London Film Festival, Movies, new releases, Reviews

LFF review – ’71


Directed by Yann Demange

Written by Gregory Burke

Starring Jack O’Connell, Richard Dormer, Sean Harris

The Belfast depicted in this exciting new British thriller is a city spiralling out of control so fast that none of the factions involved have a handle on the situation.

’71 opens in deceptively generic fashion with a standard basic training sequence of the kind seen in film’s that seek to mythologise the experience of the soldier (see Lone Survivor from earlier this year). While the training looks uncomfortable in the extreme it is also the stuff of recruitment adverts. The sequence introduces nominal ‘hero’ Private Gary Hook (O’Connell). We learn a few key things about the character, he is from the North and grew up in care with a younger brother who sees him as a surrogate father. He is earthy, working class, enjoys a game of footie, but that is about as much depth as we are given. Continue reading

Classics, Favourite films, Movies, Reviews

Favourite films – Cross of Iron

Easily the most neglected of the many classic films made by Sam Peckinpah, Cross of Iron is one of the most nihilistic war films ever made.

Peckinpah was a true auteur; his stamp of authorship is evident in nearly every film that bears his name. Along with Arthur Penn (director of Bonnie and Clyde) Peckinpah revolutionised the presentation of violence in American cinema, most forcefully with this western The Wild Bunch (1969) – a film that has lost none of its visceral power in the 21st century. Peckinpah used elaborate parallel editing, multi-camera set ups and innovative use of slow motion, to capture being in the moment of violence when fear and adrenalin combine to make time stretch. His methods have been copied and imitated by a succession of action directors, but the sheer skill on display in his best works (of which there are both many, and not nearly enough) dwarfs the efforts of imitators. Continue reading