Submarine (11/5/12)

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Submarine is about a teenage boy growing up and learning to deal with keeping a girlfriend and also keeping his parents marriage together.

Fifteen year old Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) is trying to win the attention of a girl he has a crush on named Jordana (Yasmin Paige). He joins in bullying a girl thinking it will get him closer to Jordana, and later the two meet up beneath the train tracks and Jordana takes pictures of them kissing to get back at her ex. The plan backfires for Oliver and he gets beaten up, but Jordana and he begin dating afterward. In addition to his own sex life, Oliver is concerned with the sex life of his parents (Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins) and fears that a new neighbor (Paddy Considine), a new age guru who happens to be an old boyfriend of Oliver’s mother, will cause a rift between his mother and father.

Submarine is a film that I wanted to love before knowing much about it. I’m a sucker for indie movies and I’m a sucker for coming-of-age stories and I thought the combination of the two with a healthy dose of UK style and wit would make this a winner. Unfortunately, while Submarine hits lots of high notes, I found myself bored more than entertained. That’s not to say that Submarine is a bad film, it’s not even close to bad, it’s just uninteresting. Or perhaps it’s just the type of film that has been made too many times to stay fresh.

Oliver is a fantastic character and I think Craig Roberts does a fantastic job carrying the movie. Where the movie began to lose me was in the supporting cast of characters. I never cared about Oliver’s parents and I couldn’t stand Jordana at all. When Jordana has trouble at home and her mother is ill, I didn’t care and I’m not sure where the disconnect was. I think in trying to be quirky, and funny, and different, the wrong aspects of the characters (excluding Oliver) were highlighted. Although I did finally get a chance to see Paddy Considine in front of the camera, instead of behind from Tyrannosaur.  I related to Oliver, being a nerdy kid that wants to fit in and goes to see movies that other people don’t care about – don’t worry, I do care about The Passion of Joan of Arc. He has a big heart but he’s also a scared kid that doesn’t know how to handle things. I get that. The rest just felt disconnected to him in some way.

First time filmmaker Richard Ayoade does an admirable job bringing Submarine to life and had a less likable actor been cast as Oliver, the whole thing might have sunk (submarine pun intended). Even at 97 minutes, Submarine started to feel long about halfway through and I was kind of glad it ended. When the film started, I loved it but my enthusiasm slowly waned as time passed. After the credits began rolling I was happy that I took the time to see Submarine, but I wouldn’t want to see it again.

I give it 3 totally sweet airbrushed vans out of 5.

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Tyrannosaur (5/25/12)

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Tyrannosaur is a film about a man with a hair trigger temper and a woman who struggles with her own issues at home as they become friends.

The opening scene of Tyrannosaur is Joseph (Peter Mullan) storming out of a bar, swearing up a storm, mad at something and takes his anger out on his best friend; his trusting dog. Visibly shaken by this, Joseph goes home to mourn his friend and buries him. Peter finds himself passed out in front of a thrift shop where the owner, Hannah (Olivia Colman), takes him in. Despite the kindness she shows him, Joseph lashes out at Hannah and we see a man that is mad at everything and cannot seem to control it. Hannah and Joseph form an unlikely friendship as we learn the secrets of their lives and understand why they connect.

A difficult movie to put into words, Tyrannosaur is one of the most powerful films I’ve ever seen. I was unsure where the film would take me but I can safely say that I was not expecting where we ended up. Joseph is such an unlikable human being and yet there is such extreme sadness waiting just beneath his raging exterior. Peter Mullan does such a frightening and gentle portrayal that leaves you wondering if Joseph is someone you should be rooting for or not. Olivia Colman also gives a fantastic performance and her character surprises even more than Joseph.

When I found out the meaning behind the title of Tyrannosaur, I was floored. It is but one of the powerful moments in Tyrannosaur that will likely leave its imprint on you. I found myself completely engrossed in the film and several scenes were like sledgehammers to the chest. It’s hard to say I enjoyed watching it, but like Steve McQueen’s films Hunger and Shame, there is a beauty in all the ugly things happening on screen. I would be hard pressed to watch Tyrannosaur again anytime soon, but I would definitely recommend it.

I give it 4 sledgehammering sheds out of 5.

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