Watch This Space #5

Another weekend arrives and you’re looking for a new pick to stream at home. We’ve got you covered. The JUMPCUT team have selected a new batch of recommendations for you. Below you’ll find some classic films you never knew were hiding just under your streaming radars, some hit comedy finds, and more!

Falling Down (Joel Schumacher, 1993)

Amazon Prime

Before Joel Schumacher lost his way and camped up the Batman franchise to high heavens, his portfolio forms a fanfare collection of big hits; one in particular, 80s supermovie The Lost Boys.

Two years before his caped crusader debut, he made Falling Down, a scorchingly violent satire with a wit intelligently woven with chaos. The film follows Michael Douglas’ everyman who, on a tiringly hot day, lashes out against those in society who he believes to be America’s downfall. Commercially, the movie succeeds as a no-holds-barred revenge actioner, but the observations on the world’s relentlessly capitalist nature bury the events deeper than superficial enjoyment.

Schumacher enjoys both broad strokes in attacking consumerism, such as a famed scene in a fast food joint, but also takes sly digs through glances at posters and billboards – in a landscape so focused on money it may as well be covered in green, Douglas spills his red justice onto the grass. His character is portrayed as both a hero and villain, which although leaves a sour taste as we’re expected to root for him through his warped journey, adds to the twisted plight of the tale.

Cameron Frew

 

Ex Machina (Alex Garland, 2015)

Netflix

If you’re still reeling back from Annihilation earlier this year, maybe you’d like to sink your eyes into more cerebral ideas of human nature. Garland’s 2005 thriller/drama Ex Machina stars Domhnall Gleeson as Caleb, a programmer who wins a week-long trip at his CEO’s (Oscar Isaac) estate to interact with Nathan’s new, peculiar AI named Ava (Alicia Vikander). Ava is a magnificent achievement of tech that Caleb can’t help but be overwhelmed by. He wants to study her but soon realizes that maybe Nathan is using both of them for unethical, greedy schemes. The futuristic setting of the film tames the claustrophobic themes of human examination, existentialism, and razor-sharp disillusionment. Vikander and Gleeson are phenomenal, as always, and pull you into Caleb and Ava’s wonderful, interesting, but strange relationship under the scope. Garland’s directorial debut (if we are ignoring his pointed direction in Dredd) is patient and eerie as we await its next move, and it’s a constant, clever spectacle.

Jessica Peña

Loving Vincent (Hugh Welchman, Dorota Kobiela, 2017)

Netflix

After a criminally limited release last year, Loving Vincent is available on Netflix and I can’t recommend it enough. Loving Vincent is the world’s first fully painted feature film and is comprised of over 65,000 frames on over 1,000 canvases and was a labour of love for over 100 painters for four years – and my god was their hard work and determination worth it. The film is one of the most beautiful films I’ve had the pleasure of watching, and the accompanying score is just as delightful. Do yourself a favour and put some time aside this weekend to watch it! You can also read my full review from last year right here.

Tom Sheffield

 

In Bruges (Martin McDonagh, 2008)

Netflix

Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy follows hitmen Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) as they lay low in Bruges, Belgium after a botched job has their boss (Ralph Fiennes) keeping close tabs on them. Ray is quite reluctant to engage in sightseeing and tourist-y ventures Ken wishes to schedule during their mini career hiatus, Bruges being the last place on Earth he can even stomach to reside in. It’s a hasty film that wastes no moment to downplay its class in exchange for remote absurdities and crude unravelments. It’s Farrell at his most ridiculous, and Gleeson as the perfect sweetener to balance it. It’s weeping thriller bits mixed with sharp, cunning dialogue. The architectural landscape bodes well to the film’s nuanced, but sinfully quick narrative. A much better McDonagh film than Three Billboards. I said what I said.

Jessica Peña

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Directed by: Martin McDonagh
Year: 2018
Starring: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Lucas Hedges, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes.

Written by Corey Hughes

British-Irish playwright-turned-filmmaker Martin McDonagh returns to the director seat in emphatic fashion with ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’, his third feature film that follows the success of ‘In Bruges’ and ‘Seven Psychopaths’, a film that alludes to the conflicts of hatred versus empathy, and tolerance versus change. This, in short, is a triumphant outing for McDonagh, and is completely deserving of the tremendous buzz that it has been receiving during this competitive awards season.

7 months after the rape and murder of her teenage daughter, Mildred Hayes, played ruthlessly by Frances McDormand, challenges the local police authority when they fail to find a single culprit responsible for the attack. ‘Raped while dying. And still no arrests? How come, chief Willoughby?’ The three billboards ask a simple question: who is responsible for the death of Mildred Haye’s daughter?

Whilst the film seeks to uncover the mystery surrounding the death of Angela Hayes, this is not a mystery per se. Instead, this is a courageous tale of one mother’s dedication in seeking justice for her daughter, a justice not given to her by the local police department. With a few ‘fuck’ and ‘c**ts’ thrown in. (Yes, I censored myself. I’m not an animal.) This trademark use of explosive, vulgar writing is something that acclaimed writer and director Martin McDonagh is renowned for, and he holds no punches this time ‘round either. McDonagh’s prowess as both a playwright and a cinematic dramatist has resulted in a mesmerising fusion of drama and comedy; a film that is brimming with moments of laughter and melancholy, and a mosaic of compelling characters.

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At the helm of McDonagh’s piece is Frances McDormand, an actor not known for leading the screen, but more so for her supporting contributions, although that wouldn’t seem the case here. Her portrayal of the tortured Mildred Hayes is a fascinating one: she is not a good person, nor is she a particularly good mother, but what she lacks in manners she makes up for in grit, determination and complete badassery. A mother of a grief-struck son (Lucas Hedges) and a divorcee from an abusive husband (John Hawke), Hayes appears to be in constant battle with herself and those that surround her. Yet despite her fighting, unforgiving nature, she is not immune to emotion – she’s simply a mother seeking justice for her daughter. Whenever she breaks down there is a real sense of devastation, an accomplishment that must be applied to the remarkable talent of McDormand who is able to simultaneously make one laugh or cry. This is simply the perfect role for McDormand, who fits the role like a tightly worn bandana.

As for the rest of the cast, there’s a lot of excitement to be had. Whether it’s Woody Harrelson as the charismatic chief of police and loving father, or Lucas Hedges as the tormented son (a role not too distant from his performance in ‘Manchester by the Sea’), ‘Three Billboards is bursting with compelling characters; all of which given the necessary depth to flourish alongside McDormand’s lead. Yet I feel extra credit needs to be given to the immensely underrated Sam Rockwell, who this time ‘round plays an inexcusably monstrous police officer who embodies the societal anxiety of police brutality and racial prejudice that is far too prevalent in today’s current climate. Yet this totally unsympathetic character is graced with the most compelling arc within the movie, which to some may be an unforgivable decision made by McDonagh. Though, for me, this change in character is justified, a transition that is fuelled by his incompetence as an officer of the law, and by his understandable castigation from his local community. Rockwell captures this sense of divisiveness with ease, by bringing to the fore what could be a career-best performance.

At the heart of it all, McDonagh’s film is a hilarious, raunchy and poignant story of a mother’s unrelenting desire for justice. But more so, it is an intriguing psychological analysis of one’s response to tragedy, which in this case, is one fuelled by anarchic rage.

This is an utterly fantastic piece of work by McDonagh.

Corey’s Rating: 9.5 / 10