October looks to be a great month for Film Fight, with 5 films.
First up, Macbeth is an astounding take on the Scottish Play. The performances by the leads are exceptional, with good performances throughout the rest of the cast. Fassbender outdoes himself here, with Marion Cotillard (as Lady Macbeth) every bit his equal. I’d recommend this film based on seeing those two alone. However, there is more on show here: the visual storytelling is eye-opening. Every shot, every edit tells the story by itself. You could happily switch off the dialogue and understand everything. That takes real skill. An excellent film. (See my Macbeth Twitter review).
Denis Villeneuve has directed some grim films before, like Prisoners, but nothing quite like Sicario. There is an unsettling brutality that pervades the film, as Emily Blunt gets drawn into the war on drugs by a CIA agent, played by Josh Brolin. The set pieces are nerve-tingling, never rushing to the pay-off, always escalating towards what you know is going to be a ferocious end. That’s without saying anything about Benicio Del Toro’s character, who comes into his own in the last few acts. The measured pace and beautiful visuals help balance the more graphic aspects of the film, but this is not easy viewing. Very good. (See my Sicario Twitter review).
The story of Suffragette is told from a perspective we don’t see enough of in the history of the suffragette movement: that of an ordinary woman (rather than Emily Pankhurst et al). Through this lense, we are shown exactly why this historic movement is so important (if that wasn’t already clear). Carrie Mulligan puts in a great performance, surrounded by a decent cast. It generally looks good, with natural lighting adding to the ambience. The film is only slightly marred when it does something a little more fast paced (what we might call an action sequence), where the visuals are a little muddy. All in, a very good (and important) film. (See my Suffragette Twitter review).
Beasts of No Nation is Netflix’s first original feature film, focussing on child soldier’s in an unspecified African country. While Idris Elba leads the cast as a commandant who indoctrinates captured children into his cause, it is one of the children we follow. Through the eyes of Agu, we see the devastating effects of war on children, the film rarely flinching when showing us the atrocities committed. It’s well-shot and well-paced throughout, keeping the audience engaged with a very difficult subject. Worth watching. (See my Beasts of No Nation Twitter review).
Finally, Mississippi Grind is the story of an habitual gambler and loser, meeting another gambler who is everything he wishes to be. A road trip ensues and the plot unravels. Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelson are great in the lead roles, playing off each other well. It’s not a buddy comedy, by any stretch, but the interplay of the main characters is what makes the film. The overly happy ending lets down an otherwise grounded, and even film. Worth seeing. (See my Mississippi Grind Twitter review).
Any of the films in October would have stood a chance of winning most other months this year, but the winner for me has to be Macbeth. Fantastic performances and directing make the film an exceptional whole.