*NEW* THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS REVIEW *NEW*

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A wonderfully acted and beautifully shot drama. One of the better ones.

A lighthouse keeper (Michael Fassbender) and his wife (Alicia Vikander) living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from a drifting rowing boat.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond The Pines. At the time of release, I can remember describing it as drawn out over hyped drivel that was screaming for an Oscar. When I heard similar comparisons being made from other critics about this latest offering, it didn’t build up high hopes for me.

BUT I was pleasantly surprised and rewarded with a highly engaging and heartfelt affair.

We follow Tom Sherbourne fresh from the turmoil of the First World War as he takes up the light-keeper job on Janus Island. A man desperate to escape to the furthest part of the world. The sound of gun fire and war planes carrying across the wind. The vast ocean offering little refuge.

I felt the character of Sherbourne was a complete change for Fassbender. To see him play a much more vulnerable and reserved role. Delivering another superb turn.

Adam Arkapaw’s cinematography was breathtaking. It was amazing how Janus Island could look barren and desolate in one frame and beautiful and idyllic the next. Wonderful. Alexandre Desplat delivered another brilliant score that complimented the piece.

The slow burning pace allowed us to empathize with this traumatized veteran who already felt his time was up. That was until he met Isabel (The lovely Alicia Vikander).

You couldn’t fault the chemistry between them (Which is probably why they ended up together in real life). We watched their romance blossom as Tom’s stern demeanour was finally cracked by the inquisitive and youthful Isabel.

As much as the running time may have strung the story line, I was heavily invested in the pair. BUT with any drama, there is always tragedy lurking around the corner. We suffered with them as Isabel went through two miscarriages. Endured the merciless storms that riddled the small island.

Vikander was brilliant as Isabel. The darkness taking away her youth and smile as Tom dug another grave.

Until one fateful storm answered the poor girl’s prayer as a dingy washed up on the shore. A dead man with no papers and a healthy baby girl.

The kid actors that played young Lucy were brilliant. You can’t stop a child going off script and they made the scenes and dynamic that much more natural and entertaining. There were certain scenes where you could tell that Fassbender and the cast were having to improvise.

However as time passes, Tom soon discovers that a grieving widow in the village visits the cemetery mourning the husband and daughter that were lost at sea. Throwing him into a crisis of conscience with moral and ethical implications that could destroy the lives of his own family.

Rachel Weisz was superb as the grief-stricken Hannah. You could feel your own loyalties changing. Understanding Isabel’s loss and reasons for keeping the child BUT also feeling empathy for Hannah who has spent all those years believing her child was gone.

And I’m not sure if there is a rule BUT (of course) being set in Australia, we had Bryan Brown playing Hannah’s wealthy father.

As the inevitable drama unfolded, I didn’t know how it would end (Never reading the bestselling novel. A crime in itself). I was on tenterhooks.

I have to commend Derek Cianfrance for adapting and delivering an emotional story. To convey and capture such emotion so effectively. The grief, the trauma, a mother’s loss. Excellent. Of course that could not have been done without the support of a fantastic cast who played their parts to perfection.

I’m not one for romantic period pieces BUT this is one to watch.

3.5/5

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*NEW* THE NICE GUYS REVIEW *NEW*

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, this ain’t.

A mismatched pair of private eyes (Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe) investigate the apparent suicide of a porn star in 1970s Los Angeles.

From the mad opening sequence of a pornstar crashing her car into a family home, I knew what I was getting myself into. One mad ride.

Writer/director Shane Black is back with a new noir thriller and a dysfunctional duo in Crowe and Gosling as the private eyes who unwittingly get involved in the same case.

Crowe was brilliant was the no holds barred ‘punch first ask questions later’ Jackson Healey. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like his character after his macho introduction. Black’s lines didn’t really fly out at me like Kiss Kiss BUT there were still a few jewels: “Marriage is buying a house for somebody you hate. Remember that”.

Crowe playing yet another hard man. Here we go. BUT once he crossed paths with the equally mental Holland March, I knew we were in for a treat.

The pair had great chemistry and worked well off each other. Gosling stole the show. After seeing him in so many super serious dramas; Drive, The Place Beyond the Pines and Only God Forgives (God forgive whoever made that movie), it made a change to see him play such an idiot.

He was hilarious and made the fumbling fool look effortless. Cutting up his hand trying to break into an office. Dropping his gun on numerous occasions. The guy literally falls into trouble. A running gag with the drunk detective falling everywhere had me in stitches.

Despite all the tomfoolery, March and Healey were perfect noir protagonists. Healey, the man with a grudge. Out to right wrongs. No matter the cost. March, a man on the edge seeking solace in the bottom of a bottle after losing his wife. We introduced to the guy fulled dressed in the bath. A tattoo on his right hand saying; “You will never be happy”.

The first 45 minutes was fantastic. It was mad, quick witted and confusing as hell. Everything I expected from Black. It ticked all the boxes.

Keith David (The Thing) and Beau Knapp (Southpaw) were great as the appropriately titled Older Guy and Blue Face. Two murky underlings hot on the pair’s track to find the only witness to the crazy case.

The introduction of Angourie Rice as March’s daughter Holly gave March an extra depth and showed a softer side to Healey. However, she soon overstayed her welcome and took a good portion of the attention (and gags) away from the pair.

Her ‘moral compass’ viewpoint and busybody detective solving got on my nerves and killed a lot of the fun for me. And that was the problem, a heavy middle act got bogged down by too many serious moments and a befuddling plot.

Margaret Qualley (The Leftovers) was dreadfully irritating as Amelia. The running gag of her (Well, running away) got on my nerves. Her constant reappearances throughout the film really tested my patience. I’m sure that was the point BUT it didn’t leave me smiling.

Matt Bomer (Magic Mike) was heavily underused as the merciless hitman. A change of role BUT anyone could have played him. Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential) was also wasted in her role as the shady Chief Justice. She may be looking good at 62 BUT her character was pushed in the background too much. Just another generic corrupt politician. Shame.

“Okay, that explains basically nothing” – The plot, despite all its intentional contrivances, was actually quite predictable and a little flat after all the mystery.

The lumbering pace and the snappy one liners lost their zing. BUT thankfully, a frantic and fiery final act restored it back on track.

It was tough NOT to draw comparisons with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. An underrated and heavily recommended watch. BUT this was still good fun and definitely a breath of fresh air after the feeble efforts I’ve slogged through.

Despite my grumbles, I still enjoyed it. Thanks to the crazy coupling of Crowe and Gosling.

3/5

I will leave you with one of my favourite scenes and the best movie line I’ve heard in a while.