icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo Instagram


Movie news, reviews, features and more thoughts coming soon...

By midlandsmovies, Jul 19 2018 07:49PM

Mary Magdalene (2018) Dir. Garth Davis

Garth Davis (Lion) directs this new biblical drama about Mary from a small town called Magdala who joins Jesus and his disciples in 33AD from his initial teachings through to the crucifixion and his eventual resurrection.

After defying her family she finds a connection with Jesus’s words but joining his group causes conflict with the male disciples. Mary is played admirably by Rooney Mara (Social Network) whilst Jesus Christ superstar sees Joaquin Phoenix delivering a strange mix of bland universal platitudes to hoodwink people into his way of thinking and, strangely, a Roman age stoner.

The film’s slow pace tries to take some interesting new angles. There are hints upon celebrity culture as Jesus is mobbed by those wanting to be healed as well as the role of an women in Christian history.

Not being a huge fan of religious films owing to my own personal scepticism, the film rather dully goes through the motions delivering Jesus Joaquin’s career highlights - from healing the blind to the crown of thorns with rather ponderous and monotonous inevitability.

As films like these attempt to humanise Jesus with added realism, for me that approach makes his teachings seem more like the hokey nonsense of a rambling huckster. Call it religion, call it cultism, call it simply human nature – we have an inherent natural desire to follow a leader who provides us with answers to a chaotic world. Imposing meaning where there is none. Saying there is a plan and order when it’s simply chaos. And with a white man saviour complex – it is as blatantly “problematic” as anything in media today – here it’s magnified by one that’s changed the course of history.

Back to the film however, it was difficult to break through my own preconceptions on the subject but the cast do an admirable job of fleshing out the characters beyond their Bible quoting. Although the snail’s pace and constant staring into the distance began to further grate, one huge positive was the stunning locations used. Shot in multiple areas in Italy the film contained an array of amazing coastal vistas showing the beauty of the world whilst capturing the simplicity of life from a time long ago.

For me however, my cynical doubts around the subject simply couldn’t be broken through on a narrative, aesthetic or even cinematic level. Granted this would be hard to do with any film but the lack of engagement and dreary recounting of Jesus’s life gave this film no chance. In fact, it’s simply as dull as a Sunday sermon and one that I couldn’t wait to end.


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Feb 24 2016 07:30PM

Secret in their Eyes (2016) Dir. Billy Ray

Apparently a remake of the 2009 Foreign Language Oscar winner The Secret in Their Eyes, which I haven’t seen, I came into this movie with the draw of an interesting cast mix and my love for a good ol’ police procedural. So I opened the case file and analysed the evidence within this new 2016 release.

The film mixes the past and the present and are introduced via a reunion with Ray Karsten (12 Years A Slave’s Chiwetel Ejiofor) and DA Claire Sloan (Nicole Kidman) before quickly flashbacking to a case from their past. 13 years ago, Ray uncovered the murder of a young girl in a dumpster that we find out to be the offspring of his close colleague Jess Cobb (Julia Roberts).

Promising justice in his journey to apprehend the perpetrator we follow Ray back and forth in the story after a decade-long hunt for the killer. Suspects are hunted, chased but mainly stared at in photos – one of the film’s flaws – and with the tension kept to a minimum, the story’s snail pace keeps the audience informed but is a little wearisome.

A suspect interrogation scene hints at some interesting dialogue alongside a cleverly conflicted drama playing out between lawbreakers and lawmakers. Attempts to prosecute fade away amongst shifty circumstances despite Alfred Molina’s Martin Morales (chewing up and spitting out a feeble American accent) promising to put those responsible on trial but unable to due to a lack of evidence.

Julia Roberts appears in the later sequences as a haunted and gaunt mother coping with loss which elicits further passions for Ejiofor’s Ray who is fixated on getting his man – much to the detriment of his career and better judgment.

So, despite an impressive cast, Secret in their Eyes is a tiresome affair overall. There’s no flair or style within the film which for me is essential to remove the audience from the rather dull tropes of the genre such as people in rooms thinking over paperwork and the problematic bureaucracy they face.

A different approach to the story may have helped sell the twists and turns and a final reel rug-pull was too little too late. The cast was good, with Kidman being the slightly weak link –her botox-rigid face giving the audience almost no hint of emotion at all – yet they cannot lift the lacklustre yarn beyond what could be an entry in the Morgan Freeman-era Alex Cross series. Not the worse movie in the genre Secret in the Eyes does however simply takes a standard police drama and does nothing new with it at all.


Midlands Movies Mike

RSS Feed twitter