Man Down Review

A fired-up Shia LaBeouf tries and fails to salvage this muddled war drama.

An assembly of soldiers wade through the shallows of the sea, approaching the forested coast with guns in hand. One laughs as he takes in the scenery. “Fucking beautiful!” he says. Yet the image Man Down presents is of a world drained of colour – the film’s pallid hue inspiring lethargy rather than awe. It could be that Dito Montiel’s ambitious psychological thriller is not what it thinks it is.

Read the full review at Little White Lies

The Chamber Review

A hostile situation on a deep sea sub off the coast of North Korea – it’s sadly not as fun as it sounds.

The world is teetering on the edge of doom. So says a montage of real-life footage that plays over the opening passages of Ben Parker’s The Chamber, highlighting the fragility of international relations. The precarious global situation even impacts a small submarine as it surveys the Yellow Sea on behalf of a private company looking to establish oil rigs in the area.

Read the full review at Little White Lies →

Daredevil Season Two Review

Season one of Daredevil was brutal and occasionally brilliant, setting up the world of Matt Murdock, lawyer-by-day and vigilante-by-night; a darker side to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The introduction of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk as the antagonist brought things to another level. It was a strange, unpredictable performance that was elevated by some excellent characterisation. Continue reading →

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 →

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 →

The Last of Us: Left Behind Review

This is a slightly-edited version of a review I wrote of The Last of Us: Left Behind around a year and a half ago. Thought it would be helpful to collect it here.

Although this is under the non-spoiler part of the review, there will be mild spoilers for the The Last of Us – but you really shouldn’t be playing Left Behind if you haven’t already played the original game anyhow. So if you know nothing of the series, go out and buy it right now because it’s the best game on the PS3, and the Remastered edition is available on the PS4.

Left Behind is add-on content to the main game of The Last of Us, it’s available to download for the PS3 version but included on the Remastered edition. It flits between two perspectives, the previously unexplored section between Joel’s injury and Ellie’s meeting with David, and events that happened to Ellie a year before the events of the original game. This contrasts the way she has changed throughout the game in a nice way, she’s more capable, intelligent and mature with Joel, but she’s still recognisable as the same character. I mean this both in her personality and in her model – subtle changes to the way she looks makes her look a little younger and I appreciate the effort they made just for that. Juxtaposing the two mall settings also brings the sense of melancholy that The Last of Us so expertly crafted the previous year. Even though both are post-apocalyptic it really does feel like time has passed, in one there is a sense of foreboding of an inevitable tragedy, and in the other that trauma still resonates – not explicitly in dialogue but in the way Ellie acts. It’s wonderful characterization, and part of the reason why Naughty Dog can prove the impossible by following up a game that felt complete in itself.

Continue reading →