Tag Archive | 7.0

112- The Raid: Redemption [7.0]

A SWAT team becomes trapped in a tenement run by a ruthless mobster and his army of killers and thugs.

There were a handful of times throughout The Raid: Redemption that I found myself yelling “oh shit!” in the theater along with everyone around me. The Raid features relentless action as well as some of the most technically impressive fight sequences I’ve seen placed on film. Thankfully, director Gareth Evans has a good grasp on tension, and so the scenes in which action is absent are no bore whatsoever.

94- The Wave [7.0]

During a project week, high school teacher Rainer Wenger comes up with an experiment in order to explain to his students how totalitarian governments work. Within a few days, what began as harmless notions, like discipline and community, builds into a real movement.

In addition to the pressures and uncertainties that come with being a youth, there is a yearning for identification with an ideology. The Wave is an exploration of how fascism can be seductive to young, impressionable minds. It’s an interesting choice to have the film set in Germany, as the historical context of the country frames the potential of an uprising in a fascinating manner. Though some plot developments are easy to telegraph and there is a fair share of generalizations throughout, The Wave succeeds in leaving both the teacher and students accountable for their actions, thereby letting the audience view key scenes without bias.

88- Revanche [7.0]

A happily married couple becomes unlikely friends with a man whose life has been marked by chaos and violence.

Revanche is a slow but strong meditation on guilt and grief. Johannes Krisch doesn’t say a lot throughout the film, yet shows so much in the way in which he carries himself. I’d be interested to see more of director Götz Spielmann’s films.

64- Captain America [7.0]

Focuses on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America.

The most critical elements to Captain America were the first act and Chris Evans’ performance. In that regard, the film succeeds. The Red Skull is inherently a silly character and the tone of the movie could have been far goofier in less capable hands, but director Joe Johnston pulls it off. Though the second drags along, it’s refreshing to see so much emphasis on character in a superhero origin film whereas most tend to just follow the usual set of parameters.

62- X Men: First Class [7.0]

As the first class discovers, harnesses, and comes to terms with their formidable powers, alliances are formed that will shape the eternal war between the heroes and villains of the X-Men universe.

X Men: First Class succeeds in a fashion that Bryan Singer’s films never did, as the thematic elements that make the comic book characters so interesting are more subtlety dealt with than the manner in which Singer smashed them over your head. Sure, there are characters (literally) uncomfortable in their own skin, saying pride-oriented slogans (“Mutant and proud”), but First Class leans heavier on dealing with the question of superiority or inferiority in relation to a mutated species.

First Class is not without its cheesy moments, but its inherent to the source material. Thankfully, unlike so many other comic book films, the tone is played fairly straight and there isn’t a lot of winking at the audience at some of the more inherently sillier elements. The stand out performances belong to the two leads in Michael Fassbender as Magneto and James McAvoy as Charles Xavier. The film would collapse on itself without the strength of their dynamic, and thankfully, they manage to elevate the material. (The same can not be said of Zoe Kravitz, who can not act her way out of a box. Or any other object, I’d imagine)

Hopefully, Matthew Vaughn will revisit these characters and take them to a different decade, where other political and social issues could serve as a strong background for future films.

48- The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie [7.0]

An upper-class sextet sits down to dinner but never eats, their attempts continually thwarted by a vaudevillian mixture of events both actual and imagined.

Do you know those dreams you have in which you attempt to speak but can’t get out a word? For the rich folks in Luis Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, their re-occurring nightmare is having society’s lower classes and issues get in the way of their cherished dinner parties. No stone is left unturned in Bourgeoisie, as everything from Vietnam to an odd bishop gets touched on. Though Buñuel is doing biting, humorous satire here, I found the surreal film to be occasionally bleak, especially with the lack of score. The nightmare he portrays is that of a class which freely dabbles in hypocrisy while never learning anything of consequence, nor having to deal with any sort of consequences.

45- L’illusionniste [7.0]

The Illusionist is one of a dying breed of stage entertainers. He is forced to accept increasingly obscure assignments in fringe theatres, at garden parties and in bars and cafés. Then, while performing in a village pub off the west coast of Scotland, he encounters Alice, an innocent young girl, who will change his life forever.

L’illusionniste is the type of silent film that requires you to pay close attention to the relationships and actions in order to make sense of it. Utilizing a controversial fifty-year-old screenplay by filmmaker Jacques Tati, L’illusionniste is another entertaining foray into hand-drawn animation by Sylvain Chomet. The director of The Triplets of Belleville adds his quirky vision to a story of an illusionist whose art form is on its last leg as rock’n’roll begins to grow in popularity with the masses.