Peacock

*Review based on a free copy provided by Amazon – buy it here

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A stellar cast feature in this unusual little film – an interesting slow burner raised by strong performances and a coolly distant direction. It’s a 3 star movie lifted to four thanks to the cast, and depending on whether or not you let yourself be pulled into the story. Cillian Murphy stars in a dual role (or triple role if we want to be accurate), playing both a man and woman, ostensibly husband and wife. Everything seems to be going perfect – John (Murphy) is a shy, quiet Bank employee with a split personality disorder whose quiet life is interrupted by a train crash in his back yard – he just happens to be dressed as a woman at the time as his other persona Emma. Bringing in some of the town’s political power players and media attention neither personality wants, Emma begins to come out of her shell more and take over John’s body. When Ellen Page’s single mother Maggie enters the fray, secrets are revealed and a war of wits ensues.

Curious, or interesting are perhaps the best ways to describe the film, rather than thought-provoking; curious rather than engaging. The main leads do a great job in their respective roles, including Sarandon and some of the lesser characters – but overall the movie sinks or swims on the power of Murphy’s performance. Murphy’s John is constantly on edge, visibly close to some explosive physical outburst, while Emma is cool, sly, calculating, though both personalities grow and shift throughout the film. Page is reliable as always, though here her usual skills are restrained showing a different side to what we have come to expect. I wasn’t aware of Director Michael Lander, yet this debut is assured ans skillful – he is in command and evokes a grim tone and sense of uncertainty as the film progresses (the score helps) and he manages to maintain a coherent plot which could easily have slipped into nonsense. It’s not likely to be one which many will ever see, and I wouldn’t quite categorize it as a cult movie, but for those looking for something a little different, and for fans of the cast, it’s one to give a go.

Have you seen Peacock? Let us know what you thought in the comments!

Amazon Vine Freebies -February 2014

In February the food feast continued, but Amazon decided I needed to start burning off all that Christmas fat by offering me an assortment of fitness related treats. It also saw the pleasing return of the free DVD.

Peacock: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Peacock-DVD-Cillian-Murphy/dp/B00GDEZLS8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=undefined&sr=8-1&keywords=peacock+cillian

A nice, understated psych-drama with a strong cast, this won’t be one for everyone, but will be of interest for anyone who enjoys slow-burning thrillers, thought-provoking dramas, and cross-dressing Irishmen.

Not For Parents Europe: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Not-For-Parents-Europe-Everything/dp/174321913X/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1408712421&sr=8-7&keywords=not+for+parents+europe

A Lonely Planet/Horrible Histories style book aimed at pre-teens covering some of Europe’s most important figures and moments. Lots of interesting information delivered in a bright and breezy manner, with plenty of gruesome tidbits to keep kids engaged.

Perfect Fitness AB Carver Pro Ultrawide Wheel – Black, Size 1: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Perfect-Fitness-Carver-Ultrawide-Wheel/dp/B00COQ2X94/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408712505&sr=8-1&keywords=ab+carver

It took a while for me to understand what the hell this was and how it worked, and after realizing I had put the handles on upside-down, I was finally able to start using it. Actually provides a stern workout, but you will look like a tool using it, especially beside the motorway if that is somewhere you would choose to workout. It’s extra wide too, meaning you can mow down both the cat and dog.

Alpen Fruit & Nuts Trail Bar 48g x 3 (Pack of 11, 33 bars in total): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alpen-Fruit-Nuts-Trail-total/dp/B00HBR7WFG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408712781&sr=8-1&keywords=Alpen+Fruit+%26+Nuts+Trail+Bar+48g+x+3

Sore on the jaw, but good for the soul – Alpen!

Mouth To Mouth

Mouth To Mouth

Before Juno and Hard Candy, Ellen page grabbed the attention of directors around the world with her performance in Mouth To Mouth. She shows maturity, a strong will, and intelligence- everything her character, and the film does not. Mouth to Mouth tries to ask some difficult questions, but ultimately fails thanks to a poor script, and a bunch of naive and unlikeable characters.

Mouth To Mouth sounds interesting at first- a young girl disillusioned with life goes off round Europe on a personal quest, innocently joins a group of like-minded souls who want to help homeless kids, but before long realises that she has become part of a sinister cult whose leader only wants to exploit those beneath him.

The problems begin soon into the film- if Sherry sees herself as an intelligent, rebellious woman then it is unlikely she would be drawn into such an obvious group of idiots. The only answer must be that she is not as intelligent as she thinks she is. The group is utterly unconvincing, and surely only someone with no future, no present would even breathe near them. They spout the same tired cliches and slogans which have no place in the real world, and a simple look at some of the members would make you gladly pass by on the other side. The sad fact remains that there are cults like this throughout the world, and enough sad, lonely, angry kids to fall for their tricks. However, the cults of the real world are much more inviting, seductive, clever, and damaging than SPARK.

Harry- Cult Leader, and Tiger- second in command, are not remotely charismatic. They might be pretty, to some, but their words, slogans, thoughts, may as well have been written by an angry 13 year old whose just been locked in their bedroom for playing Eminem too loudly. No substance, not even any style. Inevitably Harry uses the girls in the group for sex, and then forces his own disgust, weakness, and guilt onto them. Sherry eventually wakes up and realises she must get out. However, thanks to the one good twist of the film- her mother, also disillusioned, has followed her, and may not be so easy to convince. The introduction of Sherry’s mother is one of the better points of the film, although like most of the characters she is irratating and unlikeable. However, it does lead the audience to question her motives- has she come to rescue Sherry? Is she simply pretending to enjoy life in the cult to push Sherry out of her apathetic gloom, or is she genuinely at home?

The film does have other qualities- some of the cinematography is good, there is a strong mood of gloom which continues throughout the film, and there are a few stand-out, if not as shocking as they think they are scenes. The sudden death of Manson manages to be powerful, even though none of the characters involved are particularly likeable, and the death of another character towards the end in The Pit, is handled pretty well. If only these weren’t countered by silly, pseudo artistic dance scenes, and an annoying soundtrack.

Without Page, this would have been scored lower. As much as the director would like to think that this is he film, Page steals the show. She makes it enjoyable rather than tedious. It takes a true talent to make a character no-one would want to watch, watchable. This is just another notch on Page’s growing CV, although Alison Murray- now that she has got this out of her system may have grown enough as a writer and director to make something better. The films ends with most questions left open for discussion, but the final thought may be this- like other rebellious kids in the real world taken in by cults, brainwashing, and extreme religious fundamentalism, the only thing Sherry should be rebelling against, is herself.

As always, leave your thoughts on the movie- what did you make of this early Page effort?