A Walk Among the Tombstones – It sounds far more enticing than it really is

a-walk-among-the-tombstones

A Walk Among the Tombstones (US/2014)

UK Release by Momentum Pictures – 19th September 2014

Directed by Scott Frank

Unfortunately, this film leaves no room for curiosity or character insight. Yet, those elements are not entirely necessary for the film to play out in its own confidence as a systematic and noirish thriller.

Liam Neeson is hard at home with tough nails, fierce jujitsu skills and ex-cop attire. However, there is no explosive dynamite, but rather a late package that Neeson carries on his shoulders at a steady pace, marking off every checkpoint along his obstacle course. The obstacles are not thick and fast, but they are hollow and potholed. I may have been in a passive mood, but the two killers who Neeson is after appear pathetic on all fronts: they are not scary, they are whimsical in their approach to crime and there is not the slightest chance that they will get away. The victims and their relations, who act as the catalyst for Neeson’s seemingly unprompted involvement, also come across as ill informed and lacking the bite for what should be nail-biting thriller. The plot is straightforward and clear-cut for a no doubt exciting experience, but the elevating spine is missing.

To conclude, it appears that the lack of subtlety, the lack of reasoned time and place of the characters and intelligible events, left me stricken with a rather dry experience.

2/5 stars

Advertisements

The Guest – A delicious guilty pleasure

the-guest-dan-stevens

 

The Guest – US, 2014

UK Release by Icon Film Distribution – 5th September 2014

Directed by Adam Wingard

Brief Synopsis: In what is fundamentally a new spawn of Stoker, a hard-hitting solider fools a family into welcoming him into their home. The rather intense accidents that follow are no coincidence.. 

One may initially ponder why they bothered to make the effort, but Dan Stevens and the atypical character he plays called David will soon keep you entranced. David, at first, is presented as the lad prototype, the guy who gets all the girls and beats up the bullies, but he soon becomes far more than this, he is bound to a complexity and his presence becomes mysterious. He shows no purpose or desire; it appears that he even has to pretend to become excited when a beautiful young woman rides half-naked on top of him. Then, in an instance, the territory switches and the scales rise, although we are never quite sure what to believe and Wingard successfully lets us play with our imaginations throughout and beyond.

At times, the film reminds me of Quentin Tarantino’s work because we find ourselves connecting with an unlawful character that moves across the screen with sufficient pardon. Not to mention the outbursts of violence and borderline parody that is often adopted. The music is also explosive and dynamic in its use of sound effects that bridge the action effectively; the tone is close to becoming a pulp bonanza. There are inevitably loose areas in such a film that attempts to play its audience around, but plot holes are looped with bullets and captivating face expressions. There is a hint towards David’s real background, but it is largely bumped of as one of these experiments gone wrong; we are left to imagine and the realm of science fiction is certainly on the cards. The last shot of the film will let you decide for yourself on the latter.

Both Brendan Meyer, the awkward son of the family, and his sister, played by Maika Monroe (definitely one to watch as they say) are terrific and give the believable performances that are needed alongside the taut David. They are the necessary sounding board for the temptation and animosity that Stevens brings to David. He indulges in their affairs for better or worse and ignites in them quite a life experience to behold. It can get pretentious, but hold out as you will be entertained and this film will make you think, despite what its marketing campaign may suggest.

4.5/5

A New Generation of Filmmakers

carlos_robert

The 1990’s gave us a new wave of independent cinema icons. Richard Linklater burst onto the scene in 1993 with his socially irresponsible and irresistible Dazed and Confused, Quentin Tarantino with his simply “bad-ass movie” Reservoir Dogs (1992), Kevin Smith with his weird and wondrous Clerks (1994) and, perhaps most significantly (at least in terms of working around a micro budget), Robert Rodriguez with his entertaining and striking El Mariachi. There are plenty more innovating directors I could list (Steven Soderbergh, M. Night Shyamalan, Danny Boyle, Larry Clark, Edward Burns etc.), but I’m sure you follow my bearing.

There has since been the likes of Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore), Paul Thomas Anderson (Hard Eight, Boogie Nights), Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream), Christopher Nolan (Following, Memento) and Alexander Payne (Citizen Ruth, Election) all emerging as significantly powerful and vital figures in independent cinema from the late 1990s. All these directors indeed still continue to make great films, even if the forte of their later work (Nolan and Aronofsky in particular) has been pilfered by Hollywood into blockbuster fair.

Here, I am arguing that there is a gap, a space for a new generation of filmmakers to make micro-budget films. It has been twenty years since Tarantino made Pulp Fiction and studios began taking independent cinema seriously and creating separate branches for distribution (Miramax Films, Fox Searchlight, Focus Features etc.) This gap for new talent is filling up fast (just look at what Steve McQueen and Martin McDonagh have managed to achieve in the last 10 years) and it is time to step on that bandwagon.

That is why, my friend Chee Keong Cheung, who has written, directed and produced three successful feature films in the climate of the 21st century, wants to help support a new generation of filmmaking talent. He has teamed up with Carlos Gallardo, the producer behind the El Mariachi trilogy and long time friend and collaborator of Rodriguez to bring you a masterclass in filmmaking. Better still, Mark Strange, who has worked alongside action legends Donnie Yen, Jackie Chan and Cary Tagawa as a stunt performer, fight choreographer, actor and producer will also be attending. These three stimulating individuals are offering an intense full day of discussion and teaching for only £99. This is the masterclass.

Intense-Masterclass

These guys know the independent film business. From signing distribution deals to negotiating releases they have been through it all and come out on top. This masterclass is for people who are serious about the film business and furthering their career in film. Yet, it is also ideal for writers, directors, producers, film students, and even casting directors or line producers who are just starting out in their careers. Carlos, Chee and Mark have played their cards in all areas of the film production process from special effects and stunt performing to executive producing and financing. Learn about the films that re-defined cinema and learn how to put your stamp in todays market. Cinema is forever changing.

Find out more and book tickets for the masterclass here.

Watch this El Mariachi tribute below: