On Monday 10th September 2012 Sarnia Shorts film festival presented a special screening of Welsh/Indonesian action movie The Raid at the Princess Royal Centre for the Performing Arts.
I was on hand and reviewed the event for The Guernsey Press (which you can read in the scan below), below that is a longer version of the same review.
Cinema going can be a hit and miss affair in this day and age, both in Guernsey and beyond, not just because of the notoriously bad British audiences but also small screens and weak sound systems often effecting enjoyment.
Well, for their recent screenings, Sarnia Shorts seem to have found the antidote, and that may not be the most obvious place, but it is the Princess Royal Centre for the Performing Arts at the newly rechristened Les Ozuets Campus of the College of Further Education, where they treated us to one of the most acclaimed action movies of recent times, Gareth Huw Evans’, The Raid.
The film deals with a team of police, something akin to an Indonesian SWAT Team, heading into a tower block that has been taken over by an organised crime boss, and is inhabited by various criminals, and fighting their way in and out.
As I arrived at the PAC tonight the crowd was once again bigger than Sarnia Shorts’ previous screenings and the sense of anticipation was certainly high as The Raid has been one of the best-reviewed films of 2012.
After our hero has been set up as a soon to be father and headed off to the tower block, the films ‘action’, a unique brand of violence, mixing gun play, knife work and hand to hand combat, begins in earnest and rarely lets up.
Certainly this is not a film for the weak of heart, as every shot, stab, kick and punch seems to be delivered with more impact than anything I’ve seen in a cinema for a long time and the audience tonight certainly seemed to share this opinion with a mixture of reactions ranging from sharp in takes of breath to laughter to, at the end of one particularly brutal and spectacular fight scene, spontaneous applause.
While most modern action movies that make it to cinemas (or head direct to DVD) seem to follow one of a few simple revenge plots, what we get in The Raid is an interesting twist on that which only becomes clear as the film goes on and, while the plot may have some moments that are fairly standard, their delivery gives it something new.
But, to be honest, the plot is not this film’s calling card as it is a roller coaster of a motion picture that does away with the painfully clichéd word ‘gritty’ only to replace it with the much more appropriate (but equally as clichéd) ‘visceral’.
Every impact in this film resonates in a way that made me wince or, more often, laugh, though I think a laugh of relief after an intense action sequence rather than at any comedic episode.
The camera work in The Raid is another thing worthy of note as it moves with the actors and stuntmen in a way that borders, at times, on incoherence, but, unlike some other modern actioners, never quite tips things too far adding to the exhilarating feel of actually running alongside these cops as they take on their seemingly insurmountable challenge.
The thing though that really brings the visceral impact of the action home is the sound design as both the sound effects and music combine to create something that is at once totally seamless and at the same time a noticeable highlight, even having input from Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda (not someone I have been a big fan of historically) didn’t detract from it.
After watching a film as classic (and undeniably fantastic) as Jaws a couple of days earlier, I wasn’t sure The Raid was going to be able to live up to my heightened cinematic expectations, however I needn’t have worried.
While different to Spielberg’s shark movie in almost every way, it still managed to keep up my run of very good films and really is something that anyone who can stomach some pretty full on violence should see – and, as with all the best action movies of this ilk, the theory that they sit in a place very close to the song and dance movie is one that stands up here as the choreography is second to none with almost every movement in the film feeling as meticulously planned as any big song and dance number.
With the Sarnia Shorts festival only a little over a month away it was good to see so many at the PAC, and see them reacting so well, to see this somewhat less than mainstream film and I had a chance to catch up with one of the festival organisers, Lisa Gaudion, after the movie.
Lisa told me that the festival will be taking place over the weekend of 19th, 20th and 21st October and that preparations were going “really well”: “We’re currently working up a programme for the festival, which will be out soon, and are still on the hunt for those ever important sponsors, but, the films have been sent out to the judges and we’ll have all our award winners chosen by the end of the month.”
She added: “It’s all very exciting now we’re getting closer to the event and Wynter [Tyson, co-organiser] and myself are putting as much time into it as we can to make sure the event is a success.”
Chimes at Midnight (aka Falstaff)
The festival has received 120 entries and 74 will be screened over the three days. Lisa said she had been “blown away” by the quality of the films which have come from all over the world including entries from Australia, the USA and Europe as well as the UK and Guernsey.
The festival will kick off with a special screening of Orson Welles Chimes At Midnight before the festival entries are shown in eight two-hour screenings on the Saturday and Sunday, all the Princess Royal Centre for the Performing Arts.
Tickets will be available soon from guernseytickets.gg and if you want to get involved with the festival, or discuss potential sponsorship with them, you can email Lisa or Wynter at email@example.com
A fan made trailer for Chimes At Midnight: