The Awakening Despite some solid performances and the type of backdrops you would expect from a BBC funded period drama, this British 1920's supernatural tale never really hits the mark. Set at a time when millions of people had lost loved ones and were desperate to hold on to memories or contact the missing, Rebecca Hall plays Florence Cathcart,a Myth-busting investigator intent on exposing con artists claiming to be 'in touch' with the world of spirits. Sent in to investigate a recent death at a Cumbrian boarding school and claims of ghostly sightings, Florence soon finds herself at the centre of the action. Along with Dominic West and Imelda Staunton, Hall does a credible job of drawing a little tension out of the storyline but the scares are few and far between and the plot twists are so ridiculous, leaving too many holes and unanswered questions. There is a nicely handled 'Doll's House' device that worked well but on the whole, there are plenty of films in the same genre that have more to them. If you want to see this film done better, then watch 'The Others', 'The Orphanage' or even 'The Woman in Black'. Although not a bad film, there are too many holes, not enough atmosphere and ultimately it is relatively toothless and unsatisfying.
The Guard Brendan Gleeson is at his superb, sweary best in this low-key cops 'n 'robbers, dark comedy set deep in the wild west of Ireland. A group of international drug smugglers are trying to land a boat full of merchandise, right under the nose of the FBI and local police, most of whom have been paid off. Can one stubborn, old school Irish copper stand in their way? It is rare these days for a film to be given an 18 certificate (uk) largely for its use of language but here Gleeson crackles and spits out the witty dialogue and doesn't seem to care about putting a few noses out of joint. It's all about the banter. It is testament to the script and great central performances by Gleeson and Don Cheadle that such a basic idea reaches a satisfying ending and has us caring about the characters despite their obvious lack of likeability. The final, wild west shoot-out is not taken too far as sometimes happens and the last scene leaves you with a smile on your face. The stark setting and characters bristle with energy and the overall feel of the film is one of friendship and redemption. Pleasing, gritty and full of dirty charm.