Dirty “Harry Brown”

Harry Brown
Starring: Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Charlie Creed-Miles, David Bradley, Liam Cunningham
Director: Daniel Barber
Sony Pictures / Samuel Goldwyn Films
Rated R for strong violence and language throughout, drug use and sexual content

The revenge flick has always been a Hollywood staple, and in recent years, a new sub-genre has emerged: revenge flicks starring middle-aged or older stars. Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, and Liam Neeson have all taken on this role. Now, Michael Caine joins those ranks as the eponymous Harry Brown. As Harry, Caine excels in his performance as a pension-earning retiree who has been pushed to the limit.

Ex-Marine Harry Brown lives in a rundown apartment complex that is plagued by a gang of teenage drug pushers and murderers. Harry is indifferent to their actions at first, as he is completely consumed by his comatose wife and the prospect that he’ll soon be alone. He spends his days at the hospital visiting her; in the evenings, he frequents the local bar where he plays chess with his only friend. On his wife’s final night, he misses the opportunity to be with her one last time as the gang is blocking the shortcut to the hospital. Harry’s friend, also fed up with the gang, vows to stop putting up with their harassment and promises to do something about it. When his friend is brutally murdered by the gang, Harry realizes the local police are powerless against the gang and decides to take the law into his own hands.

Harry Brown is a brutal and enthralling depiction of a man who has nothing to. Michael Caine’s portrayal of Harry Brown is nothing short of brilliant. His performance harkens back to his role of Jack Carter, the out-for-revenge professional killer from 1971’s Get Carter. It is as if this film was meant to examine what Carter might have been like 40 years later. However, Caine’s Harry Brown is much more developed than the Carter character. Harry is out to rid his world of the filth and scum who control it, all the while retaining his humanity and helping those caught up in the gang world.

The amazing supporting cast is mostly full of unknowns, save for Emily Mortimer’s Detective Inspector Alice Frampton. Alice is the only one who suspects Harry might be behind the recent upswing in gang deaths. She’s mostly ineffective as a police officer as no one around her will listen to, or believe, her. However, she’s there when she’s most needed. Her sullen and soft-spoken character perfectly echoes the sentiment that Harry feels is the true problem: the gangs are too powerful even for the police to handle.

Be forewarned that this movie is rated R for a reason. There is plenty of violence, most of which is graphic and blood-filled. If you can tolerate the gore, you’re in for a real treat. Harry Brown provides a fine display of acting, a powerful and haunting musical score, and a gritty and honest representation of a world most of us do our best to avoid. Harry Brown is one of those underrated flicks that most people passed on at the box office. Now’s your chance to catch it on VUDU and see what has all the critics raving.

Harry Brown can be yours to own for under $10.

DID YOU KNOW?

Michael Caine was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite. He changed his name, at the advice of his agent, after seeing an advertisement for the film “The Caine Mutiny”.

“Barry Munday” – On VUDU Before Theaters!

Barry Munday
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Judy Greer, Chloe Sevigny, Jean Smart, Cybil Shepherd, Malcolm McDowell
Director: Chris D’Arienzo
Magnolia Pictures
Rated R for sexual content and language

Patrick Wilson is quickly making a name for himself as Hollywood’s next dashing, leading man. He has shown a talented range, appearing in everything from dramas and mysteries to romances, musicals, and comic book adaptations. There isn’t a genre he’s afraid to touch. With his latest film, Barry Munday, Wilson can add romantic comedy to the list, playing the titular character, who also happens to be anything but dashing.

Barry Munday is the kind of wannabe ladies man/sleazy pick-up artist that most sensible women would avoid. He’s crude, he’s tactless, and is only interested in his next hook-up. One day he sets his sights upon a young lady at a movie theater which ultimately proves to be his downfall. Six hours later, he wakes up in a hospital and discovers that he’s suffered a major loss—his testicles. Having lost his mojo, he quickly becomes un-Barry-like. When he receives notice that he’s facing a possible paternity suit, he realizes this may be his only chance to carry on the Munday name. Much to the chagrin of the soon-to-be mother, he vows to take full responsibility and be involved as a father.

Wilson has no problem downplaying his good looks to play a slightly paunchy, average, every day kind of guy. Given the tone and style of the film, it was imperative he do so to sell Barry as a loser, which he pulls off with ease. Wilson shows his comedic chops with all of Barry’s quirky and awkward sensibilities. In fact, it is the awkwardness that generates the most laughs throughout the film. With each cringe-inducing awkward moment Barry finds himself in, he manages to make us burst into laughter as the results unravel around him.

Wilson is surrounded by a talented supporting cast that enhances the humor. Judy Greer is a riot as the soon-to-be mother of Barry’s child. Greer also downplays her good looks to portray the homely and undesirable Ginger Farley. Chole Sevigny plays Jennifer Farley, Ginger’s younger sister Jennifer, the pride and joy of the Farley clan. Jennifer has an odd attraction to Barry that creates great humorous tension whenever they share a scene. Jennifer and Barry’s interaction leads up to a hilarious scene that involves inappropriate conversation at a family dinner, a strip club, and potential case of mistaken identity. The funniest moment in the film, though, comes in the form of a testicular loss support group featuring cameos by Christopher McDonald, Kyle Gass, and Matt Winston. The scene is at the same time humorous and heart-wrenching as these gentlemen share their afflictions.

Adapted from the novel by “Life Is a Strange Place” by Frank Turner Hollon, Barry Munday is an enjoyable comedy that any fan of Judd Apatow or Mike Judge should watch. Avoid the hassle of theater parking, high concession prices, and sticky theater floors by watching Barry Munday from the comfort of your own home. Barry Munday is available to rent on VUDU now – before it hits theaters in October.

DID YOU KNOW?

Patrick Wilson got his start in showbiz, not on the silver screen, but in the bright lights of the theatre. He has appeared in several hit Broadways musicals such as “The Full Monty” and “Oklahoma!”.

Noir Reborn in “The Square”

The Square
Starring: David Roberts, Claire van der Boom, Anthony Hayes, Joel Edgerton
Director: Nash Edgerton
Sony Pictures Classics
Rated R for violence and language

Stunt coordinator-turned-director Nash Edgerton’s feature directorial debut The Square is a taut and complex crime thriller that would make Hitchcock proud. Co-written by his brother Joel Edgerton, the movies unfolds at a steady pace that serves to build the suspense as each scene progresses. Never forced, the story begins with a small simmer that gradually builds to a scalding boil.

The Square is a lesson in tension that many Hollywood filmmakers should look to as example. There are no big name stars, there are no special effects, there is no multimillion dollar budget—there is only brilliant acting, gritty and dark cinematography, and a story that progresses naturally without the need to blow something up every few minutes. When the action does happen, it is a result of the characters and their actions, and not because the film is pandering to the audience.

Ray Yale is a construction foreman having a secret adulterous affair with his neighbor across the river, Clara, the wife of a small time criminal. They plan to run away together, but Ray insists on having plenty of money to fund their escape. He takes kickbacks on the job, but the money isn’t coming fast enough. Clara discovers her husband’s stash from a recent theft, and proposes to Ray they steal it for themselves to start their new life. Ray agrees, but only if they burn down her house so that it appears an accident. However, the perfect plan they set in motion soon begins a downward spiral that results in murder, betrayal, blackmail, and more murder. Ray and Clara’s lives soon fall apart, as do the lives of those around them.

While scenes can take a while to move the film along, the slow pace serves to establish the mood and intrigue that plagues Ray and Clara. The Square, thus, is a prime example of noir. The seeds of deception, anxiety, and paranoia are planted early on, building and building until the shattering conclusion. The movie contains the conventions of a classic noir: a man in trouble, a femme fatale, and chilling underscore, and a dark color palette. Everyone is a suspect, and no one can be trusted. But while it contains all these conventions, it also turns them on their head. The beautiful and haunting score of Francois Tetaz is never overplayed. In fact, music takes a backseat to the narrative and only plays sparsely during the tensest moments. The lack of music draws us into the world, and when it does appear, it sends a chill down our spine.

It is rare in cinema to have such characters as fully fleshed out as they are here. Even the minor characters are multilayered and multifaceted. No one is reduced to being a one-dimensional stereotype to conveniently move things along. This film is a study in character development. It is a shame that its limited American theatrical run went almost completely unnoticed. Thankfully, the good people at Sony Pictures Classics have seen fit to make sure American audiences can enjoy what Australians enjoyed over two years ago.

VUDU customers can now experience the thrills and chills of The Square for under $10.

DID YOU KNOW?

Co-screenwriter and story writer Joel Edgerton also portrays Billy the arsonist in The Square.