Ilo Ilo – 4 stars
In this arresting debut film from writer-director Anthony Chen, an impoverished Filipino maid is taken on to help a struggling couple in the Singapore suburbs. She is hired, among other things, to deal with their monstrous little 9-year-old son played by Koh Jia Ler, who delivers an extraordinary performance. As relationships become increasingly strained within the heart of the family, the stage is set for familial disaster.
Ilo Ilo is a film in which everybody walks the treacherous line between financial success and failure, and family relationships ultimately come apart at the seams in achingly believable detail. In what can also be seen as a comment on globalised labour markets, this intelligent film delivers tension in spades, and a feeling of deep investment in flawed characters not quite in control of the wider forces bearing down upon them.
A Million Ways to Die in the West – 2 stars
Seth MacFarlane returns with this western-inspired comedy after his box office hit TED. Why he has decided to start casting himself is anyone’s guess. The film´s central joke here is that the characters speak using modern vernacular but live in 1882. OMG somebody died at fair! People always die at the fair dude. Sarah Silverman is TOTES a whore who talks dirty! Ha. Ha. Kill me now…. at the fair or anywhere else that isn’t a Macfarlane film.
While there are minor laughs to be had in the first half hour, the joke well runs dry very quickly. Macfarlane soon resorts to scraping the barrel in terms of puerile and stupid visual jokes, and by the end of the film there turns out to be a million ways to be bored and unimpressed.
Transformers: The age of Extinction – 0 stars
Transformers are those little plastic toys that you used to play with in the 80s. The cars turned into robots. Then, those car-robots got turned into an expensive Hollywood makeover of over 4 (FOUR!) movies and counting. Michael Bay got paid to ¨fuck the frame¨. Shia laBeouf got paid to act. I had to pay to see the movie. So far, so unbelievable.
In this fourth instalment, Shia is axed from the cast in favour of Mark Wahlberg. Wahlberg, who I was almost growing to like, returns with the same level of acting ability which made him the Calvin Klein model we all know and love.
Plot seems largely secondary to the audio-visual experience. It feels like somebody is aggressively shouting at you really loudly in mostly incoherent dialogue while simultaneously abusing your retinas with puke-inducing colours and slow motion to fast motion cuts. And it only lasts for two and a half hours! If Malcolm McDowell had been forced to watch this in A Clockwork Orange, there would have been no wry smile, just endless tears and regret.
By Duncan Hall