Tag Archives: Drama

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Prepare yourself for a typical Noel Clarke style urban drama set in East London and filled with “brevs”. Prepare yourself, so you can experience exactly what I did while watching My Brother the Devil- an independent drama set in Hackney that due to lack of support from big production companies, quietly revolutionises the subgenre in question.

Covering different social topics in one film is always a challenge and My Brother the Devil set the bar really high. However, unlike Anuvahood, which also decided to mirror all aspects of youth’s life and in my opinion, failed to do anything more but coping its American predecessor, “Kids”, My Brother the Devil takes a completely different approach in portrayal of the explored issues. Instead of presenting us with ten basic characters, it focuses on the story of two brothers, their relationship and their struggle to survive the urban environment.

Mo is a young boy who feels like he is growing up in his brother’s shadow. Although his educational decisions are supported by Rashid and the rest of the family, Mo doesn’t want to go to university and have a career. Mo wants to do what Rashid does- hang out with the “brevs”, smoke weed and steal TVs. The lifestyle of his older brother is cool and cool is what separates teenagers from the real deal. Mo wants to be the real deal.

Rashid is extremely popular within his environment. He is reliable, organised and very conscious of the situation he is in. The coolness so praised by Mo is a cage for Rashid. He is trapped in the unprogressing environment, stuck with gang fights and small robberies. In the eyes of the urban youth Rashid has everything- respect, money and hot chicks, but he himself sees the bigger picture, the future, which although blurry, might still be possible to achieve. At least for Mo.

My Brother the Devil isn’t patronising. I believe it is crucial characteristic which makes it a truly different film from any other urban drama targeted at young people. It doesn’t treat its characters nor its audience as stupid- both of the brothers are equally right, have the valid reasons behind the ways they behave and are interesting to follow. Although at the beginning of the film we might feel like idolised Rashid is the better one and Mo, in all his naivety and frustration, is an unexperienced character that exists in the film only for the pure purpose of ‘learning his lessons’; the certain moment of the movie changes the balance between the brothers dramatically. We realise that the youthful frustration is the expression of much deeper fears and worries that Mo has and the mental journey he goes through in order to accept the situation he is put in, is truly amazingly told.

My Brother the Devil is a real, intimate portrayal of human relationships. It has flaws and it does bring some urban drama cliches, however, being the debut of Sally El Hosaini, the film impresses with its mature treatment of difficult topics, such as immigration, homosexuality and coming-out-of-age. It is an important movie that unfortunately might be easily underrated. Let’s hope London Film Festival will bring it its deserved attention. It is definitely a cherry on this little sloppy urban cake.

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I’m not a fan of Nicholas Sparks’ sentimental teenage dramas nor am I a fan of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, thus anything that even slightly resembles one or the other in a form, content or atmosphere is definitely a dish I cannot swallow. Now Is Good is like the cheesiest junk food served for the less demanding fans of Mandy Moore failed film career. It’s like charmless morality tail lacking both moral and story. It’s like a dead body fighting the resurrection. It’s a zombie of a film. Just not cool at all. It’s just bad.

There are bad films in which it is easy to point out what went wrong and what could be fixed to make it better. Now Is Good isn’t that sort of movie. It is just a complete mess where one horrible aspect of it drags down another making every single thing about it fail utterly. I don’t know enough words to express how impossibly dreadful the story it is, however, the story is truly nothing compared to the main character which is simply unbearable to watch.

Dakota Fanning, who with age somehow loses her acting talent (a result, I suspect, of signing up extremely profitable contract with Twilight producers) plays a girl suffering from cancer, whose name I will now forever hate so much that I’d rather forget what it is than check on IMDb, who decides to spend her last months of life doing boring, teenage stuff that requires some law breaking and cliche following.

So, the film starts and we see our (anti) heroine trying to have sex with some random guy, just because sex is on her list. What list, you wonder? Oh, her bucket list- a bucket list so boring, shallow and stereotypical that I am seriously surprised with her lack of creativity. Of course, we do not see her making the list nor do we ever find out why sex is number one on it, but I guess, it doesn’t matter as it wouldn’t really help Now Is Good become any better. So I just take it as it is.

Of course she realises on time that having casual sex is WRONG and even in her position, it is better to wait for a prince on a white horse, who obviously will come within the first half an hour of this cinematic nightmare. And the moment he appears, it all becomes even worse.

The character played by Dakota Fanning is not, as synopsis for Now is Good describes, ‘passionate about life’ teenager, but rather a nihilistic bitch who, for a completely unknown reason, mentally terrorises her surrounding acting like a spoiled brat and attention whore at the same time. She is hateful, bland, boring and irritating, as well as egoistic, uncaring and self-obsessed. What a great character to emphasise with. You can only imagine how much tears I shared in the last scene of this movie…unless of course, you count the tears of happiness that it is finally over.

When the prince on a white horse appears in Dakota’s life, she turns into an even more horrible person. This time, she forgets about her uncreative bucket list, and instead focuses on her forty year old soul. She no longer wants to party hard, eat mushrooms and sit on the trees. She now wants to open a shared bank account (I’m serious- this is actually what she says) with her new boyfriend and spend days in bed with him while her worried father has no other choice but accept it. I understand that the girl is suffering from cancer and has not much time to live, but letting her do whatever she wants, even though she is an unappreciative and toxic person is simply unimaginable.

Of course, it all leads to a great finale, in which our heroine eventually dies; and because she was such a horrible person that no member of the audience will find likeable, but at the same time she is the main character who we suppose to emphasise with, the whole cast is literally crying for the last twenty minutes, trying with all its determined heart to make us share just one tear. Maybe…maybe if Paddy Considine- the only person this movie is worth watching for- cries a little, we will find Now is Good at least slightly touching?

Or maybe we will just find Dakota Fanning’s character more hateful because she made him cry?

Either way, no tears can make Now is Good any better. It is unbelievable, cheesy, badly written and plain stupid. It is offensive to all the people who suffer from fatal diseases and all the teenagers who have taste in films. It is irritating, unnecessary and painful to watch. It is bad. It is really bad. It is the worst. And it is never good.

While LUV breaks the family, FOR ELLEN deals with the family already broken. It tells a story of a stereotypical rock musician (he expresses his rebellious personality by the usage of black nail polish), who travels to the most covered by snow place in the movie history (apart from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo of course) to fight for the rights to see his eight year old daughter…whom he’s never seen…

Joby Taylor is more childish than his eight year old daughter and because we watch the story from his perspective, we soon realise that his attitude is unidentifiable and simply annoying. He is a big cry baby and no t much more personality apart from that, and because for the most of the film we see him dealing with so called ‘adult’ stuff, we feel more understanding towards these awful adult lawyers and this awful adult wife instead simply because their arguments are objectively…well, yes, they are mature.

The only moment FOR ELLEN shines is when Joby finally meets his daughter. The awkward time they spend together and especially their trip to the toy shop is shown in a beautifully warm and touching light. There is an amazing chemistry between Ellen and Joby and this part of the movie tells us more about the story than anything else. Unfortunately much too soon we are thrown back to the reality of slow, dull snow and irritating perspective. But something remains…