Cornfield Magazine’s monthly film reviews are written in collaboration with Midlands Arts Centre, a registered charity and pioneering arts complex with the mission to make art an important part of people’s lives. 

Image credit: Niko Tavernise. © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Storyteller Distribution Co. Llc. All Rights Reserved.

The Post (2017)

Dir. Steven Spielberg

Based on the remarkable story of Katherine Graham, the first female publisher of The Washington Post and more widely, any major American newspaper, Spielberg’s ‘The Post’ marries the talents of Meryl Streep (Graham) and Tom Hanks (Ben Bradlee) to create an incredibly moving biopic. The film follows Graham’s personal quandary following the revelation of incriminating allegations against the US government with regards to the Vietnam War. Facing pressure from her all-male advisory board to please crucial investors by supressing the publication of the secret government documents, as well as dealing with her own feelings of inadequacy, Graham struggles through an agonising predicament. The publisher must decide whether to risk her job, and more importantly, the future of her family publication, in order to reveal the truth to the American public. Streep yet again delivers an enthralling performance, utilising her phenomenal talent to embody the essence of a crucial historical figure – a feat many dare not attempt. The film, at times so riveting it left me literally on the edge of my seat, brought to life issues so relevant to today’s socio-political climate it was hard to imagine it was set in the 1970s (despite the 35mm film stock and lamentable power suits).

© 2017 Focus Features LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Darkest Hour (2017)

Dir. Joe Wright

Based on a tense, thrilling and nail-biting true story, ‘Darkest Hour’ follows Winston Churchill’s career-defining decisions made as Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1940. Gary Oldman as Churchill is unrecognisable; the actor’s Bafta and Oscar award-winning performance displays a meticulous attention to detail as he perfectly emanates the former politician’s unique mannerisms and character-defining colloquialisms. Despite also presenting the ‘typical’ hard exterior universally assigned to Churchill, Wright and Oldman’s portrayal of the politician reveals an insecure side to his character, displaying the vulnerability that arises from agonising decision-making. Aside from the outstanding acting from Oldman, Kristen Scott Thomas (Clementine Churchill), Ben Mendelsohn (King George VI) and Stephen Dillane (Lord Halifax), the cinematography of the film deserves and honourable mention. In one particularly disturbing, yet miraculous sequence, the bombed land of Dunkirk is metamorphosed into the face of a deceased child, bringing the plotline back to the gut-wrenching reality of the result of the war cabinet’s choices.


Image credit: Merrick Morton. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Dir. Martin McDonagh

Rightly winning awards for Best Film, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor at the Baftas, McDonagh’s ‘Three Billboards’ will go down in film history for more than merely taking home trophies. A heart-wrenching tale dealing with difficult issues to stomach, ‘Three Billboards’ documents one mother’s inability to accept the horrific loss of her daughter, and her determination to challenge the lack of justice surrounding the murder case. The plotline banishes the binaries of good and bad as several characters cross from one side to the other in an attempt to deal with the terrifying, heart-breaking situation at hand. Arguably, the most striking image of the whole film is the one depicting the ‘Three Billboards’ themselves; a fiery red acts as the background for thick black text questioning the local police’s activities. Frances McDormand (Mildred Hayes) is mesmerising and captures the eccentricities and tortured determination of her character perfectly - her Oscar-winning performance is difficult to forget once you've left the cinema, it haunts you in more ways than one. Her ability to present such determination, strength, and simultaneously weakness and heart-break is phenomenal.

 

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