In these ever-uncertain times, Redbrick bands together to recommend a variety of action and drama movies to keep you entertained during the lockdown
Daisy Kirkaldy, Music Editor – Amelie
Amelie is a French film about the individual quirks of characters, simple pleasures and photo booths. In the film, the character of Amelie plays harmless pranks on people who need to learn a lesson and spends her life observing others, making the film feel almost like a documentary of the characters’ lives. I have never been able to choose my favourite character, as it changes upon every viewing. Each character is introduced by their likes and dislikes, opening your eyes to everyone’s little quirks and the odd feelings we enjoy. The plot is fantastic, taking you on numerous twists and turns before you reach the ending and realise that the film is ultimately a love story.
The soundtrack transports you to Paris in the best way, the shots are just the right amount of weird, but enable you to understand the plot even more. The narration is also so enjoyable; it definitely makes reading the subtitles easier! My favourite sequence, however, is a moment where Amelie takes a blind man on a whirlwind walk down the street, describing every sight, smell, sound to him as they pass. This simple act of kindness brings to mind a few tips for lockdown: stay optimistic, appreciate the simple pleasures in life, everything will be alright in the end.
Amy Henderson, Film Critic – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars: what other fantasy realm would you want to escape into during a national pandemic that gives you anxiety about leaving the house? Especially one starring the goddess that is Felicity Jones, who has never failed in giving a heart-wrenching emotional performance in any film I have seen her in to date (see: A Monster Calls and The Theory of Everything). She is also supported by a stellar cast, from Riz Ahmed and Diego Luna, to smaller cameos such as Sex Education’s Headmaster Groff.
Of course, it is not a Star Wars film without at least one droid – enter K-2SO. Sarcastic, brutally honest and, of course, British, he is essentially everything C-3P0 could have been. The whole point of Rogue One is to give a story to those usually forgotten about, but who really have a major impact: without the Rogue One crew, the Death Star would not have been destroyed in Episode IV. It seems fitting to escape into a story for the underdogs whose sacrifices are often underappreciated or forgot about. In the current fight against coronavirus, there will be many an unsung hero out there who will still have an incredible impact on people’s lives.
Kit Shepard, Sport Editor – A Few Good Men
Save for the violent, upsetting, borderline-gruesome first 90 seconds, A Few Good Men is a military movie that features not a single sequence that would fit into the ‘all-out action’ category. There are meetings over shootouts, courtrooms over battlefields, and wars of words over macho military showdowns. Yet the film succeeds in maintaining suspense throughout, as viewers are presented with a fascinating legal case which, after initially appearing very straightforward, evolves into a multi-layered moral dilemma.
With a star-studded cast including Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore, the film follows Daniel Caffey (Cruise), a young Navy lawyer with limitless natural talent matched only by his apathy to authority and professionalism. Assigned to defend two marines who killed a fellow officer, Caffey must prove that his clients were merely following orders to the letter, as is expected in the corps.
What follows is a stunning examination of the military’s grotesquely autocratic regime, and whether this dictatorship is needed to preserve democracy. The debate culminates emphatically with Colonel Jessop’s (Nicholson) iconic ‘you can’t handle the truth’ monologue, which provides a fitting crescendo that remains meaningful today, particularly as we live under the strictest government policies in our lifetime.
Kyle Moffat, Film Critic – Shaun of the Dead
Shaun of the Dead is the perfect action, horror and comedy blend, taking the best of these worlds to create a gory yet hilarious experience. Writer/Director Edgar Wright is able to visualise his ideas with the help of actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost to put a new spin of the zombie film, taking a more light-hearted approach on the concept. The film uses its zombies in a comedic way, often making them the butt of the joke, whether it’s trying to impersonate them or whether they’re being smacked with a pool cue in synchronisation to ‘Don’t Stop me Now.’
From start to finish, there’s a looming comical presence that really makes this film uplifting, despite the dead wandering around. You have the duo of Shaun and Ed who always work so well in combination and then you have the love story between Shaun and Liz which is sweet and pays off. You can tell it is made with care due to the sound design and character relationships. Overall this is a good time to revisit Shaun of the Dead because despite the overarching theme, laughter and joy are still there to be found in the worst of times.
Molly Schoenfeld, Film Critic – Vertigo
This psychological thriller, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, deserves every bit of its critical acclaim, being voted the greatest film ever in numerous polls. The plot, based on a 1954 novel by Boileau-Narcejac, is a captivating tale of obsession. Former detective Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart, deservedly one of Hitchcock’s favourite actors) suffers from vertigo. He is hired by Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore) to investigate the mysterious behaviour of Elster’s wife Madeleine (Kim Novak, whose beguiling facial expressions are a spectacle in their own right). The narrative pacing is groundbreaking because of Hitchcock’s daring decision to make a huge plot reveal halfway through the film, unlike the novel.
Vertigo is a visual masterpiece; not only are the San Francisco locations stunningly framed, the film is revolutionary for its use of the dolly zoom, which is used to convey Scottie’s vertigo. If screenplay, acting and visuals are not enough to satisfy you, the musical score (composed by Bernard Hermann) is magnificently disconcerting, with its circular melodies, dissonance and unusual instrumentation beautifully conveying Scottie’s incessant vertigo and perpetuating obsession. With its carefully articulated eeriness, not only is Vertigo the film you ought to see, but it should be the film you want to see.
Adam Toms, Film Critic – Hot Fuzz
Hot Fuzz is Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright at their creative best. The latter’s inimitable style – with its quick cuts and manual sounds – punctuate the sharpest, most fastidious, thought-through, and ridiculous slasher comedy of our times. An instant modern classic, Hot Fuzz required meticulous research into the inner workings of the Metropolitan Police Force to ensure the retention of satisfying realism throughout its flawless comedy. Consequently, it remains an enduring favourite of real-life bobbies.
Pegg is Nicholas Angel, the Met’s golden boy. So much so that his flawless arrest record begins to make everyone else ‘look bad’. He is therefore transferred to the seemingly idyllic village of Sandford – the name of a real model town used for police training – in Gloucestershire, soon finding himself investigating a spate of serial killings.
Along the way, Angel, ever the swot – the movie beginning with Adam and the Ants’ ‘Goody Two Shoes’ – learns to ‘switch off’, forming a close bond with PC Daniel Butterman. Lurid murders are consolidated with hilariously quotable dialogue from an ensemble of seemingly friendly characters who, in reality, harbour many sinister arcana. In many ways, it acts as a satire of rural Britain.
Sophie Ronodipuro, Film Critic – Victoria (2015)
Victoria is one of those movies that will ruin how you’ll watch every other film. Directed by Sebastian Schipper, the film follows a Victoria, a young Spanish girl who has just recently moved to Berlin, on a night out. It seems like your average millennial film at first: girl goes out, girl meets guy, guy flirts using his well-practised goofy charm – but all turns on its head when Victoria finds herself caught in the middle of life-and-death. The twist? It’s all shot in one take. One girl. One city. One night. One take.
The superb acting, storyline, and cinematography make it a solid film to watch in most situations anyway, but the added presence of lockdowns and quarantines in these trying times manage to take it up a level. The seamless narrative, coupled with the Sturla Brandth Grøvlen’s expert camerawork, is so immersive that by the time the credits roll, you’ve completely forgotten that it was shot in one take. There’s hardly ever a missed beat and you find yourself falling through the screen and feeling the same sense of euphoria the characters feel. And if we can’t leave the house, we might as well find other ways to stay alive.
Stay tuned for the rest of this series, but for now check out these other features on Redbrick Film: