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Non-Review Review: Official Secrets

Official Secrets is an interesting story with some solid performances, but it’s also an unstructured mess.

Official Secrets unfolds against the backdrop of the lead up to (and immediate aftermath of) the invasion of Iraq. It follows GCHQ employee Katharine Gun’s decision to leak a classified internal memo in an effort to prevent the nation’s march to war. Along the way, Katherine’s story intersects with the press who bungled their efforts to hold the government to account, before evolving into something that vaguely resembles a Kafka-esque legal thriller about a woman charged with treason who cannot defend herself because to share any information with her legal team would be treason of itself.

Bringing a mic to the gun fight.

All of this should provide the solid basis for a character-driven drama. The film’s structure and content are typical of second-shelf-from-the-top awards fare; it is dealing with weighty subject matter in such a way that it also plays as a commentary on contemporary society, it is structured in such a way as to serve as a showcase for its lead performer who has a track record as an awards winner, and it treats its narrative and its characters with the solemnity that they deserve. This is quite close to something like Denial, to pick an obvious example.

Unfortunately, Official Secrets lacks to the sort of tight focus and easy self-confidence that elevates the best of these films. Official Secrets is constantly pushing itself and trying to ensure that it is holding the audience’s attention. It never feels entirely sure where the drama lies within the story, and so spreads its attention too wide and too thin. The result is a disjointed and uneven exploration of a story (and character) that deserve better.

“It’s all memo, memo, memo…”

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Aaronofsky to Wrestle “The Wolverine”: Are Independent Directors the Best Choices for Superhero Cinema?

I’m going to be honest, I like it when relatively obscure film directors are handed the reigns to huge blockbuster properties. It seems that these “cult” film makers tend to bring something fresh from outside the studio system to their work. I might sound more than a bit pretentious, but it reminds me of the way that many of the blockbuster directors of the seventies – including Lucas and Spielberg – originated from outside the studio system before revolutionising it from inside. As a concept, would I rather watch Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen or Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins? No choice there. Any film with the name “Jerry Bruckheimer” attached or Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man? Again, no choice. So, despite the fact that Gavin Hood’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a critical failure and an infuriatingly (but, sadly, not unpredictably) disappointing film, am I alone in getting a little excited about Darren Aaronofsky’s The Wolverine.

Against all odds, I might be feeling pretty Jack(man)ed about this...

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Non-Review Review: X-Men Origins – Wolverine

Well, at least it’s an action movie that acknowledges its pointlessness. It isn’t a spoiler to point out that – since Wolverine doesn’t remember his origin in X-Men and has to reminded in X-Men II – none of the events here have any real importance to the character development of the Canadian superhero. The audience knows buying a ticket that anything he learns will be erased and lost and that the film itself is just an explosion-filled flashback which, even if had something worth saying, would be pointless anyway. That said, it does deliver somewhat convincing action sequences and two very good leading performances.

The other man of steel...

The other man of steel...

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