Control

Dir: Anton Corbijn, 2007. Starring: Sam Riley, Samantha Morton, Alexandra Maria Lara. Drama.

When 24 Hour Party People came out, I overheard a lot of dour Raincoat types leaving the theater expressing their wish that whole film had been about Ian Curtis and not those awful acid house Blue Tuesdays or whatever was going on after Ian Curtis' death, at which point their lot zoned out 'til the credits. I thought of how awful that would be - a film about Joy Division. Biopics are always so suspect. Myth-making, made-for-cable garbage with chest-beating and hammy impressions instead of acting... you know, the kind of thing the Oscars are made of. Thankfully, Control is not like that.

Control is directed by Anton Corbijn, which I didn't know till the end. Whatever you think of the guys videos, he has an eye for arresting (if sometimes comically dour) imagery. He's also Dutch and therefore a natural fit for Joy Division’s world which is black and white and eternally wintery, even in the summer – like World War II movies.

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Posted by:
Eric Brightwell
Feb 14, 2009 1:12pm

Mister Lonely

Dir: Harmony Korine, 2008. Starring: Diego Luna, Samantha Morton, Werner Herzog. Drama.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see Buckwheat from Our Gang wash the back of his holiness the Pope with a scrub brush in a stand-alone bathtub in the middle of the woods? Has the idea of witnessing Moe, Curly and Larry shoot a flock of diseased goats ever cross your mind? Or perhaps, getting a bird’s eye view of several nuns free falling through the atmosphere during an impromptu skydiving trip? If so, Mister Lonely is the film for you.

Mister Lonely is the story of a shy Michael Jackson impersonator (Diego Luna) living and dancing his way through the streets of Paris. While performing at a retirement home, Michael comes into contact with a Marilyn Monroe impersonator (Samantha Morton). The two have lunch at which point Marilyn invites Michael to accompany her to a commune inhabited by celebrity impersonators located in the Highlands of Scotland. At first, Michael is apprehensive. But the beautiful and very uncanny Monroe impersonator convinces him to join her. Michael gathers his things in a scene, which in my opinion, is the embodiment of the entire film. Never has a moment in a film where a character interacts with furniture ever make me feel the way in which this particular (and peculiar) scene did.

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Posted by:
Travis King
Dec 17, 2008 7:02pm

Morvern Callar

Dir: Lynne Ramsay, 2002. Starring: Samantha Morton, Kathleen McDermott. Drama.

Morvern Callar is one of the most visually stimulating films I have ever seen. Based on the novel by Alan Warner, it is a poetic and complex work that stirs some of the most tender and infuriating emotions within us. The opening scene is fragmented and leads the film to its core with the same sorrow and confusion that will remain present throughout the feature. Morvern Callar (Samantha Morton) finds her boyfriend shortly after he has slit his wrists and finds a message on his computer instructing her to publish his novel, make arrangements for his funeral, and to "be brave."

You wait for some kind of outburst from her. It’s Christmastime and everything is uncomfortably quiet. She lies on the ground next to his dead body and caresses his back. She leaves the body alone and opens her Christmas presents: a sliver Zippo, leather jacket, tape player, and a mix tape. After a while she listens to it and chain smokes. Still, you are waiting for some kind of extreme action in order to break your discomfort. In a sense, there is an extreme, but not what you'd expect. She begins to bathe and put on makeup, eventually leaving to attend a wild party with her best friend Lanna (Kathleen McDermott). The film focuses on the color red throughout almost every shot, keeping you on the edge and expecting something foul. But I think the red stands for more than bloodshed. It reappears to illustrate the carnage in everyday life and the desire to eat it up before you get old.

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Posted by:
Edythe Smith
Sep 21, 2010 5:54pm

Under the Skin

Dir: Carine Alder, 1997. Starring: Samantha Morton, Claire Rushbrook, Rita Tushingham, Christine Tremarco. Drama.

What does this film, Control and Morvern Callar all have in common? They all feature arresting performances by Samantha Morton, as well as a wonderful soundtrack. I've concluded that Morton's acting career is a solid, aggressive work of art, and that the possibility of being disappointed with her does not exist. However, with Under the Skin, I think one can view her finest performance. It seems obvious that she takes direction well, but with Carine Alder's film, I believe she provided something extraordinary. Her efforts to connect with the character, and really push to bring something daring to the screen, is very inspirational. As for the director, who is a woman and unfortunately has not directed a feature film before or after this one, I also give my highest praise.

The film focuses on the lives of two sisters, Iris (Samantha Morton) and Rose (Claire Rushbrook). The two are like oil and water. Rose was named after their mother's (Rita Tushingham) favorite flower, while Iris bears the name of one with mixed meaning. They've just been informed that their mother has either 3 weeks or 3 months to live. When she does pass, the dramatic and pregnant Rose waits around for crocodile tears that never come. Iris seems untouched by her mother's death, but there is something about her that makes you believe she is devastated. They make arrangements to have her cremated and begin splitting her belongings between the two of them. Rose was the closest to her, and therefore feels entitled to just about everything. The only thing Iris wants is the ring her mother wore, which Rose steals, claiming that she can't find it in the house. While rummaging through her mother's things Iris finds a fur coat, her wig, and a pair of cheap sunglasses. As you see her putting them on, you get the sense that she'll never be the same again.

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Posted by:
Edythe Smith
Nov 3, 2010 4:43pm
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