Sunday, 9 December 2018

22 July, Smallfoot and Bohemian Rhapsody


3 Quick Reviews is baaack! And here to stay I promise. These are posts when I give a quick film reviews of new(ish) releases. Let me know what you made of these too and whether or not you'll be checking any of them out ! 

Smallfoot
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The premise is fantastic. So fantastic it's enough for you to buy a cinema ticket without thinking too much into how this is all going to play out. Unfortunately, it seems studio execs had as much foresight into the plot of this film as I did when buying my cinema ticket. And so it goes something like this: "Let's have a group of Bigfoot accidentally come across a human (a Smallfoot). Each species previously thought the other was folklore. What could possibly go wrong? Let's find out !" At least this is what we *think* this film will be about. It's a bit tongue and cheek, quite funny . And so we go along with it, thinking it'll be a bit cheeky ! But of course what we forget, and the film reminds us, is that there's only so far you can run with this. And we get a good 15 minutes. But after all the fun is over, Smallfoot tries to grapple with where to take the plot.

We're living in a "woke animated film" (thanks to Disney Pixar) and Smallfoot film desperately tries to follow suit, steering the plot into a film about the prevalence of fake news and the importance of the truth. The world building is perfectly fine, the songs are a bit much but I guess for a mind-numbing animation filled afternoon, perfectly fine. James Corden, even in animated form manages to be annoying but for the most part, the performances from this all-star cast are, perfectly fine.

There are two types of animated films, animated films clearly for young kids (i.e My Little Pony) and animated films for everyone (i.e Coco). Smallfoot is the former while simultaneously trying to be the latter. And so its messages feel clumsily shoehorned. We get a couple of fab verses from Common which if you could follow are stellar. But all in all, it's all little bit too complicated for the film it was supposed to be.

22 July
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22 July
is a harrowing take on the 2011 Norway terrorist attacks and its aftermath. Written and directed by Paul Greengrass, the film features an all Norwegian cast. Making a film of this nature is a tricky one because there's a very fine line between being educational and glorification. And since these attacks are part of very recent history, we could find ourselves asking, what's the purpose of this film ?

22 July rises to this challenge. The film of course doesn't do without the massacre and, the first 20 or so minutes depicts the harrowing and disturbing scenes of the massacre. However 22 July is not so much about the attacks as it is about, how a nation comes together and reacts in the face of such hatred. The heart of this film is found in Viljar, one of Breivik's victims who was left hospitalised after being shot five times by Breivik. We accompany him, his family and the families of other victims through their rehabilitation and fight for justice. These are undeniably dark and upsetting scenes and yet the film manages to be simultaneously uplifting and hopeful. Viljar and the fellow victims epitomise the very liberal values of acceptance, love that Breivik sought to destroy.
In surviving and bearing witness to his trial, Greengrass captures how the youth rise in the face of fascism. This film is an emotive, controlled yet powerful piece of cinema.

Bohemian Rhapsody
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Bohemian Rhapsody, for the most part, follows the life and career of singer-songwriter Freddie Mercury. I say 'for the most part' because the film seems to be undecided on whether it's a Freddie Mercury film or a 'Queen' film. And when watching it, you can tell it's trying to make everyone happy, shoving in all of Queen's biggest hits and iconic outfits. It therefore spreads itself a bit thin, particularly in the first half, and we're left with a film that feels like a Wikipedia account of Freddie's life/Queen's career.

So, it goes through the motions (getting some minute details a bit mixed-up) albeit quite satisfyingly. Rami Malik however shines as Freddie. His performance gives the film a much-needed, emotive and crowd-pleasing punch which consequently carries the film through the second-half. He shows us the nuances of Freddie's personality throughout the peaks and troughs of his career and personal life. Bohemian Rhapsody, giving it a much-needed, crowd-pleasing emotive punch. The film should have stuck to Rami's lead, focusing on more on Freddie, the man and less on Queen, the band. Having said all this, I thoroughly enjoyed the piece as a whole ! I didn't know too much about Freddie going in and so enjoyed learning more, enjoyed the songs, and absolutely loved Malik as Freddie. Unfortunately, he was given a script that wasn't always worthy of his performance and I predict, this will work against him in upcoming award shows.


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