Movies reviewed this week: The Salesman, Fences, Gold and Long View: The Beauty and the Beast (starring: Emma Watson and Dan Evans)
A salesman’s lot is not always a happy one. The hapless Willy Loman found the going too tough in Death of a Salesman, and the play has never been the most uplifting of dramas.
Rana Etesami (Taraneh Alidoosti) and her husband Emad (Shahab Hosseini) are a respectable, middle-class couple in Tehran simply getting on with their day-to-day lives.
Both are ardent members of their local am-dram group and have taken the starring roles in Arthur Miller’s classic play.
When Emad takes the role of the beleaguered Willy Loman and Rana, his long-suffering wife Linda; they find their roles resonate and typify some of the nascent dissatisfaction in their own lives.
While Emad works as a teacher, Rana is a housewife harbouring thoughts of starting a family.
After they are forced to flee their flat due to a construction calamity with the block next door, the cracks in the ceiling are nothing compared to those that are soon going to afflict their relationship.
On taking the keys to their new place, the couple find out its previous resident was a lady of the night.
When an incident related to her comes to their door, their lives are turned upside down.
In this gripping film, the couple’s travails are juxtaposed to the proceedings unfolding in the Miller play they are performing in.
While Emad wonders why Willy Loman can’t protect or provide for his wife and family, he rather forgets about his own shortcomings. What unfolds is an examination of frustration, desperation, anger and retribution.
Director Asghar Farhadi’s film won two prizes at Cannes (Best Actor; Best Screenplay) this year and has been Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign Language Film.
Review by Kevin McIndoe
Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) missed the boat when the baseball leagues of 1950s America started admitting black athletes. The bin man’s bitterness spills over to his relationship with his wife Rose (Viola Davis) and his family. When his son gets the chance to meet a top football scout, he puts the mockers on it; a decision that doesn’t exactly lend itself to family harmony. There are soon plenty of repressed emotions, rows and recrimination to go around. Some highly charged scenes ensue, and there’s no mawkish mediocrity on show in this. With two such powerhouse actors such as these you’d expect a treat. And you get it, as Washington and Davis really deliver.
Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) is a not-very-likeable gold prospector. He’s also a washed-up company director with a cash-flow problem and an ever-decreasing circle of contacts to pitch to. When he gets wind of a possible money-making venture in Indonesia, he is more than up for it. After teaming up with Michael (Edgar Ramirez) whose expertise with copper has garnered him a fervent local following, it looks like his luck could change. Not much glitters in this, though. It can’t make up its mind whether it’s an action adventure with something to say about the American Dream or simply an enjoyable romp with no pretensions whatsoever. For McConaughey fans only.
Beauty and the Beast
When the feisty, young and aptly named Belle (Emma Watson) is taken captive by a Beast (Dan Evans) in his castle, she is forced to make the best of it. By making friends with his servants, she learns that it’s what inside that matters. It’s pretty brave of Disney to revisit this classic fairy tale given the standing of its barnstorming 1991 effort (the only cartoon ever to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture). However, this could even surpass it, even though moviegoers might find Watson’s occasionally simpering performance a bit hard-going at times. Still, there’s another session of well-choreographed crockery to look forward to. And this is a really ugly beast.
Oman release date: March 16