Showing posts from 2018

Suspiria: A Bloody Masterpiece

Fresh from directing Call Me By Your Name, 2017's moving depiction of young gay romance that was an awards season favourite, Luca Guadagnino took a complete 180 to make Suspiria, a remake of Dario Argento's classic cult horror flick following a coven of witches who run a world-renowned dance academy. While this may sound like a wildly unconventional career path from Guadagnino and one fated for disaster, 2018's Suspiria is a stunning, often shocking, experience that is simply unmatched in its ambition and execution. 

At the core of the film's success lies the brilliant all-female cast, boasting stellar performances from Tilda Swinton (in 3 different roles), Dakota Johnson, and Mia Goth. Swinton, in particular, dominates every scene with her multi-faceted performance, depicting the powerful and incredibly intimidating Madame Blanc (the academy's lead dancer), the fragile Dr. Klemperer (with some incredible use of prosthetics) and a third role that I won't reveal …

Review Roundup

Here's a collection of quick reviews of a bunch of recent films I never got around to writing full pieces on. Hope you enjoy! 

First Reformed

Ethan Hawke delivered an extraordinary performance in this stunning depiction of a priest's inner turmoil and religious angst as he battles against both his inner demons and the wider issues within his church. A slow burn thriller with a brilliant script that delicately teased out the gradual meltdown of troubled protagonist Toller (Hawke), First Reformed was an incredibly intelligent depiction of one man's struggle to fight for his morals and also proved to be a subtle expose of blindly diligent religiosity. Director Paul Schrader (writer of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull) also delivered two of the best opening and closing shots of this year, with the ending being both shocking and deeply provocative. 

Leave No Trace

One of this year's standout hidden gems, Debra Granik's (Winter's Bone) tale of a troubled father and his thirte…

American Animals

American Animals opens with the statement "This is not Based on a True Story," the words "not based on" then fading away to instead reveal that "This is a True Story." These first few seconds provide a delicious hint at so much of what makes this film special; this audacious claim that what we are witnessing is one hundred percent the truth is a wonderful presage to the jaw-dropping ingenuity and balls to the wall approach taken by director Bart Layton in his first feature film (outside documentary work). It is a masterclass in how to adapt a true story in a truly captivating and often confrontational style, with the film soon setting out to contradict its initial statement and question our acceptance of what we are told.  

The film explores the real story of four college students (played by a terrific quartet of young actors Barry Keoghan, Evan PetersBlake Jenner and Jared Abrahamson, with Keoghan proving to be the anchor of the film in a magnificently …

Searching: Hitchcock meets HTML

A thriller for the Snapchat generation, Searching is a whip smart affair that is played out solely via the screens of several computers and a smartphone. And while this may initially sound like an embarrassing recipe for disaster a.k.a the cringey internet horror flick Unfriended or Elijah Wood's awful online clunker Open Windows, Searching turns out to be a far more intelligent film that understands and utilises the capabilities of technology in a way rarely seen in other films.

Most importance to the effectiveness of Searching is that it is anything but a gimmick of a film. Never at any point does the format of the project, carried out as mentioned over the interface of several screens as our protagonist David (John Cho) attempts to find his missing daughter through some renegade online detective work, feel like a pointless and unnecessary addition to the plot. 

Instead, we see how the power of technology, and in particular the internet, helps to advance David's search, leadin…

Bleachers: Rewriting Modern Pop

In a world of copy and paste chart music and dreary love songs, Jack Antonoff's uplifting and often euphoric approach to pop music is a huge breath of fresh air. A former member of the band Fun (remember their song We Are Young that you couldn't escape from for what seemed like forever?), Antonoff's new project Bleachers burst onto the scene in early 2014 with the release of their first single I Wanna Get Better.

An infectiously catchy anthem that screamed 80's high school movie, the song perfectly weaved together Antonoff's intimate, desperation-tinged lyrics, a riproaring melody and an exhilarating, sing-along chorus and firmly declared Bleachers' arrival on the pop scene.
Their debut album Strange Desires was released later that year in July and it was a decidedly mixed bag, with features from Yoko Ono and Grimes falling dissapointingly flat. The album worked best when Antonoff hit the same fast-paced, upbeat stride that had made I Wanna Get Better such a hit,…

Visions of Gideon: Call Me By Your Name's Heartbreaking Final Sequence

SPOILER WARNING (obviously)!

I've never seen an end credits sequence quite like Call Me By Your Name's, one that conveys such intense sadness and raw emotion that it is likely to reduce even the stubbornest of viewers to a sobbing mess. It is both a masterclass in ensuring that your film will stick with audiences long after they have stepped out of the cinema and a powerfully accurate depiction of mourning and loss so intense that it overwhelms you completely. 

Speaking of masterclasses, if you want a lesson in how to portray sadness on screen to an incredibly convincing degree, look no further than Timothee Chalamet's performance as 17 year old Elio. Chalamet dominates the film with his delicate depiction of adolescent angst and the feelings of intense pining and heartbreak that inevitably accompany it. With Andre Aciman's original novel, Elio's passions and flaws were easily laid bare through the character's first-person narrative, whereas Chalamet had the tou…

The Oscars just confirmed their own demise

Earlier today, the Academy Awards announced over Twitter (ala every major news story or presidential outburst of 2018) that next year's ceremony would see the introduction of a new award's category "designed around achievement in popular film," along with the news that the announcement of a number of awards would be made during commercial breaks (to ensure the telecast reached a three hour runtime.)

At the same time this news broke, the internet erupted in a merciless stream of mirth and outrage. Accusations of pandering and snobbery flew left and right, resulting in what could arguably be the most attention directed towards the Oscars in years.

For me, the two key issues that today's announcement highlighted were 1. the increasing irrelevancy of the Academy and 2. the embarrassing self-aggrandisement of the annual ceremony as a whole.

To illustrate the first point, lets take for starters the fact that this year's ceremony was the lowest watched in history, wit…

An Update

It may seem like I've abandoned this blog for good, seeing that my last review was posted back in October last year. My long disappearance has been largely due to an increase in uni work but also a lack of motivation.
I was finding myself stuck in a rut of review after review, many of which I was not happy with upon publishing, and so I've had a bit of a rethink as to the future of the blog. Having become very disenchanted with the format I had been sticking to, my new aim is to introduce a greater variety of articles to the blog, perhaps branching out to other areas of culture than just film.
My main ambition for now is to start writing a broader range of content, which could range from recommendation articles to standard reviews, views on a particular director (or actor) to rants (my favourite things to write!). The most important thing is for me to write with fewer restrictions and a more distinct style, something you'll hopefully see in the coming months.
As a final note,…