Film Review: Slow West

Posted on by 5WC in Film

If I’m honest, I’m really not the biggest fan of Westerns. Too often I find them reflecting their environment being dry, coarse, stifling and slow. Yet for some reason I continue to happily watch them, only to be disappointed, as again they fail to invoke any emotional response besides boredom. The Homesman being a perfect example from my recent past. So it should come as no surprise that when people started to proclaim a Western to be “the perfect Western… the real deal” I forgot all that went before and accepted the unexplainable pull of its promise.

That perfection came from John Maclean’s first feature film – Slow West. And whilst I expected it to pass me by, purely as it didn’t appear the type of film that would naturally get a widespread big screen release, I was given optimism when the poster for it appeared on the wall of my local multiplex. My fear was founded though, and even with the advertising, it never arrived so I’ve had to wait, and wait, for it to finally be released ‘on-demand’ before I could get a chance to see whether, this time, it would finally provide me with a Western I actually enjoyed. Read more

Film Review: Les Combattants

Posted on by 5WC in Film

I like foreign language films. There is something wonderfully independent about the nature and style of films produced without the demands of Hollywood number crunchers. Films made primarily to tell a story, rather than sell a franchise. Les Combattants, or Love at First Fight as it’s been translated to in places, has been niggling away at the back of my mind for a while, something about the trailer just provoking enough intrigue to warm me towards it.

While Hollywood productions have a very obvious fingerprint, so do works from elsewhere. Indian films tend to be romantic, uplifting and colourful (The Lunchbox is a good example) while French films are very character driven, looking at life through the reactions of those on screen. Two Days, One Night and Rust and Bone both good examples of the way France makes movies and it was that very character driven story that I expected to find again with Les Combattants. Read more

Film Review: Love Is Strange

Posted on by 5WC in Film

I remember hearing nothing but good things about Love Is Strange. I even vaguely recall that it was released at around the time as another, more box office, love story and in the same way that The Duke of Burgundy was highlighted above 50 Shades Of Grey as being the better dominance movie, Love Is Strange was lauded as the more amorous tale. Even though for the life of me I cannot remember the other film in the equation.

So when Love Is Strange appeared on Curzon’s Home Cinema service memories were relit and watching the trailer it looked to be a clever and interesting idea with themes and discussions of bigotry, love and romance all interlinked. It didn’t seem to be a risk. I was expecting a deep, thought provoking piece of narrative film making. But I was wrong, I was very wrong. Read more

Film Review: Testament Of Youth

Posted on by 5WC in Film

The Great War has always sat slightly uneasy with me. I’m almost ashamed to admit to the imagery and emotions that my mind conjures up whenever I think about it. I don’t exactly know why but there seems to be something almost peaceful, enjoyable, longing about it all. There is just something about the time period, about the removal of pace, the simpler life, the lack of modern luxuries that makes that era feel warm and inviting.

I think it’s also a case that when I see, hear or experience the material objects of that time they also don’t seem threatening. There is something non violent about the clothes, the attitudes and the romantics of the time that masks the actual pain, suffering and death that stains its history. It tears at me because there is part of me that would like to live during those years, but also another part that knows the eyes deceive the true horrors of reality. Read more

Film Review: Clouds Of Sils Maria

Posted on by 5WC in Film

It’s fair to say that when two of my favourite actresses (Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche) come together to make a film I am always going to be interested, and it’s a fairly safe bet that whether followed by good, bad or different reviews I will watch it regardless.

So from the moment I first saw the trailer and realised that was exactly what has happened I have been counting down the days until release of Clouds of Sils Maria. Patiently waiting, not caring if Mark Kermode states it has “career best performances” or Robbie Collins declares it “bewitching”, because to me this was like the moment as a child when you discover your favourite foods worked better combined; it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or knows, this is your moment to be happy, regardless. Read more

Film Review: Electricity

Posted on by 5WC in Film

Electricity is a film that feels like it really does have a good heart and good intentions. A desire to show truth and compassion, but sadly, tried to place this realism into a world that is just too competitive to the empathetic tone that surrounds it to sit naturally. The result is a film that feels disjointed and causes such mixed emotions that you struggle to fully engage with it.

It stars model turned actress Agyness Deyn as Lilly. A not so much down on her luck, but down on life girl who sets out in search of her brother after the death of their mother. The twist being that Lilly suffers with epilepsy and throughout her travels has to put up with the constant danger of fits and attacks. Read more

Film Review: Night Moves

Posted on by 5WC in Film

According to the IMDb plot synposis, Night Moves is “Three radical environmentalists looking to execute the protest of their lives: the explosion of a hydroelectric dam.” And that’s fair, it sums up the story well. If anything it sums up the story too well; the 1500lbs of high explosive do not detonate with a big climatic bang, leaving you shaken, stirred and impressed, whimper in the background while we’re treated to an attempt at character assassination through mental angst.

But that isn’t a bad thing. Everything about the film screams out that it could be good. A dark psychological thriller with a young and upcoming cast of Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning given the leads to prove themselves but constantly shepherded by Peter Sarsgaard to ensure nothing gets out of hand. There is potential within Night Moves to create a film that packs a serious punch, for a little known gem to immerge, hidden from the prying eyes of the mainstream, but annoyingly it fails to ever ignite. Read more

Film Review: Fish Tank

Posted on by 5WC in Film

Fish Tank has been on my radar ever since I watched Red Road. Mainly because it’s the follow up film by academy award winning director Andrea Arnold, and having enjoyed Red Road, it seemed only logical to witness some more of her creative talents.

Even though they really are stand alone films in their own right, you can tell they have been born from the same mind. Ignoring the overly obvious setting of rough and tough tower block estates, there is a constant style and touch that links them together. Arnold once again managing to portray life realistically and while they aren’t directly connected (most obviously, one is Scottish the other English), I couldn’t help but feel that a subconscious motive behind them is for Fish Tank to look at life within the estate and project it outwards, where as Red Road showed you life looking in from the outside. The principles behind both films seeming to flow and blend together well. Read more

Film Review: The Iceman

Posted on by 5WC in Film

The only thing that really drew me to The Iceman was the inclusion of Winona Ryder. And even then, it very nearly didn’t happen as I somehow managed to cross it off the “to watch” list of On-Demand movies before I’d actually seen it. But, having rescued it from the fraudulent strikethrough, I had a quick glimpse at the trailer, remembered what drew me to it in the first place and fired up the Curzon Home Cinema service.

And I’m very glad I did, because while it isn’t a classic film that will ever really be lauded about, I have thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, it’s easily the best film of 2015 for me so far. But then we are only 6 days in, so it’s not the greatest of praise. Essentially The Iceman is the true story of Richard Kuklinski, a notorious contract killer and family man who’s reign of fatality spanned 30 years. Read more

Film Review: Enemy

Posted on by 5WC in Film

I find it really interesting that one fact can be taken by two different people and used to make entirely reflected points. Seven days after Mark Kermode had said that On-Demand film services and cross platform releases were a good thing as they allowed the widest possible audience the chance to view a film that would otherwise pass them by simultaneously; James King, ironically sitting in for Kermode, declared that anything released onto the small screen through On-Demand at the same time as the big screen was a sign of potential downfall in quality.

And one such example is Jake Gyllenhaal’s latest offering – Enemy. Currently getting a very limited big screen run, it is also available through Curzon’s Home Cinema service, and with Gyllenhaal’s stock on the rise after his performance in Nightcrawler, I thought I’d give it a go. Read more