THE WEEKEND IN FILM - AUGUST 31-SEPTEMBER 1
By Tom Augustine
They say the best editing in film is the type when you don't even sense the edits - when the film's shots are compiled so gracefully that watching the film feels like thoughts projected into the back of your mind. A poorly edited film is one whose foundations are crumbling - even if it's made with all the right stuff, which is sadly the case with gangster flick The Kitchen (dir. Andrea Berloff, R16).
It's a shame because it's the kind of film whose pedigree on paper seems like a sure-fire hit: based on a strong DC graphic novel, with an intriguing director at the helm, a scintillating plot (three mob wives take over a Hell's Kitchen gang in the 1970s after their criminal husbands are sent to prison) and an absurdly stacked cast. The problems begin with the editing, which makes the film feel unfinished - scenes that linger too long for no reason or feel like they're pieced together at random. But the problems don't stop there. This immensely frustrating film is packed with scenes that go nowhere, subplots that emerge nonsensically then disappear into the ether, and characters whose motivations and relationships to one another are rarely clear. That aforementioned cast - which includes stars Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss, as well as an incredible roster of character actors like Domhnall Gleeson (whose hitman love interest is probably the most intriguing turn the film has to offer), Annabella Sciorra and Margo Martindale - all flounder within the film, seemingly adrift.
It's a film that borrows liberally from gangster movie language - the films of Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and Quentin Tarantino all get a nod - but never manages an ounce of the energy or invention of those offerings, the exhausting array of obvious music cues throughout lending to this feeling of pale imitation. The final 15 minutes, the only time at which a pulse is detectable, mean that it finishes well but it's not enough to save The Kitchen from being a dreary slog. There's a great film in here somewhere but original, grown-up cinema needs to do much, much better than this.
RATING: One-and-a-half stars.
Elsewhere, those who missed Apollo 11 (dir. Todd Douglas Miller, E) at this year's Film Festival will get the chance to catch on the big screen this weekend this remarkable piece of archival documentary film-making. An astounding restoration and compilation of never-before-seen footage of the iconic mission to the moon, it features countless awe-inspiring images, flooring the viewer with its sense of scale and titanic effort. Despite some of the slower patches in the middle, Apollo 11 bookends with launch and landing sequences that are spine-tinglingly powerful. A documentary of astonishing technical accomplishment that never fails to remind us of the human element in glimpses of technicians on the ground, a lone woman sitting among the men in the control station or the everyday people in camp chairs and on car bonnets watching the take-off from afar.
RATING: Four stars.