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’71 Fast Pace, Intense

71I am impressed with 71 since it had me on the edge of my couch the whole time. It was also a lesson about what was going in Belfast during the uprising.

The movie doesn’t let up either because of the fine direction by Yann Demange, and the unbelievable acting by all the cast. I am so impressed with the children actors in this movie. Sure. Jack O’Connell is fantastic. He reminds me of Steve McQueen, silent but powerful. The children were so heart wrenching, strong and innocent.

Demange throws the viewer into the grit and emotional torture these people went through during the civil unrest. The lesson is more of a concept of what it was like to be in Belfast. There is no back-story, which isn’t needed since we are at war now with civilians. Diabolical situation with just enough dialogue to keep us connected to the story.

The story concerns the very beginning of “The Troubles.”  The violent thirty-year conflict in Northern Ireland based on the constitutional status of the country. The movie doesn’t explain “Troubles.” 71 is an experience, a slice of life that will forever be embedded in the souls of those who fought in this bloody war.

The story follows one soldier (O’Connell). His first maneuver is a nerve racking riot on the streets of Belfast. He accidentally gets separated from his unit and abandoned without a weapon. He tries surviving the night alone in a maze-like landscape with people after him. He has no idea who he can trust, but is scared beyond imagination – it’s intense. The movie is so believable I thought it was based on a true story. But, I haven’t been able to determine if that is true or not.

Demange challenges the audience in the beginning of the story by introducing the soldier’s son. They spend quality time together, so I was emotionally attached from the beginning and continued to have my fingers crossed throughout his ordeal. O’Connell’s breathtaking performance kept me in awe. He drives the whole movie.  I encourage you to see this movie for the talented work of everyone involved.

Travolta in The Forger

forgeJohn Travolta is a fine actor. His repertoire includes musicals, drama, comedy, Broadway and even television.  He is a wonderful human being, who has help hundreds of people all over the world with successful and workable solutions.  His latest DVD/Blu-Ray release is The Forger. Travolta surrounds himself with a stellar cast, crew and storyline.

Directed modestly by Philip Martin and filmed in Boston, he sketches a heartfelt movie, unlike the usual tough-guy action smash hit.  Sure. The story has bad guys, who are gritty and creepy, but the three main characters face something even more vital. The real story is about relationships and family.  They come face to face with each other resolving issues that are hard to confront.  It is almost agonizing because they have their own grit and ugliness to conquer.

Travolta’s tour de force performance is like a rare painting that captures you like watching the layers of colors come to life. He plays a father named Raymond Cutter. His son, played honestly by Tye Sheridan, has an unsolvable situation, which carries the story to the end.  The ever so talented Christopher Plummer plays Will’s grandfather.

Like a tight spring, all three gradually come to terms as their relationships come undone and are redefined. They face the issues and decide the next best thing to do is a museum heist because it is an adventure where everybody wins. Sure. There are bad guys and cops, but if they pull it off – what a great prize. Not just because they might get caught. It’s because they want to be a team, a unit, a family.

Watching Plummer play the comic relief cannot go unwatched. His scenes alone are good reasons to see the movie.  Such talent as Plummer opens a bottle of beer, dupes a security guard, tricks a gangster and then dances on an exotic island.

Martin’s action scenes are so simple and unpretentious. What a joy to see a story unfold without a lot of violence and expletive words.  The most violent scene is when Travolta’s character uses a baseball bat and backlashes at three thugs. Martin filmed the entire scene as a master shot from start to finish without insert or harsh cutaways.  It is hilarious. Did I mention there is comedy in this drama?

I don’t want to give away too much of the storyline. The ending is a little empty, but it is truthful. I don’t think I could have thought of a better way to end a story about a family with a problem that is unsolvable.