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Tag: John Hurt

QuickView: Snowpiercer (2013)

“If you can’t remember then it’s better to forget.”


Snowpiercer is fresh high-concept science fiction that arrived a few years ahead of its time with an admittedly unsubtle allegorical tale of climate-induced revolution as the destitute rise up. Director Joon-Ho Bong adapts a French graphic novel with a confident blend of Korean and Western sensibilities that needs to be viewed texturally in the manner of Jean-Pierre Jeunet or Terry Gilliam. Logical interrogation of the implausible story will invariably lead to disappointment, but the violent journey through this train — hurtling ceaselessly through a frozen wasteland — is filled with tension and fabulous imagery. The revolution’s success seems ever balanced on a knife-edge, but as they advance each carriage presents its own distinctive diorama full of wonderful details. Chris Evans carries the audience as the reluctant hero, supported by a host of venerable British talent, including John Hurt and a riotously hammy Tilda Swinton. More than the sum of its parts, it was perhaps inevitable that the creative yet bleak Snowpiercer left critics more enamoured than audiences.


QuickView: Jackie (2016)

Jackie poster

“I lost track somewhere — what was real, what was performance.”

Jackie Kennedy

Jackie is an unusual biopic that seeks to present the woman through a narrow period of just a few weeks, focused almost exclusively on the assassination of JFK and the immediate aftermath, with occasional flashbacks going only so far as her time in the White House. Those hoping for a broader look at her life will be disappointed. Given the private nature of most scenes, it is evident that most of the script is highly speculative which makes it all the stranger that Jackie often struggles to delve beneath its subject’s iconic surface, with emotional resonance coming mostly from Peter Sarsgaard’s portrayal of the supportive, grieving Bobby Kennedy. The film does pose incisive questions about Jackie’s motivations following the assassination: a kind perspective is that she was preserving JFK’s legacy but a less generous one is that, as a student of history, she was seeking to craft that legacy for her husband and for herself. If nothing else she had certainly become a Kennedy.


V For Vendetta (2006)

director: James McTeigue
starring: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, John Hurt
running time: 132 mins
rating: 15

V For VendettaA Catholic who lights fireworks on the 5th of November, blissfully unaware of the irony, is not wrong, merely telling. V’s continual references to Guy Fawkes, not least in his masked visage, undoubtedly flew over the heads of most American viewers and may have been largely a distraction. Yet even in the UK we have largely forgotten him, as the film itself points out. Resurrecting the figure as an icon, V For Vendetta is based loosely upon a comicbook by Alan Moore (who, as usual, has distanced himself from the project), translated by the Wachowskis into a near future that more closely parallels our own timeline.

While the former USA is in chaos, 2020 England is held together by a totalitarian government who control the people through media domination and force. We see events through the eyes of Evey Hammond [Natalie Portman] who is rescued by a terrorist known only as V [Hugo Weaving]. She is at first impressed by his “orchestrated” explosive demolition of the Old Bailey to the sound of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, then horrified by his violent attacks against government figures, until finally she comes to understand V himself. The film is about the idea, while the story she tells is about the man.

V's vendettaThe film’s most chilling line is the high chancellor’s enraged cry, “I want them to remember why they need us!” as he feels his vice-like grip over the population beginning to slip. The idea that control of population, largely through fear, is paramount provides a vision that could easily be applied to more than one western government. Yet although our perspective leads us to side with V from the start, room is given for us to question his actions and even the state in which he leaves things. Weaving does well in giving a masked character a little personality, though most of the acting is decent but unremarkable. It is really a film of impressive moments, climaxing with the fantastic domino montage, but even together they are not significant enough to warrant revisiting.

Tell us the identity of codename VThe fault lies largely with the Wachowskis’ script. While the story unfolds wonderfully, like the Matrix sequels it is plagued by the fact that the writing is never quite as clever as it thinks it is. Aside from the initial alliterative v-filled vernacular of V’s first verbose vocalisation (err, sorry) little of the dialogue is worth commenting upon. Its aggressive palette of reds and blacks is not as stylised as a Superhero movie, but we edge towards easy Nazi imagery instead of the more indirect 1984. It is grounded by its real-world setting, giving the ideas voiced more gravitas than in a fantasy one. The media parallels drawn are eerily accurate, but the political side is soporifically blunt. It might be viewed as a bold statement in this respect, and is certainly enjoyable and engaging in its storytelling, but it lacks the clarity to leave you thinking for very long once the credits roll. Nevertheless as a wake-up call, reminding people to pay attention to where our nations and our governments are headed, it may just do its job.

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rating: 2.5/4

"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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