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Cillian Murphy

Review: The Party

Reviewed by Robert Horton for Seattle Weekly

As we applaud the wave of women making (still far from equitable) inroads into film directing, let’s pause to appreciate a veteran in the field. Primarily a choreographer, songwriter, and performance artist in the early part of her career, Sally Potter began making experimental films in the 1960s. Her cinematic breakthrough was the surprise 1992 arthouse hit Orlando, an adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s novel, with Tilda Swinton as the gender-hopping protagonist. Since then Potter has sometimes hit the mark, as with her hothouse coming-of-age picture Ginger & Rosa, but more often I’ve found her work insufferable. If you’ve seen the relentlessly politically correct Yes, in which all the dialogue is rhyming iambic pentameter, you know the desperate wish for large wads of ear-stuffable cotton.

It’s a pleasure to report that Potter’s newest, The Party, is a nasty little gem.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Review: Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is, undeniably, about the famed World War II evacuation. But it’s also very much about how Nolan makes movies, and how he wants us to watch them. Like other adventurous projects such as Memento and Inception, his new film is a weirdly structured but tantalizing jigsaw puzzle, its pieces assembled with the ingenuity of a maniacally complicated cuckoo clock. It’s not enough for Nolan that his three storylines unfold side by side—they must track along different time frames, too. The movie is like D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance, but focused on a single military event with characters who eventually overlap.

In 1940, Dunkirk was both a humiliating defeat for the Allied forces—the German army having routed the British and French to the sea—and an unlikely morale boost. The hundreds of thousands of soldiers stranded on the beach relied on a withdrawal “navy” partly made of countless small boats and ferries, many piloted by brave civilians crossing the English Channel. The story became the very model of victory snatched from the jaws of defeat.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Review: Anthropoid

Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy in ‘Anthropoid’

Spy movies come preloaded with expectations, promising many scenes of shadowy people doing shadowy things. The historical thriller Anthropoid thankfully knows the trappings of its genre well, telling a compelling, unexpectedly moving story that’s rife with secret knocks, signal mirrors, and hastily decoded messages.

Based on true events (the ungainly mouthful of a title is explained early), the plot follows two soldiers (Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan) who air-drop into Czechoslovakia in 1941 with orders to kill Reinhard Heydrich, the aptly nicknamed Butcher of Prague. As they make contact with the local resistance and attempt to shadow their target’s movements, they must also come to grips with the fact that their various plans are distinctly lacking in exit strategies.

Continue reading at The Stranger

Review: In the Heart of the Sea

Cillian Murphy and Chris Hemsworth

Chris Hemsworth’s performance as Thor looks like a triumph of realism next to his turn as a Nantucket whaler in In the Heart of the Sea. I know it must be difficult for an Australian actor to master a New England accent, but Hemsworth sounds like he’s choking on Boston baked beans for the duration of the film.

Of course, who knows what a Nantucket whaler sounded like in 1820? But the accent is the least of Hemsworth’s problems in Heart, an adaptation of Nathaniel Philbrick’s non-fiction bestseller about an incredible sea disaster.

In 1821, in the South Pacific, the whaleship Essex was rammed and sunk by a huge whale. The surviving sailors endured ghastly hardships in the following weeks, including starvation.

Continue reading at The Herald (possible paywall)

Film Review: ‘Aloft’

Jennifer Connelly

Aloft opens in a desolate desert of ice and snow where caravans of pilgrims, traveling in big rigs and camper vans, converge at the end of the world as if it’s the promised land. One of those desperate souls is Jennifer Connelly, cinema’s contemporary face of the female and almost holy capacity for sacrificing, suffering, and enduring. This seeker has two young sons: Gully, dying from a fatal (and pointedly unnamed) condition, is a sweet kid who adores his big brother; and budding falconer Ivan, resenting being dragged along on his mother’s obdurate odyssey to find a faith healer. She doesn’t believe; she just doesn’t have any better options at this point.

Years later, she’s become a guru healer in her own right, an Earth mother in the Arctic Circle who hasn’t seen Ivan in two decades. Meanwhile the estranged Ivan has grown into Cillian Murphy, he of the gentle blue-eyed countenance that suggests both fragile soul and budding serial killer.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

‘Red Lights’: Stop!

Paranormal investigators Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) spend their time finding the fraudulent in every outbreak of the weird and inexplicable. “We look for red lights,” Weaver’s perpetually pinch-faced prof lectures her class. “Discordant notes … things that shouldn’t be there.” And there you have it, the spot-on definition of Red Lights, a discordant thing that shouldn’t be there, or here, or anywhere.

Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy

Stultifying from start to finish, this mess of a movie is supremely incoherent—plot-, dialogue- and character-wise. Not one moment is visually arresting or suspenseful or even connected to the one that follows. All the players are dour, affectless, implausible. Even the climactic twist fails to shake you out of your stupor; so confused and clumsy is its presentation that one of the characters has to keep explaining … and explaining … what just happened.

Keep in mind, for future reference, that Rodrigo Cortés—writer, director and editor—is entirely responsible for spawning this misshapen thing. Let out to play from the single-location constraints of Buried, Cortés tries for what he must imagine are stylistic pyrotechnics. His camera circles and careens and jump-cuts, not because there are valid reasons for seeing any part of this particular movie world that way, but because that’s what arty filmmakers do, isn’t it?

Continue reading at MSN Movies