Film Review: KINGS (France/Belgium 2017)

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Kings Poster

The life of a foster family in South Central Los Angeles, a few weeks before the city erupts in violence following the verdict of the Rodney King trial.


The first thing striking this film is that it is a French-Belgium co-production with a setting of racial tension following the 1992 riots in Los Angeles of the United States.  The riots are the result of the acquittal of the 4 policeman accused of the beating of black youth Rodney King.   Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven is a Turkish born French.  A foreigner tackling a sensitive American issue spells trouble.  True enough!  The film has, at the time of writing, a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 8 reviews.  The film contains too many instances of sensationalization and desperation with the overall feel that director Ergüven seems insecure and has too much to prove with her story.

But she is already an accomplished director with her debut film, MUSTANG nominated for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award.  This is quite the achievement, that allowed her the financial backing to make this film.  Not ono that, bit she is able to cast two stars Halle Berry and Daniel Craig in the title roles.  It is also her original script which is made even more current with a romance between a mixed couple.

The film’s opening scene is already troublesome.  A young black woman puts a jug of orange juice at an Asian Convenience Store into her coat only to be suspected for theft by the store owner who ends up shooting the black woman after being punched in the face by her.   Though this is a true incident that occurred, it downplays the Rodney King incident.  Another troublesome part involves black kids shoplifting and then celebrating their spoils, which basically translates to a film that condones stealing.  There is one good segment in which a cop has to handle one suspect in a car and two youths who has entered his cop car.  “God, I hate this job!” the cop screams.  This is a good view from the side of the cops, for a change, illustrating that they too, have problems when dealing with crime in a black neighbourhood. 

The film is largely spoiled by Halle Berry in what must be the worst casting of an actress in a role not to mention her bad acting.  She overdoes her angelic Mother Teresa role of taking troubled kids into her home.  Her perfect ‘model’ look and perfect hair do not help the credibility of her role either.  The next worst thing is the casting of James Bond Daniel Craig as the reclusive neighbour next time. And horror or horrors!  The two have a romantic interlude.

The females in the film often scream and shout, appearing like spoilt children getting into a fit for not being bale to get what they want.  They also resort to foul language that is so unbecoming of a lady.  All this seems ok and fine since the director has a thing about women issues.  Yet, the audience is supposed to respect such behaviour.

The result is an overdone, over preachy film that gets tedious and terribly annoying.


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Film Review: LOGAN LUCKY (USA 2017) ***

logan luckyTwo brothers attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Rebecca Blunt
Stars: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig

Review by Gilbert Seah

 Veteran director Steven Soderbergh, most famous for his OCEANS ELEVEN trilogy and for his Oscar winning ERIN BROCKOVICH and critically acclaimed films like KAFKA and THE LIMEY was supposed to have retired after his last film UNDER THE CANDELABRA . But after reading the script for LOGAN LUCKY, he was supposedly so enamoured that he decided to direct it. LOGAN LUCKY is a stylish crime caper, a sort of anti-OCEAN’s ELEVEN film without the glamour. Everything is seedy on LOGAN LUCKY, the props, the heist and life depicted in the film.

Soderbergh said of LUCKY LOGAN: “Nobody dresses nice. Nobody has nice stuff. They have no money. They have no technology. It’s all rubber band technology”.
The film involves two brothers. Trying to reverse a family curse (as lame as excuses come), siblings Jimmy (Channing Tatum), Mellie (Riley Keough), and Clyde Logan (Adam Driver) set out to execute an elaborate robbery during the Coca-Cola 600 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina during Memorial Day weekend. Simple though the plot might seem, the story is complicated by all the baggage brought on by the characters.

These are a few examples: (proving Soderbergh’s liking for the script)
Jimmy is separated and has a daughter that is entering a talent contest, which he should support. She performs John Denver’s famous song “Country Road”, in one of the film’s best scenes.

Clyde has lost his hand during the Iraq war. He still serves a mean martini as a bartender using only one arm, and his hand is sucked into the vacuum during the heist.

Special Agent Sarah Grayson (Hilary Swank) has a no-nonsense role as an investigator who hates tight alibis and coincidences

Warden Burns (Dwight Yoakam) as a 9-year old veteran who believes his prison to be the best and escapee proof.

Because of all these distractions, the film runs almost two hours. Though the story actually gets a bit convoluted and also a bit complicated at times, no one really cares, as Soderbergh always surprises with his style and dead-pan humour, reminiscent of KAFKA, my favourite film of his.

The heist segment is executed with a combination of more wry humour than suspense. The home made bomb form the film’s funniest part. Note that there are no exciting car races in this car race heist film.

The cast is impressive with well-known actors including James Bond 007’s Daniel Craig playing against time as a sprung convict, Joe Bang as well as 6 NASCAR drivers playing minor roles. Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch play West Virginia state troopers, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are security guards, Kyle Larson is a limo driver, and Ryan Blaney is a delivery boy. Everyone in the cast and crd appear to he having fun and the fun shows.

Not the best of the Soderbergh’s films, but LOGAN LUKCY is still an entertaining watch from a director who knows how to entertain, especially with a good caper comedy.


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