Director: Nick Rowland EXE Producer Michael Fassbender Starring: Cosmo Jarvis, Barry Keoghan, David Wilmot, Ned Dennehy, Niamh Algar .UK. 1h 40m
There’s a point in everyone’s life when their past catches up with them and atonement, regret and a moment of awakening can’t be ignored. But when your past is muddled with the dark underbelly of the Ireland fighting and gang scene this event usually arrives with a shed load of pain and grief and that’s what Arm has to deal with in Nick Rowlands debut movie.
Rowlands career was mostly shorts and TV segments, and I don’t think anyone would have been something this powerful coming next, but Calm with Horses is a masterclass of powerful drama and questionable characters.
Director: Albert Shin Starring: Addison Tymec, Mikayla Radan, Tim Beresford, Tuppence Middleton, David Cronenberg, Aaron Poole .USA. 1h 40m
A hazy mix of trauma-drama and whodunit, embossed with a cool neon noir highlighted thriller, Disappearance at Clifton Hill is an outstanding art piece following the life of Abby (Middleton) as she attempts to unravel a troubling fragmented memory from her childhood on returning to her hometown in Niagara Falls after her mothers death.
AKA Robot Jox 2 : Crash and Burn Director: Charles Band Starring: Paul Ganus, Megal Warn, Jack McGee, Eva LaRue, Bill Moseley .USA. 1h 25m
Originally being a concept for the follow up to Robojox, a much harder end of the world scenario is placed in Band’s post apocalyptic sci fi thriller. Crash and burn does recycle some aspects from Robojox, most noeably the stop motion aniated robots themselvees but it slaps a can of terminator and max mad on to it’s murder mystery plot.
The film is set several years after a global economic collapse, and after Covid it’s easier to imagine than it was in 1990. All of fears of the future from the classic writers are dropped throughout the film, global warming, nuclear poisoning and corporation control all raise their ugly heads and Crash and Burns gives us a glimpse of what it might be like to try and live with all these oppressions but there is hope, a group of freedom fighters attempt to jam TV signals and promote messages for people to rise up against the corporations. The world is pretty dismal, it’s hot, sueper desert hot all the time, there are frequent power cuts and water is hard to find and when you drink it is probably recycled only hours before. Kids learn via some kind of interactive TV and have no connection with each other. it’s life but not a happy one.
Director: Ryan Phillippe Starring: Ryan Phillippe, Tig Notaro, Joyful Drake, Stephen Luis Grush. USA. 1h 38m.
Ryan Phillippe owns everything in his directorial debut, written, directed and playing the lead in this bizarre and sentimental kidnapping drama. As much as the film could be sized down to a massive ego trip, as everything revolves around Ryan, it’s also a testament to the art of one man making an independent movie, and it’s a great attempt as a debut but it does seem to drag out a pretty simple story, it still delivers something unique and different to a traditionally tough genre.
Director: Thomas Robert Lee
Starring:Catherine Walker, Jared Abrahams, Sean McGinley, Jessuca Reynold, Don McKellar. USA. 1h 34m
For the most part, The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is a slightly perplexing pagan tale, seeming to take roots from a host of folklore horror classics but while it’s a masterclass of cinematography and there’s nothing negative to be said about the acting, there’s just not really enough here to bite into, or at least nothing we haven’t seen done better elsewhere.
Director: Mike Leigh Starring: Katrin Cartlidge, Lunda Steadman, Mark Nenton, Andy Serkis. UK. 1h 23m
I do sometimes wonder what it would be like to spend time with Mike Leigh, sometime in the late 80’s early 90’s, is he this hyper thinking character he often portrays in his films, in this case the energetic Hannah (Cartlidge) who, in this femine tour de force is a lady version of Johnny Fletcher (David Thewlis) from Naked, at least with her quick wit and attitude, she’s no much of an awkward asshole.. thankfully!
4 years after Naked (1993) Leigh returns with a less traumatic but equally charming insight into the friendship between Hannah and Annie (Steadman), once best friends at university, the two awkward characters shared their adventures and possibly even a boyfriend at one time.. Annie’s psoriasis held her back. But after a rough start Hannah begins to see the real charm and quality of the girl and their union is one of strength and genuine caring for eachother. The third wheel, Clare (Byers), the original roommate to Hannah is shoon shafted from the apartment for her abrasive nature and the girls move in Ricky (Benton) a husky austic guy who has the hots for Annie, Mark Benton’s portrayal of autism for the time was really outstanding, there’s a lot more understanding of the condition and yet the character, while not entirely accurate as being autism really highlights a person with a mix of mental conditions that we recognize without putting a finger on it.
Director: Prano Bailey-Bond
Starring: Niamh Algar, Nicholas Burns, Adrian Schiffler, Guillaume Delause, Richard Glover, Michael Smiley, UK. 1h 24m
An unfaltering, visually stunning movie outlining the effects of censorship and suppression on the persona and a precise documentation of the departmentalisation of one’s repressed memories. If you’ve had the privilege of seeing Prano’s short movie, Nasty then you’ll be prepared for the vivid colours, the frantic style of her curious retrowave tales. Nasty is a perfect introduction to her love of tracking, video culture and a warped perception of reality taking over her characters.
AKA Mortal Kombat, The Return of the Five Deadly Venoms
Director: Chang Cheh Starring: Philip Kwok, Chen Kuan Tai, Chiang Sheng, Kuo Chui, Lo Mang, Lu Feng, Wang Lung Wei .Hong Kong. 1h 40m
Just when I was positive that the Five Deadly Venoms was the best 70’s martial arts film, it turns out that the (lose) sequel actually outdoes the cult classic. In a similar vein the film runs through a deadly storyline featuring a diabolical jaded kung fu master and a group of unlikely heroes.
When a brilliant wealthy fighter’s family is brutally attacked, his wife left slaine and his son now armless, the Tiger expert finds a way to restore his son’s arms with mechanical extensions but now with a blackened heart he bullies and terrifies his hometown. Finding pleasure in crippling those to cross his pat, Four of his latest victis form a bond and seek revenge, A hawer, who has been blinded, a blacksmith, made mude and deaf and a drifter whose legs are cut off all attempt to band together with a fighter who is known as tier “idiot friend”. While finding ingenious ways to overcome their disabilities they conjure a cunning plan to take on the evil gang and the four are tested time and time again and demonstrate strengths and abilities.
Director: Gore Verbinski Starring: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Ivo Nadi, Celia Imrie, Mia Goth. USA/Germany. 2h 26m.
Gore Verbinski’s hellish story of entrapment in a world filled with mysteries and a strange folklore is full of disturbing quirks, but not enough to really step the film into the realms of greatness but instead it just comes off as a bit weird. The plot follows a young executive, Lockhart (DeHaan) who, after a misdemeanor at his firm, is sent to retrieve the company’s CEO, who is currently staying in a rehabilitation centre in the Swiss Alps. During this trip there’s hints of a sinister chapter from his childhood that still influences his life, but once he enters the secluded grounds of the wellness centre a dark fairytale atmosphere begins to take over.
Written by Ira Levin who gave us such classics like Rosemary’s Baby(1968), Stepford Wives (1975) and, The Boys from Brazil (1978), but the biggest influence on the story is Thomas Mann’s 1924 novel, The Magic Mountain (German: Der Zauberberg) . A book which does feature in the movie, those with a keen eye may spot it, is already considered to be one of the most influential works of twentieth-century and centres on a man unravelling a complex story from the backstories of key characters that he meets in a similar spar in the Alps. The war that’s faced in the novel is a World War, whereas Lockhart’s war is initially within him.
Director: Michael Feifer Starring: Corin Nemec, Andrew Divoff, Tony Todd, Debbie Rochon .USA. 1h 32m
This was Michael Feifer’s first, bold attempt to retell the bloody history of a serial killer. Chicago Massacre follows the childhood and killing spree of one of America’s most deranged individuals, Richard Speck. This debut saw Feifer pair up with Corin Nemec, playing the lead role of a prominent killer. A year later the two would reunite for Bundy: A Legacy of Evil (2008). This could have continued with Nemec playing Gacy, Gein and even Kemper if the duo had the desire but it seems this is all we’re getting folks!?
It feels that the movie was conceived with a lot of promise, a couple of well known names were thrown into the mix, Todd and Divoff , who seemed eager to help as law enforcement officers trying to understand and track a man who single handedly slaughtered a number of women in july 1966, but their acting expertise is often overshadowed by the need to show Speck not killing people, they could have been the B Movie versions of Somerset and Mills, however the focus is on Speck and not the people tracking him, although their scenes are quite special, but always seem like some kind of pensive Film Noir.