Film of the Week #2

Michael Prescott

24-year-old Welsh writer on all things film. Background in Philosophy. Accidentally in Sheffield for 6 years and counting. Addicted to Kevin Spacey. Tweetable: @M_S_Prescott

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Last Monday saw the inaugural Film of the Week post with Jay and I suggesting Blue Valentine and Rope for your viewing pleasure on TV. We hope you managed to check them out. Let us know if you did, and tell us what you thought of the films.

This week we’ve got more entries and a diverse selection as usual. Despite the likes of The Bourne Supremacy, Fight Club and The Secret in their Eyes on offer, we’ve gone for none of them. Instead, there’s a classic tearjerker, a turn-of-the-century satire, the teaming up of Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet (no, not that one) and a really fine historical mystery from director Clint Eastwood.

Read on, get excited, put them in your diary. Over the next seven days on TV we have the following highlights…

 

Revolutionary Road (2008)

Friday night (21st March): 11.10pm – 1.05am (BBC2)
By Jay Gallagher

Jack Dawson returns from the dead to reunite with Rose and “the unsinkable” Molly Brown in Sam Mendes’ surreal, nightmarish sequel to James Cameron’s blockbuster smash Titanic.

Ok, maybe not… nevertheless, if we can take but one thing from Revolutionary Road it’s the knowledge that since Titanic, Winslet and DiCaprio have evolved – almost unrecognisably – into a pair of fantastic actors, and that particular this film might well be their respective finest hours.

An adaptation of Richard Yates’ seminal novel of the same name, Revolutionary Road is a harrowing story of domestic abuse, depression and disillusionment in 1950s suburbia. With his embrace of a number of similar themes to those of his feature debut, American Beauty, Mendes offers a piercing critique of the morbid, unspoken vacuity of the so-called “American Dream” by going past the facade, behind closed doors, into a World that everyone would rather pretend does not exist.

Revolutionary Road is a film rich in suburban horror (think The Stepford Wives meets Tyrannosaur), with a social subtext that grants gravitas to its occasional moments of melodrama. The powerhouse performances from Winslet and DiCaprio hold the film together as this supposedly perfect image of middle-class, American life is systematically dismantled in the most gut-wrenching, unforgiving fashion imaginable.

So don’t complain that DiCaprio didn’t win an Oscar last week but instead complain that five years ago, he wasn’t even nominated for Revolutionary Road

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Election (1999)
Saturday night (22nd March): 12.40am – 2.25am (C4)
By Michael Prescott

I recently asserted that Election is Alexander Payne’s second-best film, after his since-brilliant wine-based road movie Sideways (although this was before his excellent Oscar-nominated effort Nebraska). But this doesn’t make Election any less worthy of praise; it’s a great high-school film in and of itself, as well as being a fantastic parody.

Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) is notoriously impossible and wants nothing more than to win the student election, for which she is seemingly a shoe-in. However, things become messy and complicated when teacher Jim McAllister (smartly cast as Matthew Broderick), with a vendetta against the so-called perfect student, begins an invisible campaign to stop that from happening.

Chris Klein (the football jock-turned-sourpuss in the American Pie) is again adored among his student population peers (in his film debut) for his sporty demeanour and general good looks, despite his goofy disposition. McAllister, spotting this opportunity, encourages him to run under the guise of a democratic process… and all hell breaks loose.

Adapted from the novel of the same name and taking influence from a real-life scandal, Election is a slick, intelligent and timely look at the student lifestyle and the political process in one excellent swoop. If you haven’t seen this one yet, please do.

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Field of Dreams (1989)
Saturday morning (22nd March): 11.10am – 13.20pm (ITV4)
By Raks Patel

I have chosen Field of Dreams because although I saw the film eons ago, it made a deep and lasting impression on me when I saw it which has stayed with me right through to the present day.

Field of Dreams is an American fantasy-drama film, directed by Phil Alden Robinson, who also wrote the screenplay, based on W. P. Kinsella’s novel Shoeless Joe.

Superficially, the film is about American baseball, but I have zero interest in sport and I know nothing about baseball. The film is really about trusting your instincts, having the courage to follow your dreams, and family.

Field of Dreams tells the story of Ray Kinsella, an Iowa farmer, played by Kevin Costner. Ray is a very ordinary and average American family man with a wife (Annie) and a young daughter (Karin).

One day, whilst out in his cornfield, Ray hears a voice which tells him “If you build it, he will come”. For once in his life, Ray chooses to follow his dreams and does something truly extraordinary. He ploughs under his corn and builds a baseball field on his land.

The film explores how sometimes in life you should take a risk and follow the road less travelled, even if others think you have lost your mind. Its message is that you should believe in yourself and follow your dreams – you never know where they will lead and what you will find.

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Changeling (2008)
Saturday night (22nd March): 12.05am – 2.40am (ITV3)
By Jack Sadler

An incredible true story, Changeling explores police corruption and ineptitude in 1920s Los Angeles after Christine Collins (Oscar-nominated Angelina Jolie) returns home from work to discover her son has vanished.

Tirelessly searching for months with no luck, a ray of light appears when a boy is found, claiming to be the missing child. Christine, however, knows he is not her son. Despite pressure from the intimidating police force, she fights for justice and for her real son to be returned safely home.

Changeling deals with its tough issues in an intelligent and mature fashion, creating a quietly assured film that is heavy but always compelling, partly due to the handsome and enthralling direction from director Clint Eastwood. But the key factor of the film, its heart and driving force, is Jolie.

Perfectly showcasing the frustration, desperation and helplessness of every mother’s worst nightmare, she gives what is perhaps her best performance to date, one that is fearless and heart-breaking. We root for her because, through her actions, she demands we believe her ordeal, even when there are a certain few around her who don’t.

And when she confronts the system, she is branded delusional and a threat to authority. Eastwood presents this in a surprisingly pensive manner, examining misogynistic conventions through suspenseful melodrama but also brutal realism.

Possessing a richly classical texture, Changeling is almost operatic in its scope, yet its depiction of its themes is as hard-hitting as they come. An undervalued triumph, it plagues and infuriates long after the credits have rolled.