Tag Archive: Rachel Weisz

The power games of Denial

DENIAL directed by Mick Jackson (UK/USA, 2016)

denial1It is something of a paradox that in our fact check dominated world, liars and cheats continue to flourish.

A quick Google search will expose the most blatant of falsehoods but, as the campaigns of Brexit and Trump have proven, you can win votes simply by repeating lies ad infinitum.

Holocaust denier and credited British historian David Irving was and is a pants on fire specialist but he has never wavered from his position as a Hitler apologist. This film gives a clue as to what motivates him and how he is a potent (and pungent) example of someone who redefines the ‘truth’ to justify his own ends.

The movie is adapted from David Hare’s stage play which was in turn based on Deborah E. Lipstadt’s book ‘History On Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier’.

At its centre is the Irving vs Penguin Books Ltd trial which took place in 2000 at the High Court of Justice in London and gave judgement on Irving’s claim that Lipstadt had made libellous statements against him in her 1993 book ‘Denying The Holocaust’. Continue reading


YOUTH directed by Paolo Sorrentino (Italy, 2015)

1youth3“Youth is wasted on the young”, quipped Oscar Wilde, or was is George Bernard Shaw?

Whoever made this observation, knew something of the poignancy and sadness of growing old.

All Paolo Sorrentino’s films to date have featured elderly characters struggling to come to terms with the realisation that the best years of their lives are almost certainly behind them. Youth , despite its title, is no exception.Paradoxically, it is more about facing up to the inevitability of dying than the carefree pleasures of our ‘salad days’.

At its heart is the friendship between a retired composer Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) and Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) a film director who believes that he still has at least one great film in him. Continue reading

THE FOUNTAIN directed by Darren Aronofky (USA, 2006)

The Fountain is a convoluted fable about the pros and cons of immortality with a three-strand non linear narrative covering five centuries and Space Odyssey style special effects.

In the present day sequences, neuroscientist Tommy (Hugh Jackman) wants to cure his wife Izzi (Rachel Weisz) of a malignant brain tumour.

Experiments on a monkey (named Donovan) reveal the rejuvenating potential of a rare tree bark. This convinces him that he is right to dream of a cure for death which, he maintains, is just another disease.

Izzi, on the other hand, accepts that she is dying and realises that won’t be able to finish her fantasy novel. She assigns Tommy the task of writing the final chapter.

A dramatization of her story covers the ‘past’ section of the film. She casts herself as the Queen and Tommy as Tomás, a conquistador in 16th Century Spain. There, his mission impossible style quest is to find the tree of life. If he succeeds he will be able to share immortal wedded bliss with her. This provides an excuse to indulge in some medieval fight sequences in which Tomás survives thanks to a dagger with magical powers.

The future time scenes find Tommy in deep space as a Tai-Chi practising bald-head who erroneously thinks the tree of life is the answer to his prayers.

Ultimately this is a movie about coming to terms with our own mortality with the underlying message that unless you accept that you are going to die one day you won’t be able to make the most of living.

The Fountain has the potential to be a great movie but gets bogged down by the weight of its themes (although it does boast a brilliantly atmospheric score by the ever reliable Clint Mansell).

Aronofsky is a director with a lot of ideas but has a frustrating tendency to throw lots of ambitious concepts into the mix hoping that some of them work. In this movie, he boldly attempts to render the duality of life versus death as a complex allegorical romp but winds up with too much on his plate.
Only the present time love story contains the emotional weight the story needs, the rest just seemed like an excuse to create some visually striking sequences that feed the eye but don’t fill the heart.

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