Ben Mendelsohn

‘Lost River’ was wronged by Cannes, and is actually quite magnificent

When his film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year, many critics reacted as if Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut had manifested itself into an abusive figure that vomited on their shoes, then repeatedly kicked their dog. Such a reaction was completely unearned by Lost River. There are flaws in the film, understandably, but it shines for them.

Sundance 2015: ‘Slow West’ is a tense and thoughtful revisionist western

After the film finished, writer and director John Maclean acknowledged how surreal it felt to be premiering a western at Sundance of all places. After all, John Ford filmed many of his classics in the state of Utah, making it a sort of mecca of westerns. This however is very different from the traditional western as it is seen through a foreign lens and with a postmodern knowledge. It calls to mind other revisionist westerns from this century such as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Proposition and Red Hill. The plot takes place in 1870 and follows 16-year-old Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who has traveled from Scotland to the American west to find his love, Rose (Caren Pistorius). Accompanying him is a mysterious and formidable drifter, Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender).

Sundance 2015: Ben Mendelsohn is the jackpot in otherwise middling ‘Mississippi Grind’

The first shot of the film is a rainbow: The rainbow becomes a sort of plot device for Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn), a down and out gambler who strikes up a friendship with drifter Curtis (Ryan Reynolds) and the two head out on a road trip through the South to win back Gerry’s losses in writers/directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s character driven road trip. For them the rainbow is a symbol of their friendship, a sign of good luck for bets, and ultimately what both are searching for – the beauty after the rainy storm both of them are experiencing.

‘Starred Up” is some of the bravest filmmaking of the year

Most prison stories are stories about men. But there are stories about men, and then there are stories about masculinity. The latter is much harder to pull off, because masculinity means different things to different men in different situations. That’s why David Mackenzie’s new film Starred Up is so masterfully tense

‘Starred Up’ showcases superb performances from Jack O’Connell & Ben Mendelsohn

There’s a scene in the first act of the film where the young protagonist Eric, in an effort to gain control of a situation to proclaim his innocence, bites down on a prison guard’s genitals and holds on like a dog with a chew toy. That moment alone does a lot to encapsulate the do-or-die realities of the film’s prison environment, but more importantly showcases the immediate talent of its star Jack O’Connell: Like it or not, he demands your attention and he’s not letting go anytime soon.

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TIFF 2013: ‘Starred Up’ a brash, viscerally violent ride that dissects second chances

Director David MacKenzie (Young Adam, Mister Foe) brings us a bloodily fresh film about a young upstart condemned to a lengthy prison sentence who thinks that he can’t be contained by the system or gangs. Upon arriving he encounters his long lost father who is also incarcerated. They are both unable to express their extreme emotions without it coming to violence.

‘Adore’ a flaccid, dull sex-fueled drama that lacks provocation

The struggle to maintain one’s personal sense of youth is at the heart of Adore, an Australian drama that wishes to be provocative without being particularly salacious or deep. Based on one of four short stories by Doris Lessing in the collection “The Grandmothers,” Adore feels very much like an adaptation of a story that’s too brief, a mere wisp that should be a gale force.

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