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Monday, 16 February 2015

Film reviews: from 'Selma' to 'Jupiter Ascending'

I've been lucky enough to have had space to watch a number of movies over the last few weeks, and I just wanted to recommend and review some of them.

Selma: This is the must see at the moment. The performances are great (there certainly should have been at least an Oscar nomination for David Oyelowo for his portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr) and the direction by Ava DuVernay tells the story of 'the voting rights marches' in a way that doesn't over romanticise the struggle for civil rights.

It is not perfect, and it doesn't delve deeply enough into Martin and Coretta's strained relationship, making the flow between them a little less credible. However, the main thrust of the story has to be about the march from Selma to Montgomery and the reasons for it. This is addressed clearly, and the importance of this struggle is made visible by this film.

It is an affirming film, that should make you weep, and should remind us all of the bravery needed to overcome injustice.

This brings me on to 'We Are The Giant' Greg Barker's documentary about the Arab Spring. It focuses on the lives of people caught up in the struggle for change in the Middle East, focusing on Libya, Bahrain and Syria.

It is difficult to watch (I watched it alongside several Syrian refugees, and it was very upsetting, they testified to the truthfulness of the horrific scenes we witnessed) but is probably the most powerful documentary I've seen on the subject. Primarily because it does not give any easy solutions. It shows the dilemmas faced by those who want to change injustices non-violently. In the official webpage for the film, we learn about those who died in the making of it, and the struggle to get the footage that was produced. All I can say is - watch this movie. It will change how you see the ongoing trauma in the Middle East and perhaps encourage you to support those who are suffering as a result.

Of the other films I've seen recently 'Ex-Machina' is recommended. It is beautiful to watch, and the tension builds perfectly. It uses the premise of 'AI' technology to explore much about the human condition. It looks at abuse, power and control from both a corporate and human perspective. I don't want to give away any of the plot twists, so just go and see the film and enjoy.

Finally - I went to see 'Jupiter Ascending', and couldn't believe that the makers of the brilliant 'Cloud Atlas' and the 'Matrix' could produce such a heap of steaming crap. So many fantastic effects, and it was crammed with excellent ideas - but the whole movie did not hold together well at all. Even the unsubtle homages to my favourite film 'Brazil' only went to demonstrate what a poor movie it was.

But three great movies out of four is a good enough success rate for me!

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