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Issue #1732      May 25, 2016

Film roundup

Sing Street

The inspiration of music, first love and the endless possibilities lying ahead when you are young are captured superbly in this charming and nostalgic crowd-pleaser.

Set in 1980s Dublin, John Carney’s semi-autobiographical drama centres on 14-year-old Cosmo (a phenomenal Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who, to escape family strains and hideous school life, decides to form a band with other school misfits.

He does so principally to impress a girl, of course – the mysterious Raphina (Lucy Boynton) – after he asks her to star in their music video.

What ensues is a hilarious yet heart warming montage as the band shoots their video inspired by Duran Duran’s Rio.

Following director John Carney’s Once and Begin Again, Sing Street is a delightful progression. It’s a cross between The Commitments and Killing Bono, with fantastic performances from its young cast, particularly Walsh-Peelo and Boynton.

Jack Reynor has the best of comebacks as Cosmo’s mentor and stoner brother Brendan as he instructs him on the music and culture of the day.

With a razor-sharp script, a fabulous 1980s soundtrack and catchy new songs by Gary Clark which hold their own you can’t help but fall in love with this little gem and emerge on a high.


The Silent Storm

Writer-director Corinna McFarlane’s noisy and seemingly endless feature is to recommend it to someone you hate.

Her hysterically pointless dissection of a justifiably collapsing marriage takes place on a remote Scottish island where the period is apparently post-WW2, telegraphed by a white Mini. There, the increasingly deranged preacher Balor (Damien Lewis) – “The whole community is looking to me!” – incessantly makes life hell for his wife Aislin – “You are a Devil’s witch!” – played by Andrea Riseborough.

More maniac melodrama is predictably sparked when randy juvenile offender Fionn Anderson comes to stay and gets abused as a slave by Balor.

Lewis’s Scottish accent collapses as often as the thread of an increasingly ludicrous story and the film, two years old, seems to last even longer.

There’s only one interesting aspect to this waste of actors and film stock. It was executively produced by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson of James Bond fame. Some 13 other producers are credited – they may possibly outnumber the film’s potential audience.


X-Men: Apocalypse

Within the expanding Marvel universe, the X-Men franchise has always been a solidly smart and exciting ride which seems consistently to raise the bar, particularly when Bryan Singer is at the helm.

But this third film in the reboot seems to have lost its political and inventive edge.

Set in 1983, 10 years after the previous film, Professor X (James McAvoy) and his cohorts have to battle the first and most powerful immortal mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), set free inadvertently by Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne).

He recruits a team of crack mutants including a disillusioned Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to cleanse mankind.

Directed by Singer and written by Simon Kinberg, who penned X-Men: Days of Future Past, it is hard to keep up with the complex action and influx of endless new mutants. They’re basically a ploy to introduce younger versions of veteran X-Men such as Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) and Storm (Alexandra Shipp) to keep the reboot going.

Apart from a picture of Ronald Reagan, you can barely tell it is the ’80s as it completely ignores the era and its political background – although you do learn how Prof X lost his hair.

Quicksilver provides the highlight of the film with another stunningly fun and inventive sequence.

But, as the young Jean Grey comments after seeing The Return of the Jedi with her classmates: “Everyone knows the third film is always the worst.” How prophetic.


Departure

An English mother and her teenage son come to terms with their changing lives in this gentle coming-of-age tale set in the south of France.

Juliet Stevenson is superb as the beleaguered wife and mum who is forced to pack up her holiday home before it is sold while putting up with her 15-year-old pretentious aspiring writer offspring Elliot (Alex Lawther).

He is struggling with his sexuality which comes to the fore when he meets local hunk Clement (Phenix Brossard).

It is an ambitious debut film by first time writer-director Andrew Steggall and it is beautifully shot and punctuated by sublime performances from Stevenson and Lawther.

But, like Elliot, it borders on the pretentious, particularly with its baffling underwater imagery.

But it will make you yearn to move to the south of France.


Morning Star

Next article – In the land of Palestine

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