Friday, 16 January 2015

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; King of Pigs; Boyhood; Seraphim Falls

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Sequel to the re-boot, we return to San Francisco years after an ape-borne plague has wiped out much of human life, and the apes who fled the city have forged themselves a neat little civilization in the forest.

A fairly heavy-handed anti-war allegory with brilliant CGI, Dawn relies on the plot twist of there always being one trigger happy idiot who ruins things, a premise that would be a lot harder to believe anywhere outside the USA.
Still, an accidental meeting in the forest as survivors look for an abandoned hydro-power plant leads to an ape being shot, and humans and apes eventually facing off as the wise Caesar from the first film is usurped by the twisted Koba (who has been twisted and scarred from his treatment by humans, the films is at pains to point out).
The apes steal from the human’s weapon cache and take over what remains of the city, enslaving captured humans until Caesar returns and reasserts his place as leader amidst a big clash atop a crumbling tower, as you do.
Not as groundbreaking as Rise, but a decent film in and of itself with fairly good turns by Jason Clarke, Keri Russell and Gary Oldman

King of Pigs

The tale of friends at a Korean school where the kids of the rich rule the classrooms with violence and humiliation, but as two friends are bullied, an outsider fights back and forms an uneasy alliance with them.

The film is told from the perspective of the two friends, now adults, meeting by chance and reminiscing about the old days, framed in disappointment and violence.
Fairly brutal and cynical, King of Pigs delineates the divisions within Korean society that make themselves felt at school and carry on through to adult life, making things hard for those at the bottom and suggesting that violence seems the only recourse to fight the system, but that you might not like yourself if you choose this root.


Richard Linklater is always interesting, whether the stream of consciousness of debut Slacker or mainstream feel good comedies like School of Rock, Linklater always delivers films with heart. The ‘Before’ films, following the relationship between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as they meet up after periods of years apart, are also filmed years apart and it’s fairly unique to find such a collaboration where relatively successful actors and crew make the time to come back together and pick up a story.

Boyhood feels like the ultimate representation of that – filmes over years with the same actors, it’s the ultimate coming of age movie as we see a boy grow from 5 to 18, seeing snippets of his life throughout the film.
Ellar Coltrane is Mason, the boy in question, and gives a fantastic performance with the help of on-screen parents Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke and sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). Mason’s parents are estranged early on so his dad is in and out of his life, and Boyhood doesn’t shy from showing the unhappier moments with Mom ultimately feeling like a failure in her own life and Dad slightly constricted with his new, young family and new responsibilities.
In both ambition and execution, Boyhood is a brilliant expression of what makes film special, achieving something that just couldn’t be replicated as a novel, TV show or play; a real work of art.

Seraphim Falls

Old-school ‘man’s man’ Western with Liam Neeson tracking down Pierce Brosnan. Both are civil war veterans with a dodgy past.
Liam has a posse but Pierce is a Western version of Liam’s character from Taken, basically taking out the posse members one by one until the final showdown between the two main men.

Beautiful landscapes help to backdrop a fairly gritty Western with an element of world weariness to it, but that grit becomes a little compromised towards the end when Louise C. Fear turns up with snake oil and both men basically have visions in the desert…

Still, with strong performances and a decent pace, Seraphim Falls is one of the better Westerns of this millennium.