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I'm not paid to write about film - I do it because I love it. Favourite filmmakers include Bong Joon-ho, Danny Boyle, the Coen Brothers, Nicolas Winding Refn, Clio Barnard Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Taika Waititi and Edgar Wright. All reviews and articles are original works owned by me. They represent one man's opinion, and I'm more than happy to engage in civilised debate if you disagree.
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Fresh Thoughts on Film
Archived Thoughts on Film
Indie horror-mystery BUTT BOY has the schlockiest of schlocky conceits, but approaches it completely straight. Amazingly, it works. It’s a classic tale of a deadbeat alcoholic cop on the hunt for a serial killer, only this serial killer seems to have the power to absorb his victims via his arse (yes I’m saying arse rather than butt – I’m British). The performances are serious, the atmosphere and aesthetic belong to classic genre fare, you just get to see a guy using his deadly arse as a shotgun at one point and his victims trapped inside his dimension-defying bowels stage an escape. The performances of the cast, particularly Tyler Cornack and Tyler Rice and the rather stylish direction (also from Cornack) really stand out and makes this film deliver beyond the innate novelty value. SSP
THE PLATFORM may feel relevant but it’s extremely obvious in its use of metaphor. One character (Zorion Eguileor) has a catchphrase, responding to every passing comment of his cell mate (Iván Massagué) with a derisive “Obviously”. “Obviously” could be this film’s motto. In a “Vertical Self-Management Centre”, people – some prisoners, some volunteers – are randomly assigned a floor through which a platform laden with food and drink descends. Each floor consumes the leftovers of the one above until the lower levels are forced into desperate measures to survive. Aside from the odd witty line (commenting on one inmate’s chosen furry companion, “In here he’s more sausage than dog”) and some gruesome and gross out visuals, this is only entertaining in passing and despite director Galder a-Urrutia’s natural eye you can’t see this lasting as a social-satire-horror even in cult circles. The Platform was never going to be an alternative to PARASITE. It’s not even CUBE. SSP
Going forward, Star Wars movies should be more like Star Wars TV. Whereas the movies have largely become overly self-conscious and uninspired, recently THE MANDALORIAN and especially THE CLONE WARS have shown us how character-driven storytelling in a galaxy far, far away is done, and more miraculously that knowing the end point of a story is no shackle to creativity. As The Clone Wars came back for one final season on Disney+, by the Maker did they give it a fitting sendoff.
As the costly Clone Wars enter their final phase, the Galactic Republic’s elite clone troopers and their Jedi commanders still have more to sacrifice. As outcast Jedi Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) tries to move on with her life, she is called back into service one final time to help overthrow Maul (Sam Witwer) ruling from the shadows on the planet Mandalore, just as her former master Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) leaves on a mission that will plunge the galaxy into darkness…
The long-teased and finally realised Seige of Mandalor was worth the wait. Previous adventures set on the home of the Coolest Armour in the Galaxy were series highlights and getting to go back for a final decisive battle is a treat to experience. While a key battle in the Clone Wars, between the Republic and Separatists for control of a key strategic location might have been expected, what we actually get is a wasteful and rather pointless civil war engineered by Maul to settle a grudge with Obi-Wan Kenobi and his treacherous master Darth Sidious. It’s personal to Maul, and he doesn’t care what his revenge will cost the innocent.
We kick off the final season with “The Bad Batch” story arc. An elite unit of clones with “useful mutations” (the agile one, the strong one, the smart one and the accurate one) are sent on a dangerous mission with Anakin and Rex. The characterisation isn’t all that deep, but the animators do get to show off by coming up with some creatively action-packed skirmishes and the 80s action movie humor keeps things entertaining.
The second group of episodes is probably the weakest of the series, with Ahsoka getting caught up with scoundrel sisters and tangling with galactic gangsters. It’s good they gave Ahsoka a storyline independent of her life as a Jedi, but you could certainly wish for a more original and progressive one, one where the girls don’t get captured again and again.
The latter episodes taking place concurrently with Episode III is a powerful device, cleverly deployed. We knew what tragedy is about to occur, but that doesn’t make it any less upsetting to see what it does to characters we’ve spent years with. Before Ahsoka departs for Mandalore, her old clone squad surprise her by repainting their armour as a tribute to her. Ahsoka gets to say goodbye to Anakin while he is still his best self, and he seems to dimly remember this moment at the show’s close from behind an iconic mask. The final four episodes feel like the show is getting a proper sendoff, larger in scale, more polished and detailed in animation and far more painful in emotion than ever before.
As good as Ashley Eckstein has been as Ahsoka throughout Clone Wars, the vocal MVP award has to go to Dee Bradley Baker. Baker took an army of identical clones and created dozens of individuals with their own nuances, characters and story arcs all with slight changes to his vocal delivery. We came to know and love Rex, Cody, Fives, Echo and half a dozen others over the show’s history.
The Clone Wars has had a great life and has only become more satisfying and beloved to fans over time. This season finale was well worth the wait and finally closing the book on this chapter of the Star Wars Saga is bittersweet to say the least. A good soldier follows orders and a good show grows but never forgets what made it so compelling in the first place. SSP
BLOODSHOT looks like it’s going to be about something for a ten minute stretch in the middle when amnesiac supersoldier Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) meets fellow members of his new black ops squad – all servicemen injured in action and enhanced through advanced cybernetic prostheses. But then someone does a dick joke. You’ll struggle to recall much at all of Bloodshot clearly, or remember anyone’s name, only the actors they’ve got to play them and how they’re all much better playing the same roles elsewhere. How many more times are we going to have to suffer a character explain to the audience (because we’re thick) what an EMP is? How many more grey fight scenes where at least one participant is a special effect will be served up? How many more times are we going to be asked to forget that Guy Pearce always turns out to be the villain and act surprised? SSP