Le Fear II: Le Sequel (2015) Film Review

I went into this movie not knowing what to expect. An indie comedy, horror, sci-fi, film within a film, mockumentary spoof: ‘Le Fear 2: Le Sequel’ seemed mad! But that is 100% the point of it and the madness that ensues made me laugh out loud on numerous occasions. Just go with the flow. Seriously, just go with it.

‘Le Fear II: Le Sequel’ follows film director Carlos Revalos (Kyri Saphiris) who has risked everything ($500,000 of his own money) to attempt to make his biggest and greatest film to date. However this vow for greatness is overturned by Efi, a Nigerian film producer, who literally must be the worst producer in history. He brings hell with him, in the form of himself and his sisters, and unintentionally starts a real life horror story for Carlos, one more terrifying than Carlos’ own script. This is Nollywood meets Hollywood, so let the chaos commence.

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I told you to just go with it didn’t I? Well the plot is actually simple but imaginative really, nothing too complex. The raw observational documentary style it was filmed in is excellent and easy to follow and I admired the use of the gritty London locations. I also adored how natural the dialogue in the script flowed, and some of the lines are just hilarious! This script and idea is all thanks to Jason Croot, who directed and produced the film too, which is a massive achievement. I admit, I will watch anything but I am not one for black comedy or cringe comedy, where the entertainment comes from the pain of others, I emphathise so much with the characters that I get a bit depressed and feel awful if I laugh at them. However, that being said, I am a film student so the subject is something I am familiar with and actually I could relate to some of the insanity and hilarity happening around Carlos. Looking back on those situations makes me giggle now and I’m sure Carlos could do the same come the end, so actually, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Le Fear II: Le Sequel’ and was able to laugh guilt free. Croot has created a marvellous and diverting film, not too cringe-worthy, with a strong structure, keeping the insanity contained.

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Kyri Saphiris plays film director Carlos Revalos well, with the right amount of frustration and swearing that’s justifiable but not tiresome either for an audience. The poor man, all shred of optimism and positivity for his film is snatched cruelly away from him by Efi (Seye Adelekan). Adelekan is just excellent and laugh out loud funny as the non existent film producer. If he’s not eating chicken, he’s scamming his way through securing locations, actors and equipment and thoroughly messing up the whole thing. But God he gets the best lines, as does his sisters Africa (Roxy Sternberg) and Femu (Scherrikar Bell). As a trio, they are hilarious, subjecting poor Carlos to blow up aliens as special effects, nearly killing their lead actress and African rituals to help him “find Jesus.”

As a film student myself, the film student Mickey is the one I can relate to most. He is filming “behind the scenes” footage guerilla style without permission from anyone and actually has more common sense and motivation than anybody else on set. Production Assistant Jessie (Leila Reid) needs a mention here too. She has the backbone to run this film that all the men on the set seem to lack, which is commendable considering the circumstances.

Just let yourself go with the flow and I promise you’ll laugh. “I’m surrounded by nutters!” Carlos exclaims, a revelation that I made myself half an hour before, but these “nutters” are the premise to a hilarious movie.

‘Le Fear II: Le Sequel’ is set to be released in 2015.

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The Imitation Game (2014)

A film that starts with the words “based on a true story”, more often than not, are some of the best films ever made and remain some of my favourites. Wartime thriller ‘The Imitation Game’ has now been added to that list and will resonate with me for a while.

‘The Imitation Game’ focuses on the British mathematician, cryptologist and utter genius Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his team of code-breakers (Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode included) who, in the darkest days World War II, were racing against time to crack the impossible German Code ‘Enigma’ that helped the Allies win the war. Not only setting it during his code-breaking days, it also takes a more personal touch: his teenage years, his prosecution for homosexual acts and his awful treatment afterwards. Chronologically, the film may have been boring and not half as clever as it was. But instead it wove in and out of these different time periods making it an interesting watch.

I liked the fact that writer Graham Moore included this character exposition and backstory. It made Alan Turing human, something that maybe his colleagues and others didn’t think he was. Many probably perceived him like one of the machines that he wrote about or wanted to create, yet at heart, he was just different living in a time where different was not accepted easily. It seems he was only truly ‘accepted’ a year ago, when he was granted a posthumous royal pardon for ‘gross indecency’. This man is remarkable, did so much for our country and changed the course of history, so why did it take so long? It is a true injustice. Please don’t mistake what I’ve said so far to mean this is a sad film, really it’s not. It is an engrossing thriller, it is ‘feel good’, and really shows Turing’s achievements, as well as our country’s achievements fighting in the war.

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No words can describe how in awe of Benedict Cumberbatch I am and as Alan Turing, he was mesmerising and captivating, presenting the complex Turing as the biggest code to break of all. He was also heart-breaking, and his poignant portrayal made me cry.

Keira Knightley is warm and calming as Joan Clarke, the only woman on the team. Forget how ever so posh she is, she is Alan’s only vice sometimes and seems to be the only person to understand him. She is subject to prejudice herself in the film; as a lady, she is different too and not meant for intellectual things it seems and is expected to take a husband and live out her days. Matthew Goode is equally as charming as Hugh Alexander. And Charles Dance, Mark Strong and Rory Kinnear are a welcome addition to the cast.

This is the best film I’ve seen in 2014 so far and no doubt it’ll be nominated for a few at the Oscars. “Are you paying attention?” Alan Turing asks you and, honestly, ‘The Imitation Game’ will really grab your attention.

‘The Imitation Game’ is in cinemas now!

Interstellar (2014)

Christopher Nolan’s visually beautiful, mystical and terrifying interpretation of space, ‘Interstellar’ tells the story of astronauts race to the other end of the galaxy and through a wormhole in search of a new habitable planet for a human race dying out and against the clock. The story is intense, the film is astonishing and visuals are impressive, as well as the film’s scary scientific accuracy.

Christopher Nolan directs and writes, alongside brother Jonathan, this epic affair. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a former NASA pilot and widowed father, who looks after his 10 year old daughter Murphy (a brilliant Mackenzie Foy), teenage son Tom and lives with his father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow) in a future world where Earth is failing. His curiosity leads him to a secret NASA installation lead by Professor Brand (Michael Caine). After explaining that twelve astronauts were sent on ‘Lazarus’ missions through a wormhole to find potential habitable planets, they recruit Cooper to join their team, including Brand’s own daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), to try and fulfil their task of reaching the only three potential choices of these planets and re-homing the human race.

Seems complicated right? Well it’s really not, meaning if I can understand it, you can! For me, the concept was simple, because it’s something I think about occasionally; the human race will have to be re-homed in the future to come. For me, the story is realistic and obvious. And scary too. At the end of the day, humans chosen for this task such as Cooper and Amelia are not machines, they have emotional attachments like love and family. Cooper is driven by trying to save and see his family again. As much as you want to save everyone else, selfishness and survival instinct can take over. One man’s act of cowardice or bravery can mean the difference- in this case the survival of the human race and Nolan often reminds you of this.

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The first two thirds of the film are truly magnificent and are so visually stunning to the point you want to cry! Moments to look out for are the movie’s interpretation of a black hole, the scariness of space time relativity and gigantic waves. Nolan has created a work of art as well as something incredibly character driven and with a clever plot, that builds tension, drama and grips you to the edge of your seat, something that I felt ‘Gravity’ lacked. Something else ‘Gravity’ lacked is an amazing soundtrack! The music is magical, loud and mystical, which is a pure interpretation of space and often reminded me of Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells.’ At points the soundtrack is ear-splitting and overpowering that it dominates moments, often making unimportant dialogue inaudible. But I felt this added to the atmosphere and realism particularly at moments of utter peril, chaos and stress.

The final third matches the start but reveals two twists in the story, that of course every Nolan film must have and complete with conviction. The first development, involving a character named Mann (you could interpret the name as important and ironic here), is smart and shocking like a twist should be. Similar to ‘Moon’, the twist is surprising and creates a problem, that could give the film a morose and unsatisfactory ending. The second twist, tying up loose ends and answers any questions you have, creates the ending. For me, I found it a little silly and disappointing, but then you have to respect the fact it is emotional, links well with the start and almost feel good.

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Matthew McConaughey is superb and Anne Hathaway is on par with him and matches his performance, so joining this with the visuals and sound makes ‘Interstellar’ a thrilling watch! Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, Mackenzie Foy, Wes Bentley and Casey Affleck prove to be a formidable supporting cast. Also a massive shout out to the awesome robots Tars and Case too.

Let us hope in the future years to come, when our planet confronts this problem, the chosen intelligent few to complete this mission are as brave as the characters in this film. But these are actors and a screenplay and a camera, what is to come has to be acted for real.

‘Interstellar’ is in cinemas now.

Film Review and Musings: No Country For Old Men (2007)

Recently, in a Film & TV lecture, we were taken by a Production Designer who had worked on such shows like ‘Game of Thrones’. This excited me and it was an absolute pleasure of course. But what interested me is how she showed an example clip from ‘No Country for Old Men’, a real favourite film of mine. The scene in question is where Anton Chigurh enters a lonesome gas station and asks the owner the famous line “what’s the most you’ve ever lost in a coin toss?” The brilliance of Chigurgh’s character is that he intimates and overpowers every person he meets without having to do much and still manages to terrify you. Before, I believed this was just due to the marvellous Javier Bardem and his acting skills, but she proved me wrong. I won’t take away from Bardem, because of course, he was and is superior and the Oscar speaks for itself, but the character was shown even further with the attention to detail within the production design, mise-en-scene and placement of the scene. And this fascinated me, as film and it’s industry continues to do all the time. The attention to detail in this business is extraordinary and I truly believe some film professionals are some of the smartest, quick-witted people in the world.

Watching that clip brought me back to a film review I wrote many years ago for my home city’s newspaper (Bristol’s Evening Post) and I actually managed to locate it! So here it is in it’s original form, which did in fact get printed. Goodness I was 16. Please bear this in mind… Also, read Cormac McCarthy novels. That’s all from my rambling…

Review:

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‘No Country For Old Men’ has it all. If you like tasteful action and violence, it’s got it. If horror is your thing, it’s here. Ultimately, this is a thriller, but if it’s also films where the acting has to be phenomenal and the script is clever and witty that grab you, then this is definitely the film to watch.

Adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name, ‘No Country for Old Men’ is directed and written by Cinema Masters the Coen Brothers, Joel and Ethan. It is, essentially, a cat-and-mouse game involving three men. Llewyn Moss (Josh Brolin), war vet turned welder and hunter, stumbles on a bloody scene-a drugs deal gone wrong. He leaves the drugs but leaves the scene with a bag of $2 million dollars. But, as you may expect, he is now a target to a ruthless, psychopathic hitman called Anton Chigurh, brilliantly played by Javier Bardem who won an Oscar for his portrayal of this truly chilling character. The third dragged in is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (also excellent Tommy Lee Jones) who is hunting down both, to protect Moss and stop Chigurh. And all three are helped along by a great supporting cast including Kelly Macdonald and Woody Harrelson.

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With typical Coen twists and turns which will keep you at the edge of your seat in suspense- look out for the scenes in the motels, you really will have no nails left- lets you feel unsurprised that this won a Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay Oscars as well as Supporting Actor, Javier Bardem, stealing the show. However, Tommy Lee Jones, for me, is ranked a close second, as the excellent script sees that he gets all the best lines, in particular, when his colleague asks at the start of the film “It’s a mess aint it Sheriff?” Jones replies “well if aint, it’ll do ‘til the mess gets here” and get there it does!

Fury (2014)

The only word to sum up ‘Fury’ is brutal. This is a brutal film of a brutal portrayal of warfare, human nature and becoming a man the hard way. When the credits roll, you need a minute to take in what you’ve just witnessed.

I love war films. When done right, they are some of the best films you’ll see, as it puts the past into perspective with the right amount of action and drama. And you appreciate how lucky you are to be alive and sat in a cinema watching it instead of living it.

‘Fury’ is set in 1945, nearing the end of the war. We follow, Wardaddy (Brad Pitt), an American army sergeant who captains a Sherman Tank and it’s crew of four other men through a deadly operation behind enemy lines. They attempt a heroic mission, outnumbered and outgunned and with a newbie (Logan Lerman) thrown in at the deep end and trying to cope with the harshness of it all.

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The opening scene sets the tone for the film to come and is bookended: death at the start, death at the end. Director and writer David Ayer is to the point and makes it incredibly matter-of-fact. You have to admire his ambition too. I recall one of the first scenes in the tank, with four men inside. Highly claustrophobic and chaotic, it’s a terrific opening, and yet I’m sat there thinking “how did they film that?” I am still wondering, and the more I think, the more I am amazed; these men live in that tank, you get a sense of family, you see the machinery, where they sit, how it works, how it’s tended to and how it protects. The Sherman tank is almost a character in it’s own right. I applaud ambitious film-making and so I applaud David Ayer!

Of the men of the tank, a stand out from the five is of course Brad Pitt as war-hardened Don “Wardaddy” Collier. He is ruthless, neither the hero or the villain and Pitt plays him incredibly well. Shia Lebouf impressed me at first as Boyd “Bible” Swan, but his character soon becomes tiresome, quoting scripture. Logan Lerman has come a long way and is brilliant as new recruit Norman Ellison, who later is nicknamed “Machine.” We see war through his innocent eyes and, like us, he is exposed to a lot of violence very quickly and has to get used to it fast. It was a pleasant surprise to see Jason Isaccs too, hardly recognisable in voice and appearance as Captain Waggoner.

This is the best war film I’ve seen in a long time. But as Wardaddy says, “ideals are peaceful. History is violent,” and this film often reminds you of that.

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