Posts Tagged ‘John Hawkes’

You Rock Mildred Hayes

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Director: Martin McDonagh

Cast: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, Lucas Hedges, John Hawkes, Christopher Berry, Zeljko Ivanek, Sandy Martin, Amanda Warren

Oscar winner Frances McDormand (Fargo) gives another Oscar winning performance as the tough and angry Mildred Hayes in director Martin MCDonagh’s acerbic small town drama Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.

The In Bruges director paints a visceral picture of a small town populated with angry residents trapped by their own limited destinies as they battle to deal with grief, anger, death and divorce.

Featuring a phenomenally well placed cast, Three Billboards also contains stand out performances by Woody Harrelson as Chief Willoughby, Sam Rockwell as the rash and violent mama’s boy cop Dixon, who exudes pent-up aggression in his posture.

There are a host of smaller roles notably played by Peter Dinklage as James, Oscar nominee John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone) as Mildred’s abusive ex-husband Charlie who has run off with a nineteen year old and Caleb Landry Jones (American Made, Get Out) as the Ebbing advertising manager Red Welby who unknowingly rents out the Billboards.

At the centre of this brittle portrayal of small town America is Frances McDormand as Mildred who is still grieving the rape and murder of her daughter Angela, a case still unsolved by the Ebbing police department.

Their bureaucratic ineptitude prompts Mildred to hire out Three Billboards which cast blame on Chief Willoughby and his team including Dixon and Desk Sergeant played Zeljko Ivanek.

Mildred’s anger and her constant profanity to the town’s population causes her relationship with her young son, Robbie, superbly played by Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea) to deteriorate.

Without giving away an intricate plot, Mildred’s main battle comes up against Dixon, a tightly wound on point performance by Sam Rockwell who deservedly won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

Martin McDonagh’s profane script and lively characters should have earned him an Oscar for best original screenplay but more significantly he managed to cast just the right actors in this drama which exemplify all the prejudice, bitterness and anger of being trapped in small town America which has lost touch with current socio-political trends sweeping the major cities.

Three Billboards is a powerful indictment of complacency, a brutal commentary about the violence perpetrated against women everywhere, a lot of which goes unpunished especially in provincial settings like Ebbing, Missouri which are sealed off from the nerve centres of cosmopolitan cities by their paucity and lack of economic opportunities.

It’s a relevant film about vengeance, grief and guilt, sharpened by Frances McDormand’s superb performance as Mildred Hayes who takes the law into her own hand, challenging authority and disrupting the status quo by hiring Three Billboards to show up the law enforcement as being incompetent idiots.

Three Billboards is highly recommended viewing, which will surely be discussed in years to come as a nerve-wracking examination of gender and social dynamics in localized communities.

The Oscar winning Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri gets a film rating of 9 out of 10.

 

 

 

 

Fear as a Virus

Contagion

Contagion

Steven Soderbergh’s gripping medical thriller Contagion follows a similar non-linear structure to his previous Oscar winning film Traffic about the US-Mexican drug trade and features a brilliant cast including Oscar Winners Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Oscar Nominees Jude Law and Laurence Fishburne.

With a fantastic musical score by Cliff Martinez, Contagion is a horrifying look out how a highly contagious immunodefiency-virus spreads like wild fire around the world from Macau to Atlanta, from Hong Kong to London through any form of human contact especially in the ease of frequent international travel.

The deadly effects of the virus and how the world population reacts to the onset of a disease so deadly that it threatens the survival of the human race is at the core of Contagion. While the ensemble cast are superb, it is Jennifer Ehle as Dr Ally Hextall in an unusually prolific role, previously seen in Wilde, Pride and Glory and Possession who shines as a scientist who races to develop a vaccine to prevent the spread of the rapidly complex and mutating virus.

The always suave Laurence Fishburne plays Dr Ellis Cheever, Head of the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and Jude Law features as a conspiracy theorist Alan Krumweide who while in San Francisco tracks the virus online and also how the pharmaceutical industry makes a fortune once a vaccine is developed.

Contagion is a scary and provocative film and raises serious questions about the survival of the fittest and the ethics of managing disease control in light of a deep preservation for continued existence of the human race. Viewers will definitely be washing their hands several times after seeing this absorbing thriller especially the pivotal and brilliant final scene. Whether it be drugs or a virus, both Traffic and Contagion deal with issues of control and the distribution of power in society and the effects of a debilitating affliction that knows no boundaries. Recommended viewing.

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