Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) Review

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Another year, another Star Wars film. And with the recent release of The Last Jedi, the internet is ablaze with fury. I’m sure you’ve all seen the user scores on review aggregate sites that are completely at odds with the high scores from professional critics. And Rian Johnson is probably the most hated person on the planet right now. But how is the movie? Let’s find out.

The Last Jedi starts where The Force Awakens left off, with Rey (Daisy Ridley) finding Luke Skywalker (Mark Hammil) on a remote planet and the rebellion are on their last legs being chased by the First Order. In the opening sequence of the film, we have a dazzling space battle where the high risk heroics of hot shot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) takes centre state. It is an exciting sequence, but it also has some out of place humour with what is essentially a prank call. It is a very odd way to open a Star Wars film, but after that, the rest of the opening sequence is excellent.

With the humour of the film in general, it is very hit and miss. The jokes don’t always land and can often be out of place. However, there are a few instances where the film got a genuine chuckle out of me, mostly with visual gags on the casino planet, Canto Bight, a wretched hive of scum and villainy filled with the space bourgeoisie, where a drunk little goblin tries to insert coins into BB-8. Or a scene when Luke chastises Rey for her first attempt at “reaching out” to the force. Hell, even the porgs have some funny moments. The best humour in the film comes from parts that flow organically from the situation, as opposed to Marvelesque quips that miss more than they hit.

In terms of the story, the core of the film with it’s three major plot threads being the resistance retreat, Rey’s training/Punished Luke and the connection between Rey and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Much like in The Force Awakens, Adam Driver’s performance is excellent and Kylo Ren is the best new character in these films. In this film, he tries to break from trying to continue the legacy of Darth Vader and he want to “kill the past” and forge a new destiny in words that echo Kreia’s from Knights of the Old Republic 2.  In other words, Kylo Ren is the active nihilist and overman-to-be, which is presented quite well here.

The mental connection that becomes established between Rey and Kylo Ren through the Force is wonderful and the heart of the film. It brings a much needed sense of intimacy and romance to the film in a way that feels genuine and not corny, unlike the B-plot romance between Finn and Rose. It is quite touching and helps to develop Rey and Ren very nicely. It allows us to see the hint of vulnerability in Rey and make her feel a bit more human instead of a character designed by Kathleen Kennedy and market researchers at Disney. However, despite her characterisation being better realised here than in the previous film, her character arc still feels muddled and like her development is by and large being skipped as her ability feels unearned. I want to like Rey, but it is difficult to connect.

In terms of Luke’s character, this is probably the most controversial aspect of the film and has divided audiences. Mark Hammil has even talked about he disagreed with this vision of Luke. Some fans have even described it as character assassination and say Luke would never do x because of his arc in Return of the Jedi. But this complaint feels like those who make it were so enraged by one aspect of this arc that they weren’t paying attention to the rest. Without going into spoilers, I will say simply that Luke’s arc, even though it could have been handled in a multitude of different ways, here it was handled well in spite of what hotheaded fanboys say. The complaints about Luke getting milk from the weird tapir thing seem like strange complaints to me and this moment is clearly a pleb filter. For Luke’s arc, I’m also going to invoke the in built defence that it is like poetry and every stanza rhymes with the last, which is not felt more strongly than when we see a binary sunset soon after an act of heroism.

For the resistance retreat plot thread, which focuses on Poe Dameron’s change from hot shot ace pilot to leader who learns the value of caution, which is portrayed primarily through his relationship with with Leia. Carrie Fisher delivers a touching performance (in spite of one scene that is kind of dumb; those who’ve seen the film know what I’m talking about) as Leia, the grandmotherly matriarch of the resistance. But we also have Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) who is a purple haired condescending authority figure who fans have also complained about. But her attitude and behaviour, despite not having much logic in terms of the plot, nevertheless conforms well to how that kind of authority figure tends to act, so it wasn’t too bad. But since the last time I saw Laura Dern was her role as Diane in Twin Peaks: The Return, I half expected her to suddenly say “fuck you, Poe” and proceed to smoke cigarettes and drink from mini vodka bottles. This part of the story also brings us to the hyperspeed ram, which is one of the most visually dazzling moments in the film and is aesthetic perfection. However, it does complicate some of the underlying rules to the fiction of Star Wars to the point where hyperspeed ram becomes the Star Wars equivalent of why didn’t the eagles just fly the hobbits straight to Mordor?

In regards to the visuals and sound, those are all fantastic as always, especially the beautifully choreographed and shot fight scene in Snoke’s throne room that has so much red it reminded me of Suspiria despite these two films being totally different. The fights are entertaining to watch but don’t quite have the some punch and sense of weight like in The Force Awakens. Performances all round are excellent and Domnhall Gleeson, as well as Benicio Del Toro deliver wonderfully expressive portrayals as General Hux and the mercenary slicer, DJ.

There is plenty to talk about with the new Star Wars film, good and bad. The film is also two and a half hours and while I didn’t feel the run time (except for when I badly needed to use the bathroom), there are still parts of the film that could be trimmed or altered to make the film more cohesive and tightly paced. I should also add that I very much enjoyed the film while watching it, despite it’s issues. Other critics have also praised the film for subverting fan expectations and while the film does this, that is not in of itself a good thing and the limits are pushed here and luckily doesn’t fall into routine. It is a difficult tightrope to walk.

But while the film is enjoyable, good even, it is let down by unusual pacing, humour that doesn’t always hit the mark and interesting narrative direction that aren’t always fully capitalised on among the other things I’ve described. In short, it is a film with an excellent core that is let down by imperfect technical execution and the occasional questionable decision. While some critiques of the film are understandable, the vocal negative reaction to the film that claims it has “killed Star Wars” feel melodramatic and like barely disguised temper tantrums and/or nerd rage. The film fumbles at times, but it never drops the ball completely and Rian Johnson has delivered a film that is entertaining, engaging and establishes a fresh feeling of narrative possibility for the Star Wars franchise in the new canon.

6.5-7/10

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Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Review

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The sequel to Blade Runner,coming 30 or so years after the original, has tremendous shoes to fill. The original, or rather, the various different edits of the original, have become a classic over the last 30 years, with its marvellous synth heavy soundtrack, deep existentialist themes that is perfectly encapsulated with Roy Batty’s tears in the rain monologue at the end. It still has tremendous visuals, with it’s futuristic rain soaked cityscape and noir lighting that has come to define the cyberpunk subgenre aesthetically speaking.

The sequel, from the very beginning, impresses. The synth heavy soundtrack is large, but also capable of the touching subtlety of the Vangelis compositions from the original. I do not think Vangelis composed the soundtrack for this one, but the score here is very much in line with the style of the original, although with it’s own flavour as it is less jazzy and often more drum heavy. Some of it sounds like it would be at home in a Perturbator track.

The visuals also impress. Like the soundtrack, it manages to maintain the style of the original with it’s rainy cityscape, dense and dirty streets and ubiquitous advertisements and text of Asiatic languages as well as Russian. The newest part of the aesthetic comes in the form of holograms that play a role in the overall story and plenty more pinkish hues than I remember from the original. There is also the irradiated wasteland of what was once Las Vegas that feature colossal statues and a yellow-orange hue to the overall look of this section that does a good job of fitting with the dystopia and the world described in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and as part of Villeneuve’s filmography.  The film is simply a visual feast all around that perfectly captures the original film and novel, while adding it’s own new elements. Officer K’s (Ryan Gosling) apartment is a little more neat than Deckard’s, but also more barren and the Tyrell building is as golden as ever. However, there is a slightly less industrial vibe in the visuals compared to the original and instead something more ecological, which is a good change as there is a genuine move to expand the world building that is highly successful. While there is certainly a nostalgic element to the film’s aesthetics and even in the narrative, it does not rely on it. High tech low life, it is cyberpunk to the core.

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As far as the plot goes, I do not want to say much for fear of spoilers, but what I will say is that it is a compelling mystery that is very well paced, especially considering the run 163 minute run time of the film. It’s twists and turns do an excellent job of expanding on the existential ideas that The general premise is the same as the original, except now we follow a replicant blade runner with a holographic waifu who has investigates the potential birth of a child from a replicant mother. One thing I did not like about the delivery of the narrative is the occasional flash back to scenes in the film that explain the plot, especially towards the end, which I felt were wholly unnecessary and were probably a decision made by the executive producers after test screenings.

In regards to the performances, they are good all round here, although there is nothing quite as good as Rutger Hauer’s performance as Roy Batty, nor does it quite reach the emotional heights that the original did with the Tears in the Rain speech.

Blade Runner 2049 is not just a cynical cashgrab on 80s nostalgia, nor was it made because Ridley Scott needs a new boat: with Dennis Villeneuve at the helm, this sequel to the classic film,and as one of the few films I was actually looking forward to this year, delivers in spades. Not only is it an excellent sequel, it is also excellent as a stand alone piece. Go see it.

9/10

Resident Evil Vendetta (2017) Review

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Normally, I wouldn’t review let alone watch a tie in film for a video game (at least these days) but, since I won a copy of Resident Evil: Vendetta on blu ray in a competition, I decided why the hell not, lets give it a watch. And to my surprise, I found myself able to enjoy it, even if it is a film that is pretty much just dumb action with a simplistic plot.

So, what is the plot of this film? It is the same as it always is for much of the series: some villainous asshole has access to bioweapons and causes a zombie outbreak and it is up to our heroes to stop them. Simple stuff, if a bit stale in its set up and execution, especially since this is the bread and butter of the series, so a shakeup would be appreciated. Our heroes in this film are long running characters from the series: Chris Redfield, who is still with the BSAA, Leon Kennedy who after the events of Resident Evil 6 seems to have become a cynical alcoholic (cliche character development and archetypes 101) and Rebecca Chambers, who is now an accomplished scientist that has dedicated herself to curing all these viruses that just keep cropping up in the series.

The problem with the narrative in the film is that it just assumes we care about the characters of the film, owing to the films place in the canon of a long running series. The film, especially in the middle, spends time delivering unnecessary, somewhat repetitive exposition. It is especially unnecessary given that most of the people who would be watching the film have familiarity with the series: we know the score. Instead, it should have focused on trying to develop the characters in interesting ways. The only character I felt some care towards is Rebecca. The main villain, who to me looks like a cross between Wesker and Howard Hamlin from Better Call Saul, had the potential to be interesting, even sympathetic, considering his motivation of revengeance from all his loved ones being bombed in a drone strike. But ultimately, his motivations don’t quite pair well with his actions in any way that is convincing and he really is just a crazy asshole who is being evil for the sake of it. We also have a mysterious and sexy blonde henchwoman that seems to have a tragic backstory but she is also woefully underdeveloped as a character.

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There are also other times, like in the middle of the film as well, we have plot threads that are established, such as the apparent return of the Los Illuminados cult being an imminent threat that goes nowhere. Is this a setup for the next cgi tie in film? Is it set up for Resident Evil 8? In any case, the way it is presented here is completely pointless.

Now, I have been shitting on the narrative of the film quite a bit. But let me talk about the good stuff for a moment.

The films opening sequences has Chris and a squad of soldiers checking out a decrepit mansion in the middle of nowhere (sound familiar?) that immediately brings to mind the Spencer mansion. And this sequence of the film does set up some rather spooky, if familiar, horror vibes with strong pacing. Sure, there are jump scares, but they’re effectively placed and mostly have proper build up. The strong pacing is something quite surprising that applies to the film as a whole too: apart from a slight lull in the middle, It’s spooky in an Aliens  kind of way.

The animation of the film is also quite good, with expressive emotions and excellently choreographed action, which I will get to in a moment. The motion capture performances are excellent and the voice acting for the most part is serviceable. Nothing stands out as particularly good or bad in terms of the voices.

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The real star of the film is the action in the final act. The film throws off all restraint and accelerates at a breakneck pace, delivering zombie dogs chasing Leon on a motorcycle, him doing all sorts of acrobatics, then Chris and Leon infiltrating a compound to rescue Rebecca, doing all sorts of crazy hand to hand combat and gun fu that is the baby of The Raid and Equilibrium. I don’t want to spoil all the action scenes for you, but suffice to say, this is a very strong final act that is incredibly entertaining and arresting in its baffling ridiculousness. I loved it.

In sum, if you have some familiarity with the Resident Evil video game series and can also appreciate ridiculous action movies from time to time, you will likely be quite entertained by the end. The film also has a surprisingly tight pace, but is let down by a lack of character development, a tonne of cliches and unnecessary exposition or irrelevant plot.  Don’t expect a particularly deep or amazing film, but despite its numerous issues, it still manages to be fun viewing.

6/10

Hard to Be A God (2013) Review

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Friends, I have finally managed to watch Hard to Be a God. This medieval science fiction epic is packed to the brim with mud, piss, shit,snot, blood, mud, shit and did I mention mud and shit? Alexei German’s final film confronts us with the dirtiest and most incredible visual rendition of a barbaric medieval world. Unfortunately, that is about all it does.

But before I discuss that, let me briefly explain the premise. This film centres around the idea of an enlightened Earth civilization searching space and they find this planet, earthlike in almost every respect, caught up in it’s own medieval period and on the verge of a Renaissance. Or at least, that is what the scientists believe. Of course, this doesn’t happen and they are stuck in this world of shit and barbarism. It is all very Star Trek but with a depressive Russian sensibility. The film primarily follows one of these scientists, Don Rumata, who the local people believe to be the son of a deity. Don Rumata has naturalised himself with this world and the film follows him as he does stuff. Beyond this, it is difficult to tell what the film is about. The biggest problem with this film is that not only does it seem to take forever for there to be any narrative to grasp on to. It is unclear what any of the character’s motivations are, except for a faction called the Order, who are basically analogous to hyper religious types, although exactly what they believe too is unclear. Don Reba’s motivations are unclear. Don Rumata’s motivations only become somewhat apparent closer towards the end. The film is also 3 hours long. It is obtuse in a way that at times reminded me of Solaris, except  Solaris had characters with motivations that were understandable, which made the characters resonate and the philosophical tone of the film work. Nor is it obtuse in a mind bending or surrealistic way that works like say, Inland Empire or deliberately nonsensical and absurd like Cosmos.

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What has happened here with Hard to be a God is the narrative structure was lost to the point where some things are just plain confusing. There is one sequence where Don Rumata is arrested for some reason that isn’t clearly explained, possibly heresy or something like that. Then the very next sequence he is free. This was very confusing, considering we didn’t see how he got free. Things just seem to happen in ways that don’t quite make sense, as if those sections had been dropped onto the cutting room floor. The philosophical veneer of the film doesn’t quite work either because of these problems with the narrative of the film and a lack of enough dialogue or exposition. This philosophical dimension only really rears itself fully towards the end, but it is not properly developed.

But enough complaining, let me talk about what the film does right.

What I did love about this film is that it has the most incredible and richly detailed mis- en-scene I have seen in a film like this. It’s shit filled world is presented in such fantastic detail that it is impossible to look away. Even with the problems with the narrative, the visuals of this film are so fantastic that on their own, they manage to keep the film engaging. Almost every frame is a grotesquely gorgeous painting. I also liked the long take style of filming that was smooth, sometimes claustrophobic but always drew me in. The way some objects got in the way, characters looking or sometimes talking to the camera, in combination with the positions and movement of the camera made it an immersive experience. The film also has some excellent performances.

Another aspect of the film I appreciate is in spite of the tone of pure misery it is going for, it is rather restrained in its depiction of violence. It would be easy for a film like this to bathe in blood, but this one bathes in mud and even though it has graphic violence of its own, it never become ridiculous. There is one sequence where Don Rumata is walking through the courtyard of the order and we are treated to these brutal devices of execution that are large wooden penises with spikes operating with some kind of drop and pulley system. They are caked with blood and the gore of woman’s interior, whilst the people attending the device explain how this works in such a matter of fact way. We don’t need the film to show us how it works, the information we get is enough to put the image in our heads and that is enough to be horrified. This sticks out to me as the most potent indicator of the barbarism of the place of Arkanar.

What else is there to say about Hard to be a God? There is little soundtrack to speak of and I have not read the novel the film is based on, so I am not currently any authority on how it compares to the source material. What I can say to conclude this review, however, is that I really wanted to like this film more than I did and that for me, it was a bit of a disappointment. It excels in the visual department, but in regards to it’s storytelling and philosophical intent, it falls flat. However, it is still worth watching if only for the excellent visuals on display, just don’t expect a coherent narrative.

6.7/10

Inland Empire (2006) review

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Where do I begin with Inland Empire, David Lynch’s last feature film? Well, for one, it is a difficult film to watch in the sense that it is incredibly cryptic; probably Lynch’s most cryptic feature film to date. In saying that, it is also not his best but it is definitely worth a watch.

Let’s start with the basic plot. The set up of this film is that Nikki Grace (Laura Dern) is set to star in a leading role in a new Hollywood production, where she plays a woman named Susan, in an affair with a man named Billy, played by Devon (Justin Theroux). Devon is warned by Nikki’s husband not to try and have an affair with Nikki. This is all within the first hour or so in the film and even with Lynch’s characteristically idiosyncratic way of presenting dialogue, this early part of the film is actually quite straightforward.

Where it starts getting weird is when the film within a film is being made: a person appearing but who isn’t actually there, sudden realisation that the line between reality of the film and film within a film are being blurred and a bizzare, dreamlike structure. The film cuts back and forth between different rooms and Nikki’s experiences, which are at times surreal and confusing. Like dreams can be, the relationship and structure from room to room are quite illogical in the eclectic difference; being able to cut to Polish streets, to a typical LA home, to gritty industrial looking apartments that are reminiscent of Eraserhead or the prison in Silent Hill 2. There are red velvet curtains and not-quite-chevron floors that made me for a moment think this film had some connection to Twin Peaks but when I didn’t hear anyone speak backwards, that theory was thrown out the window. There is also a room with anthropomorphic rabbits that seem to be in the world’s strangest sitcom, given the laugh track. Sequences in the film loop back around and into each other, creating a narrative structure that is non linear and very non traditional. As far as the structure is concerned, it reminds me very much of Lynch’s previous film Mulholland Drive as well as the Kurt Vonnegut novel Slaughterhouse Five.

So, without spoiling it too much, here is what I think might have happened in the film: after starting filming and then going through that strange alleyway, Nikki’s experience of reality and film became increasingly blurred, possibly even that there became multiple permutations of the same person that was at times able to remember and experience pieces of the different permutations. Space and time become disrupted, considering the unclear chronology of events that unfold. The identity of Nikki too through this surreal, dreamlike experience becomes fractured and disjointed. At least that is my basic interpretation and mapping of events throughout the film without spoiling too much.

One of the most distinctive features of the film, aside from Lynch’s characteristic use of a low, rumbling ambient soundscape that generates constant unease and full music tracks that punctuate the emotion of a given sequence, is the camera used. For this film, Lynch used a consumer grade digital camera that I believe was 480p and so the film has this unusual aesthetic that is subversive and discomforting, since this is not how we are used to watching feature films but instead home movies or television during the time of this film’s production. Or watching student films. With that, it of course appears dated on this technical level, but if you watch a 1080p version it looks fine most of the time due to the camera being rather steady. This was something I paid especially close attention to considering the original Blair Witch Project does look kind of shit on 1080p screens, even with an HD stream.

The performances as a whole in this film, especially Laura Dern’s are quite excellent, although she’s not quite a good a screamer as Sheryl Lee. Dern convincingly conveys the confusion of Nikki’s experience and the different personalities she seems to embody throughout, showing off a tremendous amount of range as well as subtlety.

Inland Empire clocks in at a three hour run time. It is a film filled with tremendous performances and the dreamlike and nightmarish surrealism Lynch often has deployed throughout his works in imaginative ways. Considering this run time, it can feel a bit slow, but the length is necessary since if it was too much shorter, there would be even less time to process what the hell is going on. It requires patience from the viewer and as I have said, it is Lynch’s most cryptic and difficult feature film to date, an enigma wrapped up in a mystery.  But don’t let that deter you since it is still surrealist excellence that should be appreciated by any Lynch fan, even if, like me, it’s not quite your favourite.

9/10

 

 

Alien: Covenant (2017) Review

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There is a line in this new entry to the Alien franchise and sequel to 2012’s Prometheus relating to the new kind of alien, the Neomorph and other nasty creations, that is something to the effect of them being a kind of hybrid. This statement seems to also be a descrition  of this film as a whole. It feels like a mixture of Alien, Aliens and Prometheus (although closer to the latter two) that mostly works.

The story begins with a short prologue and then we are introduced to the crew of the Covenant, who are responsible for this colony ship going to a planet named Origae-6. However, after a brief delay having to repair the ship, they receive a rogue transmission, pinpoint it and then go to its point of origin as a detour as it appears like it will be a habitable planet. Of course, in true series fashion, everything goes to shit when crew members become infected with the parasite that gives birth to these aliens.

In regards to the characters of the film, David and Walther (Michael Fassbender) are perhaps the most developed and well performed, whereas the rest of the crew which includes the surprising appearance of Danny McBride as a guy known as Tennesee, are rather underdeveloped.  We do know that most of the character pairs are married, but this seems like a rather lazy way at establishing character relationships. Our crew captain is established as a religious type, but the film makes little use of this. Daniels (Katherine Waterson) is our Ripley type of character and the voice of reason in the film, but isn’t quite as charismatic as Sigourney Weaver’s role as Ripley. During one of the sequences in the first act, one of the characters locks another in a medbay room with a convulsing patient and the motivation behind doing so is unclear and is only explicable in the sense of people being very irrational in such terrifying situations, but she could have easily let her out of the room before the alien came out. This is just one example. If there was a little more time devoted to developing the characters and their relationships, the film would have elevated itself to a higher dramatic and tragic register in particular sequences.

That said, there are quite a few sequences, especially those towards the end of the first act that are full of suspense and terror, as well as body horror, such the aforementioned medbay sequence, which is masterfully presented and has it’s own simple, but original moments. Other sections, particularly towards the end of the second act get quite bombastic for what is grounded in horror, but is nevertheless exciting. A sequence in the final act feels like a mesh of the climax of both Alien and Aliens. Additionally, the aliens are often more in full view rather than skulking in the shadows, which is why the film feels stylistically closer to Aliens as opposed to Alien. The pacing of the film is generally quite good, with the expeditionary creeping dread of the first act and the slower, slightly more ponderous second act. The third act, however, felt a wee bit hurried and some parts of it would have benefited from being slightly longer. There is also some closure for the cliffhanger of Prometheus too.

The film looks great too,continuing the general Giger design as well as an area of the film that looks like a science fiction version of an ancient city that looks like a cross between Rome and Persepolis as its aesthetic base. However, the film was shot digitally and doesn’t have the same gritty look as the original and the colour palette is largely the same as Prometheus. The lighting is effective and nice looking, but the look of the interior of the Covenant seems a bit anachronistic since the technology appears to be more advanced than the original Alien film despite taking place before it. I don’t know why this is the case, but I hope it isn’t a retcon that segues into a remake of the original.

The CGI is also often far too obvious and the quality of it is mixed, but never dips to awful territory.  It must be difficult trying to maintain the terror of a monster that has been in the popular consciousness since the original film almost 40 years ago, but Ridley Scott is lucky that much of the legwork is done by it’s inherently unsettling and grotesque design combined with being an intelligent creature that must be outwitted, rather than requiring mere brute force.

In spite of my problems with the film, I still found it very entertaining and there wasn’t a point where I felt bored or uninterested. While it may stumble in regards to character development and a few other things, it does manage to balance the styles of various films in the franchise in a way that is while not masterful, is surprisingly deft. In that sense it is derivative, but there is also enough originality that it doesn’t feel like just a remix or going through the motions. It is not as great as the original and probably the second best thing to come out of the franchise recently (the best being Alien: Isolation. Go play it if you haven’t already). It is a strong sequel to Prometheus and hopefully is a sign of good things to come for the final instalment of this Alien prequel trilogy.

7.5/10

Kids (1996) Review

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Written by Harmony Korine, which you may or may not know from the criminally underrated Spring Breakers, and directed by Larry Clark, Kids is a confronting film about urban youth culture in the United States at the height of an AIDS epidemic. Many are likely to view this film as immoral (indeed, that’s what the general critical reception seems to have been at the time of release) due to it rather explicit depiction of of sexuality and drug use amongst teenagers and children.

But let’s get away from moral concerns, at least for the moment.

Kids does not seem to have any sort of traditional narrative structure, however the plot is loosely about Telly’s (Leo Fitzpatrick) desire to deflower virgins and him and friend Casper go about their day skating, hanging out with other low life waster types, doing drugs and going to parties. Meanwhile, a morose and bleary eyed Jennie (Chloe Sevigny) tries to come to terms with finding out that she is HIV positive.

The film is unarguably fixated on sex, considering the way almost all male and female characters talk about that and almost nothing else, except weed. Huxley once said that an intellectual is someone who has found something more interesting than sex, so intellectuals these kids definitely are not. Certain sections of the film capitalise on it’s exploration of this topic in clever ways. One sequence has Telly and friends discussing sex and revealing their attitudes towards it and intercutting between Jennie and friends also discussing sex. Each group’s attitudes are often directly contradictory and this is one sequence that is quite well executed and manages to feel like something insightful.

The performances in the film are hit and miss, with it being very obvious that this is the first feature film of most of these actors. The narration done by Leo Fitzpatrick, which is used sparingly and to essentially bookend the film, is poorly delivered. Ewan McGregor he is not.

I also found that, while the characters are portrayed in a way that comes across as believable, I didn’t find any of the characters particularly likeable. In fact, most of the male characters, especially Telly and Casper in there actions, motivations and mannerisms come off, at least to me as predatory to women and that cunty grin of Telly’s is something I wanted to smack right off. Even Francis Begbie, Sick Boy and Mark Renton in Trainspotting manage to have some redeeming qualities. The closest thing to a likeable character is Jennie, although I felt, despite sympathising with her, that she lacked depth. This seems to be because of a relative lack of screen time between her and the antics of Telly and co. as well as the lack of any sort of narrative structure. The pacing at times can also seem quite slow even with a 90 or so minute run time.

What I think gives the film much of it’s impact is it’s staunch committment to realism. The camera work is often handheld and the general feel is almost like that of a fly-on-the-wall documentary, which makes it feel more raw, more real, which works with the non traditional narrative structure. It is not always shot like a documentary however and traditional cinematic camera work is still utilised, but it is seamless. The narrative, style and pacing of the film is also constructed in such a way that can be seen as promoting safe sex also does not intend to cast moral judgements on the characters, which is a smart move. Moral judgements on the characters here are fully intended to come from the audience and I thought most of the characters were scummy wigger degenerates.

Still, despite these issues I have just described, I would still recommend Kids. It is an interesting low budget independent film that is for the most part pretty well crafted and intelligent.  If you’re a parent, it’ll definitely be a film that keeps you up at night

7/10