2016 Sydney Film Festival - War on Everyone

Again another choice made on the strength of loving the director's previous movies. War on Everyone is from British director, John Michael McDonagh who also made The Guard and Calvary. I am slightly disappointed that this film does not also star Brendan Gleeson, but you know, Michael Pena and Alexander Skarsgard are almost as awesome.

Described as a black comedy that evokes the buddy cop movies  and TV shows of the 1970s and 1980s, War On Everyone certainly has a mixture of some laughs and some violence. However, it did not quite work for me. The tone was uneven, as it seemed to lurch from parody (like Hot Fuzz) to serious. The opening scene sums up the movie well. The two cops are in their car chasing a mime who is running down the street. The one cop, Bob (Michael Pena) says to the other (Terry) something like "do you think a mime makes a noise when he is hit by a car?" They then run the mime over and he doesn't make a sound, he just mimes the exclamation as the car hits him he then lies bleeding out on the street. If you found that humour to your liking, then this movie may just be for you.

There are a couple of elements I really enjoyed, namely the fantastic clothes and style of the characters, and a really great soundtrack. Lovely use of Glen Campbell. Yes, Glen Campbell. It really does fit with the film as it combines with the clothes, location of Albuquerque, and concept of masculinty of the characters, especially Terry. John Michael McDonagh's love for this American style flawed heroes of the 1970s and 1980s is all up there on the screen, however, the film did not always work for me, especially following the wonderfully crafted The Guard and Calvary.

Sydney Film Festival 2014 - Calvary

The Australian premiere of John Michael McDonagh's latest film, Calvary, was a special presentation at the Sydney Film Festival on Thursday 5 June at the State Theatre. This acerbic black comedy was well received by the crowded audience. This is McDonagh's second film as a writer and director and second film with lead actor Brendan Gleeson. Like his debut, The Guard, Calvary comments on present day Ireland and the Catholic Church with sharp observations and clever dialogue.  McDonagh said that the premise of the movie was to have a good priest (Brendan Gleeson) at the centre of a story. A good priest in a small picturesque village in Ireland, surrounded by people who are not that nice. A good priest in Ireland is not something that comes to mind immediately after scandals such as this one in 2009 that have rocked the country in recent years. McDonagh confronts this raw scar in the opening dialogue of the movie and weaves this confronting and damaging history throughout a seemingly gentle and whimsical movie.  This contradiction of tone and content may not work for everyone, however, I think McDonagh walks right up to the line of hitting the point too on the head with dialogue by having such fine actors delivering wonderful performances that delve below the stereotype, cliche or jumble of ticks. I liked it, I liked the beauty and charm of this quiet movie with sharp punctuations. It is well worth seeing.