This article will have short reviews of the following films in this order: Bronson, Burning, I Kill Giants, Lone Survivor, and Pappilon (1973)
Bronson was a disturbingly funny film. It’s got one of Tom Hardy’s best performances, a killer soundtrack, fantastic cinematography, creative directing, and above all an intriguing protagonist. It’s very good at giving you that disturbing/dirty feeling by showing something dramatic, followed by an audience clapping enthusiastically, which then also criticizes us as an audience. It’s really unsettling, and told in a weird way, which really fitted with how a madman would tell it.
It took me about 45 minutes to really get invested into Burning’s story, but after that, the film didn’t let me go. It may seem like something bad that the film didn’t grab me from the start, though in hindsight I can see the point of everything happening then, which only adds to the film’s brilliance. The acting was top notch, especially from Steven Yuen, who blew me away. Not only him, Ah-In Yoo and Jong-seo Jeon portray their complex characters brilliantly as well. The film’s cinematography is absolutely incredible, frequently depicting intricately designed sets and gorgeous locations. The directing in Burning was stellar as well, as he often was able to create gorgeous scenes that could both be nail-biting or enchanting. He was able to direct one of my favorite scenes in cinema ever, involving Jong-seo Jeon’s silhouette dancing at dusk, while the film’s fantastic score’s playing in the background, all done in one take. It’s a beautiful scene with lots of emotion that’ll stick with me for quite some time, as will most of the film. The scene’s also made more powerful because of the soundtrack, which Chang-dong Lee used sparingly throughout the film so that when it was used, these scenes would have more strength. The scenes without a score featured incredible sound design, and the lack of music in those could often make them very tense. It’s a very poetic and metaphorical film that doesn’t spell things out for you. It’s one of those films that begs for a discussion and that’s open to interpretation. It’s one of those films of which everyone can have their own interpretation. It’s one of the best films I’ve seen all year, so check it out as soon as you can.
Grade: A (could possibly be changed to an A+, after I’ve thought about it some more, but it’ll currently be an A, because I’ve recently noticed that I’ve been giving films A+’s, while they weren’t deserving of them, and that I’d later have to change it to a lower grade)
The writing of I Kill Giants was just okay, though it makes up for that in its presentation. The cinematography, directing and special effects were all done really well, as was the film’s symbolism and the performances, except for the one of the bully. It’s just that the main character was fairly cliché for the majority of the story, and it doesn’t have as much power as films similar to it, think of A Monster Calls or Bridge to Terabithia. The main character is developed throughout the film, but she’s practically the only one that’s given some depth. Other characters were given merely one line of dialogue that’s supposed to tell us who they were and what their backstory was, or they were just there whenever the story needed them to.
Lone Survivor was excellent on a technical level, though the script does drag the film down. The pacing, sound design, and make-up were all really well done. Budget Michael Bay mostly does a great job at directing the film and Marky “I like to beat up Asian people” Mark also gave a decent performance, as did the rest of the cast. However, I didn’t really care about the characters. They weren’t set up all that well, due to which emotional moments often fall flat. I did root for these guys, because, you know, they’re fighting the Taliban, but also because of how good Berg is at antagonizing a group of people, which he also showed in Patriots Day. I also liked how there were some moral dilemmas thrown in and that Berg didn’t antagonize Afghanistan as a whole, but just a select group of people. He showed that there were also Afghanis who’re against the Taliban, which I appreciated. The action scenes were thrilling, some of the dialogue is corny and there were quite a lot of moments where I doubted its accuracy to real life, but all in all, it’s an enjoyable film.
For the most part, Papillon is an excellent film; however, I do have one major issue with it, which is the ending. The buildup is great, the content as well, but the way it was resolved was way too sudden and abrupt. Instead of showing it to us, we’re told how the story wraps up in a couple of sentences, which happened too fast and didn’t feel like it fitted in well compared to the relatively slow pace of the film. Other than that, I did enjoy the film. Steve McQueen really disappeared in his role; he was unrecognizable in some scenes. He really was amazing, but so was Dustin Hoffman. Visually the film’s incredible as well, with lots of cleverly framed shots and interesting camera movements, especially when the director was trying to visualize Steve McQueen’s downward spiral into madness.