Quick awards season takes: Lady Macbeth and, erm... Despicable Me 3


Awards season is here! In Hollywood's head this means glitz and glamour. In reality, John Travolta is dusting down his tux, ready to prowl the red carpets performing all kinds of 'hilarious' 'shenanigans'. Meanwhile, studios are organising their pushes for awards-likely releases, which brings me neatly on to...

Lady Macbeth, which will probably feature at a few of the independently-minded awards and may sneak onto the BAFTAs in some way shape or form. The writing debut of Alice Birch and the feature debut of director William Oldroyd, the film looks lovely, but nevertheless manages to leave you sitting in a slightly uncomfortable manner. Some of this may be my own fault. For whatever reason (and I'm aware it should be fairly obvious) I did not have where the film was going pegged and the change in tone over what appeared to be an interesting sexual awakening drama left me a little cold. It's a cop out, but I need to see it again: the feeling I left with - of the character handling being flat-footed - may be down entirely to my expectations of where it was going to go.

That said, there are definite areas that smacked of 'first draft'. The story, based on a novel by the Russian writer, Nikolai Leskov, hinges on a character losing the power of speech when she has information to share that would stop the plot in its tracks. In writing terms that's a whisker away from everything being a dream and in directing terms it's never sold well enough to make you forget it. The opening is also a little too full of hints about Katherine's (Florence Pugh) wild nature. She talks of being 'comfortable outside', whilst other characters mix thinly veiled metaphors about animals being tied up for too long. Pugh is good but overall and, again, on first viewing only, it didn't live up to some of the effusive praise it has received.

At the other end of the spectrum, Despicable Me 3 starts with two minions becoming DJs after the opening action sequence. Their hit of choice is Ricky Martin's 1995 'classic' Un, Dos, Tres, Maria which tells you all sorts of things about how out of touch the film is and how clever the 'jokes' and musical cues are going to be.

Universal is pushing Despicable Me 3 for Best Animated gongs, but really this is the franchise running its course. The writing and jokes are lame compared to the first two films and even the minions offer little respite this time round. The story ideas test the definition of that word, opting for the 'long lost sibling' angle and doing very little of interest with it beyond the initial, obvious, 'surprise' jokes.

Worse, the film seems to have completely lost sight of what crowds of children want to watch. Even adults are likely to be a bit non-plussed by the ex-child TV star villain, complete with eighties tash, charmless robot companion and near constant glitterball accessory. What nine year-olds will make of jokes pitched around Rubix cubes is anyone's guess, but as someone who actually knows what a Rubix cube is, I'm happy to tell them that they weren't funny.

It lost me at Un, Dos, Tres and never offered anything that suggested that decision was in any way isolated or forgivable.



By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

Picking up the pieces of the Saw franchise in a post-"torture porn" world

The following article contains references to plot details for the first seven films in the Saw franchise.


Thirteen years after its original release, I will still defend the original Saw as a worthwhile and cleverly structured horror thriller, even if its low-budget production and corny performances haven't stood the test of time as well as its plot twists. "Perhaps you enjoyed Se7en. This often goes up to Ei8ht" was the pull quote from Peter Bradshaw's Guardian review slapped on the film's DVD cover, emphasising the echoes of David Fincher's earlier (and far superior) neo-noir with added brutality to be found throughout James Wan's first mainstream directorial effort.

Importantly, Saw was not the film which earned the series its position at the centre of the "torture porn" trend which dominated the horror genre for the opening decade of the twenty-first century. That dubious honour went to the first sequel, 2005's Saw II, which ventured down the bigger-equals-better route by expanding the claustrophobic primary setting of the first film from a repulsive abandoned bathroom to an entire derelict building. The ante was also upped considerably in terms of the sadistic "games" set up by John Kramer (Tobin Bell), a.k.a. the Jigsaw Killer, moving from the psychological minimalism building to horrific self-sacrifice seen in the first film, to a gleefully unpleasant house of horrors designed to cause maximum suffering and splatter throughout.

If Saw II marked the franchise's first undeniable steps into the torture porn arena, then the third film was the point at which it plunged in headfirst and never looked back. The ante was upped once again, and whilst the series arguably takes place in an extreme reflection of our own world from the very start, it's still hard to accept Saw III's traps could believably be planned and executed by Jigsaw even with the help of his disciples as revealed in subsequent installments - I mean, who has access to that many putrid pig carcasses?

Away from the increasingly convoluted and unpleasant traps, Saw III was also the final installment to give a script credit to the original film's writer Leigh Whannell, making it the series' swansong in terms of narrative coherence or sense of craft. Whilst the second sequel was a far cry from Saw's twisting thriller plot, at least it made sense and involved characters we vaguely cared about. It's fitting that Jigsaw himself dies at the end of the third film, as this is where the series' life should have ended as well.

Instead, we were "treated"  to another four installments which cater pretty much entirely to the torture porn crowd. The traps may make less sense, but hey, at least they get the blood gushing, the guts splattering, the victims screaming and the audience wincing. Away from the gore, however, there's little within any of the closing four Saws of worth. Each of the main "games" in these films is essentially a lazy rehash of elements lifted from Saw II and Saw III featuring characters in whose survival we're given no reason to invest.

By far the biggest error post-Saw III was the series' shift increasingly further away from Jigsaw - given a hokey and entirely unnecessary origin story through flashbacks - and onto Detective Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), eventually revealed to have been Kramer's accomplice since before the events of the first film. Thanks to Bell's convincing performance and the groundwork laid in the first few installments, Jigsaw was an intriguingly paradoxical antagonist providing the franchise with a solid core even as other elements continually deteriorated. Hoffman offered none of that: a stock bent-copper-cum-serial-killer with a clich├ęd and thinly drawn motive, performed by Mandylor with as much nuance as a pair of industrial-sized ice blocks to the head (take a bow, Saw IV).

Seven years after Saw: The Final Chapter seemingly drove the very last nail into Jigsaw's coffin, an eighth installment, simply titled Jigsaw, will attempt to resurrect the series once again at the end of October. There's no doubt that horror tastes have changed since torture porn's heyday in the early years of the noughties. The more traditional approach of films such as The Conjuring and its sequel and spin-offs, the social commentary approach of Get Out and, most recently, the brazenly nostalgic coming-of-age slant on Stephen King's It all offer horror experiences distinctly removed from the later Saw films' thinly-plotted splatter-fests. Jigsaw therefore not only has the task of rebooting the franchise from a position of practically zero critical credibility; but also needs to prove to those of us who were there at the beginning, before the torture porn aspect displaced everything else, that the entire concept of the Saw films isn't simply a relic of the recent past that should have been left to rot.


By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a contributing editor at Film Intel. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. When he's not writing about films here, Ben is usually writing about films - mostly Shakespeare adaptations - for his PhD. He's also on and Twitter.

The place of the Western in 2017: Ti West's In A Valley Of Violence


The fact that the Western is a genre intensely linked to the state of play in American culture, sociology and theology is a statement approaching cliche. The discussion of the modern place of genre entrants is inseparable from its roots in (predominantly) white American expansion and the pejorative meaning of 'the American way'.

In one of the latest entrants to the genre, director Ti West shows an awareness of what the genre can consider. Like many of his contemporary forebears though, West doesn't seem to know exactly what the Western has to say today. In A Valley Of Violence proves both that the genre is alive (or at least present) and confirms that it has largely said all it has to say.

We begin with Paul (Ethan Hawke), happening across a luckless priest (Burn Gorman) swigging from a whiskey bottle. After a predictable encounter where Paul and canine companion Abby prove their metal, Paul makes it to Denton where the ridiculous Gilly (James Ransone) 'rules' the roost like a fratboy banker on coke.

Gilly, though overplayed wildly by Ransone, is more or less the sole new idea when it comes to contemporary relevance. Surely destined to be played by Ben Foster had he not gone on to bigger and better things, the character treats his woman (a wasted Karen Gillan) terribly, brags to his friends without substance and is both criticised and humoured by his father (John Travolta) in equal measure. It's a nice idea, but Ransone's execution leaves something to be desired and the character lacks the menace you need in an antagonist.

The film is then notable in the minor sense for the ideas it has which have been considered better elsewhere, though still with fairly little genre progression.

The apex of the film turns at around the halfway point. The sequence itself is unremarkable, featuring as it does a predictable death and a decision by Ransone which passes Bond-villain-stupid and makes it to Scooby-Doo-lazy. At that point though, West gives himself half a film to carry out the titular violence. Open Range has done this. Open Range has also done this significantly better. West shoots and choreographs with little flair and Eric Robbins' photography is a long way from, say, Robert Richardson's work on The Hateful Eight, even allowing for the latter's much-hailed non-digital approach.

West, best known for his work in the Horror genre, bring elements of that to the finale but, again, he's been beaten to the punch recently. Bone Tomahawk is a genuinely nasty Western/Horror cross that really goes for the grisly elements, and follows through with character moments that fit. West settles for a few close-ups of bloodied people and a heightening of the strings in Jeff Grace's already too-obvious score.

On the plus side, when the script is lazily having Hawke explain backstory by way of talking to Abby, there's some really great work from Travolta. Though now mainly appearing in forgettable tumbleweed and awkward red carpet encounters, the veteran reminds us that he has the gravitas Ransone is lacking and the smart delivery to make rapid fire delivery sing. Apart from a disappointingly low-key conclusion, he elevates West's film whenever he is on screen.





By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

Amazon Instant Video hidden gems: Black Coal, Thin Ice



The type of winter on show in Black Coal, Thin Ice places the film into the pantheon of offerings that use the season as, if not a character, then a very distinct, black, cold-hearted mood. Think Fargo with an eastern sense of humour and you're somewhere in the right region. This is the kind of ice-blanketed landscape that sees each of the main characters wrap their faces in thick scarves or fall over when they should be doing something more important. It's the type of setting, mood and plot where ice skates are a primary murder weapon, though icicles could just have readily been used.

Who knows how this ended up on my watchlist, but I strongly suspect Leeds International Film Festival had something to do with it at some point. A Chinese offering following a flawed but brilliant cop on a shambolic trail of a killer who manages to dispose of their victims in various coal heaps throughout China has LIFF written all over it.

The narrative and seasonal chillyness is bracketed by traditionally off-kilter eastern cinematic levity. In an early arrest scene, one cop flings himself across the picture, to presumably land on a suspect who has since exited stage right. As the cop disappears from view, a stool is flung in from the wings. It's classic Bugs Bunny and silent cinema stuff. In another scene, Zhang (Fan Liao), now a drunk security guard, has stopped at the side of an icy road for a lie down. A kindly passerby stops to check how he is, before promptly stealing his bike. The culture norms may be different and, arguably, the dark side of it is darker, but this is only an occasional 'yarp' or 'you betcha' from The Coens' own icy wilderness.

As Zhang continues to investigate the murders some years after they first began, the plot wraps itself in too many holes to be entirely satisfying. The main riddle can be solved after about an hour by those paying attention and is confirmed about ten minutes later. Some of what remains, following Wu (Lun-Mei Kwei) feels fairly superfluous. Given the film's season, its economic links and its downtrodden 'heroes', you would have thought it could muster more to say. The IMDb trivia tells us that the first cut was two-hundred and ten minutes long and perhaps in the edit something has been lost.

There's certainly major suggestions that the original script had something more to do with misogyny, even before the finale. We open, for example, on Zhang with what appears to be his recently ex-wife, in a bravura sequence that follows a spiralling severed hand and cuts to Zhang's ex-wife's own (still attached), on a bed. But despite a constant slew of scenes that factor into the conversation (not least what appears to be a troubling rape sequence late on), writer/director Yi'nan Diao can't seem to hone in on what it is he was trying to say, and a general feeling of everything around the topic not quite adding up to much pervades.

What remains though is a frosty, entertaining mood piece, worth seeing for many reasons, even if the moralising isn't one of them.





By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

The underlying Game Of Thrones anxieties released by Beyond The Wall

SPOILER WARNING - The following article discusses key plot points in several Game Of Thrones episodes, including the latest: Season Seven: Episode Six - Beyond The Wall.


The first time the Game Of Thrones doubts were released was at the end of Season Five.

Jon Snow was dead. Originally a fairly minor character - behind at least Robb in the hero stakes - Snow had grown into the series' much-needed hero with 'stickability' and a skill at not getting stabbed. Then he was unceremoniously offed by tricky betrayers, in a death which called to mind countless other unexpected deaths in the series and therefore carried a level of plausibility.

The problem was that, as it appeared more likely that Jon could be gone for god, this one hurt and shouldn't have happened. As the season ended and we faced a winter-long wait to find out the true outcome, there was a creeping anxiety. Had the showrunners got this one wrong? Had they made the mistake in thinking that everyone in the show was disposable, instead of merely most of the cast save Jon, Daenerys and, at that point, Tyrion.

They hadn't, of course, but the Games Of Thrones anixety had been born. The showmakers could come perilously close to getting things wrong. For all of the key character deaths we had come to expect, at what point was one going to arrive that tipped the balance of the show over from 'bloodthirsty' to 'bloody stupid'? The idea that things could go wrong in this most thrilling and successfully complex of shows was suddenly very real.

Beyond The Wall, this week's episode and the penultimate of Season Seven, brought that anxiety back in a new form. Whilst previously the showrunners have excelled in managing a vast number of plots and subplots, characters and motivations, suddenly things were all wrong.

There was a very real sense of an ending, and not one that anyone was going to be satisfied with.

By the time the camera zoomed in on a dragon's eye about to turn blue, with inevitability as glum as an ice king, we had witnessed Gendry running a marathon distance in three or four shots, where previously forty-odd minutes of episode had been needed. Meanwhile, for our heroes stuck on an ice island, time passed. No-one really seems to know how much exactly. The tension, hardly there to begin with, evaporated like steam off a previously wet and cold, now flaming, sword.

The root cause of the situation is that Thrones has a stated aim to finish next year and a lot of threads to cover in the meantime. The showrunners seem to have inherited an anxiety of their own, rushing over events which previously would have merited episode-long examination to squeeze in what currently seems to be the periphery, presumably in order to give everything a neat conclusion.

It's just a few episodes ago, last season, that The Battle Of The Bastards gave over most of an episode-long runtime to a single skirmish. Here, the key finale gets barely twenty minutes, as time is given over to Sansa and Arya, apparently being torn asunder by the plotting of Little Finger, not to mention the quest of the band of seven, whose time together spanned just one episode.

Meanwhile, back on the ice, the desire to wrap things up neatly results in the aforementioned dragon shot which every man and his dire wolf saw coming.

The anxiety then is around what's to come. Thrones continues to be one of the most thrilling shows on television and Beyond The Wall was no exception. But being thrilling doesn't mean you excuse yourself from logic, structure and sound storytelling. Fans can forgive a lot of things, but many will struggle to forgive the show (which started out so complex) ending with a whimper of predictability, haste and slap-dash brashness.

There's a rumbling current in the series at the moment about two characters who are related, but who haven't quite worked that out yet. The longer the hints rumble on, the closer we get to having Basil Exposition (possibly in the form of Samwell Tarley and his newly acquired scrolls) pop up and reveal everything in roughly the most unsatisfying manner possible, just so the show can move to its next self-imposed phase of closure.

And that's just one of the plot threads Thrones has to wrap up. It's not hard to imagine one or two being closed in a similar way to sending Gendry off on a several hundred mile run.

And don't get me started on the second saving of Uncle Benjen.


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

Another opinion on the seven Dunkirk 'things', about which everyone else has an opinion

'Look ma! It's Justin Timberlake!'

Harry Styles


No matter how good or how bad Harry Styles is, he is still Harry Styles. The idea of casting largely unknowns for the band of British squaddies works... until you stick an exceptionally recognisable pop star in the middle of them. Even your Grandad has a chance of pointing out 'that bloke off of TV. Not Simon Cowell. The other one'.

Mrs Film Intel made a solid point on this on the way out of the cinema. Yes, it had distracted her too, but Styles' acting seemed OK and Justin Timberlake eventually overcame this sort of objection didn't he? Yes, he did, arguably when he got to The Social Network in 2010, having started with a few cameos, a few straight-to-video offerings and Alpha Dog in 2006. Did Dunkirk really need to provide Styles' Alpha Dog moment? Would it not have been better for Nolan to provide his Social Network moment in a few years time? The film would lose nothing from losing him.

'It's a suspense film'


Nolan​ ​has​ ​talked​ ​at​ ​length​ ​about​ ​the​ ​fact​ ​that​ ​he​ ​approached​ ​Dunkirk​ ​as​ ​a​ ​suspense​ ​film,​ ​in the​ ​mould​ ​of​ ​Hitchcock,​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​a​ ​War​ ​movie.​ ​He​ ​is​ ​successful​ ​in​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​three sections.​ ​Tom​ ​Hardy’s​ ​fighter​ ​pilot,​ ​early​ ​on,​ ​clocks​ ​his​ ​fuel​ ​gauge​ ​and​ ​checks​ ​his​ ​levels against​ ​those​ ​of​ ​Jack​ ​Lowden.​ ​With​ ​the​ ​inevitability​ ​of​ ​a​ ​loud​ ​Hans​ ​Zimmer​ ​score​ ​(we’ll​ ​get​ ​to that)​ ​the​ ​fuel​ ​gauge​ ​is​ ​soon​ ​broken​ ​and​ ​Hardy’s​ ​pilot​ ​has​ ​to​ ​make​ ​decisions​ ​not​ ​only​ ​on destination​ ​but​ ​on​ ​how​ ​involved​ ​he​ ​can​ ​get​ ​in​ ​the​ ​skirmishes​ ​below.​ ​It’s​ ​a​ ​simple​ ​and effective​ ​bit​ ​of​ ​plotting.

The 'Nolaness' of everything


Nolan​ ​is​ ​now​ ​such​ ​a​ ​looming​ ​figure​ ​in​ ​cinema​ ​that​ ​he​ ​is​ ​a​ ​having​ ​an​ ​almost​ ​meta​ ​impact​ ​on how​ ​I​ ​perceive​ ​his​ ​films.​ ​His​ ​decision​ ​not​ ​to​ ​use​ ​digital​ ​enhancements,​ ​for​ ​example,​ ​made​ ​it difficult​ ​to​ ​fully​ ​suspend​ ​disbelief​ ​during​ ​Dunkirk;​ ​the​ ​opposite​ ​effect​ ​the​ ​director​ ​aims​ ​for. Instead​ ​of​ ​thinking​ ​‘oh​ ​look​ ​at​ ​those​ ​boats​ ​rescuing​ ​the​ ​sailors’,​ ​I​ ​found​ ​myself​ ​thinking​ ​‘wow, those​ ​boats​ ​were​ ​all​ ​really​ ​there’.​ ​Nolan​ ​shouts​ ​so​ ​loudly​ ​about​ ​his​ ​lack​ ​of​ ​artifice​ ​that​ ​he creates​ ​this​ ​second​ ​layer​ ​of​ ​in-camera​ ​artifice​ ​for​ ​himself.​ ​‘This​ ​is​ ​​so​​ ​real!’,​ ​you​ ​can​ ​almost hear​ ​him​ ​saying,​ ​as​ ​he​ ​presents​ ​something​ ​to​ ​you​ ​which​ ​is​ ​entirely​ ​fake.

One hour, one day, one week


The​ ​decision​ ​to​ ​split​ ​the​ ​timeline​ ​worked​ ​for​ ​me... ​apart​ ​from​ ​at​ ​the​ ​points​ ​where​ ​the​ ​three stories​ ​converged.​ ​Again,​ ​as​ ​with​ ​Nolan’s​ ​ardent​ ​claims​ ​of​ ​reality,​ ​these​ ​moments​ ​operated like​ ​Blofeld’s​ ​reveal​ ​in​ ​Spectre;​ ​tricks​ ​the​ ​film​ ​thinks​ ​are​ ​extremely​ ​clever,​ ​but​ ​in​ ​actuality​ ​are base​ ​expressions​ ​of​ ​coherence.​ ​Nolan​ ​is​ ​praised​ ​for​ ​treating​ ​his​ ​audience​ ​as​ ​intelligent beings,​ ​but​ ​these​ ​moments​ ​invite​ ​viewers​ ​to​ ​proclaim​ ​simple​ ​recognition​ ​and​ ​treat​ ​it​ ​as professorial​ ​revelation.​ ​They​ ​don’t​ ​recognise​ ​intelligence,​ ​or​ ​even​ ​require​ ​it;​ ​they’re​ ​cheap blockbuster​ ​tricks.

Private Ryan's guts


The​ ​cries​ ​of​ ​‘where’s​ ​the​ ​blood’​ ​are​ ​the​ ​Dunkirk​ ​criticism​ ​I​ ​understand​ ​the​ ​least.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​saw the​ ​soldiers​ ​drowning​ ​in​ ​upturned​ ​boats,​ ​those​ ​on​ ​the​ ​beach​ ​being​ ​thrown​ ​into​ ​the​ ​air​ ​by​ ​the neatly​ ​plotted​ ​line​ ​of​ ​bombs,​ ​the​ ​soldier​ ​walking​ ​into​ ​the​ ​sea​ ​to​ ​attempt​ ​to​ ​swim​ ​the​ ​channel and​ ​thought​ ​‘this​ ​needs​ ​more​ ​blood!’ then my feeling is that the film isn't the main problem here. Yes, it eschews gore where others have pursued it and yes, I'm sure part of that was to earn a 12A rating. Is that a problem? Not one bit.

Zimmer's toy set


Shiny-headed music maestro Moby once said that as the music got faster and louder the quiet bits got more important. Apparently Moby and Hans Zimmer don't hang out much, to the surprise of nobody and disappointment of me. Zimmer's score, like a comedy tumbling dumpster that won't stop falling, occasionally finds a moment of music in a soundscape of drones, whines and tinkles. It's as much sound design as score and it does work in part. But it also relentlessly preaches at you to a degree that's distracting. Like the 'Nolaness' of the film, the 'Zimmerness' takes that incessant Inception drone and ups the ante. In Nolan's next, Zimmer is reportedly just going to shout at you for two hours.

Rylance and Hardy


Back to the youngsters on the beach. Whether it's Harry Styles or the 'unknowns', none of them are as good as Mark Rylance or Tom Hardy. Any time on the beach, particularly after a few people prove themselves to be a little unsavoury, is time away from the stiff upper lip of the more experienced hands, around which I would have liked to have seen this film built even more.



By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

Doing David Grann justice: The Lost City Of Z, 2017's best film so far


Though you might not have heard of him, David Grann will soon be a film-making titan.

A New Yorker 'reporter at large', Grann writes non-fiction for the weekly publication with a panache and style you might expect from a fiction writer. His reportage typically focuses on thrilling (though never salacious) exposes; stories that leave you wondering why you have not heard of them previously. It's not far off the style of Capote; narrative non-fiction or the non-fiction novel, whichever way you like.

His published collection of stories, The Devil And Sherlock Holmes, was followed by two feature-length non-fictions; The Lost City Of Z and, earlier this year, Killers Of The Flower Moon. The latter is in pre-production with Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio. Several of his New Yorker stories are at various stages of adaptation; True Crimes, a US/Polish production, is due later this year. Old Man And The Gun, starring Robert Redford and Casey Affleck, will arrive next year. A Foreigner, based on a Grann highlight (A Murder Foretold), has bumped around various homes and currently sits with Oscar Isaac and Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.

The Lost City Of Z, the first of Grann's works to make it to the screen, holds not only promise but the title of the best film of 2017 so far.

Adapting Grann should in theory be simple, because he writes 'scenes', as a fiction writer predisposed to screenwriting might. But the nuance of why Grann's stories are so successful is in the detail. The above could be terrible, a fundamentally bankrupted version of events, told with a great degree of entertainment and perhaps little dedication to accuracy. But that's not how Grann reads. Instead, his prose makes the culprits more vivid, the heroes more flawed, the spot-on reportage more reliant on facts.

Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), the 'hero' of The Lost City Of Z is a case in point. As Grann tells it, Fawcett was not a fantastic family man, may well have been more interested in chasing fame and fortune than anything else and was, by the conclusion of things, quite possibly driven to some form of mania or madness.

Director James Gray tones Fawcett down a touch. He is, without a doubt, a heroic figure here. But Gray and star Charlie Hunnam stick the landing. There is more than a suggestion that Fawcett is at fault for some of the events of the history, even more than that that Fawcett does not do right by his family, as his father did not do right by him. Crucially, the finale of Fawcett's story, as told by Grann, is maintained by Gray. It might be the reason the film was not a large hit with audiences.

Gray is growing a reputation as an auteur director who can get more than expected out of actors, sometimes with mixed-quality material. He does his reputation no harm here. There's no doubt that this is Hunnam's best work and there's a very solid argument that The Lost City Of Z is the same for Robert Pattinson and Sienna Miller. Miller gets great writing from Gray, who refuses to allow her character to just be the 'stay at home wife'. Hunnam and Pattinson are occasionally unrecognisable; Pattinson - in beard, spectacles and drooping hat - literally so. Hunnam's 'gentleman's accent' is wonderful; the right level of false to make you question Fawcett, rather than Hunnam's performance.

He too is in-tune with Grann's narrative style; present the facts, thrillingly, and the reader can draw their own conclusions of character fortitude.



By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.