Friday, 30 June 2017

Baby Driver (Review)

'Baby Driver' is a crime action film which stars Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal and Jamie Foxx. This film is written and directed by Edgar Wright.

After 4 years since 'The World's End' was released in cinemas director Edgar Wright has returned with a fast paced, referential, musical comedy film with all the greatest car chase sequences in Hollywood. At this point it is no surprise to say that an Edgar Wright film is stylish from it's first frame to it's last, so when it comes to directing car chases you can't go wrong if you have Wright. While many action scenes can feel repetitive in most films, each car chase in 'Baby Driver' is different, exciting and fresh thanks to the directors love of the genre and sheer talent for effective framing, positioning and pacing for each shot in every sequence. The soundtrack is amazing, you really can't fault it, I know it's cliche to say that something inanimate is a character itself, but the soundtrack really is a character itself, the film would not be half as interesting without it.

The performances from Ansel Elgort and Lily James are great and bring out more depth from each of their characters. The rest of the cast also turn in good performances, nothing that is a career best for any of them, but seen as they are more seasoned actors than the two main stars they will naturally have more dramatic works in their filmography, however their performances still add more to the film. My only critique of 'Baby Driver' is that I would of like to have seen some of the characters further developed and fleshed out to give them a bit more of a third dimension, while the two main characters have a good amount of depth I would of liked to have seen more from Jamie Foxx or Kevin Spacey's characters.

Overall Baby Driver has to be the most entertaining film I have seen this summer, the films pacing never lacks and each action sequence is as exciting as the last. If you want a fun filled, action packed, cinematic extravaganza without killing your brain cells, Baby Driver is for you.

Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Volhynia - Review (E.I.F.F)

Volhynia is a Polish period drama which stars Michalina Ɓabacz and
Vasyl Vasylyk. This film is directed by Wojciech Smarzowski.

Volhynia is not an easy film to review, just like it is not an easy film to watch. This film has been marketed to the UK as a war film with most of the screenshots used to advertise the film were shots from battle scenes, however I can tell you that Volhynia is not a war film, but it is certainly just as brutal as one. The film takes place during second world war in the village of Volhynia, which was a settlement by Ukrainians, Poles and Jews. Once the war breaks out the village is torn apart by violence among it's villagers as each form their own alliance and hatred towards each other.

The first two acts of the film are used to set up the rising tension between the nations and despite the film being two and a half hours long, this time is used rather well to create an understanding of multiple characters perspectives, which pay off later in the film, while it works for the end of the film the shift between character perspectives is jarring to say the least as it's difficult to understand who's story we are following and why. The editing for the majority of this film is made up of quick cuts which at first are bothersome, but once the film delved deeper into the story I felt that the off nature use of them was an intentional devise to make the events seem confusing and overbearing the perspective of the characters. The film does not shy away from the bloodshed of the savage battles, so a fair bit of warning if people are squeamish or consider yourself faint-hearted. This film puts you at the very center of the brutality in these historic events.

My only issue with this film is that the second act does feel slow and confusing as the story flips from different character perspectives which threw me off for a few minutes. Overall the film is a fascinating account of  history which I never knew about, the direction and cinematography work well as an emotional storytelling devise, the acting is of a high quality and the story while confusing at times will stay with you for a while.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, 26 June 2017

Fog in August - Review (E.I.F.F)

'Fog in August' is a German drama film which stars Ivo Pietzcker, Sebastian Koch, Thomas Schubert and Fritzi Haberlandt. This film is directed by Kai Wessel.

'Fog in August' is a film about a sensitive subject which has not been explored before in mainstream cinema, this drama deals with the so-called 'euthanasia hospitals' where doctors would kill their patients who are not seen as desirable by the Nazi dictatorship. Director Kai Wessel deals with the subject in a respectful manor that is heart wrenching and hard hitting. The story of this film is tragic to say the least, especially once you have an understanding of the subject matter. The film features a powerful script with some of the best performances I have seen this year from the films cast. Similar to other holocaust films such as 'Schindler's List' and 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' the film is follows the theme of optimism in the face of the characters pessimistic world that we see through a child's eyes. The cinematography is also a highlight, the film features a brownish tint to it's colour palette which reflects the somber atmosphere of the film. Despite the story and setting of the film, there is quite a bit of humor which is integrated really well as serves for great storytelling as well as being much needed comic relief.

I believe that this film is best seen with knowing as little as possible, so I will not get into any plot details, but I will say that I have a very minor issue with 'Fog in August' which is that I believe that the story line between the main character (a young boy) and a young girl, feels slightly overused, but I understand and appreciate why it is there. Overall 'Fog In August' is a thought provoking, earth shattering film which I would highly recommend to anyone who is interested in the history of the holocaust or mental illness, nevertheless this film is sure to be effective to everyone who sees it.

Rating: 9/10

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Sweet Virginia - Review (E.I.F.F)

'Sweet Virginia' is a American/Canadian neo noir thriller film which stars Jon Bernthal, Imogen Poots and Christopher Abbott. This film is directed by Jamie M. Dagg.

Set in a rural small town in Aslaska, 'Sweet Virgina' has a feel of a Coen brothers neo noir thriller mixed with the dark controlled visual nature of a Stanley Kubrick or David Fincher film, with a hint of Cronenberg. This film is beautifully framed, director Jamie M Dragg has a clear eye for memorable and effective imagery which is not just visually appealing, but also serves has a great devise for great visual storytelling. The cinematography in this film is brilliant, the use of low lighting appears very natural, yet complements the films dark thematic tone. For the majority the characters are interesting and are fairly well written especially Elwood played by Christopher Abbott who's performance echos the eeriness of Javier Bardem in 'No Country For Old Men'.

While the characters are well developed and have a good degree of background, the problem I had with 'Sweet Virginia' is that it feels like we start the story from the middle of most of the characters arcs without the beginning of their stories unexplained, which made them become unrelatable and hard to really route for. 'Sweet Virginia' for the most part a respectable thriller film, but it's story and characters are not strong enough for it to fly above other films within the genre.

Rating: 6/10

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 suburban town in Hiroshima to live with her husbands family in Kure during the second world war.

What was most unexpected from a film which started out light-hearted and fantastical is how accurately the film deals with themes of war and tragedy. While many films put their characters center stage of war and destruction, this film presents destruction from afar, which during this time in our history, it is more relevant than ever. The animation may feature less movement than Studio Ghibli's productions, however the level of detail and artistry 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

Blade Runner 2049 (Review)

'Blade Runner 2049' is a Neo-Noir Science Fiction film which is also a sequel of the 1982 film 'Blade Runner'. This film sta...