The Walking Dead – Season 1, Episode 6: “TS-19”

Created by: Robert Kirkman, Frank Darabont

Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies,Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs

Synopsis: Now that the survivors have entered the CDC, they look forward to a life that is not one spent always looking over one’s shoulder.   There is even hot water for showers to enjoy, and plenty of booze to forget some recent worries and losses.   However, their host, Dr. Edwin Jenner (Noah Emmerich), does not share their enthusiasm, and is hiding a secret that can have dire consequences for them all.

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The Walking Dead – Season 1, Episode 5: “Wildfire”

Created by: Robert Kirkman, Frank Darabont

Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies,Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs

Synopsis:   The survivors are dealing with the repercussions of the attack that occurred at the end of the last episode.   Andrea in particular is devastated by the loss of her sister, whilst Jim attempts to hide the fact that he himself was bitten.   Rick decides that the camp must be moved and nominates that they all head to the Centre for Disease Control.   Shane however, disagrees with this and does not react well to losing both influence in the group as well as losing Lori to Rick’s return.

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The Walking Dead – Season 1, Episode 4: “Vatos”

Created by: Robert Kirkman, Frank Darabont

Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies,Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs

Synopsis: Rick, T-Dogg, Daryl, and Glenn seek to retrieve both their weapons and Daryl’s brother Merle from Atlanta.   Merle it seems has managed to cut off his hand to escape the cufflinks he was in, and it seems there is another group of survivors just as interested in the guns as Rick and his cohort.   Meanwhile, Jim is freaking out back at camp in response to what he believes was a prophetic dream.

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The Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 3: “Tell It To The Frogs”

Created by: Robert Kirkman, Frank Darabont

Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies,Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs

Synopsis: After successfully escaping from Atlanta, the other survivors lead Rick to the camp they had established outside the city.   Much to the surprise of many, there he is reunited with his wife and child,   Not everyone is quite so happy about this though…

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The Walking Dead – Season 1, Episode 2: “Guts”

Created by: Robert Kirkman, Frank Darabont

Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies,Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs

Synopsis: Rick is rescued from his trapped position by a young man named Glenn, whom has been making regular runs into the city for supplies.   Through Glenn, Rick meets a band of survivors, but his actions in his escape lead the group to be cut off from their escape route.   He must therefore act to get the whole group out of the city alive.

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The Walking Dead – Season 1, Episode 1: “Days Gone Bye”

Created by: Robert Kirkman, Frank Darabont

Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies,Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs

Synopsis: Based on the popular graphic novels by Robert Kirkman, this adaptation is spearheaded by the efforts of Frank Darabont to get it to screen.   The series has been an absolute hit overseas, and now those with Foxtel are able to see it here in Australia.   It follows the story of Rick Grimes, a cop who wakes from a coma to find himself alone in the middle of a zombie outbreak.

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30 Day Film Challenge Day 17 – Your Favorite Drama Film

Film Nerd’s Choice: The Shawshank Redemption

Review:

Director: Frank Darabont

Cast: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, Gil Bellows

Synopsis: Andy Dufresne is convicted of the murder of his wife and her lover and sentenced to life imprisonment at Shawshank prison.  He insists throughout the film that he is innocent.   Despite a rough start, particularly concerning his treatment from other inmates, he starts spreading a very dangerous message… one of hope.   Based on a story  written by Stephen King.

 

As I sit down to write this, I looked at the IMDB entry for this film and was delighted to see that it currently is the top rated film on the entire site.   For me there is little wonder as to why this is so.   This is the King adaptation for which Darabont will be best remembered (despite a strong film being made in that collaboration for The Green Mile).   Though I would not claim that this is necessarily a feel good movie… some of the drama is a bit too hard-edged for that definition… it is perhaps the most inspirational film I have ever seen.

Andy Dufresne is a very interesting character, and far from the typical lead role type.   He flatly denies his guilt despite evidence mounted against him.   He is often dour, and very quietly spoken.   Despite these apparent setbacks, traits that make him a target on the inside, he proves himself a fiercely intelligent man.   It is this element of his personality that not only wins him the respect of fellow inmates, but crucially also the respect of the guards and warden.   It is these connections that allow him a certain level of liberty, yet no one can guess to what ends he will take these freedoms.

The other significant lead character is Freeman’s “Red”.   The character in the novel was a red-headed Irishman, so there was originally some question as to the casting of clearly not Irish Freeman.   His performance, as is often the case, is enough to silence any critic.   He is our narrator for the events on-screen.   He is a well-chosen narrator, as he is close to Dufresne, and yet is unable to grasp all his motives until the final glorious minutes of the film.   He is also apt as a narrator, as a man who has been in prison since his youth, he is world-weary and wise to the system, able to give the audience a peek at the psychology of such men.   This is also crucial to his own character’s story arc as well.

For a film that has such recognition, I still feel it is criminally under-seen.   Many a friend and colleague have I mentioned this film to and heard “I have been meaning to see that”, or, even worse, a blank stare.   This is a film to make grown men cry and cheer in equal measure.   There is something in it for everyone, being a film that narrows down what truly is important in life.   It raises the question to those of us who consider ourselves free, do we truly appreciate what we have??

5 stars out of 5

 

The Shawshank Redemption on IMDB

The Shawshank Redemption on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0RZNIFZxoY]

 

30 Day Film Challenge Day 4 – A Film You Watch To Feel Down

Film Nerd’s Choice: The Green Mile

Review:

Director: Frank Darabont

Cast: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, James Cromwell, Michael Jeter, Sam Rockwell, Doug Hutchison

Synopsis: This is a period film that tells the story of the wardens and inmates on death row, the green mile of the title.   John Coffey (Clarke Duncan) is the latest inmate, accused of raping and murdering two young girls, apparently having been caught red handed.    As the wardens get to know him better (led by Hanks’ Paul Edgecomb), they discover that Coffey is far from ordinary, with an extraordinary ability to heal people by touch.   Convinced he is innocent, can they go through with sending him to the electric chair?

It is very appropriate I choose this film as one to make me feel down.   There are quite a few that make me cry, but many of those have endings that inspire hope or mean you can leave smiling.   Atonement for me is certainly up there based on these criteria, and is worth of an honourable mention, but there is a film that for me has had an even longer lasting impact.   The Green Mile does have a resolution, but the mood one leaves the film with is one of sombre reflection.   The impact it had on me was deep, to the point that I made sure I watch it rarely so as to retain the impact it had on its first viewing.

To clarify a point, this film is heavily thematically Christian, however I do feel that it is still a film that can be enjoyed by anyone that either believes in a deity, or that at least respects other people’s desire to believe in a deity.   I am raised a Christian, and though I have let my church attendance lapse and at times my world viewpoint is at odds with what Catholicism as an organised religion preaches, I do still have a core belief in God.   The implication of the film is that Coffey is a gift from God, one of His miracles.   So where does that leave the men that have a duty to kill him.   It is a true moral dilemma, made harder by how sympathetically the character is portrayed.   This was Clarke Duncan’s break out role, and he embraced the opportunity in his enormous hands.   Coffey is physically imposing, yet has the mind of a child, and takes a child like delight in simple beauty, such as the stars in the night sky.   Acts of violence and hate are incomprehensible to him.   It is a true reflection that goodness and morality are not the realm of the intellectual or those that can identify the grey areas.  I leave the film thinking that we spend so much time on clarifying what is grey that we have forgotten that good and evil are as disparate as oil and water.   An inability to see the grey could indeed be the key to making the most moral choices.

Hanks is of course the other shining light in this film.  His performance is largely understated, yet he shows great emotional depth and anguish in a man who has a responsibility to remain calm and minimally responsive.   It is a skill Edgecomb has clearly had to learn, working around men who know the date and minute of their final breath.   He can make the decision when a firm hand is needed to quell a disturbance, or a gentle discussion to help these men prepare for their final moment.   The film is also deftly handled by Darabont, who was so stellar in bringing another Stephen King story to screen with even greater success, The Shawshank Redemption.   Clearly the pen of the writer and the eye of the director here is a fruitful collaboration.

If you are not of a personality to seek a film that does not leave you smiling, this film would be very hard going.   Yet the messages within and the thematic issues addressed are all relevant to today’s society, especially as some areas still endorse the death penalty.   You may not want to see it again, but you are only robbing yourself if you refuse to see it at all.

4 stars out of 5

The Green Mile on IMDB

The Green Mile on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctRK-4Vt7dA]