Sunday, 28 June 2015

MSFF MOVIE REVIEW: MARSHLAND (LA ISLA MINIMA)


4/5

In 1980, Detectives Huan and Pedro are on the case of two missing girls in the Spanish Deep South. Huan is a hot-head young detective, banished from the big city for his insubordination. Pedro is an old regime cop, crumbling by the burden of old sins from the reign of Franco. Two men, who belong to different eras, have to work together to catch a serial killer before he strikes again.

MARSHLAND cannot escape a comparison with an American show TRUE DETECTIVE. Just like the HBO TV hit, the characterisation and the atmosphere are put far above the actual murder mystery, which may be simplistic, but a very realistic one in the end. 

The movie has a grainy look, a  few quirky aerial shots and some good acting. It uses all the tools of TWIN PEAKS and THE KILLING, but it is a comparison you'd want. Besides, it looks damn fresh in the marshland Spanish outback. The mystery may be secondary, but it does not stop you to enjoy watching it unravel.  The film uses familiar story pushing it into some new territory and asking a question: what heinous things may surface on the border of a political and historical change.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: RUN ALL NIGHT


31/2/5

Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) is a retired gangster down on luck. He had done terrible things in his past and now lives under the crushing burden of guilt that destroyed his family life, and taking him to the very bottom of life.

When his son Michael, who has nothing to do with the criminal world, gets into trouble, Jimmy rushes to help. Only to realise that to save the innocent lives he has to become a killer once again.

Jaume Collet-Serra chooses a thriller, borderline horror projects well. His horror efforts THE ORPHAN and HOUSE OF WAX, acquired a cult following over the years. His previous films with Liam Neeson, UNKNOWN and NON-STOP were carefully crafted, a sort of complicated mystery thrillers. Unlike them, RUN ALL NIGHT has a very simple premise, however it well delivers on drama as well as action. Liam Neeson does what you expect from him in an action film, but here he is at least given a character with some complicated issues and manages to squeeze in some depth into it in between the set pieces. His scenes with Ed Harris, who plays a criminal boss and the main villain, are pure gold, as tense as hell, with two men giving it everything they’ve got.

RUN ALL NIGHT has just the right balance of drama and action. Full of violence, the film is surprisingly bloodless comparing with modern gangster movies, the camera is moving forward fast, never focusing on the results of the carnage.

While the action scenes are tense and detailed, the cinematography feels a little too stagy when the camera moves through the whole city in one continuing shot, which looks more like a zooming feature on google maps, than an expensive cinematic gimmick.


Overall RUN ALL NIGHT offers two hours of action without compromising on drama. With some fine performances and memorable scenes, it is the movie you may recommend to friends, but a forgettable one in the end.

Friday, 19 June 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: EX MACHINA




4/5

Caleb is a young programmer who works for an Internet Giant. To his astonishment he wins a competition to meet his boss, a reclusive Nathan, a legend, and spend a week with him, taking part in his top secret experiment. The experiment involves proving that Ava, an android and Nathan's invention, possesses artificial intelligence. What is the true nature of this test? With everyone having something to hide its all about mind games. But when the human feelings are on the way, scientific minds crumble....

EX MACHINA is a clever multi layered thriller that intrigues, delivers and does not disappoint. It's simple structure is misleading, allowing you to see the events through the eyes of Caleb. He is just your typical boy next door, underdog, no-girlfriend geek. But is he a good guy here?

Over the years (post Mary Shelly, the Frankenstein creator) there's been many movies and books about playing God, but never before they hit so close to home. We are living in a changing world, allowing devices making choices for us, making us dependant on them. And EX MACHINA offers the most dangerous dependence of all - the feelings. The falling in love.

EX MACHINA would make a great theatrical play. The focused, realistic and edge of the seat dialogue prevails above the visuals. But the cinematography department is also outstanding: the clever photographic choice mixes claustrophobic corridors with picturesque mountains and fiords. All through the film the themes of freedom and captivity go head to head. One of the movies questions is: what wouldn't you do to be free? And - what is the definition of freedom? Is ability to make choices is sort of a trap in itself, because it leaves you open and vulnerable?

The film also delivers on twists. If you like the good mystery you will like EX MACHINA. If you like a thinking Arthouse move with good acting, you will like EX MACHINA. My only criticism is the pacing and the length. If the film run just under 90 minutes,  it would, in my opinion, make it much more intense and compelling viewing.


Thursday, 11 June 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: JURASSIC WORLD


4/5

The dinosaurs are not a wonder any more. The people lived with them for twenty two years and do not consider them a miracle. In a full functioning theme park Jurassic World a new type of a beast is being cocked up in a lab. This could save the company's reputation and breath some fresh air into the tired attractions. Or destroy it once and for all.

Here is the good news - in JURASSIC WORLD we have a film with a pure sense of adventure and it is impossible not to be seduced by its spirit. If you forgot what it's like to be a kid you will remember it again. In the opening scenes we see the park through the eyes of two boys, it is a magical place of wonder, what makes it real is a sense of something familiar - all of us had been into a theme park at least once.

The script is wisely paced, not revealing all its cards at once, taking time to introduce the characters, but also giving us some thrilling action pieces early on. The biggest trick of the film is the evil killer dinosaur - the movie takes time to show it in full. When the creature is finally revealed its shape and claws may not hold an original concept, but somehow it is obvious that something is terribly wrong with this beast, that it is different from anything we had seen before.

Chris Pratt, as Raptor whisperer Owen and Bryce Dallas Howard, as corporate bitch Clair, make an old fashioned pair. Their flirting is not unlike  between Harrison Ford and Karen Allen in the Riders Of The Lost Ark. When they are together sparks are flying, and their snappy dialogue is a marvel.

JURASSIC WORLD does not turn away from the violence. While the killing scenes are rather entertaining than gory there's plenty of blood on screen. Yes, a family movie had moved on since 1993. The action scenes are simply wonderful, the many set pieces bring to mind the best Spielberg's films. Just the scene with two boys stuck in a glass ball, being thrown around by giant creatures worth the price of a ticket. With many references to the first Jurassic adventure we get one particular scene that is such an elegant bow to the original it will put a big smile on your face!

On the negative side, the false note of JURASSIC WORLD is the villain Hoskins played by Vincent D'Onofrio. He is not infernal enough and many of his lines felt as if being prompted. Usually a good actor D'Onofrio gives a boring uninspired performance. At every corner, of course, he is upstaged by the evil killing dinosaur. This creature is, indeed,  the main star of the film.

It is so welcome to see an adventure film with such spirit and substance. JURASSIC WORLD is a relentless roller coaster ride which is fast enough to be thrilling, but will give you time to look around and enjoy the scenery. So jump right in!