Wednesday 31 October 2018

An Ode to Horror

To all the films I've never watched.

Whenever I am asked what sort of films I like to watch, its easier to say what I don't enjoy watching. My reply is 'anything, except horror film'. But over time, again, my prefered taste in films has refined even more. I like to think I'm driven by story and character but we all pick films because of who made it, who's in it and if its based on something else. I add to the list of not well loved genres such as general war films, even westerns, but there are films I love from both genres. Horror on the other hand, has always been the unwanted genre in the corner who I most likely wouldn't speak to at a party. I think it's about time horror and me had a better understanding. Especially as I have actively in the last few years gone out of my way to make myself watch films I might have never dared to, from 80s slasher, to creepy cult, to comedy screams and the unexpected bloody psychological. I'm trying and seeing new things. The more I watch, the more, I hope it makes me want to write. I know what kind of horror I can take, blood is fine but gore is not neeed. Even a comedy can be terrifying and I will never watch that kind of film again at 8:30 am. I am still driven by story and character so I shouldn't cut myself off.

To all the horror films I've never watched. Just be patient, I might still get to see you.

But Experimental, you and me will never be.

Saturday 27 October 2018

Such is the Life of an Adventurer

Before the Halloween posts out there start, I wanted to take a moment to talk about Hilda.

A while ago I wrote about how there are no stories for girls. Stories for a younger audience involve teenagers, older characters than ones their own age. It may seem that TV has caught up with a flurry of shows featuring a younger cast or have a boy(s) at the centre. Film is lagging behind with offerings every so often with stories like ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ but these are few and far between, which is why my inner child was very excited to see a new show appear on Netflix called Hilda. 

Hilda lives in the forest with her graphic designer mum in a house her grandfather built. She is a friend to all creatures, likes to sketch and go on adventures with her deer-fox, Twig. After moving to Trollberg city, Hilda joins the Sparrow Scouts makes friends with the ultra organised Frida and sometimes scaredy-cat David. It's a simple concept with mountains worth of potential.

Hilda is a primary school aged adventurer who loves the wilderness and is always out exploring with her friends. The trailer was delightful, fun  and had the promise of creatures from Scandinavian and British folklore and myth. It’s been ages since I’ve seen a show that fantastically animated, encouraging outdoor excursions as well including scenes in libraries! Libraries! 

Throughout the series there is no sign of the internet, no iPads, no kids’s stuck to their phones. The show is not explicitly set in a particular time so I’m not even sure if this is meant to be set before technology took over. But the best thing about this is that the stories and adventures are so enthralling that you don’t realise there’s no technology prominently being used until you’ve finished the whole series! I of course watched the entire series over 2 days, but before I did that, I found the books.

Created by British cartoonist Luke Pearson, Hilda first appeared in graphic novel form. There are currently 5 books (with another on the way next year) and a book based on Pearson’s work, written by Stephen Davies. The books explore mainly Scandinavian folklore and folktales, featuring creatures we all know such as trolls, forest giants and elves to ones less known, such as Maras, Salt Lions and Vittra.

Just like to point out that this picture shows our heroine in a similar pose to another adventurer and reporter from Brussels. You should know I'm a huge fan of Tinin (comics, TV show, films, the whole shabang) and this is partly why I was so excited to discover the show and books.

As soon as I saw the trailer, I went in search of the books. One by one I was absorbed into the world of Hilda and co. The art from each book changes slightly but is always so beautifully created and the story no less thrilling. I have literally told everyone I can about this amazing series that is for children AND adults alike. It encourages children to explore and be more adventurous, go outside and have fun. For adults, its for their inner child and just for the fun aspect of the whole series.

So get your hot coco and curl up with the comics or watch the show. Appreciate the cosiness because Hilda is here to stay, with more books on the way AND a second series of the show coming to Netflix.

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Favourites of the Fest

Last year's festival was superb BUT I saw far less films and was literally obsessed and in awe of 'Call Me By Your Name', which was my favourite film of last year. This year, I was immersed in the festival as I was in a position to attend as many screenings as possible which meant I got to see films I wouldn't have considered and films I didn't buy tickets to as I knew I could see them at press screenings. Last year, I had a clear cut top five films and even top ten at a push, but having seen 26 films I am finding it harder to pick my favourites. However, I wouldn't be writing up this post if I hadn't made an effort.

Not all the films I've seen have posts yet, still got a few to catch up on, particularly Buster Scruggs, which I intend to go on about.

Capernaum is definitely the best film I've seen at the festival. I had been very excited to see Nadine Labaki's third feature, waiting years to see what she'd so and she delivered a truly amazing film, no exaggerations. She and the film got a standing ovation at Cannes and it was the same at the opening night of the film in London. The audience were in tears, it was and is an inspiring film, with two of the most amazing central performances, two young children, one barely a toddler. In all honesty, I've held off writing about the film because I want to get it right. Labaki was present at the screening and stayed to do a Q&A as I think everyone knew it was needed. She is a brilliant filmmaker and deserves all the credit and applause.

The surprises in this line up for me are definitely 'Assassination Nation' which switches genres, includes a massive warning at the start and turns into a witch hunt of four girls, but this was also a revenge film that I enjoyed very much, it also had core friendship which wasn't shattered or torn apart, they are loyal, which in some ways, is refreshing to me. 'Vox Lux' also unexpectedly got into my top picks. A familiar story with narrative taken from or inspired by real events used as context to portrait story, featuring music written by Sia (I like some of her pop tunes) would seem like a hard sell BUT I actually found it fascinating. I found it hard to read the room after this one so I'm guessing it will have a divided opinion.

I was always going to love 'The Breaker Upperers' from the moment I saw the trailer back in New Zealand in April. Loved the trailer, the humour, Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek, it was just great. I actually loved it so much, I saw it twice. Same goes for the Coen Brothers anthology film, I was always going to love it, 6 Coen films in one? Who's complaining? But more on this in a later post. Having fallen in love with Yorgos Lanthimos's 'The Lobster' a few years back, I had a feeling I was going to enjoy this historical odd ball comedy about Sarah Churchill and her cousin Abigail Masham fighting for the attention of Queen Anne. Three fantastic central female characters, played perfectly by three great actresses, particularly Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman.

There are some notable mentions, again, not all posts are up; Girl, The Fight, Sorry to Bother You and Girls of the Sun.

This year was intense and at times stressful, but I had an amazing time, here's to next year!


Monday 22 October 2018

Ladyworld - London Film Festival

Mysterious event resulting in 8 girls being trapped in a house. Fighting for survival and their sanity, with water and food running out, how will they cope in such claustrophobic conditions?

Full review of the film is over at Vulturehound which can be read HERE.

Sunday 21 October 2018

The Sisters Brothers - London Film Festival

Based on the novel of the same name by Patrick deWitt, the Sisters Brothers isn’t the typical western. Directed by Jacques Audiard, his keen eye for unexpected tender moments amid a trail of blood and money, makes the story and characters more humane than the standard hired guns. 

Eli and Charlie Sisters are hitmen who work for their wealthy proprietor, the Commodore. When they are sent after Hermann’s Warm, a prospector who is accused of stealing a formula, the job turns into more than they bargained for. 

A late edition to the JOURNEY strand of the festival, among the person and literal journeys taken by characters, ‘The Sisters Brothers’ although an actual journey from Oregon to California in the old west, the brothers, Eli and Charlie, go on an emotional journey of their own. While Eli wants this to be their last job for their boss, the infamous Commodore, and Charlie is very happy to continue ‘doing what they were made for’, they each travel a different path. Eli believes he is still a good man who is only there to protect his younger violent, often drunk brother. Charlie believes that its in their blood to be killers, so may as well get paid to do it. John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix complement each other. Both brilliant actors, Phoenix is the master craftsman able to play out a display of emotions with a slight change of expression and Reilly, underrated, his filmography muddied with mediocre frat pack comedies so much that his better roles are buried. 

The events of the past weigh heavy on Eli whereas Charlie has chosen the bottle, possibles to numb any feeling at all. The brothers have a few emotional moments but none as affecting as the other duo in the story. Warm and John Morris meet while the latter is meant to be keeping him for the Sisters brothers, the two form a friendship on the road and share a passion for a better world. Riz Ahmed and Jake Gyllenhaal unexpectedly become the heart of the film, while the brothers are the muscle. As secondary characters they don’t have as much screen time, but after a tragic incident, there are hints at their deep friendship their a painful few words.

Going against the what is expected of a western, the brothers’ journey takes a turn in an undramatic way, continuing on to the end where a short but sweet cameo from Carol Kane wraps up the story. There is a feeling that you don’t have to go ‘big’, you can just go home and this too makes for a satisfying ending.  Audiard’s film isn’t about greed, despite gold being an incentive, its not about killing people, although the brothers’ history of violence makes them behave in different ways, its not just about brothers and unexpected friendships, it doesn’t even go downhill when the fateful words ‘our last job’ are uttered. ‘The Sisters Brothers’ is a difficult tone to pin down so perhaps it is all about the journey than the destination and who’s with you through it all.

Saturday 20 October 2018

Vox Lux - London Film Festival

A story of two halves about infamous singer songwriter popstar Celeste about where it all began, with a tragic incident and heartfelt song. To decades later where she has become bitter, part of the system and loosing touch with her loved ones.

The full review can be read over at Vulturehound HERE.

Friday 19 October 2018

Girl - London Film Festival

An intimate story about a ballet dancer who is going through hormone therapy while trying to catch up in her classes as she adjusts to the new way of dancing. The film has a positive portrayal of a supportive family and network to help Lara through her transition, but the day to day pressures and the impatience to be her self lead her to desperation.

The full review can be read over at Vulturehound HERE.

Thursday 18 October 2018

In the Aisles - London Film Festival

Love can be found in a hopeless place (as the song goes) and nothing is more hopeless than the place where ‘In the Aisles’ is set. Who’d have thought that a supermarket would be the setting of a delicate and innocent love story. 

Christian starts work at a supermarket as part of the night team, stocking shelves in the bottles department. He works with veteran worker Bruno, forming a quiet bond of friendship. He falls in love with Marion, a colleague in the sweets section, sharing moments of mutual affection even after he finds out she’s married. Christian lives alone and seems lonely but not in a hurry to create a connection.

Loneliness is ironically the connection between the characters. Bruno is isolated, living on a farm not far from the supermarket. He yearns for his trucker days and the comfort he found in knowing landmarks signalling he was almost home. Marion is married but isn’t happy, at least this is what everyone tells Christian.  Christian himself lives alone, avoid his old rowdy friends and doesn’t seem to go anywhere apart from work and his flat. Their conversations are all work related, although sometimes the barrier of silence is broken down and we learn about Bruno’s wife and Christian’s previous job and his days of being in prison as a minor. The images of the individual buildings, looming in the distance and up close, as well as frequent shot of the motorways, exaggerating just how isolated the supermarket is. It feels as if it isn’t really part of the real world. The supermarket has its own little village, helping each other and working as a team. The environment suits Christian who isn’t a talker, he is the definition of the strong silent archetype. 

The innocent love story that gently unfolds between Christian and Marion also serves as the lifeblood of the supermarket as various colleagues are aware of both their feelings for each other despite nothing being said with words. Their long looks, stolen glances and small kind gestures make the world of the supermarket bearable and a little brighter.

As a gentle love story and ode an ode to supermarkets, director Thomas Stuber makes the the place of unflattering lighting a beautiful place to be, especially at night. The best scene in the entire film is when Christian, who is learning to drive the forklift, elegantly moves between the empty aisles, at peace and obviously happy and even content in this moment. Not everyone can create such magic in a supermarket.


In Fabric - London Film Festival

A dress that's haunted, a life of its own, with destruction and death on it's mind...if it has a mind to think with.

Full review is over at Vulturehound HERE.

Wednesday 17 October 2018

The Fight - London Film Festival

Written and directed by Jessica Hynes who has several different fights going in throughout the story. A drama that portrays a rarely seen family dynamic (between mother and daughter) that I believe needs to be seen more.

The full review can be read over at Vulturehound HERE.

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Soni - London Film Festival

Two police officers try to bring down those who bring violence against women have to deal with their own personal issues first before they can made a difference. But they'll keep on fighting, one operation at a time.

The full review can be read over at Vulturehound HERE.

Joy - London Film Festival

Sex trafficking is a hard subject to watch. A film about women who are forced into this life and left in a never ending cycle you know what to expect. It may be called 'Joy' but there is none to be had.

The full review can be read over at Vulturehound HERE.



Sorry to Bother You - London Film Festival

Satirical comedic gem about the oppressed lives of those living in the USA. Trust me on this one, its funny as well as through provoking and disturbing, well at least the last bit is.

 The full review can be read over at Vulturehound HERE.

Thursday 11 October 2018

If You Go Down To The Woods Tonight...

...You're sure of a big surprise.

Cult films used to be honoured over time and thus given the status of being ‘a cult hit’. But the trend in aiming to make a film that already demands to be ‘a cult film’ has increased in the last decade, films usually involving blood, gore, killer soundtrack and a thin plot. But ‘Mandy’ is different, it has a not so subtle or secret weapon, it has Nicolas Cage.

Set in 1983, Logger Red lives in the middle of a forest with his fantasy artist girlfriend Mandy. They are content with their quiet reclusive lives until they are attacked by A sinister deformed LSD hooked biker gang and an evil hippie cult who’s leader, Jeremiah, who has become obsessed with Mandy after seeing her in the woods. After Mandy is brutally murdered, Red, left for dead, gathers weapons and goes out on a blood soaked rampage into the forest, seeking revenge on the cult and the biker gang.

The film exudes an unsettling atmosphere throughout and never really leaves you, not even after the film ends. The use of glowing red and purple light creates the sense that what you’re seeing, isn’t real, it’s a fantastical world where evil things happen. The use of demonic imagery grounded in reality, such as the bikers, stretches the idea that high doses of LSD made them this way when really daily doses of a high concentrated version of the drug would surely kill you. But in this fantastical world, evil creatures like the bikers exist alongside the outwardly human cult members. The feels like a novel, split into chapters with clear-cut good and evil characters. Its fantasy elements also prelude to later events, with a smell of magic in the air. The final shot of the film even resembles a cover of a book of that genre. Fierce orange toned moons looming over the desolate forest, it sends chills down your spine.

Nicolas Cage is on top form and has several new scenes he can add to that screaming show reel on Youtube. The character of Red is a perfect role for him to play with. With less dialogue than characters such as Jeremiah, Red is a man of few words and his actions speak volumes more than anything he says. The bloody violence is also something a grizzled actor like Cage can handle and he wields his homemade axe well. Although Andrea Riseborough’s Mandy is the film’s namesake, she only really appears in the first half of the film but with unearthly present, long hair and jet black eyes, she leaves a lasting image with Red as well as us, the audience. 

Co-written and directed by Panos Cosmatos, the film at times does feel like death metal band’s music video but throughout, the story seems to be as if it was lifted directly from the pages of a dark fantasy novel, similar to the one Mandy reads in the film. The imagery alone is enough to have a field day of analyzing what everything means, but at the same time can be rationalised that this isn’t one long LSD trip. Thanks to Park Circus, I was lucky to see the film screened in Union Chapel, with similar lighting used in the film, red and purple, it felt as if we were being immersed into the film, a perfect setting to see this story unfold.
Mandy is no doubt a ‘cult film’ in the making. From the font used in each chapter, the ethereal presence of Mandy after death, the demonic evil cult and deformed bikers to the soundtrack that is somewhat over powering but still manages to keep order. The film is a horror that is evokes fear and disgust but it also has a few laughs, but its Nicolas Cage so what would you expect? 

The Realm - London Film Festival

If political thrillers are what you crave, then this story about a scandal from the point of view of the accused who is indeed guilty, will be right up your street.

The full review can be read over at Vulturehound HERE.

Monday 8 October 2018

Jinn - London Film Festival

A film about struggling with your identity that is a fresh new take on the story with a brilliant lead. Jinn has a whole new meaning that I never knew about.

The full review can be read over at Vulturehound HERE.



Friday 5 October 2018

Assassination Nation - London Film Festival

Thought provoking is too light a phrase to sum up this wild savage beast of a film. Crossing over genres like crazy yet never becoming a complete mess, its something you need to see for yourself.

The full review can be read over at Vulturehound HERE.





Wednesday 3 October 2018

School's Out - London Film Festival

This was one of my picks as I'm always intrigued by a non bloody film featured in the Cult strand of the London Film Festival, BUT this was not quite what I was hoping for.

The full review is over at Vulturehound and can be read HERE.



The Breaker Upperers - London Film Festival

This was one of my picks of the festival, so happy I got to see this one the big screen. It's really funny, weird and written, directed and starring two fantastic women.

My full review is over at Vulturehound and can be read HERE.