Director: Sergei Bodrov
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Olivia WIlliams, Djimon Hounsou, Julianne Moore. USA/UK/Russia 1h 42m
Based on The Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delaney
In principle the story is ok, I’m pretty sure the better selling novel by Joseph Delaney is worth a read if fantasy is your thing, but in this bizarre adaptation there’s no longer anything particularly outstanding. Which is totally bizarre as it has all the ingredients, great actors, many who have starred in many fantasy movies, a Russian director, and without prejudice some of the most inventive fantasy movies have come from the region, topped with a lavish story, this should have blown many pairs of socks off, but it could barely figure out how to put them on.
Opening at a weird stage in the story, we see a man locking away a screaming woman in a remote hold in a vacant landscape, is alludes to this being the outcome of an epic battle between Mother Malkin (Moore) an evil witch and Gregory (Bridges) a member of a knightly order called the Falcons who dedicate their lives defending mankind from supernatural threats. Continue reading The Seventh Son (2014)
Director: Nicolas Pesce Writer: Ryû Murakami
Starring: Christopher Abbott, Mia Wasikowska, Laia Costa. USA/Japan. 1h 21m
Piercing, a movie about a man who plans to kill a prostitute in his hotel room, was an instant for my to watch list, but after seeing it get run into the dirt by many reviewers I did start to question myself. A tiny bit of research renewed my passion when I realised that this thriller is based on a book by Ryû Murakami, yep, the twisted individual that wrote the novel Audition who’s film adaption comes highly rated with it’s dark surreal undertones and horrific gore scenes. Top this off with the director of The Eyes of my Mother (2016) I can’t see how this could really be so bad..
A young father, Reed (Abbott) struggles to restrain himself from stabbing his baby daughter with a skewer, the pressure forces him to find a way to get this deadly desire out of his system. He hatches an incredibly details plan to hire a hotel room, rent a hooker and play out his stabbing fantasy, once she’s dead he hopes to return to his happy normal life.Unfortunately the unhinged hooker he encounters, Jackie (Wasikowska) has her own demons to exorcise and the two of them play an destructive game of cat and mouse. Continue reading Piercing (2018)
Director: Daniel Leone
Starring: Constantin Tripes,Ashton Leigh, Max Rhyser, Brandon deSpain, Boomer Tibbs. USA. 1h 45m
I find it’s adorable that this century old story is still influencing directors today, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been one of my all time favourite novels since I was a wee bearn, and the ancient histories of North Africa has been a huge influence, both villains have been huge horror characters since cinema began and finally they meet in the dank basement of an American University in this sketchy horror, it could have flourished into something with more substance but is still entertaining, more so than others in the genre but don’t expect your socks to be blown off.
Heavily inspired by the Gothic novella and possibly a few Hammer Horrors in between, this tepid horror attempts to pull together two monsters for an epic battle but totally misses its own mark and churns out a terrible romance story which slows the movie down and doesn’t give much space to maneuver these foes. Continue reading Frankenstein Vs The Mummy (2015)
Director: Michael Pearce
Starring: Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn,Geraldine James .UK. 1h 46m
Director Michael Pearce has constructed a commanding movie with a complex layered story, this deeply psychological drama/thriller is a smouldering beauty with lots of eerie undertones.The films flaming lead Jessie Buckley gives an excellent lead performance who’s beauty gives the film a touch of piercing clarity, as Pearce builds mystery with intense fascination, often revealing big scenes with fine balance as he grips the viewers attention with climatic stages.
Set in Jersey while a serial killer has murdered several young girls, the village tries to solder o while there’s a giant elephant in the room. In among the normies is Moll (Buckley) a 27 year old who’s a deeply unhappy woman and put upon daughter by an extremely domineering mother (James) she lives out her days under the total control of her mother and carrying out a soulless job as a tour guide. There is a reason for the watchful eye of Moll, she has a dark secret that manifested in her past school girl days, and in turn she’s still basically treated as a child while her siblings are on their own pedestals. Her sister manages to upstage her at her own birthday party while announcing her pregnancy, Moll, having enough of the family antics storms out abandoning her family and Cliff, a stuffy young police officer who wanted to make Moll his new girlfriend. Into the night she runs and joins another party, meeting the mysterious and alluring Pascal (Flynn). Continue reading Beast (2017)
Director: George A Romero
Starring: Ed Harris, Tom Savini, Patricia Tallman, Stephen King, Christine Forrest, Gary Lahti, Warner Shook . USA . 2h 25m
While Romero is well known for his ground-breaking horror movies, it is his change of pace movies like Monkey Shines (1988) or Knightriders that really spark the imagination and allowed him some personal exploration, this drama about a travelling renaissance fair troupe is not only deeply personal for him and it’s cult followers but a chance to express some of his moral code into an imaginative story.
Seemly inspired by age old tales from Medieval Europe and a man dealing with his own strict moral code, there’s an amazing battle between good and evil temptations in this action drama and it all starts with Billy (Harris), who leads a travelling troupe of motorcycle jousts. Billy styles himself according to King William’s ideals, and is constantly balancing these internally within the ruins of the modern world. His battle, financial pressures and the strains from the group becoming so popular start to fracture the group apart. Continue reading Knightriders (1981)
Director:Ugezu J Ugezu .
Starring. Bob Manuel Udokwu, Chioma Chukwuka, Ugezu J Ugezu, Uju Okoli . Nigeria. 5h 25m.
For Nollywood this is certainly one of my all time favourites and I believe the first full length one I saw back in 2016, I was a total noob but I fell in love with the genre and didn’t realise that the movies would be so long, like mini series, this 4 part epic (each episode over an hour) is a tale of woe and magical mystery.
So a loving and yet very strict businessman, named Silas played by Bob Manuel Udokwu, runs a thriving business, when he’s not running his corporation with an iron first, he’s loving his beautiful wife, Elizabeth (Chukuka) and their daughter, Elizabeth is heavily pregnant with their second child, this comes after a losing her previous baby, but with care and love they family have picked themselves up and are trying again. Continue reading The Sorrows of Elizabeth (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)
Director: Rainer Sarnet
Based on Rehepapp ehk by Andrus Kivirähk
Starring: Rea Lest, Jörgen Liik, Arvo Kukumägi, Katariina Unt, Taavi Eelmaa, Dieter Laser, Jette Loona Hermanis. Estonia. 1h 55m
I’d like to think that I don’t award too many 10/10’s although I am always searching for perfect films and I believe I have just found another one, possibly the one. There’s so much to fall in love with in Sarnet’s November, based on a deeply chrasamisc novel Rehepapp by Andrus Kivirähk who’s possibly one of the most influential folk writers since Estonia’s classical epic Kalevipoeg and is just as extraordinary.
The film starts out curiously, a cow skull mounted on farming tools is captured rolling and creaking across the landscape using a chain it steals a cow, by grabbing the beast and flying into the air like a folklore chopper, the mechanism lands with the cow, on a farm miles away across the forest, the owner coming out to retrieve the animal and kicks the machine away, but it talks to him, asking for more work so he gives it an impossible task and it explodes. This “thing” is a Kratt and you’ll see a lot of these throughout the movie, and you can see the Kratts screen test here (https://vimeo.com/66493993)
The villagers find it hard to survive throughout the dark Estonian winters and often end up stealing from each other and the German nobility who are taking over their lands. In order to make a Kratt the villagers first have to go into the forest and make a pact with the devil written in blood in His book. Continue reading November (2017)
Director: Katie Wolfe
Starring: Calvin Tuteao, Dean O’Gorman, Pana Hema-Taylor, Nathalie Boltt, George Henare, Vicky Haughton . New Zealand . 1h 16m
Based on : the novel Nights in the Gardens of Spain by Witi Ihimaera.
Even though 80% of what I watch is considered “World Cinema” there are still areas which I find it hard to break into, and for some strange reason New Zealand is one of them, mostly because the only film anyone ever talks about is Once Were Warriors! Even I’ve been guilty of it, I’ve searched for the next fix, and I thought I had found it with The Last Saint, while a gritty drama it just didn’t pack the power of Once were Warriors, but I didn’t give up, New Zealand Cinema has a lot to offer and while this isn’t the very best, I found it to be a charming alternative albeit a little bit basic. Continue reading Kawa (2010)
Director: Alfonso Brescia.
Starring. Robert Hoffman, Irina Demick, Pilar Velazquez, Adolfo Celi. Italy. 1h 32m.
I’m not sure what the fascination is with the Giallo scene and parks, houses being on the edge, and girls getting killing in them. But this was a bit of a jumbled mess for me, I got the story but some of the characters were a little too bat-shit-crazy to make the film all that plausible. Continue reading Ragazza Tutta Nuda Assassinata Nel Parco / A girl killed in the park (1972)