Film Review: Results

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Martin Roberts on 26 May 2015

Results is an indie comedy from writer and director Andrew Bujalski (Funny Ha Ha) centring ostensibly on Danny (Kevin Corrigan), who is looking to get fit after a divorce, although its actual protagonists turn out to be Trevor (Guy Pearce), the gym owner whose establishment Danny joins, and his ex-lover Kat (Cobie Smulders), the fitness trainer who begins to work with Danny. Show the rest of this post…

The film feels small, and I do not use the word wholly as a criticism. Its focus is refined, and it deals with the interactions primarily between its main three characters. There’s support from Giovanni Ribisi in a small role, and Anthony Michael Hall in an even smaller one, but really it’s a three-header.

‘Small’ also applies to the film’s ambitions, and again that isn’t necessarily a criticism. Bujalski lets his story runs its course in a relaxed fashion – the degree to which anything really progresses or changes is minimal. This isn’t a problem while the film is on – its three leads, in particular the mercurial and ever-charismatic Guy Pearce, are on good form – but when it finishes, you feel like it ought to have done something a little more memorable with the setup. The film is a good watch, and is well acted, but it won’t stick long in the mind.

The story takes a slightly odd turn towards the end, and to a degree the film squanders the sympathy it builds up for Danny in opening third, but that said Results is not without nice touches, and will raise a sm ile more than a few times. Guy Pearce’s slightly off-kilter performance as philosophy-driven Trevor is worth a look, but the film as a whole can’t make quite the same impression.

3/5

Film Review: Man Up

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Martin Roberts on 26 May 2015

Ben Palmer, best known for directing episodes of Bo’ Selecta and The Inbetweeners (as well as the first Inbetweeners film), makes a move into mainstream romcoms here with Man Up, starring Lake Bell and Simon Pegg. Show the rest of this post…

It’s a relatively successful move, all things considered, although the film is solid rather than spectacular. It benefits from a very charming performance from Lake Bell (whose US roots are entirely hidden beneath a near-flawless English accent) as Nancy, who inadvertently finds herself on a blind date with Jack (Simon Pegg) after accidently taking the place of Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond) thanks to a misunderstanding involving a book.

As we might expect from the genre, the date actually goes rather well, and Nancy and Jack realise that they actually have quite a lot in common. That is, until Jack finds out Nancy isn’t who she says she is – cue a very familiar final act that cuts out much of the film’s bite in favour of sentimentality.

Bell’s performance lends the film a charm that it would otherwise have lacked. Pegg is pretty good opposite her (channelling romcom-era Hugh Grant, only with a bit more edge) but the problems lie in the script’s inconsistencies. There are jokes that work and jokes that fall flat – it’s testament to Bell that she makes most of them work, but there are some scenes where the laughs just don’t come. That said, once the film settles into its stride, Man Up is pleasant enough company; it’s when it tries to broaden its comic sweep that things tend to fall a little flat. There are a few half-hearted attempts at bawdiness that don’t really work, save for Nancy’s quick-fire monologue on her and Jack’s imagined sexual activity for the benefit of his ex, which is funny, and captures the fast-talking, Woody Allen-esque vibe that the script seems to be going for, but rarely reaches. That monologue is a followed by a nicely choreographed scene in which Nancy and Jack argue while on the dancefloor.

This is a British comedy, so naturally there has to be a token weirdo supporting character. Here that role falls to Rory Kinnear as Sean, a creepy ghost from Nancy’s past. Kinnear does his best, but it isn’t a very funny role, save for a couple of good lines. The best support actually comes from Ken Stott and Harriet Walter as Nancy’s parents – Stott, in particular, gets an unexpectedly moving speech at an anniversary party.

It’s all very gener ic and predictable, but not in an entirely bad way. Man Up has its charms and it’ll raise a smile, perhaps even a chuckle or two, if you’re looking for a no-frills romcom.

3/5

Film Review: The ConnectionFan The Fire Recommends

Posted in Film, Recommended, Reviews
By Martin Roberts on 26 May 2015

The Connection (La French) is crime thriller film from director Cédric Jimenez, starring Jean Dujardin as Pierre Michel, a recently promoted police magistrate who takes on the gangsters involved in the ‘French Connection’, the infamous drug smuggling scheme prominent in the 60s and 70s, the US side of which has been dealt with cinematically in William Friedkin’s The French Connection. Show the rest of this post…

Dujardin’s Michel is a driven, ambitious figure, desperate to clean up the city because he’s dealt with the direct effects of drugs on France’s youth. Opposite him is Gilles Lellouche as Gaëtan Zampa, head of a crime syndicate smuggling heroin into and out of the country. The film gives both of these charismatic actors ample screen time to relax into their roles, and in doing so it manages to create a believable and entertaining dichotomy at the heart of the action.

The-Connection-1

Jimenez draws good performances out of his ensemble, blending together the diverse soundtrack and Laurent Tangy’s cinematography to create a convincing period setting. The workings of the plot become a little notty as the story moves forward, and it’s not always entirely clear how Michel comes to his conclusions, but generally speaking the film gets away with it. It also gets away with being slightly overlong, because Dujardin serves up a likable and (mostly) believable protagonist. Thankfully, Jimenez reserves just enough time for Céline Salette and Mélanie Doutey, as the partners of the two leads, to make impressions, lending a convincing if slightly forced family element to proceedings.

There are elements of cliché in some of the story’s turns, and indeed the dialogue, but the film succeeds in forging its own identity in the crowded crime film canon. It’s a little overlong and som e of the storytelling is a tad unclear, but Jimenez keeps the pace up (including some brief, nicely choreographed bursts of violence), and the performances are good across the board.

4/5

Film Review: Tomorrowland – A World Beyond

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Martin Roberts on 22 May 2015

Brad Bird is a director best known for animation, in particular through his association with Pixar (where he directed The Incredibles and Ratatouille), although his most recent release (and first live action picture) Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol signified a move into mainstream Hollywood blockbusters. Show the rest of this post…

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond (that slightly pointless subtitle was added for the UK release) keeps him very much in that wheelhouse, before he heads back to animation for the forthcoming Incredibles sequel.

The project takes its (very loose) inspiration from the Disney theme park ride Tomorrowland – indeed, there is a brief sequence involving the ride itself – and from Walt Disney’s own optimistic way of thinking. Without wanting to give too much away, the film concerns a hidden city of geniuses, Tomorrowland (oddly enough, there are faint echoes of video game franchise Bioshock in the story), which becomes known to young protagonist Casey (Britt Robertson) when she is given a mysterious pin by Athena (Raffey Cassidy). George Clooney plays an embittered man called Frank, who was once a part of the city but has since been exiled. He knows something bad is coming, possibly as a result of something he did in Tomorrowland, and when he, Casey and Athena cross paths, it’s up to them to fix the future.

Bird’s film is a curious mix of the mostly good and the occasionally sloppy. It could’ve done with a tighter edit, for a start – the structure of the first act gives us not one but two backstories, both of which could’ve been cut down, meaning that the thing doesn’t really start moving until we’re half an hour in. These back-stories are introduced via an irritating ‘this is how we tell the story’ framing mechanism which isn’t strong enough to justify its inclusion. There’s quite a lot of exposition throughout, much of which could’ve been streamlined into the narrative more smoothly – there’s one lovely moment when Casey watches old videos of Frank’s past life, which only shows how much more subtle the exposition could’ve been. There are also a couple of slightly strange plot points which don’t seem to entirely add up – although in the wider context of the film, these are only minor niggles.

There is a lot to like, though. Once the two lead actresses (Robertson and Cassidy) settle into their roles, they’re a likable double act alongside Clooney’s charismatic grumbler. Cassidy in particular gets more charming as the film goes on, and the role becomes more interesting than it first appears. There are some touching moments along the way, and to be fair to Bird, he does create a sense of childlike wonder on occasion, which is to be admired. The film also has a refreshing sense of optimism running through it (in fact optimism vs. pessimism is a central theme) and a stark, environmental message that it isn’t afraid to shout from the rooftops. Yes, the dialogue in places is a tad whiffy, and some of the sentimentality is a little forced, but this is a film designed for the whole family to enjoy, and I imagine it will be enjoyed by many, particularly children.

The technical aspects of Tomorrowland are mostly solid, if less spectacular than we might expect from a $190m film. The CGI is robust but hardly mind-blowing, though some of the design work is strong, and there are some nice touches (including a visit to a sci-fi memorabilia shop, complete with multiple nods to Disney’s recently-acquired Star Wars franchise), as well as some intricate tracking shots.

At times the visuals, and indeed the sentiment, echo the films of Steven Spielberg – the film shares that director’s love of exploring remarkable worlds through the eyes of young p rotagonists. It’s a modestly successful, pure-hearted family blockbuster. The story doesn’t really match its ideals in the end, but it’s a fun enough ride while you’re on it.

3/5

Illustrator Sara Andreasson gets up close and personal with the human form in her new work

Posted in Art, Illustration
By Sam Bathe on 21 May 2015

Sara-Andreasson-2

Sara-Andreasson-3

Recently graduating from HDK School of Design and Crafts in Gothenburg, illustrator/designer Sara Andreasson has a playful and sensual side to her work. With comissions for The Debrief, New York Times Magazine and Rolling Stone already under her belt, Sara keeps her style simple, exploring detail with subtle changes of colour, stroke and shape. Show the rest of this post…

tumblr_n6zsquGcgb1s7yeiuo1_1280

tumblr_n2bxj6tbfV1s7yeiuo1_1280

tumblr_n8cq9hyl8I1s7yeiuo1_1280

tumblr_ngflp77C7y1s7yeiuo1_1280

tumblr_ngoizcD9US1s7yeiuo1_1280

tumblr_ngs1b1zqDG1s7yeiuo1_1280

tumblr_nhk8hwOfR81s7yeiuo1_1280

tumblr_njmkt6qV5Q1s7yeiuo1_1280

tumblr_nnzshyVnEj1s7yeiuo1_1280

Check out more of Sara’s work on her site: www.saraandreasson.se

Master & Dynamic introduce two new Marco Brambilla-inspired blue colourways for their signature MH40 over-ear headphones

Posted in Music, Technology
By Sam Bathe on 20 May 2015

master-dynamic-mh40-over-ear-headphones-2

Inspired by the midnight sky and jewel-toned displays of Marco Brambilla’s Apollo 18 Times Square installation, Master & Dynamic have introduced two new colourways for their flagship MH40 over-ear headphones. In navy/black and navy/silver, the MH40s come with rich blue cowhide and lambskin on the headband and CNC-milled forged aluminium for the ear cups. Custom 45mm neodymium is used for the high-performance drivers, while the cables are heavy woven with oxygen-free copper ensuring pure sound and reduced noise. The new MH40 colourways are available for $399 from the Master & Dynamic online store: www.masterdynamic.com

Johnny Depp has got his mojo back in the trailer for Scott Cooper’s Whitey Bulger biopic ‘Black Mass’

Posted in Film, Previews, Trailers
By Sam Bathe on 19 May 2015

Black-Mass-2

Black-Mass-3

After stumble after stumble at the box office, Johnny Depp looks like he’s back on form at last. Channeling the sort of intensity we haven’t seen from him since Donnie Brasco, Depp plays notorious South Boston gangster, Whitey Bulger. Directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart), Black Mass follow’s Bulger’s extraordinary life as he goes from being one of the most violent criminals in Boston history to an FBI informant and his brother William Bulger being appointed to the Massachusetts State Senate. Also starring Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon and Peter Sarsgaard, Black Mass will hit theatres September 18th.

Things get messy in the supermarket in the video for Toro Y Moi’s new single ‘Lilly’

Posted in Music, Music Videos
By Sam Bathe on 18 May 2015

Toro-Y-Moi-Lilly-2

Toro-Y-Moi-Lilly-3

Toro-Y-Moi-Lilly-4

Walking into your average Joe supermarket, Chaz Bundick probably didn’t expect to be faced with other customers face-on, fruit, veg and tomato sauce in hand. Directed by Harrys, the ’80s-inspired video for Toro Y Moi single, Lilly, puts dry-ice in the supermarket isle for a dreamy and intoxicating sequence before it all turns ugly. Closing with slo-mo foodstuffs crashing to the floor (and Chaz’s face), Toro Y Moi’s fourth studio album, What For?, is out now on Carpark Records.

The London List: Artist Grayson Perry’s ‘House for Essex’ experiment is a technicolour ode to fictional saint Julie CopeThe London List

By Sam Bathe on 15 May 2015

Grayson-Perry-Essex-House-7

Grayson-Perry-Essex-House-3

Comissioned by Living Architecture, famous for their boat perched atop London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, House for Essex is a fantasy art experiment by Greyson Perry. Design in collaboration with FAT Architecture, the building is inspired by fairy tales and a fictional ‘saint’ Julie Cope. Show the rest of this post…

Her husband Rob commissioned the house in her memory after she was knocked down and killed by a curry delivery driver in Colchester, with each room telling the story of her life. A riot of colour and religious iconography, House For Essex sleeps four is available for 2-3 night stays from £850-£1800. A ballot for tickets is open now on the Living Architecture website: www.living-architecture.co.uk/the-houses/a-house-for-essex/overview

Grayson-Perry-Essex-House-2

Grayson-Perry-Essex-House-4

Grayson-Perry-Essex-House-5

Grayson-Perry-Essex-House-6

Grayson-Perry-Essex-House-0

Film Review: Mad Max: Fury RoadFan The Fire Recommends

Posted in Film, Recommended, Reviews
By Martin Roberts on 14 May 2015

Thank goodness somebody finally gave George Miller $150m to make a Mad Max film. Fury Road harks back to the director’s 70s/80s trilogy in a number of ways – most closely to 1981’s Road Warrior – but nevertheless feels like the Mad Max film Miller has always wanted to make, at last shorn of budget restraints. Show the rest of this post…

As a result, the 70-year-old director injects as much raucous energy into this film as in any of its predecessors. Miller’s last two features were the CGI cute-fests Happy Feet and Happy Feet Two, and he hasn’t worked on a live-action picture since 1998’s Babe: Pig in the City; Fury Road feels like a glorious release of pent-up, demented energy.

“I doubt we’ll see many more daring films this year”

Miller has reimagined his apocalyptic future wasteland – in which scarce gasoline is the most sought-after commodity – as opposed to completely reinventing it. This time things revolve around a crazed dictator called Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played Toecutter in the original Mad Max) who keeps the ravaged population subdued by controlling the water supply, while his army of car-obsessed fanatics work to do his bidding. We begin when a routine supply run is revealed to be a ruse: lead driver Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is actually smuggling Immortan Joe’s “breeders” (captive women with whom he hopes to procreate) out of his citadel to a promised land across the desert. Max (Tom Hardy, replacing Mel Gibson) ends up involved in this by accident – chained to the front of one of the cars sent to recover the missing women.

Max-Max-3

From there, the film plays out as a mad, spectacular chase, as the rig driven by Furiosa flees from Joe’s vehicular warriors. The film expounds on its plot in much the same way that its predecessors did: through hints, asides and audience guesswork. Miller invites us to luxuriate in the insane concoction he has imagined up: we don’t get the finer details, and we don’t need them. We also don’t have much time for them – once we’re out on the road, the film’s extended vehicular action sequences fly past at a furious pace. But this indulgence is not an exercise in repetition; nor is it lazy plotting. Miller builds his film around these gargantuan chases, but not because of a lack of material. The sheer imagination and lunatic propulsion of these scenes is the point of the film. The fact that he manages to establish likable characters during this time is the icing on the cake.

“The sheer imagination and lunatic propulsion of these scenes is the point of the film”

Chief among these is Charlize Theron’s Furiosa, who is both the heart and the muscles of the film. It’s an action heroine role the likes of which we rarely see: tough, conflicted, emotionally resonant and thoroughly memorable. Given the film’s title and the series’ propensity for macho insanity (though to be fair it has also featured strong female characters), we might not expect feminism, but Furiosa – and indeed the escaping ‘wives’ she’s protecting – add real steel and charisma to proceedings. Throwing the supposed hero, Max, into this mix is a stroke of genius from Miller and his co-writers – playfully and effectively subverting our expectations. Not that Max himself suffers for this, however; Hardy plays him with a fitting mix of mad energy and the same removed charisma that Mel Gibson channelled in the originals, and which inspired comparisons to Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name. He’s not a man of many words, though he does get one of the most poignant lines late on. Throw Nicholas Hoult’s Nux – a crazed member of Joe’s elite guard – into the mix, and you’ve got a memorable triple-header.

Max-Max-2

Miller throws everything at the screen in balletic, joyous conflagrations that, while long and in some ways repetitious, never get boring. As viewers, we’re too busy revelling in the inventiveness of these scenes to be longing for plot exposition or background information. Throughout, Miller plays with the frame rate, speeding up and slowing down shots, fast cutting into and out of little fragments of memory, all of which accentuates the sense of out-of-control madness. If the final act flags a teeny bit, it can be forgiven, because it isn’t drawn out.

It’s a real pleasure to see Miller back in what is resolutely his wheelhouse: smashing up cars filled with freaks in the desert. His eye for a  pleasing shot has never been stronger, and nor has his sense of off-kilter fun. For sheer imagination, sheer will to entertain, I doubt we’ll see many more daring films this year.

5/5

FAN THE FIRE is a digital magazine about lifestyle and creative culture. Launching back in 2005 as a digital publication about Sony’s PSP handheld games console, we’ve grown and evolved now covering the arts and lifestyle, architecture, design and travel.

We’ve been featured on the front page of Reddit and produced off-shoot club night Friday Night Fist Fight, launched a Creative Agency and events column The London List.

FAN THE FIRE is edited by founder, Creative Director and Editor-in-Chief, Sam Bathe. Site by FAN THE FIRE Creative.

You can contact us on: mail@fanthefiremagazine.com

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Dribbble, Instagram and RSS.