Archives for posts with tag: movie critic

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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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“Hi doggy!”

Where shall I begin with The Room? Maybe the fact it’s dubbed “the Citizen Kane of bad movies” by Entertainment Weekly? Maybe the fact that 10 years on it still sells out theatres across the globe? Maybe the fact it is one of the worst films I have ever seen in my life? No kidding, considering the poor acting, TERRIBLE editing, meme generating script and such. But wait, The Room is also one of my all-time favourite films, I’d go as far as to put it in my top 50 films list! The film department’s probably in tears hearing this, but they have to understand that The Room is just something else: Once you enter The Room, you can’t quit The Room! Tommy Wiseau as the director, star, writer and producer predicted over 10 years ago that this film would conquer the world and look at how right this mystery man is. Basically, this film is terrible beyond belief.

Wiseau stars as Johnny, a successful banker in San Francisco whose life begins to crumble as his friends betray him one by one. A very simple plot, but the main narrative isn’t the major problem with this film, I won’t go into massive detail but I’ll ever so slightly hint. Firstly, the editing doesn’t make sense as a whole and the acting is beyond poor, Wiseau’s performance as an example is just so odd for various reasons. He has a very unusual accent which is so humorous and hard to understand at times but you really can’t help but love his ever so dramatic (sarcasm intended) portrayal of a sweet guy. Because of his mysterious persona, he refuses to reveal where he’s from. Many believe France, some Eastern Europe and some even go as far to state he is in fact…an alien! Because of the poor acting, a lot of the dialogue had to be dubbed but it is so out of sync with the film itself due to editing. That’s it! I will say no more, just watch The Room and forget everything you know about film!

In December 2013, I did my usual routine of searching through what the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square was screening and discovered that TOMMY WISEAU AND co-star Greg Sestero would be there in person for a Q&A screening in February 2014. I immediately booked my ticket and learned that they sold over 1000 across one single weekend.

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So there I was, first in line queuing an hour and half early before the Q&A begins, when suddenly, half an hour before…there they were, Greg in all his glory bearing a Drive Scorpion jacket who walks straight into the cinema after giving me a quick smile. Tommy runs along the line of the queue wearing nighttime glasses and two belts whilst people cheer his name. He then comes up to me with a simple “Hi. How you doin’?” offering his hand which I gladly accept. The PCC lay down the ground rules: No metal spoons, no American footballs, no booze. Simple. I entered, dropped my coat off at the front and ran to get a signed DVD and a pic. I was to a certain degree starstruck, just at the fact these guys are involved in a cult phenomenon…and of the fact Tommy is one of the weirdest people I’ve ever met. Greg passes the DVD to Tommy who insists on shaking my hand again two more times. Then after the picture (see below) I walk away offering my thanks when suddenly Tommy grabs onto my shoulder and once again, insists on shaking my hand for the forth time!

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Still can’t get over that’s actually me with Greg Sestero (left) and the man, the myth, the legend, Tommy Wiseau (right).

The Q&A experience was fantastic and downright hilarious! Questions ranged from “Favourite film?” to which Tommy would answer what everyone expected: “Citizen KAAAANE!!!!”. Tommy also offered blessings and dog-tags on stage to whoever bought Tommy Wiseau brand pants, and of course the blessing was beautiful “*name* In the name of the Father, the Son and the Goly Dhost hope you have a happy 2014 MOVE ON!!”. The film was screened and without a doubt it was one of the best cinema experiences of my life. The crowd was so enthusiastic about the whole thing, just constant cheers and screams of the film’s flaws along with devout participation; such as the repetitive tracking shots of San Francisco, to which the audience is meant to scream: “MEANWHILE IN SAN FRANCISCO!”. There was also the throwing of plastic spoons, but I’ll let you as the reader find out the purpose of it (however, if you do know, then in that case: SPOONS!!). The whole thing was an hour and a half of me just laughing away at a screen which I’ll never forget. Seriously though, please watch The Room.

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Tommy was kind enough to write “Love is blind” along with his signature!

5/5 (I’m serious!)

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When you go won’t you send back // A letter from America?

In this lovely adaption of Stephen Greenhorn’s jukebox musical, Dexter Fletcher directs a positive yet slightly weak film on family, love and courage featuring the great Proclaimers. The film stars George MacKay and Kevin Guthrie as Davy and Ally, two discharged soldiers who return to their families in Edinburgh whilst re-adapting to civilian life and finding love. Ally returns to his girlfriend Liz (Freya Mavor) who is Davy’s sister and introduces him to her English friend Yvonne (Antonia Thomas). Davy and Liz’s parents, Rab and Jean (Peter Mullan and Jane Horrocks) are preparing to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, however, Rab’s past catches up with him which causes tension between the two and their family.

 As a musical, Sunshine on Leith is what you’d except from most musicals really. The singing from the cast is spot on and really capture the feelings they express at that particular moment like Antonia Thomas emphasising her character’s struggle for love and respect from Davy and vice versa. And of course there’s spontaneous dancing from the cast and extras which adds to the feel good and soppy element. Musically, The Proclaimers’ music works very well with the film as a whole, for example, Sky Takes the Soul as the opening song with its dark lyricism suits with the eerie Afghan setting and heavily contrasts bright and pretty Edinburgh. All the cast deliver very strong performances, Peter Mullan despite having a very Tom Waits-esque singing voice which I love doesn’t really suit this musical even though I thought he had the strongest acting performance which connoted obvious pride for his family. Freya Mavor and Antonia Thomas had overall the best singing voices and delivered also good performances. My criticism of the film is that I feel there wasn’t really much with the narrative, as much as I enjoyed the music due to being a Proclaimers fan, the narrative I felt should have developed more along with the character development. There isn’t anything much to this film, but maybe that’s the point, simplicity is the key. Despite having a weak narrative and being predictable, this is a good film with excellent music and a fantastic cast.

 3/5

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‘A day or a lifetime’ 

One of the Coen Brothers lesser known films in contrast to such great films such as the 2007 Academy Awards Best Picture winner ‘No Country For Old Men’, cult classic ‘The Big Lebowski’ and of course the very popular and critically acclaimed ‘Fargo’ which brought them popularity compared to their other great films in the past like ‘Blood Simple’, ‘Raising Arizona’ and…’Barton Fink’! Out of all the Coen Brothers films I have seen, ‘Barton Fink’ is definitely one of their best, and as usual they bring together so many aspects of film, one minute ‘Barton Fink’ felt like a Hitchcock film, then Kubrick, then a splash of noir, then comedy and even a spark of horror! 

The film is set in 1941 and stars John Turturro as the title character, an acclaimed playwright from New York who writes about and for “the common man”. He is then hired to write scripts a film studio in Hollywood, checks in the fading Hotel Earle and begins to suffer from writer’s block as he develops a friendship with his very friendly neighbour Charlie (John Goodman). There’s so much to this film which makes it so special. The many themes emphasised throughout are repeated over and over such as the dark contrasts between Hollywood and Broadway in that Hollywood is a much more manipulative place which obsesses over creative control over the notion of creating art. The Hotel Earle as an example of justification clearly presents that Barton wants to live somewhere “less Hollywood”. The Coen brothers frequent D.O.P. Roger Deakins provides beyond beautiful cinematography who creates an atmosphere within the hotel which I found profoundly unsettling such as the camera frequently returning to close ups of Barton stressed over writing his wrestling epic to his encounters with mosquitos and of course, returns again and again to the peeling wallpaper in Barton’s room which has a texture almost like decomposition. John Turturro gives an outstanding performance as Barton who clearly suggests the desperation of creating important art, not only that, but Turturro significantly implies that Barton can’t be a slave to a place like Hollywood. Frequent collaborator of the Coens, John Goodman portrayal of the common and larger than life Charlie is also very well played, providing a character who clearly has much less than Barton but seems to be the kind of guy who loves taking interest in people and helping someone in anyway he can. An astonishing piece of cinema and deserved winner of Best Director, Best Actor and the Palme d’Or at Cannes, I highly recommend watching if you’re love the work of the Coen Brothers or a fan of various genres of film. Enigmatic, disturbing and very funny!

5/5