Horror, Reviews

The Purge: Election Year

Election Year

Copyright © 2016 by Universal Pictures

Story
Since forgiving the man who killed his son, former police officer Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) has been hired as Senator Charlie Roan’s (Elizabeth Mitchell) chief of security. She is campaigning for the upcoming presidential election and is strongly against the Purge, intending to end it if she wins. Her opponent, Minister Edwidge Owens (Kyle Secor) who is a member of the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) is threatened by her growing popularity and the party aims to assassinate the senator when Purge Night commences.

Review
Call it cajoling or propagating. It is no coincidence the third chapter of ‘The Purge’ series is released as the race for presidency in the United States is beginning to heat up. The opposing sides mirror the varying ideals that the politicians in the movie stand for – Roan’s main priority is to purge the Purge for good and the NFFA is hell bent on sustaining it.

Sounds relatively simple if compared with new revelations and shocking developments that have defiled the credibility of both Republican and Democrat candidates vying for the top post. We will probably see a ‘truthful’ interpretation of that story in a few years’ time when the public needs a recap on the theatrics that ensue. For now, this will do.

In a not so subtle hint (the title is a dead giveaway), it is a loud and unapologetically honest picture illustrated about hidden agendas, empty promises and politics rearing its ugly head. You know the drill. It is not the most original of ideas but expanding the franchise to a terrain when it is more apt than ever, the result feels genuinely sincere than pretentiously calculated.

‘Anarchy’ took the Purge to the streets and centered on a grieving father gunning for revenge that intensified midway which has now become the focus in ‘Election Year’. Grillo (sole returning member) is shipshape as the ingenious bodyguard and buttressing amiably from the likes of Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, Betty Gabriel and a frantic Secor. The conclusion (or not) may have evolved from how it started but it aims for a strong finish and I vote ‘yes’.

Rating
Entirety: A-
Acting: A
Plot: A-

Rated R for disturbing bloody violence and strong language

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Comedy, Reviews

Love & Friendship

Love & Friendship

Copyright © 2016 by Roadside Attractions

Story
In the wake of her husband’s death, Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) and her daughter, Frederica (Morfydd Clark) become guests at Charles Vernon’s (Justin Edwards) country home. Known to be flirtatious around the many men she has met, Lady Susan schemes her way to secure a new and wealthy husband for herself and Frederica with the help of her closest friend, Mrs Alicia Johnson (Chloë Sevigny). The potential suitors ensnared are a charming married man (Lochlann O’Mearáin), a handsome relative (Xavier Samuel) and an affluent dullard (Tom Bennett).

Review
Giving a Jane Austen novel the treatment it rightfully deserves presents challenges of pleasing her most ardent followers while also appealing to a generation unfamiliar with her literary classics. The 1995 television miniseries of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle is a competent and faithful adaptation of Austen’s work but it is still plagued with languid pacing.

Then, Ang Lee and Joe Wright happened. Lee turned ‘Sense and Sensibility’ into a $100 million smash and Wright’s movie version of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ nine years later equaled that accomplishment. Both are lauded for hewing as closely to the source material but it is Lee and Wright’s contemporary freshness imbued, winning over many new and unlikely admirers.

The latest from Whit Stillman, ‘Love & Friendship’ (in and of itself shares the same title as one of her juvenile stories) is an expansion of one of Austen’s lesser known fictions ‘Lady Susan’. While it will never scale the heights of Lee’s elegant and Wright’s youthful treatments, Stillman’s long absences between films have not diminished his exuberance as a film maker and it rubs off on Beckinsale performing the best she has ever been in a long time since her last resplendent role from 2008.

After underwhelming in the ‘Underworld’ franchise, ‘Van Helsing’, ‘Click’, ‘Whiteout’ and the ‘Total Recall’ remake, Beckinsale is in top form here and she charges along furiously obliterating the rest of the cast’s relevance (with an exception to Bennett’s hilariously vacuous Sir James Martin). As with the unfairly dismissed ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ earlier this year, see it with a good friend and you will find there is much to love in Stillman’s comeback triumph.

Rating
Entirety: A-
Acting: A
Plot: A

Rated PG for some thematic elements

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Comedy, Reviews

The Lobster

The Lobster

Copyright © 2015 by Picturehouse Entertainment

Story
After his wife leaves him, David (Colin Farrell) checks himself to a hotel hoping that he will find a new mate within 45 days from the day of registration. Should he fail, he will be turned into an animal of his choice. He chooses to be a lobster but as things do not work out for him in the hotel, he escapes into the forest and learns that other singles have been surviving there. David, who is short-sighted meets and falls in love with another short-sighted woman (Rachel Weisz). Because it is not permitted for anyone living in the woods to have an intimate relationship, the city is the only option for them to pursue their love.

Review
Absurdist fiction combines satire and oddness swathed in dark humour with the abnegation of reason that discusses the philosophical state of being ‘nothing’. A baffling definition to a peculiar movie. As with works from Ingmar Bergman, Luis Buñuel or the Coen brothers, Yorgos Lanthimos’ style of storytelling never conforms but it still is just as entertaining.

To fans of Lanthimos, a singular voice of previously unorthodox plotted hits, or adventurous film seekers wanting a touch for insightful and intelligent writing, look no further. Like ‘Dogtooth’ and ‘Alps’, ‘The Lobster’ maximises its premise to shed some light on societal pressures of finding the perfect one. Not dissimilar to a pricey ‘Lobster Frittata’, the rewards are immense once you immerse fully into its rich and layered undertones.

Lanthimos is certainly trying a broader appeal for his audience to partake in a more pleasurable viewing experience through Farrell and Weisz’s star wattage. After all, it is a disconcerting version of a feel good romance and what unfolds throughout is a fair assessment of whether to be in a relationship albeit compromised or embrace the single life that does not satiate the loneliness seeping in the crevices of a hollowed form.

The answers are left expectedly vague from the choices that David or the characters he encounters make. Anchored by a subdued performance from Farrell with caliber support from Olivia Colman, Angeliki Papoulia, Ben Whishaw and Léa Seydoux save this dystopian tale from plodding sometimes. If a crustacean trumps over a blue tang and domesticated pets, then get ready for a twisted treat.

Rating
Entirety: A-
Acting: A
Plot: A

Rated R for sexual content including dialogue, and some violence

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