OKJA (2017)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 58 minutes

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Directed by: Bong Joon-Ho

Written by: Bong Joon-Ho & Jon Ronson

Starring: Ahn Seo-Hyun, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal, Byun Hee-Bong, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins & Giancarlo Esposito

South Korean director/screenwriter Bong Joon-Ho has carved out quite a nice filmography for himself. He’s made acclaimed thrillers (MEMORIES OF MURDER, MOTHER), one of the best monster movies of the new millennium (THE HOST), and recently broke into English language films with the slightly-overrated-but-still-good SNOWPIERCER. OKJA sees Bong Joon-Ho constructing a creature-feature crossed with a wild adventure and a deep bond between a girl and her animal friend. This eccentric film probably won’t please everyone because it’s pretty damn weird to begin with, but it’s a crazy ride from beginning to end that had me grinning from ear to ear.

In an effort to roll out a new kind of GMO meat, CEO Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) has created a breed of genetically engineered super-pigs and zoologist/reality star Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal) has spread those super-pigs throughout different countries to see which farmer has the most effective methods. Cut to 10 years later in South Korea, young Mija (Ahn Seo-Hyun) has a best friend in giant super-pig Okja. When the Mirando Corporation comes to collect Mija’s companion for tasty meat, the determined farmgirl decides to take matters into her own hands and fights to get Okja back…with the help of a radical PETA-like group called the Animal Liberation Front. Chaotic craziness ensues, alongside lots of laughs and a surprising amount of feels.

OKJA kicks things off in the right direction as the first quarter of the film sets up the comical premise in a convincing way and develops the relationship between Mija and Okja. The friendship between this little girl and her giant pig is surprisingly effective and the viewer can feel the connection between them. This greatly benefits the story when Okja is stolen and we root for Mija to rescue him. I sincerely wanted to see this girl and her giant pig reunited, which resulted in lots of vocal reactions as her journey puts her into perilous situations and pits her against a cruel corporation. Young newcomer Ahn Seo-Hyun puts in the best genre-based leading child performance since Onni Tommila in the twisted Finnish Christmas flick RARE EXPORTS.

The supporting cast has a number of big names and stand-out performances. Tilda Swinton does a fine job as unusual antagonist Lucy, who cares about Mija and Okja’s situation more than I anticipated. She also does well as Lucy’s sinister twin sister during the final third. Giancarlo Esposito (Gus from BREAKING BAD) has a few moments as Lucy’s reserved assistant. Meanwhile, the ALF is populated by the likes of Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, Daniel Henshall, and Devon Bostick. The motley crew of activists supplies lots of comic relief and a surprising amount of heart.

The only bad performance and one of OKJA’s two major flaws arrives in Jake Gyllenhaal’s over-the-top antics as the crazy scientist/reality star. I seriously don’t know what happened here because Gyllenhaal is (in my opinion) one of the best actors working today. This actor takes odd, artsy, and serious roles that usual have him acting his ever-loving heart out. His attempt as a goofy, cartoonish villain is cringe-inducing for all the wrong reasons. He sucked me right out of a major moment that should have been hard to watch. Instead this would-be depressing scene became depressing purely because of Gyllenhaal’s unusually terrible performance.

OKJA’s second problem comes in its not-so-subtle message hitting the viewer over the head like a sledgehammer. That’s not a huge detraction as the film is still massively entertaining and hits its emotional cords just right. However, I feel that PETA, vegans, and vegetarians will likely hold up OKJA as a crowning achievement of cinema. Meanwhile, meat-eaters in the audience may find themselves occasionally rolling their eyes. Still, the film overcomes Gyllenhaal’s crappy acting and the overbearingly preachy message through sheer entertainment, well-executed laughs, stellar effects, and an emotional core. The super-pig Okja looks every bit as good as THE HOST’s freaky-ass monster and that’s a massive compliment.

Viewers who will dig on what’s essentially an entertaining R-rated version of a heartwarming family-friendly adventure will likely find themselves head over heels for OKJA. This movie is weird, hilarious, and moving. I loved every second of it, even when the two notable flaws reared their ugly heads. OKJA is something out of the ordinary and I hope that plenty of viewers love it as much as I did. OKJA comes highly recommended for the delightful little oddity it is.

Grade: A-

HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (2005)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 2 hours 37 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Sequences of Fantasy Violence and Frightening Images

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Directed by: Mike Newell

Written by: Steve Kloves

(based on the novel HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE by J.K. Rowling)

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Brendan Gleeson, Jason Isaacs, Gary Oldman, Miranda Richardson, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall, Stanislav Ianevski, Robert Pattinson, Clemence Poesy & David Tennant

After directing the best HARRY POTTER film, Alfonso Cuaron decided to step down and let someone else take the reins for GOBLET OF FIRE. The fourth HARRY POTTER novel easily stands out as my favorite book in the series and promised to be a spectacular film to the point where pages seem like they were written with a big-screen adaptation in mind. The plot is also just as exciting as PRISONER OF AZKABAN, while offering its own nifty plot twists as well. However, this fourth film is a bit of a mess. GOBLET OF FIRE was directed by Mike Newell (who also brought us PRINCE OF PERSIA and MONA LISA SMILE, which aren’t exactly credits that scream for a high-profile fantasy-adventure). GOBLET OF FIRE is entertaining enough to be a decent watch, but the smell of a missed opportunity remains.

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After a trip to the Quidditch World Cup ends in magical terrorism, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) finds that his fourth year at Hogwarts provides excitement in the form of the famous Triwizard Tournament. This deadly competition will pit three different champions from three different schools against each other for the Triwizard Cup…but this year there are four champions. Powerful magic has been performed and Harry has somehow wound up in the Triwizard Tournament. Facing three dangerous challenges, Harry will find himself tested in ways he never imagined. All the while, dark forces are at work.

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Let me get the main positive quality out of the way. GOBLET OF FIRE is entertaining in a spectacle-driven way. It’s hard to make dragons and deadly challenges into a boring watch. The challenge sequences are well-executed with lots of grand special effects, excitement, and high stakes. Lives are literally on the line, so Harry and the other champions are forced to muster incredible courage…in the face of a huge audience and media coverage. Scenes outside of the challenges range from watchable to great. However, uneven pacing, annoying jokes, and unnecessary plot details frequently stall GOBLET’s momentum.

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GOBLET’s pacing has two speeds: too fast and too slow. Within the first 15 minutes, it seems like we’ve been given the Quidditch World Cup (which is more of a fun prologue) and three different introductions for the Triwizard Tournament. The film shows us the two other schools arriving through magical means, then has the two other schools walk into the grand hall with style, and then has Dumbledore explain details about the tournament. It makes you wonder if these three introductions could have been combined and allowed for more natural interactions between Harry, Ron and Hermione in the beginning.

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Besides rushing through plot details without giving the viewer enough time to care, GOBLET constantly gets bogged down in unnecessary details. Did we really need to see Moaning Myrtle in a scene that borders on becoming a PG-13 sex comedy? What about the long section dedicated to a drawn-out dance that provides a whole lot of teenage angst? It’s true that both of these things were in the source material, but the script should have found a way to make them interesting as opposed to sucking the excitement out of the proceedings. Groundskeeper Filch also strangely becomes an often-seen source of silly comic relief, which is downright awkward in this installment…and much better utilized in ORDER OF THE PHOENIX.

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Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson all put in quality performances, though they don’t come off nearly as strong as they were in PRISONER OF AZKABAN. Alan Rickman’s Snape gets numerous highlights as he reveals a few clues about dark dealings and delivers great humor. Gary Oldman gets a quick blink-and-you-missed-it scene, while Maggie Smith steals a couple of moments during the film’s otherwise annoying dance section. Michael Gambon remains a strong Dumbledore and Robbie Coltrane’s Hagrid only receives a couple of memorable scenes.

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GOBLET delivers more characters into the wide world of HARRY POTTER. These include: three Triwizard champions, a cartoony Death Eater (follower of Voldemort), an eccentric new professor, and the long-awaited dark lord. As Harry’s competitors, Clemence Poesy, Stanislav Ianevski, and Robert Pattinson (three years before he became sparkly vampire Edward Cullen) all have distinct screen presences in their own ways. Brendan Gleeson is the best part of the entire film as crazy new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor Mad-Eye Moody and receives huge laughs. Though he’s regulated to one sequence, Ralph Fiennes more than delivers as Voldemort. Fiennes has played memorable bad guys before, but Voldemort is one of those special villains for the ages. Meanwhile, David Tennant is embarrassingly over-the-top as a briefly glimpsed Death Eater.

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HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE is a mixed bag. On one hand, it has solid spectacle, a handful of great scenes and two fantastic performances. On the other hand, the film frequently falls victim to uneven pacing, unnecessary extra details, forced teenage angst and one downright terrible performance. What’s even more disappointing is that GOBLET OF FIRE is one of the best books in the series and was perfect for a big-screen adaptation loaded with special effects. The pros keep the film from becoming all-out mediocre or bad, while the cons keep it from being great. When held up to the other seven HARRY POTTER films, GOBLET OF FIRE sticks out as the weakest in the series.

Grade: B-

HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS (2002)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 2 hours 41 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG for Scary Moments, some Creature Violence and mild Language

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Directed by: Chris Columbus

Written by: Steve Kloves

(based on the novel HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS by J.K. Rowling)

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Kenneth Branagh, John Cleese, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Richard Griffiths, Richard Harris, Jason Isaacs, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith & Tom Felton

Warner Brothers was confident that HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE would be a hit. How confident were they? Well, they believed in the film enough to begin production on a sequel three days after the first movie hit theaters. This sequel brought back director Chris Columbus, who opted for different filmmaking techniques this time around that greatly benefitted the film, and is a faithful-to-a-fault adaptation of the second novel in the HARRY POTTER book series. CHAMBER OF SECRETS is one of those rare sequels that not only lives up to its predecessor, but easily surpasses it.

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Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is spending a rather depressing summer at his abusive uncle’s home, but things liven up in a bad way when masochistic house elf Dobby gives Harry a messy warning not to return to school. The second year at Hogwarts is off to a rocky start as it seems someone has it out for Harry (sabotaging the Hogwarts Express gateway, tampering with a Quidditch equipment), but those are the least of his problems. Something ancient and deadly has been unleashed in Hogwarts. It’s literally petrifying victims who see it and may kill someone very soon. Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) must get to the bottom of another mystery before Hogwarts is forced to close its doors for good.

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Though it still has a child-friendly attitude and is significantly more light-hearted than later entries in the series, CHAMBER OF SECRETS is darker than SORCERER’S STONE. There’s still a fantasy-mystery at the center of this film, but the stakes are higher in that people are actually being petrified and there’s a strange beast stalking the students. There a few scenes that are bound to give little kids nightmares yet again (especially those who are afraid of spiders or snakes).

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With only a year’s worth of extra experience, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson all improved greatly in natural line delivery and believable emotions. Seeing the reunion of Harry (a hero worth rooting for), Ron (great comic relief and a solid sidekick) and Hermione (bringing smarts and exposition) is akin to watching real-life friends meet up. Tom Felton also gets a lot more to do this time around as cocky rival Draco Malfoy. The returning adult cast receives noticeably less screen time, though Alan Rickman is still phenomenal as Snape, Richard Harris is perfect as Dumbledore, and Robbie Coltrane steals his scenes as the lovable Hagrid.

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New characters and fresh faces include: aforementioned CGI monstrosity Dobby, cocky incompetent professor Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), weeping ghost Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson), and menacing Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs). Much more time is also spent with the charming Weasley family. The best new addition is easily Kenneth Branagh’s headstrong Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, who provides a lot of comic relief and frustrating plot developments in equal measure. Moaning Myrtle gets a couple of grim laughs, while Jason Isaacs is great as Draco’s threatening father.

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The worst character is easily Dobby. I know he might be a fan favorite in certain circles and he certainly plays a significant role in this film’s plot (and in later films), but I see Dobby as HARRY POTTER’s Jar-Jar Binks. He’s annoying, his humor mostly falls flat and I found myself taken out of the film every time he popped up. His final scene also contains a big plot hole pertaining to a certain curse that another character is trying to cast. It opens up a big gap in the series’ logic that makes no sense when you eventually find out about that specific spell in the fourth film.

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CHAMBER’s pacing moves quickly and the script pretty much captures every major scene from the novel. It’s faithful to a fault in that exposition is somewhat too fast and convenient, but that’s the result of filmmakers trying to cram 341 heavily detailed pages into less than three hours. I feel they succeeded, but some of the plot details are a bit heavy-handed. One element that is welcomed is the prejudice between “pure blood” wizards and “mud-bloods” (Muggle-born wizards and witches). This is a remarkably mature element in a PG-rated fantasy.

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HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS is bigger, funnier, darker, faster, and all around better than the first film. It’s slightly grim shift in tone signaled the maturity that later films in the series would follow. Though it’s not without a couple of complaints (which could be considered to be minor gripes), CHAMBER OF SECRETS is an exciting fantasy-adventure that outdoes its predecessor in every conceivable way.

Grade: A-

TALE OF TALES (2016)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 2 hours 13 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Sexuality, Nudity, some Violence and Bloody Images

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Directed by: Matteo Garrone

Written by: Edoardo Albinati, Ugo Chiti, Matteo Garrone & Massimo Gaudioso

(based on the PENTAMERONE by Giambattista Basile)

Starring: Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel, John C. Reilly, Toby Jones, Shirley Henderson, Hayley Carmichael, Bebe Cave & Christian Lees

Three Italian fairy tales serve as source material for director/writer Matteo Garrone’s beautifully grim English-language debut TALE OF TALES. Despite its whimsical sense of imagination, this fantasy is strictly for adults only as lots of gruesome violence and seedy sex are prevalent in the seemingly simple storylines. This is an anthology, so I will briefly review each tale on its own merits before summing up my thoughts on the film as a whole. What remains consistent through all three tales are breathtaking production values and stunning visuals. Lots of real Italian castles and unique locations were used throughout the filming process. The atmosphere of TALES is a brilliant mix of whimsical humor and dark violence throughout. Without further ado, I’ll make my way onto the tales themselves…

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THE QUEEN: In the kingdom of Darkwood, a selfish Queen (played by a remarkably cold Selma Hayek) only wishes for a child and shows absolutely no affection towards her husband (John C. Reilly in an unusually straight-faced role). When a mysterious necromancer arrives at the castle, the royal couple are given a magical alternative method of conceiving. As with most morality tales, things don’t quite go according to plan. This story takes a few enjoyably dark twists and turns as it goes along. It seemed like multiple fairy tales were combined into a single tale and somehow didn’t overwhelm the narrative. The conclusion leaves a bit to be desired though, because it comes and goes so quickly that the viewer is left scratching their head. The lack of a solid ending slightly diminished what might have otherwise been the best story in this anthology. B

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THE FLEA: In the kingdom of Highmountain, a quirky King (Toby Jones) becomes fascinated by a flea that grows to enormous size. Meanwhile, princess Violet (Bebe Cave) longs to get married and see the world outside her father’s walls. Little does she know that her father’s obsession with the gigantic parasite will offer her a way out of the castle, but not in a “happily ever after” way. This fairy tale is my favorite of the three. It perfectly balances the mixture of fantasy and horror that the movie seemed to be aiming for. This segment constantly shifts as the narrative becomes darker, but also manages to maintain a PRINCESS BRIDE sense of whimsy. Though Toby Jones is great as the borderline insane King, the best performance comes from fresh-faced Bebe Cave as Violet. She’s a cross between Disney princess and slasher final girl, which is a winning combination in my book. If the other two stories had measured up to this tale’s quality, then TALE OF TALES would be a potential masterpiece. A

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THE TWO OLD WOMEN: In the kingdom of Stronghold, the lustful King (played by a wonderfully smarmy Vincent Cassel) tries to quench his sexual appetite through countless orgies and one night stands. He may have finally found a future Queen when he hears lovely singing from a nearby cottage. The beautiful voice actually belongs to one of two elderly sisters. This would-be romance (in which the King attempts to woo his love through a wooden door) results in trickery and abuse between the sisters…and there’s also a bit of magic involved. I love the ideas behind this story, but feel that a couple of important scenes were missing. This is especially true of the final moments. While the ending itself is a perfect way to cap off this dark fairy tale, there were a couple of incomplete scenes before it arrived. The occasionally distracting jumps in narrative keep this story from being as stellar as THE FLEA. As a result, this is the second-best of the three tales. B+

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As you might have guessed from the plot descriptions, you’ll want to keep the kiddies away from these cinematic fairy tales. If you’re hungering for a fantasy that contains dark themes, morality tales, creatively horrific visuals, and a sense of wonder, TALE OF TALES will more than likely satisfy your craving. The special effects, visuals, and acting are great and I never quite knew where these twisted fairy tales were heading, in spite of their familiar set-ups. Though a couple of narrative stumbles that keep it from perfection, TALE OF TALES is a wonderfully weird creation that should satisfy fantasy and horror fans in equal measure!

Grade: B+

TRAINSPOTTING (1996)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 34 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Graphic Heroin Use and Resulting Depravity, Strong Language, Sex, Nudity, and some Violence

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Directed by: Danny Boyle

Written by: John Hodge

(based on the novel TRAINSPOTTING by Irvine Welsh)

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kevin McKidd, Kelly Macdonald & Peter Mullan

In 1996, Danny Boyle blew the sensibilities of European and American audiences with this little film. In many ways, TRAINSPOTTING seems like the 90’s equivalent of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and that’s some high praise. Based on Irvine Welsh’s acclaimed novel, TRAINSPOTTING centers on a group of junkies through the poverty-stricken areas of Scotland. Though it could be an unbearably bleak experience, there’s a dark sense of humor thrown into this film that keeps things from getting too depressing. TRAINSPOTTING pretty much lives up to all the acclaim I’ve been hearing about for years.

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Renton is a heroin addict struggling to get clean with his junkie buddies. This proves to be a more difficult task than he originally imagined as hardships, failed attempts at romance, and sheer temptation keeps dragging him through the ins-and-outs of addiction. He’s not alone as his motley crew of mates (which includes dim-witted Spud, crooked Sick Boy, clean-cut Tommy, and psychopathic Begbie) all navigate through various ups-and-downs that life generally throws at everyone (love, death, financial hardships). The key difference is that this group’s ups-and-downs also involve criminal activity, constant use of heroin and a whole lot of tragic circumstances.

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The plot of TRAINSPOTTING isn’t simply about the viewer following around a group of addicts, because the film takes plenty of shifts throughout the storyline. These plot points range from downright heart-breaking to darkly hilarious. Sometimes, they’re a blend of both. However, the characters are what really sell this film. Though the movie mainly focuses on Renton (a star-making performance from Ewan McGregor), the entire cast is filled with colorful individuals. Spud (Ewen Brenner) is an idiot who finds himself in horrible situations (one scene involving dirty bed sheets is hilarious and stomach-churning), but there’s a genuine sympathetic side to him. Jonny Lee Miller is slightly underused as Sick Boy, but makes the most of the screen time he’s given. Then there’s Robert Carlyle as Begbie. This psychotic character is much like the Irish version of Joe Pesci’s gangster in GOODFELLAS. He’s funny during one scene and terrifying in the next.

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Danny Boyle uses a lot of various editing tricks (crisply connecting different scenes with different characters), colorful visuals, an awesome soundtrack (I plan on playing these songs on my iPod for the foreseeable future), and a gritty atmosphere. There’s this almost indescribable dirty quality to the film that lends so much to the nature of the story being told. This is especially present during key moments, including a toilet scene near the beginning. The mix of humor and serious drama works out well in keeping the film from getting too damned bleak and unpleasant, but not so much to negate the devastating blow of heartbreaking moments. Danny Boyle and the cast tackle all the controversial subject matter with unapologetic glee.

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If there is any complaint to be had with TRAINSPOTTING, it would be that the pacing varies from place to place. The film begins in a rapid fire way that had me wondering if these 94 minutes were just going to fly by and leave me wanting a little more. However, the film slows down significantly as the plot proceeds. One might argue that it almost gets down to a crawl in a stretch involving Renton and Begbie stuck in the same apartment. This being said, the movie never lost my attention or did anything that could be considered a fault in my eyes. The ending is so satisfying that it left me completely happy. This is a pretty amazing topsy-turvy flick about drug addiction, criminal activity, and friendship.

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It’s no wonder that TRAINSPOTTING became such a hit upon its release! You cannot necessarily narrow this film into one clear category. Shocking, depraved, compelling, disturbing, darkly hilarious, and downright awesome! There’s not much else that I can say about TRAINSPOTTING that hasn’t already been said. If you haven’t seen this flick yet, go buy it now (it’s one you’ll want to own in your collection, that is if you don’t already have it)!

Grade: A

FILTH (2014)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 37 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Strong Sexual Content, Graphic Nudity, Drug Use, Language and some Violence

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Directed by: Jon S. Baird

Written by: Jon s. Baird

(based on the novel FILTH by Irvine Welsh)

Starring: James McAvoy, Imogen Poots, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, Joanne Froggatt, Shirley Henderson, Jim Broadbent, Emun Elliott, Iain De Caestecker & Pollyanma McIntosh

Every once in a great while, I come across a film that I honestly don’t know what to make of upon viewing it. I simply don’t know what hit me. FILTH is a dramatically heavy, comic, and disturbing ride in the life of a mentally unwell Scottish detective. Based on a novel by the controversial author of TRAINSPOTTING (which was also adapted into the acclaimed movie by Danny Boyle), this story doesn’t wholly translate into one specific genre category. Sometimes, it’s a twisted dark comedy that fully embraces the lunacy of its protagonist. Other times, it’s a hard film to watch based purely on the depressing material being presented. FILTH is one that might not garner acclaim from the masses. It’s simply not made for everybody, but there is a definite possibility of it turning into a future cult classic. If one were to mix parts of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE with a cop drama and add a hint of TRAINSPOTTING, then you’d have the sort of idea to what FILTH is!

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Bruce Robertson is as manipulative as they come. Sporting the prestigious title of Detective Sergeant in the Scotland police department, Bruce has his eye on the prize. This being a hefty promotion that may (in his mind) drive his estranged wife back to his arms. Of course, to ensure he gets this promotion, Bruce has to get his hands a little dirty. He’s narrowed down the flaws and strengths of every officer in the running. Through a series of under-handed schemes, he begins to exploit their personal problems and turn them against each other. Bruce is also assigned to a high priority murder investigation and on a lesser note, a mission to identify a prank caller harassing his best friend’s wife. Unbeknownst to anybody, Bruce is also steadily flying off the deep end of sanity and becoming more unstable as he goes along.

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FILTH is not a date movie. In fact, this is probably the last film you want to watch with your significant other. The main character is unlikable from the onset, but the narrative does a surprisingly well-done job of getting the viewer to sympathize with just how damaged he is from the inside. The other characters, with one exception, are never focused on individually. We see everything through Bruce’s lens, but the other actors and actresses playing the side characters give excellent work in coming off as real people who happen to be in this mentally unhinged man’s life. One heartfelt moment where a co-worker of Bruce’s is showing that she cares about him and McAvoy breaks down emotionally in front of her was touching beyond belief.

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Besides McAvoy, Eddie Marsan steals every scene he’s as Clifford Blades, Bruce’s timid best friend. I felt for this guy during the entire time. I’ve known people like Clifford and Marsan gives this pushover a real life on the screen. Jim Broadbent also makes a welcome appearance as Bruce’s doctor, who shows up once in person and multiple times in the increasingly more deranged hallucinations that Bruce suffers. That’s another point that should be brought up. FILTH goes off the deep-end in surreal images throughout. We get supposed narrations from Bruce’s wife, a few day-dreams inside his mind, and some creepy (yet humorous) hallucinations that grow in severity. The story is grounded in the real world. Looking out of the eyes of Bruce, we see just everything he’s thinking and it’s rarely a pretty sight.

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Some of the arguable flaws with the film come in the fact that Bruce can be just plain unpleasant to watch. Personally, I developed a love-hate relationship for this character. The idea that you might be able to overlook the filthy exterior of this damaged man and see inside is part of the reason why FILTH will work so well for a certain percentage of the audience. Bruce curses like a sailor, abuses drugs constantly, and is sexually manipulative. It is only in the final moments of the film that we wholly realize just how out of control he is and the impact that his debaucheries have left on the people around him. One reveal near the ending felt a little too familiar in the fact that we’ve seen it in many other movies and books. You’ll know it, when you see it. This plot-point did wind up working in this film’s favor though.

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Whether one will take it as a dark comedy of dire circumstances or a tragedy with a sense of humor, FILTH is unique and a great film. It can be downright ugly to watch at points and the character of Bruce might leave many with a bad taste in their mouths. For those willing to stray out of lovable (or hell, even likable) protagonists and venture into truly dark territory, this will satisfy your cravings for something out of the ordinary. Entertaining, bleak, darkly hilarious, and shocking all the way through, FILTH is almost perfect in nearly every way. If one can forgive some familiar plot points and the sheer dirty nature they might feel whilst watching the movie, this comes highly recommended for those looking for a difficult piece of visual fiction!

Grade: A-

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