The Raid: The Raid is definitely the first Indonesian film that I’ve ever seen, and most likely will be my favourite for a long time to come. It may have the most paper thin plot and a premise straight out of an 80s videogame as a back-up lacking elite police squad take on 30 floors of criminals in an otherwise disused apartment block. However, whilst the roughly 7 minutes of dialogue is merely functional and there is no way that you could have any connection to these characters it is one of the most thrilling films of recent years. Certainly, the utterly ridiculous fight scenes are most likely the best-choreographed in the history of cinema, with incredible martial arts flinging punches and kicks at about a million miles per hour. Pure unflinching, brutal and explosive action, The Raid is a must see for anyone with even a minor interest in getting an adrenal kick from their films. 5/5.
Beasts of the Southern Wild: Right, a bit of a tonal change here. In fact, BOTSW could not be more different from The Raid, a Malick-esque meditation on the power of nature and innocence of children. 9 year old Quvenzhane Wallis gives an absolutely exceptional performance as Hushpuppy, made even more impressive by the fact that (alongside Dwight Henry as her unreliable, alcoholic father) she is a first time actor, plucked from the streets of New Orleans. Not without its faults, being slightly meandering and almost entirely plotless, BOTSW is occasionally utterly masterful. Heavenly light floods many of the shots, and it is chock full of symbolism, particularly as an extremely atmospheric statement on Hurricane Katrina and how man’s destruction of nature will ultimately prove our undoing. Stunning acting, wonderful camerawork and a beautifully well done parable on how children must survive and adapt in a world that even the adults can barely comprehend, BOTSW is occasionally marred by some evidently inexperienced film-making. 4/5.