Cinematic Dogmatic #2 – 18/1/16 – 31/1/16

Our newest feature brings you all the latest films in one place! Is The Big Short the anti-Wolf of Wall Street? Does Spotlight thrill as it informs? Tom brings you quick-fire opinions on the hottest new releases.

Depicting the 1990 evacuation of 165,000 Indians from Kuwait following its invasion by Iraq, Airlift could have been a rollicking human-cost rescue-mission film in the Argo vein. Instead, its focus is on an Oskar Schindler type, whose nationality has spared him an Iraqi bullet, and whose cynical economic success and disenfranchisement with prevailing ideological concerns are both motivation and character flaws which must be corrected in favour of simpler, more earnest community engagement and human compassion. It’s something of a shame, then, that such a (true) story and universal themes are straightjacketed by a tendency to grandstand and evacuate subtlety in favour of more subplots and the odd misplaced song.

The Big Short
The 2008 crash didn’t make you angry enough. The Big Short wants to rectify that, by treating you realistically (you didn’t understand what actually happened) but not patronisingly (you’re not a stupid person). With terminological breakdowns as jarring and annoying and crass as they are necessary, the stakes laid out, the consequences lived, The BS succeeds where the economy failed. Then there’s the filmy bits, whose acting is efficient and unreliable first-person narration hoary. As a drama film, it’s rote. As a documentary, it’s important.

A film in thrall to the miracles of old-school investigative journalism; leafing through files, banging on doors, scrawling on little yellow notepads, fighting for the little man and truth, justice and the American way – only without the smug self-aggrandising of the latter. It’s a methodical take on the importance of thoroughness, of not taking the quick, easy-hit headline, weeding out sickening corruption because it’s right – not because it’ll shift a few more papers. And all this embedded within some of the most assured, subtle and rich film craftsmanship.

Youth (2015)
L’Année dernière à Grand Sorrentino Hotel. A full-ranger, encompassing the spectrum of human experience in its slightly bloated frame not dissimilar to the hotel which Caine’s aging composer resides in. Described by some as a minor work compared to Paolo Sorrentino’s last (Oscar-winning) The Great Beauty, Youth is anything but. With his similar film This Must Be The Place, it demarks an earnest, assured and overreaching summation of what cinema can do; exploring some things, hinting at others, glancing at yet further concepts, themes and ideas. Over a delicate and raging compiled soundtrack (Kozelek and David Byrne to Guetta and Paloma Faith) Youth mirrors the thrums of life and from the sublime (all of the musical sequences) to the ridiculous (such emotional rug-pulls as the appearance of an infamous dictator).

Tom Watchorn

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Image sourced from ‘The Big Short’, Paramount Pictures.


EntertainmentFilm & TV

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