Infinitely Polar Bear (2014) – Review

Mental illness in film is a really hard thing to depict because every single experience is different, there is still large stigma around it, and it is hard to equate someone’s suffering when you haven’t suffered something similar. Many of the more successful movies intricately weave their own backstory in order to provide an insight to people plighted by a mental disease and how they move forward with their struggles. Maya Forbes, in her directorial debut, enthuses her own past with this saccrine yet sensitive film – Infinitely Polar Bear.

Infinitely Polar Bear revolves around a family of four whose father Cam is suffering from bipolar disorder. After a manic episode, mother Maggie decides it’s best for them to separate and takes their daughters Amelia and Faith whilst Cam gets rehab. Unfortunately, finances are slim and Maggie decides to enter a business school for eighteen months in order to get qualifications and a better job. Cam is left in charge of Amelia and Maggie in this sweet portrait of living with mental illness whilst trying to raise a family.

There isn’t a review of this film that doesn’t start, or at least mention, Mark Ruffalo as one of the greatest actors on the planet. That’s because it’s true. It’s so true that sometimes just looking at his face makes you quake with anger at how bloody brilliant he is (my breast constantly quiver with jealousy.) As Dan, Ruffalo is this treasure of a performer whose kinetic energy drives this near pitch-perfect depiction of bipolar. Able to handle the mania with the depression, the normalised states and the extremes, Ruffalo’s nuanced performance is breathtakingly real, poignant, and human. Forbe’s real lie daughter Imogene Wolodarsky and Ashley Aufderheide as daughters Faith and Amelia are treasures despite having no prior acting experience. They are charming, funny, and ferocious, adding innocence and chemistry alongside Ruffalo’s performance. Don’t forget Zoe Salanda who is steadfast as mother Maggie, trying to accumulate stability for her family.

Forbes delicate script and story-telling is remarkable, drawing on her own experience with her father to tell the tale. Perhaps using her own history as the backbone for this film elevates it into one of the greatest because it never relies on clichés nor skim over the facts to be an Oscar-bait movie on mental illness. Instead, Forbes takes you into this world where these daughters and this father try to get along despite their differences. The biggest dramatic point is each other’s lack of understanding – the daughters who can’t understand their fathers “eccentricity” and a father who can’t get why things keep falling apart and his daughters hate him. The art of getting it right is depicting both the character’s growth is never assigning blame. Dan is not a heinous father, whittling away their innocence because of his bipolar nor are the children bratty for getting frustrated at their situation. Similarly, Maggie isn’t abhorrent for choosing to educate herself to provide for all of them in the future. Whilst there are tensions and extremities here, Forbes intellectually makes Infinitely Polar Bear a charming exploration of this different family but never scrutinises anyone involved.

A tender, sophisticated movie that has a big heart, Forbes has done wonders by introspectively weaving the emotion of her past and enhancing it gloriously for the screen. The aspect of a chaotic family still brimming with unconditional love gifts this movie a poetic weight that is life-affirming, warming, and humorous too. The warmth radiated from this explicitly good family unit, if albeit dysfunctional, allows Infinitely Polar Bear to work without exploiting mental illness. With some impressive, realistic performances, led by Mark Ruffalo, the film is a high-note for Forbes in a glorious directorial debut. Make sure you catch this impressive feature.

Guilty Pleasures: Kevin & Perry Go Large (2000)

There have been a tonne of movies out there that see British comedy television characters lift off to the big screen adventures. Ali G, The Inbetweeners, and Ms Brown’s Boys are all hilarious and successful on the small screen but have had a tepid responses on the big one. Perhaps the pressure to fill the cinemas creates and imbalance: the writers and performers feel they have to go a larger distance to appease cinema goers and their own fans. The result, with all these examples, is complete and utter trash with so much toilet humour that’ll make your body convulse in revolting manners.

Harry Enfields’ classic and acclaimed character Kevin assaulted out eyeballs by conceiving this tragic onscreen debacle.

Kevin & Perry Go Large revolves around the titular characters – Kevin and his haphazard friend Perry (played by Kathy Burke) – and their misadventures through adolescence. In particular, losing their virginity. Now the laughing stock at school, Kevin and Perry decide to convince the former’s parents to go on holiday to Spain. The parents and the teens have two different ideas of what the holiday should be: Kevin and his dim-witted friends want to attend to coolest clubs and music scene whilst the parents want to do a traditional tourist holiday. And therefore, hijinks ensure.

Why is it Bad?

Well, it’s just gross – in every form of the word. There’s shit, vomit, pubic hair, sex, and puss that populate the screen in such a putrid manner. The movie is unkind to your site and churns offensively in your stomach, whirring around as good taste and common sense slowly drain from your body. The film has moments of pure disgust including swallowing someone else’s poopadoop and a long sequence of spot popping (because ha-ha-ha teenagers have all body spots.) Your toes will curl, your blood will leave, and the soul of maturity will sickeningly quiver out of you, leaving you forever.

Why is it Good?

When I was twelve, when this movie came out on home entertainment, I thought it was one of the most hilarious things I had ever witnessed and after talking about my idea to cover this, my friend and I couldn’t stop guffawing. The absurdity of the premise: two adults pretending to be moody teens and gallivanting over Ibiza trying to be superstar DJs is so over the top and ridiculous that you can’t help but love it a little. There are some great funny moments too include an unwarranted sex tape, two suitcases having sex, and Rhys Ifans drinking vodka through his eye. Yeah, they may not sound like comedy events of all time, but they’ll tickle you. There’s also the catchiest song of all time… All I Want To Do Is Do It. It’s so flippin catchy….

On top of that, there is an underdog element and a romantic element nestled in between the bosoms of the  here that you can’t help but warm too, like warm vomit cascading down your face (oops, spoiler alert.) With an alarming 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and a complete disdain for toilet humour, I’m not completely sure as to why I am suggesting it to you. Perhaps to appease the 12 year old girl in me that tittered away at an eyeball floating in vodka or a shit floating in the sea… Nostalgia can do strange things.

10 Cloverfield Lane – Review

Mary Elizabeth Winstead is one of our most capable actresses and refuses to bow down to generality. I’ve seen many people laud her as this generations Scream Queen, owing to her performances in horror movies and more, and while the title, previously held by the likes of Neve Campbell and Jamie Lee Curtis could be a fair statement to make, Winstead is a whole lot more than just genre royalty. Rising to prominence in the brilliant cult classic Scott Pilgrim vs The World as the rainbow haired Ramona Flowers, Winstead has seen a steady rise in a career and has chosen films that suited her alluring talent such as The Thing, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and Faults. They may not be well known, nor may they be brilliant, but Mary Elizabeth Winstead sure as hell is.

If you, like me, love her unconditionally then her starring turn in 10 Cloverfield Lane will solidify your obsession.

The film, literally heard about a few months ago and now is praised by industry fellows, critics, and audiences alike, sees Winstead as Michelle, a woman fleeing from her engagement. On the lowly strips of Louisiana, she is run off the road. Waking up in an underground bunker, she meets to highly creepy Howard who tells her of a nuclear attack and how he saved her, keeping her locked away. With fellow bunkee Emmett also there, Michelle tries to figure out her new surroundings as they survive underneath the bunker: But is Howard telling the truth? Is the world truly destroyed up there? Or is something horrific lurking underground with them?

Centring on three actors and the majority of the film taking place in this multi-room setting, the air of claustrophobia heightens and already tense thriller. Directed by Dan Trachtenberg in his directorial debut and written by Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken, and Whiplash’s Damien Chazelle, the film in a courageous romp that mixes science fiction elements with atmospheric tension. The main arc is escape and survival, mixed with unease and distrust and the solid contained script allows it to grip and entice with our characters. Trachtenberg, for a new filmmaker, actually knows how to tell a story and emote a scene: He knows when to reveal and when to hold back, he knows which buttons to press as the film gloriously twists down our neck with stunning chills.

A lot of this visceral depth is enhanced by the brilliance of Winstead in a leading role. As Michelle, she is completely engaging and you get every single emotion that she is trying to convey. Her work is absolutely breath-taking her as her character transcends the usual hapless female arc into a resourceful and plentiful heroine. Opposed to her is the excellent John Goodman who powerfully masters the art of bewildering villainy. In seconds he is charming then horrifying, friendly then creepy, and Goodman manages all of this whilst making him a realistic threat. John Gallagher Jr is a great comedic foil for the pair as each spar off with hidden agendas… It’s an astute and fantastic trio of acting!

As many have said, this is the spiritual cousin to the acclaimed found footage alien apocalypse film Cloverfield. And I’m not going to spoil it by mention how beyond ye olde attack but having them linked spells good things for Hollywood and its lovers: Filmmaking can still be innovative and produce a franchise unique in its premise and terror. Perhaps many can learn from 10 Cloverfield Lane. After all, you don’t have to be bombarded with marketing or be told years in advanced about a film being made to appreciate it, well, being made…

Without all this, however, 10 Cloverfield Lane stands as a masterpiece of thrilling suspense, twisting the story, and character righting so sensational, you’ll be hard pushed to find a better blockbuster this year. An underground hit turned into an out of this world adventure.

High-Rise – Review

Wheatley is a mastermind and one of our most crucial directors. His work is always, without a doubt, unusual, different, and confident in showing the terror of humanity. A gifted genius who wields his camera with a unique view of the world we live in, he has crafted some of the most incredible films to date including the hilarious black comedy Sightseers, the terrifying Kill List, and hallucinogenic piece A Field in England.

This Friday, his next feature High-Rise takes to the skies with lofty ambition, but will it stand or topple over?

Based on the acclaimed book by J.G . Ballard, High-Rise revolves around Dr. Robert Laing who is part of an exclusive residence, in the hopes that he’ll be sheltered away from the outside world and enjoy a life on anonymity. However, his solitude dreams are shattered when the weird inhabitants of the titular place start swooping down on his alone time and he has to conform to the statures in place that are quickly spiralling out of control.

With Amy Jump, Wheatley’s wife and long-time collaborator, adapting the cult book to the big screen, the product is alive with deep themes and social-political commentary about hierarchy and the class system. Here, it is physically notable: The lower classes strewn at the bottom, the upper-classes snootily looking down from their luxurious apartments at the top, and middle classes lurking right there – in the middle.) This situation is held by the threads of power, food, and levels that are promptly shattered when a swimming party runs amok in the building. When the electricity cuts off, those within breakdown into tribal mess and separate themselves by their classes that leads to full blown war breaking loose.

Despite the hammering home of the depravity on display, making the film momentarily drag in pacing and story-telling, High-Rise is teaming with juicy philosophy and psychology that meld into this intricate portrayal of isolation and animal instincts running rampant with enough applied pressure. Feminism, racism, sexism, classism, and more – they are all torn down within Wheatley’s glorious work.

Leading the move is the ever impressive Tom Hiddleston, who is everyone’s man of the moment with this leading role and the one in BBC’s The Night Manager. Behind his devastating blue eyes is the most startling character; one who doesn’t take sides but charmingly adapts to them for survival. Unabashed by the feral qualities in different quadrants, Laing’s acclimatises to his surroundings in an almost crazed way, all the while staying somewhat calm on the outside, making him almost psychopathic in places despite showing remorse for being a somewhat catalyst to High-Rise’s events.

Hiddleston is, predictably, genius in his leading role but it’s Luke Evans that steals the film as the brutish and animalistic Richard Wilder. The Welsh actor who many will know from The Hobbit series and that dreadful Dracula Untold movie is utterly impeccable here. Wilder is somewhat of a gift to actors that Evans’ opens splendidly. Capturign the primal heart that races through Wilder’s blood-stream, giving him a roaring sense of red raging injustice, Evans’ also balances this despicable man with a charisma that you’ll find in many houses across the country: A violent working-class man who feels it is his duty to tear down the social constructs. Evans makes him approachable, likeable, and even a hero in places – despite giving in to his primal urges and being an utter bastard, acting contemptibly against those around him. The actor is a ball of energy that steals every scene he is in as Wilder races to the “Garden of Eden” at the top of High-Rise.

Hues of brown, green, and blue populate this alluring aesthetic that echoes the remnants of the seventies era. With the retro admiration for block patterns or floral spirals, the production masterfully captures the ghost of a by-gone era. Each level has a character that establishes the hierarchy and each colour used is specifically designed to honour the production appearance – from the chaos of colours on the bottom floor to the abundance of whites at the top, it’s a cleverly visual film. The setting – a decaying tower block – is made even more visceral by this historical setting as the rise of Social Media makes it tricky for us to feel isolated. Flared trousers and ABBA soundtracks High-Rise may contain (including a well-crafted cover of SOS by Portishead), but the era allows the dread of abandon to filter through. It also allows Wheatley and his team to craft a stylish and visionary piece that gifts the viewer redolent scenes that juxtapose one another in a mirror image of peace and war, rich and poor, light and dark, up and down. Surreal elements, part of the course when watching a Wheatley movie, only add to the pitiless escalation that’ll bewilder and entrance wholly.

An acting troupe of excellence help embellish the almost satirical elements of High-Rise which includes the likes of Sienna Miller, Elizabeth Moss, and Keeley Hawkes at their chaotic best. The film is already dividing audience members and critics which always denotes thematically thick and plentiful film that resonates completely. Long after viewing, you’ll be toying with your thoughts: The captivating scenes will roll constantly through your mind, the rage filled eyes of Evans will lock with your transgressive soul, and the thought of humanity going berserk over power outages, a tin of paint, and a few cases of wine will never truly leave your mind. Not without out it’s darkly comic moments either, High-Rise is an experience in every sense of the word.

Is this the director’s masterpiece? Uneasily (as I have so much appreciation for Sightseers that I dare stray from my favourite,) I’d say it’s his most accessible yet complex movie to date, where all the elements slot in a crooked manner. As grandiose as High-Rise is, it certainly solidifies Ben Wheatley’s stance in the film industry – a bold and daring filmmaker refusing to bow his films to critical consensus.

His masterpiece?

In many ways, all of Wheatley’s work are masterpieces. But High-Rise certainly towers greatly.

Race – Brand New Trailer!

There have been plenty of sports biopics and they come thick and fast. Whether it’s about the drug abuse of Lance Armstrong, or packing a punch with Muhammad Ali, any figure of significance will sure enough be immortalised on the big screen. With Eddie the Eagle already wowing audiences, now we turn to Jesse Owens who gets his own in upcoming flick – Race.

The film revolves around Owens’ Olympic stardom as he rose to prominence in a time of segregation and racial discrimination. Sent to the Berlin Olympics in 1930s, Jesse managed to see the Nazi regime and defy it in his famous acclaimed win…

Taking meaty subjects with a stellar cast, led by newcomer Stephan James, Race looks to be a tantalising look at a man who faced so much and defeated .

X-Men: Apocalypse – Brand New Trailer!

What really? Can we not just have one movie without the clawed creature rearing his ugly side-burned head? We’ve spent so long seeing Wolverine on screen that we are frankly sick of him. With the announcement of Apocalypse, we were a little excited knowing that Wolverine may not be in this. But apparently he is. What the hell Singer? Whilst we’d love to shove Hugh Jackman into every orifice of cinematic goodness, even we know there’s a limit.

After the events of Days of Future Past, there is something stirring within the mutant community. Worshipped as a god since his birth, Apocalypse hunts down powerful mutants to become immortal and invincible. Recruiting more mutants to his fold, including the heartbroken Magneto (after leaving Charles and walking this world alone,) the fate of the world is left in the hands of Raven, Professor X and the young X-Men.

Despite the reappearance of Wolverine, there are many exciting moments in this brand new foreign trailer including Magneto’s supposed family, Quicksilver’s hilarity, and more about Oscar Isaac’s villain. Basically, this brand new trailer made is wholly excited. We’re talking about pants wet, nipple erect, and drool emitting excitement.

Talking Movies and Making Them Too