Director: Paul Schrader.
Starring. Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer, Michael Gaston, Victoria Hill, Philip Ettinger. USA. 1h 48m.
It hasn’t been that long since we saw Ethan Hawke play a slightly different priest in the terrifying horror Regression (2015), alongside the talented Emma Watson. In First Reformed he returns, not as the same character, but a totally different priest, a broken man who’s suffering from stress, loss of his son and the drastic effects of alcoholism while facing the void he experiences a spiritual and psychological crisis, one that he can only deal with slowly and in his own stunning and slightly confusing way.
The film opens with Reverend Toller (Hawke) writing down his thoughts in a journal, declaring that he’s going to keep the journal for 1 year then destroy it. He’s the head of First Reformed, a 250 year old Dutch Reformed Church in Snowbridge New York. Like many churches in the area it faces dwindling attendances but receives support from a nearby “megachurch” who own and care for the historical landmark which has a special place in history as it was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Continue reading First Reformed (2017)
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 (2007)
Starring. Aura Garrido, David Oakes, Ray Stevenson. Spain. 1h 48m.
The background of this mesmerising thriller is reminiscent of stories straight from the imagination of HP Lovecraft, but the film is actually based on a story by Albert Sanchez Pinol with the same title. They both involve a lone man on the edge of his sanity who lives locked tight in a light house on a remote and uninhabited island, existing like a hobo and fighting off deadly sea creatures each night.
The film breaks open at sea, a fine-looking ship is being chased by dolphins as a young Irishman named Friend (Oakes) travels to this remote island in the South Atlantic to work as a meteorologist, the only inhabitant of the island is the caretaker of the lighthouse, a tough character called Gruner (Stephenson). After a cold and abrupt introduction Gruner informs Friend that the previous meteorologist died from typhus. The crew depart leaving Friend to cosy in his new cabin he watches Gruner in his fortified lighthouse with intense curiosity, why would someone need to defend a lighthouse? Friend unpacks and finds a journal from the late meteorologist, detailing nightly attacks from strange creatures form the sea, assuming this was feverish dreams of a dying man he drifts off to sleep until a slimy webbed hand feels under the door and he finds himself under attack. He managed to fight off the intruders, the next day he tries to get Gruners attention but is ignored. He spends the day fortifying the cabin and finds a gun. Awaiting another attack but he’s overrun and in the fight ends up burning the cabin to the ground, hiding on the rocks of the beach with a blanket he spends the night hiding. Continue reading La Piel Fria / Cold Skin (2017)
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic. UK/Ireland/USA. 2h 1m
One main thing which I have admired about Yorgos Lanthimos is that since his debut in 2009 with Dogtooth, he’s got a persistent streak to deliver his brand of cinema no matter what, his idosynchetric practice is very distinctive and each film since has been highly meticulously created, giving something different each time but with a strong je ne sai quoi which is very Lanthimos-esque.
Obviously loving the experience from The Lobster (2015) Colin Farrell returns for another darkly bizarre story this time it’s not about falling in love it’s all about a cold dish of revenge. The film opens with open heart surgery being performed by the skilled surgeon Steven Murphy (Farrell), afterwards he meets a young boy named Martin (Keoghan) the relationship between the isn’t explained and the curiosity continues as Steven returns home to his family, Anna (Kidman) and their two children, with their idyllic and somewhat stale life in the suburbs. Continue reading Killing of the Sacred Deer (2017)
Director: Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama
Starring: A bunch of people.. Canada/USA. 1h 20m
Horror anthologies can be a lot of fun, what could be wrong with a collection of thrilling stories that aim to excite, shock and thrill? Usually there is little to connect the stories apart from a wrap around. But the delight in XX is that it’s a female themed horror anthology, made by women possibly for women..it’s aim is to show that girls can make horror that is just as good if not better than the boys, but instead we have a few short films which seem to revolve around some incredibly boring women and inconsistently moan about motherhood.
Horror is generally seen as a male orientated genre and this hit back was disappointedly weak. Each segment has its moments and there’s absolutely no problem with the direction and production, but if XX is trying to make some kind of statement then it failed to make it clear.
Beginning with some artistic flare from the work of Mexican stop-motion animation artist Sofia Carrillo, who makes the wrap around that consists of a small critter that travels around a run down house slowly putting pieces together to make a child, tits just another peg in the films woman role board, all the characters are mother, caretakers etc. Continue reading XX (2017)
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya. USA. 1h 50m
The lack of originality in this horror sci fi is quite disturbing, not only the story pretty basic, but it could have lead to some riveting situations, but the set up is like a b movie horror, if there was a trail of blood leading to a room of screams the cast would trip over each other running into sudden death. But there is a blinding moment at the “oh fuck” ending which really hit a personal nerve with me otherwise the film would be a total disaster.
An unnamed interstellar mission uncovers a basic life form in some soil samples from Mars. The probe is recovered by the International Space Station and their 6 member crew manage to revive a cell sample, which quickly evolves into a multi celled organism which American school children name Calvin. I can only imagine it started out as a piece of space Slime Mold (Check out the docu film Creeping Garden for a ton of info) An accident in the lab causes Calvin to become dormant, so Hugh Derry (Bakare) tries to shock Calvin back to life, this obviously pisses off Calvin who crushes his hands an in his hostile frame of alien mind then roughs up the doctor and starts smashing up the lab. At one point he breaks into a small cage and eat one of the lab rats, and starts to grow larger. Despite initiating safety protocol, which means isolating the doctor and Calvin, the team still decide to enter the room in order to save the doctor, (DOH!), Calvin then see this is a free lunch. This is probably one of their more imaginative attacks, as he enters the scientist body and eats him from the inside out, but upon reappearing he is larger, which is a pretty big indication to the fact that Calvin just consumes and grows. So after eating Ryan Reynolds our boy Calvin then decides to go on a murderous rampage in and around the ship. Continue reading Life (2017)
Director: David Bruckner
Writers: Joe Barton and Adam Nevill’s The Ritual
Starring: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton. UK. 1h 34m
One of the perks with Netflix is that it gives you the opportunity to watch on the go, which I tried to do with Ritual, but after watching the opening scene I had to stop the film, get home, get comfortable and absorb this film as it instantly grabbed my attention.
It opens with a few guys, not really willing to admit they are getting older but needing to get out on an adventure, or just the yearly lads holiday, Ibiza!? no they are getting to old, camping, that’s too boring.. so what? The discussion goes into the street and on the way home a couple stop to get some vodka, the night is young and it must be continued while picking up the booze in the offie, they become aware that the place is being robbed, Luke (Spall) hides behind a display while his best friend tries to talk the situation down, it doesn’t work they start attacking him, and he bleeds to death while staring at his cowardly friend… this is the first lesson of this movie but the location changes to the deep dark forests of Sweden and the stakes get higher. Continue reading The Ritual (2017)
Director: Charlie McDowell
Starring:Jason Segel, Rooney Mara, Robert Redford, Jesse Plemons. USA. 1h 41m
Boy meets girl on a ferry months after a world shattering invention has been made. A reserved and often recluse scientist Thomas Harbor (Redford) calmly sits down to tell a interviewer about his new discovery; with it, he’s proven, without a doubt, there is life after death. Instantly one of the crew members shoots themselves. The world has a record number of suicides as people are desperately trying to pass on to the other side, there are public counters that are constantly ringing up the number of dead, in the meantime, the boy and girl are journeying to meet, Harbor (Redford) the boys father and girl saviour? it’s supposed to be romantic but they animosity and angst coming from the girl makes the scene rather awkward. Continue reading The Discovery (2017)
Director: James Franco.
Starring. James Franco, Dave Franco, Ari Graynor. USA. 1h 43m.
Back in the haze of 2003, the Room was a total joke, an instant flop when it was released. Over the years there was a surge gags about it, appearing on Space Ghost coast to coast as an April fool’s prank, TWICE but slowly there came some encouragement as YouTube channels searched for the worst movies of all time, each one listed The Room but not as the bottom of the pile, but as the Best of the Worst, fondness was growing for a film often panned for being terrible in every department. Following the original release; co-star Greg Sestero wrote a book about the bizarre construction of this film and the mysterious man behind the project entitled The Disaster Artist, this heightened the now cult status of the movie and inspired James Franco to deliver this movie and have the chance of starring as his all-time favourite director, the legendary Tommy Wiseau! Continue reading The Disaster Artist (2017)
Director: Juan Carlos Medina. Original Book : Peter Ackroyd
Starring: Bill Nighy, Olivia Cooke, Eddie Marsan, Douglas Booth, Daniel Mays. UK. 1h 49m
Lessons can be learnt from this gloomy victorian epic, it has all of right elements but it just lacks that little je ne c’est quoi. Characters fall flat and the mystery becomes boring and repetitive. Within the elaborate stages and cliche back streets of London, before the time of Jack the Ripper there was the Limehouse Golem, a mysterious killer who slaughtered at will for his audience.
John Kildare (Nighy) is thrown at the case as the powers that be believe the killer can’t be found, so he’s the fall guy, so without any backup and being dangled in front of the media and disapproving public he is forced into action, sparing their prized detective for other simpler cases, but Kildare jumps into the case, almost becoming obsessed; using his brilliant meticulous mind and working with his close friend Officer Flood (Mays) the two are an alternative Holmes and Watson. Continue reading Limehouse Golem (2017)