Thursday, 16 February 2017

Prevenge by Alice Lowe

Directed, written by and starring Alice Lowe, Prevenge is a British comedy horror concerning a serial killer carrying out a string of murders while eight months pregnant. A fascinating exercise in contrasting the ghoulish with the mundane, it's anything but hard labour.

Lowe plays Ruth, a recent widow whose homicidal spree is carried out under orders from the unborn infant nestling in her womb. Contriving encounters with strangers seemingly at random, Ruth picks them off one-by-one with a carving knife, becoming increasingly skilled at her task as the voice emanating from within grows ever-more shrill and demanding. As the body count rises, the connection between Ruth's victims becomes clear and matters come to a grisly head.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

20th Century Women by Mike Mills

The pitfall of coming of age/teen films—and most films, really—is teaching the audience a lesson as though it's a lecture. Rather than ponder about the passage of time or how to navigate finding yourself, they blatantly point it out without exploring the complexities. Writer/Director Mike Mills (Beginners, 2011) doesn't tell you what to think; he tells you what to think about and offers you things to feel. I've found that is what separates good films from great ones, especially in the teen genre.

20th Century Women is a cine-memoir about Mike Mills' own youth and the women who shaped him—namely his mother, Dorothea (Annette Bening in a career best performance), a depression era raised woman who is equal parts kind and kick ass. Set in 1979, her fourteen-year-old son, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann), skateboards around Santa Barbara's streets in the limbo after Nixon's corruption and on the cusp of the Reagan years. However, the film is really not about him; it's about the 3 influential women and the only man in his life at that time.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Jackie by Pablo Larraín - Review

“There won’t be another Camelot. Not another Camelot.” Jackie Kennedy says to herself — both as a statement about the country passing into darker times and as reassurance about her husband’s legacy. Grief and myth collide in director Pablo Larraín’s intimate study of the person most affected by one of America’s greatest tragedies.

Allow me to be cliché and call Natalie Portman’s performance here a revelation. The control of slipping between reality and artifice is incredible – her wandering around the white house with no direction makes the film feel more like a ghost story than anything resembling a biopic. And not since Tom Hardy’s Bane has a voice been so bizarrely engrossing.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Does the Ending of Split Work? SPOILERS

M Night Shyamalan is still best known for The Sixth Sense (1999) after all these years, and its ending that probably has one of the best known twists in the history of film. His career had never quite matched this success until Split (2017), which came top of the box office last weekend in the USA, largely thanks to the promise of one of his trademark twist endings. But does it work? SPOILERS (well, duh!).

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Final Girls or The Final Girl of Cairo

If, like me, you were an fan of horror films in the 80’s/90’s, you’ll remember the final girls, one of the most regular tropes of slashers. You’ll also remember the actresses who played them, or perhaps not, as none of them ever had much of a career after their brief turn in the limelight, and in those pre-IMDB days, you had no idea what had happened to them. Most probably smaller parts in barely seen films, bit parts on TV and little else.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

FilmLand Empire Top 5 of 2016

I have asked my contributors to list their top 5 films of 2016, without giving them any particular rules. A few years ago I had launched the "bloggies", doing a round up of blogger top film lists but I feel that is far more interesting to publish each writer's own list, as it is a lot more personal that way, so here they are, including mine!

Monday, 12 December 2016

Manchester By The Sea by Kenneth Lonergan - Review

December marks the beginning of snowy weather, hot cocoa, and seeing your relatives wayyyy too much, but for cinephiles it also marks the beginning of an onslaught of potentially great films every weekend. There are a few contenders for the best film of the year so far. Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan has thrown his new film, Manchester By the Sea, into the ring.

Casey Affleck gives the best male performance of the year as Lee, a Boston handyman who gets a phone call telling him that his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) has died of a heart attack. Lee returns home to Manchester, a fishing town in Massachusetts, to set up the funeral and figure out what to do with Joe's son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges), a teen who he used to be close with.