Tag Archives: Kelly Macdonald

No Country for Old Men (2007) Review

Time: 122 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence
Cast:
Tommy Lee Jones as Ed Tom Bell
Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh
Josh Brolin as Llewelyn Moss
Woody Harrelson as Carson Wells
Kelly Macdonald as Carla Jean Moss
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

In rural Texas, welder and hunter Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) discovers the remains of several drug runners who have all killed each other in an exchange gone violently wrong. Rather than report the discovery to the police, Moss decides to simply take the two million dollars present for himself. This puts the psychopathic killer, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), on his trail to retrieve the money. As Moss desperately attempts to keep one step ahead, the blood from this hunt begins to flow behind him with relentlessly growing intensity as Chigurh closes in. Meanwhile, the laconic Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) blithely oversees the investigation even as he struggles to face the sheer enormity of the crimes he is attempting to thwart.

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The Coen Brothers are a little hit or miss for me, some of their movies I love, others I don’t like as much as everyone. Out of all of their films however, No Country for Old Men seems to stand out as one of their best, it actually may well be their best. Everything is so well crafted, from its atmosphere and tone, the fantastic performances and of course the Coen Brothers’ excellent writing and direction, all of it come together to deliver a masterpiece.

No Country for Old Men is based off the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, I haven’t read it so I don’t know how the two versions of the story compare. No Country for Old Men isn’t like some of the other Coen Brothers movies, it doesn’t have quirky characters or quite a lot of dark comedy, this is by far the darkest movie they have made. There are very small bits of comedy (mostly in some bits of dialogue) but for the most part, it is a very dark and grim plot. The film has a realistic dark tone and isn’t filled with a lot of thrills or action. You really need to understand what you’re getting into before watching this movie, it is not by any means a fast paced crime thriller. The pacing is a little slower than you’d think, making the 2 hour runtime feel a little longer than it actually is. This didn’t bother me at all, I loved how the movie took its time, and the pacing only made some of the seemingly standard scenes with not much going on more tense. Actually re-watching it recently, the pacing wasn’t that slow, but it could be for people who think that the movie is a fast paced thriller. Nonetheless, I was actually quite entertained by the movie and from start to finish I was completely invested in what was going on. It helped that the plot as a whole is actually pretty simple and straightforward but at the same time there’s a lot to dissect thematically. Without spoiling anything, some people do have issues with the way certain things end in the third act, even if they like the rest of the movie. This is mostly to do with the way that one character’s storyline is ended and what is shown (or rather, what’s not shown), as well as the somewhat abrupt last scene. The ending is divisive, even to people who like the movie overall. I can understand people finding it to end way too abruptly and being a little disappointed, underwhelmed and most of all unsatisfied with the scene it ends on, but personally it worked for me. The last scene involves a monologue that you have to sort of interpret its meaning for yourself, given all the themes in the movie, and I’ll just say that it made sense plot-wise and thematically. The whole third act goes in a different direction than most movies with this kind of genre has, and that could turn some people off. Thankfully, I’m not one of those people.

There are some really great performances here, and it helps that the characters are simple, yet well realised. Josh Brolin is also really good as Llewyn Moss, the man who finds some money and is pursed by dangerous people. It may well be one of his best performances. Tommy Lee Jones is used sparingly in this movie as Tom Bell, a sheriff hunting down Anton Chigurh but is used well, very subtle and great performance. Bell is coming to terms with overwhelming forces and changes in his life, and that story arc and development by the end of the movie is one of the most essential parts of the film (and that’s where the title of the movie is relevant). However, the performance which gets the most attention is of course from Javier Bardem, who is absolutely fantastic as Anton Chigurh, the hitman hired to go after Moss and retrieve the money. He is just so subtle and such an dangerous force to be reckoned with, he just doesn’t seem human at all. When he’s on screen, you’re not exactly sure what he’s going to do next. There is such a mystery and ambiguity to him and we don’t really know too much about him as a person, however he doesn’t feel one dimensionally evil or flat either. There is much speculation on whether he’s just a sociopathic hitman, an angel of death, Death himself, there are tons of theories on him. Whatever the case, in this movie Chigurh completely embodies evil that can’t be understood, which is why we don’t know much about him, if he’s a human being with an explanation for why he is the way he is, the characters certainly aren’t going to know about it.

The Coen Brothers’ usually direct their films really well, and No Country for Old Men is no exception. Roger Deakins does the cinematography to this movie, so its no surprise that the film looks great, it is shot with a very gritty and darkly realistic look to it and all around looks beautiful. The violence can come out of nowhere and is portrayed in a shocking way, being rather explosive and graphic. Also adding to the realistic feel is the lack of music, there’s no music played throughout the entirety of the movie (except for one sound effect used in the coin toss scene), in fact the only song you hear is over the end credits. This makes the sound effects even more present, making the atmosphere even more absorbing. Characters could be doing standard, mundane things, but you’re even more drawn to what they are doing. Speaking of which, the sound design is absolutely fantastic, it helps draw us further into the movie.

No Country for Old Men is by far my favourite movie from the Coen Brothers. With their riveting writing and fantastic direction, excellent performances from everyone and the grim and realistic tone throughout, it just really gets everything right. Its slower pacing and the direction of where they took the story made it even better, even though it may turn some people off. I really do think it’s worth checking out for yourself, it’s well deserving of all the acclaim.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) Review

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Supernatural themes & violence.
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Warwick Davis as Filius Flitwick
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
John Hurt as Mr. Ollivander
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Kelly Macdonald as Helena Ravenclaw
Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: David Yates

A clash between good and evil awaits as young Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) prepare for a final battle against Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Harry has grown into a steely lad on a mission to rid the world of evil. The friends must search for the Horcruxes that keep the dastardly wizard immortal. Harry and Voldemort meet at Hogwarts Castle for an epic showdown where the forces of darkness may finally meet their match.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 had to deliver a satisfying conclusion to the Harry Potter series. With it being the 8th film in the series and with a huge fanbase behind it (both from the book and the movie), there was a lot of hype behind it, thankfully it really delivered. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a fantastic and emotionally satisfying ending to the series.

Deathly Hallows Part 2 had a somewhat easy task, outside of the Gringotts Bank scene, most of the movie is one big final battle. But it still had the task of bringing everything together to deliver a fantastic conclusion, and I think it was effective in how they did that. It took just about all of the main plot points and characters and concluded them in a conclusive and satisfying way. As all Harry Potter films are like, things are different from the books. Some things like the final fight between Harry and Voldemort, I didn’t mind even though I know it was criticised from being different from the book. The book didn’t have much of a fight and was mostly a long conversation, so this version works better for a movie (though I agree that it would’ve been nice if there was more dialogue between the two). However the way it ends for Voldemort was a little underwhelming and cliché, and there should’ve been more of a transition between that scene and the next scene. There are some changes that I don’t think were great, like what happened with the Elder Wand at the end of the film. However there wasn’t really anything too much that ruined the experience. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the shortest of the Harry Potter movies at 2 hours and 10 minutes long and it was the right length. It is long enough but it also gets to the point and main points of the story.

All the cast did a great job and served their purpose well. Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) are all great again, and all get to do major things in the movie. Like in Part 1, a lot of the supporting characters are pushed to the back and there’s so many of them but they all do great. Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, David Thewlis as Remus Lupin and more all do fantastic in their roles here. We also get to see the full character of Alan Rickman’s Severus Snape. He’s not in a ton of scenes but he is fantastic in them and deliver on some of the best scenes of the movie. Ralph Fiennes is once again great as Voldemort, still throwing himself into a rather pure evil role, but playing it so convincingly and with so much menace that it kind of works. He’s a little over the top at some points, particularly in one scene in the third act before the final confrontation, but I can’t see Voldemort being portrayed any better than how Fiennes did it.

The direction by David Yates is once again great. Deathly Hallows Part 2 has the most action in the series, we see a lot of wizard battles and destruction and it’s all handled really well. The visual effects are outstanding and still 7 years later look pretty good. The action scenes are entertaining and you can feel the weight behind everything that happens. Alexandre Desplat did a great score for Deathly Hallows Part 1 and I’m glad to see him do the score for Deathly Hallows Part 2 as well, elevating so much of the movie over what it already is.

Deathly Hallows Part 2 delivers on what it is supposed to. It’s entertaining, emotionally satisfying and brings the series to a close in the best way possible. It’s biggest flaws are the ending of one of the scenes in the third act and some of the differences between the book and the movie, and the latter is an issue with every single movie in the series, which only speaks to how fantastic of a movie it is.

Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017) Review

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Adult themes
Cast
Domhnall Gleeson as A. A. Milne
Margot Robbie as Daphne de Sélincourt
Kelly Macdonald as Olive
Will Tilston as Young Christopher Robin
Alex Lawther as Christopher Robin Milne
Director: Simon Curtis

After leaving London for the English countryside, writer A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) starts to spin fanciful yarns about his son’s growing collection of stuffed animals. These stories form the basis for “Winnie-the-Pooh” and “The House at Pooh Corner,” published respectively in 1926 and 1928. Milne and his family soon become swept up in the instant success of the books, while the enchanting tales bring hope and comfort to the rest of postwar England.

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I was partially curious about Goodbye Christopher Robin, mostly because of Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie’s involvement. Otherwise I didn’t really know what to expect, it was film about the making of Winnie the Pooh and I guess that could have some potential, but I wasn’t really sure. It was better than I thought it would be, with the story and performances being quite solid, it’s not great but it is good.

The story was generally good, its not one of the greatest biopics out there but its a very solid one. I do like how it doesn’t shy away from some of the things that happened, with how the success of the Winnie the Pooh stories had a negative impact on the real Christopher Robin. This movie surprisingly had some effective emotional moments that I honestly didn’t expect. I don’t know how accurate the overall film is to real life, though I did look up some things and there were a couple inaccuracies I found at the end. I thought it might’ve been done to lighten up the end a little because it would be hard for them to end the story in the movie like how it did in real life (I won’t say what happened, just watch the movie and then do some looking into the story on your own and you might know what I’m referring to). But that’s all I can really say from my position. I was consistently invested in the movie, there weren’t any particularly glaring flaws, it’s just overall a decent biopic. Aside from that, not too much to mention.

Acting is pretty great from everyone. Domhnall Gleeson gives a solid performance as A.A. Milne, the author of the Winnie the Pooh books. Margot Robbie plays Milne’s wife, who in the story isn’t very likable to say the least, but Robbie does her best to humanise her character as much as possible and she did a good job as well. The real life Christopher Robin Milne is played by 2 actors, Will Tilston for the younger version and Alex Lawther for the grown up version. Both are great but it’s Tilston who gets the more focus and screentime and he is so great here, this movie is kind of riding on him, so if Tilston failed, this movie would probably fail. Fortunately he was really good. There is great chemistry between Tilston and Gleeson and that is so important for the movie. Kelly Macdonald is also good as Christopher’s nanny, and you can definitely seem the bond between the two as most of the time it’s her who’s taking care of him. Again, they have great chemistry.

This is the first film I’ve seen by director Simon Curtis and he did a pretty solid job overall. There’s isn’t that much to say about it honestly, it’s adequately directed like most decent biopics and nothing particularly bad or amazing about it.

I liked Goodbye Christopher Robin more than I thought I would. I was reasonably interested in the story and it was surprisingly quite effective on an emotional level. I wouldn’t say that its like one of the year’s best films but it is definitely worth giving taking a look for the performances at the very least.

T2: Trainspotting (2017) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language, drug use, sex scenes & content that may disturb.
Cast
Ewan McGregor as Mark “Rent Boy” Renton
Ewen Bremner as Daniel “Spud” Murphy
Jonny Lee Miller as Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson
Robert Carlyle as Francis “Franco” Begbie
Kevin McKidd as Tommy MacKenzie
Kyle Fitzpatrick as Fergus
Elek Kish as Dozo
Bradley Welsh as Mr Doyle
Kelly Macdonald as Diane Coulston
Anjela Nedyalkova as Veronika Kovach
Director: Danny Boyle

First there was an opportunity, then there was a betrayal. Twenty years later, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to the only place that he can ever call home. There waiting for him are old buddies Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) and Begbie (Robert Carlyle). Sorrow, loss, joy, vengeance, hatred, love, fear, regret, self-destruction and mortal danger are also all lined up and ready to welcome him.

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I only recently saw the original Trainspotting, it was definitely a unique movie, especially with its style and direction. 21 years later, director Danny Boyle and the cast from the original returned to deliver a sequel with these returning characters. A lot of sequels decades in the making don’t live up to the hype, it didn’t seem necessary to create a sequel, Trainspotting of all films definitely didn’t need a sequel. However, T2: Trainspotting was really pulled off well and now I’m glad they actually decided to go ahead with a sequel. Everyone returns to deliver a worthy sequel that is at the very least at the level of the original.

The issue that this film could face is that it could end up being a total departure or just a repeat and rehash of the original. Fortunately that’s not what happened here, it is new enough while still feeling like a Trainspotting movie. It really does feel like a continuation of the Trainspotting story, it definitely helped that John Dodge, the writer of the original film wrote the sequel as well. The film deals with addiction and other themes in a different way than the original. It doesn’t focus as much as drugs as the original, the issues that these characters are going through are more existential and a lot different. It handles everything overall in a more darker and mature way. You won’t see sequences that are absolutely bonkers like the toilet scene in the original. However, it is still full of that crazy energy from the original, just used in a different way. It is also very funny but its also very emotional too, it really balances everything out all things considering. I don’t really have many issues with the film to be honest.

The characters from the original film, Renton, Spud, Sick Boy and Begbie return, with Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle reprising their respective roles. They feel just like their characters, just 20 years older and they continue to share incredible chemistry. Most of the characters haven’t changed, Renton is the only one who has made a significant change since the end of the original film. We do also get to see more insight into their characters and their lives, the treatment of the characters was quite good. As I said previously, everyone is great here, but if there was a standout I’d say it is Spud, who has a surprisingly emotional story in T2. A new character is Anjela Nedyalkova as Veronika, Sick Boy’s girlfriend. She does a really great job in her scenes, having great chemistry with Jonny Lee Miller and Ewen Bremner. She also does very well at standing out amongst the four main characters, she definitely needs to be in more movies.

Danny Boyle returns to direct the sequel and really he’s the only person who should’ve directed a Trainspotting sequel. Boyle was once again great, he’s clearly evolved with his filmmaking style. He has combined his new filmmaking style with the style that he used back in 1996 with the original Trainspotting. You don’t get crazy visuals like the original with sequences like the toilet and the baby and others, not necessarily a bad thing, in fact the visual style is great for the story. The style is perfect, with the camerawork, editing and the framing being excellently done. It still has an erratic feeling to it that fits perfectly. The soundtrack in the original Trainspotting was great and that’s the same for the sequel, it fitted the movie and scenes so incredibly well.

The sequel to Trainspotting was the best it possibly could’ve been with its great script, the returning cast and Danny Boyle’s excellent direction. While they are at similar levels of quality, I personally liked Trainspotting 2 slightly more than the original. The best thing I can say is that it’s a perfect continuation of the story. If you liked the original film, I recommend at least checking out the sequel. Even if you might not consider it as good as the original, it’s still very close to be as good as the original. T2: Trainspotting was surprisingly great and one of my favourite films of the year.