Four more recommendations of films depicting people on a journey, trek these out…
dir. Alexander Payne – ★★★★½
A finely observed comedy from Alexander Payne about Woody Grant (played by Bruce Dern) a retiree who receives a letter telling him he may have won a million dollars in a sweepstakes and then plans on walking from Montana to Nebraska to claim his winnings. His son (played by Will Forte), a struggling salesman, steps in and offers to drive him there and learns all about his father who he could never work out.
The black and white cinematography adds an authenticity to the movie which helps in keeping the portrayal of Midwesterners onside as does Bruce Dern’s powerhouse performance which lifts every scene he’s in. Will Forte is more than capable which shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me as anyone who watches his comedies will know he’s one of the best at reacting to other people in a scene. Bob Odenkirk turns up as the other son and brother and June Squibb is incredible as the long suffering wife and mother.
dir. John Maclean – ★★★★
A well crafted mix of smarts, funny and violence, Slow West tells the story of a young Scottish man travelling across the Wild West to be with the girl he’s in love with. Michael Fassbender excels as the outlaw who decides to help him on his way.
The film was written and directed by Beta Band member John Maclean and it’s a very impressive debut, there’s a mixture of styles and genres but it’s done with such a high level of skill that you go with it. It also feels lean and that’s because it is, over in eighty odd minutes, which feels rare nowadays. If I had one major criticism, it’s that there isn’t nearly enough Ben Mendelsohn, but then again it’s a complaint I have a lot.
Rabbit Proof Fence
dir. Phillip Noyce – ★★★★
Based on true events, Rabbit Proof Fence deals with a shady part of Australian history where mixed race children born to Aboriginals were taken by force by the state because this “third race” was deemed a threat to the status quo. Three girls escape from one of these camps and set out across the Australian outback to head home, all the while being chased by the authorities and a skilled Aboriginal tracker forced to catch escapees down for the state.
Shot by renowned cinematographer Christopher Doyle, the Australian outback is brilliantly captured, also the occasional use of point of view from the child’s perspective draws you in more than usual. The three kids had never acted before and their unselfconscious and natural performances are astounding.
The Man Who Would Be King
dir. John Huston – ★★★½
Sean Connery and Michael Caine play two former British soldiers bored of being con men in India who set off to Kafiristan, a land where seemingly no white man has set foot since Alexander the Great. They plan to use their military knowledge to bedazzle the local tribes and become rulers themselves but will power corrupt and will their friendship stay intact through all their travails?
While the depiction of the natives of Kafiristan and women is primitive (it is based on a story written in the 19th century) it is probably true of what colonials at the time would have thought, so if you can stomach that, there’s plenty to enjoy. Connery and Caine’s interplay is charming and funny more often than not and the sheer scale of the story is fantastically realised by Huston.
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