TIFF 2016 Movie Review: FREE FIRE (UK 2016) **

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

free_fire_poster.jpgFREE FIRE (UK 2016) **
Directed by Ben Wheatley

Starring: Brie Larson, Enzo Cilenti, Sam Riley, Michael Smiley

Review by Gilbert Seah

Irrelevant as his A FIELD IN ENGLAND, tho hate it or love it British film set entirely in the U.S. in 1878 for no apparent reason, Bn Whetaley returns to his black comedy roots of SIGHTSEERS, the film that shot him to recognition. his is a 70’ crime caper set totally in an abandoned warehouse where a guns deal takes place.

But a previous altercation between two separate members of the different sides results in a free-for-all shoot out hat lasts the entire joie.

The humour and violence is entertaining initially, but greadullay wears out its welcome. Known names Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Oscar Winner Brie Larson and Cillian Murphy do their best to liven up the proceedings but they can only do so much with the limited amtrial.

Director Wheatley works with his loving wife, Amy Jump who wrote the script and co-edited the film with him.

FREE FIRE may work for a few but will not for the majority as FREE FALL is a queer piece for a select few.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDD3I0uOlqY

Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.

Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month: http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Interview with Director Ben Wheatley (HIGH-RISE)

Chatting with director Ben Wheatley on the phone in the midst of his press junket for “High-Rise” gave me a brief insight of who he is. He gives a lot of thought to the questions you ask him (even if he’s been asked a similar question dozens of times by reporters). He really loves his wife (see answer to final question). And he really likes directing films. 

benwheatley.jpgInterview with Ben Wheatley, promoting his film “High Rise”:

Matthew Toffolo: When did you first read the novel HIGH-RISE? Did you ever imagine that you would be the director of the film version.

Ben Wheatley: I first read the book when I was 16 years old. It stuck with me. Directing the film version, or any film in general, was the farthest thing on my mind then. Directing came later in my life.

MT: Tell us about your collaboration with screenwriter Amy Jump. From developing the script to editing the film together.

BW: She wrote the script and then passed it to me. There was no conversation. I gave her zero notes and zero feedback after I read it. I took the script and began the process of making the film. She knows me and what I’m capable of. And she knows the budget. So it was a seamless handoff.

After the film ended, we began to edit the film together.

MT: Was she on set? Did she watch the dailies?

BW: No. She first saw the footage when we began editing.

MT: How does your editing relationship work? I can’t think of another film where the writer and director edited the film together?

BW: I operate the machine, I guess like a traditional editor. She sits and has a conversation with me about what moment we’re piecing together.

Even with the credits in the film, we share the first title together. We are equal collaborators. We each have a job to do and our jobs are equally important.

MT: Producer Jeremy Thomas has wanted to make this film for over 30 years. What was his contribution on the film?

BW: He’s chafed that it’s completed. We (Amy and I) actually went to him, he didn’t come to us. We knew he had the rights to the novel and we were interested in doing it. We had no idea how long he was trying to get it made. From the day we spoke with him for the first time to the final product, it was about two years.

Amy’s weird in that she doesn’t like to take money to write. She told him , “I’ll write the script on spec. If you like it, then let’s do it. If you don’t, no problem.”

She did that, wrote the script and he did the rest to have it made.

MT: The film has a striking Production Design. How was your working relationship with Production Designer Mark Tildesley?

BW: I storyboarded the entire film. We drew together to set up certain scenes in pre-production and had a good relationship. We made a low budget film look expensive. We were very meticulous in how we set up each scene.

PHOTO: Tom Hiddleston stars in HIGH-RISE

MT: The film has a very claustrophobic feel to it. Like we’re also trapped inside of this building and can’t get out. Was that your cinematic intention?

BW: The general sense of any movie is to wrap the audience in the film. So I wanted the audience inside that building relating to the characters. Yes, that was my intention.

MT: You like to present themes of the class war system in all of your films….

BW: Yes. The class system is all around all of us. Class is not just about money. It’s about the pressures of succeeding. And the misery of not succeeding. This around all of us, no matter what society we live in. I think everybody has issues with class, no matter what country you live in.

MT: What film have you seen the most times in your life?

BW: Blade Runner. I’ve seen it 30-40 times.

MT: Who would you love to have dinner with, dead or alive?

BW: My wife. It’s miserable being away from home. I miss her. (Ben’s wife is Amy Jump, the writer/editor of High-Rise.)

MT: Can you give us a sneak peak of your next film “Free Fire”?

BW: It’s set in America, but the process of making it has been the same as before. It’s a genre action/crime film, so it was fun to make. The film is wrapped and edited and ready to be released. So stay tuned! It stars Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Sharlto Copley, and Armie Hammer.

Read Gilbert Seah’s Review of HIGH-RISE


Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Movie Review: HIGH-RISE, Starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

high-rise.jpgHIGH-RISE (UK 2015) ***
Directed by Ben Wheatley

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elizabeth Moss, James Purefoy, Sienna Guillory

Review by Gilbert Seah

HIGH-RISE is a much anticipated film among cineastes. The rights for J.G. Ballard’s (best known for his novel CRASH directed by David Cronenberg) book had been snapped up by producer Jeremy Thomas for decades and a number of directors were slated to make the film, among them Nicholas Roeg. But director Ben Wheatley, British new film enfant terrible snatched the prize after directing two art-house low budget hits A FIELD IN ENGLAND and THE SIGHT-SEERS. Ballard’s book on a dystopian society set up in a 1970’s tower block (film shot in Northern Ireland) where the higher classes occupy the higher floors with better privileges such as parking spots and facilities usage like the summing pool, is a difficult one. The social strata eventually breaks down following a string of building malfunctions.

HIGH-RISE opens with a Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) at his high rise building flat apparently roasting and eating a dog’s leg on the balcony. The film flashes back three months earlier to the events that led to this odd state.

Dr. Lang arrives and occupies in the centre section of the building – reason not given. He meets the building’s architect, Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons) who lives in the penthouse and various other occupants including Charlotte, Royal’s aide (Sienna Miller) and a nasty documentary-maker (Luke Evans) who ends up creating a lot of trouble including wanting to take down Royal. Wheatley’s film charts the downfall of order and the rise of anarchy in the building. Finally, the residents stay in and do not venture out to work, waging wars with each other. Wheatley has directed films with similar themes. THE SIGHTSEERS sees the volatile and violent breakdown of the relationship of a new couple while A FIELD IN ENGLAND featured a battlefield among warring factions.

The Korean film SNOWPIERCER two years back featured a similar premise. The last inhabitants on Earth are stuck on a train travelling around the Earth forever with the lower working classes at the back of the train and the richest at the front. The workers revoke and move up the front of the train.

But HIGH-RISE fails to engage the audience despite the Ballard’s difficult novel. It should be noted that Ballard used to hang around with William Burroughs whose NAKED LUNCH with Ballard’s own CRASH ended up as one of the most unlikeable/difficult films ever made. Given that Amy Jump’s script and Wheatley’s direction make little attempt in tying to make their film more coherent or engaging. When Dr. Laing first meets Chartlotte, her comment is on Laing’s body being almost a perfect specimen implying a detachment of human nature.

The rise of the building’s anarchy is also not well orchestrated. Wheatley appears more interested in the film’s sets and images than anything else. To the film’s credit, the production values look great with the film having a past future feel and a look like the old 70’s futuristic films like Joseph Losey’s MODESTY BLAISE. Whereas films like SNOWPIERCER relied on action to grab the audience’s attention, HIGH-RISE consists of a whole lot of cinematic/dramatic set-ups with too much left to the audience to decipher as to what is happening.

Hiddleston delivers a good nuanced performance appearing out of place and finally connecting with the anarchy just as his confident behaviour at the start of the film breaks down to insecurity. Still Wheatley’s film is an intriguing one and one that shows his ability to set his imprint on a story, whether it be successful or not.


Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com