Pepe's View:

Written and directed as a debut feature by Michael McDonagh, this black Irish comedy could be described as "In Bruges" on steroids.  Interestingly, "In Bruges" was written and directed by Martin McDonagh - Michael's brother.  I can only speculate what a family gathering of the McDonagh clan would be like if the humour in their films is anything to go by. 
The guard is Sergant Gerry Boyle - a small town Irish policeman, played brilliantly by Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges) - who has little regard for political correctness, his superiors and rules in general.  A visiting "big time" FBI agent, played by Don Cheadle, has come to Galway as there is to be  an international drug bust.  Sergeant Boyle has little interest in this case nor respect for the FBI agent. These two develop a grudging working relationship and the theme of the movie is summed up by the agent's question of Boyle -  " I can't figure out if you are mother-fucking dumb or mother-fucking smart".  Boyle replies with a sardonic grin.
The dramatic tension mounts as the drug bust is imminent and we see the criminal leaders of the bust bemoan the fact that they always have to deal with the dregs of society but reflect philosophically that these people are after all drug dealers.
The movie is full of one liners, comic twists and is very reminiscent of In Bruges.  If you enjoyed that movie you will love this one. One of my favourite scenes is when one of the other policemen in Galway asks the FBI agent about the phrase "to liquidate someone".  The FBI agent explains that it means to kill someone.  The Irish guard persist for more information - "yes but does it mean they are turned to liquid?" The FBI agent thinks he is being taken for a ride but when he realises the question is serious goes on to explain the meaning of the phrase.

A wonderful entertaining film.


Ma's View:

Loved it!   Brendan Gleeson has the ability to play a character that is at once coarse and tough yet also immensely human and vulnerable.  I think the thing I enjoyed most about both "In Bruges" and "The Guard" is that all the characters are fully fleshed out complex, contradictory human beings - drug dealers who quote Dylan Thomas and complain about the riff-raff they have to deal with; a tough cop who hires high class prostutes yet takes his dying mother out to the pub.

This movie is a laugh a minute and it's tense and exciting too. The shoot out at the end is a hoot.   All in all a very satisfactory movie that sends you home with a smile on your face!

My score:  8/10


Pepe's View:

The Tree of Life written and directed by Terrence Malick won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2011.  I'll be up front and reveal my opinion of this film in one sentence: How could this beautifully photographed but pretentious wank win such an award?
The film contains very little dialogue - mostly narration or thought revealing comments but unfortunately most of this was mumbled so was indecipherable to most of the audience.  Very avant garde!  The plot, such as it is, involves a family living in a small town in Southern USA. Their life is mostly shown through the eyes of Jack - the eldest son played by Sean Penn as an adult - who  seems to be mournfully questioning his existence and the meaning of life without actually doing anything about this meaningless existence.
We see young Jack losing his "innocence" as his idealistic perception of life  taught by his mother is slowly tarnished when he witnesses a series of minor events portraying life as it really is in all its ugliness.  Jack's father - Brad Pitt - has an opposing point of view on life to the mother as he sees life as tough and an ordeal and to survive you must put yourself first and be tough.  Jack is caught between these conflicting life views and has never, it seems, been able to rationalise them.  There is a 20 min insert of the creation of the universe (why, was totally lost on me) and the ending, which had scores of people walking aimlessly across a sandy beach which I presume was to indicate how many people cross our life's path as we grow up each having a part in the person we eventually become, was too long, too obtuse and almost meaningless.
The film is too long - way too long in fact at almost 2.5 hrs - for such a thin plot and one containing almost no dramatic moments. I was never so pleased to see the end of a film and couldn't wait to escape the theatre as that is how it made me feel - trapped.

4/10 for the cinematography.

Ma's View:

Yes, I have to agree!  This did not do it for me - give me "Another Year" any day!  I thought we were in for another "Fantasia" with the whole "big bang" sequence.  I guess it was meant to place humankind in the big context of the universe but it went on far too long and became irritating!  I mean we have all seen those images before!  The movie makers have taken a hugely complex theme and conveyed it with the subtlety of a sledge hammer.  Add to that all the whispering monologue and meaningless walking about on the beach.  Compare it to "Departures" which really places mankind into the context of his short span of life here on this ever changing planet.

Acting honours went to the young Jack, played by Huner McCracken, who engaged the viewer much more than either Brad Pitt or Sean Penn.

My score:  4/10


Ma's View:

How wonderful when a film lives up to the hype! This version of "Jane Eyre" captures all the passion and tragedy of the story with its dark, gothic overtones, set in the gloomy mansion of Thornfield Hall in the middle of the wild and desolate Yorkshire moors.  Against such a backdrop, the actors might be challenged to make their mark but not so!  Mia Wasikowska gives a brilliantly nuanced performance as the steadfast Jane while Michael Fassbender is her match in intensity and passion as the ill-starred Edward Fairfax Rochester.

Of course, some of the other characters in this almost-melodrama are caricatures but well-played and believable ones:  Sally Hawkins as the wicked aunt; Judi Dench as the faithful housekeeper; Simon McBurney as the cruel schoolmaster.  The pace is measured and sure, drawing the viewer into this world of long ago when a woman's future was dependent on some male provider and the only role left for an orphan girl was to become a governess.

Director Cary Fukunaga has handled the material with precision, remaining faithful to the novel, while enhancing the storyline with creative sequencing.  I want to go back and see it again!  And read the novel all over.

My score:   9/10

Pepe's View:

High Romance on the Yorkshire moors!  I must admit at the outset that I nodded off at the beginning such is the pace of this film and when I woke after about 20 min was able to mostly follow the remainder of the film.  It is beautifully filmed with every shot meticulously planned and lit.  It is visually a cinematic masterpiece and the performances especially from Mia Wasikowska as Jane, who is Australian incidently, are remarkable.  Of course, as for all similar romances, it all ends happily and love conquers all.  Set against a backdrop of the position of women in society and how dependant they all were on men, the independence of Jane can be seen as very revolutionary.  Interestingly, for all her independence, she is quick to accept marriage to a man although in the end she ends up with someone who is totally dependant on her.  Such is the power of love!

My Score:  7.5/10


Ma's View:

It is some time since we saw this movie but here goes...  unfortunately it confirmed my opinion that the French do not do period dramas very well and I can't help comparing it to Jane Eyre!

Despite the sumptuous costumes, fabulous sets (e.g Versailles) and wonderful music , the main characters do not rise to the realms of reality enough to engage the viewer.  Nannerl, is played by Marie Feret with a stolid woodenness that admits so little variation in emotional response that it is hard to conceive that she is the independent young woman who is portrayed as refusing to accompany her family to England, instead continuing against her father's wishes (and  masquerading as a boy) to learn how to write down the music she has composed in her head.  Her friend and supporter the Dauphine, Louise, is played by her younger sister, Lisa Feret, with equal woodenness.  It is only now when I come to note the details that I realise the director is their father Rene Feret - well, enough said!  Keep it in the family, doesn't matter if they can act or not!  The Dauphin, Louis, with whom Nannerl forms a friendship of sorts, is played by Clovis Fouin in a manner that is somewhat stilted and unreal as well.  Luckily, the supporting actors do a better job - Marc Barbe as the struggling Leopold Mozart and Delphine Chuillot as his long-suffering wife, Anne-Marie are very authentic and David Moreau as young Wolfgang is charming.

The story is certainly worth the telling and despite the acting we feel for Nannerl's frustration in having to cede priority to her younger brother and instead take on the role of a woman - always secondary to the male, not allowed to learn what he learns, not allowed to compose her own music, no longer allowed to play the violin.  As well, after years of being carted from one country to another performing for royalty, she is unfit for anything else, not having acquired the usual accomplishments of a young woman, the only role available to her in that society.

There are some delightful and touching scenes - where the 2 young muscians sing to each other over their breakfast and where Leopold plays the violin in a moving effort to rouse Nannerl from her illness.  But all in all, this film is overly long and under-acted!

My score:  6/10

Pepe's View:

Ma has said it all.  The only thing about this film that is enjoyable is the music which is absolutely beautiful.  I kept wondering if any of Nannerl's compositions have survived and were being used in the film but unfortunately no information regarding this was forthcoming.
We felt for the situation Nannerl found herself in and wonder at the society of the day that would not allow a girl to play the violin - it was never explained why!
However, Marie Feret (Nannerl) cannot act and as a result, never at any stage, evoked our sympathy  The other leads were equally poor.

I normally love French films but after this and "Princess of Montpensier" have decided that the French do not seem to be able to manage the period drama genre at all well.

My Score:  6/10 - for the music.