Friday, 2 February 2018

Winchester by Michael & Peter Spierig - Review

Nothing fills you more with confidence than a horror film being dumped in February with the reviews being embargoed until the day of release. Winchester has a few more elements going for it than your average low budget rubbish however: an illustrious cast lead by a Dame, and a pair of directors with an interesting pedigree and an infamous mythology. Plus if anything, a few weeks after Insidious 4, Winchester also has an older woman as the lead, a pleasing new trend?

Winchester is based on (and the term is being used loosely) the true (and stranger than fiction) story of widow and heiress Sarah Winchester at the turn of the last century, who, believing that she was cursed, convinced herself that the only way to escape her supernatural tormentors was to ensure her sprawling house was never finished, adding rooms then having them destroyed. The film expands on this and add the fictional character of Eric Price (Jason Clarke), a drug addicted doctor sent by the board of Winchester to assess her mental health, hoping to take the control of the company back from her. Eric Price finds Sarah being haunted by the ghosts of all the victims of the Winchester firearms, while his own troubled past catches up with him.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

You Should See This: Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009) and Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning (2012)

What Are They All About?
Universal Soldier: Regeneration begins with the children of the President of a former USSR state being kidnapped by a separatist group who have employed Dr Colin (Kerry Shale) and with him one of his new generation of Uni Sols (Arlovski) to help them achieve independence. Unbeknownst to his employers, Colin also has a cloned Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) as an insurance policy. They set up camp in the old Chernobyl power station, threatening to detonate the reactor if their demands are not met within 72 hours. The US army responds to the threat, with the help of their own older Uni Sols, but when that fails they have to draft in Luc (Jean Claude Van Damme), who has spent the past two years with psychologist Dr. Sandra Fleming (Emily Joyce), trying to break his violent programming and retain memories.

In Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, John (Scott Adkins) is woken by his daughter who tells him there are monsters in the house. This turns out to be Luc (Van Damme), who murders John’s wife and daughter. After 9 months in a coma, John wakes, determined to go after Luc, who is now the head of a cult like group that ‘frees’ Uni Sols from their programming.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Phantom Thread by Paul Thomas Anderson - Review

Set in London around a decade after WW2, Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread is loosely about the fashion world, but it's draped in a gothic graveyard that whistles in the distance, beckoning the characters to come closer. It's less an homage to the films of Hitchcock (particularly Rebecca with a dash of Vertigo) and more a perfect re-creation of your favorite TCM movies stirred up in a cauldron of black magic. 10 years after the monumental There Will Be Blood (arguably the century's greatest film), Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis reteam for this film that fittingly is unidentifiable in its tone, or what it's even truly about.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

You Should See This: Jeanne La Pucelle (1994)

What’s It All About?
Jacques Rivette’s two part, five hour and twenty minute, epic documents the last two years of the life of Joan of Arc (Sandrine Bonnaire), from her initial attempts to meet with the Dauphin of France (AndrĂ© Marcon) and convince him that she was sent by God to lead his armies, to her capture and execution.

You Should See It Because
The story of Joan of Arc has always fascinated me; a young woman, just sixteen when she set out, of such faith and conviction that she would put herself not just in harm’s way but insist on being at the head of the army, so certain was she that it was God’s will, and that only she could win this war for the man she saw as the rightful king, and thus God’s representative on Earth. It is no surprise that the story has been repeatedly adapted to film, it is inherently fascinating, dramatic, and provides an irresistibly challenging role for any young actress asked to take it on.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

You Should See This: In A Valley Of Violence (2016)

What’s It All About?
Having deserted the Army, Paul (Ethan Hawke) is making his way to Mexico. He cuts through a town called Denton, where Mary-Ann (Taissa Farmiga), a young woman who helps run the hotel, takes a shine to him and he makes an enemy of and humiliates local troublemaker Gilly (James Ransone), who also happens to be the son of the town marshal (John Travolta). After he’s run out of town, Gilly and his friends show up for revenge, killing Paul’s beloved dog and leaving him for dead. But Paul’s not dead, and that’s not good for Gilly.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

You Should See This: Barely Lethal (2015)

What’s It All About?
Agent 83 (Hailee Steinfeld) has been raised since she was a baby as part of a project known as Prescott, which trains young women to become undercover assassins. She’s always been taught to avoid any attachments but, at 16, 83 just wants a little normality, like what she’s seen in teen movies. When an op goes wrong 83 escapes, using a student exchange programme to become Megan Walsh, from Canada, and to try to have a normal high school experience. Prescott, however, has other ideas.

You Should See It Because
Barely Lethal came out around the same time as Violet and Daisy, which also toplined a talented young star (in that case Saoirse Ronan) as a teenage assassin. Often, when two similarly themed movies are released in quick succession, one will end up hitting reasonably big and the other disappearing. In this case, both movies essentially vanished, neither rating a UK cinema release. For my money it’s Barely Lethal that is worth digging up.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Top 10 of 2017

The Twin Peaks The Return is a film/isn't a film furore, the Netflix Cannes drama, the Oscars mixed envelopes... 2017 has been anything but dull in the world of cinema. Forget the predictable "Cinema is dead" think pieces, cinema is alive and kicking, and it has been a particularly interesting year, where we revisited universes we never thought we would see again (Twin Peaks, Blade Runner), where a few established talents arguably made their best films, where kween Laura Dern slayed, and where a runaway indie film was in every conversation. We are giving you our favourite films of 2017: