Film Review: City Of Tiny Lights

A city of tiny lights that remained dimly lit throughout the entire film. There’s an occasional flicker of light in City of Tiny Lights but this slow, cliched riddled attempt at film noir London style is so dimly lit and hides in the shadow. By the end of City of Tiny Lights  you only stay to see it play out the story by numbers and have it confirmed you guessed who the baddie was.

City of Tiny Lights is trying to be clever. Initially it does appear intriguing and there are moments the action appear to offer hope but all that remains when the lights are turned on is a weak attempt at a film noir. A girl is missing, not just any girl but a Russian prostitute. Her friend, another high class prostitute and housemate, Melody, hires Tommy Akhtar (Riz Ahmed), private detective to locate her. There is a rather amusing conversation about prostitute names and ford cars. I won’t ruin it for you. Aside from a few lines of interesting dialogue it just didn’t get better. The social commentary was definitely strong with this one: ISIS, refugees, social mobility and whether getting out of your environment can change your very nature all set against a London backdrop. However, the supporting cast was not very strong and Billy Piper’s lips acted more than she ever did.

Riz Ahmed is the best thing about City of Tiny Lights – as he chainsmokes his way through the entire film only allowing the smoke to disappear as he sips on wild turkey with no ice.  He at least is convincing as the private detective trying to solve the mystery and haunted by his own past. However, he alone isn’t reason enough to see this paint it by numbers attempt at film noir. If it were on dvd about half way through you would fast forward to the end to confirm that you’d guessed right and get up and make a cup of tea. Whilst it is easy enough to guess who the baddie is, what is surprising is the way in which the film concludes. The ending belonged to a different type of film those final ten minutes should have been cut.

Who is going to see this?

Not many people, if you live in London and don’t have an unlimited cinema membership card. City of Tiny Lights just it isn’t worth your popcorn money.  It’s a dimly lit attempt at film noir that fades into the abyss even before the end credits.

City of Tiny Lights is released in cinemas across the UK on Friday 7 April.

Film Review: Silence

Silence is an examination of keeping the faith when the courage of your convictions is tested. Just how strong is the human spirit when the only voice you hear is that of your inner critic? All of this is examined in Silence directed and co-written by Martin Scorcese.
Firstly if you’re hoping for a Scorsese film — that of yesteryear – Raging Bull, even that with Leonardo Di Caprio, The Departed – that was before but this is now a very different Martin Scorsese. Silence is based on a bestselling book and dedicated to all those Christians and Portuguese Priests slaughtered during feudal Japan. The roles of three priests at different stages of their faith are played by Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson. We only see Liam Neeson briefly and then he’s gone to return much later in the film. What we are left with is a two hour mediation on faith and a flimsy psychoanalysis of the Japanese psyche and humanity et al.
What’s the film really about?
Well that’s the question. Here is what I left thinking:
  1. Is it just a simple adaptation and transposition of a tome of a novel; or
  2. An overtly political film about having the courage of your convictions and faith even in a nihilistic swamp that America’s become culminating in the election of Trump!
Then there is the curious case of Andrew Garfield who takes on the main role in this film. This is the first of two films in which he faces hellfire and wrestles with the courage of conviction, the other is Hacksaw Ridge which is released later this month. He does an admirable job in both although I preferred his role in Hacksaw Ridge. This meditation on faith and humanity left me exhausted and slightly delirious for one blessed moment I imagined I saw Richard Chamberlain in Shogun but alas the Silence is maddening.
Who is going to see this?
  • Well, three quarters of the cinema was full when I saw it at a public screening but then again the choice was limited on New Year’s Day.
  • Then there are Scorsese fans although be warned this is an altogether different Scorsese, one that I don’t recognise or even really want to ever give another 3 hours of my time to. Yes it is 3 HOURS long!
  • If feudal Japanese history mixed with religious iconography gets your juices flowing, then welcome to Silence and you may just have a silent auditorium to watch it in.
Silence was released across cinemas in the UK on 1 January 2017.