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Going in Style

There’s nothing better than seeing veteran actors go through their paces. Whilst occasionally the scripts they’re given may not be totally amazing, their emotional gravitas and skills are able to make their performances watchable. ‘Going in Style’ is a good example. A remake of a 1979 George Burns film, it’s an amiable, breezy ride whose pleasure is viewing three thespians strut their stuff. Age has no limit on talent with all involved having a good time in a very genial comedy.

Willie (Morgan Freeman), Joe (Michael Caine) and Albert (Alan Arkin) are three friends living out their retirement. When their cherished pension funds are wiped out during a banking calamity, they become distraught. Needing money to enjoy their remaining years, they take matters in their own hands. Deciding to rob the bank that lost their cash, they plot a perfect heist. Unfortunately none of them know how to handle a gun let alone robbing places, making their job harder until the fateful day arrives.

‘Going in Style’ is an easy-going and light-hearted time-waster with fine performances. Under Zack Braff’s steady direction, the creaky plot is enlivened by a brisk pace and gentle humour. There’s nothing particularly startling here in terms of the comedy although it manages a few genuine chuckles. It’s the actors that audiences want to see who are all uniformly excellent. You wouldn’t expect any less from Freeman, Caine and Arkin, whose comic timing and chemistry successfully highlights their character’s life-long friendship.

Their presence aids in making their roles fully dimensional. How they cope with modern life and the greed of banks is something to which many can relate. It’s interesting how financial institutions are the new enemy for which movie producers appear to be aiming. The ‘little guy against the big, bad corporation’ motif is given another work-out here. This suits the material with the agreeable script effectively conveying the fears the trio have for their futures and family.

‘Going in Style’ is aimed at a certain audience and sticks with a proven formula. It works mostly due to the solid acting and focussed story. The growing market for more ‘mature-aimed’ films has seen some fine work produced, of which ‘Going in Style’ is one in its own stylish way.

Rating out of 10: 7

Their Finest

Since cinema began, it has been used for a myriad of purposes. Primarily they have entertained and informed with the silver screen having a major impact in its early decades. Based on the novel ‘Their Finest Hour and a Half’ by Lissa Evans, ‘Their Finest’ explores how the medium was used to stir emotions. Set during World War 2, the way movies were used to get patriotic messages across is something still used in today’s tech-savvy environment.

In the midst of the demoralising London Blitz and the Battle of Britain, the Ministry of Propaganda decide to take matters in their own hands. Determined to create a morale-boosting movie for its citizens they enlist the services of script-writer Catrin (Gemma Arterton). Helped by fellow writer Tom (Sam Claflin) and actor Ambrose (Bill Nighy), Catrin has her work cut out. Attempting to derive positive elements from a deadly conflict all try to shed light on a war’s grim darkness.

‘Their Finest’ shows what happens when its fullest potential isn’t used. The central characters are intriguing as is the scenario in which they’re in. How their efforts in boosting morale at home via film is interesting as is the way they try to boost each other’s morale’s in times of stress. It’s fascinating how films made during this era now provide a document to social mores of the era. Catrin’s strong determination to overcome a sexist environment is also well expressed with Arterton and company giving solid performances.

The problem lies with Lone Scherfig’s uneven direction and muddled script. Situations are created with potential for interesting character development which are never fully realised. The tone is all over the place with the drama, humour and romance poorly mixed. This has the effect of failing to allow the viewer to truly invest in what’s happening. The character’s constant fear of being killed in bombing raids is well done as is the cinematography effectively capturing the daily horror of war in the city.

‘Their Finest’ offers fair viewing if one doesn’t ponder on its short-comings. The cast do their best with what they’re given and even its imperfections can’t hide cinema’s power cinema. It shows its ability to change and develop in any era with its tools in sending messages ones still widely used.

Rating out of 10: 6