The Week In Screenings Part XXX

Monday, October 17 2011
The Week In Screenings Part XXX

It’s Monday night and I’m at the Empire in Leicester Square for the premiere of the new UK thriller Four, it’s a packed event and there’s loads of press and UK actors in the foyer, cutting quickly through all this I head down to the screen only to find myself confronted by the very eerie sight of about 30 people stood silently either side of the entrance all wearing black hoods. It’s quite a strange and disconcerting experience walking through them to get to the seats, but it’s a great idea and perfectly sets the tone for the intriguing thriller we’re about to watch. Four is as simple as its title: four people, no names, one deserted warehouse and lots of lies. Craig Conway is the husband, Sean Pertwee is the private detective, Kierston Wareing is the wife and Martin Compston is her lover… Or is he? Employed by the husband, the detective has dragged the lover to this isolated warehouse and he also decided to bring the wife along as well. What should be a clear cut case of simply scaring the lover off slowly turns into something much more complicated and involved as the simple plan slowly starts to unravel.

This is a gripping and clever thriller based around the four lead actors, all of which step up to the mark and seem to want to out do each other. Pertwee is great as the violent and tough detective, Conway plays it straight as the cowardly husband, Compston is perfect for the confused lover, with just the right amount of cockiness under his skin, but it’s Wareing who really steals the show as the tough as nails wife who seems to be an unstoppable force just waiting to explode at anyone who gets in her way. Well worth watching when it gets released.

Next up was Shark Night 3D, which I had to go to the cinema twice to try and catch as the first time I’d managed to forget my Cineworld card, which is the first time I’d ever done that. The only other time I remember doing anything like that was way back in 1999 when I forgot the card I booked tickets to see Blair Witch Project with, so that’s not a bad run rate. So what’s Shark Night like then? It’s OK, it starts quite strong with some inventive sections and a likeable cast – Sara Paxton and Joel David Moore are always fun – but does slack off a bit towards the end. The best thing is that these are the sort of films that should be in 3D and the filmmakers here do try and embrace the 3D idea by throwing various appendages and weapons at you through the film, all of which is what 3D was about in the first place, in fact the film could have done with more of this to really push it over the top. As to the story? It’s super simple: college kids, remote isolated island, bad guys and lots of sharks!

Next up was the new film from director Roman Polanski, Carnage, another four hander after Four, but this time based on a successful stage play and starring the powerhouse combination of: Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and man of the moment Christoph Waltz. Here two couples must come together and try and reach some sort of agreement about what to do over the playground fight their two sons had. It’s a battle of wits and words in this riveting drama as sparks fly, emotions heat up and elegances shift over the course of one afternoon. All four actors here seem to relish the opportunity to really go at it and everyone seems determined to top the others, while Polanski does a great job of keeping things interesting all while limited to one apartment, he also wisely keeps the film running at a super-fast pace and slams the breaks on at the 80 minute mark, making it feel like the perfect length and almost playing out in real time.

Michael Shannon has slowly been carving himself a reputation as one of the most interesting actors around right now, he chooses fascinating roles and excels even if he’s only on the screen for a short time. In Take Shelter he’s front and centre for the entire film and turns in yet another unique and compelling performance. Reunited with director Jeff Nichols after the pair worked together on 2007’s Shotgun Stories, Shannon is Curtis, a husband who’s plagued by a series of apocalyptic visions that only seem to get worse over time; these visions begin to affect his daily life and the lives of his wife and daughter. Is he going mad or arse these visions real and sending him a warning? It’s a slow burn of a film, one that really doesn’t give you any clues as to what’s going to happen, but it’s all centred around another subdued but powerful performance from Shannon, it’s hard to think of anyone else who could portray this role and carry the film in this way. It’s a haunting experience and one that really stayed with me after the film had finished.