Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

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So sharply written that it cuts, the third movie from award-winning playwright Martin McDonagh is a dramedy that starts with cleverness and wit, then opens up into something truthfully human.’ Jeffrey Anderson – Common Sense Media

I walked into the cinema with no idea what the title of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri really was, or meant, or in which sequence those five words were constructed. All I knew was that this film snatched a Golden Globe for Best Drama and two acting awards, so I figured that coming into my favourite season of the year (after autumn) of the Academy Awards, this was on the top of my list of must-see films. And I was so right. If you read the synopsis like I did, then you’re probably not overly enticed to pay this humble film a visit, because The Greatest Showman or Coco are far more entertaining, but I think that if you give it a chance you will feel all of the emotions and much much more. After all, this is a masterpiece!

Three old weathered billboards stand alone scattered against a sparsely travelled road on the outskirts of small Missouri town, Ebbing. Mildred Hayes, portrayed by the brilliant Frances McDormand, has placed a one-month down payment on their rent to display three small phrases to all who pass by: ‘Raped While Dying’, ’And Still No Arrests?’, ‘How Come, Chief Willoughby?’. Those three emotionally charged phrases ring throughout the entire film, painting a canvas of one mothers anger and heartache for her lost daughter toward the local police force. Ebbing’s chief officer Sheriff Bill Willoughby, played by Woody Harrelson, is the target for vengeance for failing to find the killer, despite his own long suffering in his battle against cancer. Rather than focusing on the crime and resolution as you would expect, Three Billboards zooms in on the cause and effects of tragedy, the repercussions of pressure and the harboured inner anger in all of us. Yet the movie travels across more than just revenge in this battle between Mildred and the law, but into the very depth of our humanity.

The pain of others haunts Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri in just the same way as the overarching theme of vengeance does. Here you can see playwright turned filmmaker Martin McDonagh pave the way into a genre of his own, mixing pain and violence with frequent cruel laughs. Although it doesn’t seem like it according to the plot, you’ll be laughing from start to finish. But perhaps the most ambitious aspect of the film doesn’t lie in the comedy tragedy mix, but in the depth of the characters. Here the playwright showcases his unique style in constructing a story with the highly talented characters on focus, which leaves you vouching for, yelling at and laughing with every single one of the characters on screen. In particular, feminine righteousness and masculine power in Frances McDormand and her equally excellent hard-ass Woody Harrelson and violent Sam Rockwell play to a defining range of dislike, empathy and arrogance, each one making an indescribably powerful impact on the course of the film. In fact, ThreeBillboards is so narrow on the characters that it feels as though Ebbing is only a small town of nine people, and perhaps that is what appealed to me the most. The entire film (without giving anything away) sticks within the outlines of a revenge film, yet portrays a kaleidoscope of emotions in a town stricken with heartache and sorrow in one big plight to find a killer and maybe one day to all get along.

If its insanely high ratings or success in the Awards circuit isn’t enough for you to go and watch this film, there’s not much I can do. But just know you’re missing out.

★★★★★

IMDb – 8.4/10  Rotten Tomatoes – 93%

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Now You See Me – Look Closer (2013)

“The closer you look, the less you see” reveals Atlas, a professional magician who specialises in misdirection. This begins an unstoppable quest to uncover unique illusions, true friendships and unpredictable misjudgments. It might seem illogical with each passing minute but this fast and risky heist film is a tremendously clever and highly unpredictable story.

A mysterious hoodie-covered individual has assembled an incredibly talented team of magicians to unleash a large stage show that takes Las Vegas by storm. The Four Horsemen are most powerful when they mess with the minds of their oblivious audiences. Unexpectedly their signature trick is robbing money on stage in full view of their audience. Both the FBI and Interpol make it their responsibility to uncover the strange schemes of the quartet and capture them before they pull of anything too big to handle.

Director Louis Leterrier has collected a charming group of actors who perform exceptionally well in combination with humor, illusions and deception. Atlas is the unofficial leader of the quartet, an annoying control freak. Jessie Eisenberg plays the role of Atlas superbly under pressure with no noticeable effort. His former magic assistant Henley, played by the stunning Isla Fisher, is a famous escape artist who easily draws in all male attention. Merritt is both a clever mentalist and a professional brain drainer. Woody Harrelson is the best match, filled with wit and mental strength required for the role. Jack used to make a living off street performing however he now stands as the fastest man in the team. Dave Franco returns to the big screen with flying colours, proving that he’s capable to pull of a massive role with wit and ingenuity.

Now You See Me is a must-watch film filled with incredible stunts and performances that will have you constantly on the edge of your seat. Now You See Me is a cinematic illusion performed with much razzle dazzle and no regard for reality. The film is only increasingly better with the addition of a well-cast ensemble including Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Mark Ruffalo. Make it a priority to watch this film, it is spectacular from start to finish and the big reveal is guaranteed to blow you away!

☆☆