Sunday, April 23, 2017

"Free Fire" - "Their Finest" - "The Lost City of Z" - Reviews

Free Fire

“Free Fire” is a British action-comedy film directed by Ben Wheatley, from a screenplay by Wheatley and Amy Jump. It stars Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy and Jack Reynor.

As far as I can tell the film itself takes place sometimes in the 1980’S and is also set entirely in a warehouse, as an arms deal between a group of IRA members (led by Cillian Murphy), some Americans (Brie Larson and Armie Hammer), and a South African (Sharlto Copley) messily unravels very quickly. Once the deal does go bad, the multiple parties involved arm themselves and let loose in hail of bullets and bloody gunfight violence scenes that literally lasts the better part of an hour.

Wheatley wants desperately to make his own British Quentin Tarantino version of “Reservoir Dogs”. Problem is his homage to "QT" , "Free Fire" not only falls flat, it is just a major waste of good screen talent . Even the hour long violent gun inter-play was completely unimaginative, mundane, bland and just plain out right boring at every turn. This isn't even "Red Box" worthy of your time.

1.50 Stars


Their Finest

It’s the year 1940 and both uniquely London and the entire country itself are being bowed down by the advancing world war. The British ministry realizes early that there needs to be a concerted effort in using propaganda films to boosting domestic morale at home. They also realize that their films could use "a woman's touch," so with that in mind the ministry hires Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) as a scriptwriter in charge of writing the female dialogue. Although her artist husband looks down on her job, Catrin's natural flair quickly gets her noticed by a cynical, witty lead scriptwriter named Buckley (Sam Claflin). Catrin and Buckley set out to make an epic feature film based on the Dunkirk rescue starring the gloriously vain, former matinee idol Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy). As bombs are dropping all around them, Catrin, Buckley and their colorful cast and crew work furiously to make a film that will warm the hearts of the nation.

“Their Finest” takes the more sweet nostalgic approach to telling this war time story, showcasing the principle leads of always having an abundance of personal “grace under fire”. And while the film doesn’t have any real dramatic crescendo moment, it does have a very thoughtful sentimental charm to its overall plot.

I have not seen many Allied propaganda machine stories during the Second World War, but “Their Finest” does have a heartwarming story to tell and does so with genuine feminine smarts, elegance, cheeky British humor and finesse in making sure these anonymous contributors to the war cause are treated with  nobility, wholesomeness and respect.

3.00 Stars


The Lost City of Z

Based on author David Grann's nonfiction bestseller, "The Lost City of Z" tells the incredible true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), who journeys into the Amazon at the dawn of the 20th.

Initially Colonel Percy Fawcett was charged with going to the Bolivian Amazon jungle as a part of Geographic sponsored mapping exploration. But on his very first effort he coincidentally discovers an ancient site filled with relics which he believes are first hand evidence of a previously unknown, much more advanced civilization to have inhabited that region predating any other known humans.

Despite being ridiculed by the scientific National Geographic establishment of England, which viewed most indigenous populations as savages and inferior to Western cultures and civilizations, Fawcett was doggedly determined to prove otherwise by persevering nearly most of his adult life the existence of the “City of Zid”.

Supported by his devoted wife, son, and aide-de-camp, Fawcett returned to his beloved jungle on 3 occasions in an attempt to prove his case even at the risk of losing his life.

In “The Lost City of Z” actor Charlie Hunnam (formerly of “Sons of Anarchy”) does an excellent job of projecting a time when a man’s self-worth was viewed not only through the prism of accumulated wealth, but equally so through display of national bravery and the enduring human spirit to succeed, even when such displays in spite of admirable resilience stiill seems reckless and dangerous.

“Z” is a throwback film in style, substance and plot. But even when it goes off the rails with a few meandering needless scenes and a couple long filibuster discussions about the egos of men, it still manages to tell a very compelling story that was both intellectually pleasing and visually lush to look as we watch Fawcett traverse through the tropic jungle. But the real reason to see this film is to revisit why some people achieve greatness and other do not. 

I believe “Z” offers the plausible explanation to this question through the basic revelatory understanding that some people are naturally born complicated in intellect, in emotions and in their approach to life’s journey itself. And it is these same people who eventualy become our historically noted explorers, adventurers, scientists, creators, etc. who endlessly are never satisfied in simply not knowing what is around the corner until they explore and see it first hand for themselves.

3.50 Stars

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