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The Rat who is made of Stainless Steel


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Film Reviews: Whiplash (2014), Don't Look Now (1973), Son of a Gun (2014), and The Hunt (2012)
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Whiplash (2014). Written and directed by Damien Chazelle. The film starts with Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) in his first year at a prestigious music school. Neiman is playing the drums in one of the practice rooms when one of the teachers, Terrence Fletcher (JK Simmons), drops by. Neiman knows Fletcher by reputation, and the latter starts to get abusive towards him with a view to trying out for the band he runs. Neiman focusses on trying to impress Fletcher, but when he looks up after playing Fletcher has gone. I had mixed feelings about Whiplash, which has received a lot of critical and viewer praise. Technically the film was great, with fantastic performances from both Teller and Simmons. I don't profess to have had as abusive a music teacher as Simmons, but I did have a somewhat abusive piano teacher for a couple of years. I've also worked for several abusive people. Perhaps that leaves me with a sensitivity to this sort of situation. I'm not saying a story always need to take the moral high road, but even so I didn't enjoy the story much, as it felt like a celebration of a dysfunctional relationship, without trying to spoil the story too much. So as entertainment I didn't enjoy it. Recommended for those who don't mind this type of drama. 2/5 (Poor)

Don't Look Now (1973). Based on the short story by Daphne du Maurier and directed by Nicholas Roeg. The story is initially set at the country home of the Baxters (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie). Their son and daughter are playing in the large garden. Their daughter throws her ball repeatedly into a pond, and ends up drowning. Some months later the husband and wife are living in Venice, with the husband restoring a church. Don't Look Now is classic 70s supernatural horror, much like The Omen. It's somewhat subtler than The Omen, relying less on gore and more on motifs. It's also quite long for the content, and I feel it would have benefited from a good 20-30 minutes being cut to give it a snappier pace. It's not as good as The Omen, but was definitely interesting. For those who don't mind old slow supernatural films. 3/5 (Average)

Son of a Gun (2014). Written and directed by Julius Avery. The film starts with JR (Brenton Thwaites) arriving at prison. Within the first day or two he approaches another much respected prisoner Brendan Lynch (Ewan McGregor) to help him with his chess game. In JR's naivety he doesn't realise Lynch's notoriety within the prison, Lynch is reticent to take his advice, but does, which puts him under his protection. Son of a Gun is an above average crime drama. The story moves along at a reasonable pace. The cast are reasonable. It's all... well, reasonable. For crime drama fans. 3/5 (Average)

The Hunt (2012). Written by Tobias Lindholm and Thomas Vinterberg, and directed by Thomas Vinterberg. Set in a small town in Denmark, initially the story starts with a close group of male friends that are betting on who will be first to jump naked into a local pond. One of the men does but suffers cramp, so his friend (Mads Mikkelsen) jumps into help him. The plot of The Hunt centres around a man that's falsely accused of child abuse at a preschool where he works. I'm guessing the story is supposed to show how this type of event can get out of hand, particularly in a close knit community. I had two issues with the film though. Firstly, it just wasn't convincing enough. The film often had an awkward somewhat stilted style to it, and just didn't feel natural. Secondly, Mikkelsen was an odd casting choice. It certainly wasn't helped by his previous role as Bond villain Le Chiffre, and his more recent role as Hannibal Lecter in the Hannibal TV series. Presumably he was picked for the latter two roles because he looks creepy, and that's something I couldn't shake throughout the film. I'm sure that the topic of being falsely accused of child abuse needs to be raised, and I'm flying in the face of the critical opinion towards this film, but the lack of realism and poor casting choice ruined it for me. 2/5 (Poor)
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