Tag Archives: Jack Lowden

Small Axe: Mangrove (2020) Review

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Mangrove

Time: 126 Minutes
Cast:
Letitia Wright as Altheia Jones-LeCointe
Malachi Kirby as Darcus Howe
Shaun Parkes as Frank Crichlow
Rochenda Sandall as Barbara Beese
Alex Jennings as Judge Edward Clarke
Jack Lowden as Ian Macdonald
Director: Steve McQueen

Mangrove tells this true story of The Mangrove Nine, who clashed with London police in 1970. The trial that followed was the first judicial acknowledgment of behavior motivated by racial hatred within the Metropolitan Police.

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I heard a lot about Small Axe. It is an anthology of 5 movies focussing on different stories about the lives of West Indian immigrants in London from the 60s to the 80s. This anthology has been very well received very well by a lot of people. In addition to that, director Steve McQueen, whose past work consists of Widows, 12 Years a Slave, Shame and Hunger, helms all 5 movies. So natural, I was interested in watching them. The first movie in Small Axe is Mangrove, and after watching it, I want to check out what McQueen did with the other movies in the anthology because it was great.

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The movie is about a group of nine Black British protesters accused of inciting riot after demonstrating against police brutality and race-driven hatred committed by the Metropolitan police in the restaurant named Mangrove. The first half of the movie shows the build up, and the second half ends up being a courtroom drama. It is a smaller scale yet compelling story of a community together fighting for their human rights, and the bond established just from one neighbourhood restaurant. Steve McQueen wastes no time in showing how messy the 1970 trial was in a very thought provoking and cohesive manner, and we’ve come to expect that from him at this point. McQueen is such a talent and gives a great examination of the themes and subject matters he covers in all of his movies. It really sheds light on a true story about harassment by police and further illustrates that the struggle for justice in these matters is a global issue. It’s a very powerful movie, the raw power and emotion, as well as the rage inducing storyline that is portrayed throughout is fantastic and compelling to watch, and quickly draws you into this daunting time period. Mangrove is a testament to how relevant matters of racial prejudice, systemic disenfranchisement and institutional bullying and brutality really are, even today. The movie is over 2 hours long, and while I was invested throughout, I did feel like the script could’ve been a bit tighter, mainly with the first half. It does take a while to get to the trial, as we are introduced the people and the Mangrove itself. The buildup was a bit slow to me and probably could’ve been shortened a bit, but it’s an undeniably important section of the story that needed to be here.

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The cast are all great, with all the performances working in the film’s favour. Letitia Wright plays British Black Panther leader Altheia Jones-LeCointe, and gives arguably her best performance to date. Among the other best performances of the film for me were from Shaun Parkes (who plays the owner of the Mangrove, and Darcus Howe, who particularly gets to shine in the courtroom scenes.

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Steve McQueen once again has done some great work here. The cinematography, set pieces, production design, editing and the direction of actors are all on point here. I will say that it is way less flashy and is fairly subdued compared to Steve McQueen’s past work especially as it was more of a character study, but there’s some great shots and camerawork nonetheless.

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Mangrove is a well crafted and passionate historical drama. The cast are great and shine with their performances and Steve McQueen’s work as writer and director are strong, telling a true life story of people trying to fight for their rights. Definitely watch Mangrove as soon whenever you can, it was great and I’m looking forward to seeing what the other entries in the Small Axe anthology are like.

Dunkirk (2017) Review

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Fionn Whitehead as Tommy
Tom Glynn-Carney as Peter
Jack Lowden as Collins
Harry Styles as Alex
Aneurin Barnard as Gibson
James D’Arcy as Colonel Winnant
Barry Keoghan as George
Kenneth Branagh as Commander Bolton
Cillian Murphy as Shivering Soldier
Mark Rylance as Mr Dawson
Tom Hardy as Farrier
Director: Christopher Nolan

In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.

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Dunkirk is directed by Christopher Nolan, that was enough to get me on board for this movie. I’ve loved nearly every film from him, he always brings his A game to the table to deliver great movies. The concept of him take on a war movie was intriguing, and on top of that he had a great cast with actors like Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy involved. So I was definitely excited to see Dunkirk and unsurprisingly, Nolan did not disappoint. Dunkirk is a very different war movie from most, very intense and captivating and is also one of the best examples of excellent visual storytelling. One of the best films of the year for sure.

This movie is unique compared to other war movies, it is really something special. Dunkirk feels incredibly realistic, more so than most ‘realistic war movies’. Whereas most war movies focus on both the characters and the war, Dunkirk solely focusses on the war. The movie doesn’t ever have a moment when someone gives their life story like most war movies (because in war, that wouldn’t happen). One of the best parts of the movie was the visual storytelling. Nolan uses exposition sparingly, only when necessary. The rest is just pure visual storytelling at its best. If there is one criticism I might have is that there isn’t really a whole lot of character depth or development, it really wasn’t that big of a problem for me. However, I do think it could’ve been possible to give the characters a little more depth then they ended up displaying in the movie. It’s just a minor flaw though. Dunkirk has three perspectives, one on land with Fionn Whitehead over a week, one on boat with Mark Rylance over a day, and one in the air with Tom Hardy over an hour. The transitions are a little jarring sometimes like, when its night-time in the land segment and then it suddenly cuts to daytime in the plane section. This movie is short for a Nolan movie at 1 hour 46 minutes and I think it was a good running time, its not too short and it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

This movie has a large and talented cast with Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and others and they were great in their roles. As I said earlier, this movie doesn’t have a lot of character development or exposition, the actors just needed to act well in their roles and they really did that. An example is Tom Hardy, most of the time his face is covered by a mask and he’s just acting with his eyes and he is one of the stand out performances in the film. And yes, even Harry Styles is pretty good in his role.

Christopher Nolan directed this movie, and as usual he brings his A-game, it is what makes this movie work so incredibly well. The cinematography by Hoyte van Hotyema is top notch, you completely feel like you’re with these people during these events. This film feels very realistic, the war sequences never feels overblown or over the top, there’s no self indulgent bloody violence for the sake of violence. Hans Zimmer’s score raises the tension, definitely plays a big part in making the film work. Honestly all things considered, this one of Christopher Nolan’s best directed films yet.

Dunkirk is yet another excellent film from Christopher Nolan. Along with the acting and story, the direction and visual storytelling is absolutely fantastic. It’s also an important movie, and watching these events of Dunkirk occur is really compelling. I can’t say how this movie would rank against Nolan’s other movies, but it is probably one of his best, which is saying a lot. Dunkirk is truly one of the best films of the year.