A selection of reviews, blog posts and other jottings of interest.

Posts from the “Film” Category

Whiplash Review

Posted on January 21, 2015

Drummers are used to being underappreciated by both their peers and by a larger audience. In fact, most drummers see very little return, financial or otherwise, for their lifetime of intense work and dedication. Whiplash, the second feature from writer-director Damien Chazelle, hopes to change this, pushing the drum kit and the drummer to the fore of the story. On film, drummers have always been underrepresented in comparison to other musicians, featuring primarily as supporting characters, as in This is Spinal Tap and Wayne’s World. For an accurate portrayal, fans of the instrument have instead had to rely on documentaries to fill the void left by the long lasting reluctance by studios to shine a spotlight on the drummer. This is what makes Whiplash…

Fish Tank Review

Posted on November 4, 2013

Fish Tank is the second full-length feature film by director Andrea Arnold, after 2006’s Red Road. It follows the story of Mia Williams (Katie Jarvis), an antisocial teenager living on an East London housing estate. Throughout the film’s duration, Mia, the central protagonist is subject to the harsh conditions of the estate where she lives. She communicates to her mother (Kierston Wareing) and sister (Rebecca Griffiths) in a series of piercing screams, and often finds she has to defend herself against her environment with the use of force. It is only when Mia is truly alone that she is capable of becoming empathetic. Guzzling down alcohol in her spare time to deal with her everyday life, she seeks escape wherever she can find it.…

Thor: The Dark World Review

Posted on October 30, 2013

Continuing where last year’s multi-million-pound blockbuster Marvel’s Avengers Assemble left off, Thor: The Dark World is a rollicking superhero adventure packed with special effects and heaps of action. Much like its predecessor, 2011’s Thor, it borrows heavily from Marvel’s expansive source material to tell a story that is accessible not only to fans of the genre but to casual filmgoers as well. But whilst it is impressive in many aspects of its creation, in others it is certainly lacking. Helmed by Alan Taylor, director on several episodes of the popular TV show Game of Thrones, the film struggles in many of the same areas that the previous did. One of the key problems is that they have not yet managed to perfect the shifts…

The Devil’s Backbone (El espinazo del diablo) Review

Posted on October 3, 2013

“What is a ghost? A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect trapped in amber” – Casares Set during the final years of the Spanish Civil War, The Devil’s Backbone (El espinazo del diablo) is the third feature film from Guillermo del Toro, following both his debut feature Cronos and his nineties horror picture Mimic. The narrative of the film focuses upon an orphanage in rural Spain and its latest arrival, Carlos (Fernando Tielve). Through his actions we experience the story, learning gradually the significance of characters, as well as the troubled history of the orphanage itself. The…

Django Unchained Review

Posted on February 27, 2013

Due to a wave of publicity & controversy, courted by director Quentin Tarantino’s tackling of an oft-avoided topic, slavery in the 19th century, Django Unchained is perhaps Tarantino’s most important feature yet. But it is also arguably the film in which he has had the most to lose. When the media caught wind of Tarantino’s involvement in a film set against the backdrop of the Deep South, in the time of slavery, many could not help but wince. Would he do the atrocities justice, or would his portrayal be insensitive to the memory of those who had lived in the dark days of slavery? Many critics anticipated the latter; yet they were wrong. This is because even though the film in many ways does…

Love Actually Review

Posted on February 14, 2013

From the sickly sweet opening narration to the grossly sentimental ending, Love Actually is a film that does its utmost to manipulate its audience. Boasting a large roster of British talent, including, amongst others, Andrew Lincoln, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Martin Freeman, and Alan Rickman, the film has the potential to be great. That is, if not for the overbearing sentimentality and forced nature of some of the film’s many character arcs. Although the film, in many respects, is impossibly charming, as displayed by the likeability of some of the film’s cast, several other areas of the film are incredibly off putting. This is mostly due to the appearance of some aspects, such as the relationship between characters, which, if noticed, appear contrived, as…

ParaNorman Review

Posted on November 8, 2012

‘ParaNorman’ the latest animation by Laika Inc., the studio behind 2009’s ‘Coraline’, is a magnificent blend of beautiful animation, intelligently scripted dialogue, and carries just enough sophistication to keep it fresh for an adult audience. Co-directed by Sam Fell, whose previous projects include Aardman and DreamWorks’s ‘Flushed Away’, and first time director Chris Butler, the film is an enjoyable homage to the horror genre that manages to transcend its target audience in favour of a broader appeal. One of the many things that the film has in its favour is its maturity, in part due to the intelligence of the writing. An example of this within the film is in the way Norman’s adolescent isolation is portrayed. This portrayal creates moments of genuine pathos…

Skyfall Review

Posted on November 1, 2012

If the release of 2008’s Quantum of Solace left you a little wearied by Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Bond, the arrival of director Sam Mendes’s take on the MI6 operative is sure to change your mind. ‘Skyfall’ manages to encompass all of the classic Bond tropes; from the fast paced action of the previous two films, again starring Craig, to the gadgetry and globe trotting of the earlier Bond films, it’s all here. Yet the film also succeeds where many others have failed before it, by offering a human face to Bond. ‘Skyfall’ is not simply just the rehash of old ideas that it perhaps might have been – given that the theatrical release date coincides with the 50th anniversary of Bond on film…

Prometheus Review

Posted on October 23, 2012

Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’, alongside the ‘Dark Knight Rises’ and a plethora of other big budget blockbusters released last summer, was one of 2012’s most anticipated releases. However, it can be argued that, although the film has its share of truly spectacular moments, the film ultimately collapses under the weight of expectation set for this prequel to Scott’s 1979 sci-fi masterpiece, ‘Alien’. Among the many positives within the film are the two key central performances of actor Michael Fassbender (Shame, X-Men First Class, Hunger), as the morally ambiguous android ‘David’; and Swedish actress Noomi Rapace (Millennium Series) as the Archaeologist Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, whose discovery of a star map at the start of the film sets the plot in motion. Both are fantastic in their…