Jude Law

Black Sea: review

blacksea

Black everything

Warning, review contains mild spoilers

Black Sea, is the latest from director Kevin MacDonald (Last King of Scotland). It features Jude Law (Sleuth, Dom Hemmingway) as    submarine captain Robinson, on the hunt for a submarine, lost somewhere in the Black sea and rumoured to be laden with gold.  There is a wide cast and it also features Michael Smiley (Luther, A Field in England). Firstly, if it’s got Michael Smiley, I’m always  interested and secondly, if it’s got Jude Law, I’m sometimes interested. This film therefore has good odds on it being excellent, given the director’s previous films.

We see Robinson being made redundant by a marine salvage company whom he’ served loyally for years. With a meagre payout, we can see his guilt about not raising his son, who lives with his mum and a wealthy step-father. Presented with the chance to lift gold from a lost Nazi submarine, from a decidedly shady operation, the crew gets assembled: half British, half Russian.

Once the mission is underway, tension mounts very quickly and before long the Aussie (previously described as a liability) has gone rogue, killing a Russian. One by one, the crew is whittled down – murdered, or killed by the sheer danger of what they’re doing.

This is one helluva tense movie! Most other submarine-based films don’t come close to this. I’ll put this down to a story that doesn’t quite go the way the trailer might lead you to believe and perhaps more importantly, a genuinely realistic re-creation of a knackered, Soviet-era submarine, complete with rusty machinery and filthy living conditions.

As the lure of the gold gradually overtakes the minds of the crew onboard, human rationale disappears, along with a few bodies and inevitably the ability to actually sail the submarine. By the time we reach the end, Robinson reminded me very much of Harry Caul, in The Converation: forlorn and hoist by his own petard.

A super-tense thriller that doesn’t disappoint; if you like your films to be realistic, dirty and grimy then this is for you. I’m not sure the girlfriend would enjoy this one, so you have been warned 😉

 

Side Effects and Steven Soderbergh’s Career Upodcast Review

Although Behind The Candelabra didn’t get a theatrical release in the US but did in the UK, we revisit Steven SoderBergh’s second to last movie, Side Effects.

Is it a bird, is it a plane?  No, it’s a Steven Soderbergh thriller with more twists in it than dress-changes in Priscilla Queen of the Desert.  Upod returns to the fray in quick time with a podcast dedicated to possibly the great man’s last ever directed film.  If you believe the rumours that is.   We at Upodcasting have a typically varied take on the Sod: he’s great, he’s OK, he’s overrated.  That said, Side Effects does truly unite us and there ain’t that many movies that do that!

So if this is to be Steve’s final cut, what has he left us with?  It’s pretty much the Jude Law and Rooney Mara show from start to finish, with effective enough filler parts from Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones.  So whilst the pared down cast makes it seem relatively simple, there are so many twists and turns a red herring would get lost whilst looking for a wild goose.  Thankfully, we navigate these and can say the film is really about: mental illness, “big” pharma, psychiatry, manipulation and revenge.  Plus of course all of the moral – or otherwise – hazards that accompany such matters.  It could be suggested that when you throw such a volumes of mud at something, then only some of it will stick.  And whilst there are certain things that don’t quite ring true enough, the vast majority do and we’re left with a cracking good thriller with a hefty dollop of Hitchcock as things unfold.

So Steven (Moby and Jim Rash have yet to be seen in the same room), if this is truly your last film as a director, then you’ve left us with a cracker and we’re grateful.  And if not, then we just chalk this one up to being another on the long list of successes over your prolific 25+ year career.
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@martincawley