Concussion

GoMovieReviews Rating:

ConcussionDirected and Written by: Peter Landesman.

Based on: an exposé, ‘Game Brain’ published in GQ, 2009, by Jeanne Marie Laskas.

Starring: Will Smith, Alac Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Arliss Howard, David Morse, Paul Reiser, Albert Brooks.

Based on an exposé, ‘Game Brain’, Concussion is based on the true story of a Nigerian Doctor, Dr Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) and his discovery of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE): a brain disorder he discovered while conducting a post mortem on the famous football player, Mike Webster (David Morse).

In answer to the question: why are all these professional football players going mad and killing themselves? Dr Omalu, thinking he’s doing the right thing by sharing his scientific knowledge, and publishing his discovery in the scientific journal, Neurosurgery, inadvertently takes on the multi-billion dollar industry that is the NFL.

Headed by a Rheumatologist (a doctor who specialises in arthritis, disorders of the muscles and joints not brain), the NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury committee demands a retraction of the journal article, stating the information is false. Standing by the science of CTE, Dr Omalu must face the pressure from the NFL against his own credentials and the pressure against his colleagues and his wife, Prema Mutiso (Gugu Mbatha-Raw).

I was more interested in the science of the story, which was shown to the audience without getting too technical. A notable scene with the good Dr Omalu jerking a walnut from side-to-side in a water-filled glass jar to demonstrate how multiple hits to the head effect the brain. Or how the woodpecker uses its tongue to wrap its brain in a protective ‘seat belt’ in order to save its brain from the G-force of its pecking against a hard surface. The human brain has no such anatomical protection: ‘God did not make humans to play football’, states Dr Omalu.

But there was also politics and drama here with a ‘David and Goliath’ theme, with the ‘wickedness’ that is corporate America against the rational of proven scientific evidence. For a person to suffer the symptoms of very early dementia and depression to such an extent as to commit suicide, and for the diagnosis of such symptoms to be ignored is a tragedy against humanity.

Being compared to the legal case made against the tobacco companies regarding the ill effects of cigarettes, Concussion could easily have turned very one-sided. I was glad the beauty and grace of the sport was noted – but the obvious effects of multiple head injuries was a sad and hard fact to ignore. Also making me wonder, even though a very different sport, about the injuries being made to the brains of our Aussie Rule footballers.

Although Will Smith was well-cast, I found the science to be the most absorbing and interesting aspect of the film. Perhaps the film would have been more successful as a documentary, to highlight the scientific and political aspects rather than the drama.

But certainly, overall, a well-handled emotive and very interesting and absorbing movie.

 

Deadpool

GoMovieReviews Rating:

deadpoolDirected by: Tim Miller

Written by: Rhett Reese; Paul Wernick

Based on Deadpool by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T. J Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapičić

With the writer’s being the real hero’s, crutch shots, butt shots and all manner of side remarks, including the mention of Wolverine’s balls from Down Under – yes, I didn’t mind this self-deprecating humour of Deadpool.

First appearing in the Marvel Comic, ‘The New Mutants (#98)’, the history of Deadpool and the X-Men is quickly glossed over in the film, with Deadpool himself mentioning the producer only forking out for two X-Men characters. See here for an article regarding Deadpool’s origins…

The story-line of Deadpool, the movie, is based on Wade (Ryan Reynolds) becoming Deadpool, and his revenge in being made into a monster, and a very unattractive one at that. Rather than living the torturous life of a human mutant slave, Deadpool gets his kill-count up in search for Ajax, AKA Francis (Ed Skrein, yep, the actor who played Daario Naharis in Game of Thrones), who took him away from his lady love, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Well, he kinda took himself away but didn’t realise what he was getting himself into.

Don’t expect a PG-type comic movie here. I was a bit surprised by the violence. But the fast-paced action and many bullets to the head, cutting off of hands, broken ankles and general blood spatter helped balance the constant commentary from Deadpool. A little too much, for my taste and as stated by Ajax, certainly ‘a talker’.

A lot of the film was very funny and in addition to creative camera work (Ken Seng as cinematographer), and attention to detail by director, Tim Miller, there’s another dimension to the story: the writer’s using meta fiction where the character is aware that he’s, well, in a story. Deadpool talks to the camera and therefore the audience – breaking the ‘Fourth Wall’. And this gives the film an extra layer and point of difference, allowing a different style of humour into the film.

There was a lot going on and I admit that I missed some of the quips. People have said they’ve gone to watch Deadpool a second time and have picked up more of the jokes. Not that I’d go and watch a second time. As I said, this Deadpool guy talks A LOT.

I have to say, yes it was funny and yes I was entertained, but I would have liked a little more darkness from Deadpool, rather than always the ever flippant. Perhaps I’m showing my age, but the original comic character had more depth and I would have liked to have seen a bit more of this darkness translated to the screen. 

 

YOUTH

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Youth_movieWritten and Directed by: Paolo Sorrentino

Music Composed by: David Lang

Starring: Michael Caine, Rachel Weisz, Harvey Keitel, Jane Fonda, Mădălina Diana Ghenea; Paul Dano.

This is a quirky, life affirming movie that goes deeper than expected: a meandering journey of many moments caught of people coming to terms with their lives.

Opening with a band playing, a close up of a girl singing while slowly revolving with the background of characters blurred, sets up the theme of the film – music being the soundtrack that gives cohesion to the life of the main character, Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine), the retired maestro taking a holiday at a Swedish Health Spa.

After being asked to conduct at Prince Phillip’s birthday at the Queen’s request, the film follows Fred after his refusal, revealing his reason of refusal while showing his character through his interactions with his daughter and assistant, Leda (Rachel Weisz), his best friend, Mick (Harvy Keitel) and the famous actor on holiday, Jimmy Tree (Paul Dano).

The director and writer of this film, Paolo Sorrentino, has created a sensory experience for the audience: Great loves, music, beauty, art, bubbles, the bells around cows’ necks ringing, wild flowers, snow, levitating, hot baths, blood tests, communicating through touch, smoking and sometimes just talking. The character, Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel), an aging writer and director in conversation with his best friend, Fred, describing the various nude scenes so well: “There’s the ugly, the beautiful and the inbetween who are just cute.”

There were some beautiful truths spoken here. One of many spoken by Mick, “I have to believe everything in order to make things up,” gives a simplicity to the individual experience.

I liked how the film scratched the surface of the mundane to show the real beauty of the pain of life. The pain of growing and struggling to make something of ourselves. The misunderstandings between people.

Many moments of the characters getting to know themselves and others are pieced together into a not always cohesive storyline. The momentum of the film sometimes lost when caught in the space between these moments. But what was lost in cohesion was made up by the beauty of the scenery, well thought-out camera angles and some light cheeky humour.

Not a perfect film but some thought provoking moments, some great dialogue delivered by some great actors.