Seeing as I am spending this academic year studying abroad in Ireland, I suppose it would be appropriate to review some good Irish cinema. In the starring role of Father James, the brilliant and wildly underestimated Brendan Gleeson turns in one of his most impressive acting efforts in Calvary, channeling the frustration of a man who’s spent a lifetime actually giving a shit. Sporting a thick reddish-brown mane and sounding his still-thicker brogue, Gleeson covers a great range of emotions, as convincing in his attempts to mold the children of Sligo into proper men and women as he is in sardonically issuing back-handed compliments and even some more blatant insults.
Calvary’s dialogue is probably its strongest suit. While the film is a clever black comedy with a plethora of lines that are as obscene as they are hilarious, there is also a cloud of seriousness and deep-meaning that hangs over the few players in this small-budgeted indie flick. Every jest is followed closely with an exasperated sigh, telling of the emotionally crippling environment in which these people live. Where questionable jokes about child molestation are made frequently, there is a great deal of it happening. Where people often contemplate taking their own lives, jokes about such things are tossed around haplessly. So, while the film’s overtones are rather comedic, its undertones are actually quite upsetting. I suppose this is fairly insightful, as people do seem to make light of the real problems they face in order to cope.
Continue reading Calvary (2014)
John: In Bruges is the debut effort of far-too-unknown writer and director Martin McDonagh. Starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, this is the kind of film that makes you feel guilty about bursting out into gut-wrenching laughter. Farrell plays the young, impatient thrill-seeker and Gleeson portrays the classic oldie who only wants to take in the beautiful architecture of Bruges, Belgium, where the whole film takes place. This might seem like a familiar dynamic, but there’s a twist: they’re a pair of assassins-in-hiding after a job gone wrong.
The brilliance to the film really starts with its basic premise. Bruges, one of the most aesthetically beautiful and quaint little towns in the entire world, has become the hideout and eventual battleground of the hitmen and, ultimately, the mob boss they work for. There’s a vague element of mystique, as well, an almost dream-like quality to the film that fits so well because of how easily Bruges might compare to one’s idea of heaven. I suppose it’s possible that is what allows the layer of absurdity the film also possesses to work as well as it does. At no point does it feel like some of the more ridiculous occurrences are too much, or that they do anything but add to the awesomeness of the film. It is a true shame that Mr. McDonagh has, as of yet, only made two films (the second being 2012’s Seven Psychopaths). The Oscar-nominated writing, fun performances and harsh themes all make the film immensely enjoyable for anyone with even a slight taste for the darker comedy. If that’s you, then In Bruges is fun as hell.
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