Director: Mike Leigh.
Starring. David Thewlis, Lesley Sharp, Katrin Cartlidge, Peter Wright, Ewen Bremner, Gina McKee, Greg Cruttwell. UK. 2h 12m.
It’s hard to talk about this brilliant, tres controversial, sour drama without describing it as a poignant thought provoking and slightly disturbing nocturnal odyssey, it’s the darkest journey throughout London by an unemployed Mancunian on the run after attempting to rape his date. But Johnny (Thewlis) is an infection character, he manages to draw people to him almost like a guardian angel at first, talking a language which they begin to understand, with his unique charm and eloquence but eventually he begins to erupt like a volcano of theories and rude personal attacks, and then he’s hot on the trail for the next conquest like a devil scavenging in the dark. Continue reading Naked (1993)
Director: Pascal Laugier.
Starring: Taylor Hickson, Anastasia Philips, Kevin Power, Rob Archer, Mylene Farmer, Crystal Reed, Emilia Jones, USA. 1h 31m.
Pascals past record, in my opinion is chequered, in his early career he assisted on one of the most perfect films ever made, Le Pacte Des Loups (2001) he broke the mold and may stomachs with the New French Extreme visceral classic, Martyrs (2008) then let me down with the confusing and long winding, No Slender Man tale of the Tall Man (2012), but he’s come back swinging with a perfect blend of all the best psychological and physical horror from his past, with a sublime film that gives the creeps and will rattle a few cages along the way. His approach to this twisting tale is unique in that it plays on a strange story this is presented from different perspectives each slipping in and out of each other seamlessly but the dynamics are hauntingly beautiful and yet covered in as much nostalgic creepiness as the house it’s set in.
The two young sisters at the centre of this film, couldn’t be more different, Beth (Reed/Jones) is a sensitive horror writer, always lost in her thoughts about Lovecraft inspired texts but faints at the sight of blood, her ballsy sister is pretty awesome, hot tempered and ready for a fight but they are sisters, just so different the fiery Vera (Philips/Hickson) is a delight. Continue reading Ghostland (2018)
Director: Gerard Johnson
Starring: Peter Ferdinando, Stephen Graham, MyAnna Buring, Elisa Lasowski, Neil Maskell, Richard Dormer, Tony Pitts, Mehmet Ferda .UK. 1h 24m
This matter of fact police corruption movie turns out to be not only thrilling, but delicately devious which sees the argument of righter and wronger turns heels from the streets of London into a literal blood bath.
Johnson keeps the movie on it’s feet with fast camera action that in ways follows it’s heroes and foes like an episode of [insert your favourite cop drama here] the story slowly steps out from the clamamtiy from time to time through bloody revelations, and it all becomes too much for the hardened street cop who is the focus of the movie. There’s something raw about the filming approach, the locations aren’t luxurious especially in the daytime which are filmed on any street corner, something we can all relate to, but at night the film comes alive in darkness and neon, the characters aren’t built on in the conventional way, instead they are more like sweaty desperate chess pieces but still the camera moves around them with glee. Continue reading Hyena (2014)
Director: Fatih Akin
Starring: Jonas Dassler, Margarete Tiesel, Katja Studt .Germany. 1h 50m
Based upon the novel of the same title, written by the author Heinz Strunk and published in 2016.
Unlike a ton of American productions about Serial Killers which feels the need to pick at the upbringing and give a reason for the erratic behaviour, there’s a ton of grotty mess throughout this pretty accurate retelling of the crimes of a notoriously bad character who eventually killed 4 part time prostitutes in a region of Hamburg in the late 70’s. Fritz Honka has a troubled life from a youngster but the film opens with the discarding of his first corpse, one that would alter the police but not much else would come from his nightly escapade of desperate sex and murder.
Honka is played by a pretty attractive and young German actor, Jonas Dassler who works his ass off to play this misaligned and deformed character with the use of some marvelous method acting and special effects he really does a lot to mimic the grimy nutcase. The film plays out the four year span where Honka did most of his killing, there’s some elaborations and artistic licence with story, with the inclusion of a young teen couple who are trying to be adults in and around the red light district, they story dips in and out giving Honka some wank material and moves the plot along when it begins to flounder. Continue reading Der Goldene Handschuh / The Golden Glove (2019)
Director: Simon Rumley.
Starring.Terry Stone, Leo Gregory, Jamie Foreman, Roland Manookian. UK. 1h 51m.
I have to admit that I was spellbound by the cover of this lovely movie, but within seconds of the opening scene I was soon knocked off my feet that this is basically a retro version of Rise of the Footsoldier! In all fairness I really enjoyed the footsoldier movies, they started out with a purpose and were watered down but they had their own unique, balls in your face charm and a recurring cast, although a few characters are a little bit different in this war time london escapade, the most notable is Roland Manookian usually he plays the role of a drugged up loser who basically a bit of a plonker but he’s resurrected as a psychotic killer who’s not afraid to bleed. It’s pretty interesting to see him take on such a grisly role, maybe the boy will go far.
The film is based on real people and events, mostly surrounding Billy Hill and Jack Corner, again much like Rise of the Footsoldier (2007), and possibly with as much dreamy fantasties. The film looks authentic but doesn’t feel genuine in any way, it certainly feels like a modern movie but with just a cosmetic change and some different clothes, which is a shame as it could have been a real opportunity to branch out and try something an off key. The film seems to be poorly researched but the delivery is bold, a bit too forceful at times, it seems the use of shouting and violence takes the place of intense drama. Continue reading Once Upon A Time In London (2019)
Director: David Mackenzie
Starring: Jack O’Connell, Ben Mendelsohn, Rupert Friend .UK. 1h 43m
There is something very bold and solid about starred up the acting is on point the choreography of the violence is brilliant a dynamic but the special jenesequa is just how realistic the film is but this is probably due to the whole project being a brilliant screenplay written by a former corrections psychologist.
Brutal and Brilliant
Starred up beings as a story of a young man Eric Love (O’Connell) forcing his way up through the grimy underside of the prison world but this youngster is displaying way too much cunning and wit about him, he’s more than dangerous, he’s potentially deadly, hence why he’s starred up. Despite a lot of the rumours being Starred up has nothing to do with bumming or other sexual acts, it’s simply a teenager who is so out of control that they get set among adults to receive some “proper prison schooling”. Continue reading Starred Up (2013)
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: Jeremy Saulnier
Based on: Hold the Dark by William Giraldi
Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgård, James Badge Dale, Riley Keough, Malcolm Blair, Tantoo Cardinal, Julian Black Antelope. USA. 2h 5m
With just two major titles under his belt, Saulnier’s next project, was so highly anticipated it derailed the hype train, but the resulting ambitious drama was so different from the taut thrillers, Blue Ruin (2013) and Green Room (2015) that no one could really appreciate it in the same way and it generally got panned by the fans.
This misfire isn’t a total disaster, no one can find fault with the beautiful crafting that went into the film, Saulnier is so masterful that even if you didn’t get the movie you can easily enjoy watching it, but for me it’s just a perfect shot for a different audience. I found it just as gritty and nearly as bloody as the others, but the pushing and pulling between two fundamental ideas within the movie that would either make it a thriller or fantasy doesn’t ever come to a neat conclusion, leaving a gaping open ending which is going to piss off a lot of people but for me it’s a highly alluring project which is perfect as it is. Continue reading Hold the Dark (2018)
Director: Michael R Roskam
Starring: Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeroen Perceval, Barbara Sarafian. Belgium. 2h 8m.
There is something majestically beautiful about Roskam’s savage mafia drama. That sees a man fight against his own nature using the same tools that he applies to nature for his own gains. Usually Belgium is seen as a boring country where nothing really exciting happens, but even with the crime connections in this film, they aren’t peddling class a drugs or trafficking humans, nothing that dangerous or “glamorous” instead this mafioso gang are pedding steroid laden beef, typical farmer stuff but filled with meaty treats. Continue reading Rundskop / Bullhead (2011)
Director: Shane Black.
Starring. Thomas Jane, Boyd Holbrook, Keegan Michael Key, Sterling K Brown, Trevante Rhodes, Alfie Allen, Jake Busey, Yvonne Strahovski, Olivia Munn USA. 1h 58m
For a while I had a lot of faith that after Shane Black’s death by the hands of the original Predator back in the 80’s cult classic jungle sci fi mayhem epic adventure, and his subsequent career as a director, that he could be trusted with this remake. But then I remembered he’s Shane Black and you cannot trust this man! To be fair Shane is totally okay and I still regained some faith but the writer, Fred Dekker was an odd choice. His previous classics are cult but for very different reasons, Night of the Creeps, Monster Squad (written with Shane Black) were high for their levels of comedy antics. Dekkers contributions for House (1986) gave the film a surreal and yet again comedic undercurrent, and his more recent work included Robocop 3 which ruined the trilogy by adding in some cute kids and morals… this is when I knew someone has fucked up. Continue reading The Predator (2018)