Sunday, January 13, 2008

HVO: Eastern Promises; Irreversible & London To Brighton

DVD Movies for Your Home Viewing Options

EASTERN PROMISES (2007 DVD, action thriller)
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Sinead Cusack
Director: David Cronenberg
Time: 96 mins
Rating: * * * 1/2 (Out of 4)

AFTER "The History Of Violence", Cronenberg teams up with Mortensen again for another violent but engrossing expose on the exploits of the Russian mob in London. Some of the action sequences are definitely brutal and not for the squeamish.

One segment of the plot deals with Anna (Naomi Watts), a midwife at a London hospital who goes in search for the relatives of an unwed mother who dies at childbirth. Her quest brings her into contact with the Russian mob, presided over by a restaurant owner named Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), and his creepy son (Vincent Cassel). They pretend to be nice to her, but their goal is to obtain an incriminating diary possessed by the dead mother. To do their dirty work, they employ Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), whose official role is as Semyon’s driver, but who is also referred to as “the Undertaker.” Nikolai
has his own agenda, leading to a twist in the plot.

This movie will be remembered for its no-holds-barred tussle between a nude Mortensen and a couple of thugs in a public bath. Nope, Watts does not go topless here but there are some bare breasts by the extras in this tale about the rape and abuse of a Russian girl.

IRREVERSIBLE (2004, actioner, on DVD)

Cast: Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel and Albert Dupontel
Director: Gaspar Noe
Time: 95 mins
Rating: * * 1/2

IF you are prone to seasickness watching shaky sequences, the first half of this movie will make you want to puke. You may even want to shut it off. "Irreversible" is a story shown in the reverse - from end to beginning - and it has one of the most graphic, sickening rape scenes I have ever seen on film.

The movie opens in a hardcore gay club (called the Rectum) with the murder of a man presumed to be the person who brutally raped a young woman (Bellucci). The murder is shocking and downright brutal and viewers wil be wondering what's happening. The middle segment explains why while the third shows Bellucci and her real-life husband Cassel in some lurid love-making sequence. I believe this French effort offers a tour de force of Bellucci's range of acting and we can't help but take our hats off to her.

LONDON TO BRIGHTON (2006, drama)
Cast: Lorraine Stanley, Georgia Groome and Johnny Harris.
Director: Paul Andrew Williams
Time: 86 mins
Rating: * * *

"London To Brighton" deals with prostitutes, perverts and paedophiles in the seamier side of Britain. Joanne (newcomer Groome) is a 12-year-old runaway who agrees to 'entertain' a client with hooker Kelly (Lorraine Stanley, pic). The 'deal' goes awry and the two flee to Brighton to escape the wrath of a gangster and her gun-toting pimp.

The screenplay is tight and gripping, moving hard and fast without resorting to genre stereotypes or getting up on the social-realist soapbox. This effort is said to reinvent the British crime movie — "an urban film noir with a heart of gold and balls of steel". Also, kudos to the acting of Stanley and Groome who tug at our heartstrings as a 'mother-and-child' pair even though they are not related.


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