So, Free Fire…
I like Ben Wheatley in the same way that I like Neil Marshall, I like that he’s there doing his thing. I’m a big fan of his High Rise (it’s not Ballard’s, which I also love) and Kill List. His other films not so much but I’m glad someone is making them. I’m also excited by the idea of Freak Shift and an oft mentioned remake of Wages of Fear. But I’m here because of Free Fire, his arms deal gone bad gunfight movie. It’s been sold by various reviews as ‘stylish’ and so on but it’s not really. It’s a film about a bunch of unlikable people being unlikable that looks a bit too clean to be as disreputable as it might think it is.
And yet I still quite liked it. It moved along, I knew where everyone was in relation to each other and I wanted to know who would be left standing. Plus the actors are all quite good at being Frank Miller characters.
Had I first seen this film on ‘pan and scan’ VHS when I was too young to watch it then it may have been something really special. As it stands it’s a good watch but a better poster.
So, Doctor Who is back and we’re already three episodes in. I’ve always been a fan of the Doctor and the past few years have been a bit uneven to say the least. Christopher Eccleston was something of a high point, David Tennant had some great episodes but was over-whelmed by the show’s new found insistence on recurring characters and having everything linked up wazoo, plus his whole zany shtick got very tired very quickly. Matt Smith was fantastic, classic even, but tied to mostly terrible episodes. In all, although I’ve kept watching because there were moments and people that made the work worthwhile, the whole thing was convoluted where it should have been complex and ‘wacky’ when fun is much more fun…
…but now we have Peter Capaldi, and things are looking really good. The opener was a bit stretched (too much getting to know you stuff but it’s all about ‘jumping on’ so I get the point and the Paternoster Gang are eye-rollingly bad), the second, Dalek meets Fantastic Voyage (1966), was excellent, so please bring back Ben Wheatley for some more directing, and Robot of Sherwood was just as good despite being wildly different and clearly labelled ‘disposable’.
This is how I like my Doctor Who. Different each week with a Doctor who is just enough of a dick to give the character some dimension. Think I might start reviewing the episodes properly if they carry on in this interesting vein.
Ben Wheatley is like a secret treasure. He’s not a household name (yet) but he’s been quietly building a collection of macabre and uniquely British movies. Horror can be found in all these films, the bloody family implosion of Down Terrace, the mushroom induced mania of A Field in England, but perhaps the most overt is Kill List, an unsettling tale of hitmen and, well I won’t spoil it. Kill List works because it spirals into a dreamlike state without ever becoming overly stylized. It’s an oppressive, suffocating film with some genuinely tough violence but, like Martyrs, rewards perseverance. Kill List is possibly the best British film of the past decade and this is the guy who’ll be kicking off Peter Capaldi’s turn as Dr Who… ‘excited’ doesn’t really cover it.