Cert: 15 Runtime: 105 mins Director: Paul McGuigan Cast: Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Vanessa Redgrave, Stephen Graham and Julie Walters
One of the headline gala’s at LFF this year is Film Star’s Don’t Die in Liverpool. One of my main reasons for watching this was for Annette Bening and Vanessa Redgrave in one film! Paul McGuigan has directed one of my all time favourite films Lucky Number Slevin, so with that in mind it was worth a go. So what is Film Star’s Don’t Die in Liverpool about? In 1981, decades after she rose to fame in Hollywood, the Academy Award®-winning star of The Big Heat, In a Lonely Place and The Bad and the Beautiful, Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening) is treading the boards in a modest theatre production when she collapses in a Lancaster hotel. Her health failing, she reaches out to former lover, Liverpudlian actor Peter Turner (Jamie Bell). When Peter takes her back to his family home, to the care of his sympathetic mother (Julie Walters), memories of their grand affair soon come flooding back.
Paul McGuigan has created a very nice film. Before the screening I didn’t anticipate myself saying that. Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool was a very funny film and had a tender heart. The biggest laugh for me was Stephen Graham’s scouse wig. The comedic soul of the film is the driving force for me, it actually makes the film feel shorter. Prior to LFF I had no clue about Gloria Grahame’s relationship with Peter Turner. It was an informative piece but it lacked depth in some segments. Once the third act hits and the flashback of the same scenario twice happened McGuigan lost me. It wasn’t necessary for the film, especially what I saw prior worked so well. The use of objects to fade back into the past was a nice touch from him. The use of natural light was alluring too. Annette Benning gives a very good performance. Playing an actress would be easy for any actress, she excels playing the Hollywood giant. Jamie Bell had a questionable scouse accent. His passion for Gloria felt very genuine, he made a great love interest. Julie Walters does steal the show, any appearance by her in film is just warming. She provides so much comic relief through out. Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is a good film to watch on a Sunday afternoon, but it wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea.
Cert: 12A Runtime: 134 mins Director: Bennett Miller Cast: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller and Vanessa Redgrave
Coach is the father. Coach is a mentor. Coach has great power on athlete’s life
Bennett Miller is known for his real life movies Capote and Moneyball are great films, once I heard of Foxcatcher my intrigue got the best of me. Prior to watching the film I did do some research on Foxcatcher wrestling, John du Pont and the Schultz brothers. This really did wet my appetite, my only issue with the film was the casting of Steve Carrell (we shall delve into this later) What is Foxcatcher about? Despite being an Olympic gold medal winning wrestler, Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) feels frustrated. He has always lived in the shadow of his brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo), a fellow wrestling Olympian. A way out of poverty and into sporting history beckons when he is summoned to meet eccentric multi-millionaire John Eleuthere du Pont (Steve Carell). The tycoon invites Mark to move onto his sprawling estate and train with his Team Foxcatcher for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Desperate to win the respect of his disapproving mother (Vanessa Redgrave), the unstable du Pont is determined to assemble and coach a world-class athletics team. But this is to have ultimately tragic consequences.
My main issue Steve Carell became my main positive, he is nothing but astonishing. This is a trillion light years away from Date Night. He has achieved what Jim Carrey and Robin Williams have done over the years. That being jumping from comedy to drama freely. John du Pont was a loner and clearly had mental issues. From my research on him Carell truly has nailed the characteristics of du Pont. The transformation with prosthetics is a great help also in Carell’s performance. One would imagine award nominations will follow this performance. Hopefully this is a new chapter in Carell’s career. Mark Ruffalo as always for me gave a great performance, him and Tatum had great chemistry. He is the real main supporting character in the piece. As Carell and Ruffalo play a tug of war for Tatum. Channing Tatum wasn’t that great in Foxcatcher, he is the kindling that begins the fire on this journey. I found him to be very hollow and bland. It takes more then slapping yourself and head butting mirrors to bring a character to life. When it comes to the casting I can’t really imagine anyone else playing him.
Foxcatcher felt like Dallas Buyers Club for me, it was more of a character driven story then it’s context. The story was rather muddled and didn’t have such clear vision. The momentum builds and builds, but it flattens by the final third of the film. It potentially been cut by 15 minutes. Bennett Miller’s direction is very smooth, his vision is there but it’s about 80% successful. There are some great shots used here and it feels very authentic. The score by Mychael Danna is very haunting, maybe one of the best I’ve heard in a film this year. His composition just fits so well in this world and the situation, it really sets the tone for the whole film. Foxcatcher is a film that I don’t think I will be re-watching anytime soon or maybe never again. It’s a powerhouse in the acting but it was rather flat at the same time. But no doubt it will receive a lot of award buzz over the next few weeks and months.