Taking A Break

22 07 2015

Tea

For the past few weeks I have been working hard on producing a series of film reviews to be posted over the space of a week. For such a task, I chose one specific film series, the name of which I intend to as secret as possible to be a surprise when it finally happens. Writing a series of film reviews though does take time and at best I am able to write about 1 a week. So 7 films should take about 7 weeks. Well, not really. It took me close to 2 weeks to get the first one written before I then put myself onto a proper schedule. I am currently (at time of writing) 3 films in, with 4 to go. Due to having a fully booked week last week due to my Graduation and a day out at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, I took something of a week off from writing with a plan to restart the following week with a plan to get straight back into the reviewing process as soon as possible. Watching the same film series and writing about it over a series of weeks, (particularly when the series is more than 3 films long) can get a bit tiresome and eventually you can find yourself craving to watch something else. During my Graduation week, I thought I could take the opportunity to watch some other film entirely in order to break the cycle, I did not however take such an opportunity and found myself about to restart writing film reviews again, and it’s not helping when the next film is the worst in the series.

A Game Of Thrones (George R. R. Martin)

I am finding writing a series of film reviews quite hard/daunting as so far I am not even half way through yet, and most of the reviews can be 7 pages long. While I thought number 3 was going to be a little quicker due to it not being bad as such, but definitely a weak film, it was about as long as the others. Ideally I would like to complete the series before I go on holiday, as it would mean that they are finished, and I can enjoy my holiday without thinking about them. Most of the time (when I am in the zone) I can just write away and get it done, but I am finding it hard to even think about how it’s progressing when it still feels like a long time away until it’s done. It makes me think of it as being like a film review version of A Song of Ice and Fire (although I am confident that it will be finished well before The Winds of Winter gets released).

TMNT (Imagi Animation Studios - 2007)

So with the next film in sight, I was feeling a little low (well, more like a lot) about getting back into it. Then one of my best friends suggested I watch something else before continuing; which was a Fantastic Idea. You see the thing is, that while you are doing such a project as this, you do want to watch something else as the week goes one, but you feel like you can’t because you should be watching the other film’s in the series. With me not doing anything related to that series though during graduation week, I went along with my friend’s suggestion, and instead of watching the next film in that series, I watched something else entirely, and it felt nice. I watched a film I have not seen in years, maybe not since it was first shown on Sky Movies. I watched TMNT, the 2007 CGI movie starring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I rather enjoyed it, I have always liked that film since seeing it at the cinema, but seeing it again after so long was the breath of fresh air I needed. I also noticed how short it was, I thought it would be about industry standard 90 minutes long, but in fact it was about 1 hour 20 minutes long (plus a little more including the credits), coming altogether to 87 minutes long. That was not all I watched though.

AKIRA (Toho Co. Ltd. - 1988)

With still maybe a couple of hours to go until midnight, I did ponder about watching that 4th film, but instead I decided to watch a few clips from a film that I saw for the first time back in November, and couldn’t stop thinking about: AKIRA. It’s a film that, like a few others that come to my mind is one I really want to write a film review for. When I watched it again, I did not watch it all the way through, I just wanted to see a few moments. From the Bike Chase at the beginning, to mentions of the mysterious AKIRA, to Tetsuo’s dream and eventual rampage, all the way to the film’s grotesque end. I loved watching it again, even if it was not all of it.

Neo-Tokyo

Watching these 2 films has been a real breath of fresh air in my movie watching. While I will have started the next film review in the series by the time this gets posted, I am thankful for my friend’s suggestion and advice, plus the opportunity to watch two completely different things to nourish my film tastes. While the end of the film series is still some time away, I am confident I will get it finished, and that it will be worth it in the end. First I just need to deal with the tricky 4th film, then onto the even trickier task of reviewing 3 really good films in a row, and then I can take a break from my reviews until I decide to do another one.

TMNT Statues

GENEPOOL

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My Big Cuddly Friend – My Neighbour Totoro

15 04 2015

My Neighbour Totoro (Studio Ghibli - 1988)

When I was young, I had a lot of Teddy Bears. I loved each one of them and can remember taking them days out with me including the zoo, and on holiday. I still have my Teddy Bears, plus two lovely cats, one of which I have nicknamed Teddy Bear due to how big and cuddly she is. But just imagine that you move into a new house, and in the forest there is a large, and very fury cuddly creature; how would you react? Well, how else, other than give it an extremely large hug.

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Directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli; My Neighbour Totoro is a Japanese animated film originally released in 1988, about a couple of girls who go on a series of mini adventures, along with a big fury creature called Totoro. While this being a Japanese film, the one being reviewed here is an English Dub release (as that is the one I recorded on Film4).

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Set in the recent history, the film opens with father; Tatsuo Kusakabe (Shigesato Itoi,  Tim Daly) and his two children; Satsuki (Noriko Hidaka, Dakota Fanning) and Mei (Chika Sakamoto, Elle Fanning) moving house. They say a quick hello to a young boy named Kanta (Toshiyuki Amagasa, Paul Butcher) and his family next door before they arrive at their new home. Tatsuo starts to unload into the house while Satsuki and Mei explore their new home. At first they are interested in the discovery of acorns in one of the rooms to which their father suggests could be because of Squirrels. The girls go into the bathroom and first floor to discover dust like creatures moving into the rafters. A local woman who cleans the house called Granny (Tanie Kitabayashi, Pat Carroll) suggests that she used to see them when she was young, and that the dust creatures might move out; to which they do late that night. Satsuki and Mei along with their father go to the hospital the following day to see their mother (Sumi Shinamoto, Lea Salonga) who is recovering there; in which along the way they spot Kanta again who pulls faces at Satsuki.

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The next day, when Satsuki is at school, Mei plays on her own and sees a strange white creature in the garden. She follows it, but loses it, only to spot it again along with a similar blue creature. She follows them into the forest and finds a large, grey, fury creature of the same kind. She calls it Totoro (Hitoshi Takagi, Frank Welker) guessing from what the creature roars, before she falls asleep on its belly. Satsuki returns home, only to discover Mei has gone missing, finding her sleeping in a cluster of trees. Mei tries to show her family the Totoro, but when she looks for it, she cannot find it. Her father tells her that she may have seen a forest spirit, which only appears when it wants to. He takes her and Satsuki to a tree nearby to say hello and thank you before Satsuki writes the first in a series of letter’s to her mum.

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The next day, while Tatsuo is at work and Satsuki at school, Mei is looked after by Granny. In the same class as Satsuki is Kanta and while in class Satsuki spots Mei. The class teacher allows Mei to join the class where she draws a picture of Totoro. That afternoon, they walk home and it begins to rain, stopping on the way by a little shrine. Kanta comes along and offers them his Umbrella before running away. The sisters later on travel to the bus stop to give their dad his umbrella. At the bus stop, Mei starts to fall asleep and while Satsuki keeps her dry under the umbrella, Totoro turns up. Satsuki gives him his umbrella, to which he rather enjoys playing with. He then disappears on a bus that is also a 12 legged cat (Naoki Tatsuta, Frank Welker), giving the girls a little present in the form of acorns, which Mei plants.

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A few nights later, Totoro and the other animals are in the garden performing a ceremonial dance, to which the girls go out to join them. Totoro makes the acorn seeds grow into a giant tree, where the girls and the animals play instruments and enjoy their time with Totoro. The following morning the acorn trees have begun to sprout. While helping Granny one afternoon; the girls receive a telegram which tells them that there is a problem with their mum’s treatment. This leads to an argument between Satsuki and a disappointed Mei. Mei decides to take some corn to the hospital to make her mum feel better, to which end, she goes missing. Granny, Kanta, their family and Satsuki start looking for her, but do not get much luck in finding her. Satsuki goes to the tree in their garden where Mei first saw Totoro, asking him to help find her. Totoro calls the cat bus which takes Satsuki straight to Mei. Once finding her, the bus takes both sisters to the hospital where they see their father with mum who is actually alright. They watch their parents from the tree before secretly putting the corn on the window. Their mother says she thought she saw them there, before seeing the inscription on the corn. The cat bus then takes Mei and Satsuki home, where Granny is happy to see Mei safe as the cat bus disappears from view. As the credits roll, it shows the girls mum coming home, plus what they, Totoro and friends get up to, following the end of the film.

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My Neighbour Totoro is a brilliant film. I watched this film last week and couldn’t help but cry at the end credits. I was just so happy and loved what this film was and what it was about. My Neighbour Totoro is a brilliant piece of animation, it’s art style is one that ranks above many films released since then but also shows how traditional cartoon/paper based animation still has advantages over more digitally made films in the current forms. It is also a very colourful film and uses many different colours to not only show and define but also to represent. But these colours are not at all dark; it’s actually a very brightly colourful film and only appears at a real dark point during the night time scenes or inside a dark room. The film is mostly used shown in a day time perspective and allows the colours to flourish as a result of this. This use of colour really makes the film standout but also makes it more appealing and represents the mood of the film quite well.

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The film’s story is actually rather simple, but is one of its more alluring qualities. Throughout this film I was trying to predict what was going to happen. I was thinking all the time about plot directions, but none of them happened. What is given instead is a nice pleasant setting mixed with something a little different. The film in essence is about a couple of girls who move into a new home, which just happens to be next door to a forest occupied by some magical creatures. That’s it. It’s not the case of some girls who get lost in a forest and are helped out by the creatures, nor is it the case that the animals are threatened and the girls help them out. It’s none of those either. It’s just the case that a couple of young girls make some amazing new friends in the local wildlife. I did partially wonder if the story of the ill mother was going to lead in the direction of A Monster Calls with either the mother dying or the animals helping her get better. No, it’s just an incredibly pleasant film where new friends are made in a brand new place, sort of a combination of what happens when Imagination meets Exploration.

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Then film’s characters are brilliantly done with each one doing their part for the film in their own particular way. The film’s main cast is actually rather small, while there are other minor characters dotted around the place. The character of Granny at first looks like just an ordinary; maybe stereotypical grandmother, like character, but she is very knowledgeable of the area she lives in and comes highly respected. She is also very pleasant and supportive instead of cruel or strict. Her beliefs keep those around her going but also inspire them too. Her caring and supportive side comes as a relief to those around her, particularly Satsuki. The girl’s mother is something of an emotional background weight for the girls, but it’s not necessarily her presence on-screen but off-screen that character carries. The girls go through the struggle and worry about their mother’s illness but their mother’s positivity helps to uplift them. However the struggle for the girls causes an element of friction to them, more so for the film’s later moment. The mother’s sudden illness at the end really pushes a moment for all those around her, particularly the girls. While she is mostly something of an idea and more towards a minor character, the mother is actually more a plot carrier which eventually comes to a head. The father meanwhile is shown as being a lot of fun as well as caring for his daughters. His strong will and exterior is that of being supportive as well as possibly distractive for his daughters to their mother’s issue. The father is also really enthusiastic for legends and beliefs of the area and distils that into the girls by taking them to the tree and while unsure of what the girls see by mentioning Totoro does somewhat believe them. However his open exterior does bring up the pondering issue of how he is feeling regarding his wife. While he is strong for the girls given what everyone is going through, it does make you wonder what he is feeling inside. That’s one of the film’s most interesting achievements, the point that you really do care towards the feeling of its characters.

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Kanta is a strange character. It is obvious of note that he is actually quite shy but tries to hide it through being mischievous and possibly obnoxious. He is however very caring but doesn’t want anybody to know. His place in the lives of the girls starts off with his shyness towards them and continues to be quite withdrawn from them. But he does begin to warm to them slowly but gradually. Beginning with him giving them an umbrella to walk in the rain with, but then turning against his actions to help out the girls when he can after their mother gets sick, by this point he is warming to them, but is still rather shy around them though. Kanta as such is one of the more shy/secretive characters of the film.

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The film though really hangs on the characters of Mei and Satsuki. Mei is young and playful and it’s through her exploration and interest which leads to the discovery of Totoro. She loves those around her and likes playing with her sister in particular. She is however also rather boisterous and moody, which can lead her into troubling situations. Being young though it could be seen as a lack of understanding for her mother’s situation, something that comes to light as she gets more sick. Her relationship with her older sister is strong, but possibly too strong and due to a lack of people her age around, she does struggle coping without her. But here is a level of animosity towards Mei from Satsuki, which comes out when Satsuki shouts at her. Mei though is also rather headstrong and while she feels it unfair that her mother cannot come home yet, her attitude and love for wanting her to get better, plus the corn she got from Granny leads her to getting lost on the way to the hospital, however the desire for her mother to get better is inspirational enough to attempt it. Satsuki meanwhile is not simply a big sister; she is more grown up than that. She presents the feeling that school is something of a release to her as she has become something more of a carer to Mei rather than just her sister. While she is presented as a head strong, playful and rather mature person, there is also a level of vulnerability in that too. While caring for her sister plus writing letters to her mother keeps her hopeful and headstrong, she eventually breaks down as what she truly thinks and feels comes flooding out. She feels very responsible for the things she does and the people round her, but in turn she does drown a little from within. While initially jealous of Mei for seeing Totoro, she too gets to see Totoro later on and helps him out, which leads her to come to trust his abilities, which in turns helps her find Mei and becomes a stronger person thanks to those experiences.

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For me though, the film’s best characters are its non-human characters. The characters of the forest creatures were introduced in a rather interesting way, as they weren’t stumbled upon but more rather suggested. From the films early moments as the soot creatures appear to the sounds of something upstairs leaving acorns behind. While the soot creatures do have a short time onscreen, their early introduction suggests there being something else too. This would eventually come to Mei discovering them, rather than really stumbling upon them. The first sighting is actually rather fun. Mei discovering the small white creature, it running under the house, but then appearing behind her with another one leading the way (one of the film’s best moments). The 2 creatures are rather cute and a bit silly in design, but also very adorable. The 12 legged cat bus is a rather interesting idea but adds to the mystery of the creatures. It is very cat-like in nature and looks as cuddly as the other creatures.

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Unlike the case of other creature based films, the creature of Totoro does appear rather soon, but it means as an audience member; we can get to know him and his friends (almost personally). While his name is in the film title, he does not spend all that much time on-screen. While Tatsuo does suggest that they only appear when they want to be seen, it is also the opposite, them appearing when the girls need some accompaniment. Totoro and the other two smaller ones are actually very friendly and playful but also caring and respectful. When Satsuki is waiting with a sleeping Mei at the bus stop, Totoro appears. While he does catch a bus in the end, he just stands there, but gives Satsuki something to think about but also have someone around, even if they do not talk much. Totoro is also rather silly, something shown at the bus stop when he likes to hear the rain come down on his umbrella.

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Totoro though does show something of the unknown secrets of the world. His own forest friends show an element of variety of the creatures yet to be discovered, as well as those in dreams and fantasies, such as the 12 legged cat. He is not just a creature though, but a caring and respectful friend. When he is given an umbrella, he repays the girls with a present to say thank you, he then helps them to grow the tree by taking them on a mini adventure during the night which leads to an enjoyable time for all. With the new friendship in him from the girls, he grows to care for them and helps in the search for Mei by asking his forest friends to help out. His caring for nature and mystical tradition also shows with him taking part in the ceremonial dance to help grow the acorn tree. While they are all still rather mysterious, their onscreen presence makes them the most enjoyable, defining characteristic of the film, making it so happy and lovely to watch. For the entire film, I was just wanting to jump in a cuddle them; even more so after the film ended. The little kid in me wanted to go on an adventure with them. I just wanted the good feelings the creatures bring to come into my world.

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My Neighbour Totoro makes great use of its music, composed by Joe Hisaishi. The soundtrack though is rather hard to talk about, mostly because it’s easy to join in with and the minute I start thinking about it, I start wanting to sing it. The opening song is nice and cheery and sets the film up rather nicely; starting as it means to go on as it were. It’s a joyous piece as is most of the film’s music. The final piece though stands out the most to me. It’s a catchy song featuring the titular character’s name. As said before, it’s hard for me to talk about it, as I would rather just listen to it instead. The soundtrack is really terrific and will want you to sing along to it, take my word for it, it’s worthy of listening to, even if you don’t watch the film.

All round, I love this film, I really do. I feel like this could easily make its way up in my favourite films listings. I haven’t seen much in the way of films this year, having only gone to the cinema twice this year, but My Neighbour Totoro is better than (Insurgent and Seventh Son) both of them. I have already begun highly recommending this film to all my friends, and started searching for a DVD copy too. This could well become my movie moment of the year, I loved it that much. While it does look basic and is probably more designed for a children’s audience, I feel it is enjoyable for absolutely everyone. Its animation and artistry is fantastic; the music is catchy and enjoyable; the characters, both human and non-human are terrific and brilliant; basically everything about this film is sheer Fantastic and one that everyone, and I mean everyone should watch at least once. I already look forward to the next time I see it, hopefully with people to share it with. I don’t know how much more I can say other than, My Neighbour Totoro is a Great Film starring the cuddliest, most helpful, wonderful friends; quite possibly, in the history of cinema.

GENEPOOL (now just need to see how it compares in the Japanese speaking version).





Pulling A Trigger Is Like Ordering A Takeout – The Raid

11 03 2015

The Raid (XYZ Films - 2011)

What is the best way to evict a block of flats full of criminals? You could simply serve an Eviction Notice and then have an Eviction Day where you remove those who reside inside it. Alternatively you could just get a swat team together of 20 cops or so and then evict the place room by room. This idea does sound a lot more promising given the circumstances of the residents; however this plan could also easily backfire, as shown in The Raid.

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Written and Directed by Gareth Evans; The Raid (or The Raid: Redemption as it is known in America) is an Indonesian Martial Arts Action Film which has to go down as one of the all-time greatest action movies in the history of cinema. To be honest I have only recently seen this film. I had heard of it before, but it was not until I saw The Raid 2 (my second Favourite Film of 2014) back in May that I wanted to and got round to seeing the first Raid film.

The film is set in the slums of Jakarta. Police officer Rama (Iko Uwais) is a member of a 20 strong swat team squad led by Sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim), Officer Bowo (Tegar Satrya) and Lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno). Their mission is to raid a block of flats and capture crime lord Tama Riyadi (Ray Sahetapy) who lets out his flats to criminals hoping to evade the authorities. His building is like a fortress and supposedly today’s mission is not the first time something like this has been done. Tama also has two lieutenants; one said to be like a Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) and the other called Andi (Donny Alamsyah) who has control over him – and is also Rama’s brother. The swat team arrives and quickly gains access to the building. They briefly detain a man who is trying to deliver pills to his sick wife before proceeding to clear each floor and all of its residents one by one. Just as they clear the first few floors, the team is spotted by a young kid who manages to raise the alarm. Tama tells the buildings residents of the situation and calls a few people from around the area to prevent the team’s escape.

The team is then ambushed by the residents who kill a great number of them. Jaka learns from Wahyu that the operation has not been officially sanctioned; as such, no reinforcements will come to their aid as they do not know where they are. The remaining officers take refuge in an apartment where Rama creates an escape route by hacking away at the floor with an axe. Bowo gets injured in the chaos and Rama takes out a large number of residents by using the fridge as an explosive device. The team then splits up with Rama taking Bowo to safety and Jaka, Wahyu and Dagu (Eka ‘Piranha’ Rahmadia) go hide in a shower block. Tama meanwhile sends Mad Dog and Andi to go empty the dead resident’s coffers to pay for the buildings repair. Rama takes Bowo to the apartment of Gofar (Iang Darmawan); the man they detained earlier. He reluctantly hides them in a wall space. A machete gang then come looking but do not find them. Rama leaves Bowo to look for Jaka but then runs into the machete gang. He fights them off in an epic struggle only to find himself having to run away from another group. He is then found by Andi.

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Jaka meanwhile is cornered by Mad Dog. Wahyu and Dagu flee with Mad Dog challenging Jaka to a fight, which Mad Dog wins with ease. Rama tells Andi that he knew Andi was there and tries to convince him to come home, telling him that he is going to be an uncle to Rama’s son. Andi though decides to stay, but tells Rama to wait until the coast is clear. Mad Dog drags Jaka’s body back to Tama. Tama however spots Andi with Rama and Mad Dog turns on Andi and takes him prisoner. Rama meets up with Dagu and Wahyu and suggests they go after Tama to get safe passage out of the building.  They fight their way up the building, through a narcotics lab and to Tama’s room. Rama sees his brother being beaten up by Mad Dog and splits to help him out. Mad Dog releases Andi just so he can fight both brothers. Mad Dog gains the upper hand and is about to win until Andi stabs him in the neck weakening him enough to kill him.

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Wahyu meanwhile finds Tama but betrays Dagu by killing him. He takes Tama hostage, but Tama tells him he knew about the operation for several days and tells Wahyu that he has been betrayed by his higher-ups. Wahyu kills Tama, before he tries to kill himself, but runs out of bullets to do so. Andi gives Rama tape recordings of Tama taking bribes from corrupt cops to be used as evidence. Rama tries to convince Andi one more time to come home, but Andi tells him that while he can protect Rama in his world, Rama could not do the same for him. Andi uses his power over the residents to grant safe passage for Rama, an injured Bowo and a detained Wahyu out of the area.

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The Raid’s story and setting is actually quite simple, at least to begin with. The setting of a raid means there is plenty of moments for action as well as break points to explain story elements and delve into characters’ lives. The film’s setup in its first act-30 minutes is pretty much all done and the film gets going very quickly. The character development that takes place within this time is rather simple in itself without revealing too much and does not take too long to get to the core themes and setting of the film. The story does get a little more complicated as it goes along but it gives plenty of moments of reveals and questions answered so nothing goes unanswered by the film’s end while also leaving enough detail in to allow a future film. Iko Uwais character of Rama is brilliant setup and ready within the first 5 minutes and his character is explored a lot with in the first 30. Beginning with his personal life, his wife and expected child not only shows that he is in fact human instead of just being a cop. These scenes also give the audience reason to root for him as well as feel for him as he has something to live for, and as an audience member you want to see him survive what he is going through.

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The Raid has a lot of really enjoyable primary and secondary characters. Sergeant Jaka is enjoyable from start to finish. While his character is of the hard-nosed leader of the operation along with Wahyu, he has a great deal of compassion for those under his charge. While from start to finish his hard-nosed outlook on the current situation is ever-present his caring side always blossoms. His death at the hands of Mad Dog is a compassionate note for the film as from start to finish he remains one of the film’s best characters.  Andi meanwhile is an interesting character. His position is an interesting contrast to that of Rama and being his brother adds a little of flavour to both characters and the situation. While Rama is obviously a good honest person trying to do his best, Andi is in a position of power within the Indonesian underground. Andi however does a moral level of humanity in him as he still cares for his brother and helps him leave, but also has a level of control of Mad Dog which prevents him doing something completely brutal. Mad Dog meanwhile is completely like his name sake. He rarely talks in the film at all but has a deep level of mistrust of Andi as well as a high level of respect of Tama. Mad Dog sort of sees the situation as an opportunity to do what he loves, which is that of fighting his way and killing people. Much like Jaka, Mad Dog is extremely enjoyable to watch, particularly during his fight sequences but also when he hardly does anything at all. He has a strong on-screen presence and adds a touch of flavor as well as conflict to the scenes he is in. His enjoyment for a fight also brings a lot of promise for the films huge amount of action and fight scenes.

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Tama meanwhile is a very casual villain who does not appear to really lose his rag and is calm for most of the situation. It makes a nice change from criminals and gangsters constantly losing their rag and instead having a level of enjoyment and exuberance in what they do. Tama’s situation and presence also allows him to have an extra level of commitment to what he does as well as a level of enjoyment. Especially in the early moments when he calls for help, tells the residents his offer and takes in what the cost of repairing the place is. Gofar meanwhile is a nice example of what good honest folk are forced to do in a situation when they have next to little or no money at all. Gofar and his wife are forced to live in the terrible conditions of the flat they have chosen; however it is clear that they might not have an option. While the police’s outlook on the situation is that it is full of criminals, there is also their failure to understand what motive is behind people’s choices and that not everyone is a bad person. Gofar, though grumpy, does have a little bit of compassion for the police’s plight and does believe in the goodness of other people, particularly Rama, who he hides and looks after Bowo while Rama looks for the others.

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Wahyu meanwhile is a symbol for the corruption in the police and the desire to be one of the higher-ups and not necessarily a grunt, even though his look and age shows a modicum of respect his way, especially how Jaka initially feels towards him. Wahyu however is there to get his chance at the big time when in reality his actions are just going to bring bad news and disaster to him, both from the corrupted and the uncorrupted with in the police. While she may only get one scene, Rama’s wife (Fikha Effendi) does add a nice touch to the Rama character. Without the scene with her in it would have been harder to feel for Rama’s character. Her presence in the scene is one of caring too, but as the situation of the film is yet to be revealed, her ending shot reveals a level of sympathy for Rama but adds a question for the audience to think about before it is answered very shortly. Several of the film’s minor cops have a nice brief moment here and there, but one of the characters that of particular notice is the machete gang’s leader (Alfridus Godfred). He is a brutal killer and leader. When he searches Gofar’s apartment, his attitude in his language towards him is a brilliant scene. He is unrelenting and horrible and gives a savage depiction of a brutal killer. His on-screen presence is almost as if not as strong as that of Mad Dog. He is more of a mid-level boss character to the film, next up being Mad Dog but adds a level of spice to the action and human scenes but also adds a level of longevity to the film to allow it to continue without being too quick a film and increase tension and expectancy for the audience towards the film’s final moments.

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The Raid’s soundtrack is nicely composed by Mike Shinoda (though this is the soundtrack for The Raid: Redemption). It features many brilliant pieces for specific moments while also maintaining a similar theme in themselves and to the film’s situational theme. The opening piece for instance starts with a more peaceful harmonious note than to its ending which brings a level of severity to the situation and prepares the audience for what is about to begin. The film’s soundtrack in general is quite similar to one another but helps to ramp up the tension but also give a level of background activity to the situation and help to place it. A few that really stood out for me include the opening serious drumming beat, and the moment where Tama calls in help from the neighbours.

It has a lot of similarity to the films credits score. The credit’s score itself starts off rather peaceful as it begins when the violence is all over. It then builds to a point and as the film truly ends, it leaves on a high note of acceptance and relief as the situation is over, even if the future is uncertain. The film’s soundtrack altogether is rather enjoyable and well worth a definite listen out for.

The film’s action moments though are quite easily its most enjoyable and stand out feature. The level of violence is at the level of extreme at its lowest point. The level of extreme violence though plus the effects of what this violence does to the characters, including their injuries is something of a necessity as it makes this film really stand out from the start. The level of violence also makes the film incredibly realistic and shows a high level of detail in the film’s choreography, and make up. It also gives the films characters an extra level of detail in the Martial Art of Pencak Silat which is on show and choreographed by the film’s stars Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian. While to the casual observer the violence could look unnecessary, over the top and uncalled for, the martial arts on show as well as the result of the films violent actions give it that extra level of detail that makes this film truly stand out. Alongside this violence includes terrific use of weapons and moments including the jump out of the window, the machete through the wall and every fight scene featuring Ruhian and Uwais. Alongside this though there are some other brilliant scenes that do not rely on violence including the early shots of the Jakarta slums and the rain pouring down on the van.

TR7

The Raid is altogether one fantastic film. It’s level of violence and action could be a turn off for many a movie goer, but it’s more than just huge amounts of violence. It’s a film with a great level of emotion and drama in a simple but detailed and interesting story delivered by the films terrific cast. The setting is rather simple and so is the story but still maintaining enough mystery too adds twists and turns. The films characters are all terrific in their own spotlights with plenty of showcased reasons to cheer and root for them as well as boo them and enjoy their brutal ends. The soundtrack is a fitting choice for the film and has been well crafted and composed. The level of violence is at the high point of realism and one that any film made since The Raid is going to struggle to replicate and provide. It’s an all-round great film with each point delivering as well as backing up each other point too. The Raid is a truly brilliant action film that is definitely worth a watch for both fans of action movies as well as unseasoned action movie goers. While its level of violence will undoubtedly put many people off, but for those who are willing to stomach it, are in for a real treat.

GENEPOOL





Is It Possible To Write A Film Review In 100 Words Or Less?

4 02 2015

Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need (Michael Wiese Productions - 2005)

A few months ago I had this idea of trying to write a short film review. The idea being to write a short film review that more or less got to the point quickly without analysing the film in detail as I think that my monthly film reviews are more of analyses than reviews. Originally the idea was inspired by the Blake Snyder book; Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need. Snyder talks about the situation we have all been when we want to go to the cinema but have to decide what we see.

“We’ve all had this experience… It’s Saturday night. You and your friends have decided to see a movie. One of you is picked to read the choices from the newspaper while the others listen and decide.“ – Save The Cat! (2005)

Snyder goes on to describing the situation similar to pitching a movie. Snyder was what is called a Spec Writer who would write a script then attempt to sell it to a big studio. Snyder though points out an important problem which both you as someone who wants to see a film and as a writer faces in a pitch.

But what’s it about? If you can’t answer that question, you know it pretty quickly. If what the movie is about isn’t clear from the poster and the title, what are you going to say to describe it?” – Save The Cat! (2005)

This is where the idea of a 100 word film review spawned. As point of a blog post possibility as well as a Creative Writing exercise. To get a full review within such a strict word count would be hard, but it would restrict me to how much detail I went into. It would basically come down to what happens in the film, who’s in it and is it any good, as well as any additional footnotes regarding who made it, soundtrack and effects. After a few months wavering over this idea I finally sat down to attempt it.

Neo-Tokyo

Originally I was thinking of using the film AKIRA as the first one as I saw it a few months ago for the first time, loved it and is one of the film reviews I want to do the most. When it came to it though, I didn’t want to spoil a bigger post of it later on as I feel a full-blown analysis (of the kind I produce) would be better off as there is a lot I want to cover. So I did a film I have reviewed once before and know pretty well: Batman Begins. When writing it however I discovered a problem, at least a problem for my writing style. The word count of 100 words was not enough. The problem was that despite me trying to get to the point quicker, my style of writing was still a bit too detailed. Even with some cutting I struggled. So I upped the limit, sounds like cheating, but it gave me options. I raised it to 250 words and only kept that to the blocks of text reviewing the film and not the quick references at the top of the review stating who directed it, who’s in it, who composed the music for it, who was the cinematographer and which studio produced it (and the film title also). Also, originally I was going to give it the title ‘100 Word Film Review’ followed by the title. Due to the increased word count I changed it round to ‘250 Word’. In the end however I gave it the title “A Bite Size Film Review” as I thought it was a much better title. While in the end I was not able to produce a review in 100 words; I feel like I have managed to accomplish the original intention however. Thus managing to produce a film review template that allows people a quick source option when wanting a quick guidance on whether or not they want to watch a certain film (that reads like an essay at university level). I now just have the uphill task of doing it for many more films.

Batman Begins Poster

GENEPOOL (The film review in question will be posted up tomorrow).








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