Set during the sunset of the Ottoman Empire, The Promise tells the true story of the awful and sadly forgotten Armenian Genocide, where 1.5 million people were brutally slaughtered by the Ottoman and Turkish authorities because of their ethnicity. This is a genocide which, amazingly, the Turkish authorities still bold-facedly deny; therefore, this is an important story that needs to be told.
The film follows a love triangle between an American journalist (Christian Bale), an Armenian artist (Charlotte le Bon), and an Armenian medical student (Oscar Isaac). As the Empire enters the First World War, our trio’s charmed existence spirals into the depths of nightmare.
By focusing on this love triangle, does The Promise belittle or demean the awful genocide by turning the film into a soppy wartime romance? Absolutely not. Rather, we become invested in the Armenian people and their plight directly through our affection for our leads. It allows us to explore the Turkish and Armenian society of the time, and the place of religion and culture.
The acting is first rate. Christian Bale is well-known as one of the most versatile, brilliant, and committed actors of his generation. Oscar Isaac is less well-known to the general public, but his performance here can leave no doubt in anyone’s minds as to his phenomenal talent.
This film wonderfully shines a spotlight on this awful chapter in human history which the Turkish government still refuses to acknowledge.
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa picks up where Madagascar left off: with our cadre of lovable animal friends trying to escape Madagascar where they were washed up in the original film, Robinson Crusoe style. In a penguin-piloted plane back to New York — what could go wrong? Well, a lot — surprisingly. Short story shorter: they crash land in Africa.
Madagascar 2 takes the charm and the likable characters of the first movie but rounds them out by giving a deep backstory to our fully three dimensional characters (ahem). Yes, we find out the origins of our main protagonist Alex the Lion. Madagascar 2 also bounces along fine, but I couldn’t help but feel that in order to avoid totally rehashing the plot of the first movie as so often happens in light-hearted comedies (Family Affair 1 and 2, Harold and Kumar 1 and 2, Ace Ventura 1 and 2, and so on), the writers decided to shamefacedly go down the plagiarism route: this story is literally Lion King retold with the Madagascar characters but pushed in a slightly Shrekified direction.
There’s the odd cultural reference, as in Madagascar, but thankfully these are few and far between. The jokes are actually jokes, not references.
Unoriginal it may be, and definitely the inferior Dreamworks computer animated franchise of the noughties (Shrek is the undoubted king whose sheen has not been dimmed by the passing of time), it is none-the-less entertaining. Likable characters, a simple story well-told, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is an entertaining way to waste ninety minutes (yeah, it’s a waste — you’re not learning anything here, and there’s nothing philosophical to unwrap).
she struggles to reintegrate into a society which refuses to forgive
A young woman (Sandra Bullock) gets sentenced to a long stretch in prison for committing a serious crime, but she struggles to reintegrate into a society which refuses to forgive her past sins.
“Do the crime, do the time”, the idea being that when you get out, you are free to start your life again. But what if the time wasn’t enough to pay off the crime? What if you got off lightly? Wouldn’t you deserve to have your life ruined? The Unforgivable explores the nature of forgiveness and freedom.
We are in no doubt that Sandra Bullock’s life was freer on the inside. Outside she has to regularly check in with her parole officer, she has huge restrictions placed on her life by the State, she has to guard the secret of her past transgressions or face the consequences. But no matter how she tries to get on with it, people will not let the past lie.
There are moments in this film where we can see the powerful acting chops that earned Bullock her Oscar in the magnificentThe Blind Side. We never feel the film is bombarding her gratuitously for dramatic effect nor are we made to feel that she was okay to do what she did. No, but we do wholly sympathise with a woman who made a fatal mistake and is simply not allowed to survive.
A wonderful and believable movie. Completely compelling.
A whydunnit is like a “whodunnit“, but where we already know the culprit from the get-go — either because we see it happen at the beginning like in Columbo, or because it’s pretty obvious — but where the fun of the film is to see why, exactly, (s)he dunnit.