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Wind River - DVD Review

Wind River

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

HAVING penned the screenplays for the excellent Sicario and Hell Or High Water, Taylor Sheridan now turns his hand to writing and directing in Wind River, the riveting third part of his so-called ‘Frontier trilogy’.

Taking its inspiration from several grim statistics, the film functions as both a first rate thriller and the type of movie that highlights an American social injustice while posing serious questions for anyone willing to listen.

The primary statistic in question is that while missing person statistics are compiled for every other demographic in the US, none exist for Native American women.

Worse, incidences of rape and sexual assault against American Indian women occur at four times the national average, according to research uncovered by The New York Times.

Wind River confronts the repercussions of this for both victims and loved ones. It picks up as the body of a teenage American Indian girl is found amid the frozen wastelands of the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. The victim had been raped and murdered.

Leading the hunt for the men responsible is fish-out-of-water FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), who enlists the help of professional animal tracker Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner). For both, the case becomes increasingly personal.

Lambert, in particular, is a man still coming to terms with the loss of his own daughter, whose death has never been fully explained. Hence, the hunt for the latest perpetrators offers him the chance to right a wrong.

Banner, meanwhile, must confront the grim reality of life on the reservation, as well as being a lone female in a predominantly male environment. The case, for her, is a wake-up call and a coming of age journey combined.

It’s one of the big positives to emerge from Sheridan’s film that the story pays as much attention to the characters as it does the case at hand. Hence, audiences can become emotionally invested in the journey of its leading duo, while gripped by the various twists and turns the case takes them on.

Sheridan, for his part, keeps the action muscular and exciting, having clearly learned many lessons from the likes of Denis Villeneuve and David Mackenzie, who brought the screenplays for Sicario and Hell or High Water to the screen. There is a sustained sense of danger that’s as much posed by the elements as it is by the people involved in the case… several of the set pieces emerge quickly and violently.

Yet far from being a testosterone-driven film, Wind River affords its characters moments of pause that uncover a surprising sensitivity. Lambert’s journey, for instance, sees him struggling with loss and notions of revenge, while his bond with Gil Birmingham’s Native American Indian (the father of the victim) is genuinely affecting in the way that it also strips down male stereotypes (and particularly those of the once proud Native American male). Birmingham, for his part, is excellent too.

It’s just a shame that Sheridan’s direction lets itself down in one key moment, which is his decision to belatedly show the actual rape and murder itself. For a writer of Sheridan’s quality, who has already gone to great lengths to convey how brutal the crime was, the inclusion of such an extended scene feels cheap and unnecessary.

Indeed, it raises its own questions about the current need for both TV and film to show violence at its most extreme, especially that which is directed towards women (and even more so if it’s of a sexual nature). Wind River would have been no less effective for having left the act of the crime itself to viewers’ imaginations.

That criticism aside, Sheridan still deserves a lot of praise for crafting such a gripping film: one that has plenty to say on a social level, while offering a superb genre piece that only enhances his reputation as one of the most intelligent and exciting filmmakers of his generation.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 111mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: January 22, 2018

Win American Made on DVD

American Made

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment presents American Made, based on the outrageous and real exploits of a hustler and pilot unexpectedly recruited by the CIA coming to Digital on December 18, 2017 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on December 26, 2017.

Tom Cruise (Top Gun, Mission: Impossible Series) reunites with director, Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith), as Barry Seal, an American pilot who became a drug-runner for the CIA in the 1980s.

American Made co-stars include Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina), Sarah Wright Olsen (Walk of Shame), Jesse Plemons (Black Mass) and Caleb Landry Jones (Antiviral).

Based on true events, American Made follows Barry Seals story as he soon finds himself in charge of one of the biggest covert CIA operations in the history of the United States.

The secret operation that would be exposed as the Iran-Contra Affair scandal spawns the birth of the Medellin cartel and almost brings down the Reagan White House.

With over 30 minutes of exclusive extras on the 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD, American Made is a can’t-miss, must-own film, bringing viewers behind-the-scenes footage, as well as astonishing insights about the real Barry Seal.

Read our review

To celebrate the release of American Made on Blu-ray and DVD from December 26, 2017, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win a copy of the film on DVD. Simply answer the following question…

Q. On which previous film did Tom Cruise and Doug Liman work together (Clue, the answer is in our review)?

A) Top Gun
B) Edge of Tomorrow
C) The Mummy

Simply send the answer to American Made competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Win Chasing the Dragon on DVD

Chasing the Dragon

Preview by Jack Foley

To celebrate the release of Chasing the Dragon – on DVD on January 22, 2018 – we are giving away a DVD courtesy of Well Go USA.

Screen legends Donnie Yen and Andy Lau star in an action-packed Hong Kong crime thriller, based on the life of a real-life drug lord and Triad gang leader, and his brutal ascension to power.

“Life or death, poverty or riches – it’s all destined”

Get ready for an ambitious big budget crime drama, based on an incredible true life story, with Hong Kong cinema superstars Donnie Yen and Andy Lau starring together for the first time.

Yen is Crippled Ho, based on the Chinese gangster Ng Sik-Ho, who rises up from nothing to control the drug trade in Hong Kong – aided and abetted by a corrupt cop played by Lau (Infernal Affairs).

This rise and fall story, a Chinese Scarface, is dazzlingly co-directed by Hong Kong film veteran Wong Jing (God of Gamblers) and ace cinematographer Jason Kwan.

The film’s period settings are impeccable, and memorable set pieces include an insane shoot-out in a stunningly recreated Kowloon Walled City, a car chase like you’ve never seen, and enough brutal, brilliantly choreographed bone-crunching to please chop-socky fans.

Buy it now

Win Chasing the Dragon on DVD

To celebrate the release of Chasing the Dragon on DVD on Monday, January 22, 2018, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win a copy. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs Chasing the Dragon?

Simply send the answer to Chasing the Dragon competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Win The Limehouse Golem on DVD and a signed poster

The Limehouse Golem

The tradition of serving up gothic terror at Christmas dates back to the 1800s and this year sees acclaimed chiller, The Limehouse Golem, enter the fray, arriving on digital platforms on Christmas Day and on Blu-ray and DVD on Boxing Day courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK.

Set on the unforgiving, squalid streets of Victorian London in 1880, our tale begins in the baroque, grandiose music hall where the capital’s most renowned performer Dan Leno (Douglas Booth, Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, The Riot Club) takes to the stage.

The whimsical thespian performs a monologue, informing his dedicated audience of the ghastly fate of a young woman who had once adorned this very stage, his dear friend Elizabeth Cree (Olivia Cooke, TV’s The Secret Of Crickley Hall, The Quiet Ones, Ready Player One); for the beguiling songstress is facing up to her forthcoming death by hanging, having been accused of murdering her husband John Cree (Sam Reid, ‘71, Belle).

Lizzie’s death seems inevitable, until Detective Inspector John Kildare (Bill Nighy, Their Finest, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) is assigned to the case of the Limehouse Golem; a nefarious, calculating serial killer, whose unspeakable crimes involve murdering innocent, unconnected victims, leaving behind only their barely identifiable corpses and his distinctive signature in blood.

All is not what it seems: everyone is a suspect, and everyone has a secret.

The Limehouse Golem is stunningly adapted from Peter Ackroyd’s best-selling novel by screenwriter Jane Goldman to blood-curdling effect.

Read our review

To celebrate the release of The Limehouse Golem on Blu-ray and DVD on December 26, 2017, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win a copy of the film on DVD, as well as a copy of the book and a poster signed by Bill Nighy. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs Bill Nighy and Olivia Cooke in The Limehouse Golem (Clue, the answer is in our review)?

A) Juan Carlos Medina
B) Rupert Wyatt
C) Juan Antonio Bayona

Simply send the answer to Limehouse Golem competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

6 Below (Josh Hartnett/Mira Sorvino) - Preview & trailer

6 Below

Preview by Jack Foley

A RECREATIONAL trip to the mountains becomes a test of human endurance and a fight for survival in the incredible 6 Below, arriving on Digital HD on January 8, 2018, and on DVD from January 15, 2018, courtesy of Signature Entertainment.

Eric LeMarque (Josh Hartnett; TV’s Penny Dreadful, Lucky Number Slevin) is a thrill-seeking snowboarder with a weight of personal demons on his back.

When he gets lost in a massive winter storm in the back country of the High Sierra Mountains, LeMarque is pushed to the limit and forced to battle those demons head-on as he fights against the worst the elements can throw at him.

Featuring a mesmerising tour de force performance from Hartnett as real-life hero LeMarque, 6 Below also features Sarah Dumont (Don Jon, TV’s The Royals) and Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino (Summer Of Sam, Mighty Aphrodite) as LeMarque’s equally determined mother.

With the wilds of Utah providing the film’s jaw-dropping backdrop and giving Hartnett a taste of what LeMarque went through in real life, director Scott Waugh (Need For Speed, Act Of Valor) delivers an assault on the senses that thrills – and chills – to the bone.

An unbelievable true story set in sub-zero temperatures, thaw out and watch 6 Below in the comfort of your own home when the film comes to home entertainment platforms this January.

Watch the trailer

Win Survivor Series 2017 on Blu-ray

Survivor Series 2017

Preview by Jack Foley

To celebrate the Blu-ray and DVD release of Survivor Series 2017 – available to buy from January 22, 2018 – we are giving away a Blu-ray to one lucky winner!

In the ultimate battle of brand supremacy as Team Raw goes head-to-head with Team SmackDown Live in a traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series Match. And in a true dream matchup, WWE Champion AJ Styles stands toe-to-toe with Universal Champion Brock Lesnar for the first time ever!

There are more never-before-seen matches too as The Shield takes on The New Day, and Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss takes on SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair. Plus much more!

It’s the one night of year when the superstars of Raw and SmackDown go head-to-head – and 2017’s Survivor Series is the most dramatic in the event’s history!

The men’s elimination match brings together different generations of Superstars for one star-studded showdown! Attitude Era legends Triple H and Kurt Angle face off against NXT alumni Bobby Roode and Shinsuke Nakamura, while Ruthless Aggression Era stars John Cena and Randy Orton battle New Era pioneers Finn Bálor and Braun Strowman. It’s a historic match-up with an unbelievable ending!

It’s another groundbreaking night for the women’s evolution too, with the first ever showdown between Alexa Bliss and Charlotte Flair – plus a sensational elimination match that proves just how stacked with talent the current women’s division really is!

Meanwhile, the first ever match between The Shield and The New Day lives up to all expectations – a sizzling encounter that many fans thought they’d never see in WWE!

In fact, it’s a show packed with dream match-ups, as the brands collide with champion vs champion matches. There’s electric action from opposing tag champs The Bar and The Usos – and a personal vendetta between Intercontinental Champion The Miz and Baron Corbin!

But the biggest dream match, of course, is the huge battle between AJ Styles vs Brock Lesnar – a match-up that WWE fans have wished to see for years, and one that proved as dramatic and jaw-dropping in the ring as fans imagined!

Don’t miss out on this piece of WWE history!

Win Survivor Series 2017 on Blu-ray

To celebrate the release of Survivor Series 2017 on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday, January 22, 2018, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win a copy on Blu-ray. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who has a personal vendetta against Brock Lesnar in Survivor Series 2017?

Simply send the answer to Survivor Series 2017 competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Win Cold Moon on DVD

Cold Moon

Preview by Jack Foley

To celebrate the release of Cold Moon – available on DVD and Digital from January 22, 2018 – we are giving away a copy on DVD.

Based on the novel Cold Moon Over Babylon by Michael McDowell, writer of Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas, Cold Moon is an eerie tale of murder, manipulation and vengeance from beyond the grave.

Featuring a strong central performance from Josh Stewart (The Collector, The Collection) and a terrifying turn by Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future 1-3, The Addams Family, I Am Not a Serial Killer) this is the perfect film to give you chills on a winter’s night.

“A deadly serious piece of Southern gothic” Sight & Sound

Order today

Synopsis

In a sleepy southern town, a young girl disappears – but all hopes of finding her alive are soon shattered by the discovery of a body in the river. But the end of the search is just the beginning of a waking nightmare.

Traffic lights blink an eerie warning, a ghostly visage prowls in the streets, and graves erupt from the local cemetery in an implacable march of terror. Beneath the murky surface of the river, a shifting, almost human shape slowly takes form to seek a terrible vengeance…

Win Cold Moon on DVD

To celebrate the release of Cold Moon on DVD on Monday, January 22, 2018, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win a copy on DVD. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who wrote the book upon which Cold Moon is based?

Simply send the answer to Cold Moon competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Win The King's Choice on DVD

The King's Choice

Preview by Jack Foley

THE King’s Choice is an award-winning historical drama based on a true story about three dramatic days in 1940, when the King of Norway was presented with an unimaginable ultimatum from the German armed forces: surrender or die.

With the German Air force and soldiers hunting them, the Royal Family is forced to flee from the capital – parting ways without knowing if they’ll ever see each other again.

The Crown Princess Märtha leaves Norway with the children to seek refuge in Sweden, whilst King Haakon and the Crown Prince Olav stay to fight.

After three days of desperately trying to evade the Germans, Haakon makes his final decision; he refuses to capitulate, even if it may cost him, his family and many Norwegians their lives.

The King’s Choice is directed by Erik Poppe and stars Jesper Christensen (Spectre), Tuva Novotny (A War) and Karl Markovics (The Grand Budapest Hotel).

The film is released on DVD on January 15, 2018.

Win The King’s Choice on DVD

To celebrate the release of The King’s Choice on DVD on Monday, January 15, 2018, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 2 copies of the film. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs The King’s Choice?

Simply send the answer to The King’s Choice competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Kingsman: The Golden Circle - DVD Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

NOTHING succeeds like excess. It’s the motto of many sequels and it’s one that Matthew Vaughn fully embraces for Kingsman: The Golden Circle, his star-studded, fun-filled yet sometimes over-cooked sequel to surprise spy hit Kingsman: The Secret Service.

Clocking in at an excessive two hours and 20mins, this fast and furious follow-up has more than its fair share of inspired moments, yet also finds itself tip-toeing the line between good taste and bad, while simultaneously falling foul of some of the worst malpractices of franchise filmmaking.

Some of the plot points, for instance, are lazy given that they rely on recycled scenarios from the first film – with the climax, in particular, another race against time to save people from themselves. Whereas The Secret Service held them at the mercy of mobile phone technology, this one has them threatened by drug use (recreational or otherwise) and facing a ticking clock scenario. It’s a follow the formula bad practice that even films like Star Wars: The Force Awakens fell prone to.

Similarly disappointing is Vaughn’s decision to ramp certain moments of action up to ridiculously absurd lengths, which negates some of its peril. By making certain characters so gravity-defying and ‘death-proof’, the film veers more into superhero territory and loses some of its edge.

It’s a criticism that extends to the decision to bring back Colin Firth, apparently dead after the first film in one of its many jaw-dropping sequences. Here, he’s back (we won’t tell you how) and while certainly welcome, his presence deprives the franchise of its ability to create lasting shocks. Can audiences therefore really believe the fate of any character moving forward?

With all this in mind, it perhaps sounds contradictory to say that some of the aforementioned weaknesses also emerge as strengths (with Firth’s return being a case in point). The over the top nature of proceedings as a whole, meanwhile, does allow Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman to go mad doing as they please, which in turn leaves room for a different kind of innovation and shock value.

An extended cameo featuring a foul-mouthed Elton John works surprisingly well and generates some of the biggest laughs, while the decision to completely ignore the A-list status of some cast members means that a few are relegated to the side-lines far more quickly than audiences might expect.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Vaughn’s relish for absurd action can also be as eye-catching as it is retina-popping. An opening brawl inside a taxi, mid-car chase through London, is really well executed and consistently capable of outdoing itself (a la James Bond), while the big finale is stylishly orchestrated and suitably carnage-strewn.

On the flip side, his determination to be as un-PC as possible gives rise to several bad taste moments, including one or two nods to the infamous anal sex gag that divided opinion in the original (with an outrageous sequence at Glastonbury sure to be equally so).

It’s a measure of the film’s overall success, however, that despite its hit-and-miss elements it still entertains tremendously for long periods.

The cast is uniformly good, with Taron Egerton and Colin Firth once again combining well. Their continued relationship is another of the film’s strengths and Vaughn ensures they have just about enough room to see it grow.

Mark Strong is also on outstanding form as the returning Merlin, while Julianne Moore is clearly having fun as the main villain (adopting the Samuel L Jackson approach to adopting a different spin to doing bad things – this time with a smile on her face throughout). Channing Tatum, Pedro Pascal and Edward Holcroft also put in good work to make their characters worthwhile additions, even if the likes of Jeff Bridges and Halle Berry feel under-used.

And while certain elements of the globe-trotting plot do feel over-familiar (both within a spy context and a Kingsman one), Vaughn and Goldman do still manage to toss in some interesting variations to certain revisits, including a humorous take on Firth’s ‘manners maketh man’ lesson.

Taken as a whole, Kingsman: The Golden Circle offers crowd-pleasing, popcorn fun that’s easy to get lost in. And while certainly inferior to the original, it does more than enough to ensure that this fledgling franchise remains in rude health should Vaughn and company wish to return for a third or fourth time.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 141mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: January 29, 2018

Detroit - DVD Review

Detroit

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

KATHRYN Bigelow follows up the unmissable Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, with another similarly must-see film about another complex and controversial chapter in American history.

Detroit, which also reunites her with writing partner Mark Boal, examines the riots that gripped that city in 1967, shining a light on one particularly horrific incident of police brutality fuelled by racism that – perhaps most alarmingly – has chilling parallels with events now gripping Trump’s America (in places like Charlottesville, Virginia).

The film picks up with a police raid on a drinking club that provides the catalyst for the riots. It then combines newsreel-style footage of the violence that ensued with insights into the lives of its soon-to-be key players, before focusing on the [now notorious] events that unfolded at the Algiers Motel.

It’s here that racist cops, led by a character named Krauss (played by Britain’s Will Poulter), converge upon the venue in an attempt to find a suspected sniper. Unbeknown to them, however, is that the shots fired from the motel earlier in the night were from a toy gun, by way of an ill-advised prank.

Mindful that they won’t be believed, no one at the motel is talking, not even once they are lined up, mercilessly beaten and sometimes tortured as the police resort to increasingly desperate tactics to get answers.

Among the detainees are two members of a black singing group (including Algee Smith), whose lives will be changed forever, as well as a black security guard (played by John Boyega), who acts as a frustrated observer.

Bigelow directs the Algiers sequence in unflinching fashion, piling on the claustrophobic tension and almost making you feel as though you are there. Poulter’s cop is a terrifying force of evil… a composite of several real-life characters whose hatred for those he is interrogating eventually compels him to murder.

Detroit

It’s a performance that will be made all the more terrifying to viewers who previously recognise him as the Sylvester Stallone loving kid from Son of Rambow or the idiot from We’re The Millers. But perhaps, more worryingly, it’s the nagging realisation that there really were [and are] men like Krauss out there – and wearing a badge too.

On the other side of things, meanwhile, are Smith and Boyega, whose innocence, fear and anger are given a palpable sense of reality. For Smith’s singer, in particular, life will never be the same again, as his view of authority [and perhaps white people in general] is forever shaped by the events that took place at The Algiers. Smith conveys his character’s transition from promising young charismatic singer/idealist to broken man in heart-breaking fashion, arguably giving the film it’s heart and soul.

But Boyega is also terrific at conveying a sense of disappointment and frustration in a system that did – and continues – to allow these kinds of atrocities to happen. I have previously stated in past reviews that he rivals the intensity of a young Denzel Washington; and in one or two scenes in Detroit he continues to live up to those lofty heights.

Boal and Bigelow, meanwhile, are unapologetic in their condemnation of the events themselves, as well as the miscarriage of justice that ensued. Detroit is an angry film, in many ways, as well as a timely alarm call to America in general [and other countries where institutionalised racism continues to be a problem] to wake up.

That’s not to say it isn’t without faults. With so much to cram in, Detroit doesn’t attempt to explore what causes such racism to fester within the souls of men entrusted with serving and protecting, thereby giving rise to accusations that it is one-sided. While the film, by its own admission, also takes dramatic licence at times, which again opens up the possibility for certain elements to be dismissive of what it has to say.

The narrative structure is such, too, that certain storylines feel rushed, while other elements are under-explained, such as the role and allegiances of certain police officers in the subsequent investigation.

But in the main, Bigelow’s latest is a harrowing and utterly gripping pressure cooker of a film that thrusts you into a nightmare from which many, sadly, are still unable to wake.

It is cinema at its most potent and relevant that demands and deserves to find the widest audience possible.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 2hrs 23mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: January 8, 2018