All posts by Graham Osborne

If he were in a film, he'd be the Villain/Lancer/False Hero. He's not, so the world is safe... For now.

Bushwick – Review

Bushwick feels like it’s trying to be a curious combination of The Purge: Anarchy and Red Dawn, with a healthy dollop of the American Civil War 2.0 thrown in for good measure as the film follows Lucy, (Brittany Snow) a 20 year old student who has returned to her home neighbourhood of Bushwick with her boyfriend, only to discover masked men shooting everyone in sight and explosions happening in all directions. Before long she meets up with Stupe,(Dave Bautista) an ex-marine and army medic turned high-school janitor with some survivalist tendencies. In an almost predictable manner, the two end up working together in an attempt to find Lucy’s family and escape.

The plot is fairly sub-standard, and feels as ifit was only there to allow the action sequences to happen. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with this, it leaves all the characters appearingwoefully under-developed and forced to recite some truly dire lines of stilted dialogue. What allows the film to rise from being terrible to moderately entertaining is the filming of scenes in one long, continuous take with hidden cuts in a style similar to Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) whichlends the film a passing likeness to Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men, albeit with a much more tedious story which finds you wanting the film to end about 15 minutes sooner than it actually does.

It is a shame that the script is poor, as both Snow and Bautista are good actors in their own right, but they are held back bylack of character development within the film, at least until a brief interlude between violence in the last 15-20 minutes of the story. Bautista’s character is very similar to several of his other roles, and there isn’t much needed for his backstory to understand his character, but Snow is evidently trying to push herself into different genres after the Pitch Perfect series, yet can’t quite get there due to a lack of interesting characterisation. This missing characterisationleads to the climax of the film, where the overall payoff expects you to actively care about the protagonists, but fails to pull this off in any meaningful capacity.

Possibly the greatest shame of the film is its treatment of People of Colour. Despite the entire story being set within New York (a city with a very diverse population) the two protagonists are white, yet the number of characters from other ethnicities with speaking roles islow, with many of the black characters seemingly relegated to rapists or gang members. This is particularly jarring as it is eventually stated that one of the reasons the invaders are attacking is to promote a more “racially pure” collection of Southern States and one would assume that showing an ethnically diverse group of people working together would allow for a much stronger message than just two caucasians attempting to gain their freedom (to say nothing of the part where it turns out that a predominantly black occupied apartment block can do nothing until the white protagonists show up.) The only remotely positive claim you could make (and this is if you were clutching at straws) is that these choices help to highlight the rift in diversity that often appears within films.

Another metaphor that is implied is the care of our armed forces once they have returned from active duty. There are a few scenes where it is shown that Bautista’s character has seen some horrors whilst he was on duty in Iraq, yet the story once again fails to give enough detail to do more than leave you mildly intrigued. You begin to feel that the director had too many ideas and not enough of a budget to bring them to life so shoved them all into this 90 minute film in the hopes that it would be enough.

Overall, Bushwick is not a bad film, but its well choreographed action sequences don’t make up for a weak script. One can’t help but feel that the story would have held up better if they had focussed more on the message the film was trying to portray instead of getting sidetracked by gunfights and explosions.

Bushwick is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

Father Figures – Brand New Trailer!

The buddy comedy is the simplest of all films. Take two people whose personalities are polar opposites, then shove them into a scenario where they can’t easily escape from each other and eventually have them both learn something about the other’s way of life that makes it seem not so bad. Shove in a few celebrity cameos and you’ve got a sure-fire audience pleaser on your hands!

Except that doesn’t appear to be the case with Father Figures, starring Owen Wilson and Ed Helms as brothers who discover that they don’t know their birth father.

Expect plenty of jokes about having sex with one’s mother, and other comical misunderstandings that you’ve heard several thousand times before in any other film of this ilk.

Father Figures is out in cinemas December 22nd.

Ferrari: Race to Immortality – Brand New Trailer!

For most people, the Ferrari is a car to be desired, all the while acknowledging that the fantasy will never become a reality. For the rest, it’s a car to look smug in as you travel within the speed limit of the country you are driving in.

Ferrari: Race to Immortality, tells the story of the people who would race in the Formula One Grand Prix during the 1950s, a decade that has now come to be known as one of the deadliest decades in racing history.

Combining archive footage with voiceovers by experts and family members of former drivers, it tells a story of hi-octane thrills and terrible accidents.

Ferrari: Race to Immortality is out in cinemas November 3rd and on Blu-Ray November 6th!

Dream Journal (Short) – BFI Film Festival Review

I don’t need an entire article to review Dream Journal. I only need seven words: What the FUCK did I just watch?

Dream Journal is a three minute short film and part of Channel 4’s Random Acts, random being the operative word here. The short describes itself as amateur 3D animation and computer generated niche erotica.Throughout the film’s runtime, we follow a head placed on top of a pair of legs as he moves through several different dreamscapes, each more insane than the last.

It’s hard to pick a favourite scene out of the several that are shown, you may enjoy the knife-fingered blob demon turn a man into a puppet, or you might enjoy the girl in a gingham dress with a second face for an anus that spews white liquid… or you might like none of them and find yourself running off to join your local monastery or convent to never have to think about sex and erotica again.

Despite the mental horrors that are sure to arrive with the coming night, there is a curious compulsion to keep watching until the bitter end (a compulsion that is definitely helped by the film being only three minutes long.) The animation is simplistic, and there isan almost sub-conscious hypnotic force that seeps out of your screen and forces you to discover the next deranged act in this theatre of the absurd and obscene.

You can’t un-see what is placed before you. Instead, it has trapped you. You are now its slave, and you will do whatever the Dream Journal wishes. There is no escape, but don’t worry, we’re all free in some special way. The only problem is finding out just which way that is so we may find salvation in our nightmare existence.

Dream Journal plays as part of BFI London Film Festival
See it in Strange Worlds Shorts Programme 

Road to Mandalay – Review

Recently, Myanmar has been in the news due to its ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims (although the current leaders vehemently deny these allegations.) The persecution of its minority groups has caused a large number of them to flee to neighbouring countries in order to escape persecution and make a better life for themselves and their families. It is this aspect that Director Midi Z takes a look at in his latest film Road to Mandalay.

The film follows Liangqing and Guo as they illegally cross into Thailand from Myanmar after turning to human traffickers for help. Once the two arrive Liangqing finds herself drifting from low paid job to low paid job in an attempt to gain an identity card and start working legally in the country whilst Guo intends to continue working illegally because he doesn’t see any point in obtaining citizenship. Gradually, the two characters become closer, before their differences in wanting to find work drive a wedge between their relationship.

Initially, the film is fantastic in how the introduction creates a palpable sense of tension, as the group of immigrants sail down the river before being loaded into a car and driven through several checkpoints. The emotional strain is heightened by plenty of long, lingering shots that leave a distinct sense of discomfort. The events are played out in direct contrast to the scenery that accompanies some of these shots, showing beautifully picturesque backdrops of the countryside of Thailand, all accompanied by hauntingly atmospheric music that creates a soundscape which adds to the entire affair.

Unfortunately, despite the prolonged shots work wonders for certain scenes, they often get used for other moments as well. Although the shots work wonders for adding dramatic depth, the use of them during a more jovial sequence feels incredibly awkward as the actors all gesture to the camera far longer than necessary. It is this along with the regular need to explain certain events which have happened off screen (Liangqing is thrown out of her cousin’s flat, which we only discover when Guo is explaining this to his sister) that starts to take you out of the story.

The story itself could very easily work, were it not for the fact that the plot appears to move at a glacially slow pace whilst randomly jumping forwards in time, along with regular interruptions to the flow of the film as certain events off screen are explained, as when Guo explains to his sister that Liangqing has been thrown out of her cousin’s flat. The overall effect of this creates a very loosely connected narrative which will oftentimes leave you scratching your head.

A common aspect of films that follow refugees and illegal immigrants is highlighting the poor working conditions and squalid living spaces, as well as the more seedy side of human trafficking. Road to Mandalay portrays a different (but still very similar) view. The depictions of several jobs that Liangqing works at show a hard, but relatively fair atmosphere, with plenty of people who provide help (for a price.) Yet it is when Liangqing decides to prostitute herself (the film never explicitly states this, but it is implied through the dialogue) that things take a turn for the bizarre, with her being left in a room with a Komodo Dragon. It is a scene which can easily be read asa metaphor, but it feels wildly out of place within the rest of the film.

Road to Mandalay evidently aspires to be something much greater than it is. Whilst it highlights the plight of the fleeing refugees, it also feels as if it is pulling its punches somewhat and leaving out some of the more horrifying moments. It’s worth a watch, but don’t get your hopes up.

The Road to Mandalay is out 29th September! 

London Film Academy Announce £23,000 Scholarship for Promising Female Filmmaker!

As with so many industries, the number of male filmmakers vastly outweighs the number of females. This is a terrible shame, and it is the reason why there are numerous companies out there offering incentives to entice more women into the line of work.

One of the biggest companies in England is the London Film Academy (LFA) which is also Britain’s only women led film school.

In order to celebrate fifteen years of hard work and dedication, the LFA is celebrating at the BFI on Thursday September 28th at which time it will announce their LFA Pioneers Award, a scholarship that will allow a female filmmaker to gain access training she may not have been able to find otherwise.

This is a fantastic day for helping to break down the gender gap in the film industry. We might still have a way to go, but it’s looking much brighter on the horizon.

The LFA is hosting their Fifteenth Anniversary On Thursday, September 28th!