Misc. Reviews


By • Jan 15th, 2011 •

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Not all films make it to Las Vegas theaters. So, I have to supplement my theater-going with at-home viewing. I decided to go with an IFC Films marathon. IFC Films has a fabulous lineup.

First up, THE RED RIDING TRILOGY. This fascinating series of films, which were made for British television’s Channel 4, begins with RED RIDING: 1974 and stars Andrew Garfield, soon to be lionized as our new Spider-Man in the reboot currently filming. Garfield had a sensational year with his outstanding co-starring roles in THE SOCIAL NETWORK and NEVER LET ME GO.

In RED RIDING: 1974 Garfield plays the central role as young newspaper crime reporter Eddie Dunford. Eddie works for the Yorkshire Post and he wants to investigate the murders of little girls. His editor and fellow reporters are all jaded, disinterested pension-holders. And the police seem flummoxed and then annoyed by Eddie’s constant prodding. Eddie keeps getting warned, beaten up, and having sex. The director, Julian Jarrold, frames the story in harsh, bitter cold terrain and unfriendly lighting. 1974 was an ugly year.

THE RED RIDING TRILOGY is based on books written by David Peace, who drew on England’s most famous recent crimes to frame his characters. “1974” uses the 1963-1965 murders of five children, which were known as the “Moors Murders”.

The second film, RED RIDING: 1980 has the same police detectives investigating the murder of thirteen women. The serial killer was known as The Yorkshire Ripper. I read Wicked Beyond Belief: The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper by Michael Bilton after trekking through East Africa with a UK group. One of the women worked in the fingerprint department of the West Yorkshire Metropolitan Police and told me something that has never been revealed about how they finally targeted Peter William Sutcliffe – the Yorkshire Ripper. “1980” stars Paddy Considine as Peter Hunter, an inspector from Manchester. He’s been sent to find the Yorkshire Ripper and look into unsettling rumors about corruption in the police department. The director, James Marsh, builds up a lot of tension between the tough, dirty detectives and Hunter.

RED RIDING: 1983 focuses on Stefan Kiszko, a young man who was railroaded by police into confessing to killing a little girl. He served sixteen years for the murder. David Morrissey plays Maurice Jobson and “1983” centers on him. Directed by Anand Tucker, another child goes missing and is similar to past murders of girls. Mark Addy plays a neighborhood slob lawyer, John Piggott, who is approached to appeal the wrongly convicted man. He becomes entangled with the police, who forced the confession, hiding their own crimes.

Several characters are featured in all three films. Beautifully integrated, all the pieces fit together. The West Yorkshire police are in bed with a ruthless real-estate developer, John Dawson (Sean Bean), who has his own psychopathic predilections. The brutality of the police interrogations is hard to watch. A highly enjoyable film series and I want more.

What about Fred and Rose West?

VALHALLA RISING. In a word, since One-Eye doesn’t speak, VALHALLA RISING is amazing. Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn, who directed and co-wrote (with Brock Norman Brock) 2008’s BRONSON (starring the now highly-desired Tom Hardy from 2010’s INCEPTION), creates a mesmerizing feat – reimagining the savage year of 1000 AD. VALHALLA RISING is hypnotic and dazzling in its commitment to harsh reality and unwavering violence. One-Eye (Mads Mikkelsen) is captured by a Norse chieftain. After viciously killing opponents in matches set up for the chieftain’s amusement – as well as killing all the spectators including the chief – One-Eye escapes followed by a boy slave, Are. One-Eye, in my opinion, is not mute but prefers not to speak. Are does the talking for him.

They board a Viking vessel, but the ship is soon crippled by fog. The fog takes them into an unknown land, the New World. What a stunning piece of filmmaking. Refn is a masterful director with a vision like none other. There are no compromises in VALHALLA RISING. The strange, boldness of the film is intoxicating. I’m now ordering Rehn’s PUSHER series on NetFlix!

CARLOS. You have probably heard of this three-film epic rendering of the life of the infamous terrorist, Carlos. French director Olivier Assayas brilliantly exposes the complicated life of Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, (Carlos “the Jackal” – this moniker is never used in the films). I watched the full five and a half hours (3 DVDs) during a 3-day marathon. Edgar Ramirez stars as Carlos and there is gratuitous, but appreciated, full frontal nudity by Ramirez (before Carlos goes fat during a forced expulsion from terrorist activity). Venezuelan Carlos – after Reich SS leaders – was the most hunted criminal in the world. Now it’s you-know-who.

Yet Carlos, who founded a worldwide terrorist organization and was a wanted man, traveled all over the Africa and the Middle East with impunity! CARLOS PART 1 begins with his idealist origins and values. As envisioned by Ramirez and Assayas, Carlos is charismatic and, yes, I know the implications, sympathetic.

Ramirez is fantastic (pictured).

Carlos is not interested in money, possessions, or opposition to his dedication to armed revolution. He is highly intelligent, educated, a savvy political player, and a ruthless killer.

Carlos international notoriety begins with a daring, bloody raid on the 1975 OPEC meeting. Carlos main ideological thrust was the Palestinian/anti-Zionism cause and justice and equality for the people. We are told in the beginning of each film that some events depicted must be viewed as fiction – I assume Sanchez, now serving life in a French prison, refused to participate in the film. Regardless, the film is dazzling in its details. Carlos was protected and used by several countries to do their dirty work, until he was, by degrees, deemed too difficult to manage. He was eventually refused safe haven. His means of terrorism and collapse of his organization made him a troublesome burden. He got expensive to keep. Carlos’s wife was his ally and political slave. After a botched attack, his wife spent a few years in prison. Carlos’s very explicit sex life is richly shown. Finally, the Cold War ended and Carlos was betrayed.

My husband knows Billy Waugh – a legend in Special Forces – who wrote (with Tim Keown), Hunting the Jackal: A Special Forces and CIA Ground Soldier’s Fifty Year Career Hunting America’s Enemies. This fascinating book is a must read that explains the hunt for The Jackal – with photos taken by Waugh of Carlos lounging in the Sudan before his arrest.

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