LFF 2016 Highlights Part 2

The BFI London Film Festival has come to a close after another year of some striking and wonderful films. Some brilliant films have already screened in the first week. Here is part 2 of the LFF 2016 highlights…

LFF 2016 Unmissable

Nocturnal Animals

Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals is a sumptuous and tense film. The director keeps viewers captivated throughout. Ford’s wonderful directorial debut A Single Man would have many keen to know what he would do next in the cinematic sphere. Despite the recess, this sophomore picture does not disappoint. READ MORE

Brimstone

Martin Koolhoven’s film is unrelenting and unforgiving. Brimstone can be difficult to watch, but it enthrals nevertheless. Brutish and bruising, Brimstone is a thriller that does not know when to quit. But make no mistake, this is a good thing. READ MORE

Lion

Lion

Garth Davis’ Lion is a genuinely emotional drama with great performances from its cast. Lion is an affirming story which does not shy away from some harsh realities. A fantastic watch. READ MORE

LFF 2016 Best of the Rest

Elle

Paul Verhoeven’s Elle absorbs, entertains, and intrigues. After a lengthy break, Verhoeven reminds viewers exactly why he is a great filmmaker. Based on the novel by Philippe Dijan, Elle is a curious and rewarding feature. READ MORE

Free Fire

After the disappointing High-Rise, Ben Wheatley impresses with Free Fire. The film is contagiously fun. Writer-director Ben Wheatley and co-writer Amy Jump have created a very entertaining film with Free Fire. READ MORE

Prevenge

Prevenge

Alice Lowe’s black comedy Prevenge is a fun watch. A quirky premise is transformed into an entertaining film. Writer, director, and star Alice Lowe has created an off-the-wall dark comedy with Prevenge. The premise is original and amusing, and the film itself follows suit. READ MORE

Lake Bodom (Bodom)

Lake Bodom (Bodom) is a very entertaining horror-thriller. The film defies expectations, in a tantalising way. Director and co-writer Taneli Mustonen has created an interesting horror thriller with Lake Bodom. READ MORE

The BFI London Film Festival ran from 5th-16th October 2016.

Film Review: Free Fire

Free Fire

After the disappointing High-Rise, Ben Wheatley impresses with Free Fire. The film is contagiously fun.

In Boston in the late 1970s, Justine brokers an arms deal between two gangs. The deal is set to take place in an abandoned warehouse. What should be a simple transaction turns into something else entirely…

Writer-director Ben Wheatley and co-writer Amy Jump have created a very entertaining film with Free Fire. The pair keep things simple with the set up. The premise is basic, functioning to get the characters into a controlled environment. Very little of the action takes place outside of this setting.

With a simple premise and an almost one-room setting, the emphasis of the film has to be on the script and the characters. Wheatley riffs off the 1970s gangster films with Free Fire. The film has the style of gangster films of this era, and functions as something of a homage to the genre. Characters are quickly established, and the protagonists are given enough depth to engage viewers. The script, meanwhile, is frequently funny throughout the duration. The humour mixes character-driven jokes and wit with slapstick incidents. As is Wheatley’s way, humour is mixed with goriness for some black comic laughs.

Aerial shots early on in the film work well to establish the setting. At later stages, however, the camera work is sometimes too dizzying to figure out what is going on. One song in particular is used to great effect. Sharlto Copley is wonderfully humorous as Vern. He is the stand out character in the film. Elsewhere, Armie Hammer shows his comedy chops, and Cillian Murphy instils some much needed dryness. Sam Riley and Bree Larson are also decent.

Free Fire is a gangster comedy which does the job of entertaining its audience throughout. A very enjoyable film.

Free Fire is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2016.

Film Review: Kill List

An atmospheric thriller, Kill List boasts a great ending. There are a few small problems with the film, but overall it is a worthwhile watch.

Shel is frustrated with her husband Jay as money is tight and he has not worked for eight months. When his best friend Gal and new girlfriend Fiona come to dinner, Jay reluctantly agrees to do another ‘job’. After being given a list of targets, Jay and Gal set about completing their task. As they make their way through the list, the men go off track as they witness something horrifying that leads them to an even darker place…

A thriller that transforms into a horror movie at certain points, Kill List makes a lasting impression primarily for its ending. The film begins as a crime film, seemingly concerned with two contract killers and the necessity to complete their task. In the background, there is the fact that Jay and Gal are army veterans as well as some unexplained past trauma.

Kill List relies on the combination of apprehension and a sense of the unknown to grip viewers. Director and co-writer Ben Wheatley is successful for the most part in maintaining this tension. There are a few occasions in the first half of the film that the atmosphere wanes slightly, but Kill List recovers from this.

The narrative of the film is interesting, although there are too many things that are left unexplained. Perhaps this feeds into the mystery, but the film would have been more cohesive if the varying elements had slipped together in a succinct manner. Wheatley and co-writer Amy Jump have produced a good script. The dialogue is natural, and the interactions and banter between Jay and Gal come across as authentic.

Wheatley is clearly a fan of abrupt editing, as this is used several times in the film, not least in the initial scene where viewers are catapulted into the midst of a blazing row. The camerawork and lighting are also effective, particularly in the film’s later night scenes.

Performances in the film are good. Neil Maskell and MyAnna Buring are suitably cast as Jay and Shel; their rows are believable and uncomfortable. Michael Smiley brings some lightness as Gal, while Emma Fryer appears a little restricted in her expressions as Fiona.

The film’s ending is very well constructed, and is likely to stay with viewers after they leave the cinema. Kill List‘s violence is considerable, but it is the climate of the film that leaves a lasting impression.