Saturday, 24 June 2017

In This Corner of the World - Review (E.I.F.F)

 'In This Corner of the World' is a anime period drama film which is directed by Sunao Katabuchi.

Based on the manga of the same name 'In This Corner of the World' follows the story of Suzu a young woman who is quickly married and has moved from her small sub urban town in Hiroshima to live with her husbands family in Kure during the second world war.

What was most unexpected from a film which starting out light-hearted and fantastical is how accurately the film deals with themes of war and tragedy. While many film put their characters center stage of war and destruction, this film presents destruction from afar, which during this time in our history it's more relevant than ever. The animation may feature less movement than Studio Ghibli's productions, however the level of detail and artistry which add a lot of detail to the story. The film is very effective because of it's use of tonal pacing. The humor and dramatic elements are mixed very well and do not become too overbearing at any moment. The characters have good amount of background and depth and while some scenes can feel slightly over expositional the story is strong enough to sustain the film. My only fault with this film is the jarring nature of the first act as it seems to jump from a dream sequence to reailty, it's only a small oversight as the rest of the film was is executed tremendously.

Rating: 8/10




Friday, 23 June 2017

God's Own Country - Review (E.I.F.F)

God's Own Country is a British romantic drama film which stars Josh O' Connor and Alex Secareanu. This film is directed by Francis Lee.

The opening film of the Edinburgh Film Festival presents the cold, un-glamorous and brutal environment of the Yorkshire pennines as the backdrop for a romance between two men who work on a farm. One of the first things to note about this film is how the two men interact with each other. The relationship does not feel romantic, but there is certainly a lot of understated emotion. Francis Lee does a good job of crafting the harsh and unsympathetic world the characters live, which creates an understanding of their desperate, self destructing methods of escapism. The performances from the main two leads Josh O'Connor and Alex Secareanu are the highlight of the film, their performances felt natural and powerfully portrayed characters who don't have emotional outlets, if in the hands of another director or other actors the performances could of easily been hammy or over emotional.

For the first half of the film I was taken aback by how gritty and realistic the film presented it's characters and the how the film explored the theme of love without emotion as the characters felt vulnerable sharing there emotions not just to everyone else, but each other as well, unfortunately the second half of the film falls into a predictable pit as each act feels like it's rushing to get to the next, for a film with an unconventional start it was frustrating to see it conform into a heightened romantic drama that feels repetitive all too often.

Overall God's Own Country is a thoughtful study of an understated relationship through a cold and foreboding environment, but the film cannot be saved from it's cliche story and it's repetitive narrative.

Rating: 5/10

Monday, 12 June 2017

My Cousin Rachel (Review)

'My Cousin Rachel' is a mystery period drama film which stars Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin. This film is directed by Roger Michell.

It's apparent that the old costume drama mystery is not dead with Roger Michell's latest film. The set up for this film and execution of this film is very traditional in terms of the genre and film making which serves as both of my praises and criticisms of 'My Cousin Rachel'. One of the most impressive and praiseworthy aspects of the film is the way it is beautiful framed and the use of bright contrasts used by cinematographer Mike Eley. The film is also well acted with the highlight performance from Rachel Wise which almost feels like a double performance because of her character Rachel Ashley's questionable behavior. Sam Claflin's performance as Phillip for the most part serves the film well but at some point it felt quite hammy and over theatrical. The film is advertised as a horror/thriller film, which without spoiling too much, it really isn't one at all, it's easy to dismiss the film because of the disappointment of the film delivering the thrills you were expecting. The main problem for this film for me was the way the story was told, it felt like it had a whole lot of potential, but the film always took the safe and predictable route leaving me unsatisfied, not mad or upset, but just unsatisfied of how exciting or thought provoking this film could have been.

Rating: 5/10


Monday, 5 June 2017

Wonder Woman (Review)

'Wonder Woman' is a superhero action film which stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright and David Thewlis. This film is directed by Patty Jenkins.

It's no secret that the DC Extended Universe is struggling. The first three installments of the franchise (Man Of Steel, BVS and Suicide Squad) received less than mixed reviews from critics and fans alike, Fortunately Wonder Woman has broken the curse and provided the franchise with it's first competent, fulfilling and overall good movie ... who would have thought?

One of the first things to note is Gal Gadot's performance as the titular character, for me it's no question now that she was the perfect casting choice, Gadot brings the character to life on the big screen with charm, charisma and a whole lot of energy. The supporting cast also turn in good performances to support the star all being helped by the strong origin story, Chris Pine is naturally charismatic when he is on screen as the somewhat pessimistic, but always likable Captain Steve Trevor. Performances from Lucy Davis and Ewen Bremmer provided a comedic element to the film without overstaying their welcome which can be the vain of some blockbuster films with comedic relief characters.

The film is directed in a way which would usually irritate me because of the use of slow to fast motion action shots and the camera panning rapidly up and down, however the shots work because of the way Jenkins uses them in the context of the scene, for example the shot in the trailer where Wonder Woman is seen diving on the floor tripping up people in slow motion, the use of the effect feels warranted because it shows the unique way Wonder Woman fights, rather than the actions of typical fights we see in the average Hollywood movie. The film for the majority is a beautifully colorful and the production design really is incredible to look at from the island of Themyscira to World War One London. Rupert Gregson-Williams' powerful and exciting score and is allowed to strike it's attention to the audience loudly and clearly unlike many films of the action/superhero genre in which the scores are drowned out by sound effects and dialogue.

I only have a few small problems with Wonder Woman, one of them is that the climax of this film feels stereotypical at this point, I understand that not much can be done at this point in time, but it's a case of ... it's not bad, but I've seen it done better.  Overall the strength of the film up to the climax is worth praising and while they are certainly better climax scenes in other superhero films it doesn't hold back the film from being an exciting, charming and enjoyable experience overall.

Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Alien: Covenant (Review)

'Alien: Covenant' is a science fiction horror film which stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup and Danny McBride. This film is directed by Ridley Scott.

Ridley Scott returns once again to the Alien franchise with the second prequel installments which is a hybrid story which connects Prometheus to the earlier Alien films. Reactions were mixed with 'Prometheus' however myself enjoyed the film while acknowledging it's flaws. 'Alien: Covenant' is exciting for most audiences because it's more familiar to Scott's beloved 1979 original Alien. 
So here's the deal with 'Alien: Covenant' The dialogue is very exposition and the characters are quite boring, but the visuals and thematic elements are the best parts. Ridley Scott creates a visual intensity that is hard to forget, This film is one of the most beautifully shot films of the year. Micheal Fassbinder's character becomes more developed which is always interesting. A decent film, but I actually prefer Prometheus by a very small amount. certainly better than Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection, but nowhere near as good as the original. The film has one of the better stories of the alien films, however sometimes the scope of the story gets in the way of the small corridor horror of the first alien film or the straight forward hard hitting action of Aliens, yet it's a good story which has a great conclusion. In some ways the pacing of this film reminded me of 'Rouge One', the first two acts are slow and rather dull, but the third act kicks the story into gear and leaves the audience on a high note, so while you will leave Alien Covenant satisfied you have to sit through about 90 minutes of 'meh'.

If you have high exceptions for this film you will most likely be disappointing, however if you are willing to be patient then the film has many interesting and thought provoking ideas as well as recreating some of the excitement of the first two Alien films, but not quite matching it.


Rating: 6/10





Sunday, 2 April 2017

Free Fire (Review)

'Free Fire' is a crime comedy film which stars Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer and Michael Smiley. This film is directed by Ben Wheatley.

Sharp suits, but not so sharp shooters, 'Free Fire' is another entry into Ben Wheatley's cannon of pitch black comedy's. The set up of Free Fire is nothing new and the sound of the premise will probably make film buffs shrug their shoulders and say "I'd rather just watch reservoir dogs", but despite the obvious similarities, Free Fire still manages to surprise me with it's quick wit and creative action. The idea of making a film such as Free Fire sounds simple enough, however the way Wheatley directs and the style of Amy Jump's rapid fire dialog keeps you invested in the story and characters through 90 minutes of sheer gunfire.

The characters in this film are thoroughly entertaining to watch, the highlight performance from Sharlto Copley as the eccentric gun salesman Vernon is hilarious from the moment he walks on-screen. Other great performances from Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy and Sam Riley along with the rest of the cast provide brilliant comedic chemistry. The score from Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow is also surprising and unconventional for the style of music that they use, but yet still somehow works perfectly for this film. For a film which is set in one location pacing is very important and for the majority of the film's runtime it is executed well, however there is a slight few moments here and there which felt a little null. One of the few minor problems I have is the ending, it works well, but it felt quite predictable and I hoped for something a little more exciting and unconventional.

Overall 'Free Fire' is a film which may not aim high, but it shoots on target and will prove to be one of the funniest films you will see all year. 'Free Fire' comes highly recommended.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, 31 March 2017

Ghost in the Shell (2017 - Review)

'Ghost in the Shell' is an American remake of the sci-fi action anime film of the same name. This film stars Scarlett Johansson, Micheal Pitt, Pilou Asbæk and Juliette Binoche. This film is directed by Rupert Sanders.

Going in with a complete blank slate, I had no reservations or any anticipation for this film, largely due to never seeing the 1995 original. What this version of Ghost in the Shell does very well is creating visuals which seem to pop out of an anime and into live action. The cinematography and set design truly is gorgeous. This film is likely to have taken visuals queues from Blade Runner for the films neon drenched aesthetic. Another thing to note from the technical side is the film's direction, which is quite impressive, taking in mind the restrictions of making 12A friendly action scenes, without using jarring quick cuts or shaky cam, although these days that thankfully seems to be a thing of the past. The synth/orchestral score from Clint Mansell is another impressive work to add to his long line of superior movie soundtracks.

Aside from the visuals the rest of the film works fine, but that is the main criticism I have with this film, it reaches it's peak halfway through and seems to decline in excitement during the second half of the film, to give some credit, it feels fast and ends before you know it, but at the same time that maybe the problem why the second act is less interesting, because the second act focuses on character, when the first act doesn't. When your halfway through a movie it's quite a bit harder for an audience to suddenly start caring for the characters once the action is over.

I admire the filmmakers ambition in making a film which is loud, big and somewhat action packed (first half) while still giving time to focus on the characters and the deeper themes within the context of the story. For the majority of the attempts at adding a third dimension to the main character 'Major'  the film succeeds, however it feels rushed and over expositional at times. Overall 'Ghost in the Shell' is a film that's worth seeing for it's impressive visuals and music, however I would personally not say this is a film you must rush to go out and see.

Rating: 6/10

In This Corner of the World - Review (E.I.F.F)

 'In This Corner of the World' is a anime period drama film which is directed by Sunao Katabuchi. Based on the manga of the same n...