So I’ve slowed down a little on the reviews over the last few weeks. There’s two reasons for this. 1) I am one of those losers that likes wrestling and as such am currently addicted to WWE 13, which I will review on The Games Dump soon(ish). B) I really am having trouble deciding what should be review No.200. Usually I’d go buy something that’s got bad cult classic written all over it for a milestone review, I did so with Troll 2 for review 100 and Death Bed for review 150. Trouble is I’m penniless right now and so can’t afford say The Garbage Pail Kids Movie or Story Of Ricky-Oh as I had been thinking of covering. So now I’m toying with the idea of finding a genuine classic piece of cinema to be the 200th review. I’d like it if people commented on what I should do. Should I get to review 200 now (Which may coincide with the blogs 100,000th view) or wait until I get paid (Last day of the month) to buy an absolute turd of a movie I can have a good rant over. Tough decisions. Now if I was planning to review a truly excellent piece of cinema for review 200 I couldn’t have done much better than today’s film, Paddy Considine’s directorial debut Tyrannosaur. Click the link for the review!
See how I eventually brought that intro back to being about the film I was reviewing? Clumsy wasn’t it? Tyrannosaur is a film about a middle aged widowed man named Joseph (Peter Mullan) who has serious problems controlling his temper. Joseph’s anger is getting him into trouble. He takes out his frustrations on his dog, killing it in the process, gets attacked by a group of youths he dared to stand up to and his best friend is dying of cancer. He’s feeling sorry for himself but can’t help pushing people away because of his inability to stop his temper taking over. After taking refuge in a charity shop after an outburst Peter meets Hannah (Olivia Coleman), a worker at the shop and devout Christian who wishes to help him. Joseph is smart enough to know that he needs to turn his life around and begins to see Hannah as someone that could help him. Hannah has problems of her own though in the form of an abusive husband.
Tyrannosaur is an incredible first effort by Mr Considine. You know how Ben Affleck has proven to be a much better director than he is an actor? Well a similar gap in quality exists between Considine’s acting and directing skills except he was already a superb actor. This is the work of a man who understands the marriage needed between performance, direction, conflict and the relief of said conflict needed to make a film engrossing and powerful. The film is never rushed. Shot with traditional values in mind but not afraid to use a stylistic touch to emphasise the emotion of a scene. Shots have clearly been chosen for their appeal and texture and are framed in a way that goes beyond what many film makers would even consider. Just shooting something as simple as a living room is composed in a manner that maintains an emphasis on the location’s size, the mood of the scene and and the needs of the shot. A lot of directors these days seem to just pick a location and shoot it like they would any other. Considine makes pubs look smoky and keeps the camera held in a position to make Joseph’s location feel more cramped than it really is. He doesn’t want to be part of the rest of the bar so we don’t see that. The only time you do is during a funeral wake scene which, in true Celtic fashion, is more of a big happy party. That scene being one of the few times Joseph allows himself to open up and have fun. I’m not saying what Considine is doing is unique, but it’s better than how most directors put scenes together these days.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the whole film sounds depressing based on how I’ve been talking so far. In some ways it is, especially the brutality of how Hannah is treated by her husband James (Eddie Marsan). One thing the performances never do though is act as though they feel sorry for themselves. Joseph and Hannah both understand that they have to move on with their lives in some way and make great changes but the drama comes from them attempting to break the cycle of fear they’ve been stuck in. Joseph is scared that he can’t control his temper, Hannah is scared of what her husbands temper will do to her if she does try to leave. At the same time we’re left to wonder if Joseph is the right person for Hannah to get close to as he has the potential to be as abusive as her husband is. The difference is though that Joseph genuinely wants to change whereas James uses the promise of change to control Hannah. In one scene James begs her forgiveness and as he lies sobbing on her lap she comforts him with a facial expression showing nothing but contempt for him as she rubs his back and tells him that she loves him too.
Performance is what really sells the film though. Peter Mullan has always been a solid actor who, for some reason, has never been picked up by larger productions. Here he knocks it out the park, so much so that even Paddy Considine was fooled on one occasion. In the scene near the films start where Joseph is in a pub trying to have a quiet drink whilst a bunch of lads distract him with their inane conversation Peter’s closed in mumbling into his pint was so convincing that Paddy asked “Are you OK Joseph?”, which got caught on the mic and left in the film. Olivia Coleman on the other hand likely surprised a lot of people with how earnest and real her performance feels. There was quite a bit of outrage over her not receiving an BAFTA nomination for her portrayal of Hannah. Keep in mind that most of you will know Olivia Coleman as either Sophie on Peep Show or as “that woman what does keep turning up in comedy stuff”. She proves that some comedy actors make phenomenal dramatic actors when given the chance.
There’s no need for me to really gush on and on about how great this film is so I’m keeping this review short. It really is best you just find a copy and watch it for yourself. This is the sort of film that made British cinema truly great in the 50s and 60s. The kitchen sink dramas as they were called back then. These days British film making has declined into a pit of low quality trash. We get an endless stream of cockney gangster films starring Danny Dyer and his best friend Tamar Hassan. We get awful comedy horrors attempting to cash in on the success of Shaun Of The Dead some 8 years after it’s release. We get one football hooligan film after another. The only films we get to show show outside the UK on a large scale are all funded by the US. When we finally make a film that doesn’t fit those categories and is actually superb, in this case Dredd, it barely gets promoted and ends up flopping. Tyrannosaur was never going to be a film that would drag in millions of pounds in box office takings but for some reason it was ignored at The Oscars. I honestly suggest you see this film, and others such as Fish Tank, and share it with your friends if only to show that the UK does still have something to offer.
Right, I’m off to worry over what to do for review No.200 again.