Phillip Seymour Hoffman (seemingly now the go-to guy for humanistic portrayals of paedophiles, see the disturbing Happiness) who is accused of interfering (to put it politely) with the only black boy, Donald Miller (Joseph Foster)  in a Catholic school in 1964.

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Jim Jarmusch’s new film: The Limits Of Control

I am very excited about the prospect of a new Jarmusch film even if I am a bit baffled as to what’s actually going on it, which is probably the point. Sounds and looks good though, Bernal solemnly reciting some very poetic dialogue about a reflection sometmes being more than what it’s actually reflecting. And I do like a good mystery thriller.

The basic plot anyway according to IMDB is that a mysterious man (Isaach De Bankole seen in previous Jarmusch films Coffee and Cigarettes and Ghost Dog), perhaps like a modern day ‘man with no name’ in the Leone films, wanders contemporary Spain to complete a job that may not be legal. The cast is also to die for alongside De Bankole are: Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Gael Garcia Bernal and Jarmusch regular and legend Bill Murray.

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The Class (Entre Les Murs), Dir. Laurent Cantet (2008)

Rating: 6/6

François Bégaudeau (François Marin), Photo: Artificial Eye/Guardian
François Bégaudeau as teacher François Marin Photo: Artificial Eye/Guardian

This Palme D’Or winning drama The Class  has a premise that on the surface may not be so appealing to some, calling to mind Dangerous Minds. The film ostensibly following a year in the life of  Francois Marin’s  french class and the struggles and breakthroughs he undergoes teaching them.

However, it is a film that has a lot of important things to say about education, class and race and is, whats more,  able to say it in a way that isn’t mawkish or pretentious. Quite a feat.

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Slumdog’s ‘poverty porn’

Dev Patel (Jamal), Photo: Pathé/Guardian

Dev Patel as Jamal Photo: Associated Press/Guardian

This is the comment piece which I wrote for my course. It expands on a comment I made earlier about Slumdog’s scenes of slum-life being one of the best things in the film:

Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire has been criticised by some, notably Alice Miles in The Times, as “poverty porn”. However its portrayal of slum life was one of the best things in a film that was otherwise formulaic.

The critics, particularly the Indian critics such as leading actor Amitabh Bachchan, have derided the film as unrepresentative of “modern India”; an exploitation of third-world clichés for the entertainment of an exclusively Western audience.

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Joaquin Phoenix: That Letterman Interview

For those few of you who didn’t get Ben Stiller’s impression I alluded to here’s the original interview:

As I mentioned before Phoenix does seem to be one sandwich short of a picnic lately, and this interview is testament to that. Poor guy could only seem to chew gum and mumble monosylibically and in lieu of illuminating and funny anecdotes would say: “I’m sure something fun happened.” Provoking Letterman to comment: “Well, I’m sorry Joaquin Phoenix couldn’t be here with us tonight.” Now either he was on drugs or he’s  just so filled with ennui that he doesn’t care how he comes across.

Either way it’s a shame, even if it does make for a good You Tube video and some great Letterman quips. Will he ever recover from this? And will he ever come to his senses, offer a Bale-like apology for his behaviour (though to be fair he didn’t actually deliberately offend anyone, oh apart from maybe all his fans and hip-hop aficionados) and take up acting again? And he even if he did decide to become an actor again would Hollywood ever take him seriously.

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