Still quite late, but there are six films for this month.
First up, Free Fire is the latest from one of my favourite British directors, Ben Wheatley. An arms deal gone wrong turns into a chaotic (for good and ill) and long-running gun fight. As we’d expect from Wheatley, the casting and dialogue is fun, and the film itself is well-structured and tense. It can be hard to follow some of the action spatially, but not on the same scale as some of the messier big action films. Worth seeing. (See my Free Fire Twitter review)
Joe Swanberg stays very much in his wheel house for Win It All, which is no bad thing. We get a grounded, naturalistic indie film with some light comedy. Jake Johnson is great as the loveably fuck-up of a lead. Good fun. (See my Win It All Twitter review)
The Handmaiden is a gorgeous piece of cinema by Chan-Wook Park (best known for revenge thriller, Oldboy). The plotting and structure here is exceptional, but I think I’d like to see the non-extended edition. This lengthier cut was overlong, and felt like it could’ve been much better with a little trimming. Worth seeing for the visuals alone. (See my The Handmaiden Twitter review)
Another Netflix indie film, Tramps is decent enough but entirely predictable. A drop-off goes wrong, leaving a young man chasing after what he has lost. It all works well enough, and moves forward at a decent pace. There’s nothing really bad to say about it, but nothing amazing either. Fairly pleasant. (See my Tramps Twitter review)
Another look at modern warfare comes in the form of Sand Castle. Nicholas Hoult leads the cast as a soldier trying to get away from the war, but gets drawn into the plight of the innocent villagers he meets. There’s nothing new here plot-wise, but everything is well done. We see the crushing tensions put on Hoult, in the background of a beautifully shot film. Very solid. (See my Sand Castle Twitter review)
Finally, The Belko Experiment isn’t here to do anything original. It’s essentially Battle Royale set in a remote office building. There is no deep message here. All of that said, what it does to well is enjoyable, messy, funny, over-the-top action. Silly and gory. Stupid but entertaining. Enjoyable. (See my The Belko Experiment Twitter review)
The winner for April is Free Fire, because Ben Wheatley quickly crafts a tense situation, with characters we want to see die or survive, and brings just enough levity to make it enjoyable.