Sunday, 11 January 2015



Olympic Trials

134 Minutes. Starring: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller & Vanessa Redgrave. Director: Bennett Miller.

Steve Carell is no longer funny! I'm sorry to break it to you. You wont be laughing anymore. Things are getting serious now! Sinisterly serious. Todays comedy gold performer is taking it to new physical and psychological limits. Forget laughing at Brick, you're more likely to s### one in response to him going from 'Anchorman' to Coach Crazy in one prosthetic. This is 'Foxcatcher'. One of the years best films, leading the Academy of Oscar season. A sports drama that wrestles with much more than its subjects profession. After bringing out the best of the late, legendary Phillip Seymour Hoffman in 'Capote' and then swinging and hitting big with Brad Pitt in the adaptation of Michael Lewis' 'Moneyball', deep director Bennett Miller returns with what just might be his best yet in his big-three, behind his own sporting, acting big-three of Carell, Tatum and Ruffalo complete with what looks like some horrendous Hollywood plastic surgery disguised as cauliflower ear and room in their respective trophy cabinets for more gold this February. This Best Picture just looks the part too. From its eighties look all the way down to the 'Sony Classics' opening I.D. to its almost horror film look and feel. This haunting and compelling thriller is a horror film too. In all its psychological elements with hardly any pause for its stunning score. This true story of two wrestling brothers being recruited by the wealthy Foxcatcher farms of John Du Pont and the thing that will pin you to the floor about it-if you don't already know-will hold you over 134 minutes in its relentless, breath-taking, no mercy choke hold.

Carell is incredible at his point in playing Du Pont. The franchise face, voice and star of 'Despicable Me', 'The Office' and so many more hysterical laughing fits shows he's no joke here. More than just the offbeat humorous drams of something like 'Dan In Real Life', 'Little Miss Sunshine', 'Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World' and 'Crazy, Stupid Love' (although those films should have bern a clue that this sort of thing was coming) this is as real and raw as it gets. It doesn't just look like he's had plastic surgery to his face, but the very being of his career too. He's just a whole new person here...and that's the point. Or should we say Du Pont. From the awkward way he speaks and moves, he feels like a made-up villain masqueraded by studios to chill you to the core beyond your bones, but it's all too real. Finally another comic actor reaches down to the 'Insomnia' and 'One Hour Photo' dark, actual acting depths that the late, great, funniest man in Hollywood Robin Williams did so ravishingly well. Its no coincidence that these two men where in line to play The Joker in 'The Dark Knight' before the dearly departed Heath Ledger won everyone including Jack Nicholson over. And you all laughed back then! You wont be able to turn your nose up at this one now. Come Oscar night the man with the biggest fake nose will have the last laugh. This wrestle of mania really has everything. Even strong support from on-screen, 'American Sniper' wife of the moment Sienna Miller and the legendary Vanessa Redgrave. Still as Carell goes for Academy gold in Los Angeles as Du Pont goes for Olympic one in Seoul its all about the two brothers.

In the red leotard we have Tatum. What a couple of years its been for Channing Tatum. No longer the fodder of rom-coms this studio stud has had his own Matthew McConaughey like renaissance after hitting 30 and he's set to have an 'XXL' year with sequels, Sci-Fi and 'X-Men' and Tarantino films in the heavyweight room works. Still this film is the measure of the man and the true breakout between the roles where he's shown his acting chops, or the 'Jump Street' franchise favouring with Jonah the king of the comedy hill that proves he's funny as a curse word. Here playing an isolated, insulated would be wrestling world wonder, Tatum dukes out living under the smothering shadows of his brother, expectation versus the extinction of sports and a whole new darkness coming to light perfectly. Channing is the right age and holding himself stature to play a kid younger than his years, albeit with the post-30 veteran understanding of what it all means. This is what makes him such a great, young actor and under the subtle but strong direction of Miller he shows the poverty and loneliness of some Olympians between the almost half decade gaps of competition that eat away at their time and tide of pride and prime. From eating fast food in his car, to placing his gold medal between what looks like high-school trophies in his one-room apartment, after making a speech to some bored elementary kids you don't need any eager movie exposition to engross you in these notions. Still as the new Gambit wrestles with The Incredible Hulk in a mesmerising and beautiful scene of both brotherly love and the art of their sport, lets not forget about Mark Ruffalo. With everyone talking about Carell and Tatum we need to acknowledge the catalyst of this story and cinematic classic that is true art to the canvas. Ruffalo is just as amazing and award worthy as anyone here and the scene stealer of the likes of 'Collateral' and 'Shutter Island' may have just performed his best picture portrayal. The ever likable actor and character even in the face of tragedy is an emotive genius. Now don't make him angry, just give him the 'Hulk' solo picture he already deserves. Still tougher than the rest nothing is stronger than this. Jake Gyllenhaal, Brad Pitt, Chadwick Boseman and their respective 'Nightcrawler', 'Fury' and 'Get On Up' pictures are in trouble as are Michael Keaton's 'Birdman' and Bradley Cooper's 'American Sniper'. In this Oscar year theme of the dark-side of the American dream three men are tag-teaming as everyone else is trying to tap out. These fantastic foxes trapping everything else could be one, two and three on the podium. Now what do the Oscars say?! Time! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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