Take your ass back to the trailer park – part 2

blue is the warmest colorWith Oscar season almost upon us, there’s a lot of films out now or soon that should have you racing to the cinema. From drama, action and horror to comedies and a compelling biopic, here’s my pick of marvellous movies you need on your radar.

The Monuments Men (Feb, 2014)
Based on a book of the same name, this film has caper written all over it. Comparisons will inevitably be drawn with Ocean’s Eleven, as Clooney and Damon again take centre stage. This, however, is based on a true story. Essentially it’s ‘art curators assemble!’, as an unlikely band of misfits team up to recover works of art stolen by the Nazis during the war.


Kill Your Darlings
(Dec, 2013)
Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan play Allen Ginsberg and Lucien Carr respectively; with the film focusing on the birth of the beat generation’s most well known writers: Ginsberg, Karouac and Burroughs. Despite putting in a respectable turn in The Woman in Black, Radcliffe is still – for some out there – trying to establish himself post Potter. From the looks of it he’s gone some way to achieve that. DeHaan, too, continues to establish himself as a growing talent.


Nebraska
(Nov, 2013)
Rival to Wes Anderson’s quirky crown comes in the form of Alexander Payne; the man behind Sideways and The Descendants and a director on the rise. Here he tells the tale – filmed in black and white – of Bruce Dern’s Woody Grant; a man who think he’s won a million dollars and sets off on a road trip to claim his prize. It’s already won a stack of awards and received lavish praise from critics. If you like quirky, human films it’s a must-see.


Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
(Dec, 2013)
Actor, producer, singer, rapper… Luther! Stringer Bell! Stacker Pentecost! Is there anything Idris Elba can’t do? Apparently not as he’s now playing Nelson Mandela in this epic portrayal of the great man’s life. The film’s red carpet release coincided, tragically, with his death. In terms of the film, it looks to be a stirring affair but has received mixed reviews.


Carrie
(Nov, 2013)
Big cajones… that’s what you need if you’re going to remake a Brian De Palma classic. The 1976 original blew people away being universally praised and rightly so. So big cajones, in this case, comes in the form of Chloë Grace Moretz (fast developing as one of Hollywood’s best young female talents), Julianne Moore and director Kimberly Peirce – best known for her award winning debut Boys Don’t Cry (1999). As far as remakes go, it has promise but received mixed reviews. If you’re a fan of the original and/or Moretz, it’s worth checking out.


Her (Jan, 2014)
Here’s a brave move: take one of the most attractive women in Hollywood – one, Scarlett Johansson – and have her play a role where we only get to hear her voice. Brave or genius? Either way, it’s the sort of thing you expect from enigmatic director Spike Jonze. This film sees Joaquin Phoenix’s lonely writer develop a relationship with an operating system voiced by Scarlett. An intriguing idea – although puts me in mind Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, an episode called ‘Be Right Back‘ starring Hayley Atwell and Domhnall Gleeson.


The Raid 2: Berandal
(Mar, 2014)
Welsh director Gareth Evans and breakout star Iko Uwais are back with their sequel… Oh yes! The original film had a simple premise (bunch of cops get trapped in a drug lord’s tower block and have to fight their way out) and the sequel immediately picks up events from the first; with Uwais’s Rama going undercover with gangs to bust corrupt cops. Same old, same old you may say – just watch the trailer.


300: Rise of an Empire
(Mar, 2014)
THIS IS A SEQUEL! Sorry, couldn’t resist. Actually it’s a sequel, prequel and a sort of during-quel in some ways. Covering events before, during and after the 2007 original. Obviously we’ve got no Gerard Butler this time round. Filling the gap looks to be a heroine in the shape of the delicious and delectable Eva Green. What with this and Sin City 2, Eva’s star looks to be on the rise next year. A pleasing thing as she’s a mesmerising screen presence.


Blue Is The Warmest Color
(Nov, 2013)
This French romantic drama is the first film to win a Palme d’Or for both the director and lead actresses. Also the first film adapted from a graphic novel to win the award. Essentially it tells the tale of two female students who fall in and out of love. Critics have heaped praise on it with award winning director Pedro Almodovar naming it in his 12 best films of the year.

The Raid – Uwais, Evans and kick-ass silat!

iko the raidHow does one go about creating a kick-ass action film these days that makes you sit up and take notice? Take a Welsh Director (Gareth Evans), an Indonesian martial art (silat), throw in a breakout action star (Iko Uwais), then set it in a grimy tower block. Action perfection all the way!

The plot is fairly light. Rookie cop Rama (Uwais) is part of a SWAT team sent in to clean up a drug baron’s tower block. Little does the team know the block is prepared for unwanted visitors, letting them move further inside the building before emphatically closing the trap.

Bring the pain
This film follows most standard action movies. Usual dialogue is observed, ‘We have a situation’, ‘We got company’ etc. What sets it apart are two things: Pencak silat – a super-fast Indonesian martial art that uses knees, fists, elbows, the scenery – anything to hand. Fantastically suited to taking out bad guys in tight corridors.

The other defining factor is Gareth Evans. An up-and-coming Welsh Director with an MA in Scriptwriting. Amazingly, Evans discovered Iko Uwais working as a deliveryman for a phone company. Talk about diamond in the rough.

iko2 the raidKeeping it gritty
Evans does a brilliant job in terms of directing action. Never hiding the fight scenes with clever editing, we get to see every body blow, every killer move. You may say we’ve seen this sort of thing before – and maybe we have – but not in this way. The fights are fast, intense and uncompromising, all of them.

As soon as the bullets run out, the action really comes into its own. Rama squaring off against five guys in a tight corridor is one of the first stand-out scenes. You know the fall-out is going to be brutal. The ultimate fight scene involves Rama and his brother facing off against the drug lord’s number one henchman, Mad Dog. It’s a long final scene, but a mesmerising one.

Script vs action
Considering Evans has scriptwriting qualifications, you’d hope for fresher dialogue. Although it’s understandable he had to scale back production to get it off the ground.

Either way, it’s a fantastic film. A little predictable in terms of dialogue, but utterly engaging on the action front. So heat up the popcorn, crack open some drinks on a Friday night and enjoy!