Cert: 15 Runtime: 90 mins Director: John Krasinski Cast: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe
Who are we if we can’t protect them? we have to protect them
A Quiet Place has been on the watch-list for sometime now, after the slight disappointment of It Comes at Night I was craving for another family focused horror. This is John Krasinski’s major movie directorial debut and his first screen appearance with his wife Emily Blunt *LIKE YOU DIDN’T KNOW THAT ANYWAY*. The trailers gave a simple premise of a horror/drama with not much dialogue. That was more than enough for me to want to see it. So what is A Quiet Place about you ask? A family of four must navigate their lives in silence after mysterious creatures that hunt by sound threaten their survival. If they hear you, they hunt you.A Quiet Place has is the reason you go to the cinema. It was such an immersive experience, full house, jumping bodies, awkward laughs and surround sound. I haven’t had such an experience for some time now, it was a breath of fresh air.
John Krasinski is able to do what all great directors do, orchestrating the audience with tension and pacing. He knows when to make you laugh, when to cry, and most of all, when to scream. Just like Jordan Peele last year with Get Out, this U.S Office Alumn knows how to create a horror social commentary film. Between tackling parenthood during tough times and tackling life day to day politically, Krasinski has created a very intellectual film.The psychological element is played simply and effectively, the set pieces come one after another, in different locations of the farmland where the characters live, one situation is more unsettling than the other. The appearances of monsters is cleverly played out, they are always just one glance away and for most of the film you cannot see them up close. When the creatures are finally revealed they are eerie and disturbing. As a horror fan I have seen it all, but these vicious buggers have their own wicked personality. They are creepily spectacular and fun to watch.
The sound design is excellent, as well. Very little is actually spoken in the film, leaving large gaps for the sound to just drop from the soundtrack completely, which makes the jump scares mostly earned. And when the sound does come in, it’s decidedly booming and intense. Emily Blunt and John Krasinski are superb in this film. They are faced with many tough moments and raising a family in this environment only makes it that much harder! They do provide great emotional value and keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe give strong performances too, Simmonds does really show the frustration and anger through out the film, but her heroism just shines. As a quartet it feels like a strong family unit with survival a priority. I found myself caring for the characters (rare in horror) and hoping for a positive outcome.A Quiet Place is simple, yet effective horror movie and the reason you should go to the cinema to watch it.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 97 mins Director: Steven Soderbergh Cast: Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Juno Temple, Jay Pharoah and Polly McKie
Is she or isn’t she?
After Steven Soderbergh’s triumphant return with Logan Lucky was he going to go to retirement?No! Probably one of the most intriguing and experimental film-makers now brings us Unsane. Completely shot on an iPhone with the FiLMiC app, Soderbergh keeps challenging himself and us an audience. So what is Unsane about you ask? Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) relocates from Boston to Pennsylvania to escape from the man who’s been stalking her for the last two years. While consulting with a therapist, Valentini unwittingly signs in for a voluntary 24-hour commitment to the Highland Creek Behavioral Center. Her stay at the facility soon gets extended when doctors and nurses begin to question her sanity. Sawyer now believes that one of the staffers is her stalker — and she’ll do whatever it takes to stay alive and fight her way out.
There is a real sense of panic and claustrophobia thanks to the use of wide lenses and close proximity to the actors that probably is in large part due to the fact it was shot on a smartphone. You really feel like you are thrust into the very middle of this nightmare – so kudos to Soderbergh for that. This is genre film-making at its very best – and blast to watch and a reminder that Soderbergh is a master of his trade and can effortlessly move between genres. Steven Soderberghs nicely plays with the audience and permanently asks the question is she rightly there or indeed insane? Its a stalking drama that turns into a mystery thriller until it reaches its point as a horror film. Claire Foy is a tour de force as Valentini, such a convincing performance she kept us guessing through out. Utterly strong, harrowing and mesmeric. As for the supporting cast Juno Temple and Joshua Leonard were on prime form too. They really drove Unsane along with Foy, and elevates the mysteriousness of it. Unsane won’t be for everyone, but Soderbergh and Foy have created a mind-boggling film that leaves you on the edge of your seat.
Cert: 12A Runtime: 120 mins Director: Garth Davis Cast: Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tahar Rahim and Denis Menochet
Her story will be told
Once Garth Davis revealed he was working on a Mary Magdalene film with Rooney Mara, I was intrigued. The story of Mary Magdalene has always captivated me, and probably this during this current climate it was time for her tale to be told. The inclusion of Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus was a bonus also! So what is it all bout you ask? set in the Holy Land in the first century C.E., Mary (Rooney Mara) leaves her small fishing village and traditional family behind to join a radical new social movement. At its head is a charismatic leader, Jesus of Nazareth (Joaquin Phoenix), who promises that the world is changing. Mary is searching for a new way of living, and an authenticity that is denied her by the rigid hierarchies of the day. As the notoriety of the group spread and more are drawn to follow Jesus’ inspirational message, Mary’s spiritual journey places her at the heart of a story that will lead to the capital city of Jerusalem, where she must confront the reality of Jesus’ destiny and her own place within it.
Garth Davis makes an admirable showing of Mary Magdalene as the Apostle of the Apostles. We see another view of her and not of the Fallen Woman variety. This is what captivated me through out the 120 minute run-time. The strong feminist feeling of the film is energising thanks to Rooney Mara’s lead in the film. Davis gives a grounded perspective of the story with a beautiful back drop and a beautiful use of natural light. Rooney Mara gives a good performance, but the moment you expect heavy dialogue and drama it remains flat. Mary Magdalene lacks the grit, we see in Passion of the Christ. I expected something more of that variety in Davis’s film. Joaquin Phoenix is under utilised, he didn’t have the drive expected from him. He comes across as false prophet too, but I’m not sure if that was on purpose.The dialogue can be rather mumbley for me and I struggled to understand what was going on. Mary Magdalene visually was strong, it’s message is potent but I expected more from a tale that has so much meaning to civilisation.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 151 mins Director: Ruben Östlund Cast: Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss and Dominic West
If you place an object in a museum does that make this object a piece of art?
Ruben Östlund’s Palm D’Or winning The Square, has grown from strength to strength! After it’s recent Oscar nomination it has finally arrived in UK cinemas. He is probably one of the most intriguing film-makers out there now. He challenges us mentally and leaves questions about society continuously! So what is The Square about you ask? Christian (Claes Bang) is a divorced but devoted father of two, and the respected curator of a contemporary art museum in Stockholm. He’s gearing up to launch their next show, ‘The Square’, a daring installation examining altruism and our duty to help others. However, Christian’s own views on social responsibility are put to the test when he becomes the victim of a scam, forcing him to question the world around him and his place in it. Meanwhile, a shocking viral stunt cooked up by the museum’s PR agency is met with public outcry, sending Christian – and the museum – into an existential crisis.
Östlund makes a critical and very intelligent film. It shows very well the absurdity that we as human beings can be, as well as how ironic our lives are if we pay attention to the details. The Swedish director also sins of what criticises, extending many scenes without reason to make clear his point … but that may or may not be intentional. The Square walks a sometimes humorous and sometimes harrowing trajectory between art and society. It explores issues of power and privilege from an almost bewildering number of angles and perspectives, manifested in all levels of relationship, social and sexual, primal and intellectual and does it in a way that brings the viewer into an intimate experience of the ramifications of our actions and points of view. The film is long and requires some commitment and is worth every minute.The film has some pretty insightful commentary on modern art, including what makes art art, and society’s reaction to it.
It also has some pretty interesting commentary on modern society in general, and the different power dynamics, as well as relationships, between different classes of people. A late-bloomer Claes Bang is perfectly apt in inhabiting Christian’s towering figure, dapper mien and jaunty disposition, oozing disarming charisma which veils his self-seeking nature to a degree we even tend to give excuses to him involuntarily (that boy is tenacious and annoying, how on earth his staff could upload that inappropriate video onto their public website without his imprimatur?), and in the gender politics spar with a gutsy Elisabeth Moss (although her part is shamefully peripheral, and her defence of “it takes two to tango” accusation is too feeble to register), which fortuitously hits the hot-button with the current power-abuse cleansing pandemic. Balancing nicely between absurdism, surrealism and entertaining satire that escapes none of the film’s characters, it’s an impressive movie.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 119 mins Director: Craig Gillespie Cast: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson, Caitlin Carver and Paul Walter Hauser
You fuck dumb. You don’t marry dumb.
Margot Robbie has received wide acclaim for I, Tonya. Tonya Harding is someone I know little about, but I have heard a few crazy stories. All I have gathered from the trailers is that it’s like The Wolf of Wall Street. So what is it all about you ask? Based on the unbelievable but true events, I, TONYA is a darkly comedic tale of American figure skater, Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie), and one of the most sensational scandals in sports history. Though Harding was the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition, her legacy was forever defined by her association with an infamous, ill-conceived, and even more poorly executed attack on fellow Olympic competitor Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver).
The film is sort of told from a mockumentary perspective as if key characters are being interviewed. The film also utilises breaking the fourth wall where characters in a scene would talk to the audience. I thought this was interesting and separates itself from being a standard biopic and gives this film a real comedic depth. Some wonder why the film was made but it kind of helps you identify with Tonya. She suffered physical and psychological abuse from both her foul mouthed mother and her rage filled husband. Her hands may not be completely clean in what happens to Nancy Kerrigan, but she is also just a victim of circumstances. The first-hour is solid & gets into Tonya’s world & the people involved with a wicked sense of humour. The second-hour is a little disappointing & overlong, and the sub-plot involving the 1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan, Harding’s rival and Olympic teammate, offers less impact. The Writing isn’t always compelling & takes away some glory from the film, overall.
Normally, actresses got an Oscar for emotional performances, and without any doubt, Margot does brilliant emotional acting in the movie “I, Tonya”. But at the same time, you also have to consider the difficulty of the physical performances.Allison Janney was just as good. Sure it already was a showy part to begin with but Janney even put something on top. You never knew if you should just straight up hate her or if there is something good in her. Very cynical, very sarcastic performance. Does the film excuse Harding’s behaviours or paint her out to be a victim? Not really and if it had, the film would have been a waste of time. What it does do is help you at least understand who she was and why she did what she did as she was more than just an intense competitor.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 94 mins Director: Greta Gerwig Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothee Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein and Lois Smith
People go by the names their parents give them, but they don’t believe in God.
Greta Gerwig has evolved from actress to film-maker. The Frances Ha actress has given the world Lady Bird, a film that was 100% fresh for weeks. Not only the freshness, it has multiple award nominations and critical acclaim. During LFF I ignored watching it for the new 4K restoration of Suspria, to this day I don’t regret my decision. So what is Lady Bird about you ask? Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) fights against but is exactly like her wildly loving, deeply opinionated and strong-willed mom (Laurie Metcalf), a nurse working tirelessly to keep her family afloat after Lady Bird’s father (Tracy Letts) loses his job. Set in Sacramento, California in 2002, amidst a rapidly shifting American economic landscape, Lady Bird is an affecting look at the relationships that shape us, the beliefs that define us, and the unmatched beauty of a place called home.
This is one of the finest coming of age stories I have watched, but it it no Ghost World! The film’s brilliant balance of genuine emotional drama and laugh-out-loud humour is astonishingly smooth. This is easily one of the year’s best written films with strong structure throughout. Practically everything in the writing works to the quirky dialogue, realistic back and forth between characters, and our heroin’s progression and change throughout the story. Most will find the screenplay refreshingly original minus a few jokes that don’t land well with the characters themselves and therefore, the audience. As for the film-making I don’t think there is anything refreshing or new. But Gerwig’s voice within her context and dialogue make up for it.
The magic behind their performances it that it feels like it’s not a performance at all. Diving into realistic and genuine human emotions bring out the most humanistic side to these characters and each one goes above and beyond what was required of them. Saoirse Ronan does a great job as a rebellious yet empathetic teenager as her angst does feel like it comes from a genuine place. What I’ve always had issues in the past from coming of age films is they make the teenagers problems feel self inflicted, but instead her character is coming more from a place of needing to explore more in life. Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts are truly spectacular they both dominate different extremes of the parental spectrum. Metclaf in particular compliments Ronan so well. She is a pure stand out in Lady Bird. Lady Bird doesn’t reinvent the wheel of coming of age stories, however it does move with a lot of charm.
Cert: 12A Runtime: 134 mins Director: Ryan Coogler Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis
Guns… so uncivilized!
Marvel Studios are releasing their 18th studio movie! The penultimate film before the Infinity War begins, Black Panther is making history and has been critically acclaimed. What is Black Panther about you ask? T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) who, after the events of ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to take his place as King. However, when an old enemy reappears on the radar, T’Challa’s mettle as King and Black Panther is tested when he is drawn into a conflict that puts the entire fate of Wakanda and the world at risk. Ryan Coogler has created a very interesting world and has established Wakanda in the MCU. It feels like Thor’s first outing but it stands on it’s own two feet. Michael B.Jordan is the stand out for me, it has taken a while for Marvel Studios to establish a great villain and here he is. It’s a shame that the soundtrack isn’t heavily featured in the film but it’s worth a listen. Coogler has given Black Panther a James Bond feel to it, and it works nicely especially in the casino scene.
Few problems with the film one being the main villain, which is a shame since Michael b Jordan playing this role is the best villain they have done by far, the problem here is that he doesn’t get enough screen time as the film focus too much on the political and tribal side of the film. Chadwick Boseman is rather weak of a leading man here, the cast around him provide the lift he needs to carry the film over. It’s very clever with the more well established actors the scenes are filtered through out the film. So Boseman has that support through out. Michael B. Jordan has a lot more energy than any-other actor, without his energy Black Panther would have been in trouble. The films pacing is very stop/start, which makes it a lot more dialogue heavy. This is rather different for an MCU movie. I prefer dialogue heavy films, but for a general audience I can’t see them persevering too much. Black Panther is a fun filled movie but I do feel it’s not perfect. It’s a good trip to the cinema but I won’t be re-watching it anytime soon.