Category Archives: Costume Drama

Deathwatch (2002)

Director: M J Bassett
Starring: Jamie Bell, Ruaidhri Conroy, Mike Downey, Laurence Fox, Kris Marshall, Hans Matheson, Matthew Rhys, Andy Serkis. UK. 1h 34m

The general trends with World War II movies is to punch your audience right in the gut with the violence and depression of the war. With all the progressions of cinema they all translate in more effect ways of demonstrating the darkest side of human nature and the brutal fight for freedom, but this isn’t the only way to portray the horrors of this dark chapter, since the was there have been numerous ghost stories written about lost soldiers, everlasting love and the occult nature of the “the enemies” of righteous civilisation. But is Deathwatch the new ghostly war story we need?

Bassett’s track record includes an array of action movies all tinged with the macabre, but Bassett is versatile in his approach with the lavish fantasy Solomon Kane filled with magic myth and monsters, and Wilderness, a group of wayward chavs verses a mystery slasher while stranded on a secluded island, he’s not a man who liked to be pinned down with a specialty apart from directing engaging movies. Continue reading Deathwatch (2002)

Història de la meva mort / The Story of my Death (2013)

Director: Albert Serra
Starring: Eliseu Huertas, Lluís Serrat Massanellas, Vicenç Altaió . UK. 2h 28m

Albert Serra, the Catalan trailblazer, always fascinates with his interpretations and adaptations of withering classic figures. Through a dusty lense he creates lavish cultured tapestries for them to play in, sometimes seeming alive now and again they seem as fragile and shaggy relics they have left behind.

His baroque mix up of pleasure meets desire in the guise of Cassanova meets Dracula combines fantasy and fiction in a flight of fancy style, at times it’s pretty grotesque while bolsters by lots of risque blush and tickles, a truly great adventure set against an unusual Transylvanian setting. Continue reading Història de la meva mort / The Story of my Death (2013)

Swing Kids (1993)

Director: Thomas Carter
Starring:
Robert Sean leonard, Frank Whaley, Barbara Hershey, Noah Wyle, Martin Clunes, Christian Bale, Kenneth Brannah . USA. 1h 54m

In Thomas Carter‘s bold coming of age melodrama, three friends find themselves having to become men in a world being ripped apart by hitler’s iron hand, when all they want to do is dance the night away to Harlem jazz. Sadly they are children of a world that they didn’t make, but the free spirits find themselves in trouble and soon swinging to the mantras of a fascist regime.

Carter seems to have this habit of working on lots of TV shows then cracking out a startling film usually entangled into a taboo or some kind of controversy like his later hit Coach Carter (2005). Continue reading Swing Kids (1993)

The Necromancer (2018)

Director: Stuart Brennan
Starring: Stuart Brennan, Marcus Macleod, Mark Paul Wake….UK. 1h 28m

This darkly twisted fairy tale follows a group of soldiers fleeing a war zone who find themselves lost deep in the woods where only magical things can happen.This British horror with a small budget definitely dreams big and while it has a solid story the execution comes across a little trying.

There is evil inside all of us.

Continue reading The Necromancer (2018)

Blood (1973)

Director: Andy Milligan
Starring: Allan Berendt, Hope Stansbury, Patricia Gaul, Michael Fischetti . USA. 1h 9m

This bloodfest has everything in it, monsters, romance, carnivorous plants, a host of deformed servants, affairs, crooked solicitors and a batshit crazy old woman, and all in just over an hour, Andy Milligan really knew how to make a thrilling movie on no budget but with a bucket of originality and a touch of lowbrow comedy.

A stuffy estate agent takes a doctor to view a new property, there he attempts to make his excuses about the state of the property and show the man around but before he can lay on the bullshit he’s given a hefty cheque and forced out the house with reasoning not to return, the second his foot is out the door screaming shrouded figure is rushed in the back door by two crippled servants and a crazy freakish woman. The ghoulish melting corpse they uncover is one of the more gross scenes in the movie and it’s legendary that it’s done so early in the production, it turns out this vile thing is really the beautiful wife of Doctor Orlovsky, a brilliant scientist who’s returned home to claim his family fortune to further fund his experiments.

Continue reading Blood (1973)

Mr Turner (2014)

Director: Mike Leigh .
Starring: Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson, UK. 2h 34m.

There is so much praise I can lavish on Mr Turner but first and foremost I have to admit that the choice in leading actor is such a strange but perfect cast, Timothy Spall is such a seasoned actor with talent coming out of his arse but as for looking and being J W M Turner, he wouldn’t be a first choice but he totally embodies the persona of Turner, from what is known and how he’s been portrayed from first hand accounts he is the spirit of the great artist and that’s primarily why this movie is so successful. Continue reading Mr Turner (2014)

Der Hauptmann / The Captain (2017)

Director: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Max Hubacher, Frederick Lau, Bernd Hölscher, Waldemar Kobus, Alexander Fehling, Samuel Finzi. Germany. 1h 50m

Here is another chilling nightmare from the German home front, as the end of the war begins to loom into reality and defeat is imminent, a lone German runs deep into the woods while being chased by some overprivileged soldiers blowing horns and taking pot luck shots at him. The man manages to evade death and recapture and eventually stumbles on an abandoned car and uniform of a high ranking officer.

This crystalline black and white brutal masterpiece, possible shot in this style inspired by Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993) shows that the talented director Schwentke has gone back to basic and delivered something beautifully stark and somewhat monstrous. Continue reading Der Hauptmann / The Captain (2017)

Pe+et / Peter (2011)

Director: Skip Kite
Starring: Walt Kissack, Gary Sharkey, Ada, Lewis. UK. 1h 24m

Peter Sutcliffe has had a terrible reputation for a long time, and despite his feelings of remorse in this latter years public opinion hasn’t changed much. This drama is supposed to take you into the mind of one of the UK’s most notorious serial killers, using real archive footage it pieces together the biggest manhunt as well as dramatising Peters inner thoughts while he attempts to reflect internally. Continue reading Pe+et / Peter (2011)

Gotti (2018)

Director: Kevin Connolly
Starring: John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Spencer Lofranco, William DeMeo .USA. 1h 50m

The gangsters paradise seems to have had its heyday with bold releases such as Goodfellas (1990) and Casino (1995), the amazing rag to riches backstories, garnished with riches and savage beatings really enthralled audiences, I was one of many who assumed that this release might just make the holy trinity of awesomeness, but who was I kidding, John Travolta as the Teflon Don!? I want to say that this abysmal movie is The Room (2003) of mobster movies but the room is so bad it’s good, it has some charm and is incredibly memorable where as this crumpled lackluster effort is easily forgettable and it pains me to have to write a review. Continue reading Gotti (2018)

Jackie (2016)

Director: Pablo Larrain
Starring: Natalie Portman, Billy Crudup. USA.  1h 40m

There’s a time when a country is on the verge of a historic event and during the run up it’s common to look back at the achievements or disasters, but with the verge of a new president this raw and varnished portrait of Jackie Kennedy arrived at a reverent time.

Concentrating on the events from the point of Jackie the film revolves around the shooting of her husband , the world was shocked but the world was talking politics, talking about men and often Jackie was totally ignored, considered a bystander having everyone assume her feelings and emotions at the time and for years after. Pablo Larrain set himself a massive challenge with his first English language film, he’s taken on a task which could offend a country but his subtle hand and sympathetic eye has assured this film will be warmly welcomed. With an event this large the film is able to jump around to and fro but encompasses the tragic and lonely situation that Jackie was left in. Continue reading Jackie (2016)