Sunday, 24 October 2010

The American

Cast: George Clooney, Irina Bjorkland, Lars Hjelm, Johan Leysen, Paolo Bonacellie
Director: Anton Corbjin

The American follows an assassin (Clooney) who has become tired of his lonely and isolated existence.  Opening in a nordic scene we see Clooney's lover killed and he has to rush away to hiding from a group who are out to get him.  The film followas a conventional plot of 'one last mission' in which Jack/Edward (his true identity is never actually revealed) uses his skills as a master craftsman to produce an exceptional weapon.
The camera follows Clooney throughout however the limited dialogue means we learn very little about our protagonist except his acute paranoia.  This however is justified as we come to see at the end of a film with a clever twist.  As he develops his life in an isolated Italian village we see a relationship develop with a prostitute and also the town's priest.  It is the opportunity for a life with companionship which persuades Jack/Edward (Clooney) to find away around his difficult situation and attempt to find another way to live.

Without such a charismatic and strong lead this film would not work.  It feels closer to an art house production than a blockbuster, with a very slow moving plot, minimal dialogue and incredible photographic shots throughout, however it's a mesmerizing and interesting story which I really enjoyed.


Cast: Aaron Johnson, Imogen Poots, Matthew Beard, Hannah Murray, Megan Dodds, Michelle Fairley
Director: Hideo Nakata

William (Johnson) sets up a chatroom on a whim, and a group of teenagers join connected because they all live in London's Chelsea.  They are from a wide social background but connect during their first meeting and commit to meeting regularly.
As the chatroom founder and somewhat of a psycho, William uses his influence to manipulate and control his members causing destruction to their family lives, and own emotionally vulnerable positions.  The film develops through a mixture of reality and the virtual world of the 'Chatroom'.  There are elements of romance, friendship, and a close look at the dark corners of the internet with some shady characters appearing.  The central point of the film is a determination from William to lead Jim to suicide and the acting of Johnson and Beard is great around this.
It's a dramatic and edgy film which looks at a resource so familiar to all of us - and the strong acting is a credit a relatively young cast.

West is West

Cast: Jimi Mistry, Om Puri, Linda Bassett, Emil Marwa, Vijay Raaz, Lesley Nicol

George and Ella's youngest son Sanjid is struggling at home because his older siblings have moved away.  In a last ditch attempt to show Sanjid the importance of his background George takes him to the Punjab where they settle in with George's first wife.  Overcome with the guilt of having left his first family George attempts to better the situation by re-building their family home, with his and Ella's life savings.  Ella flies out to Pakistan to rectify the situation and re-claim her floundering partner.

The 1970's picture of Pakistan definitely feels somewhat idealised, however West is West presents issues of conflicting cultures and fighting with modernity and tradition which are issues for people from migrant cultures today.

West is West retains the distinctive character and humour of East is East in an authentic and genuine way which I thoroughly enjoyed