Archives for the month of: April, 2014

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Stephen Frears offers more than a typical thriller and more than a typical survival story. Frears offers an invisible and anonymous London hiding away from mainstream society. The film stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Okwe, an illegal immigrant from Nigeria with a dark past. He drives a minicab by day and works all night at a hotel, chewing on the Khat herb in order to stay awake. He rents a couch from Senay (Audrey Tautou), a Turkish Muslim who fled an arranged marriage. They both work at a hotel where they eventually realise not everything is as it seems. The film is very compelling, the narrative is something so current and factual and yet it feels very hidden. Many of the locations for example such as the cafe Okwe purchases Khat, Senay’s apartment and so on are unrecognisable and illustrates the desperation that illegal immigrants have to be hidden. Chris Menges as cinematographer offers a very bleak and dark film in terms of the setting. However, some scenes feel bright and more natural such as the hotel scenes which could emphasise how the immigrants are now being exposed to society. Dirty Pretty Things really portrayed the lives of immigrants very well, Frears clearly presents the fear that is always around them such as immigration officials pestering these hard working people who are desperate to survive. 

Ejiofor offers a brilliant performance, I can’t praise him enough for a stunning portrayal of a brave, charing and traumatised man. Okwe is such an interesting character who’s desperate to be a morally correct citizen all whilst remaining silent in his activities. Tautou also provides a fantastic performance as Senay. Both characters are thrusted into a dark underworld of deceit and exploitation which I can’t reveal but it’s shocking and despicable and made me feel deep sympathy with immigrants who get involved in dangerous surroundings. There isn’t much more to say about this film (I really don’t wanna spoil it!), other than it’s such a gripping film on the hardships of invisible people. Hats off to Frears!

4/5

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Keep your hands off my lobby boy!”

 

Once again, the great Wes Anderson has left me in awe with a wonderful adventure involving eccentric characters, stunning use of colour and an amazing ensemble. Like Moonrise Kingdom, this is a tale filled to the brim with quirkiness, within 5 minutes you’ll be laughing at the oddness of Tom Wilkinson’s narration which is cut short by his immature son! The film begins with a young girl reading a novel by “The Author”, the aspect ratio is unusually not what you’d see in a standard multiplex, that being 1.85 and doesn’t fit the entire screen. The Author is revealed to be Tom Wilkinson who tells us of his adventure to the Grand Budapest Hotel in 1968. The aspect ratio now changes to 2.35:1 and the younger Author (Jude Law) continues the narration, meeting the owner of the fallen hotel, Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) who tells the Author of how he came to acquire the hotel. The ratio has now changed to 1.33 and it’s now 1932 in the Republic of Zubrowka. Zero now narrates his story with his younger self now in the picture (newcomer Tony Revolori). He meets the concierge of the GBH, Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), an eccentric man who constantly mixes business and pleasure in his work. From there, the audience is left to enjoy the oddness, the deceit and the exceptional service of a grand hotel leading to an outrageous adventure. 

Wes Anderson is such an obvious auteur and The Grand Budapest Hotel is just another perfect example of his stamp mark for cinema. The colours are very striking and brighten up the hotel along with its inhabitants such as the uniforms being a vibrant purple and the elevators in bright red which heavily contrast one another. The humour from his script is just fantastic, its there in every single scene no matter how crude or violent the circumstances are. Wes as usual, creates the oddest of characters from very serious actors such as Harvey Keitel and Adrian Brody. Ralph Fiennes is incredible and this is a role that is so well suited for him, despite being known as a Shakespearian actor and portraying dark characters such as Nazi war criminal Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List and serial killer Francis Dolarhyde in Red Dragon, he steals the show with such a loving and charming character. The Grand Budapest Hotel is definitely a top contender for the best films of 2014, Wes has created another classic film that is funny, profound, slightly violent and beautiful. I recommend to watch it as soon as possible, it’s a film for everyone to see about the joys of top notch service!

5/5 

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“I’ll shove that bat up your ass and turn you into a popsicle.”

Often considered a classic of cult film, Walter Hill’s The Warriors, based on the novel of the same name by Sol Yurick is the simple tale of street gangs in future New York. Hill creates a very dystopian and daunting image of the Big Apple with violence and betrayal around every corner. The film begins with The Warriors assembling at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx for an unarmed meeting with all the other gangs in New York. Cyrus (Roger Hill), the leader of the most powerful gang, the Gramercy Riffs proposes a citywide truce but is then assassinated by Luther (David Patrick Kelly), the sadistic leader of the Rogues. Luther then proceeds to blame the Warriors for the murder of Cyrus and they’re left with no choice but to run through enemy territories to get back to their own, Coney Island.

The film is interesting and to some extent entertaining. I felt it emphasised the importance of loyalty and identity within a gang but as a whole I personally felt it was weak overall. I’ll start off with the positive points, the editing by David Holden is without a doubt superb, it’s fast paced and gives life to the well-choreographed action scenes. The music by Barry De Vorizon is also excellent and features prominent use of synthesisers and reminded me of Wendy Carlo’s sinister score using the Moog in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Vorizon’s score overall helped reflected the dystopian setting and really captured each gang’s perspective on what to do with the Warriors. The film is overtly macho and features a male dominated cast with unrealistic perks of gang culture such as the Warriors in a long  shot somehow able to outrun a rival gang’s vehicle. Then again, Yurick’s novel was partly inspired the Greek epic Anabasis by Xenophon which probably reinforces why there’s limited female casting along with very epic fights (a modern interpretation of 300 perhaps?). The film is clever I admit in terms reinforcing the courage of the Warriors in their survival and the transition from one scene to another features comic book style graphics which was just cool, plain and simple. 

Now for the negatives: The acting I felt was very weak and unrealistic, there was only a few characters who I felt where brutal, real and violent such as Michael Beck portraying Swan, the leader of the Warriors who seems to be a man of wits as well as reason. Then there’s Ajax (James Remar) who strives for dominance, lust and pride (very Spartan-ish) and was definitely the true Warrior of the group who’s willing to stand his ground and fight! My favourite performance had to be by the great David Patrick Kelly. Luther is just an evil, scheming and harsh liar; 10 minutes into the film and you know you won’t be able to take your eyes off him! I loved how when he’s first shown on screen, you know he’s going to do something against the gangs, it’s the distinctive smile, it’s the close up of hands, it’s the gun being passed to him and then there’s the snitching, “That’s him! That’s…The Warrior!!”. Kelly really steals the show with a cunning performance and of course there’s the iconic example of improv involving three empty bottles! Overall, The Warriors is a film which I would recommend for someone who hasn’t discovered cult cinema but for me, it was a disappointment due to expecting much much more. For me, it’s good on the tiniest of levels, some actors are brilliant, some of the dialogue is brilliant, music is stunning but it was limited in terms of narrative, other actors and overall purpose. An ok film that’s worth giving a go, I may be wrong, maybe there’s a lot more to ‘The Warriors’ than meets the eye but sadly I don’t really understand the hype with this film.

2/5