The Green Mile (1999)

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Fantasy, Drama

Director: Frank Darabont

Writers: Frank Darabont, Stephen King

Starring: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan

Rating:★★★★★

The Green Mile is a film which seems to never get boring or lacklustre no matter how many times you sit down and watch it. It is a true great, with a full display of brilliance in everything aspect from acting, writing and directing. I have to admit, this is a rare film which has brought tears to my eyes, an emotional story told with excellence from some of the best-written and most-famous characters within cinema.

The story focuses around Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks), as he reminisces on his years as a death row prison officer on E block’s green mile, however one year and one prisoner sticks in his mind more than any others, 1935 the year of John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan). Coffey is massive, bigger than massive, and has been sentence to death by electrocution for the murder and rape of two little girls; however his mere presence and persona produces questions that if he is responsible for such a crime. A gentle man, a man scared of the dark and a man with a supernatural gift which stuns Paul and the guards of the green mile.

There’s so much more to the story of The Green Mile, the involvement and impact of a tiny smart mouse, the inclusion of vile prisoner “Billy the Kid” (Sam Rockwell) the relationships between the guards of E Block and the horrible, petty officer Percy (Doug Hutchison), who is in my opinion one of the most hated characters in cinema.  Paul’s worst ever urinary infection, Warden Hal’s (James Cromwell) dying wife, and the deaths of those sentence to the chair. All these people, all these stories, all affected by the presence of John Coffey, a name no one will forget.

The Green Mile has been written and adapted brilliantly by Frank Darabont and Stephen King. The characters and overall concept is faultless and refreshing. Paul is brought to life by Tom Hanks excellently, just like the rest of the cast, Paul is caring and funny, and as the audience we are moved by the moral judgements he has to make due to his job and Coffey. Michael Clarke Duncan’s John Coffey is everything we expect him not to be, simple, harmless and quite sweet for a man who seems to be the size of two people, everyone is with Coffey and no one wants him to serve his punishment, and the ending always reduces me to tears. The rest of the cast and the characters are flawless, Officer Percy is by far the vilest character and gets our blood pumping, whilst Billy the Kid is pretty much equal.  Michael Jeter also deserves a mention as prisoner Eduard Delacroix, whose time on death row and his own story again is emotional and touching. The Green Mile shows of some brilliant acting talent and equally, the writing talent of Stephen King but also the ability to adapt a source from Darabont. The structure to The Green Mile is great, the use of flashbacks, and the way that everything we are shown is linked and pays off is simply great and there’s no wonder he was awarded so many times along with the film itself.

The directing is great; Darabont’s techniques and shots when we first see John Coffey are a nice touch whilst throughout the film there are some really brilliant and faultless perfect shots. The effects are something that should be credited too and for me they stand out, when Coffey displays his gift the effects are good whilst the make-up throughout on characters, especially Hal’s wife, is faultless and completely believable.

The Green Mile is a film all about emotion, and such a great intriguing story; however it has been brought to life making it a film I can’t find faults in. Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan performances are worthy of all praise as they produce a relationship which really is iconic. The directing and writing is flawless, showing off some real talent and skill. The Green Mile is a classic film, I will never tire no matter how many times I see it, it is a must-watch and a film which will be remembered rightly for a long time to come.

 

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The Way Way Back (2013)

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Directors: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash

Writers: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash

Starring: Steve Carell, Liam James, Toni Collette, Allison Janney

Rating:★★★★

The Way Way Back to my surprise was a film that I saw on a lot of lists come the end of 2013 but since watching I can certainly agree with its inclusion. Surprisingly warming, pleasant and funny it sways from the stereotypical “teen-comedy” and produces a refreshing much welcome change. Good solid performances from the whole cast along with a witty well-written script The Way Way Back is entertaining and defiantly deserves its praise.

Duncan (Liam James) is a shy, in-the-background 14 year old who doesn’t have a conventional lifestyle and is forced to go on summer vacation with his mother Pam (Toni Collette), her horrible arrogant boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) and his equally annoying and spoilt daughter. Whilst his mum is busy putting herself “out there” meeting  Trent’s vacation friends Duncan finds himself left out and unable to fit in. Riding around on an a pink little girls bike he discovers the Water Wizz  Park and quickly forms a bond with manager Owen (Sam Rockwell), finding an unexpected friend in Owen, Duncan soon finds out how to enjoy his summer vacation but he still has to face is overbearing and disastrous family.

The story is pleasant, although at first it looks to be the typical comedy of the neglected family member getting revenge or becoming a hero or a romanticist it changes and somewhat becomes more serious. Duncan’s relationship with Owen is hilarious and obviously the highlight, he is given power and earns a reputation at Water Wizz and with that Duncan comes out of his shell and turns out to be a funny and “cool” kid. The relationship though is also pleasant as it is obvious that the two have a bond and Duncan looks up to Owen as a role model in ways, the way that the Owen looks out for Duncan is very warming too. The other relationship storylines in the film are not as good but decent, Duncan and his mother obviously need to repair their broken relationship so we follow that throughout, whilst Pam actually has her own problems with the very easily dislikeable Trent and finally a small subplot follows Duncan having a romance with his neighbour however it is very cheesy and for me unnecessary.

Liam James plays Duncan very well, he is easily likeable and we route for him throughout and he provides plenty of laughs, one very memorable scene is when Duncan is made to dance (including the classic robot) in front of a huge crowd at the water park. Rockwell’s Owen however is my favourite character; he provides the main comedy and in a way makes this film very easily watchable.  Steve Carrel also deserves credit for his role as obnoxious Trent and likewise for Collette’s Pam.  Although small characters in the film, neighbours Betty and (eye-patch) Peter are absolutely hilarious and provide even more likability to The Way Way Back so they deserve a mention.

The ending to The Way Way Back is very warming and wraps up the film nicely however for me there are still picky criticisms. I would have liked to see a quicker start, although it opens with great introductions it attempts to trick us with Duncan’s romance whereas I would have liked to seen Owen introduced much more quickly, and on the note of the romance I would have scrapped it all together as it isn’t “Duncan”.

In a whole The Way Way Back is a bundle of laughs and fantastic comical moments, with a well-written script and characters it makes for a surprisingly great watch. Standout performances from Liam James and Sam Rockwell add to the entertainment and create a pleasant feel to balance out the comedy. The Way Way Back is a worth-while experience that is easily watchable and enjoyable.