The Green Mile (Darabont, 1999)

The Green Mile Poster

“I have no illusions of immortality, but I will have wished for death… long before death finds me.”  The Green Mile is no ordinary film. It touches upon comedy, drama and most specially, the act of God. John Coffey (played by Michael Clarke Duncan) is a big, black man on death row in the 1930’s, yet he has a child-like personality. As black people still wasn’t appreciated, obviously the film has to have a prison guard who acts like Coffey is worse than dirt beneath his feet: Percy (played by Doug Hutchinson). As much as want to hit him through the screen as he is clearly not educated enough to work on Death Row, we cannot but eventually we know he gets his well-deserved comeuppance. Even then, John still has the faith in mankind to help those who are are hurting, whether physically or mentally.

Emotions running high

Emotions running high

“We found each other. We found each other in the dark.” It is always the end scene that can make or break a film. There is nothing worse than watching an entire film and the ending being so poor, you wished you never saw it. The Green Mile doesn’t exactly have a happy ending, more of a situation that has to be wrapped up and couldn’t be handled in any other way. We sympathise with Paul (played by Tom Hanks) as he has to make a decision that affects him in more ways than he imagined. The close-up shots of all the prison guards, especially Paul & John Coffey are just perfect, seeing so much emotion (in some cases, tears) from men will get some type of reaction from even the hardest of person. They understand that they are condemning an innocent guy to die, but it is their job at the end of the day. They have no say in who gets to die or not.

189 minutes of a powerful script that gains new followers every day. “Why did I kill one of his true miracles?” Trust me; everyone is wondering this thought by Paul by the end of The Green Mile.

Leon (Besson, 1994)

Leon Poster

“Is life always this hard, or is it just when you’re a kid? Every child has must of said this at least once in their life, whether it be about school or getting a ‘telling off’ from a parent. In Leon however, when a 12 year old child says it, it’s because her dad has just punched her in the face and her nose is bleeding. Hearing those words at the beginning of the film makes it more intense and you can feel your heart-strings being pulled already. Leon is similar to Man on Fire; as yet again it is a child that gives an assassin the will to love. Leon (played by Jean Reno) is socially awkward and when the whirlwind of Mathilda (played by Natalie Portman) enters his life one day, he teaches her the only thing he knows:  the art of killing.

How to use a sniper

How to use a sniper

“I take no pleasure in taking life if it’s from a person who doesn’t care about it.” Luc Besson has once again made a film in which a woman wields a gun which seems to be a consistent theme e.g. Nikita, The Fifth Element. For being such a dark film, the surroundings are surprisingly quite homely & colourful – the park scene, the training scenes; just the overall feel of the film. This is quite the contrast as the viewer knows that what we are watching is not meant to be glorified, especially the relationship between Leon & Mathilda. As Mathilda hasn’t had the best father figure in the world, she seems to uphold Leon in high esteem and develops feelings that she thinks is love for him as he is the first male to be kind to her. Leon loves her in his own special way, especially as she has given him a new take on life.

Saying goodbye

Saying goodbye

“If you saved my life, you must have saved it for a good reason.” Leon doesn’t actually cry but the emotion-filled scene when he sending Mathilda away to live another day instead of dying with him is pretty intense. We can feel how attached he has become to her and all he wants for her now is to have a normal life and I sense that he is returning the favour: saving her life like she did for him. We feel an attachment to Leon as we watch him watch old classics by himself, giving his plant all the care & attention in the world. All the actors perform brilliantly at their roles; most especially Gary Oldman (who played Stansfield) gets all the quirks and facial expressions of a mad, corrupt cop down to a tee.

Leon is another drama/thriller film where we don’t expect the main protagonist to have such deep feelings inside them. An explosion 110 minutes of how love changes everyone, even men who kill for a living.

Blue Valentine ( Cianfrance, 2010)

Blue Valentine Poster

“What do you think about love at first sight?” Whenever this line is uttered through a film, a cringe/shudder is often seen upon at least one person’s face when in a cinema. Most likely, it’s followed by a cringe-worthy showing where you know that there is going to be a happily ever after, the same ending in the majority of romance films. Not ‘Blue Valentine.’ Blue Valentine has a dramatic ending which shows what love is actually like, not Disney’s version. We get to see the hardship of Dean (played by Ryan Gosling) and Cindy’s (played by Michelle Williams) relationship from when they were young, up till the present. The flashbacks show the true state of how they got together and how their feelings have seemed to change for the worst through no fault of their own.

End Scene: Dean crying

End Scene: Dean crying

“How can you trust your feelings when they can just disappear like that?” Seeing a man cry is the ultimate test in a relationship. The audience is for once, made to feel for Dean as he has the bad end in the relationship. Short of being cheated on, he has to suffer through Cindy’s “bi-polar” tendencies, her dysfunctional family life with her parents from when she was younger and a child who he adores. Even though there isn’t someone talking every minute, the sounds of nature are always apparent. Whether it is the leaves rustling, the wind, or the heavy sounds of water pelting down in the shower; it adds a sense of realism to the entire film. We are forever wondering why Dean puts up with Cindy especially as it seems like she doesn’t appreciate him for what he is worth. She is always saying that he needs to get an actual job, rather than just helping to fix up people’s houses which he enjoys.

Dean

Dean

“Tell me how I should be. Just tell me. I’ll do it.” Throughout the whole film the audience sympathises with Dean as the love he has for Cindy is so powerful that it is too overwhelming. Cindy has never felt such a selfless feeling for such a long period of time that she somehow manages to turn it into hatred on her side. Frankie (played by Faith Wladyka) seems to have grown up in the environment where Dean is the playful, attentive dad and Cindy is the strict mother. By the end of the film, we see the break-up of what was once a blooming relationship and how the implications affect not just those two, but Frankie as well. The contrast of the fireworks which usually represents happy times seems out of place but somehow suits the scene as nothing is right with their marriage. The most shocking visual element however is the transformation of Dean from a dashing young man to an old-before-his-time man in the space of 3 years. Combined with the sharp, bright colours of the flashbacks and the dimmer, darker tones of the present, Blue Valentine is a feast for the eyes.

“Blue Valentine” tears up previous notions of how relationships are seen through the eyes of the media. “I think men are more romantic than women.” An 112 minutes of intense viewing that will leave you wondering whether you actually want to be in a relationship filled with violent longing & pain.

Argo (Affleck, 2012)

Argo poster

“The whole country is watching you, they just don’t know it.” Most often films based on real-life events tend to be uneventful and doesn’t actually follow the events that have occurred. Not Argo. Argo stands alone in achieving an experience that follows you in your mind even after you have left the cinema. A mixture of silent, action, nail-baiting scenes about the ‘Iran Hostage Crisis’ in 1979 leaves you amazed at what you are viewing. The main feature is not that Ben Affleck (playing Tony Mendez) is a superb actor and suits the role perfectly, but that he is also the director. It’s always hard for the actor to reverse roles behind the camera but for Affleck, he seems to flow between the two like he was born to do it, maybe following in the footsteps of Clint Eastwood.

Interrogation

Interrogation

“If I’m going to make a fake movie, it’s going to be a fake hit.” Even though the atmosphere throughout the film is gritty, dark, and tense; whenever you see Lester Siegel (played by Alan Arkin) and John Chambers (played by John Goodman), a laugh is always guaranteed. The two work together so well to input a bit of humour in the dire situation that is occurring. Their take on Hollywood is so close to the truth that you just can’t help and laugh with them. Then you can’t help and sigh alongside everyone else in the cinema at some of the suggestions that come out of the American Governments mouths to try and help the crisis that is happening. Mix that with diegetic & non-diegetic sounds, the use of dialogue, the certain shots used (at points, the reaction shots fit perfectly alongside the script) and an amazing film is born. There is no need for a man to cry in Argo. The film is so tensely wired that in the last couple of minutes you cannot help but to let a tear escape by the performances by the whole cast and the accompanied soundtrack.

Learning lines

Learning lines

“This is the best bad plan we’ve had… by far, Sir.” Personally, Argo is a film to watch when you want to do a bit of learning while enjoying it at the same time. Watching the film with your mind set not to enjoy it as the setting is in Iran and thinking that the film will be a waste of time, which will soon change. From the trailer it seems like it’s another typical Hollywood version of events but after watching Argo, you realize what the hype was about and how wrong you were. A combination of hard hitting scenes and getting to know Tony Mendez (played by Ben Affleck) personal life injects life throughout the whole film. Every audience member secretly wants to know more personal information about Mendez as the realer the character seems, the attachment grows stronger and makes the acting more convincing. Any film that leaves a lasting impression on me is seen to be a ‘good’ film. The right amount of tension left me grabbing the hand of the person sitting next to me and wishing that everything would go as planned. The 70’s vibe and the saturated colours also is a huge bonus to Affleck directing as it makes the whole film more realistic, sets the scene so the viewer can distinctly imagine what are going on at that moment in time.

“Argo” is not your typically history/drama film but an explosive 120 minutes in which your emotions are ever changing. “Argo f*** yourself!” will forever be on people minds when the word Argo is mentioned. Plus how many awards it will win.