E is for: Empire of the Sun (1987)
Based on the 1984 book of the same title, with inspiration taken from author J. G. Ballard’s own personal experience, this huge war epic, directed by Spielberg, follows the story of Jamie Graham, a young boy living with his parents in Shanghai. The film follows Jamie’s plight as the Japanese forces enter and occupy the lands of Shanghai in 1941.
During the invasion, Jamie is separated from his parents and ends up on the run trying to avoid capture and doing everything he can to survive. However after scavenging through his parent’s house he is eventually captured by the Japanese and held in a civilian holding centre. Whilst captured he makes an unlikely friend in an American sailor, Basie, and it is this moving story of friendship and courage that the films follows.
With a fantastic blend of humour, action, compassion and friendship, its one of Spielberg’s best and with a cast featuring a young Batman (Christian Bale), John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson and even a brief encounter with Ben Stiller this is one epic (and it is an epic at 2 and a half hours long) for the whole family.
E is also for: End of Watch (2012):
I won’t go into too much detail on this film, as the skipper (Simon) has already recommended it.
But what I will say is that this is an unexpected dark thriller told in a simple, yet highly effective way. There’s a little bit of bro-mance in there which isn’t always a bad thing (!) but it’s definitely a must see for all those who loved films such as Heat (1995), Collateral (2004) and The Departed (2006).
E is also for: Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite) 1 (2007) & 2 (2010):
Centred in Rio de Janeiro, this films follows the story of Brazil’s police special forces, known as BOPE. Their job is never to question who or why but simply to put down and get rid of criminal targets too dangerous for anyone else to hunt down.
The first of the two films follows a young police officer, Matias, who is assisting on a drugs bust in one of the many sprawling favelas that dominate Rio’s poorer districts. During an operation that goes horribly wrong, Matias and his colleagues are left in a ferocious fire fight which unbeknown to them has involved BOPE teams also on an operation.
As the film progresses we see that Matias is a studious young man trying to better his life but in doing so is caught between the lines of morality and the law. After his close encounter with the BOPE, he is faced with life altering choices about his future which will lead him to not only test his own physical and mental strength but the morals he has stood by for so long…
The second instalment of Elite Squad: The Enemy Within follows on 12 years later with the captain of the BOPE from the first film, Captain Nascimento who is now promoted to the rank of Lieutenant colonel, taking centre stage once again. In this instalment, (which in my opinion is the better of the two films but won’t make a lot of sense if you haven’t seen the first) the story follows a prison riot in which the BOPE teams are brought in to assist in the situation. When negotiations start to fall apart and a tense stand-off leads to the death of a well-known prisoner, Nascimento becomes the centre of an investigation as to what happened and in turn becomes the scapegoat of the political corruption that sadly affects much of Brazilian life.
Although this film is a work of fiction there is a lot of real life inspiration that is drawn from to create this fantastic thriller and is definitely a film that shouldn’t be missed… especially with the football world cup looming next year in Brazil…!!
E is also for: Easy Rider (1960):
Regarded as one of the greatest, if not THE greatest road movie ever created, it features screen legends Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda.
I won’t go into too much detail here as many of you I’m sure have already seen this classic. But for those who have not, here is a little taste of what lies in store…
The film follows Fonda and Hopper on a drug sale where after their aim is to ride to New Orleans to party and let loose during the famous Mardi Gras festival…. And that’s all I’m saying….
It’s defiantly not a family film, but if you’re old enough (18 rating) and you have never seen this film them what are you waiting for….?!?!
E is also for: Eastern Promises (2007):
This dark and unflinching film centres on the Russian Mafia based in London and their control on the sex trafficking trade, as well as other activities, that go on in the underbelly of a modern metropolis.
The story follows a mid-wife who finds a journal and other information upon the personal effects of a 14-year-old girl whom has died during child-birth. Her inquisitiveness and want for truth leads her to meet some unsavoury characters that plague the streets of London and for whom power and control is everything.
The combination of director David Cronenberg (Crash, The Fly, Videodrome, A History of Violence) with a fantastic cast featuring Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts and Vincent Cassell, whom are all on great form, has meant that this unrelenting, violent and brutal drama is something that maybe not be for everyone. Having said that, if you have the stomach for it and want something a little different then you’re in for a dark treat.
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