Al and Linda Lerner review “Free Fire,” “Queen of the Desert,” “Colossal,” and “Their Finest” on Movies and Shakers



What if they made a movie that was nothing but a shoot out for an entire hour and a half? That’s exactly what British Writer/Director  Ben Wheatley (Kill List, High Rise) and his wife/writing partner, Amy Jump, take us on in this 70’s romp through a Boston warehouse. This is wry comedy of the absurd taken to the violently absurd.

The action is wrapped around what is essentially a comedy that turns dark when a gun deal goes bad. All the characters have their own “shtick” which had us laughing while each of them is getting plugged bullets flying non-stop.


This film should have been better. It feels more like a pompous travelogue than an interesting chronicle of Gertrude Bell’s life. She was a traveler, writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer, and political attaché for the British Empire at the dawn of the twentieth century.

There is an abundance of beautiful scenery in the Arabian Desert as this becomes a poor man’s Lawrence of Arabia. Gertrude was blessed and cursed with intelligence as well as beauty at at time when women were considered second class citizens. She also exhibits a bravery equal to any man.


It’s not necessarily big, but Colossal is colossal. The monsters that are in it are large but colossal also means of great consequence or monumental. This film is in some ways. It’s a comedy, and a Sci fi thriller that keeps turning on a dime. You’ll be in a booze induced fog like Anne Hathaway’s Gloria. We were kept in a fog, too, wondering what was going on and why for awhile. But then it kept getting more interesting.

Writer/Director Nacho Vigalondo (Extraterrestrial, Timecrimes), grew up in Spain but was drawn to Asian Kaiju giant monster films. He also was drawn to romantic comedies. So he decided to mix the two. The monsters came first for the director and thence created the characters whose actions would keep the audience guessing. The director says he knew Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis would be able to create the comedy, and then the tension he needed to pull the audience into the story.


Most World War II films are about battles on the field. This one is about what went on behind the scenes. It’s a movie about making a movie to boost morale in England. Only this film is told from a woman’s perspective. Gemma Arterton, the star of the film, says this is a great time to be a woman in the film industry. And this film shines a light on that, too. It is based on a book by Lissa Evans. Director Lone Scherfig and Gaby Chiappe bring their female touch to the film.


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