High-Rise Review

J.G. Ballard’s 1975 novel has seen many attempts at adaptation over the years. The book’s significant lack of dialogue and strange narrative structure has led many of its fans to say it’s an impossible task. Enter Ben Wheatley, a British director who hit the ground running with a filmography diverse, bizarre, and utterly brilliant. In the last 7 years he has gone from kitchen-sink gangster dramas to mushroom-induced hallucinations set during the English Civil War. It’s fair to say that we never really know what we’re going to get from a Wheatley film, other than that it will likely be very dark and very funny. But in the case of High-Rise, it’s impossible to even know what to expect from the next scene. It is made with the same mad energy it is portraying, and so it always has the upper hand on its audience. Continue reading →

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Tangerine Review

A lot of the buzz around Tangerine coming out of Sundance was focused on the fact that it was filmed exclusively on an iPhone 5s. Hoever, I should note that if I hadn’t been told so beforehand, I never would have guessed this to be true. The film looks great, even beautiful at times, visually accomplishing far more than might be expected from its $100,000 budget. And the device with which the movie was shot accounts for only one element of a make-shift production. Writer and Director Sean S. Baker wanted to make a movie about two people who meet at the small doughnut shop near his LA home. He knew the area was known for being a red-light district frequented by transgender sex workers, but didn’t have a story until he met his two leads. Alongside co-writer Chris Bergoch, he immersed himself in the culture and his familiarity and subject compassion is apparent in the loving detail seen in the finished film. They met Taylor outside a nearby LGBT Center, who knew some sex workers who were willing to talk. Some of the cast were found through Vine and Instagram. Most of the score was discovered on Soundcloud. Rodriguez’ real-life stories formed the script, and the charismatic actresses often went off-script to create some the finished production’s funniest moments. Continue reading →

A Defence of Rocky V

Rocky V was not, to put it mildly, well-received. I came to this series late, and after hearing so many bad things about this movie in advance, I was expecting the worst. What I found is that I actually really enjoy this installment. It is definitely one of the weaker entries to the series, but for all its flaws it is still a good film. In fact, with the exception of Rocky Balboa, Rocky V is the most faithful and ambitious of the sequels. Continue reading →