Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Movie Review(Hulk)...


Ang Lee’s ‘Hulk’ is not what I expected. A lot of people think that this is the next Spiderman; a movie for the kids. It isn’t. It has depth. It centres around sophisticated characters. It is a world apart from the hulk T.V. series, starring Lou Ferringo, which popularised the incredible hulk during the 1970’s. Hulk is a dark and serious psychological drama cum sci-fi spectacle which I enjoyed immensely.

The story of anguished alter egos, it has more in common with Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde than Spider-man. Bruce Banner played by Eric Bana (Chopper, Black Hawk Down) suffers from an acute identity crisis. When Bruce Banner is pushed hard enough to transform into Hulk, the movie moves up a notch and delivers some of the most satisfying action sequences ever put to film, as the hulk throws tanks, fighter jets and even ends up on top of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Hulk is a computer generated character and while he is spectacular to witness, he is not quite ‘photo-realistic’. This is where most people might have trouble suspending disbelief. But hopefully, like me, you will be so absorbed in the story and the wonderful characters here that you won’t have to try too hard.

Offering support to Bana are Nick Nolte (Cape Fear, The Good Thief), playing Bruce’s father David, Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind), playing Bruce’s love interest Betty Ross. All do commendable work here, but Nolte is the stand out. His manic, bedraggled David Banner is a joy to watch and steals the show whenever he gets the opportunity.

More intelligent than it has any right to be, Hulk oozes class and great direction. Writer James Schamus must be given credit for having the guts to dare deliver a script which actually takes a comic book character seriously, and pulls it off with style to spare.

Hulk is highly recommended viewing.

4.5 out of 5

Movie Review(Veronica Guerin)...

Veronica Guerin

Something which is becoming increasingly commonplace is the inclusion of a short film before the main feature. In the case of Veronica Guerin, this short called ‘Hunted’ by writer/director David Gleeson really impressed. A dark exercise in suspense, it tells the story of a man who listens to a recording of a murdered man describing his last moments. This is a fantastic method for young Irish directors to gain exposure and media attention through established filmmakers.
The film opens by establishing what happened on June 26th 1996, the day that Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin was shot dead. A necessarily disturbing opening, it sets the tone of the picture. Directed by Joel Schumacher (Tigerland, Phone Booth) and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (Top Gun, The Rock, Pearl Harbour), the movie is both beautifully shot and slickly produced.

The cast is fantastic. Cate Blanchett delivers a solid performance as the title character. Studying videotapes and voice recordings has obviously paid off as she recreates not only the accent, but also the mannerisms of her character. Gerard McSorley is on top form here as he delivers his interpretation of John Gilligan while Ciaran Hinds plays John ‘The Coach’ Traynor. A notable performance from Brenda Fricker, as Veronicas mother Bernie, Colin Farrell’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-him appearance and a scene stealing Paudge Behan, who plays Brian Mehan, round off a great supporting cast.

This film deserves to be seen, simply because the story being told is an interesting one whether you are familiar with the life of Veronica Guerin or not. As we are reminded at the beginning, the film is BASED on a true story so minor factual inconsistencies can be forgiven (Tony Gregory wearing a tie?).

It remains to be seen whether this film can stay afloat among the heavyweight Hollywood movies (Terminator 3, Hulk) upon its U.K release on August 8th and when it takes its U.S. bow on October 17th. Obviously Ireland was always going to give the film its warmest reception, but I hope it receives the recognition it deserves and proves successful overseas, if only to highlight the superb range of acting talent involved.

4 out of 5


Paudge Behan, 19th July 2003

Paudge Behan, who plays Brian Mehan in Veronica Guerin, was kind enough to talk to me about his experience with the movie, as well as his early acting experiences and future prospects.

How did you become involved in acting as a career?

“My family were always involved in the theatre. I left Ireland and was living in Berlin, working in nightclubs and bars to put myself through art school. I couldn’t really concentrate on the art. I was doing too much work during the night and too much drinking as well, so unless I wanted to start a new art style where it would’ve been very ‘shakey’ to look at, basically I decided I had to do something else. I decided to back to London and study acting and do it properly this time. I had done some plays in Dublin before but they were all very over the top, very amateurish, full of people turning up drunk or not turning up at all so I packed it in and left for Germany. When I got back to London, I applied to three drama schools and I got into one which was the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. When I got out from there I thought this is a good business, when it’s working, but when it’s not; it’s awful.”

What recent film work, besides Veronica Guerin, have you done?

“I just did another movie before Veronica Guerin, called Conspiracy of Silence directed by a great guy, John Deery. It was released at the Galway Film Festival. The movie deals with aids within the priesthood. I play the brother of a guy who is about to join the priesthood, thinking about it seriously, weighing up all the pro’s and cons. It’s a modern, in-depth analysis of what’s happening in the priesthood at the moment and especially in the Catholic church in Ireland. It’s a good movie about peoples’ attitude and changing times.”

How did you become involved in the film Veronica Guerin?

“I got a phone call to say that someone was making a movie about Veronica Guerin and it turned out to be Joel Schumacher. I was asked to do an audition so I went along and met him and got along really well with him and got a few pages to read. The audition culminated in the scene that was used in the film where he’s taken to the police station.”

How were Joel Schumacher and producer Jerry Bruckheimer to work for?

“Joel Schumacher is very good, ultra professional, knows the ropes inside out and has his own ideas bout how he wants something. I met Jerry when I got the film, we went out to Lillie’s one night. He’s a really nice guy, somebody who is completely in control of the business. He knows what he’s doing, another ultra professional.”

What did you think of the finished film?

“Very good. I thought he got a great sort of cross section of emotion and different worlds because the main thing with the Veronica Guerin movie was, as far as I was concerned anyway, the two worlds colliding. Veronica Guerin is a reporter on her side, with her values and her world which most people inhabit, and then on the other side, there are other people with their world and their values, and the two of them collide. Only one of these worlds is going to take over at the end of it all, and unfortunately for her, I think she was involved in a situation where she didn’t realise the level that some people would go to, to achieve their ends.”

What’s next for you?

“I‘ve got a few auditions that I’ll go over to London for in August, when the movie is released over there, and I will probably go to the States in October when it is released over there.”