The Lost City – Review

Rating: 12a Cast: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Brad Pitt. Directed by Aaron Nee and Adam Nee. Written by Oren Uziel, Dana Fox, Adam Nee and Aaron Nee. Length: 112mins

In the Lost City Sandra Bullock plays Loretta, the author of a novel franchise-series that focuses on fictional stories around archeological realities that Loretta and her late husband studied together while he was alive. Her Lara Croft style adventures feature her own character going on adventures with her lover, a character named Dash. What real life Loretta isn’t too keen on, is the reality that her cover model, Alan (Tatum), is a key factor in selling the books and some have trouble separating the fictional characters from the real life. The story ramps up though, when Loretta is kidnapped by an evil British billionaire who takes her to a mysterious Island which is about to be destroyed by a volcano in the hopes that she can help him find an ancient treasure; meanwhile Alan takes it upon himself to rescue her and quickly discovers that ‘Alan’ isn’t quite the natural hero as his character in the books…

The Lost City isn’t a particularly ‘unique’ film – it fits neatly into the genre of ‘adventure comedy’ and it’s not shy about using cliches like a seemingly charming British villain or a volcano due to erupt at any point…but it’s okay. I think most of its audiences are very aware of the ‘type’ of film that they’re going to watch and as long as that is the case, then there won’t be any disappointment.  

Bullock is an absolute master at this level of comedy, she brings such an authentic feel to ridiculous situations and I think just having her lead a cast automatically relaxes an audience into something that’s a bit familiar. Tatum is also playing his stereotype – the handsome idiot – but it’s his stereotype for a reason and he’s very good at it. It was interesting to see him play a more family friendly role and was nice to see that he doesn’t solely rely on some of the more, perhaps, cheap laughs around language or sexuality that we’ve seen him do so many times. The real genius that probably comes from their sheer level of experience is that both Bullock and Tatum are smart enough to know how silly the whole thing is. They perform in a way that suggests ‘they know that we know, that they know’ how ridiculous the action is.

The Lost City is the perfect film for escapism. It isn’t the best in its genre. In recent years I would suggest that films like Jungle Cruise hit the mark a little better than this one. But, it’s a solid, amusing film to watch when the real world just gets a little too much.

Everything Everywhere All at Once – Review

Rating: 15
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, James Hong and Jamie Lee Curtis
Directed by Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan
Length: 139mins

With a title like ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, as you can probably imagine, it can be hard to even know where to begin when it comes to explaining its concept, as well as dissecting all its intricacies. Put simply, iMDB first had the synopsis listed as “A woman tries to do her taxes.” However, this film expands outwards from this basic premise, and covers so much emotion, adventure, and action within its two hours and nineteen minutes runtime. As a film that definitely benefits from knowing as little about the plot as possible when going into it, it can become a tricky thing to review – but of course we’ll try our best.

In this modern world of mass consumption, where TV’s play whilst phone screens are held, and music sounds from some distant room, it seems the average person is so often being constantly overwhelmed by content in varying forms. Whether this is a good thing or not is a question for another day, but to say that ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ embodies this stage of humanity within film form would probably be an understatement. Viewers are thrown in completely at the deep end, left to make sense of the overwhelming world defined by partners-in-crime filmmakers Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert at the same pace as our leading actress Michelle Yeoh, who delivers a brilliant performance balancing the spinning plates of motherly duties, business management, and multidimensional calamities. 

It would be difficult to discuss this film without mentioning the dimension-travelling qualities of films most recently churned out by the Marvel conglomerate, and how the ‘EEAAO’ filmmakers have taken those big-budget qualities, and applied them to indie filmmaking. In fact, only five members of the film’s production worked on the intricate visual effects which comprised so much of the story, with most of them having learnt all they know from online tutorials. To see a smaller production crew go toe-to-toe with these behemoth superhero stories which have consumed the big screen in recent years, and succeed in creating an action-packed and exciting story, gives hope to the belief that there are still a great number of genres which can ignite the same feeling of adventure that recently seemed to have been reserved only for the blockbuster format. 

Each character in the story – and there a lot to mention – completely give their all to their performance. Though the script may be unlike anything else they’ve previously brought to life, it seems as if everyone on set was as enraptured in the insanity of the plot as the audience becomes, knowing that what they were making was unlike anything seen before. This film feels like a landmark occasion within independent filmmaking, where it’s proved that with a great story, anything can be possible, no matter how surreal an idea is.  

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ really is a film which needs to be seen to be believed, dancing elegantly between moments of profound thinking, childlike humour and gripping action. I’m sure there’s so much more to be gained from this film across repeat viewings – it really was a treat to watch this story play out on the big screen.

Downton Abbey: A New Era – Review

Rating: PG Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Allan Leech, Elizabeth McGovern and Maggie Smith. Directed by Simon Curtis. Written by Jullian Fellowes. Length: 125mins.

Downton Abbey: A New Era pulls its fans back in three years after its first motion picture and seven years after the wildly successful television series came to an end. As a fan of Downton Abbey, I was happy to hear that they were going to make a film or two, but it’s very clear that this is a money move rather than anything else. They wrapped the series up nicely and there was no real need to make a feature – having said this, of course, the fans flocked back to the cinemas in 2019 to see what their beloved Crawley family and staff had been up to.

This second film rejoins the family, going about their business but with a leaky roof and no sure way of funding the repairs. As it happens, the estate is approached by a company wanting to use Downton as a location for their latest silent movie and they’re willing to pay. While the traditional members of the family aren’t keen to have their home invaded by filmmakers, Lady Mary, who is now in charge, deems it an interesting proposition and invites the company into the walls of Downton, much to the delight of the gang downstairs. While this is going on, it is discovered that Lady Violet has mysteriously been left a villa in the south of France by a gentleman that she spent a short amount of time with, many years ago… Of course this lends itself for several of the family to visit France to investigate that situation, while Lady Mary and the staff keep a close eye on the creation of the silent film and its stars all while getting a little more involved than initially planned.

I’ve seen several criticisms of this movie, mostly from people who just aren’t Downton fans – which makes sense to me. As previously stated it’s a film created for the money that it will clearly generate and will just not appeal to anyone who doesn’t know the characters. The plot is, in all honesty, a bit of a rip off of Singin’ In The Rain and is terribly predictable, but also, terribly enjoyable. You can see everything that’s coming before it lands and that’s sort of the comfort of a film like this, it’s easy to watch and fairly easy to forget. BUT fans will be thrilled to see some of their favourite television characters getting to wrap up their stories – I’m confident that they won’t make another Downton film, they wrap everything up nicely in a way that manages expectations and doesn’t leave any questions.

I enjoyed Downton Abbey: A New Era, it was so easy to watch and pretty nostalgic, but i’m very aware that my opinion is based purely on having watched the characters develop over years. I found the first movie fairly forgettable and I think I preferred this one, but time will tell if it will have done enough to remain in my head. The long and short of it is, if you enjoyed the series and last film you will more than likely enjoy this one, but if not, it’s very basic and probably lands at ‘fine’.

The Worst Person in the World – Review

Rating: 12A
Cast: Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, Herbert Nordrum, Hans Olav Brenner
Directed by Joachim Trier
Length: 128mins

‘The Worst Person in the World’ is a fairly ambiguous title for a film which tells the story of a nearly 30-something woman living in Oslo. Such an extreme description paints a picture of a truly terrible person, but as we watch these two hours of human troubles play out, you come to realise that although there may be moments where our lead, Julie, doesn’t exactly act in the best interests of those around her, these self-professed moments of being the ‘worst’ person are more internal than external – a feeling that I can imagine everyone in the audience has experienced at one time or another.

Divided up into twelve unequal chapters – both in length and emotional weight – the story navigates many of the formative moments within Julie’s post-adolescence. She has to confront the realities of her life as it currently is, and as it will soon be in the coming years. Long-term relationships, aspiring careers and family pressures are captured with beautiful elegance on the equally beautiful streets of Oslo, with the film selling the city along with its own story. 

Of course, the tale of a late twenties character reluctant to face the fast approaching thirtieth birthday balloons is not a new story to the big screen, but there are always interesting ways to approach it. Earlier this year we saw ‘Tick, Tick… Boom’, which brought the story of a real-life musical composer who was unwilling to face a similar fate, but with a theatrical infusion to the narrative. ‘Worst Person in the World’ is just as creative, but in an entirely different form. The innermost desires of our questionable protagonist are fantasised through film manipulation, with a city put on pause allowing her to run into the arms of a new destiny, as well as an incredibly depicted impromptu acid-trip bringing to the foreground all the uncertainties and desires which comprise her being. By approaching such a story in this sporadic way, we delve deep into who Julie is as a person, and are able to interpret her actions with an understanding of her life experiences so far, and those which are soon to come, allowing each audience member to truly consider whether they’d describe her as ‘The Worst Person in the World’. 

There are a few moments throughout the film where it feels as if the narrative has become slightly muddled, with some characters provided a great deal more weight than others, despite their similarly matched importance within Julie’s life. However, when it comes to such a subjective story as this one, battling the ever-changing emotions which run circles around a single person’s mind, the film feels as if it benefits greatly from an appreciation of individual scenes rather than a conclusive storyline, especially when some of these moments are as impactful as they are.

‘The Worst Person in the World’ is absolutely a film which will impact viewers differently depending on where they are in their lives, and whilst it may not receive the most widespread release here in the UK, if you get a chance to see it at your local cinema, I’d definitely recommend giving it a go.

Operation Mincemeat – Review

Rating: 12A Cast: Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Penelope Wilton and Johnny Flynn. Directed by John Madden. Written by Michelle Ashford and Ben Macintyre. Length: 128mins

Operation Mincemeat was the bizarre real-life scheme cooked up by British intelligence in 1943 to fool Nazi Germany into thinking the allies planned to invade Greece, rather than their actual target, Sicily. The corpse of a tramp was dressed up as fictitious “Capt William Martin” and carried elaborate plans for this nonexistent invasion; the body was dumped into the sea so that it would wash up in Spain where the British were confident this incorrect intelligence would be passed to the Germans. It sounds as if it was written with a screenplay in mind, but the fact that this is based on real events makes gives this film a different feel. Had the plot been fictitious, I’m not sure people would necessarily be on board, but a glimpse into this bizarre piece of history that played a role in the outcome on the war is truly fascinating. 

Adapted from the non-fiction best seller by Ben Macintyre, the plot takes us steadily from the birth of the idea, through all sorts of ‘phases’ of the operation and right up to the suspense filled moment of finding out whether it was successful or not. As I understand, this isn’t the first film re-telling of the story, however the fact that the corpses real name was only revealed to the public in 1996 allowed the filmmakers to include a more personable approach with regards to he who was known, simply, as ‘The Man Who Never Was’. 

This movie was funnier than I expected it to be, which made a real difference to me as a member of the audience. I was intrigued and excited to learn more about a situation I only knew small amounts about, but to be honest, I was expecting quite a heavy, suspense filled piece. While, of course, there were brilliant moments of that suspense; built with a great score and really authentic performances by the two leading men – the fact that there were moments of humour mixed in throughout just brought the mood up enough to keep things interesting and me engaged. 

As a James Bond fan I particularly enjoyed the involvement of the character Ian Fleming. Of course he was actually involved in the planning of the operation, I don’t mean to belittle his importance in the actual history of the event, but the film gave us plenty of little Bond Easter eggs that I have no idea if they actually happened, but I like the idea that his novels were inspired by that which he had seen. Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen didn’t put a foot wrong, both managed to play likeable but imperfect characters, and lets be honest, any Pride and Prejudice fans will be delighted to see both contemporary ‘Mr Darcy’s’ sharing the screen. 

This is another of the home front wartime ‘Brit-films’ that we’ve seen plenty of in recent years. Focussing their emphasis on domestic morale, strategic questions and political shenanigans, rather than battlefield action. Operation Mincemeat is watchable enough, but certainly not the best ‘war film’ i’ve seen. It’s a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, but not a must watch. 

The Northman – Review

Rating: 15
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Björk, Willem Dafoe
Directed by Robert Eggers
Length: 137mins

Ever since the arrival of the enigmatically titled ‘The VVitch’ in 2015, Robert Eggers has proved himself to be a brilliant storyteller and director who possesses a great many more skills than interesting film titles alone. Often working within historical periods, both ‘The VVitch’ and ‘The Lighthouse’ transported audiences back in time, to an era of history that most people were probably thanking their lucky stars they’d never lived in by the time the curtains closed. His latest release, ‘The Northman’ is no different, and allows us a detailed insight into the unruly and violent landscape of the Viking period, when men seemingly grew to the size of trees, and a dark magic infected Scandinavian land.

Put simply, ‘The Northman’ is a story of revenge, and yet things are never as simple as they seem. First shown as a child, and then later as a grown warrior searching for the man who killed his father and stole his mother from him, Alexander Skarsgård takes up the role of lead character Amleth, and whilst there is fairly minimal dialogue required for his performance, the ferocity and emotion invested into every piece of body language ensures that you can’t help but follow his every move. Combining this with a silver-tongued Anya Taylor-Joy in the role of Olga, a skilled manipulator born into a settlement helpless enough to be at the constant mercy of roaming viking hordes, makes a partnership between the two a powerful combination.

For this film, it isn’t just the leading performers which make it such an interesting watch. Supporting actors Björk, Willem Dafoe and Ethan Hawke all provide the story with a great deal of further complexity through their incredible contributions, but in particular it seemed to me that Nicole Kidman really stole the show at times, delivering a deceptively layered performance as Queen Gudrún, the mother of leading man, Amleth.

On first going into the film, I felt quite concerned that the trailer had, in typical trailer style, given away far too much of the plot. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case at all, and in fact, looking back on the short snippets of the film displayed in those few minutes, I can’t help but feel that it was planned that way all along. Robert Eggers definitely appears to be one of the most exciting storytellers in the industry at the moment (having been helped by prolific Icelandic writer Sjón for this latest release), constantly delivering original and intriguing concepts to the big screen.

Within his previous two films, Robert Eggers’ storytelling has been generally contained within very small communities, focusing on the relationships between only a handful of people to drive the narrative forward. ‘The Northman’ sees a very different change to this style, with the $90 million budget allowing for a move away from indie filmmaking limitations and into blockbuster territory. Despite this, the director’s vision and signature style remains seemingly untouched, as the film carries with it all the incredible intensity of performance and intricately researched storytelling details which have come to define Eggers’ career so far. For any fans of his previous film, I can’t imagine ‘The Northman’ disappointing in any way, but it also provides plenty of room for first-time viewers of his work to become caught up in the action as well.

Coda – Review

Rating: 12A Cast: Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant and Eugenio Derbez. Directed by Sian Heder Written by Sian Heder Length: 111mins

As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), Ruby Rossi (Jones) is the only hearing person in her family. We are steadily introduced to the life that the Rossi’s have created for themselves, the family fishing business as a key part of their day to day routine and Ruby serves as the ears on the boat listening out for the radio calls, and plays translator when communicating with the other fishermen. But when the future of their fishing business is threatened, Ruby is torn between following her passion to get into Berklee College of Music and the heavy weight of abandoning her family at a time they need her most.

There’s nothing spectacular in the plot, nothing that’s particularly unexpected or included to shock the audience. Just a story of normal people, their struggles and how they grow together to resolve their issues. Although a simple plot, the characters are written well. Each character within the focal family has their own opinion on their familial situation and as we get to know them as the audience, the slight differences show through and the cracks start to show. It’s a situation where even if you disagree with a characters opinions or demands, you are given enough information or emotion to at least realise why they might feel the way that they do – I appreciate that sounds pretty basic but it creates an atmosphere where none of the characters (apart from the high school bullies) are the ‘bad guy’.

 I did find it a bit difficult at the beginning of the film in the family scenes, because I was trying to watch the performances at the same time as read the subtitles; an element that I’m certainly not complaining about but just had to adapt as a viewer. Having said this, it didn’t take long to adapt and it’s really quite incredible to see the skill of emotional and comedic acting while the actors are also communicating through sign language. All of the performances were strong, Troy Kotsur was obviously recognised by the Academy as well as other award bodies. Emilia Jones played the lead brilliantly, audiences can really feel the emotional tug of war that she plays throughout, all while dealing with the usual teenage ‘stuff’ that everyone faces throughout education. Daniel Durant and  Eugenio Derbez also gave really memorable performances that broadened the character mix, keeping the film and it’s little twists and turns interesting. 

In all honesty, I’m a little bit torn on it’s Best Picture win. I loved the film but it definitely felt like more of a ‘viewers choice’ than an academy choice. I say this lightly as it’s probably one of my favourite best picture winners, but it lacked some of the elements that you would usually expect from the nominated films. Perhaps it’s a shift in how the academy is voting or maybe the film moved it’s voters so much that they didn’t care about what is usually done. Either way it doesn’t matter, Coda gained the film worlds greatest accolade and I truly hope that more people see it because of their win, because it’s a movie that should be seen. 

I had the privilege of watching Coda with a good friend of mine who is hard of hearing herself and who has hearing loss within her family. I think most would struggle to hold their tears in by the end of the movie, but to watch my friend well up and comment on moments, sharing “thats how ****** felt” or “I can totally relate to that” made me realise that even as someone who tries to be considerate to people, not knowing how well they can hear or see etc…that I haven’t always considered just how difficult and exhausting it must be to struggle with a disability that is invisible and can be so devastatingly isolating. Coda helped me open my mind and be more aware of being deliberately kind rather than ‘passively decent’, to anyone around me who may be struggling.  

Coda is so pure, and it deserves to be seen. If it’s showing at your local cinemas I urge you to watch it on the big screen, but if not, you can find it on Apple TV. 

Nosferatu – Classic Review

Rating: PG
Cast: Max Schreck, Gustav von Wagenheim and Greta Schröder
Directed by F.W. Murnau
Length: 94mins

At times, amongst the long list of films to watch and endless possibilities that streaming services can provide, it can seem as if film is one medium that’s been around for an eternity. And yet, from every great drama to intriguing thriller, all of this has come about within only the last one hundred years, taking us all the way back to the topic of today’s review – F.W. Murnau’s 1922 classic horror film, ‘Nosferatu’. 

Adapted from Bram Stoker’s iconic ‘Dracula’ novel, the story tells of the truly terrifying Count Orlok and his stalking of a small town estate agent who, along with his wife, is unfortunate enough to become the target of the Transylvanians’ hauntings. Perhaps best known from the iconic still of Count Orlok sneaking up the stairs of the innocent couple’s home, framed amongst the gloom of the night as a deeply unsettling silhouette, highlighting the shadow which has been cast over the town by his arrival, Murnau’s film is an early masterclass in what can be achieved through visual symbolism. The curled and decrepit hands of our antagonist frequently send a chill down the audience’s spine, providing so much horror in only a small detail, as if such a hand might reach over your own shoulder as you watch the film yourself.

Of course, a silent, black and white film from 1922 is probably not top of too many people to-watch lists, understandably so. However, the film isn’t too lengthy and delivers an impactful, suspenseful eighty minutes of classic horror. Through having to tell its story entirely visually – as well as with the help of the occasional title card – the storytellers work creatively throughout the runtime to convey complex emotions and unsettle the viewer on a great many occasions.

Depictions of Dracula, the popular cult figure who’s often recognised by their pale complexion and fang-like front teeth, are so familiar to us in this day and age that to go back and see such iconic details first being brought to the big screen is something truly impressive. The makeup department and set design work brilliantly on the film to establish each location as another innocent place for their haunting ‘Nosferatu’ to cast his shadow over.

It’s not often that a film turns 100, and with specialist showings being projected throughout the country, perhaps now is the time to take a chance on a film that you may not have previously considered sitting down and enjoying. There’s so much interesting filmmaking at play here, culminating in a great number of iconic sequences, as well as the excitement of seeing Nosferatu, perhaps the first true horror villain, creeping across the screen.

Ambulance – Review

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eiza Gonzalez, Garret Dillahunt, KeirO’Donnell and Jackson White.
Directed by Michael Bay
Written by Chris Fedak
Length: 136mins

Michael Bay’s Ambulance is tale of two estranged brothers, Danny (Gyllenhaal) and Will (Abdul-Mateen), and a bank heist gone wrong. Based on a 2005 Danish picture of the same name Michael Bay drags the story out to a much longer telling of the story. While the plot is relatively basic, Bay manages to pad out the movie with a whole lot of extra ‘stuff’, some of it nonsensical and some of it to add the Michael Bay wow-factor. 

Watching this film was unusual for me, mostly because having watched the trailer a couple of times I thought it looked awful. The trailer really put me off. It’s a pity, because at the core of the film, partially concealed by Bay’s posturing is a relatively slickly executed action film – Danny and Will hijack an ambulance: inside is a critically injured cop and a ballsy paramedic (González); outside are guns, explosives and a lot of very angry law enforcement officers. While in general I thought it was better than the trailer suggested it would be, it was frustratingly ridiculous at some points. I’m not just talking about the slow motion stunts or classic ‘Bay’ whoosh of a camera down the side of a building to heighten drama, but some of the core plot points, that used up so much time, just made no sense. One example that I can give without spoilers is a big emphasis on confusing the police by joining with other ambulances, thus stretching the polices attention and giving an opportunity to escape. However, the plan was to spray paint the focal ambulance, which makes no sense at all, and they spend so long discussing and achieving this and they somehow manage to slip a neon green ambulance past a police blockade…I’m all for a bit of creative licence, but it surely should be at least a tiny bit plausible! 

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jake Gyllenhaal are fine; there’s nothing in their performances that will blow the audience away but that’s more down to a relatively basic script and character stereotypes.  The tension building is effective throughout, the score having a strong impact, however the whole film is a build. They don’t really let it drop, which either exhausts it’s viewers, or loses their attention. The film essentially plays out as one extra-long car chase, with Bay’s trademark direction present in all its glory. Throughout, Bay’s camera rarely stays still, sweeping and swooping through the LA streets as the ambulance does its best to evade the constantly growing police presence. This kinetic camerawork, coupled with Bay’s choppy editing style can at times leave it’s audience feeling nauseous. 

Despite it’s glaring flaws, audiences seem to quite enjoy it. Ambulance wasn’t for me – but I appreciate that many others might enjoy the escapism and high speed car chases to allow them to step into a couple of hrs without thinking about todays troubles. If you can forgive some nonsensical choices and enjoy a high speed action film, then there’s a good choice you’ll enjoy it. 

Red Rocket – Review

Rating: 18
Cast: Simon Rex, Bree Elrod, Suzanna Son and Brenda Deiss,
Directed by Sean Baker
Written by Sean Baker and Chris Bergoch
Length: 130mins

Rising from the indie filmmaking scene in recent years, and becoming known as the director who innovated the low budget, iPhone-utilising style of storytelling, Sean Baker is progressively growing from one strength to the next. Perhaps best known for his previous two films, ‘Tangerine’ and ‘The Florida Project’ – the first of which made heavy use of non-professional performers, as well as being completely shot across three iPhone 5S’s, and the latter containing many similar traits, Baker is clearly a director who’s unafraid to try new ideas.

‘Red Rocket’ tells the story of an ex-porn star named MIkey Saber, who has to return to not only his small-town name of Mikey Davies, but the town itself, residing deep enough into Texas for the film to be engrossed in the strong drawl of the deep South. As previously mentioned, Baker clearly has a love for working with unconventional actors, a technique which brilliantly builds the world of ‘Red Rocket’. Led by a former MTV performer in Simon Rex, as well as other cast members being scouted whilst waiting tables or walking their dog, there’s a clear authenticity in the way they bring their characters to life, which merges perfectly with the impulsive camera movements and narrative points of the film. Simon Rex in particular stands out, delivering what could be argued as one of the greatest performances so far this year. Throughout the film, you’re unsure as to whether you love him or loathe him, and yet if you read about the actions of Mikey Saber in some newspaper article, you’d never have any doubt than to pin him as a villain. To play with the audience’s emotions in such a way takes true talent, and considering that Rex only had a three-day trans-American drive to prepare for the role, as well as filming the entire movie without the knowledge of his agent, it all seems to have turned out fairly well.

Texas has a habit in films of being portrayed as a low-poverty area that appears unwelcoming to newcomers, but is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the entirety of the US. ‘Red Rocket’ never claims anything on the contrary, but is undeniably infatuated with the skylines that plague this strange and chaotic land. Cinematographer Drew Daniels’ lens captures the South in its most tender moments, with the pinks and oranges of the lit-up sky providing a perfect backdrop to the donut shop or rundown houses which comprise the majority of the film’s locations. Once again seeming to paint our ill-intentioned protagonist as a hero, the way in which the landscapes are shown throughout ‘Red Rocket’ merge deeper into the uncertainty over what the audience feels towards Mikey, as he eagerly bikes through town towards whichever poor soul is next to cross his path.

Although on the surface ‘Red Rocket’ may appear to be a deeply sad film about broken homes and corrupt relationships, there are some excellent moments of comedy littered throughout. Bakers’ talents when working with larger-than-life characters and exaggerated dialogue was one of ‘Tangerine’s’ greatest strengths, and is something that shines through in many scenes throughout ‘Red Rocket’. Moments of sincerity are interrupted by complete stupidity or foolishness in a way that never feels unjustified. The natural performances and style of Baker’s work remains consistently great throughout, making it hard for any cinema-goer to look away, even if they may want to.

‘Red Rocket’ might not break the box office or ever receive the recognition it deserves at mainstream awards shows, but it would be a shame to let the film slide away uncelebrated. Sean Baker has once again shown himself to be one of the most creative indie filmmakers today, with each new release bringing another delight to the table.