Tag Archives: Colin Farrell

The Lobster (2015) Movie Review by John Walsh

THE LOBSTER

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Writers: Yorgos Lanthimos,  Efthymis Filippou (as Efthimis Filippou)
Stars: Colin Farrell,  Rachel Weisz,  Jessica Barden

The Lobster takes place in an absurd, dystopian, near-future where people can’t be single, there’s an actual law been created forbidding it, and security guards stalk around wilfully harassing and demanding certification from anybody looking even remotely alone. This is of course rather unfortunate for our main protagonist, David, played by an almost unrecognisable Colin Farrell, who’s been given the heave-ho by his wife, leaving him in the unenviable position of having to find another partner within 45 days. You see singletons are left with two options upon re-entering bachelorhood and these involve the latter or being transformed into an animal of their choice for a ‘second chance’ at love.

It’s on this pretence that the film seems to open, with I presume a jilted ex or lover brutally shooting a defenceless donkey in a field after stopping the car in the middle of nowhere to do so. This stark, startling and somewhat alarming pre-credits opener is never referred to again throughout the rest of the film, but it acts as a perfect introduction to Yorgos Lanthimos’ utterly bizarre, satirical delve into the meaning of companionship and love.

The main setting for the first half of the film is then quickly introduced as David checks into the mundane hotel resort that newly single folk are forced to attend in which to save their current human existence. Shuttled off and segregated from coupledom, on the outskirts of a drab, rather plain looking city, it acts like a real life manifestation of online dating. Just about everyone speaks in deadpan, monotonous tones, which are perfectly summed up in the opening scenes when David answers a quick questionnaire that delves into his private life and, is at once artificially polite and also brutally abrupt, before meeting the no nonsense hotel manager (Olivia Colman) and finally joining the other guests (or should that be inmates?). We never do get fully acquainted with the other guests. They are never named, only David gets that pleasure, instead they’re a referred to from the narrating Rachel Weisz by their imperfections. There’s ‘Lisping man’ (John C Reilly), one with a limp (Ben Wishaw), ‘nosebleed woman’ (Jessica Barden), the maid (Ariana Labed), ‘biscuit woman’ (Ashley Jensen) and finally ‘heartless woman’ (Aggeliki Papoulia).

For me, the hotel part of the film was by far the most enjoyable, full of deadpan deliveries and dark comedic moments, I honestly was laughing out loud at some points. The brief fight in the grounds and the painfully awkward dancing during what I presume was a dance night were particularly funny to me. David despite appearing to fail badly at hunting the loners in the bordering wood, a little pastime the hotel guests partake in that can extend their stay, doesn’t appear quite as desperate to find love as some of his ‘friends’ and guests, who much like modern online dating, seem to abandon the notion of opposites attracting and attempt to find similar traits in their potential partners. ‘Limping man’ even goes as far as head butting furniture to bring on fake nosebleeds in an attempt to hook up with the permanently afflicted ‘Nosebleed lady’. There’s some sinister undertones bubbling away below the surface too, as Lanthimos lays the ground rules of his absurdist, dystopian nightmare. No more evident is this than when ‘Lisping man’ gets his hand thrust into a toaster for illegally masturbating and when Biscuit woman throws herself from a window in a botched, but ultimately successful suicide attempt after being shunned by David and despairing at her failure to find a suitable partner.

Employing the old if you can beat them, join them mantra. David comes to the conclusion that heartless woman is the match for him and decides to pretend that he has the same cold, emotionless persona as her. He strikes in the midst of the previously mentioned suicide, using the tragedy as a potential cupids arrow, whilst feigning disinterest as she chokes in the hot tub next to him afterwards. This causes her to proclaim them a match. Of course, this ends in disaster as you’d expect, when his new found match brutally murders his beloved dog (also his transformed brother as it turns out) in the middle of the night whilst he slept. This inexplicable act of violence causes the devastated David’s mask to slip, immediately ending their faux relationship and necessitating an escape from his psychotic now ex-match, that’s successful thanks to the handy assistance of the maid. Weisz’s monotone narration informs us that he transformed her into an animal and a fleeting glimpse at the entrance of the room is this closest we get to witnessing these take place.

This sends us nicely into the second half of the film in which David enters the woods to join forces with the fiercely anti-relationship, group of loners. Lanthimos essentially introduces an entire new cast of characters at this stage. The primary of which is the unsmiling, disciplinarian, ‘Loner leader’ played by the impressive Léa Seydoux. Within this new environment David encounters yet another draconian set of rules, this time forbidding any romantic relations between people. It quickly becomes apparent that things aren’t going to be much better on this side of the divide for poor old David as the rebels, for want of a better word, employ regular guerrilla like tactics against the pro-monogamy establishment whilst handing out equally disturbing punishments for the most petty of ‘crimes’. David does find some positivity in his new surroundings however when he meets his potential soul mate in Rachel Weisz’s character, who after narrating for over an hour, finally makes an appearance and in doing so adds the first genuine love interest, amongst rampant tomfoolery, to the proceedings.

Sadly for me, the film became a far less entertaining spectacle upon entering the woods with the satire evident in the hotel setting that preceded it not quite reaching the same level. It also lacked the awkward speed dating come ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ vibe that the first half had in an abundance and I felt also dragged ever so slightly towards the end. It wasn’t all dour though. There was some hilarious glimpses at newly transformed animals strutting around in the background and the dynamic between Farrell, the one constant throughout the two distinct acts, Weisz and Seydoux helped anchor it somewhat as it threatened to drift aimlessly.

Briefly touching upon some standout performances in what was a pretty decent ensemble cast overall. The best performance came from Farrell for me, he was almost unrecognisable with the moustache, glasses and portly belly. His character was obviously the main protagonist and I thought he was fantastic. His facial expressions painted a picture at times. I loved Léa Seydoux, one of the few bright patches in the second half of the film along with Weisz who added some warmth, emotion and genuine humanity to what was for large stretches, and deliberately so it has to be said, a pretty impassive experience. A special mention to Ashley Jensen who was at times both hilarious during her frank and open discussions with David and yet also heartbreakingly lonely, meeting a rather sad and gruesome end.

Lanthimos has delivered a pretty surreal experience here, certainly one which seems to perfectly balance humour and intermittent moments of inexplicably brutal violence together. There’s also a very clear allegorical statement being made on how we view attachment and relationships. Not to mention a pretty scathing indictment on the soulless, modern, online dating experience that has resorted to more and more superficial means in which to match people. From the ridiculously complex algorithms that certain sites use to form the perfect match based off shared hobbies and/or interests to the incredibly shallow nature of apps like Tinder. It all points to a society, that whilst obviously less heartless and brutal, is not too distant from that portrayed in the Lobster. Musically and visually, the film married perfectly together with the story. It was filmed in the overcast, perpetually grey Irish coast and this added to the grim, hopelessness of the situation, whilst the music really couldn’t have been a better fit.

Do I recommend it? Hmm… it’s a difficult one and certainly not for everyone. I could see some not enjoying it, but for the first hour alone, then I’d say yes.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) Movie Review By John Walsh

Fantastic Beasts

Director: David Yates
Writer: J.K. Rowling
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Sam Redford, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton

It’s been five years since audiences savoured the magical world of Harry Potter. Long gone is the familiar landscape of Hogwarts, the much loved professors and the familiar characters we all grew to love. In their place is 1920s New York in all its gothic goodness. It’s beautifully dated landscape serving as a perfect backdrop to the continuation of the dark, grittier tone seen in the Deathly Hallows.

Nothing can serve as a better indicator for just how difficult a task JK Rowling, Warner Brothers and David Yates faced when trying flesh out a viable story to kickstart the new franchise than the similarly titled book which helped spawn the latest film. At just 128 pages long, the relatively short encyclopaedia of magical beasts by Newt Scamander perhaps explains why the new film splits into two parallel stories early on in the first act. With very little source material available, they worked wonders in creating a brilliant origin story and introduction into the early years of the Potterverse.

We primarily follow the adventures of the aforementioned Newt(Eddie Redmayne), a magizoologist, who arrives in New York with a suitcase that resembles Doctor Who’s Tardis, chock-full of weird and wondrous beasts. Here on a field trip for a new book which he is penning, he soon bumps into the bungling Jakob Kowalski(Dan Fogler), a down on his luck, No-Maj (the US equivalent of a Muggle), who inadvertently switches cases with our protagonist, letting half a dozen of these beasts escape into the city. Together with Porpetina Goldstein(Katherine Waterston), a disgraced Auror, and her mind-reading sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), Newt and Jakob must try and hunt down the escaped beasts before they can wreak further chaos in the city.

Unfortunately for Newt, this mistake couldn’t have came at a worse time with MACUSA (the Magical Congress of the United States) enforcing extremely strict rules on relations between the magical and non-magical community, whilst also outlawing the ownership of magical beasts. This is further exacerbated with a host of terrifying attacks happening throughout the city and seemingly being perpetrated by a dark, uncontrollable power. This brings us onto darker underlying story of the film.

The film is set in 1926, during the rise of the infamous dark wizard Grindelwald(Johnny Depp). In the opening of the film we see him kill five wizards in cold blood and then various shots of newspapers reporting his mysterious disappearance after his misdeeds. Although we see just a minor cameo at the end, it’s no secret that future films in the series will primarily follow Grindewald’s story and eventual titanic clash with Dumbledore, so it was an exciting glimpse into what lies in the future. With bigger things clearly intended for future films in the franchise.

The CG was consistently excellent, none more so in the consistent wave of destruction created by the Obscurus throughout. Whilst the beasts themselves were beautifully realised and their big personalities really shone through, helping to liven up the slightly duller first act. The antics of Pickett and the kleptomaniac, Niffler, with a penchant for stealing shiny objects provided plenty of laughs and entertainment. And nobody who watches the film will forget about THAT mating dance with the rather strange Rhino like creature. Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of the shy, quirky, oh so Hufflepuff, Newt was wonderful. But it was the performance of Dan Fogler as the hapless Kowalski that really stole the show, with his character bumbling into one misadventure after another and his enthusiasm at discovering a whole new magical world really imitating that of the viewers.

JK, much like what she did with the trio in the Harry Potter films, manages to create a strong quartet in Newt, Jakob, Tina and Queenie that really anchor the film through the various action set pieces in the third act of the film.

An honourable mention must be given to Graves(Colin Farrell), who plays the part of a minor villain well enough, although his reveal as a transfigured Grindelwald at the end was slightly predictable and he never really reached the levels of a Voldemort-esque threat.

Fantastic Beasts offers a very promising beginning to the new series and lives up to the expectations I had for it beforehand. If you’re a Harry Potter fan and have not seen this film then I strongly recommend watching it. It has lots of little nods that will delight fans of the series and even if you’re not a fan, but would like to see a good, solid fantasy, action/adventure film then I would also recommend it.