European films are not only about presenting biographies of great historic or contemporary personalities or about analyzing human nature from different perspectives. Welcome to the Punch demonstrates that an action movie can keep the interest of the viewers alive and get them thinking at the same time.
l James McAvoy - The 34 years old British actor plays Max Lewinski, a detective for whom hunting down the dangerous criminal Jacob Sternwood becomes the main goal, not only of his carrier, but of his entire life. However, a series of events make him join forces with his former enemy and fight on the same side. This is one of the most recent performances for McAvoy, who appeared in 3 other European films in 2013, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, The Trance and The Filth.
l Mark Strong - On his real name Giuseppe Marco Salussolia, the actor born in 1963 plays the antagonist of the movie, the criminal Jacob Sternwood. After spending some time hidden in Iceland, he comes to London to save his son from trouble, at the risk of being arrested by his archenemy, detective Lewinski. Strong has a rich acting career, but he is best known for playing Lord Henry Blackwood in the 2009 adaptation of Sherlock Holmes and Frank D'Amico in the action comedy Kick-Ass, both performances being nominated for MTV Movie Awards in the Best Film Fight category.
the central theme of the movie, two former enemies fighting for a common cause, is specific more to Hollywood productions than to European films, but this does not mean that the production is not interesting to watch.
Forced by the circumstances, Jacob Sternwood, a man who is famous for his criminal past, decides to leave Iceland, where he had been hiding for quite a long time, and returns to London. It is an opportunity detective Max Lewinski, who dreams of putting Sternwood behind bars for the crimes he committed, cannot miss.
To the great surprise of the two declared enemies, while playing their usual cat-and-mouse game, they get into a deep, tangled conspiracy, and the only way out of it is to join their efforts for finding the answers that guarantee their survival.
The end is one of the surprise elements Welcome to the Punch has in store, some matters being left partially unsolved, giving the viewers something to think about, and turning the production into one of the most intriguing recently released European films in the action movie category.
If you are a fan of nostalgic, introspective European films, The Great Beauty is one of the movies you definitely must see.
Ever since its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was nominated for Palme d'Or, the movie was received enthusiastically by film critics and journalists, some specialists even comparing it with the productions of the great Federico Fellini.
Themes and Signification
The tragic of the human existence and the absurdity of destiny are the main subjects the film explores, using the images and the music to underline the feelings and thoughts of the characters at certain moments, to transmit them to the viewers, establishing a sort of communication between the real and the imaginary world.
In a manner specific to great, classic European films, the characters themselves are used more as instruments of the director, each of them being pieces of a puzzle re-composing human nature, with its goods and bads. Even the protagonist Jep Gambarella, the journalist specialized in presenting the cultural events and parties the members of Rome high society attend, is nothing more than a mirror the decadent life of the city is reflected in.
However, optimism is also present, especially at the end of the movie, when, after contemplating the failures in his career and love life, Gambarella shows a serene attitude, having the certitude that it is never too late for a new romance to appear, even if he is already 65 years old.
Some of the most reputed movie critics, such as Deborah Young and Robbie Collin placed The Great Beauty at the top of the list with the greatest European films of all times. According to these specialists, a lot of elements from classic productions of the Italian cinematography can be found in it, Michelangelo Antonioni's La Notte, Ettore Scola's Splendour and The Terrace being only a few of the famous movies it was compared to.
The impressive number of nominations and awards it received at different international film festivals are the best proof of its value.
l Silver Ribbon Awards - It was nominated in 9 categories, winning the awards for Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Sound and Best Cinematography.
l Golden Globe Awards - The production was the winner of the Best Foreign Language Film category.
l Cannes Film Festival - It was nominated for Palm d'Or, the greatest award of the festival, granted for the best film.
l European Film Awards - The Great Beauty received nominations for 5 categories, and it won 4 of them, including Best Film and Best Director.
For the European films fans, the great number of international awards this production was showered with is a reason of immense satisfaction, a confirmation of the revival the cinematographic industry from this part of the world experiences.
European films still have a lot to say in the cinematographic industry, as the biographical movie Rush demonstrates. It was one of the critics' favorites, being awarded numerous distinctions at prestigious film festivals around the world.
The central theme of the movie is the rivalry between the two famous Formula One pilots, the Austrian Niki Lauda and the Englishman James Hunt, their careers and personal lives being presented in detail.
l Cast - The 35 years old German actor Daniel Bruhl was chosen to play Niki Lauda, his convincing performance being already rewarded with the Virtuoso Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. He was also nominated for Golden Globe Awards, British Academy Film Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards. The British pilot James Hunt is played by the handsome Australian actor Chris Hemsworth. In spite of playing in numerous TV and cinematographic productions, he never before appeared in European films, Rush being his first experience of this kind.
l Crew - The movie is directed by Ron Howard, the man behind numerous box-office and critics successes in the last 40 years, such as Night Shift, Apollo 13, Ransom,with Mel Gibson as the protagonist and, more recently, The Dilemma and Made in America. The script of Rush was written by Peter Morgan, who is well-known for writing the screenplays of other famous cinematographic productions, The Queen and Frost/Nixon being just two of them.
The starting point of the action is represented by the 1970 Formula Three car race on the Crystal Palace circuit, both Lauda and Hunt participating in it. The latter eventually wins the competition, this being the beginning of a rivalry that spans over almost a decade.
Unlike other European films that focus on presenting the events happening throughout a short period of time, the action in Rush is not compressed. The hard work of the two pilots, who come to compete for McLaren and Scuderia Ferrari, two of the most famous Formula One teams of all times, and the relationship between them, their teammates and the other members of the technical staff are presented step by step.
Numerous details from their personal life, such as Hunt's marriage with the famous model Suzy Miller and the divorce of the couple provoked by the wife's infidelities, the strained relationship between Lauda and his father, the love story and the marriage of the Austrian pilot with the socialite Marlen Knaus also appear in the movie.
The possibility of taking a sneak peek into the fascinating world of Formula One and the alert rhythm of the action are only two of the elements that make Rush one of the most praised European films of the last few months.
With an impressive number of nominations and awards won at different festivals, Philomena is considered one of the best European films of the last year by viewers and critics alike.
Based on a true story, it presents the efforts of a mother to reunite with the son she was forced to give for adoption 50 years before.
Just when he loses his job, the journalist Martin Sixsmith meets the daughter of a woman named Philomena Lee at a party. She tells him that her mother confessed to her that, in her youth, she gave birth to a son in Ireland, but, because she was not married, the Catholic Church took the boy from her and gave him for adoption.
Martin finds the story exciting and decides to meet Philomena in order to find out more about those events and, possibly, write a book based on the results of his research.
The two of them team up, facing the opacity and the disguised hostility of the nuns from the convent where Philomena stayed with her young son. The image of the Catholic Church is not very favorable in the movie, this making Philomena one of the most controversial European films of 2013.
The protagonists go to the USA, following the trace of Philomena's lost son, who had a brilliant political carrier during Ronald Reagan's administration, but, unfortunately, died 9 years before their arrival. The film ends with Philomena locating the place where he was buried and reading the words on the stone.
l Production crew - Stephen Frears, the winner of an impressive number of BAFTA, Cesar and Goya awards directed the movie. The screenplay was written by Jeff Pope and Steven Coogan, who also starred as Martin Sixsmith. The work of the two authors saw recognition during the 70th edition of the Venice International Film Festival, where it was awarded for the best screenplay. This made critics consider Philomena one of the best European films of the year.
l Cast - The presence of Judi Dench as one of the protagonists is a guarantee of success for any movie. The brilliant way in which she gave life to the character of Philomena Lee brought her nominations to some of the most prestigious awards, including the Golden Globe, the British Academy Film Awards and the Academy Awards. Steven Coogan was also an inspired choice as the male protagonist, the British comedian making a good team with Judi Dench.
In spite of some criticisms regarding the attitude towards the institutions and policy of the Catholic Church, Philomena is widely considered as one of the most successful European films of 2013.