Friday, 28 April 2017

Suntan by Argyris Papadimitropoulos



Suntan from Greek director Argyris Papadimitropoulos starts out as a portrait of a lonely local doctor unexpectedly drawn out of his shell by a summer romance and ends, brilliantly, as a psychotic character study in the vein of Pablo Larrain’s Tony Manero (2008).

GP Kostis (Makis Papadimitriou) meets hedonistic party girl Anna (Elli Tringou) when she is rushed into his surgery one bright morning after gashing her thigh in a scooter crash. He treats the wound and endures the chaotic joking of her friends good-naturedly. In return, they hail Kostis as “the best doctor in the world” and invite him to join them at the beach. He does and seemingly becomes part of their tribe, going clubbing every night, jeopardising his professional life by staying out late and drinking too much, all the while pining for Anna to the obvious amusement of all.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Song to Song by Terrence Malick - Review



Song to Song is the third film in Terrence Malick's semi-autobiographical trilogy about love. Stylistically they're born from The Tree of Life with each being a slightly different branch. To the Wonder twirled its way through a love triangle but failed to blossom. Knight of Cups (the best of the three) was a Fellini-esque glide through Hollywood by way of tarot cards. Rick's (Christian Bale) interior was reflected out into the film's dreamy visuals and you could at least feel the buds sprouting. I'd hoped Song to Song would be a culmination of this style. The Austin set love triangle between Rooney Mara’s musician (she was born to be a Malick character), Ryan Gosling's singer-songwriter, and Michael Fassbender's power hungry producer, lands somewhere between its two predecessors.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Eyes of My Mother by Nicolas Pesce


Fans of gory, stylish and all together disturbing horror movies rejoice, others please look away now. Written and Directed by Nicholas Pesce, The Eyes of My Mother is a directorial debut like no other; this black and white moody auteur piece may not be to everyone's liking, but is nevertheless one of the most original films of the year. Its visceral depiction of a young woman’s descent into a quiet madness is sure to strike a chord with those on the look out for a different kind of horror movie.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

The Student by Kirill Serebrennikov


Allegory, and religious symbolism take central stage in Kirill Serebrennikov’s The Student. Adapted from German dramatist Marius von Mayenburg’s play Martyr, the film carries a powerful anti-clerical message and deals with themes of disenfranchised youth and the hypocrisy of the an education system ruled by bureaucracy.

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!