Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Why Haven't You Seen...? Stop The Pounding Heart (2013)

Post by Sam Inglis

What's it all about?
The third of Italian director Roberto Minervini's America trilogy focuses on Sara, the 14 year old daughter of a large, deeply religious, goat farming family in rural Texas. We see her everyday life, helping with the family and the farm, but also a little spark between her and Colby, the bull riding son of a neighbouring family, which may be part of what is challenging her faith.

Why haven't you seen it?
Stop The Pounding Heart was never going to be a big mainstream title. It played well at festivals, but without stars or a big name director to act as a hook, wide distribution for a film this small and quiet was always going to be an uphill struggle. Unless you caught it at a festival, this was always likely to be a film that fell through the cracks.

Friday, 11 August 2017

A Ghost Story By David Lowry

Reviewed By Linda Marric

Once in a while a film comes along which affects you in more ways than you could have ever imagined. Heralded by some as one the best movies to come out of Sundance this year, David Lowry’s A Ghost Story is an incredibly well executed exercise is subtly and an engenoius masterclass in clever filmmaking. Centring around ideas of loss, legacy and the need for human connection, the film is sure to leave its audiences stunned and in awe of its simple yet highly effective premise. Written by Lowry himself and staring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, A Ghost Story never resorts to predictable tropes nor does it go out of its way to alienate its audiences with an overly complicated narrative arc. Lowry’s ability to normalise allegory and symbolism is a testament to his sublime writing credentials.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Atomic Blonde By David Leitch

Reviewed By Linda Marric

With an action filled narrative and a truly impressive cast lists to boot, Atomic Blonde had all the ingredients needed to be one of the best blockbusters of the summer, rivalling even some of the most robust franchises. However, things didn't quite go to plan for this stylish, yet completely forgettable production. Staring Charlize Theron and directed by stunt actor turned director David Leitch, the film is a ballsy female-centric action flick which takes no prisoners when it comes to violent fight scenes, shoot-outs and car pursuits. However where things don't quite add up, is in its inability to keep audiences interested long enough in its unnecessarily far-fetched storyline about Soviet spies and double agents. In short,  for a film which purports to have an action female as lead, this really should have been way more exciting than this.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Why Haven't You Seen...? Wake Wood (2011)

What's it all about?
Patrick and Louise (Aiden Gillen and Eva Birthistle) who recently lost their daughter Alice (Ella Connolly) in a dog attack move to the village of Wakewood. There they discover that their landlord Arthur (Timothy Spall) can perform a ritual that will bring people who died less than a year ago back for three days, giving them time to say goodbye to Alice. When the ritual is performed though, something may not be quite right.

Why haven't you seen it?
Hammer Horror is a legend of British cinema, but the attempt to bring it back to life, beginning in 2008 with Beyond The Rave, produced more misses than it did hits. Outside of The Woman In Black and Let Me In, most of the new Hammer productions flew under the radar, and there hasn't been a film from the studio since 2014's The Quiet Ones. 

Why should you see it?
You might be forgiven for thinking that in relaunching a legendary studio, the goal would be to make films that would mine any nostalgia for the original Hammer films. Wake Wood probably wouldn't have felt out of place in the studio's heyday, but it's not an attempt to recapture old glories. 

The film actually hews closer to The Wicker Man than any of the best known Hammer films.  It's set in an apparently isolated and insular community, in which an ancient ritual is performed with the town's most prominent man performing the key part of that ritual. That said, this isn't some empty homage, Wake Wood creates a spooky atmosphere of its own, along with a surprising emotional weight. The way the ritual is established, with a 'visiting' girl who comes into Louise's pharmacy, balances this particularly well. Suggesting what's going on without initially coming out and dropping a load of exposition on us.

Like many of the best horror films, Wake Wood grounds its characters motivations in reality. It is easy to understand how the agony of the sudden loss of a child could drive a person to embrace any possibility, however remote, for any time, however brief, to see that child again and be able to hold them and say a proper goodbye. Aiden Gillen and Eva Birthistle give simple unshowy performances. You believe them as a couple, you believe in their trauma and the different ways they process it, and this makes the film's supernatural side easier to swallow. 

The film builds slowly, with Ella Connolly, Gillen and Birthistle gradually establishing, through some unsettling moments that there is something not quite right about Alice. The first, and one of the most effective, of these is when they note that their daughter's eyes are now brown, like those of the man whose corpse they used to resurrect her for this brief time. This sense builds through Alice's behaviour and that of the townspeople, who also sense that something is amiss, setting us progressively more on edge scene by scene. 

While it does some good solid atmosphere building, this doesn't mean that Wake Wood shies from the more visceral scares. The ritual itself is wince-inducingly nasty at times, Alice's amputated skeletal finger being placed in a corpse's mouth being one of the less nasty images. The third act also gets impressively gory, in a way the old Hammer productions didn't often get away with. It's worth noting that animal lovers may find themselves turning away from some of the scenes here, not only is Patrick a vet, which we see in pretty graphic detail, but there are some other nasty moments involving animals.

However, it's not the film's gore but its emotional corre that sets it apart. The film is defined by loss and a parent's reaction to that loss, it's about sadness giving way to desperation for the tiniest amount of hope, and that truly resonates in the film's ending. It's a great sequence; brutal in implication, devastatingly sad but also the only route to fresh hope for a better future. It's a perfect note to end the film on, closing both memorably and by encapsulating the feeling of the film as a whole.

How can you see it?
There are various DVD and Blu Ray releases available (though apparently no UK Blu) and the film has just been made available via UK Netflix.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Land Of Mine By Martin Zandvliet

Reviewed By Linda Marric

Set during the immediate aftermath of WWII, some might be tempted to describe Martin Zandvliet's Land of Mine as a war movie. In reality, this beautifully crafted and wonderfully acted Danish production is one of the most powerful indictment against warfare yet, and goes a long way into nailing its pacifist colours to the mast. Zandvliet who writes as well as direct, manages to tell in 90 minutes what most war movies seem unable to convey at best of times. It is a film about the struggle to come to terms with loss, hardship and makes a strong case against conflicts which send young innocent men to their death.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Maudie By Aisling Walsh

Reviewed By Linda Marric

Chartering the life of folk artist Maude Lewis and the romance which blossomed in later life between her and taciturn fish peddler Everett, Aisling Walsh’s Maudie is moving without ever being schmaltzy and gripping without having to resort to a superfluous narrative arc. Staring Sally Hawkins as the Nova Scotia artist known for her infantile drawings of cats, flowers and colourful landscapes, the film is not only likely to move its audiences to tears, but also manages to tell a beautifully nuanced story without ever sugar-coating some of the more unsavoury element of relationship between the two protagonists.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Why Haven't You Seen...? The Opening Of Misty Beethoven (1976)

What's it all about?
It's Pygmalion with blowjobs. Dr Seymour Love (Jamie Gillis) is writing a book about sex and finds his subject in Misty Beethoven (Constance Money), a prostitute he initially deems “the nadir of passion” and “a sexual civil servant”. Love decides that, with the help of his friend Geraldine, (Jacqueline Beudant) he will make Misty the next Goldenrod girl.

Why haven't you seen it?
Because you don't tend to spend 85 minutes watching a feature film on Pornhub. This just isn't the way adult films are consumed (or made) anymore.