Monday, 30 July 2012

Cinematic Dramatic 4x08 - The Dark Knight Rises

The biggest film of 2012 is finally here! But does Batman truly rise or get smacked in the face by Byron? The Dramatics look at the positives and the tragic negatives this film has brought the movie world.

via GeekPlanetOnline: Cinematic Dramatic

Monday, 23 July 2012

Review: Beyond The Black Rainbow

Year: 2010 (2012 U.K release)
Director: Panos Cosmatos
Screenplay: Panos Cosmatos
Starring: Eva Allan, Michael Rogers

Synopsis is here

Due to Twitter, Rotten Tomatoes and every other social network, app or message board going, I've become even more aware of disappointment in movies as of late. Because anyone who writes about film is an idiot and can't be trusted, many have to rely on the ever trustworthy marketing committees to guide them towards the correct films. Due to amount of money spent on the larger films, the amount of push behind them is great. So often, there's bound to be a few bitter pill for some to swallow when they pay their hard earned cash for this weeks "most anticipated movie of the year."

The reason why I'm padding this review out is because one my biggest film disappointment this year is Beyond the Black Rainbow. A film that is, visually, one of the most uncompromising visions I've seen in recent times. Very frame seems to throb in a way that feels similar to the sparse industrial landscape of Eraserhead. The film is so deliberate in its style, tone and pace that it's beyond admirable. An early sequence which explores the reason why our heroine is encased in this quasi-futuristic, new age prison is gorgeous in its subtlety. The film is unbelievably bold with its imagery and sound. I can see its synth soundtrack and humming sound design being dissected by sound geeks at universities.

And yet, despite this, the film didn't do enough to engage me fully. The prospect is tantalising, but it's overtly deliberate pacing, and obtuse telling of its simple plot did little to stir. A film like this doesn't have to be explicit but for the most part, Beyond the Black Rainbow, does little to bring about any investment. The film doesn't advance further past it's first reveal and when thing begin to accelerate, the film finishes. Hinting once on something grand, but not really delivering. The film is littered with such moments. I don't need to know everything, but it would be brilliant to know more. Meanwhile both Eva Allan and Micheal Rogers turn in muted and expressive performances, but their gestures feel empty as the film withholds so much.

Maybe i was fooled by the films well presented trailer, which utilises the films best moments. Reminding me that the film could have been tightened for pace, as opposed to forcing an endless barrage of fading transitions. Beyond the Black Rainbow has enough plot for 30 minutes but is extended to feature length. The films tone and atmosphere is so bold that I would still feel its pulse if it was shorter. Kudos to Cosmatos for a cult vision that out-Trons Tron for way less money, unfortunately I anticipated too much.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Review: Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap

Year: 2012
Director: Ice-T

I came out of Ice-T's documentary to have my ears burn from younger viewers who were in the screening. "That film was full of dinosaurs!" referring to the aged but still prominent rap stars that graced the film moments before. I found the statement slightly frustrating as the younger hip-hop "fans" had clearly missed the point of the film. T's film is about the craft of being an emcee, and while the film features many artists that still preform, there is no point garnering info from younger artists who haven't spent enough time "in the game" to give you anything meaty enough for the subject. But then again I let the statement slide as the same young guns were making shadow puppets with their hands during the end credits. Clearly some of the films finer points where lost on them.

The Art of Rap is to Emceeing, that Scratch was to DJ's and Style Wars was to Graffiti. An important look at the craft of hip hop songwriting from people who know it intimately. It has one foot left in the past because the people interviewed are the people who truly shaped the form. Ice T is looking at the subject at the very foundations.

This isn't to say that T gets everyone that needs to be on such a list. It's odd to see a film like this without the likes of someone like LL Cool J (Feuding with Ice T aside), Busta Rhymes and only seeing Raekwon from the Wu Tang Clan. It's also little disheartening to notice only two female emcees holding it down, while one of the biggest questions that I left on my lips was "where was Jay?" But beggars can't be choosers when the roster is still a Smörgåsbord of talent. A film like this is still worth watching for two minutes of Rakim and Immortal Technique free styling.

The Art of Rap is exactly what I'd expect from an Ice T film. The art of rap is full of bombastic head nodding beats, slow motion shots of the man himself and birds eye copter shots of the various cities the film visits. T clearly wants to show the scope and slickness of the production and it's there for all to see. I can't say all of Ice T's choices work; his narration isn't the best, while the fact he is in almost very shot of the film, sometimes distracts (the ego monster does rear it's head). However, the latter point is dependant of which interviewee he is with. Moments shared with some of the emcees are both insightful and hilarious. Top scenes include Krs-one's reason for becoming a rapper. Nas' sociopolitical reasoning behind rap not being on the same level as Jazz or Blues. Ras Kass touches on why his lyrics are so complex ("The only people who have the time to listen are people in college or prison"). Chuck D and Run DMC on being who they were at the time they were.

The thing is I could go on and on. The people T got involved with the project all have a nugget of gold for the audience. Redman and T muse on the fact that out of all the rappers out there, it's Eminem that towers amongst them. This then cuts to Eminem unleashing a freestyle in his studio, before mimicking T himself (listen to how his rhyme flow and timing change with ease). At one point Joe Budden raps about the hood over visuals of New York projects. It could easily be a small video in itself. These are just a few of the moments in which T's film excels. It gets the subject perfectly, it captures the artists at the right moment and being rappers they nearly always have the right thing to say.

The film does have its flaws. It is baggy. Spending so much time in New York help showcase the musics history and savvy of some of the Emcees but not all of it is essential. T's questioning becomes slightly repetitive, asking similar questions to various people. It's understandable, but it does limit some of the scope. The distinct lack of female voices (only MC Lyte and Salt from Salt n Pepa appear) highlight one of raps larger issues involving women. The film may also be difficult for those who aren't into hip-hop to except the more spiritual excepts from the likes of Common and Snoop Dogg (really). It's particularly hard when you've just seen Grandmaster Caz reel off a ton of bars (lines) all ending with the word nigga.  There's also the strange issue of the interviewees becoming brighter, much more relaxed and open when the film hits L.A. The reasoning behind this is mystifying.   

But it's not at all disabling. The film is far too quotable and funny to let it's small issues weigh it down. The Art of Rap, coming off the back of A Tribe called Quests documentary last year is showing Hip-Hop as the large cultural aspect it is. To watch how these writers perfect and perform their material is a marvel to watch. The stories they tell are constantly engaging and the approach and tone towards the material fits like a glove. The Art of Rap isn't a powerful documentary, but it's one that really gives hip hop the platform it deserves. The younger generation may only be interested in the new movers and shakers, but Ice T's film shows just how solid the foundations are.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Year: 2012
Director: Christopher Nolan
Screenplay: Christopher and Jonathan Nolan
Starring: Christain Bale, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Morgan Freeman, Micheal Caine

So it's here. The Film that most people have made their mind up on has finally dropped. My thoughts on the furore that has transpired before (critics recieving death threats for bad reviews etc) are quite simple. If you believe someone should die because they don't share the same opinion on a film as you, anonymous or not, you've displayed that you are a simpleton. My only question to you is, why be so quick to show that? It is worrying you may have a job and work with people, while harbouring such views. Help is needed. Case closed.

Most of Nolan's films have relied on obsessive personalities who clash despite being either side of the same coin. That the people in play are so obsessed with a particular subject that they themselves don't see how close to each others edge they are, or how blurred the lines have become. The Dark Knight's (2008) comparisons to Micheal Mann's Heat (1995) are not just in stylistic choices but their themes. These men that "do work" are not only co-dependant on each other they are almost one and the same. This has always made Nolan's characters engaging to me.

This is the crawl space where Nolan's latest film, The Dark Knight Rises, is at most effective. When the film focuses on the ideals of these characters, and how fractured they could become, I was fully engaged. Bane as a physical presence is the match against Batman that one would expect. However it's the intellectual pursuit that pushes the film above more common affair. Like what came before for it, there is a fight for the soul of Gotham city. Issues of trust, control and resources flitter in and out of this large scale blockbuster, and while Nolan doesn't usually state too much when it comes to the political intent of his movies, this film seemingly wears its relatively conservative morals on its sleeve. The film however isn't simplistic, tubthumping piece. It does go deeper. Everyone has a little red in their ledger, and the effects of what came to play before have taken their toll.

This is not just in the physical aspect. Eight years since the events of The Dark Knight, we see a different Bruce Wayne. Not only is he less limber as before, he is now a person who has let his personal malaise infiltrate his mind. Such pain for what he has lost as allowed negligence to fester in the minds of those in the privileged circles that a man like Wayne run in. To some this will remind them of the boom days before 2008. In comes Bane, a Tyler Durden-style agent of fear. More calculated then what was seen before, and twice as hungry. With him he bring not only an army of have nots, but the fearful ideals of the past that Wayne strived to alter and evolve.

Like the two previous films The Dark Knight Rises main plot is once again, in essence another simple terrorist act. This could be considered, to some, as a hindrance. Nolan's 2008 sequel The Dark Knight, had a focus on pure chaos that felt, darker and more troubling than here. Heath Ledgers Joker brought forth an unpredictability that truly stood out amongst the three films. Chaos for the sake of chaos, felt more damming and dangerous than here in which a feeling of history repeating itself looms over the concluding act. Rises connects itself a lot more to the 2005 Batman Begins than it's predecessor. This isnt a bad thing, as the film ties itself with the series well as a whole. However it is hard to feel as excited as ultimately they films screenplay has to find a heap of convolution in order to make things appear as things have progressed.

The films main weakness is in its structure. We are brought back into the world and characters well enough, however some of its storytelling feels lacking. Lots of characters, lots of motivations, but not all feel needed. Once or twice, scenes just don't have the weight I expected, with one character relationship feeling a little out of sorts. I must also add that Nolan will get away with one or two moments of awkward exposition and pacing issues that another filmmaker could have got crucified for in a "lesser" film. mostly because as the fanboys have clearly shown, it's "Batman" and it's "perfect" even if they haven't seen the movie. I myself will let some things slide, partly because Nolan is so assured with his direction of proceedings. By the time we reach the final destination, Nolan brought me fully round, with many of my issues feeling like the nitpicks they are.

The Dark Knight Rises for me the film works best when the ideology comes into play. When the obsession is in the forefront. Wayne's inability to trust those around him. Bane's grandstanding oratory on "liberation". The effects of what Gordon did eight years ago, and how that weighs on him (call this Smiley-lite). All done for the name of justice. When you pull out and look at the big picture, Nolan's themes are extremely lofty and the tone is set perfectly. The scope is epic in size and although it wobbles like a spin top at times, the ambition is overwhelming and execution is more than admirable.

To carry all this on their shoulders, is a strong ensemble cast. Hardy's Bane is a grand display of dominance. Forget that his voice sounds like Sean Connery in the underwater sets of Thunderball. His presence is missed when he is not on the screen. A calculating and sardonic persona only matched with his hulking physicality. Ledger's Joker was always going to be difficult to top, but Hardy doesn't put a foot wrong. I love the performance. Bale gives a more subdued display, with smaller emotional beats, however as Wayne/Batman has more to do in terms of range, you see why Bale was picked. It is his strongest performance of the three films. Micheal Caine gives emotional heft, while Morgan Freeman expands on his Fox role. Hathaway, who was given the most grief when picked as Catwoman/Selena Kyle absolutely shines here. Her sarcastic, devil may care approach to the role shows that she is just as fearless as Ledger was four years ago. Joseph Gordon Levitt maintains a good level of work while Gary Oldman needs no more plaudits.

The creaky link is in newcomer Marion Cotillard who suffers as her character feels underwritten until much later on, when it feels too late. Once the story reveals itself more, it's hard not to feel that the role is a tad wasted. Juno Temple also appears in a limited role that means well but adds little.

The swansong feels long but it doesn't bore. I didn't find the set pieces as thrilling as The Dark Knight but they hold their physicality well. The film as a whole puts forth an interesting and board view point on capitalism and tries its best to answer. It succeeds for the most part, but it accomplishes more with how it deals with internal pain. It doesn't have the manufactured emo navel gazing of The Amazing Spiderman. What it strives for it does so earnestly. It allow many elements of the series to come full circle and paints an elegant picture of what can be done with comic source material when used the right way.

Upon leaving, I realised that not only hadn't I touched the rest of my popcorn (half a large left), I had also knocked it over and spilt it without noticing. That to me is a good sign of how I felt about the movie. I will be watching The Dark Knight Rises once more with friends to embrace what I may have missed. This is how a movie fan should show their affection to the cause. With love and dedication to the material, not bile or hatred to others. A hater hates. A lover watches.

Note: The some of this review was written before the tragic events in Colorado. May peace find those involved at such a difficult time.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Review: God Bless America

Year: 2011 (U.K Release 2012)
Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Screenplay: Bobcat Goldthwait
Starring: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr and Mackenzie Brooke Smith.

Synopsis is here

Former stand up comedian; Bobcat Goldthwait's satire is a simple one. The targets are as plain as the nose on it's face. This is not a problem for me. I enjoyed many of the barbs the film hurls, as most of the time the film ranges from moderately to highly funny. Goldthwait's jabs at loosely based parodies of neo-con political commentators, American Idol and trashy reality shows are warmly welcomed. In fact the main conceit, in which a man goes postal due to the ugly cynicism being fed to him (and everyone else) by media outlets and the like, is the sort of wish-fulfilment fantasy that must be gaining more patrons by the day. Goldthwait tries to up the stakes by giving us a central relationship, that is given the same type of troublesome affection, usually reserved of the likes of Todd Solondz. Once again no real issue here.

However, much like Goldthwait's previous feature World's Greatest Dad (2009), God Bless America is quite the one note affair, and unlike it's predecessor, is a little too scatter shot to remain truly remarkable. The anger seems to be there. Goldthwait's film gives us a very strong motif that follows us throughout the film.Diana Ross' Theme from Mahogany is heard throughout, being poorly sung by an X-factor wannabe laying out the intent as clear as day. Is this quagmire of lowest common denominator pap, where we wish to be lead? Living as products of fear with only the antics of fame hungry nitwits to make us feel better about ourselves?

Goldthwait sets the path out quickly and assuredly, the parodies and idleness of the masses are right on the money at the start. The ironic moment in which our protagonist; Frank (a neatly sad sacked Joel Murray), is fired for an extremely decent gesture, amidst a crowd of wage salves guffawing over the last nights sneering T.V show hits home with a wit that's sand paper dry. The absurdity feels far too plausible.

For a while it doesn't let up. A PG rated Sweet sixteen style show, in which, the birthday girl is screeching swear words at her parents for getting the wrong car, is layered on by Frank's own daughter mimicking the same bratty attitude over the phone. When Goldthwait gets it right, he gets it right.

That is until the movie hits the road, and the cold blooded killing starts. Where the energy should rise, it falls. Slowing  for characters spout dialogue that feels more like a stand up comedian's rantings than something that comes out naturally. It's not that I don't agree some some of the points, it's more that it sits awkwardly within the film. Goldthwait moves more towards the central relationship between the middle aged Frank and the teenage Roxy. The sweetness between the wannabe Bonnie and Clyde doubles, but the focus lessens the easy targets become quite thinly spread and the film slowly loses it's bite. 

Any real complexity stems from the character of Roxy (an energetic Tara Lynne Barr) whose reasons for joining Frank give the film a shot in the arm late on, when we find out that Goldthwait has nowhere else to direct the rage. Television is one of the villains. Not just in the film but outside too as the antics of Charlie Brooker's Dead Set (2008) and Black Mirror (2012), are far more focused affairs that are just as black but far more rewarding. Goldthwait should however get full marks for his efforts. Barr donning an imagery that evokes Brenda Ann Spencer, and the films all out final moments provide more interesting hints of Goldthwaits outlook and anger. Such venom however, still needs discipline to be truly affective. 

Cinematic Dramatic 4x07 - Killer Joe

Woah there buddy, you might want to put the chicken down. Boulton and Byron have seen Killer Joe and it's finger-licking good....but not in that way. Also, Spider-Man's amazing return is reviewed without the glitter.

via GeekPlanetOnline: Cinematic Dramatic

Monday, 16 July 2012

Review: The Amazing Spiderman

Year: 2012
Director: Marc Webb
Screenplay: James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field

Synopsis is here, but also here, with parts here also.

A friends Facebook status gave the kind of sharp review of The Amazing Spiderman that most people respond to these days. In a world where 140 characters seemly affect people in a more direct way than essays and articles, labelling the film as "utter gash" will obtain way more response than whatever dross I vomit up in this blog.

While I don't fully agree with his analysis, I know that the next time we sink some tins of tyskie, I do feel we'll both agree that The Amazing Spiderman is as unnecessary as the 3D glasses I had to take to the cinema to wear. It's bad enough that that once again, 3D does little to prove its worth for a tent pole release. But the fact that the film that the effect is attached to can't make up its mind on whether it's an actual reboot or otherwise, provides a certain amount of disenchantment.

The Amazing Spiderman really does feel like a product of a company clinging onto the franchise. Sony don't appear desperate (product placement aside). However, the films needless demand to once again show us how Spiderman got to be, does little to change the fact that the film is a contrivance. The lack of ideas continue as without Sam Raimi (Script issues, unmoving release date), recycled bits of the original plans look like they've been slotted awkwardly into wherever fits. It also feels like they've spent too much time wondering what Warner Brothers were doing with DC material.

In hiring Marc Webb, we've been given 500 days of Spiderman Begins. A film which spends most of it's time targeting the high angst of the teen characters and mimicking the slightly grittier tone that The Dark Knight made its own. But while Christopher Nolan successfully crafted a comic book series that spliced its pulp roots the director's own obsessions, TAS comes to us a bit of a hodge podge. The film makes a bigger push of Peter Parker's powers as a metaphor for teen growing pains. But all the images of a hooded brooding Parker acting all Nirvana, reminded me of the reason I enjoyed Raimi's films in the first place. In fact it's something that Joss Wheedon's Avengers remembered; it's ok to have fun with these heroes.

The problem is that The Amazing Spiderman spends just so much time navel gazing, that I lost what I found so engaging from before. Raimi's Spidermans were board and a little bit silly, but they didn't feel like they had to hide that. In fact, they fully embraced it, reminding me of the 90's cartoon series that I grew up with. There was just more vibrancy originally.

This isn't to say Webb's film is a travesty. I'm sure TAS, has its fans who read more comics than me who can honestly say it's closer to the version they expected the first time around. Webb brings some interesting visuals to the table, and while the performances don't feel as earnest as those that have come before it, they're certainly stronger in other areas. The chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone is charming, while placing Martin Sheen in the Uncle Ben role was a well played stroke. It's quite clear that Webb's strength is in the interactions of the actors.

Unfortunately, this doesn't stabilize the films awkward plotting and general poor usage of characters. Other than being the first love of Peter Parker, the film isn't sure of what to do with Gwen Stacy, while the plot thread involving Uncle Ben is dropped quicker than a hot potato. Why reboot this aspect, if Peter isn't going to be that bothered with it soon afterwards? Elsewhere, Rhys Ifans tries to update Brundlefly for the twilight generation, but unfortunately is given a villain that lacks the creepiness of Willem Defoe's Green Goblin or the pathos of Alfred Molina's Doctor Octopus. Much like the film's action set pieces, Ifans' villain struggles to escape the shadow that Raimi has cast.

Still, I say this while the film made a killing at the box office (although knocked off the top spot in the U.K by Ice Age 4 as of posting this). This only helps the film disprove the idea that people desperately want original films. But in counting the amount the Xperia phone shots that hang from this tent pole. It seems to me that Sony's belief that branding is best in this cinematic world is correct when the numbers are that good. Money talks.

Review: Killer Joe

Year: 2011 (U.K Release 2012)
Director: William Friedkin
Screenplay: Tracy Letts
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Gina Gershon, Thomas Haden Church, Juno Temple, Matthew McConaughey

Synopsis is here

This twisted southern gothic noir, feels like Friedkin and writer Tracey Letts tore chunks from. Double Indemnity (1944) and flung them in boiling hot trans fats. It’s a devilishly amoral tale which is not for audiences who desire a hero to root for.

Considering the landscape of American cinema has mostly been filled adaptations of populist books and comic books, it does surprise when something like this comes along these days. Letts appears to be no Syd Field convert and Friedkin, clearly doesn't care that it's 2012, making a film that has the feel of a director who made films in the 70s. After so many origin stories of ever good superheroes, this upsets the balance like a stone in the foot. At first, it is hard to get into the rhythms. The jump cuts, the offbeat marks of the actors; it's all a little disorientating at first.

But then what do you expect when we're a film that is so combative from the off? Beginning in a thunderous storm we are introduced to the films catalyst, Chris (Hirsch), by a barking dog. We've seen movies like this, when the dog barks, there's trouble afoot. The animals always seem to read the situation best. Having such an aggressive animal intro this character, not only signals that there's trouble a comin' but also supplies an echo back to the fighting dogs from Friedkin’s seminal horror film The Exorcist (1973). Interestingly enough, both The Exorcist and Killer Joe have desperate families looking to an enigmatic stranger to expel evil. The difference here is that everyone in Killer Joe has morals of the Edinburgh toilet in Trainspotting (1996).

The opening gambit is one used down many a noir, Chris has debts and believes that killing his abhorrent (yet mostly unseen) mother for her insurance payout is the right way to go. He manages to rope his dopey father (Church) in to help with proceedings, for no real reason other than they are no longer a couple. They hire Joe Cooper; a detective who’s a hitman on the side, to get the deed done. And the payment? $25,000 when the check clears with Chris' "uncomplicated" sister as a retainer. The moment we meet Dottie (Temple), dressed in virginal white, we can see where things are heading.

Killer Joe plays in the same realm as Herzog's Bad Lieutenant (2009). A sun baked fever dream of dirty dealings and dubious morals. Innocence is a word in the dictionary, if your indebted to loan sharks, you better hope the cops don't like the creditors better. Friedkin has captured a shit of the shoe pocket of existence that lends itself to the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) or even Rob Zombies Halloween (2007). These characters glare at each other with wide eyes and contempt, scrabbling over each other in order to survive. Friedkin captures this energy with the same zeal he had with his earlier films. Here however, he knows the distance we need to keep from these people. He finds the absurd humour that languishes between the lines. At one point, Chris' creditors catch up with him and they enjoy a conversation that one would hold with close friends before the inevitable beat down. The cinematography by Caleb Deschanel captures the contempt and aggression that simmer between the characters. The gaudy blue beams of a strip club, desolate roadside crosses, dry heat sizzle of the day and the thunderstorm nights combine and paint a picture of a town that Texas forgot.

Within all this is an actor who is truly in his element. Matthew McConaughey is truly at his best with this performance. The man appears to be having a purple patch (See The Lincoln Laywer) and all credit is due to him. Joe Cooper is a character with a searing intensity I would never have expected from a leading man who has spent much of the last decade leaning on rom-com posters. Here is a chilling role that taps into the same darkness that was seen in Frailty (2002). Unpredictability looms over every scene he features. We dread every slow step he takes. Meanwhile, I've nearly made up my mind on how I feel about Hirsch as one again I've seen him in a movie in which he appears out of step with everybody else. His exchanges feel stilted (both him and the limited locations remind us that the material was originally a play) but he doesn't fully frustrate. Church and Gershon on the ther hand, are perfect. While Temple is the film’s ying to Joe’s yang, playing the role with enough sympathy for us to feel the risk. "Your eyes hurt" she exclaims to Joe, and we can see why. She is a white trash angel. One who is completely untouched. Joe's seedy, unflinching gaze does nothing but disturb. Is he grooming her to harm her, or is he really infatuated? The balance is struck so fine, it's impossible to detect.

What is detectable is some of the gender politics at play. The often mention fried chicken sequence is one of humiliation that may cause many to bulk. While Joe’s interactions with Dottie are very uncomfortable. A million readers may be tantalised by one Christian Grey but I doubt they'll look at the domination in Killer Joe with the same doe eyes.

Friedkin states that he films are about the thin line between good and evil. It's the same here, although the lines are much more blurred. Much like the little seen Bug (2006), the uneasy energy crackles in the atmosphere. The surroundings are claustrophobic and the people are gasping for air. Despite being so far away and so long ago, Friedkin's direction once again places us in that small bedroom in Washington. As a film maker, one can say he's never really left. I will say that there is something in Tracey Letts work that once again brings out the nasty in Friedkin. The world here feels like an extension of the fishbowl found in Bug. Characters seem to share the same psychosis, willing to fall for so much to keep their fever dreams alive. The films ending is aburpt and will frustrate, but consider it the end of one story and the beginning of another.
I do however, doubt you'll mind too much. Considering how much this film will you drag around in the sand anyway, you may be happy just to get the grit out of our eye.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Review: Storage 24

Year: 2012

Director: Johannes Roberts
Screenplay: Noel Clarke, Davie Fairbanks, Marc Small
Starring: Noel Clarke, Colin O'Donoghue and Antonia Campbell-Hughes

Synopsis is here:

Storage 24 is a MacDonald's meal of a movie, in which it won't be particularly nourishing to a cinephiles palette, but at a stretch, it fills a hole. There's no need for bush beating here. The film is not original and wears, its love of Alien/Aliens on it's sleeve. It would have been nice for the film to have as much invention as Attack the Block, as it would have been great if its Roberts took full advantage of it's setting. However, I didn't have any animosity to Storage 24 as other website reviewers have had. Possibly because I'm the red headed stepchild of this blogging game.

Clarke himself has stated on the Kermode and Mayo wittertainment podcast that he had his own reservations and concerns on the opening segments of Joe Cornish's ghetto sci-fi feature and with fair point. The opening gambit of AtB wishes for a leap of faith that some may not be willing to take. We meet those protagonists as willing participants of a mugging. Storage 24 has Clarke writing himself as a suited sad sack, whose just been dumped out of a long term relationship. It's easier to take, and Clarke placement of himself in the lead role strives to show a similar element of turning convention on it's head as Ridley Scott's seminal creature feature. Clarke's Charlie is not something we often see of Black British characters in such genre cinema. In comparison to Cornish's aggressive Block characters, one can see what Clarke is trying to do. 

I kind of enjoyed this, along with many of the characters and their traits. I found enough conviction in them and their relationships to be invested in them. The film takes a mistake with a stock character, whose final quote doubles up as reference to Aliens, becomes their only worthwhile moment. Apart from this however, no one offends. Perhaps they should, as to perk the film up slightly. Every character follows the tropes as they should, which is fine, but also helps display why AtB polarised and appealed the way it did. 

The film does suffer from Johannes Roberts' clumsy visual direction, hack and slash editing and Clarke's sometimes ill advised humour. The humour screws with the overall tone and is sometimes badly timed. It also doesn't help distract from Roberts wish to shoot nearly all the film in awkward extreme close up. It's clear that the production value isn't too high but it seems that Roberts couldn't find enough ways around gaining atmosphere other than short focused face shots. It's a clear attempt to create a claustrophobic atmosphere, but the film itself doesn't gains a proper geography. The storage centre never becomes the labyrinthine entrapment it could be, merely becoming a one or two dusty rooms and a basement. You get the feeling that more could be done.

 However, as a low budget B movie, the film more or less delivers. Cheap CGI aside, I enjoyed the creature design and its mostly scant appearances. I didn't mind the practical effects either. Clarke is a little too charming for his misery guts character and yet his charisma does pulls us through the film. That Clarke has managed to work with Universal and get this produced says more about the film than the film itself. As flawed as Storage 24 is, Clarke's involvement reminds us of his intent.