This is a difficult movie to comment on. The usual standards don't seem to apply. It is visually stunning, with numerous references to Bosch, Caravaggio and other painters. The music is appropriate and not intrusive. The performances are uniformly excellent.
Many reviewers have commented on the violence. Is this a violent film? Yes. Is it an exceptionally violent film? Yes. Is it an inappropriately violent film? I don't think so. Mel Gibson is asking the question "What was it like to die for the sins of the world? What did it feel like? Look like? Sound like?"
I expect it was a lot like this movie. We are right there, in the mob, screaming, vilifying, pounding in the nails. Satan glides through unnoticed, enjoying it.
This isn't an easy film, certainly not for children, but one that will make adults think about Jesus, think about themselves, and maybe even find some answers.
The Beach has a lot going for it - stunning photography, great music, a pretty good story - but in the end it fails to be more than light entertainment. The main fault is Leonardo di Caprio's inappropriateness for the role of Richard - an edgy, thrill-seeking Englishman in the book, a nice middle-class American boy in the movie. The character doesn't develop and Leo seems to have settled on three or four expressions that will do on all occasions. Tilda Swinton and especially Robert Carlyle act rings around Leo, bringing the movie briefly to life when they're on the screen.
Angela's Ashes is a gentle movie about love, suffering, striving, and eventually, triumphing. There are no explosions, no aliens, no car crashes, no easy answers. The acting is uniformly excellent with Robert Carlyle's performance as Malachy McCourt especially outstanding. Beautifully photographed, funny and devastating by turns, Angela's Ashes is an experience to be treasured.
Plunkett & Macleane is visually stunning, well-acted, engrossing and just plain fun. Yes there are holes in the plot and maybe a few things aren't all that clear, but who cares? Robert Carlyle and Jonny Lee Miller (from Trainspotting) make us care about these two highwaymen and their frenetic adventures. Carlyle, especially, lends emotional depth to the character of Plunkett. This isn't a profound film but it's never dull and that's a lot these days.
Looking After JoJo traces the career of a petty thief turned drug dealer in 1980's Edinburgh. We first meet the title character as a pleasant if misguided young man surviving in a bleak housing estate and aspiring to the trappings of a successful criminal. Unfortunately for him, and for most of the other characters in the mini-series, it is a time of heroin addiction and AIDS. We watch JoJo become ensnared in the drugs scene and his deterioration is both painful to watch and very moving. Robert Carlyle's performance is extraordinarily complex and textured. He is ably supported by Jenny McCrindle, Ewan Stewart and Trainspotting's Kevin McKidd. This isn't the fast-moving MTV drug scene of Trainspotting but a more character-oriented, leisurely look at the human cost of drug addiction.
Safe is Antonia Bird's hard-hitting, painful but worthwhile look at a group of homeless young people in London. Her subjects are not sentimentalized nor are they viewed as victims. The film raises the painful question of what a compassionate society can do for people who just can't make it. The performances are uniformly strong with an especially good portrayal by Robert Carlyle of an alcoholic Scot given to self-mutilation. This is not a feel-good movie and leaves the viewer with more questions than answers.
Ravenous is about salvation and the struggle we humans go through to attain it. Both of the main characters are seduced by an Indian legend that consuming human flesh will restore and cure. Robert Carlyle's performance as Colqhoun/Ives is outstanding. When we first see him he is weak, nearly frozen and incoherent. Through the film he grows in strength, confidence and attractiveness.
The tone of the film shifts frequently between terror and laughter. The cannibals are philosophical about their lot and given to one-liners. The original commanding officer regrets that cannibals find it hard to keep friends. Ives comments that a recent meal was tough but that soldiers should be tough. These tonal shifts make the film difficult to categorize but add enormously to the texture of the story. People, especially those in difficult situations, shift moods
rapidly. The edginess and tension of the situation is underlined by these mood shifts.
Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman's music is appropriate if a bit too intrusive. Anthony B. Richmond's cinematography is breathtaking.
The only real flaw in Ravenous is Ted Griffin's script. He doesn't give us enough background about the characters, and there are a number of holes in the plot. Antonia Bird pulls it all together with flair, although the small sub-theme of anti-Americanism is annoying.
For a satisfying, even humorous,look at the dark side of the soul, try Ravenous.