Sunset Song

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Directed By: Terence DaviesSunset Song

Based on the novel written by: Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Starring: Agyness Deyn, Peter Mullan; Kevin Guthrie.

Set in the early 20th century, Sunset Song is a heart breaking film but as director Terence Davies states, a story that needs to be told.

Chris (Agyness Deyn) is a young girl growing up in the beautiful enduring and sometimes harsh Scottish country of the Aberdeenshire.

This is a place where beauty may not last but will be the more beautiful for it.  Where love may not last but the land will continue to endure.

The story centres around Chris and her life from family tragedy to marriage to the First World War.

Sunset Song is a love story but also a story of Scotland and the bittersweet nature of life.  There’s such cruelty yet such sweetness that feels lost in this modern age.  And to be reminded of the sacrifice of our Grandparents and all those who lost their lives during the war and broke their family’s heart is truly humbling: Lest We Forget.

I was immediately captured by the opening scene of Chris lying in the middle of a crop of wheat, hidden from view; the sun on her face.  I used to do the same thing but amongst the green stalks of canola.  Being hidden from everything and everyone except the sky.

I loved the simplicity of this film.  The soundtrack mostly the characters themselves singing.

A close friend of Chris narrates the story, describing the poetry of Chris’ life.  The lightness of the words used to balance the harsh reality sometimes endured.  And that’s the main theme here – the endurance of the characters like the endurance of the Scottish landscape.  The camera work showing the rolling green hills, the rain, mud and filtered sunlight another character of this classic Scottish story.

Plenty of space and quiet was allowed into the film.  Personally, some of the scenes could have been cut or shortened.  But that’s just my mile-a-minute modern city brain.  The film slows the mind to grasp the sweetness, the tragedy; cruelty and humility.

I wondered at the use of nudity in the film, somewhat jarring in the context of modesty, but then there was also length given to the cruelty, the light from the church window and the sermon given, to the poetry and the singing – all given in equal measure, all giving weight to the film.  This is a modern understanding of a classic story to the heart of remembering and never forgetting.

So easy to get carried away with such an emotive story.  I find war films difficult because it’s too close; too real.  The times where child birth could so easily kill the mother, the times so easily forgotten.  But Sunset Song is beautiful film and well worth watching.

Bring your tissues, lasses, and lads, bring your heart.

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Whisky Tango Foxtrot

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Directed by: Glenn Ficarra, John RequaWhisky Tango Foxtrot

Screenplay: Robert Carlock

Based on: ‘The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan,’ by Kim Barker

Starring: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, Billy Bob Thorton, Steve Peacocke; Christopher Abbott.

Comedy/War/Drama?

Kim is a 40 year old copy writer who spends her time on an exercise bike going no-where.  No matter how hard she peddles, Kim just isn’t getting anywhere.  Her life is going backwards.

Presented with an opportunity to get out from behind a desk and report in front of a camera in Afghanistan, Kim leaves her boyfriend and comfortable life for the chaos of the Kabul Bubble where shit literally flies through the air.

Whisky Tango Foxtrot (I’m thinking military speak for WTF) is a juxtaposition of genres: war, comedy and drama.

It’s hard to categorise Whisky Tango Foxtrot.  There’s some dark humour here: Kabul International Airport A.K.A Killed In Action.  But I would say this movie is a drama with the main character, Kim Barker (Tina Fey), having a midlife crisis.

At the beginning, I was concerned the film was falling firmly on the ‘My life journey’ style of film, but thankfully, with the introduction of characters in Afghanistan, the film took off on its own journey with the focus on the characters and the reality of life in the ‘ka-bubble’.  

I wouldn’t call the film a comedy, even though Tina Fey (known for her parts as a comedian) is the protagonist, but there are funny moments with the misunderstandings between different cultures, and the inherent humour of Iain, the Scottish photographer.  Yes, this is mostly a drama with the elements of war: gun fire, bombs blasting and drones flying, played over with a sometimes cheesy soundtrack.  It was a strange juxtaposition between this romantic drama and comedy set on a backdrop of the war in Afghanistan.  This wasn’t a MASH situation.  There were some serious thought-provoking moments.  And it worked.

I enjoyed watching this film because I liked the characters.  The translator, Fahim Ahmadzai (Christopher Abbott) was a standout with warm eyes and a genuine soul; then there’s the security guy Nic (Steve Peacocke), fellow journalist, Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie) – yes the film was heavy on the Aussie actors not that it’s a bad thing!  Then there’s the photographer Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman), the politician Ali Massoud Sadiq (Alfred Molina), the general Hallanek (Billy Bob Thorton) and then the people of Afghanistan.

This was a well-rounded story, and yes, it was heart-warming.

It was just some of the moments were strange.  For example, Kate reporting in front of the camera only to realise she’s standing near a dead body hidden under rubble but for an arm.  Not funny, just a bit strange.

The mission undertaken by marines with the green of night vision but with a romantic soundtrack playing, also strange.

But the strength of the storyline with the careful handling of the characters by directors, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011); Focus (2015)), Whisky Tango Foxtrot was an enjoyable film to watch.

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