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Drama

A prayer before dawn (2017)

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I don’t know
what you’re fucking saying,
I don’t understand.

What an impressive film. You won’t get a feeling of excitement or relaxation after watching it. It’ll rather leave a bad taste in your mouth. It was as if the smell of blood, rancid food, vomit, and sweat has nestled itself in my nostrils. I had this annoying, uncomfortable feeling afterward. I’m convinced there are other places in this world where you don’t want to end up and which aren’t good for your health, both physically and psychologically. But the Thai prison Klong Prem seems to me the most damned and inhumane place on our planet. A place where you stop being a person and where you try to survive in any way you can. I’m strongly in favor of setting up an exchange program for prisoners worldwide. In such a way that prisoners from wherever, get the chance to taste the prison climate of these regions. I’m sure many will start realizing how privileged their treatment is in this part of the world. Who knows, maybe even a few will come to their senses.

 

Is there a translator in the house?

A prayer before dawn” feels like a documentary. It’s as if the camera is filming over the shoulders of Billy Moore (Joe Cole) all the time, a Brit who’s a boxer in Thailand and is being arrested for selling drugs. The nightmare in which he’s imprisoned for three years and the daily struggle in this hell hole is the basis for his book that he publishes later on. It’s titled “A prayer before dawn: A nightmare in Thailand“. Don’t expect long dialogues. Or you are someone who understands Thai quite well. That alone would drive me crazy already. The endless whining and shouting of those tattooed, golden-toothed Thai criminals. You have no idea what they are talking about. You can only guess whether they ask a very ordinary question or threat you.

Brutal, intense and realistic.

The number of films that take place in prisons is almost infinite. But there are none so realistic and painful to behold as “A prayer before dawn“. Even “Brawl in Cell Block 99” doesn’t seem to be so brutal and intense, despite the extremely violent images. Why? Because “Brawl in Cell Block 99” is a fictional story. The story about Billy Moore shows an unambiguous, unvarnished picture of his struggle for survival and his perseverance to maintain himself in this barbaric environment. A story about how an individual has to push his limits both physically and psychically. A black and white portrait with a thin dividing line between life and death. One moment you see how Billy almost kills a fellow prisoner at the request of a corrupt guard. The next moment you see a tender moment between him and the transvestite Fame (Pornchanok Mabklang). A moment to catch your breath after all the brutal violence.

Top notch acting. Even from those ex-prisoners.

The acting of Joe Cole is extremely convincing. You can simply feel his fury, despair, and fear. Cole’s acting is purely en simply physical as there is practically no dialogue to be heard. A shrill and threatening “Fuck off” is the main thing that comes over his lips. You are witnessing how the accumulated tension and frustration suddenly flares up during confrontations and his Thai boxing. And at the same time, you see Cole fighting against his addiction. The Thai inmates are all amateurs in the field of acting but apparently, a large number of these side characters actually have spent time behind bars. Maybe that’s why it all feels so real.

Just go watch this top-notch movie.

No, “A prayer before dawn” is no fun to watch and will certainly still haunt you the next days after. If you expect a detailed story, you will certainly be disappointed afterward. The narrative is reasonably straightforward and concise. It’s nothing more than a report of Billy’s stay in this hellish place on earth and his constant fight to get out of it unscathed. But, as I said, this film will certainly stay with you. It’s, as it were, beaten into you.

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

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Drama

Tribeca Film Festival | ‘7 Days’ – A Sweet Rom-com To Keep You Going

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We’ve reached the point now where the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns we’ve faced over the past year are starting to become backdrops for films, and perhaps it’s not something we want to re-live and it’s not something we’re desperate to revisit, but 7 Days has a really touching and moving story at its centre and when you look past the coronavirus, it’s a really compelling story and makes for a good film.

At the start of the film, we meet Ravi (played by Karan Soni, best known for playing Dopinder in Deadpool) and Rita (Geraldine Viswanathan- Blockers, The Broken Hearts Gallery). The two have been set up by their old-fashioned Indian parents and are on a pre-arranged date. The two of them have absolutely nothing in common and the whole afternoon is very awkward for them both. But then the COVID outbreak gets worse and Ravi must spend the next few days at Rita’s place as he can’t get a car or a hotel. We soon witness the unlikely bond that forms as the two spend their days together despite being very different people.

7 Days marks Roshan Sethi’s directorial debut and he does a great job here. Not only does he capture so well what it’s like to live, and to love, in the time of COVID but the film, which was also co-written by Sethi, is really funny and leaves you feeling good which is exactly what you want after having lived through the last year.

The film’s quite short as it is with a runtime of just 86 minutes but even so, it does feel very long. Whether that’s because there’s only really two characters that we’re seeing for almost an hour and a half, or if it’s because it takes place almost entirely in one location, it does drag a bit. The two characters seem like polar opposites as we discover Rita drinking beer and eating leftover chicken for breakfast despite claiming to be a vegetarian and not drinking and at times the film feels like it’s almost running out of things to do with these characters that at first seem so far away from each other and the film does feel quite long despite its rather short runtime.

But on the whole, 7 Days manages to get the tone between comedy and drama just right with lots of funny lines but also just the right amount of heartfelt and poignant moments. The film is bookended by short video clips of real-life Indian couples talking about their marriages and how they met, and the two main characters discuss these two viewpoints of a more orthodox arranged marriage versus love marriages and the film does a really good job of presenting them both to us equally.

7 Days works well and manages to avoid being a depressing film about the pandemic, in part due to the really good performances from Soni and Viswanathan and the wonderful chemistry the two have, but also due to the really good script by Sethi and Soni. And whilst we will doubtlessly see more movies set during this time, 7 Days is a sweet rom-com to keep you going.

★★★☆☆

7 Days premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.

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Drama

Supernova | A Powerful And Touching Film Worth Seeing

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Get the tissues ready because Supernova is a real tear-jerker. It’s one of those films that right from the very first moment you know it’s going to hit you right in the feels. And Supernova expertly gets that blend right between sadness and hope to the point that the film is an excellent well-rounded film that has real emotion and isn’t just a complete sucker punch to the gut.

Sam (played by Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) are partners of 20 years and are travelling around the Lake District in their old RV. The thing is that two years ago, Tusker was diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Over the course of their journey, they encounter friends and family and their ideas for the future clash as secrets are revealed, really testing their love for each other in a way that they’ve never experienced before. It’s a really devastating film about love and about loss too but it’s incredibly powerful.

For the first half of the film, there’s quite little actually about Tusker’s dementia and instead, writer/director Harry Macqueen decides to show us just how strong the love between the two is and we see that they’ve both put their careers on hold at this difficult point in their lives. Sam was a musician and Tusker a writer but they’ve both been unable to continue with these with everything they’re going through. But we see the incredible love that these two people have for each other.

This is, in part, down to the phenomenal performances from both Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci. And that’s what really takes this film up a notch to be an excellent film. Firth and Tucci are both outstanding and give some of their best performances of their careers. The film is entirely driven by their remarkable performances and everything else helps to compliment that to create a really moving film. The cinematography is really beautiful- as you’d expect- with the gorgeous Lake District as the backdrop for film and there are some really lovely wide shots of the incredible scenery in Supernova.

For the majority of the film, the writing is really good too, however, there are a few instances where it doesn’t quite feel like what a real person would say in that situation in the moment. Instead, it sounds like the sort of thing a writer would have written- which of course it is, but because of how touching and powerful it is, and because of how well Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth are delivering these lines it doesn’t stand out too much.

Supernova is a very emotional film, particularly when you consider the meaning behind the title. Director Harry Macqueen says that “a supernova is the massive explosion event at the end of the evolution of a star”. “For me this has always been representative of Tusker himself- a man who shines bright in all he does, brings light and laughter to almost every situation and is, of course, dying. It’s quite literal in that regard, really; he knows his final chapter is just around the corner.”

Supernova is a film that’s worth seeing, even if that’s just to see Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci giving career-best performances but there’s so much more to the film as it explores the sophisticated, mature themes of love and loss. Just make sure to take some tissues, or maybe even a bucket, to collect your tears.

★★★★☆

Supernova is released in UK cinemas on June 25th.

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Action

Marvel Studios’ Eternals | Official Teaser

The Eternals, a race of immortal beings with superhuman powers who have secretly lived on Earth for thousands of years, reunite to battle the evil Deviants.

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Genre:

Action, adventure, drama

Release Date:

November 5, 2021

Director:

Chloé Zhao

Cast:

Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry

Plot Summary:

The Eternals, a race of immortal beings with superhuman powers who have secretly lived on Earth for thousands of years, reunite to battle the evil Deviants.

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