Quickies: Indignation, The BFG, Time Renegades, 64, Tunnel, Snowden, Anthropoid, Deepwater Horizon & Nerve

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Indignation manages to capture a unique America in transition, still finding its identity. The story unfolds through Logan Lerman’s genial Marcus who puts in a quiet but elegant performance. To tell you the truth I wasn’t really immersed in the gentle story until a scene of Marcus in the headmaster’s office. The scene just went on and on and it was just mesmerising. It felt like I was watching a disaster happening in slow-motion. Being a teacher myself I can feel the mental torture Marcus was going through and the pressure the principal is unknowingly administering. It was hypnotising, almost a life or death situation. After that scene I was all in. Love the love story too. (3 / 5)

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Steven Spielberg’s The BFG just couldn’t pull me in and made me see beyond the schmaltz. A good one like Pete’s Dragon would effortlessly made me feel like a kid again but it was really difficult to do so with The BFG. Visually stunning it may be, it just wasn’t magical for me. (2.5 / 5)

Saw the next 7 on flights to and from UK…

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Time Renegades is about a high school teacher in 1983 and a detective in 2015 who join forces through their dreams to change the perilous fate of the woman they both love – 30 years apart. Huge shades of Frequency (2000) and definitely cut from the same cloth as Signal, the excellent Korean TV series, Time Renegades is a lot of fun if you don’t think too hard. I enjoyed how the two timelines dovetailed together in the end. This is one of those movies that I found it easy to try not to be too critical because the premise is so cool and the characters quite appealing. (3.5 / 5)

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I read Hideo Yokoyama’s Six Four last year and it was quite a memorable albeit tough read. Loaded with tonnes of interesting exposition, I remember thinking this would make a great TV series. This movie is over four hours long, divided into two parts. The movie is, indeed, as much an ode to the era as it is a crime thriller. The case — a kidnapping of a young girl — occurs during the last week of Showa, between Jan 1 and 7 of 1989, which according to the Japanese calendar years was Showa 64 (hence the title). The movie is a very faithful adaptation and clarified a lot of doubts I had while ploughing through all the inner-workings of the police force. Even though I know every twist and turn, I was still engrossed in the proceedings. The ending still feels like a potent punch in the guts. If you have four and a half hours to spare and you enjoy a thinking man’s suspense crime thriller, this one delivers. (3.5 / 5)

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Tunnel is a Korean disaster survival film. Lee Jung-soo (Ha Jung-woo) drives home for his daughter’s birthday. While driving through a tunnel that goes through a mountain, the unthinkable happens. The tunnel collapses. When Lee Jung-Soo regains consciousness, he finds himself trapped inside his car. The car itself is buried under tons of concrete and debris. All he has inside the car are his cellphone, two bottles of water and his daughter’s birthday cake. He forms a kind of special bond with the head of the rescue team, Dae-kyung, who teaches him how to survive in the tunnel. It is an okay movie that doesn’t push the envelope. You get the usual finger pointing at the government and people in the building industry, but it doesn’t do anything else. Casually entertaining, not terribly suspenseful and Ha Jung-woo’s smug look is always fun to ogle at. The humour feels odd some times though. (3 / 5)

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I have seen the excellent documentary Citizenfour (2014) which was fashioned like a thriller. Oliver Stone’s Snowden is a great companion piece to the award-winning documentary. The story goes back and forth throughout Snowden’s life and it is well edited. I came out understanding his motivation and internal turmoil even more. The ensemble cast is stellar and having seen Edward Snowden’s mannerism in the documentary and heard his speech pattern, I can attest that Joseph Gordon-Levitt nails it. This is Oliver Stone’s best film in years. A pity it didn’t do well at the box-office. (4 / 5)

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Sean Ellis’ Anthropoid tells the story of Operation Anthropoid, the World War II assassination of Reinhard Heydrich by Exile Czechoslovak soldiers on 27 May 1942. I was mighty impressed by Ellis’ Metro Manila (2013). He is able draw suspense from tense and gritty situations without using loads of money, and he proves with Anthropoid that he is no fluke. The stakes are depicted with clarity and the two action sequences are superbly shot. I was totally immersed in the fates of the resistance fighters and felt every shot and blow. (4 / 5)

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Deepwater Horizon is straight up disaster porn with middle fingers pointing at the greedy people of BP. The characterisations may be a little thin but horrendous mayhem of in the inferno feels viscerally real. It’s probably CGI all the way but credit to Peter Berg for never giving me that feeling at all. I am so watching this again in my home theatre. (3.5 / 5)

Finally back in the comfort of my own home, I saw the next one…

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Nerve feels like an extended episode of Black Mirror but with less panache. There are some smart visuals with an interesting turn at the end. It actually has something to say about the current idevice-generation. (2.5 / 5)

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