directors, horror, Movies, new releases, Reviews

Post-It [Comes At Night] Notes

Claustrophobic horror thriller It Comes At Night is the latest film to land in an ongoing culture war (actually more of a skirmish between factions) for the soul of the genre, between films considered mainstream and art-house. I feel I have to write something about this about once a year. The last time being when Bret Easton Ellis went on a diatribe against ‘art horror’ coinciding with the UK release of Austrian horror movie Goodnight Mommy, you can read that here.

Such think pieces and debates are frustrating to me, as the often obscure the qualities of the film at hand. So is to worth spending your hard earned case on seeing It Comes At Night at the movies, or should you just wait for VOD or streaming?

Find out after the jump… Continue reading

Best of 2016, Movies, new releases

Waiting to put on a black shirt – how Brady Corbet’s The Childhood of a Leader is a chilling totalitarian parable

Yesterday (the 18th of August 2016) was not a good day for the European film industry (yes,  until Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered I do still consider the British film industry part of a wider European industry). Dutch sales agent Fortissimo Films and UK based distributor Metrodome shuttered. Both companies had a strong history of supporting international independent filmmakers.

Metrodome straddled the divide between genre and art house fare, they had solid hits releasing films like Donnie Darko and Monster. More recently their acquisitions team had punched well above their weight, securing and releasing a string of significant art house films such as White God, Tangerine, The Falling, and What We Do In The Shadows (to name just my personal favourites.

The loss of both companies is a testament to the alarming shrinking of the independent film sphere, but Metrodome’s hits particularly hard as it removes a key distributor from a UK market now largely saturated with American studio product in which independent films across the spectrum from art house to exploitation increasingly struggle to be seen on a large format screen.

That Metrodome were to have released The Childhood of a Leader in the UK this week, and that it is on of the interesting films of the summer, is just pouring salt in the wound.

Anyway, on to the review… Continue reading

Movies, Reviews

Film review – Youth

Sprawling, surreal and colourful (my filmcrit 101 thesaurus suggests ‘Felliniesque) Youth is set in a super-plush, beyond five star, luxury hotel-slash-spa-slash-retreat in the Swiss Alps. A variety of characters enter into the orbit of two elderly friends, Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) a retired composer and conductor and Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) a less retired film director. The two men have known each other for so long that their rambling philosophical conversations revolve around two main subjects. Their inability to remember if Mick slept with a woman Fred coveted in their youth, and comparing prostate issues. Continue reading

Movies, Reviews

Film review – Room

First a warning. Room presents a dilemma to any film reviewer. Although based on a popular and highly lauded novel, it is a film that benefits from being viewed with as little fore-knowledge as possible. Not being familiar with the book I knew only the basic concept and nothing of the shape of the narrative. Because of this, the film contained one sequence that packed in more stomach tightening suspense than anything else I’ve seen this year. 

If you haven’t read Emma Donoghue’s novel, I recommend that you don’t proceed past the jump and just go see the film. Come back later. All you need to know is it is brilliant, moving, and despite the subject matter it is a rich and emotionally nuanced film that is neither an endurance test, nor a TV-movie-of-the-week piece of melodramatic misery tourism. If you have been a fan of Lenny Abrahamson’s previous films, which include What Richard Did, and the wonderful Frank, this is another work of exceptional psychological depth.

Anyway, review follows, I’ll try to keep it as plot light as possible, but proceed with caution. Continue reading

biopics, Movies, Reviews

Thinking differently about STEVE JOBS? Review.

It seems you can’t idly click-through Netflix (other services are available) without coming across a film about Steve Jobs.

Since his death in 2011, the Apple Inc. founder has undergone a cultural canonisation over and above his already messiah-like status among followers of the ‘Cult of Mac’. This ubiquitousness has led box office commentators (i.e. everybody with a net connection and IMDb bookmarked) to speculate that the relatively poor performance of Danny Boyle’s new film is the result of ‘Jobs-fatigue’.

While this theory seems to assume people have actually been watching the workmanlike hagiographic documentaries, it may be that following the docs, the dreadful Aston Kutcher biopic, the many books on Jobs (including the Walter Isaacson biography on which this film is based), anyone interested in seeing a film called Steve Jobs feels they already know everything, and anyone not interested in Steve Jobs is simply unlikely to want to see a film called Steve Jobs.

Personally, I try to leave box-office analysis to a few experts who actually know what they are writing about. While the subject seems to fascinate just about everybody, it is an obsession that is drowning out actual conversations about actual films and whether they are actually worth seeing or not. And here’s the rub. Steve Jobs is absolutely a film worth seeing.  Continue reading

Gambling movies, Grolsch Film Works, Movies, Reviews

I’m ‘all in’ with Mississippi Grind, a little gem of a film

I’m not usually a fan of gambling movies, mainly because I’m rubbish at maths and can never understand the odds. However, Mississippi Grind neatly bypasses the issue by focussing on two fascinating characters and largely ignoring the mechanics of gaming rules in favour of examining the psychology of the players.


The following review was originally published on the new defunct Grolsch site. Continue reading

horror, Movies, Reviews, thriller

LFF Review – Why you should RSVP to The Invitation

Here is a thriller that effectively weaponises anxieties over social awkwardness turning a drawing room drama into a sustained note of escalating tension like 100 minutes of a nail scrapped down a blackboard. It is not a pleasant experience but also not easily forgotten. Continue reading

action tosh, Movies, Reviews

Review – Owen Wilson, Lake Bell and Pierce Brosnan in the dubious thriller No Escape

Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) – an engineer for a US water company – is relocating with his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and their two kids to Southeast Asia. From the moment, they land, plans start to go awry. They are to be met at the airport but some snafu leaves them stranded. A Brit called Hammond (Pierce Brosnan) steps in and directs them past the waiting cab drivers he assures them are crooks to a private taxi driven by a local friend. This leads to a hair raising journey to their hotel that serves to show how uptight the two Americans are. Things don’t improve at the hotel, the TV doesn’t work and Jack can’t get the latest edition of the New York Times. Continue reading